Book Sale Aids Falcon Locomotive Funding

Falcon Loco - 190821

Established in 1950 the Historical Model Railway Society has accumulated a large archive of drawings, photographs, other documents and books which are housed in its dedicated building at the Midland Railway Centre in Derbyshire. This is an invaluable resource for both modellers and railway and social history purposes and available to Society Members.

Many of the books housed in the library have been donated to the HMRS by its members or left in legacies and this continues to the present day. However this means that there is a duplication, or greater multiple, of titles that are offered and already held and the Society looks to find good homes for these rather than seeing them go from cherished possessions to being pulped for recycling.

The HMRS Librarian is Ian Cross from Derby who amongst other interests is an engineering volunteer with the Corris Railway which is restoring the narrow gauge line in the Dulas Valley, north of Machynlleth, in Mid Wales.

Ian has produced, and helped to produce, some components for a new steam locomotive which should enter service on the Corris in the autumn of 2022. It is a small tank engine, based on a design dating from 1878, and the completion date depends to a great extent on the rate of fundraising. Although the new Corris Falcon would comfortably fit in the tender of Tornado or Flying Scotsman it is not a cheap project and will finally cost in the region of three hundred thousand pounds.

To help matters along Ian had a sales stand at the Corris’ Gala Weekend, September 4th and 5th, selling some of the duplicated titles. This followed on from previous successful selling efforts on behalf of the Midland Railway Centre and the Bishops Castle Railway Society. His stock was further helped by some large donations from Hudson’s Transport Bookshop in Matlock.

As a result of the generosity of supporters, the HMRS and Hudson’s the funding for the new Falcon benefitted to the tune of four hundred and eighty eight pounds which a supporter of the project rounded up to five hundred pounds.

Information about the Falcon locomotive project can be seen at www.corris.co.uk

Family Connections At The Corris Railway Gala Weekend September 4th and 5th 2021

Campbell Thomas and ancestors

The Corris Railway’s Gala over the weekend of September 4th and 5th was notable for the brief return of the former Corris Railway steam locomotive No. 4, now based on the neighbouring Talyllyn Railway and named Edward Thomas. Until this short stay in its original haunts the centenarian, a Tattoo class locomotive built by Kerr Stuart in Stoke on Trent in 1921, had not headed a passenger train from Corris station since 1930. The visit was to mark the locomotive’s centenary and it carried a suitable birthday headboard.

The visit of the locomotive also brought some welcome visitors whose parents and grandparents had worked on the Corris before its closure in 1948. Selwyn Humphreys is the son of Humphrey Humphreys who was the last regular driver – and fireman, as he did both jobs amongst others – on the line, working from the locomotive shed at Maespoeth Junction where No. 4 was housed during its return. Elizabeth Humphreys, Humphrey’s sister, was the final station mistress at Corris.

The Corris Railway’s mechanical engineer in the 1920s when No. 4 was delivered was Albert Hulme who performed or arranged work on the locomotive to ensure that it worked reliably after initial problems. Not to mention a mishap when the original chimney was damaged in a collision with an overhanging branch or structure. Clearly a first class engineer he was also responsible for amalgamating components of the original trio of Loughborough steam engines built in 1878 into one locomotive which, numbered 3, worked with No. 4 until the Corris line was closed by British Railways. Sadly he seems to have lost his job when the Great Western took over the Corris in 1930 and returned to his native Manchester.

Albert’s grandsons David and Stephen came to the event where they met Mrs Jackie Jeffery whose grandfather Thomas Squire worked with Mr Hulme on the Corris in 1926, when he lived in Esgairgeiliog, served by the next station down the line from Maespoeth Junction.

After the Corris closed in 1948 it would have been logical for the two steam locomotives to have been quickly reduced to scrap metal but the station master at Machynlleth, Mr Campbell Thomas, hoped that they might have a future life and kept Nos. 3 and 4 sheeted over in the goods yard at his station, away from prying eyes. Had it not been for the actions of Mr Thomas it is unlikely that No.4 would have survived to the age of thirty, let alone seen its centenary. After three years under his care, they were purchased by the Talyllyn Railway in 1951, where they have served ever since, helping to establish the Talyllyn as the world’s first heritage railway. Without the two Corris locomotives it is unlikely that the Talyllyn preservation project would have succeeded, and the history of railway preservation might have been very different.

To recognise his role in the birth of railway preservation No. 4 was temporarily renamed Campbell Thomas and this was done in the presence of Chris Magner whose book The Saviours of British Railways Narrow Gauge Railways tells the tale of how Mr Thomas and other BR officials helped to conserve and preserve locomotives and infrastructure of Mid Wales narrow gauge lines including the Welshpool and Llanfair and the Vale of Rheidol.

