Published on August 14th, 2014 | by admin
Classic Locomotives Of Wales
Available as a stamp cover, presentation pack and miniature sheet cover, it’s full steam ahead with our series of articles celebrating some classic locomotives from a bygone era before the emergence of diesel and electric. Famous for its narrow gauge railways, this week we recall four of the steam engines operational in Wales which emerged to take over from horses as a primary means of transportation.
Indeed the long and distinguished history of steam trains in Wales is illustrated by the fact that the world’s first steam railway locomotive was used on the Methyr-Tramroad route way back in 1804. Locomotives soon played a crucial role in the transportation of iron, coal, stone and slate to support the thriving industries of the time.
Of most significance, coal was Wales’s greatest export and had to be moved down from the valleys of South Wales by locomotive to ports such as Cardiff and Barry. Steam trains capable of handling coal traffic required both weight and power in equal measure.
Hundreds of miles of tracks were laid using L-section rails for steam trains including the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR) No. 822 ‘The Earl’. Constructed for the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway, the W&LLR No.822 is depicted as an 88p stamp in the Classic Locomotives of Wales Presentation Pack. As one of the narrow gauge branch lines built following the 1896 Light Railways Act, the W&LLR was instrumental in facilitating economic development in the Powys region of Wales.
One of two classic locomotives built by Beyer Peacock for the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway, W&LLR No.822 was built in Gorton, Manchester in 1902. Featuring a 0-6-0 wheel arrangement, it was operational until British Railways decided to close the line to freight traffic in 1956.
Another steam train which is fondly remembered as a classic locomotive of Wales is the LMS No.7720 which was built in 1885. Constructed for the London and North Western Railway Co. Ltd (LNWR) by the Webb/Crewe Works, the LMS No.7720 featured a 0-6-2 wheel arrangement.
Meanwhile the Hunslet 589 Blanche steam engine, depicted as a 78p stamp is one of the Ffestiniog Railway locomotives, some of which are still in operation in Snowdonia today. Built by the Hunslet train company in Leeds in 1893, this steam train featured a 0-4-0 wheel arrangement and was utilised by the Penrhyn Slate Quarry.
Last but not least, the BR 5600 No.5652 freight engine, also with a 0-6-2 wheel arrangement, is often referred to fondly as one of ‘the Taffy tanks. Able to handle sharp curves, this steam locomotive was built by the GWR (Great Western Railway) in 1926 with a 0-6-2 configuration. Indeed nine of these steam locomotives have been preserved in the modern era.