George B enters regular traffic at Bala Lake

By Lionel Price

ONE more small piece of Welsh railway history returned to life at the Bala Lake Railway on Saturday, April 22, with the launch into traffic of George B, one of the many narrow gauge locomotives which formerly worked at the Dinorwic Slate Quarries at Llanberis.

George B passes Ddol Fawr Crossing with a train of slate empties. LIONEL PRICE

Like other locomotives built for the great North Wales slate quarries at Dinorwic and Penrhyn, George B is one of the so-called Quarry Hunslets. It is one of the class of 11 engines built for the Dinorwic quarries over the years which came to be known as the Alice class, designed to be able to work on the rough track work of the spectacular galleries on which the quarries were worked, some being as much as 22ft above sea level, and 1900ft above the quarry floor at Llanberis.

Rather than a number, locomotives at Dinorwic were generally known by name, many of which were derived from racehorses owned by the Assheton Smith family of Vaenol, the quarry proprietors, some having poetic sounding names such as King of the Scarlets and Red Damsel; others such as George B, which was originally named Wellington, have a more prosaic feel, and it is the subject of some debate whether the name comes from a horse racing source or is after a member of the family, Robert George Vivian Duff.

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