The University of North Georgia's Student Newspaper




160-Year Old Steam Locomotive returns to service

Hiraeth Film (Twitter)
The 160-year-old engine freshly painted in a sleek dark blue livery.

It is an unforgettable time for railway enthusiasts and history buffs alike as the iconic steam locomotive “Talyllyn” is set to make a triumphant return to service after undergoing a comprehensive six-year overhaul. The Talyllyn Railway, nestled in the mountainous country of Wales, celebrates the return of one of its oldest and most cherished engines.

Built in 1864 by Fletcher Jennings of Whitehaven, Cumbria, “Talyllyn” holds a distinguished place in railway history as one of the oldest regularly operating steam locomotives in the world. Its rich heritage dates back to its construction specifically for the Talyllyn Railway, where it played a crucial role in the rail line’s development and operations since its arrival in early 1865.

Over many long years of service, the locomotive underwent periodic maintenance and modifications to adapt to evolving operational needs. However, by Sep. 2018, its boiler ticket expired, which led to “Talyllyn” being taken out of service and sent off for a thorough overhaul to ensure its continued operations.

The ambitious overhaul project began with dedicated volunteers embarking on the full refurbishment and restoration of the historic locomotive. The process involved meticulous attention to detail from the boiler to the frames, cylinders, water tanks and many other parts. 

“Talyllyn’s” overhaul has been an extensive project filled with dedication and hardwork. (S. Bowers)

Many people in the modern day question the significance and relevance of locomotives. What makes the Talyllyn Railway so special is that it holds the title of being the world’s first preserved railway. This historic narrow-gauge railway was not only instrumental in the transportation of slate but also holds a unique place in history as a pioneering example of railway preservation, showcasing the evolution of railway technology for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

The Talyllyn Railway prides itself for it’s volunteer services. Since their preservation in 1951, the railway has relied heavily on volunteers to keep everything running smoothly. As time has gone on, volunteers from around the world will come to contribute their time and passion to the preservation and operation of this historic railway. Luke Bowerman, a three year volunteer, provided some insight on how welcoming the work environment is like on the rails.

“I think my biggest takeaway is no matter who you are or what your background is, as long as you are willing to work and learn, the TR will accept you into the family.” – Luke Bowerman, Talyllyn Railway volunteer

Now, as the overhaul nears completion, everyone is excited for the triumphant return of “Talyllyn” to the rails. The locomotive’s return of service marks not only a milestone in its storied history but also a testament to the time and perseverance of the volunteers who worked tirelessly to make sure she can continue running for years to come.

To celebrate the momentous occasion along with the 75th anniversary of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society, the Talyllyn Railway has announced their new plans to expand their railway within the next 5-6 years. The “Preserving Our Past, Building Our Future” project aims to enhance resources for the future, including new engineering workshops, carriage maintenance facilities and a year-round paint shop. Increasing engagement with the local community and diversifying involvement in running the Railway, including accommodating neurodiverse individuals, is a key aspect to the railway’s future plans.

Plans also include improving volunteer accommodation and enhancing visitor knowledge of the Railway’s heritage through year-round facilities at Tywyn Wharf. The project, estimated to cost around £4 million ($5 million), has received funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and will involve phased implementation over five to six years, with additional fundraising efforts underway through initiatives like the 75 Appeal. 

As of April 2024, the railway has raised £14,401.00 ($17,842.00 USD) towards the project and is well on its way to success.

Leave a Comment
Donate to Vanguard

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of North Georgia. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Stillman Blaylock
Stillman Blaylock, Staff Editor
Hi there! My name is Stillman Blaylock and I am a Junior at the University of North Georgia. I am currently majoring in Communications with a focus in Multimedia Journalism in hopes of working in the entertainment/gaming journalism industry. Outside of my studies, I enjoy writing, cooking, programming, and spending time with my loved ones.
Donate to Vanguard

Comments (0)

All Vanguard Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *