Summer at Blists Hill for Sierra Leone locomotive


WELSHPOOL & Llanfair Light Railway Hunslet 2-6-2T No. 14 is to spend much of the summer on display in the Ironbridge Gorge, following its appearance at the Tyseley Locomotive Works Castles open weekend.

No. 14, which last ran in 2010, was built in 1954 for service in Sierra Leone, where it carried the number 85, and was purchased from a scrap dealer by the WLLR in 1975.

Hunslet 2-6-2T No. 14 beside the LNWR goods shed at Blists Hill Victorian Town, where visitors will see it as soon as they enter. There will be a Blists Hill in Steam special event on August 19-20. CHARLES SPENCER/WLLR

It is currently on a UK tour financed by a £22,800 Heritage Lottery Fund grant. It left Locomotion at Shildon in April after six years on display there, and has since visited the Armley Industrial Museum in Leeds, the city where it was built, Hull (twinned with Sierra Leone capital Freetown) as part of the 2017 City of Culture celebrations and the Museum of Water and Steam at Kew.

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It will now be a feature exhibit in the summer-long festival, Fire, Furnace and Steam, at Blists Hill Victorian Town, one of the 10 Ironbridge Gorge museums in Shropshire. It will be on display there until Monday, August 25, next to the LNWR good shed at the entrance.

Displays created by the Friends of the Sierra Leone National Railway Museum accompany No. 14, telling the stories of slavery and freedom, colony and independence, and the special story of the Sierra Leone Railway.

The tour has been organised by the WLLR with the Friends and is helping promote the Sierra Leone National Railway Museum and to raise funds for a new workshop at Llanfair Caereinion.

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It is intended that No. 85 will be the first locomotive to be restored in the new facility. When restored the loco will be able to form the African Train, running with two Gloucester-built Sierra Leone Railways bogie carriages that the WLLR also purchased in 1975.

No. 14 will attend the Shrewsbury Steam Rally on August 27-28 and will be displayed during the WLLR’s annual steam gala on September 1-3.

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