Alice the little Welsh engine

 Croeso, welcome to the award winning Bala Lake Railway 
"Home of Alice the Little Welsh Engine"   

Steam Locomotives on the Bala Lake Railway

The Bala Lake Railway aims to run steam trains on each day of timetabled operation.

All five of the steam locos currently at Llanuwchllyn were built by the Hunslet Engine Co. of Leeds, England. Each of the Hunslet locomotives are 0-4-0 ST (saddle tanks) and were all made for the extensive 2ft narrow gauge systems that operated in both the Dinorwic and the Penrhyn Slate Quarries in North Wales.

Operational Locomotives

Alice, Hunslet works no. 780

Built in 1902, Alice is the sister engine to Holy War (No. 779). She worked at Dinorwic until about 1960. She was then used for spare parts at the quarry and purchased as a source of spare parts by the then owner of Holy War.

In 1977 the remaining parts were gathered together at the Bala Lake Railway and in 1987 these remains were purchased by BLR volunteer worker Chris Scott & work started on restoration. The remains were later moved to the owner's garage, the Ffestiniog Railway and onto the Leighton Buzzard Railway who agreed to finance the new boiler.

Alice returned to steam in 1994, having been rebuilt in the style of quarry locomotives - cabless and with dumb buffers made from large lumps of timber. The locomotive moved back to the Bala Lake Railway in 2003.

Alice was purchased in 2010 by Julian Birley.

Click here to read more about the Alice and her history

Alice, Hunslet works no. 780  

George B, Hunslet works no. 680

Built in 1898 and originally named Wellington, the engine was purchased from Dinorwic in 1965 by Alan White who moved the loco to Ashchurch, Gloucestershire home of the Dowty Railway Preservation Society. The engine ran for a couple of years on the Dowty line but was withdrawn from service in 1969 and stripped down to enable a total overhaul to be carried out. Due to changing circumstances, while much work has been done on components, the loco was not reconstructed.

Following an agreement between Alan White and Bala Lake Railway, all the parts were moved to Llanuwchllyn to enable a full rebuild to take place.

Restoration to full working order was completed in the Spring of 2017 and George B is now part of our operational fleet.

George B 

Holy War, Hunslet works no. 779

Supplied new to the Dinorwic Slate Quarry in 1902, Holy War worked up to 1,860 feet above sea level. She was the last steam locomotive to work in a British slate quarry finishing at Dinorwic in November 1967, ending 120 years of steam in the quarries.

After leaving Dinorwic she was taken to Quainton Road, near Aylesbury, for preservation. In 1975, Holy War was purchased by Rev. Alan Cliff, then Minister of Wrexham Methodist Church and arrived at Llanuwchllyn that December. Following overhaul she entered passenger service in 1979 and has worked regularly ever since, except for extensive boiler repairs 1985-1987. Holy War was purchased from Alan Cliff by the railway company in 1989, securing her long term future at Llanuwchllyn.

 Holy War, Hunslet works no. 779

Maid Marian, Hunslet works no. 822

Maid Marian was built in 1903 and delivered to Dinorwic where it worked until 1964 when she was withdrawn from service. In 1965 a group of enthusiasts clubbed together, formed the Maid Marian Locomotive Fund (MMLF) and bought the loco for preservation.

Maid Marian has been on the Bala Lake Railway since 1975 has the frames and many of the numbered parts of King of the Scarlets (HE 492 of 1889) due to the works at the Dinorwic Quarry swapping components around when major overhauls took place.

Late in 2004, Maid Marian was withdrawn from service and stripped down so that a new boiler could be made. This work, entirely paid for by members of the MMLF was completed by end of 2006 and the loco was rebuilt in the Llanuwchllyn workshops of the Bala Lake Railway, re-entering service 28 May 2007 resplendent in the colour scheme she carried while at Dinorwic.

Maid Marian, Hunslet works no. 822 

Winifred, Hunslet works no. 364

Winifred was built in 1885 by the Hunslet Engine Company for the Penrhyn Slate Quarry. She spent most of her working life at Port Penrhyn where she sorted wagons of slate ready for loading onto ships for transport all over the world. She then spent the last ten years of her life working in the quarry itself.

