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Some birthday celebrations

Wednesday, October 7 2009

92203_GWSR

David Shepherd’s 9F 2-10-0 on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway in July 2007. From a photograph by Black Kite.

(Click to see the original colour photograph and for details of licensing.)

Is Britain the only country in the world where steam engines have elaborate birthday celebrations? This year two such events were notable.

The first of these was the 50th birthday celebration on 5 August of David Shepherd’s 9F class steam locomotive, 92203, named by him “Black Prince”. A solitary Spitfire flew over Doddington station on the Gloucester and Warwickshire Railway. The 9F was arguably British Railway’s most successful standard steam locomotive design. While combining the 1959-built locomotive and the World War II fighter plane may seem somewhat incongruous to some, both the Spitfire and the 9F represent pinnacles of British engineering design and so the choice was very appropriate. Appropriately nine 9Fs were saved from the scrap man’s torch. All but four have been restored to working order.

K1

K1, the world’s first Beyer-Garratt locomotive visiting the former Beyer Peacock works in Manchester where it was built onne hundred years earlier. Photo Pete Waterman.

(Click photo to see more of Pete’s pictures and read his own account of the event on Petes Blog.)

A week later on 12 August, K1, the prototype Beyer Garratt articulated locomotive was taken on its 100 th birthday to visit the former Beyer Peacock works in Gorton, Manchester, where it was built 100 years earlier! Beyer Garratts combined the vision of Herbert William Garratt – an engineer working for the New South Wales Government Railways – with the engineering skills of Beyer Peacock and Co. – a locomotive builder based in Gorton Works, Manchester.

Garratt’s design, which he later patented, incorporated a relatively large boiler mounted on a frame suspended between two swivelling engine units. Garratt visited Beyer Peacock in 1907, soon after they had received an order for a locomotive to run on the 2 feet gauge North East Dundas Tramway in Tasmania. Garratt was able to convince Beyer Peacock that his new design was an ideal solution for the Tramway’s motive power requirements.

K1 was very successful, and the North East Dundas Tramway soon ordered K2 a second identical locomotive. K1 and its sister worked until 1930, when the North East Dundas Tramway was closed down and its equipment put in store. In 1947, Beyer Peacock, recognising the historic value of the K1, bought the locomotive and shipped it back to Manchester. When Beyer Peacock closed down in 1965, the fate of this historic loco was uncertain until it was purchased in 1966 by the Festiniog Railway. As it was too large for the Festiniog loading gauge the locomotive lay unused until 1976 when it was loaned to the National Railway Museum at York.

In 1993, the Festiniog Railway Company commenced the rebuilding of the Welsh Highland Railway. As the WHR loading gauge was able to accommodate K1, the FRC decided to bring back the engine from York and carry out a heavy overhaul so that the locomotive could haul trains on the new line.

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