Published at 00:00 on Monday 29th January 2018
Tags: Narrow Gauge, Ffestiniog Railway, Welsh Pony, James Spooner, Double Fairlie, George England

This view in April 2017, shows an indication of the extensive work being undertaken to resurrect George England 0-4-0ST Welsh Pony, the old frames being visible on the flat wagon, while behind is the locomotive's new tender Cliff Thomas

The Ffestiniog Railway Society (FRS) has launched a ‘Locomotives Old, Locomotives New’ appeal to raise cash towards completing the current restoration of George England 0-4-0ST Welsh Pony and construction of Ffestiniog Railway’s new Double-Fairlie James Spooner.

Resurrection of 1867-vintage Welsh Pony, the last Ffestiniog ‘large’ George England 0-4-0ST which was rebuilt in 1890 and last worked in 1939, has uncovered more problems than originally envisaged. The current work revealed the need to construct new frames, rods, cylinders and tender, meaning that an additional £43,000-worth of funding is required to complete the restoration project.

Construction of a new design of a Double-Fairlie boiler for James Spooner has commenced, with a contractor engaged to weld together the major boiler components. Design of the locomotive superstructure, employing 3D computer modelling, is being finalised. In addition to financial support for boiler construction, FRS aims to fund new components for James Spooner to avoid the removal of parts from 1979-built Double-Fairlie Earl of Merioneth for use on the new loco.

The intention has always been for the new James Spooner to employ the 1986-built power bogies currently used under Earl of Merioneth, the latter being reunited with its original 1979 bogies when placed in store. Keeping Earl of Merioneth substantially intact rather than ‘robbing’ it of parts, is viewed as increasing the chance that the loco may be restored to operation at some future time if finances and resources become available. Although its angular appearance has always been controversial, there is a school of thought that Earl of Merioneth should be saved as it has accumulated a history in its own right on the basis of being the first new-build steam locomotive to run on any preserved UK line and being the first such preservation-era loco to be withdrawn from service.

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