Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Bells And Whistles

The latest FR magazine arrived through the letter box the other day which is always a good thing.

I was pleased to see it came with a new leaflet making an appeal for the funding to finish the restoration of Welsh Pony, which is something I called for on this blog a couple of months ago.

(Not that I'm taking any credit, I'm sure the wheels were in motion anyway.)

It was also making the case for cash to pay for all the bits to build the new James  Spooner, complete with ornate bells, without robbing the mortal remains of Earl of Merioneth as it goes into its enforced hibernation.

There was a statement in the leaflet that struck me as a little odd, though.

It explains, in not so many words, that the Earl is knackered and needs a new boiler, new tanks and new carrier frame.

Therefore, it says, it makes sense to use these new parts as the basis for a brand new locomotive.

How so?

I get that these parts are the basic ingredients of a Fairlie superstructure, but why does it 'make sense' to designate it as a new locomotive?

Why not consider it a rebuilding of the Earl, (in its existing shape, of course) in the best FR tradition?

It is the precise opposite of the logic of the Welsh Pony project.

With that engine requiring a new boiler and new frames critics have asked why not have left the original alone and called the new one Little Giant?

I can't help thinking that the James Spooner project only 'makes sense' if you start from the assumption that all Fairlies should be curvy and not angular like the dear old 'Square'.

That said, what does make sense about the appeal, and is the reason I endorse it, is that it will ensure that my favourite Fairlie will be kept intact and not suffer the indignity of Livingston Thompson, which was unceremoniously dumped, denuded of all its ancillaries, resting on a pair of slate wagons for a decade and a half before it was done up for display.

I know there are many of us who are determined 'the mighty square' will return to action one day, and your support of this appeal will make that more likely.


  1. The article in Steam Railway justifies JS based on the railway's heritage, while conveniently forgetting that the square is an integral part of that heritage - albeit a more modern heritage than some might prefer. Heritage is not just a single, idealised view of one point in time - it's a continuum, and needs to be preserved that way, too.

  2. You're absolutely correct Peter, and future generations would not thank us for carelessly discarding our recent heritage at this time.
    I think the penny has dropped - belatedly- with the Earl but not before the company was committed to the JS project.
    I fear there is still some work to do as regards recognition of the significance of the '60s & '70s carriage fleet.

  3. It's a shame that the 60's/70's cars are all disappearing/being modified. I read in the summer that C-set was planned to represent a traditional FR modern set with 102, 105, 114 and 14 a the basis. Unfortunately, it looks like the FR has changed their mind as 102 is being converted into a twin to 123 and one of the Carnforths is being turned into a mini service car which is a bit odd, considering it's a lot more work than what was previously announced...