A partnership between the Vale of Rheidol Railway and the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland will see a 160 year old steam locomotive running along the Vale of Rheidol railway later this year.

The partnership will see the 1864 “Palmerston” locomotive come to the Vale of Rheidol at the end of February, where it will stay on a loan for the 2024 season before returning to the Ffestiniog Railway in September.

You will be able to see the train inside the Vale of Rheidol museum, opening on 23 March, where it will be on display until July.

After this, engineers will refurbish the train so that it can once again run along the Welsh tracks.

Their work will be put to the test as the Palmerston is set to feature in the Rheidol Steam Festival, taking place across the August bank holiday (24-26 August.)

During the three day festival, the Palmerston will haul trains from the Vale of Rheidol station up to Devil’s Bridge.

Vale of Rheidol
The Palmerston will return to the Aberystwyth line (John Jones)

It has been ten years since the Palmerston last ran on the Vale of Rheidol Railway, making the railway’s Managing Director, Llŷr ap Iolo, ‘excited’ to see its return.

He said: “We are very grateful to Paul Lewin and the team at the Ffestiniog Railway for agreeing to the loan of ‘Palmerston’ for the 2024 season.

“We are excited to have it running on the Vale of Rheidol Railway at our event in August: it has been ten years since it’s last visit to Aberystwyth, so it will be great to have it here again for all to experience.”

The Palmerston was one of the original trains built to run along the Ffestiniog Railway and is the oldest surviving train to have ever worked on the Vale of Rheidol Railway.

It was used from the 1860s up to the 1930s. It was between these years that it made its first appearance on the Vale of Rheidol tracks, being used to help support an increase in traffic from the opening of the Territorial Army Camp in Lovesgrove in 1912 and 1913. It was also used to haul timber as part of the UK’s war effort in the first World War.

The two heritage railways hope the collaborative relationship between them will create a sense of unity and a shared common goal, whilst also making Welsh heritage railways more attractive to visitors.

Paul Lewin, General Manager of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways, said: “ This is all great news for visitors, and it makes so much sense for us to work together.

“For those looking to make the most of precious leisure time, a visit to Wales has never looked more appealing.

“We can only begin to imagine how pleased our founders would be to see us working together, striving to continue to be the best place to see narrow gauge steam”.