When the quarry decided to change to diesel locomotives she was sold and transported to America where she spent the next 50 years in a museum store out of sight.

She was purchased by Julian Birley in 2012 and brought home to Wales. Following completion of an extensive overhaul in our own workshops Winifred returned to steam in the spring of 2015.

Click here to read more about the Winifred and her history

 

Winifred with her owner Julian Birley 

Diesel Locomotives on the Bala Lake Railway

The Bala Lake Railway is home to four diesel locomotives. The diesels are used to haul steam engines out of their shed in the mornings to enable them to raise steam, to move carriages into the main platform to form up the days train and to haul wagons around the railway for maintenance purposes.

Bob Davies, Baguley Drewery, works no. 780

Bob Davies is the railways main standby diesel, used to haul out of season trains, for yard shunting and goods or works train haulage.

Our Baguley Drewery 0-4-0 loco was built as 2ft 6in gauge for the Royal Navy at Fishguard, purchased by Pete Briddon's Yorkshire Engine Company and regauged to 2ft and named 'Bob Davies' in honour of a remarkable railway man, the loco was ultimately sold to the Bala Lake Railway Company.
Bob Davies

Chilmark, Ruston & Hornsby, works no. 194771

The oldest of the railway’s diesel locomotives is Chilmark, a 40DL diesel-mechanical 3-speed, which was built in 1939 for the Air Ministry.  She was used by the RAF for hauling explosives and ammunition at RAF Chilmark in Wiltshire.

Chilmark was purchased by the railway in December 1976, and was extensively rebuilt soon after her arrival at Llanuwchllyn.  A mechanical problem kept her out of use for some years.  However, following her purchase by Patrick Ridley-Martin in 2013, she has been fitted with a replacement engine, together with several upgrades and improvements, and has now returned to the operational fleet of locomotives.
Chilmark Ruston & Hornsby 194771 

Lady Madcap, Ruston & Hornsby, works no. 283512 of 1949

Lady Madcap is a Ruston & Hornsby 30DL which sees only occasional use for light shunting and ballast ploughing duties.
Lady Madcap

Meirionnydd, Severn-Lamb, Works No. 22

Bo-Bo diesel-hydrostatic Meirionnydd was built for the railway by Severn Lamb, of Stratford-upon-Avon in 1973. She is based on a Western class standard gauge locomotive outline design.

Meirionnydd has had a overhaul with a new engine fitted and was fully restored to working order in 2015.

The Meirionnydd fund, established in a similar way to the Maid Marian Locomotive Fund, was founded in 2015 to purchase and ensure the on-going future of Meirionnydd which was the first locomotive to run on the railway.
Meirionnydd at Llangower 

Wickham Trolley, Works No. 10943

Wickham Trolley 10943 was ordered on the 15th August 1975 by the Director of Engineering and Planning Services for Southend on Sea Council, for use on the 3ft 6” gauge pier railway, reportedly for use by the RNLI lifeboat crews. It was supplied by D. Wickham & Co. Ltd. of Ware, Hertfordshire, on the 9th February, 1976.

After years of useful service at Southend, it was sold to the Brecon Mountain Railway in 1983, and while there, was converted to two foot gauge. The trolley remained at Brecon until purchased privately and moved to the BLR on the 27th April 2015.

It is powered by a 4-cylinder Ford type 2262E low compression engine of 1.3 litres, possibly an early non-crossflow-head version of the famous Kent series. It is of note that Ford’s engine type numbering can cause confusion, as the cubic capacity of Ford’s first Zephyr/Zodiac 6-cylinder engines from the early 1950s was 2262cc, but the motor in this trolley is definitely NOT a Zephyr unit. The trolley features a four speed gearbox in conjunction with a separate forward/backward transmission, and it is interesting to note that the sales leaflet of the time indicates a top speed of 55 mph, in either direction!

Wickham Trolley No. 10943