On St. David’s Day – The Great Little Trains of Wales (Trenau Bach Arbennig Cymru)

Or two of them at least!

2013 saw me pay visits to the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR) and the Talyllyn Railway (TR), two of the eleven ‘Great Little Trains of Wales’.

Opened in 1903 the 2ft 6in gauge W&LLR has its headquarters at Llanfair Caereinion in Powys and still operates services with the original locomotives built by Beyer, Peacock & Co Ltd in 1902.

BP 0-6-0T No.823 (works no.3497 of 1902)-20130720Beyer, Peacock & Co Ltd 0-6-0T No.823 COUNTESS
Llanfair Caereinion, W&LLR, 20 July 2013

Great Western Railway-liveried No.823 COUNTESS is seen taking on coal at Llanfair Caereinion, in the background are the three replica R.Y. Pickering & Co Ltd carriages built by the Ffestiniog Railway‘s Boston Lodge works between 2004 and 2010, the original W&LLR carriages having been scrapped in 1931.

BP 0-6-0T No.822 (works no.3496 of 1902)-20130720Beyer, Peacock & Co Ltd 0-6-0T No.822 THE EARL
Sylfaen Halt, W&LLR, 20 July 2013

no.822 THE EARL is seen approaching Sylfaen Halt with a Welshpool Raven Square-Llanfair Caereinion service. The locomotives were named in honour of The Earl and Countess of Powys as the Earl supported the building of the railway. THE COUNTESS had its name shortened to just COUNTESS by the Great Western Railway (GWR) who absorbed the W&LLR in 1923.


The 2ft 3in gauge Talyllyn Railway was opened in 1865 to carry slate from the quarries at Bryn Eglwys to Tywyn on the coast and despite becoming incredibly run-down was never closed, becoming the first heritage railway in the world in 1951.

The TR also uses its original locomotives (amongst others) and on the day I visited No.1 TALYLLYN (built by Fletcher Jennings & Co in 1865) was photographed running round the 12:45 service to Tywyn Wharf at Nant Gwernol at the eastern end of the line.

FJ 0-4-2ST No.1 (works no.42 of 1865)-20130816Fletcher Jennings & Co 0-4-2ST No.1 TALYLLYN
Nant Gwernol, TR, 16 August 2013

Also in operation was Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co Ltd 0-4-0WT No.6 DOUGLAS (works no.1431 of 1918). The ‘Modified E Class’ locomotive was built for the railway serving RAF Calshot in Hampshire. The locomotive was donated to the Talyllyn Railway in 1953, regauged from 2ft gauge and named after Douglas Abelson, who donated it.

AB 0-4-0WT No.1 (works no.1431 of 1918)-20130816Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co Ltd 0-4-0WT No.6 DOUGLAS
Tywyn, TR, 16 August 2013

Both railways are on my ‘to be revisited’ list and both are accepting donations to help them survive COVID-19 enforced shut-downs, please support them if you can…

Industrial Action – Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd. 0-4-0ST ‘DRAKE’

In the post Industrial Action – Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd. 0-4-0DH No.482 of 1963 I mentioned having a better image of ‘DRAKE’, the 0-4-0 saddle tank locomotive that now calls the former Andrew Barclay’s Caledonia Works offices ‘home’.

AB 0-4-0ST 'DRAKE' (works no.2086 of 1940)-19990829Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd. 0-4-0ST ‘DRAKE’ (works no.2086 of 1940)
Rutland Railway Museum

‘DRAKE’ (works no.2086 of 1940) is another product of the Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd factory in Kilmarnock and was supplied new to Stewart & Lloyds Ltd’s Newport Tube Works in Monmouthshire, remaining there until the site’s closure in the early 1970s.

Although initially preserved by the Dowty Railway Preservation Society at Ashchurch in Gloucestershire, by 1989 ‘DRAKE’ had moved to the Rutland Railway Museum near Cottesmore (now rebranded as Rocks by Rail) where I photographed it in August 1999.

Industrial Action – Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd. 0-4-0DH No.482 of 1963

Flicking through the June 2020 issue of Railways Illustrated magazine I was saddened to read of the planned closure of Wabtec® Rail Scotland’s Kilmarnock Works.

The history of Wabtec® Rail Scotland can be traced all the way back to 1840 when Andrew Barclay (born in 1814) went into business with Thomas McCulloch to manufacture mill shafts in Kilmarnock. Further business ventures followed (including locomotive building on a limited scale) and in 1892 Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd. set up shop at Caledonia Works in the town.

Andrew Barclay was acquired by the Hunslet Group in 1972 and became Hunslet-Barclay. The company changed hands in 2007, becoming Brush-Barclay as part of the FKI Group, and in 2011 Brush-Barclay and Brush Traction and were acquired by the American Wabtec Corporation.

I visited Kilmarnock in October 2019 and was pleased to spot Wabtec’s resident diesel shunter as my train from Stranraer arrived, the works now being located beside Kilmarnock station on the site of the old goods yard.

Knowing (after consulting the Industrial Railway Society’s 18EL book) that the locomotive was in fact a product of Caledonia Works, an 0-4-0 diesel hydraulic dating from 1963 (works no.482) I was keen to get a photograph but that proved impossible from any public vantage point so I cheekily paid a call to Wabtec’s office and asked if it was possible to visit the site.

AB 0-4-0DH (works no.482 of 1963)-20191031aAndrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd. 0-4-0DH (works no.482 of 1963)
Wabtec® Rail Scotland, Kilmarnock, October 2019

I was pleasantly surprised to be granted brief access and was escorted over to the locomotive by a member of staff (whose name I sadly didn’t make a note of) and allowed to take a few photos.

AB worksplate (no.482 of 1963)-20191031Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd. worksplate (no.482 of 1963)
Wabtec® Rail Scotland, Kilmarnock, October 2019

AB 0-4-0DH (works no.482 of 1963)-20191031bAndrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd. 0-4-0DH (works no.482 of 1963)
Wabtec® Rail Scotland, Kilmarnock, October 2019

No.482 was supplied new to the Scottish Gas Board’s Granton Works near Edinburgh where it became ‘GRANTON No.1’ but by 1971 it had ‘joined up’ and moved to the Ministry of Defence Air Force Department’s depot at Chilmark in Wiltshire where there was an extensive railway system, both standard and narrow gauge.

By January 1986 No.482 had moved the short distance to the M.o.D. depot at Dinton but in 1989, due to the winding down of activities at both Dinton and Chilmark, it had returned north of the border, to Hunslet-Barclay Ltd.

Upon leaving Wabtec’s site I spotted this across the road…

Caledonia Works offices-20191031Caledonia Works offices

Part of the original ‘Caledonia Works’ now converted to rather swish-looking apartments and also home to another Andrew Barclay product, an 0-4-0 saddle tank named ‘DRAKE’ (works no.2086 of 1940) displayed inside the offices on the ground floor.

AB 0-4-0ST 'DRAKE' (works no.2086 of 1940)-20191031Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd. 0-4-0ST ‘DRAKE’ (works no.2086 of 1940)
The Klin Group, Kilmarnock

I’m sure I’ve got a better image of ‘DRAKE’ somewhere, taken a few years ago… I must dig it out!