GOWRIE was the last locomotive built for the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways, being built by the Hunslet Engine Company and delivered in September 1908. Although of the same 0-6-4T wheel arrangement as the two Vulcan Foundry Single-Fairlies which had been built in 1875, this locomotive works number 979, differed considerably in outward appearance.
After only 10 years’ service, GOWRIE was sold in 1918 to the British Government, having become surplus to requirements on the cessation of the passenger service in 1916. There are differing stories regarding the later life of this engine these include:
1. GOWRIE being used in 1922 on an aerodrome contract at Marske-by-the-Sea, Yorkshire and offered for sale in 1928 on completion of this contract.
2. GOWRIE was advertised for sale by J.F. Wake at Darlington with 1918 Wakes rebuild plate. Spares were supplied by Hunslet in 1924, it was still at Wakes Yard in Darlington when photographed in 1926 and continued to be advertised by them until the end of 1927. At the beginning of 1928 the Wake’s advertisements stopped and GOWRIE was then advertised Hughes Bolckow Ltd, The Aerodrome, Marskeby-Sea, North Yorkshire. No further adverts appeared and the last written record of the locomotive was in a Robert Hudson Ltd. list of 1931. In the column for January of this year it was noted that the locomotive was included on their stock list, but by the end of the year there was no mention of it still being in existence, so presumably by that date GOWRIE had been scrapped.
3. GOWRIE went to the Ministry of Munitions at an uncertain location circa 1918. It was offered for sale at various times between November 1919 and December 1920 in the Colliery Guardian, The Engineer, Contract Journal and Machinery Market. There is a report, not substantiated, that it was used on the construction of a new aerodrome at Marske-bythe-Sea, Yorkshire (North Riding) about 1921; if so, it was presumably hired. Between June 1922 and May 1927 GOWRIE was offered for sale several times again in Contract Journal and Machinery Market. Following the General Strike of 1926 and in a deteriorating economic situation Wake decided that he was never going to sell the majority of the locomotives in his yard. So in January 1928 he sold a considerable number to Hughes Bolckow and Company Ltd.. There usual business was ship breaking at Blythe in Northumberland, but at this period they had a base at Marske-by-the-Sea, in North Yorkshire. Between January 1928 and March 1928 this company advertised several Locomotives in Machinery Market including GOWRIE. All these are believed to have been unsold and to have been subsequently cut up in Wake’s Yard, after March 1928, although there is a possibility that they were resold to Elsie Hinds, South Bank Middlesborough, North Yorkshire and cut up there.
Works photograph of Hunslet No. 979 GOWRIE
The boiler, 2ft. 5ins. diameter x 8ft. 10ins. long, had a raised round topped firebox, the side tanks stopped over the middle coupled axle. There was no footplate around the front end and the rear bogie had outside frames. GOWRIE had 9½ins. x 14ins. cylinders, coupled wheels of 2ft. 4ins. diameter on a wheel base of 5ft. 6ins. and the power bogie was pivoted on the saddle riveted to the boiler barrel. The trailing bogie had wheels of 1ft. 10ins. diameter, with a wheel base of 3ft 3ins. and the total wheel base was 14ft.. The boiler contained 65 brass tubes of 1½ins. outside diameter providing 252 square feet of heating surface; the copper firebox had a grate area of 5sq. ft. and a heating surface of 30sq. ft., making a total heating surface of 282sq. ft.. The working pressure was 160lb. per sq. inch and steam distribution was by Walschaerts valve gear. The tanks held 400 gallons of water and the bunker capacity was 1 ton 2 cwt. of coal. The weight in working order came to 18 tons 10cwt. of which 11 tons 6 cwt. rested on the coupled wheels.
GOWRIE at Dinas. Note the altered steam pipe around the dome
Moving Away From The Original Design
The original GOWRIE reputedly could not provide sufficient steam for the demands imposed on it. This has been looked into by various parties and the consensus is that the locomotive was under-boilered. This is being addressed by designing a completely new boiler which will be slightly larger than the original. Other alterations are planned to bring the new locomotive up to more modern operating requirements without detracting from the appearance of the original. These will include such thing as a better lubrication system and the fitting of a twin instead of single pipe air brake system and a vacuum brake system. This will make the locomotive able to visit railways which have the different braking systems.
Please look at the news section of this website to follow our progress with the new build