Author Topic: Another Garratt for the WHR  (Read 5517 times)

John L Dobson

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Another Garratt for the WHR
« on: July 06, 2009, 05:34:39 PM »
Press Release from Harbour Station

Friday 3 July 2009

NG/G16 Garratt No.109 purchased for service on Welsh Highland Railway by Peter Waterman Trust.

To be restored by London & North Western Railway Company at Crewe.


The Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways are pleased to announce that the Peter Waterman Trust has agreed to purchase NG/G16 Beyer Garratt locomotive No.109 from the Exmoor Steam Centre. This locomotive was the first of the class to be built by Beyer Peacock. It was constructed in 1939 at their works in Gorton, Manchester. It was also the first NG/G16 locomotive to be repatriated to the UK.

The restoration will be carried out at the London and North Western Railway workshops in Crewe and the restored locomotive will run on the Welsh Highland Railway in North Wales.

Peter Waterman, founder of the Trust said:
‘I am absolutely delighted that No.109 will be returning to the North West for renovation. The locomotive will be a focal point for a project focussed on the retention and development of traditional engineering skills in the region. We will be working closely with the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways team to pool knowledge, and we hope this project will lead to further business opportunities for both companies. The completed locomotive will work on the Welsh Highland Railway between Caernarfon and Porthmadog, a line which is readily accessible for those living in the North West.’

On a lighter note, Peter commented for the enthusiasts:
‘It has taken a long time, but at last the LNWR has a Garratt on its roster!’

Paul Lewin, General Manager of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways also commented: ‘We have been overwhelmed by Peter’s enthusiasm and support. His team have been highly professional in assessing this project both quickly and effectively. The opportunities to work together to develop the skills of FR&WHR and LNWR staff are very interesting indeed. At a time when engineering skills are in steep decline, projects such as this give opportunities for new trainees in both Wales and Crewe.’

The Stirland family, owners of Exmoor Steam centre, rescued the engine from South Africa and have commented:
‘The story of No.109 began on 7 February 1995. After lengthy discussions with the Curator of the Transnet Heritage Foundation of South African Railways, we were invited to meet him at the Springs Railway Depot approximately forty miles east of Johannesburg. Here there were four NG/G16's, an NG15 and one or two other locomotives being stored. They had been taken there for a preservation project which had then been abandoned, and they were now classed as redundant locomotives. We were offered No.109 and, as a special favour, some of the fitters from Germiston Depot agreed to move the locomotive on the May Bank Holiday. It was split into three parts and the components were lifted by a huge crane onto flat trucks. The loco was then transported over five hundred miles, firstly back to the Germiston Depot and then down to Durban Docks for shipment on to Tilbury.

'After arriving back in the UK, in mid-June 1995, it took several weeks for Customs & Excise to release it. We had to establish that it was a British product being reimported. Finally No.109 arrived at Exmoor on 3 July.

'No.109 was the first Beyer, Peacock-built NG/G16 to be sent to South Africa and the first to return home, it was also the first NG/G16 to be privately owned outside Africa, and its reimportation had nothing to do with the Robin Hoods Bay scheme.

'Although we have not been able to restore No.109 to working order, we have continually oiled its rods, etc., and frequently painted the plate work, in the hope that one day this magnificent locomotive would work again.'

All requests for further information should be directed to:

Paul Lewin
General Manager
Festiniog & Welsh Highland Railways

Paul.lewin@festrail.co.uk
Tel: 07775 585400
John L Dobson
Editor, FR Magazine

Glenn Christensen

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Re: Another Garratt for the WHR
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2009, 05:55:58 PM »
Thanks John, that's wonderful news!  If I'm counting correctly, doesn't this make WHR's fifth NGG16 and its 6th Garratt if one includes K1?

I understand WHR passenger loadings continue to be heavy.  Are the Festiniog ridership numbers doing well too?


Best Regards,
Glenn

John L Dobson

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Re: Another Garratt for the WHR
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2009, 02:23:36 PM »
Yes, No.109 is the 5th NG/G16 for the WHR - Nos.87, 138, 140 and 143 are the others, although 140 has yet to run - its overhaul keeps getting put back because another NG/G16 with higher priority appears... At this rate it won't run until after the first of the NG15s has been renovated. However, No.140 is at least a useful source of loner parts for the working members of the fleet whilst it awaits its turn.