After the Gala Weekend No. 4 was to return to the Talyllyn for a Gala Weekend on September 11th and 12th which will further mark its centenary and the 70th anniversary of the Talyllyn’s revival. It will be accompanied by Corris No. 7, a 2005-built version of the same Kerr Stuart Tattoo class.

Volunteer Work Input As Work Continues On “Falcon” No. 10 For The Corris Railway

Trial fit of boiler

Following on from the first operation of the wheels and motion of Corris new-build 0-4-2ST No. 10 at Alan Keef’s, courtesy of compressed air, on June 25th work has continued both by Keef’s and Corris Railway Society volunteers.

After running on air, the next job was to fully fit the volunteer-built trailing truck to the loco, involving making up the pivoting slide block that transfers some of the loco’s weight to the truck, fitting the pivot stretcher and side control spring brackets to the frame plates.

After that one of the next jobs was to trial fit the boiler for the first time and this has also been done now so really two major milestones have been achieved in quick succession.

The boiler fitted its space correctly which was expected, given the calibre of the people who have carried out the work this far. (The boiler was drawn up by Graham Morris and built at Israel Newton’s as one of the first main parts to be made in 2012). There was a minor problem of clearance on a couple of inside motion links but this was soon sorted with Corris volunteer Jack Evans providing the photos and measurements that Patrick Keef needed from Loco No. 3 at the Talyllyn Railway. Thanks go to the TR for their ongoing help.

Up-to-date photographs can be viewed on the Corris Railway website in the photos section and the loco running on air in the videos section, or they can found on the Google photo page where Keefs upload progress photos at https://www.corris.co.uk/keef

Another area of the build currently being tackled is the brake system. So far the parts have been made by volunteers but will now become a joint effort with Keef’s fitting the parts already made. Ian Cross is taking the lead and doing most of the machining, Bob Hughes and Chris Kirkham have machined the three cross shafts and Ade Britchford has welded up all of the components so far. The first batch are parts of the linkage from the handbrake in the cab, which along with the previously cast brake stand mean that after the necessary footplating has been made, these parts can be fitted to the loco and then work will progress in a forward direction.

In his Nottingham workshop another CRS volunteer, Andy Cooper, has made a start on assembling the cab which is going well, again because of the quality of the work so far. Graham Morris designed the cab earlier in the project as a compromise between the original Corris style features but taller than original to accommodate 21st century footplate crews. Graham French took this forward with his own surveying of the built frames and details taken from the existing remnants of No. 3’s 1930’s cab to produce the current C.A.D. drawings of the loco from which working drawings of the cab can be lifted. The end result is that Andy took delivery of a set of steel plates, laser cut to shape with a combination of square holes where needed and round pilot holes elsewhere for the front, rear and sides of the cab. So far all appears to be spot on so that he had what he regards as the relatively simple job of supplying some angle and flat section steel which are cut, shaped and in a few cases welded and then drilled as appropriate to bolt the panels together.

The most demanding part of cab construction so far has been to create the opening fireman’s side panel to make access for coaling up at Maespoeth Junction easier. Not wanting to weld a couple of big ugly hinges to the outside, the aim is to make the hinge part as unobtrusive as possible from the outside so it has been made from scratch.

Eventually most of the parts will be riveted together but for now bolted is more practical. When all of the sub-assemblies have been made the intention is to take everything to Keef’s to be trial fitted, modified as necessary and details worked out for the bunkers, which apart from coal space will be used to accommodate the air brake system and communication system parts.

As always the date of the entry of No. 10 into traffic in the Dulas Valley and on the extended section of running line depends on the rate of fund raising. Online donations can be made via www.corris.co.uk or cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, Worcestershire, B97 5YS.

Photograph courtesy of Alan Keef Limited.

Corris Railway Gala Weekend – September 4th and 5th 2021

No.s 7 and 4 at Maespoeth Junction Engine Sheds 250821 - Side View

Owing to the events of 2020 and the early part of 2021 the Corris Railway’s Annual Gala Weekend is later this year and will not follow the usual mixture of trains and differing steam and diesel locomotives in action.

However there is an undoubted highlight of the plans and that is a chance to ride behind a steam engine that last worked passenger trains on the Corris in 1930. It is also marking its own centenary.

