I had just staggered in from shopping with bags full of groceries that needed sanitising before storing away (a job that I have come to loath during this lock down period but am continuing with now as a precaution), when I caught a snippet of Paul’s conversation. I heard “Moel Fammau” drift through a cloud of sprayed disinfectant.
Easily distracted from a horrid chore, I peeped around the living room door and found Paul on the phone to PNP’s marketing people. After Paul had put the phone down I enquired if we were going to Mold. Paul frowned slightly and then started to laugh. He went on to explain that Moel Fammau was one of his collection of model locomotives not the actual mountain above Mold near Wrexham which it is in fact named after.
He had purchased Moel Fammau from his “favourite shop” Station Road Steam in 2006. It turned out that an enquiry had been made about this locomotive and Paul thought that It would be nice if we could do a bit of a write up about it for The PNP Railways website. He suggested I take a look at The Station Road Steam site in their archive section to find out more about this 7¼” gauge Quarry Hunslet locomotive and its sister engine Pendlewitch.
I am inordinately fond of all small industrial working locomotives and I find the Quarry Hunslet to be a very appealing engine. The full-size locomotives were primarily built for the slate quarries of North Wales. They were produced by “The Hunslet Engine Company” in Leeds between 1870 and 1932. Designed for hard work, in harsh conditions over rough terrain they needed to be relatively light weight, durable and have a short wheelbase.
These locomotives ran almost continuously all year round until the decline of the slate Quarries in the 1960’s. Even today working Hunslet Locomotives can be found, still earning their living, serving the tourist and leisure industry mostly in North Wales, but also in other areas of Briton and some can be found in Canada and America (sadly these are usually for display purposes only)
Looking at the pictures on the Quarry Hunslet website I can pick out quite a few locomotives that I have enjoyed being pulled behind, I also had the honour, for the cost of a fiver, of driving Margaret a cab less Quarry Hunslet that was running on a short track alongside the Vale of Rheidol Light Railway from Aberystwyth to Devils Bridge.
Oh well! enough cooing over the Loco we must get down to some facts about The Quarry Hunslet. It is an 0-4-0 narrow gauge (2ft) Locomotive. Actually the gauge on the working engines was 1ft 10 ½” but now in preserved engines the gauge runs at 1ft 11 5/8” to 24 inches (600mm).
Most of these locomotives were originally constructed without a tender, rather utilising a slate truck or another piece of rolling stock, to carry extra coal for the engine as well tools and rope. Of course, the Hunslet is a saddle tank engine, its water supply being carried in a tank that rides over the boiler rather like a horse’s saddle. Personally, I think that this gives the locomotive a very pretty appearance.
The Original Quarry Hunslets were one of “The Hunslet Engine Company’s” most notable designs. The very first of its type emerged from the Leeds works in 1870 and was called “Dinorwic” after the Slate Quarry that it was built for. It was an innovative design for its day, its narrow gauge required to cope with the limited, narrow, rugged Welsh terrain.
The locomotive proved to be essential to the development of the slate industry utilising the existing tramways, rolling stock and wagons originally constructed for the antiquated horse drawn method of transportation that had itself developed when pack horse transportation had proved to be too laborious.
It is little wonder that many of these spritely locomotives have been lovingly reproduced in model form. Looking at The Station Road Steam Archive I found some information on Moel Fammau and a mention of Pendlewitch.
It appears that both these Locomotives were built by John Milner a founder member of the 7¼“ Gauge Society in 1973. John Milner was by profession an engineer, originally working in the aircraft industry, however in 1973 he made the decision to move into manufacturing miniature locomotives.
In later life he would claim that his fledgling business “Milner Engineering” in Chester was kept afloat during its first year by a commission he received from a gentleman in Bolton (who later became a President of the 7¼” Gauge Society) for a one third size Model of a Quarry Hunslet. Drawings and Castings for this reproduction were supplied by Roger Marsh enabling Milner to build the first in a long line of wonderfully crafted miniature Quarry Hunslets.
Moel Fammau the first locomotive produced by Milner and named after that Mountain above Mold was so well received in Bolton, that the gentleman immediately commissioned a second engine to be named Pendlewitch. Incidentally both these Locomotives stayed in Bolton with the original owner on his private railway until he died 30 years later.
Milner’s great skill and craftsmanship is very apparent in Moel Fammau. The locomotive itself is 55 inches long rising to a height of 33 inches at the top of the cab. She also sports, uncharacteristically, a 40” tender. There is a saturated steel boiler having expanded steel tubes and as in most locomotives it has a fusible plug in fire box (safety precaution allowing water to be dropped onto the fire if the water tank should run low, the screw in soft solder plug melts allowing remaining water to douse the fire in the boiler).
The working pressure is 90 PSI, with twin salter safety valves. The water feed is serviced by twin injectors, and there are mountings on the left-hand motion bracket and a pin on the crosshead for a mechanical pump to be fitted if desired. Cast Iron Cylinders inside slide Valves actuated by Stephenson’s valve gear with pole reverse in the cab. Drain Cocks are also operated from within the cab.
I am reliably informed that Moel Fammau is probably one of the best-known model Quarry Hunslet locomotives. Milner Engineering is responsible not least for building a good few dozen of these locomotives themselves, but they also produced drawings and castings for amateur model engineers to build their own Hunslets probably resulting in at least another few dozen builds.
Moel Fammau is undoubtedly a precise beautiful piece of engineering, presenting a graceful locomotive so why, I ask was, it painted that horrid Calf Scour colour?
And Paul, your choice of colour for the refurbishment of blue lined in black and white is not exactly appealing to me either. However, it is all a matter of choice.