2017-06 UK 2. Welshpool

During our UK holiday we moved from the Cotswolds to Snowdonia and on the way passed Welshpool. Having time to spare I agreed with the Chief Director to spend an hour on the station of Welshpool
DSC04310  The original Welshpool to Llanfair line opened in 1903. It was absorbed in the Great Western Railway in 1923. Not being an overly sucessful line it closed for passengers in 1931  and to freight in 1956. In 1963 a group of volunteers started the restoration of the line which has by now been completed with the exception of the the original route through the town of Welshpool. There is a new terminus at the edge of the town DSC04312  Only minutes after I arrived a train came trundling down into the station. DSC04315 DSC04320
DSC04321  The line is built to the in the UK rare gauge of 2 ft 6 in (762 mm), which necessitates acquisition of rolling stock from Europe, in this case Hungaria (left) and Austria (mid, right) DSC04322 DSC04324 DSC04328
DSC04332 DSC04336  At the water tower DSC04337 DSC04338
DSC04345 DSC04346  Getting some TLC DSC04349 DSC04351
DSC04353 DSC04360 DSC04362  I am not the man for selfies, but I will not miss the opportunity to be on a photo with this celebrity! DSC04363
DSC04364  The two original locomotives, No. 1 The Earl and No. 2 the Countess, are still on the line and operational. They were built by Beyer Peacock & Co. Ltd. at their Gorton Foundry, Manchester in 1902 to a compact and sturdy design capable of handling the trains on this steeply graded railway. The pair coped with all the traffic on the line from its opening in 1903 to closure in 1956. During the period 1997-2001 the locomotives were fully overhauled in the workshops at Llanfair. Currently The Earl is in unlined black, representative of the British Railways era. DSC04365  Some details DSC04366 DSC04367
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DSC04376 DSC04377 DSC04380 DSC04381
DSC04383 DSC04384 DSC04382 DSC04386
DSC04387 DSC04390  Done and ready to go. One more sip. DSC04357  The train is waiting DSC04389  And a good spotter's platform
DSC04392 DSC04394 DSC04356  Now a switch of scenes DSC04463  This is what I actually came for
DSC04464  A king? DSC04396  No not a king but certainly a unique locomotive. To the best of my knowledge the only articulated steam locomotive of the Meyer type in the UK and one of the very few in Europe. Monarch is was built by W.G. Bagnall Ltd., Stafford in 1953. It is the last industrial narrow gauge steam locomotive to be built for commercial use in the UK. It is the last of seven locomotives built to a similar design, the other six being built to 2 ft (610 mm) gauge and delivered to sugar estates in South Africa. Monarch was delivered on 31 July 1953 and worked for a mere 13 years for the Bowaters Paper Railway in Sittingbourne until being purchased by the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway in 1966. Though at was  restored it wasn't well liked. After a period of disuse at the Ffestiniog Railway it returned to Welshpool where it is now kept as a static exhibit. Bagnall 1  The Meyer-type's landmark are the two swivelling power units under a through running frame, the units usually being arranged facing each other to keep the steam pipes as short as possible. Very often the engines are compounded: steam used in the rear set of cylinders is fed into the second set where it is allowed to expand further, effectively saving on water and coal. More reading about the Bagnall articulated steam locomotives can be found  here DSC04405
DSC04407  The leading power bogie DSC04411 DSC04412  The head end of the leading power bogie is orientated to the centre of the locomotive. The upper flange in the middle could might well have been a drawbar to transfer the forces between both power units. I suspect the lower flange to be the steam pipe to feed the spent steam from the rear set of cylinders the front set. DSC04413  On the rear unit this lower flange has a hollow flexible coupling which supports my theory it was the steam pipe.
DSC04415 DSC04416  On the top of the photo the marine type firebox is visible. Very uncommon for locomotives and crew found it difficult to handle. DSC04424  Another look at the marine firebox DSC04419  The rear engine unit
DSC04421  Sandbox DSC04422 DSC04426 DSC04428
DSC04429 DSC04430 DSC04431  Though in reasonable outward condition, many parts are missing. DSC04434
DSC04435  Not missing the opportunity to be on the photo with an articulated steam locomotive. DSC04437 DSC04448  Another look at the odd firebox DSC04451
DSC04452 DSC04453 DSC04454  Original condition DSC04460  A last view
DSC04461  and a last stroke DSC04457  This litlle cuty undervedly got preciously little attention from me DSC04458 DSC04393  Let's witch back to the station, where another train was incoming
DSC04465  This time pulled by the Countess, the other of the original pair of locomotives for this line. The Countess is painted in the livery of the Great Western Railway. DSC04466 DSC04467 DSC04474
DSC04476  Oh boy, these GWR coaches are beautiful! DSC04477 DSC04479