A new attraction at our 2017 rally will be the Hunslet 2-6-2T locomotive No. 85 courtesy of the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR).
Hunslet 2-6-2T locomotive No. 85 was built in 1954 for service in Sierra Leone and purchased from a scrap dealer by the W&LLR in 1975. It’s been a feature exhibit in the summer-long festival of ‘Fire, Furnace and Steam’ at Blists Hill Victorian Town until Friday 25th August, after which it will then make its debut at Shrewsbury Steam Rally.
Edward Goddard, Society Chairman said: “We are delighted to have this great little engine, which as one of over a 1,000 exhibits, promises to be of great interest to our visitors”.
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The locomotive, which last ran on the mid-Wales heritage railway in 2010, has spent six years on display at the Locomotion Museum in Shildon, an outpost of the National Railway Museum. Since leaving there in April, it has visited the Armley Industrial Museum in Leeds, the city where it was built, then Hull, the 2017 City of Culture, the Museum of Water and Steam at Kew, and the 50th Anniversary Weekend of Tyseley Locomotive Works in Birmingham.
At Blists Hill Victorian Town, the locomotive has been placed beside the London and North Western Railway goods shed, where visitors would see it as soon as they entered the town. Displays created by the Friends of the Sierra Leone National Railway Museum (FoSLNRM) accompany No. 85, telling the stories of slavery and freedom, colony and independence, and the special story of the Sierra Leone Railway.
The grand tour of UK heritage sites, funded by a £22,800 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, celebrates the many links between the UK and Sierra Leone. When restored the loco will be able to form the African Train, running with two Gloucester-built Sierra Leone Railways bogie carriages that the railway also purchased in 1975. After No. 85 has travelled to Shrewsbury it will return to the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway a week later as part of the line’s annual Steam Gala on 1st-3rd September. Information: www.wllr.org.uk