Sunday, 3 June 2012

Arrival In Bala...

Following a visit to Llynclys on route, we reached the headquarters of the Bala Lake Railway at about 5:40pm. After a cuppa' with Roger, Bobby, Rob and Bruce we headed upstairs into the station apartment which would be our home for the next three nights. Just before we left for the local pub I said we should go down into the sheds and take a look at the latest arrival: "Winifred". Eddie agreed so we trotted off down to the yard and opened up before stepping into the loco shed. Inside stood the usual fleet of Quarry Hunslets: "Holy War", "Maid Marian" and "Alice". The frames of "George B" were still resting on No2 road. At the back of the shed stood "Winifred": Hunslet 0-4-0ST No364 of 1885. What a beautiful engine.
The story of "Winifred" is one of history, security and good negotiation skills. She was a Penhryn Quarry engine throughout her life and was laid up with her sisters in the 1960s. In 1965, "Winifred" and five other loco's from the same line up of retired stock were purchased by an American buyer and shipped to the USA. Tony Hulman, an Indiana businessman, bought three of the loco's (Winifred, Ogwen and Glyder) at an auction and planned to display them at a local museum. This plan failed and the loco's were stored. Two of the locos were kept in a stable on the Hulman estate whilst "Winifred" enjoyed the luxury of a warehouse at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There, all three remained for the next 47 years: almost forgotten. Luckily, Julian Birley (owner of "Alice" and director of the North Norfolk Railway) was on the case and after careful negotiations the futures of all three of the Penhryn sisters were secured. Julian purchased "Winifred" and she arrived at Bala Lake in March this year. Looking at her, there in the shed tonight, I felt quite emotional - I don't know why. The loco is just so complete. Nothing about her has been changed. She still has the same ash in the ashpan and smokebox from her last day at Penhryn, as well as some pieces of slate dotted around. She also has a drivers name etched into her brass backhead cladding and original Penhryn couplers, nameplates etc. She's beautiful. She looks as if she was pulled from the Quarry yesterday. I believe the plan is to restore her over a 2-year period starting this winter. What a lovely engine. Thanks to Julian, she's home. Cheers guys. Sam...

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Wow, I am very jealous of you. As an avid train fan I have seen a few trains but these on your blog are fascinating.