Full steam ahead for locomotive

By Alex Jones in Transport

A 99-YEAR-OLD steam engine is set to pull its first ever passenger train this weekend.

The locomotive, named Diana, will be pulling passengers entirely on her own on Saturday, 14 May, at the Bala Lake Railway.

Diana was built by Kerr, Stuart & Company of Stoke-on-Trent and supplied new to The Home Grown Timber Committee in 1917 to operate on the Kerry Tramway near Newtown.

After the rundown of timber operations at Kerry, the train was sold to the Oakeley Slate Quarry in Blaenau Ffestiniog where it worked until 1942.

Diana was sold on to Pen-yr-Orsedd Quarry in Nantlle and worked there from 1945 until her boiler was declared unsafe in 1950.

There she remained until Graham J Mullins had the foresight to purchase her for preservation in 1963.

She spent periods in storage in Llanberis, and at the Brecon Mountain Railway before the Davies Brothers purchased her and started on her restoration in Clydach near Swansea in 1981.

This work was eventually thwarted by ill-health and it was only when the engine was acquired by her current owner Phil Mason, that its restoration was completed at the Vale of Rheidol workshops in Aberystwyth.

Phil has taken great pains to return her to as near original condition as possible, tracking down and re-uniting original components that had been ‘lost’ along the way.

Until now the locomotive has never pulled a passenger train by itself, and the record will be put straight at 11am on Saturday, 14 May, when she will be pull her first passenger train solo from Llanuwchllyn to Bala and back.

The day also marks her return to full service after being out of use for over 65 years.

See the full story in this week’s Meirionnydd edition of the Cambrian News

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