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July 6th 2009
(Posted in: Welsh Highland Railway News)
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NG/G16 Garratt No.109 purchased for service on Welsh Highland Railway by Peter Waterman Trust
The Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways are pleased to announce that the Peter Waterman Trust has agreed to purchase NG/G16 Beyer Garratt locomotive No.109 from the Exmoor Steam Centre.

109 shortly after arrival at Exmoor Steam Centre
This locomotive was the first of the class to be built by Beyer Peacock. It was constructed in 1939 at their works in Gorton, Manchester. It was also the first NG/G16 locomotive to be repatriated to the UK.

The restoration will be carried out at the London and North Western Railway workshops in Crewe and the restored locomotive will run on the Welsh Highland Railway in North Wales.

Peter Waterman, founder of the Trust said:

‘I am absolutely delighted that No.109 will be returning to the North West for renovation. The locomotive will be a focal point for a project focussed on the retention and development of traditional engineering skills in the region. We will be working closely with the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways team to pool knowledge, and we hope this project will lead to further business opportunities for both companies. The completed locomotive will work on the Welsh Highland Railway between Caernarfon and Porthmadog, a line which is readily accessible for those living in the North West.’

On a lighter note, Peter commented for the enthusiasts: ‘It has taken a long time, but at last the LNWR has a Garratt on its roster!’

Paul Lewin, General Manager of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways also commented: ‘We have been overwhelmed by Peter’s enthusiasm and support. His team have been highly professional in assessing this project both quickly and effectively. The opportunities to work together to develop the skills of FR&WHR and LNWR staff are very interesting indeed. At a time when engineering skills are in steep decline, projects such as this give opportunities for new trainees in both Wales and Crewe.’

The Stirland family, owners of Exmoor Steam centre, rescued the engine from South Africa and have commented:

‘The story of No.109 began on 7 February 1995. After lengthy discussions with the Curator of the Transnet Heritage Foundation of South African Railways, we were invited to meet him at the Springs Railway Depot approximately forty miles east of Johannesburg. Here there were four NG/G16's, an NG15 and one or two other locomotives being stored. They had been taken there for a preservation project which had then been abandoned, and they were now classed as redundant locomotives. We were offered No.109 and, as a special favour, some of the fitters from Germiston Depot agreed to move the locomotive on the May Bank Holiday. It was split into three parts and the components were lifted by a huge crane onto flat trucks. The loco was then transported over five hundred miles, firstly back to the Germiston Depot and then down to Durban Docks for shipment on to Tilbury.

After arriving back in the UK, in mid-June 1995, it took several weeks for Customs & Excise to release it. We had to establish that it was a British product being reimported. Finally No.109 arrived at Exmoor on 3 July.

No 109 was the first Beyer, Peacock-built NG/G16 to be sent to South Africa and the first to return home, it was also the first NG/G16 to be privately owned outside Africa, and its reimportation had nothing to do with the Robin Hoods Bay scheme.

Although we have not been able to restore No.109 to working order, we have continually oiled its rods, etc., and frequently painted the plate work, in the hope that one day this magnificent locomotive would work again.

All requests for further information should be directed to:
Paul Lewin
General Manager
Festiniog & Welsh Highland Railways


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