Traffic on the WHR has been very heavy in recent weeks, with stories of trains arriving at Beddgelert too full for boarding passengers to find seats. Additional carriages (two of the 1970s 'tin cars' with toilets) have been sent across from the FR to strengthen the train sets to 9 cars. This is the best that can be done until we have enough stock and locomotives for a 3rd set - the run-round loop at Caernarfon is only long enough for 9 cars plus a bike wagon. Unfortunately K1 is only rated at 7 cars on the 1 in 40 above Beddgelert, so it isn't seeing much use, except in an emergency paired with one of the diesels.

Traffic on the FR was also up 17% at the end of April, and I believe it was still up at the end of June. It appears that Brits are staying home to holiday this year thanks to the recession and the fall of the £ against the $, Euro and Swiss Franc. Reports are that cheap holiday accommodation (camp sites, dormitory barns, caravan sites and self-catering cottages) are booked up across North West Wales for the rest of the year. We are even getting some new hotels - a Travel Lodge opened in Porthmadog early this year and appears to be doing good business. There are a also couple of new hotels in Caernarfon, and ground is being broken for another in Tremadog.

All of which makes the news from down the coast at Tywyn rather surprising - the Talyllyn Railway lost £100,000 last year and isn't doing well this year either. As a result they have had to make fairly severe economies and have sacked their MD. For the time being the railway is being run by the volunteers on the management committee, as was the pattern in the 1950s.

Incidentally you might like to see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Waterman for information about Pete Waterman. He visited the FR & WHR a few weeks ago and was given a ride on the FR's gravity slate train, followed by a trip in the new WHR Pullman Observation Car through Aberglaslyn, and a footplate trip on NG/G16 No.87 during which he was allowed to wield the firing shovel. It seems to have been an inspired piece of PR on the part of the FR/WHR!
« Last Edit: July 07, 2009, 02:35:29 PM by John L Dobson »
John L Dobson
Editor, FR Magazine

Glenn Christensen

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Re: Another Garratt for the WHR
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2009, 05:02:48 PM »
Thank you John for a very thought-provoking and exhaustive answer!

My take on your information is the combination of the two railroads - plus the other nearby attractions of Northern Wales - has created an extraordinary destination experience that is perhaps over-powering the other individual attractions in the competition for travel dollars (pounds) in a generally weakened tourist economy.

What is perhaps interesting, is that many "nay-sayers" were concerned that restoration of the WHR would rob the Festiniog of ridership.  This does not seem to be the case.  Rather the argument could be made that the two operations, taken in combination, seem to be self-reinforcing.  As a past (and preferentially future) visitor to the area I can attest that both operations are more than simply scenic train rides.  They are both very different experiences, each of which with very unique attributes.  

Undoubtably, the newness of the extended WHR experience has something to do with the numbers being hosted during the present economic downturn.  It will be interesting to see how things develop within the next few seasons.

At any rate, given the ridership numbers - is further consideration being given to acquiring further Romanian coaching stock?


Best Regards,
Glenn
« Last Edit: July 07, 2009, 05:08:42 PM by Glenn Christensen »

John L Dobson

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Re: Another Garratt for the WHR
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2009, 07:21:10 PM »
Apparently there isn't any Romanian carriage stock available any more. The additional carriages that were under consideration when the prototype was done were apparently sold for scrap when the international price of steel went through the roof a couple of years ago. In actual fact there was little or no saving in either cost or speed of delivery by the time the prototype was fitted out at Boston Lodge - there was an awful lot of remedial work that needed doing, including an almost complete rebuilding of the bogies, which had to have secondary springing, swing plank bolsters and shock absorbers fitted before the ride became acceptable.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2009, 07:23:15 PM by John L Dobson »
John L Dobson
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Glenn Christensen

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Re: Another Garratt for the WHR
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2009, 09:41:21 PM »
Very interesting!

Thanks again, John.


Best Regards,
Glenn