By Paul Lewin
LAST year was one of great progress for the Ffestiniog Railway’s 1867-built ‘Large England’ 0-4-0STT Welsh Pony.
This locomotive had a working life of around 75 years – and has been awaiting its turn for restoration to service for a further 75 years. When it was withdrawn in 1939, with a defective firebox, the boiler was condemned. At the same time it was known that the chassis was very worn, and that the platework of the cab and tanks was in need of significant repairs.
When dismantling commenced, just over three years ago, there were high hopes that at least one of the three major components could be restored and reused. However, as assessment continued it became clear that the frames, cylinders and boiler were all beyond restoration except by work so extensive that it would have cost much more than replacement.
Restoration in these circumstances would also have led, inevitably, to the loss of a great deal of original material. These three components have therefore been saved complete and are to be stored securely, under cover, to keep open every possible option for their future use.
Work to create replacement components was largely completed during 2017, with only the rear section of the frames (the section behind the firebox) left to be finished. When this work is completed the frames will probably include some parts that date back to Welsh Pony’s major reconstruction in the 1890s.
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