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Talyllyn Railway to recreate 70th anniversary

The world’s first preserved railway celebrated a significant milestone last week when the 70th anniversary of the first two locomotives purchased by Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society was re-enacted.

The society was formed in 1950 to take over the railway following the death of its owner, Sir Henry Haydn Jones. The railway had just two locomotives – No 1 (Talyllyn) was not in good running order, leaving No 2 (Dolgoch) to provide a regular service.

Therefore Loco 3, later named Sir Haydn and Loco 4, named Edward Thomas after Talyllyn Railway’s former manager, were bought from Corris Railway, which closed in 1948.

Loco 2 towing 3 and 4 away from Wharf for the re-enactment (Barbara Fuller)

Corris Railway, co-incidentally the only other railway in the UK operating on the same gauge – 2ft 3 ins – as Talyllyn, had put its two locomotives in storage at Machynlleth.

They were transported to Tywyn on the mainline and off-loaded onto the Talyllyn tracks by a crane from the original BR slate transfer siding near to what is now Wharf station. The locos were then coupled to No 2 and taken to their new base in the engine shed at Pendre.

Supporters, who were unable to be there due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, watched the re-enactment live on Facebook and it is now also available on Talyllyn Railway’s YouTube channel.

1951i Locos 3 and 4 at Wharf (TR Archive)

Loco No. 3, built in 1878 by Hughes’ Loco & Tramway Engineering Works Ltd of Loughborough, made its first trip on Talyllyn Railway in July 1951 but, owing to the precarious state of the track, it was little used in the first year.

Loco No. 4, built in 1921 by Kerr, Stuart & Co. Ltd for use on Corris Railway, entered service in 1952 after essential repairs had been carried out by Hunslet Engine Company.

Talyllyn Railway was built in 1865 to transport slate from Bryn Eglwys slate quarry at Abergynolwyn, but also provided a passenger service from Abergynolwyn, where quarry workers and their families lived, to Tywyn, more than six miles away.

Following the quarry’s closure in 1946, Sir Haydn announced his intention to keep the railway open during his lifetime. Following his death in 1950, Mr L. T. C. Rolt and the newly formed preservation society reached an agreement with Sir Haydn’s widow to run the railway.

The railway hopes to re-open soon, with bookings being accepted from May 1 onwards. To celebrate its 100thbirthday later this year, Loco No. 4 will be returning to Corris Railway as a guest loco but will be back in Tywyn for another celebration weekend on September 11 and 12.