Talyllyn Railway will be hosting its first standard gauge locomotive in steam for a ‘Grand Finale’ gala over the weekend of July 1-3.
Built by Fletcher, Jennings & Co., like the Talyllyn Railway’s own original locomotives ‘Talyllyn’ and ‘Dolgoch’, ‘Captain Baxter’ will be joining its two narrow gauge cousins for the event. The gala celebrates both ‘Dolgoch’s’ 150th anniversary and concludes the railway’s 150th birthday party.
‘Captain Baxter’ will be running on a specially laid section of track at Tywyn Wharf Station, offering a unique opportunity to see standard gauge steam in action on the railway.
Based at the Bluebell Railway, the world’s first preserved standard gauge passenger carrying railway, ‘Captain Baxter’ started operations in 1960 from Sheffield Park Station in East Sussex and now extends to East Grinstead.
However, it was inspired in part by the success of Talyllyn Railway, which became the world’s very first preserved railway in 1951, inspiring a movement that now spans the globe. Therefore, it is appropriate that the two railways are working together to make this event happen.
Built in 1877, ‘Baxter’ was delivered to the Dorking Greystone Lime Co, where originally it was their locomotive No. 3, but was later named ‘Captain Baxter’. It was persevered when the quarry closed and moved to the Bluebell Railway in 1960, being returned to steam in 1982.
‘Captain Baxter’, ‘Talyllyn’ and ‘Dolgoch’ will be joined by a fourth Fletcher, Jennings built locomotive, ‘William Finlay’, which has recently been purchased by the Narrow Gauge Museum Trust based at Tywyn Wharf Station. It too was supplied to the Dorking Greystone Lime Co., but it was built to the unusual gauge of 3ft 2½ in, and is being cosmetically restored by the museum for static display.
A Talyllyn Railway spokesperson said: “Our 150th party, when we had the locomotives ‘Prince’ and ‘Russell’ in steam at Tywyn Wharf, caused huge excitement. Now we are going to offer another unique sight with a standard gauge locomotive, ‘Captain Baxter’ in steam at Tywyn Wharf. This is going to be another once in a lifetime event that is not to be missed.”