The locomotive is Corris Railway No. 4, built in Stoke on Trent in 1921. It worked on the line from Machynlleth to Corris and Aberllefenni until it was closed by British Railways in August 1948 and seemed destined for scrapping. However it was kept sheeted over and protected from prying eyes by the Machynlleth stationmaster Mr Campbell Thomas and was eventually purchased by the volunteers who had taken over the Talyllyn Railway and began the heritage railways movement.

Since the early 1950’s No. 4 has been a mainstay of Talyllyn services and has been named Edward Thomas – although it also appears as Peter Sam, the character in the railway books for small children, created by the Reverend Awdry. It has returned to the revived section of the Corris, between the station in Corris itself and Maespoeth Junction, once before but the Corris Railway was not then passed for passenger services and No. 4 headed demonstration freight trains.

In 2005 construction work was completed on a new steam engine for the Corris which is a 21st century version of No. 4.

These two steam engines will be heading passenger trains over the two days which will leave Corris station at 11.00, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00, 15.00 and 16.00. Tickets can be purchased at the station on the day of travel. Passengers will travel in carriages built by volunteers to the original Edwardian layout of those hauled by No. 4 in the 1920’s. The original passenger services ceased in 1930.

The Museum and sales area at Corris station will be open and if enough Corris Railway Society volunteers are available there will be visits to the carriage shed at Maespoeth Junction. There may also be an opportunity to see the work on the southern extension of the line.

Another new steam engine is being built for the Corris, based on a trio constructed for the Corris Railway in Loughborough in 1878. It should enter service in autumn 2022 but this is dependent on fund raising. To help things along there will be a sale of railway books, priced two pounds each. Stock has been donated by supporters of the Corris revival and is augmented by donations of duplicated items from the library of the Historical Model Railway Society.

Progress At The Corris Railway – August 2021

As the year moved from July into August the Corris Railway was able to take further deliveries of stone and material for the construction of the embankment, necessary for the extension of the revived section of the narrow gauge railway southwards from Maespoeth Junction in the Dulas Valley.

An additional source of this is the work which is getting underway to build a new road bridge over the River Dyfi at Machynlleth. Although the stone is not required as part of the bridge works it does accrue costs including transport when acquired and used by the Corris.

As ever with the new embankment, made necessary by part of the original railway trackbed having been lost during improvements to the A487, the pace of works depends upon the weather in the Dulas Valley being favourable for construction and financial contributions towards the project. Payments for The Southern Extension can be made online via www.corris.co.uk or cheques, payable to Corris Railway, can be sent to The Corris Railway, Dept SE, Station Yard, Corris, Machynlleth, SY20 9SH.

The volunteer workforce of the Corris have done further work on the next new build carriage, the clerestory roofed number 24, which is being constructed in the carriage shed at Maespoeth Junction with an initial fitting of the wooden lower side panels. The volunteers are also continuing with restoration and construction of vintage waggons and the next to be built will be a recreation of one of the distinctive trestle waggons which once moved slabs of slate from the quarries for transhipment to mainline trains at Machynlleth. Another job being undertaken in the workshops is the making of brake gear components for new build steam locomotive number 10, which is planned to enter traffic towards the end of 2022.

Volunteer work is also underway with work on the ground frame which will control points as part of the new station trackwork at Corris. The work to produce the new track layout, which will include a traverser to allow locomotives to run round their trains, and a new station platform, is planned for the first quarter of 2022.

Corris Railway Steam Locomotive Will Take Passengers From Corris Station For The First Time In Eight Decades

Corris Nos. 7 and 4 on Talyllyn - 23-10-2011

Subject, as all events in 2021 must be, to possible pandemic enforced changes, Saturday August 28th will mark another landmark in the revival of the Corris Railway. At 11.00 steam locomotive No. 4 will head its first passenger train from Corris station since 1930. Further trains headed by No. 4 will leave Corris station at 13.00 and 15.00. Tickets must be pre-booked via www.corris.co.uk/tickets

This historic moment is part of the celebrations of the engine’s centenary year. By 1921 the Corris Railway’s original trio of steam locomotives had been working for four decades in the Dulas Valley north of Machynlleth and were becoming time expired. To deal with the problem a new engine was ordered from Kerr Stuart Limited in Stoke-on-Trent whilst the best parts of the original trio were combined by Albert Hulme, the CR’s engineer, to produce a single locomotive. This retained No. 3 and the new engine became No. 4. The remains of Nos. 1 and 2 were scrapped whilst Nos. 3 and 4 worked passenger, slate and general goods traffic between Machynlleth and Aberllefenni. No. 4 was a Modified Tattoo class locomotive, a design dating from 1904.

In 1930 the Great Western Railway took over the Corris and at the end of the year passenger traffic ceased to run. Freight continued, although services were eventually reduced to three days a week, and the narrow gauge line became part of British Railways in 1948. In August of that year the railway was closed as the River Dyfi was threatening to breach the trackbed near Machynlleth.

The Corris was built to the unusual gauge of 2 feet 3 inches and the pair of engines looked destined to be cut up in short order. However Mr. Campbell Thomas, the Machynlleth Stationmaster, hoped that they might be found new life on the neighbouring Talyllyn Railway which shared the gauge. To this end the locomotives were kept sheeted over and as far as possible out of sight.

In 1948 the Talyllyn was being kept alive by its owner Sir Henry Haydn Jones and he felt unable to purchase either. However after Sir Henry’s death the TR was taken in hand by enthusiasts and became the world’s first heritage railway in 1951. With only one working engine of their own the pioneers were, after negotiations with British Railways in Swindon, able to purchase the Corris locomotives for a new life at Tywyn.

After overhaul by the Hunslet Company in Leeds No. 4 entered Talyllyn service in 1952 and has been a major part of train operations there since.

It has returned to Corris once before, in 1996. At that point the revival of the Corris had not reached a point where it could carry passengers but No. 4 worked demonstration freight trains which lifted the CR’s profile and was part of the launch of an appeal to build a new locomotive based on the Tattoo design. That appeal was successful and No. 7 began to work in the Dulas Valley in 2005.

After its first trains on the Corris on August 28th No. 4 will work alongside No. 7 during a Gala Event that will see them operating passenger trains between Corris and Maespoeth Junction on September 4th and 5th. Details of this and booking arrangements will appear at www.corris.co.uk

During the following weekend September 11th and 12th both No. 4 and No. 7 will be in action on the Talyllyn Railway.

FOR COMMENT ON THIS RELEASE PLEASE CONTACT;-
Richard Hamilton-Foyn, Corris Railway Society Chairman, via 07740 828334.

Corris Railway Society Calls Off Model Railway Exhibition But Will Operate On Additional Dates In August

Model Railway Layout

After consideration of the ongoing Covid guidance and uncertainty, the Corris Railway Society has regretfully decided to cancel its planned Model Railway Exhibition which was due to take place on August 28th and 29th at Y Plas in Machynlleth.

By the nature of the Exhibition there was a likelihood and risk of people grouping around layouts and at trade stands and the CRS decided that calling off the event would be the safest and responsible course.

However the Corris is keen to stress that its steam trains will continue to operate from Corris Station as advertised so that visitors may enjoy a relaxed view of part of the beautiful Dulas Valley. It has now added additional operating days in August further to its advertised Sundays and these additional trains will run on Saturdays August 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th, plus Bank Holiday Monday August 30th. Trains will leave Corris Station at 11.00, 13.00 and 15.00 and tickets must be booked in advance via www.corris.co.uk/tickets

The Corris is also accepting bookings, subject to volunteer staff availability, for its Your Railway for the Day package in which groups of up to six, or even individuals, can drive steam, diesel or battery electric locomotives, work with the guard and the signalman and enjoy exclusive use of the Railway.

A Major Landmark As Wheels And Motion Of New Build Corris Railway Steam Locomotive Move For The First Time

No. 10 is alive

A major landmark in the progress of the new build Corris Railway steam locomotive, Falcon No. 10, was reached in the week ending June 25th when the wheels and motion moved for the first time. This significant event took place courtesy of compressed air, and some temporary pipework fittings, at the workshops of Alan Keef Ltd near Ross-on-Wye. Video of this can be seen at www.corris.co.uk Some further fine tuning was required but all went well on the first run.

The project has already had its boiler constructed by Israel Newton, and other components constructed or ready for finishing include the smokebox and its fittings, buffers and chimney. Volunteer input to the project has also included work on brake gear components, and the pony truck for the 0-4-2ST. Cab components have been produced. However there is more construction to be done and components including cab fittings to be purchased, many of them distinctly expensive to obtain. The Corris wishes to thank everyone whose financial support has seen this progress made.

The new steam locomotive will be the second to enter service on the revived section of the oldest narrow gauge railway in Mid Wales, situated in the beautiful Dulas Valley between Machynlleth and Dolgellau. No. 10 is a 21st Century evocation of a trio of engines built in 1878 at the Falcon Works in Loughborough. One of these is now Sir Haydn on the Talyllyn Railway. The new build will differ from the originals in some respects, most notably a higher cab to accommodate drivers and firemen who are taller than their Victorian predecessors. The new cab does however have a similar outline to that carried by the original trio during their time at the Corris.

The target for the completion of the locomotive, subject to continued successful fund raising, is September 2022 when it will appear as the centrepiece of a charity open day at the workshops of Alan Keef Ltd. Subsequently it will enter traffic on the Corris.

Donations for the new engine are welcome and can be made online at www.corris.co.uk or cheques, payable to Corris Railway, can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, B97 5YS.

The Great Little Trains Of Wales Welcome The Corris Railway To Membership

The first train on the first weekend of passenger services in 2021

The ‘Great Little Trains of Wales’ is delighted to announce the Corris Railway will be joining as its latest new member, joining the existing eleven Welsh scenic railways in the consortium.

The railways which make up the Great Little Trains of Wales (GLTW) have in common that they travel through some of the very best scenery the British Isles has to offer and a very special way of seeing it aboard a historic narrow-gauge steam train. Each railway shares the same passion for its history and surroundings and takes pride in the charm of its old-time steam trains, polished paintwork and brass, but each railway also offers something a little quirky and different to its passengers.

The inclusion of the ‘Corris Railway’ brings the consortium to twelve (see below for full list of members) and adds further prestige to this already world-renowned brand. Amongst its members, GLTW boasts the oldest independent railway company in the world, one of Europe’s most exciting railway projects, and some of the most recognisable engines on the planet – including enthusiasts’ favourite, ‘Russell’.

GLTW Secretary, Ray Reid said:

“‘The Great Little Trains of Wales’ was started in 1970 to encourage visitors to come to Wales in general and to ride the narrow-gauge railways in particular. The addition of the Corris Railway to the existing eleven railways makes the GLTW’s Discount and Gold cards even better value and a must have for anyone intending to visit several of the railways during the year.”

The ‘Corris Railway’ is a 2’3” gauge railway, whose origins date back to the 1850’s. It was initially built to carry slate from the quarries at Corris Uchaf and Aberllefenni in the Dulas Valley. The railway ran until 1948, but preservation began in the 1960’s. Today it operates regularly with a mix of steam and diesel traction between Maespoeth and Corris Station, and has exciting plans to extend its operations.

Richard Hamilton-Foyn, Chairman of the Corris Railway added:

“When the preservation of the Corris Railway started in 1966, the pioneer volunteers had nothing but one decrepit building to work on. Since then, we have purchased land, restored the infrastructure, laid track and built a completely new train with modern recreations of the original Corris Victorian carriages and a Corris steam locomotive. As we move into the next phase of the development of the railway with a second steam locomotive, a new station in Corris and a southern extension we are delighted to have been invited to join the GLTW organisation. We are ready to contribute to the future prosperity of all of the Great Little Trains here in Wales.”

See the best for less: For just £15 buy the ‘Great Little Trains of Wales Discount Card’ which gives you a 20% discount on the price of a return journey on all 12 members’ railways (including the Corris Railway!) – which is valid for one year from the first date of use (Terms & Conditions apply). There are also discounts for ‘Great Little Trains of Wales’ Card holders with selected accommodation providers close to many member railways. Cards are available at Booking Offices and online at GLTW website: www.greatlittletrainsofwales.co.uk

Visit Great Little Trains of Wales at: www.greatlittletrainsofwales.co.uk

Extra information: The 12 GLTW member railways are:

Progress At The Corris Railway

The entry into traffic on May 30th of the latest new build carriage number 23 for the Corris Railway proved to be timely as the services on that day, and the following Bank Holiday Monday, ran virtually full with the new online tickets service working well. With Covid precautions in place, and the need to deep clean trains between workings, the Mid Wales line ran three round trips from Corris station to the current railhead on the Southern Extension. This meant that trains returning to Corris had to restart on the 1 in 30 gradient and passengers were able to enjoy the sound of steam Tattoo locomotive No. 7 tackling the gradient and the load.

With number 23 in service the carriage building team at Maespoeth Junction has begun to fit woodwork to the steel skeleton of number 24. Floorboards have been put and place and the first pieces of bodywork were added. Also being tackled in the carriage shed at the Junction was heritage waggon number 5 which will form part of demonstration freight workings in due course.

Volunteer work has also continued with components for new build Falcon locomotive 0-4-2ST. In the East Midlands the fittings for the smokebox door are complete and the door is ready for fitting when the smokebox work is completed at the workshops of Alan Keef Ltd, where work on the motion is approaching completion. Buffers for the new loco have been constructed at Maespoeth and volunteer work is underway on the brake gear. Donations for the new engine are welcome and can be made online at www.corris.co.uk or cheques, payable to Corris Railway, can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, B97 5YS.

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