During our UK holiday we moved from the Cotswolds to Snowdonia and on the way passed Welshpool. Having time to spare I agreed with the Chief Director to spend an hour on the station of Welshpool
1 The original Welshpool to Llanfair line opened in 1903. It was absorbed in the Great Western Railway in 1923. Not being an overly sucessful line it closed for passengers in 1931 and to freight in 1956. In 1963 a group of volunteers started the restoration of the line which has by now been completed with the exception of the the original route through the town of Welshpool. There is a new terminus at the edge of the town
2 Only minutes after I arrived a train came trundling down into the station.
5 The line is built to the in the UK rare gauge of 2 ft 6 in (762 mm), which necessitates acquisition of rolling stock from Europe, in this case Hungaria (left) and Austria (mid, right)
10 At the water tower
14 Getting some TLC
19 I am not the man for selfies, but I will not miss the opportunity to be on a photo with this celebrity!
21 The two original locomotives, No. 1 The Earl and No. 2 the Countess, are still on the line and operational. They were built by Beyer Peacock & Co. Ltd. at their Gorton Foundry, Manchester in 1902 to a compact and sturdy design capable of handling the trains on this steeply graded railway. The pair coped with all the traffic on the line from its opening in 1903 to closure in 1956. During the period 1997-2001 the locomotives were fully overhauled in the workshops at Llanfair. Currently The Earl is in unlined black, representative of the British Railways era.
22 Some details
38 Done and ready to go. One more sip.
39 The train is waiting
40 And a good spotter's platform
43 Now a switch of scenes
44 This is what I actually came for
45 A king?
46 No not a king but certainly a unique locomotive. To the best of my knowledge the only articulated steam locomotive of the Meyer type in the UK and one of the very few in Europe. Monarch is was built by W.G. Bagnall Ltd., Stafford in 1953. It is the last industrial narrow gauge steam locomotive to be built for commercial use in the UK. It is the last of seven locomotives built to a similar design, the other six being built to 2 ft (610 mm) gauge and delivered to sugar estates in South Africa. Monarch was delivered on 31 July 1953 and worked for a mere 13 years for the Bowaters Paper Railway in Sittingbourne until being purchased by the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway in 1966. Though at was restored it wasn't well liked. After a period of disuse at the Ffestiniog Railway it returned to Welshpool where it is now kept as a static exhibit.
47 The Meyer-type's landmark are the two swivelling power units under a through running frame, the units usually being arranged facing each other to keep the steam pipes as short as possible. Very often the engines are compounded: steam used in the rear set of cylinders is fed into the second set where it is allowed to expand further, effectively saving on water and coal. More reading about the Bagnall articulated steam locomotives can be found here
49 The leading power bogie
51 The head end of the leading power bogie is orientated to the centre of the locomotive. The upper flange in the middle could might well have been a drawbar to transfer the forces between both power units. I suspect the lower flange to be the steam pipe to feed the spent steam from the rear set of cylinders the front set.
52 On the rear unit this lower flange has a hollow flexible coupling which supports my theory it was the steam pipe.
54 On the top of the photo the marine type firebox is visible. Very uncommon for locomotives and crew found it difficult to handle.
55 Another look at the marine firebox
56 The rear engine unit
63 Though in reasonable outward condition, many parts are missing.
65 Not missing the opportunity to be on the photo with an articulated steam locomotive.
67 Another look at the odd firebox
71 Original condition
72 A last view
73 and a last stroke
74 This litlle cuty undervedly got preciously little attention from me
76 Let's witch back to the station, where another train was incoming
77 This time pulled by the Countess, the other of the original pair of locomotives for this line. The Countess is painted in the livery of the Great Western Railway.