Friday, 7 June 2013

Welsh Pony - My Pledge

Yesterday my dream came true as the FR announced its intention of restoring the surviving Large England Welsh Pony.

The news came just a few weeks after it was unveiled at the Steam 150 event following a remarkable cosmetic makeover.

There are probably very few people still alive who can remember seeing the loco in use. It is thought it last ran in 1939.

I have wished to see it restored since I was a child. Like many of my generation my clearest memory of Welsh Pony is the 17 years it spent, in essence, as a kids climbing frame on a plinth in the car park at Harbour Station.

For me the restoration of Welsh Pony is the great unfinished business of the FR revival.

Back in the 1950's it was considered 3rd in line for overhaul following Prince and Taliesin (as the youngest Double Fairlie was then known) but the boom in traffic and the almost continuous motive power crises saw it drop down the priority list as ready-to-run reinforcements Linda, Blanche and the Peckett (!) were obtained.

By the late 60's with train loads ballooning, and even Prince now out of traffic, no one was talking about needing Welsh Pony any more.

Yet come the new Millennium with the FR fully restored and Heritage the buzzword any suggestions of getting Pony back in harness were still firmly rejected.

I recall conversations over a pint with FR movers and shakers who insisted it would happen over their dead bodies, while others would proclaim there was no use for any more puny locomotives.

It was the current GM, Paul Lewin, who got the restoration band wagon rolling in public, expressing the view that the locomotive had deteriorated so much during 70+ years of neglect that doing nothing was not an option and so what was the harm in going the whole way?  And besides, he argued, future generations would learn much more about the early days of locomotive power on the FR by seeing these historic engines in steam and doing what they were built for.

To an outsider it must seem incredible the way the FR has apparently neglected such priceless artefacts / assets. Which other railway has close on a complete set of original equipment but either kept it hidden away or worse, still, rusting in a car park?

I think future generations will wonder why it took so long, and why there was such a political battle that had to be fought to get Welsh Pony restored?

It will have a major contribution to make to WHR heritage as well as its own place in FR history. As far as I am concerned it is, along with Russell, one of the iconic WHR locomotives.

Just how fabulous is it going to look posed next to the recently restored water tower at Beddgelert, eh?

So let's cut to the chase.

I've explained why I have wanted all my life to see Welsh Pony run again, and this is my pledge.

From now until the day the locomotive turns a wheel under its own steam once more I will donate 10% of revenue from the sales of my 009 Boston Largs Works kits to the Welsh Pony Appeal.

As one of our major retailers would say, every little helps.

If you wish to help too you can find details of how to donate here


  1. For all of us who only saw it on the plinth it will be a great day to see it steaming