BALDWIN- "Felin Hen"

The three Penrhyn "Baldwin" locomotives where for some of us amongst the most interesting of the Penrhyn fleet.

Purchased by the Penrhyn Estate in 1924 from the Government Disposal Board with the view that they would ease the strain on the three Hunslets.

Penrhyn invested much time effort and money in these locomotives and expectations were high. On arrival at Port Penrhyn the axles/wheels were removed and re-gauaged at Felin Fawr works and re-fitted at the Port. The three locomotives were then towed to Felin Fawr were work commenced on giving them the British Hunslet "look". Work included Hunslet chimneys, back sheets on the cabs and name plates. The three were then given the finishing touch, black livery and Penrhyn lining.

On the 12th of October 1925 firing of the three engines commenced at Felin Fawr! I think the problems encountered from this point on are well documented! For some reason Felin Hen and Llandegai did not like the tight radius of the Dinas curve near Hendurnpike and on three occasions left the rails were as Tregarth never did! Other problems included leaking tubes (Tregarth) and what would seem Penrhyn's inability to fire them. Again and again efforts were made to over come these problems with little success.

A final attempt being made in 1929 with Tregarth ended in total exasperation and the engine was abandoned at Lon Gorse sidings with the view that it could be used for shunting wagons on the Red Lion level of the Quarry, however, due to the fact that they did not like uneven trackwork there was little chance that it would have been sucsessful.

Penrhyn were desparate to dispose of the three however, their reputation had proceeded them. Work commenced in 1929 on the conversion of Llandegai to a stationary engine for the saw mills but this again prooved pointless as two years later it was taken to the Port and scrapped.

Tregarth became a rusty work of art still abandoned on its siding until 1940 when the war effort took its toll. Felin Hen had been stored at the Port engine shed up until 1940 when it was made ready for steam trials. Trials that led to the locomotive being shipped accross war torn seas to Bundaberg Queensland. Working at the Fairymead Sugar Co in 0-6-2 form and with spark arrester fitted up until 1968.

Felin Hen went into preservation and was stripped down and prepared for re-build by the Bundaberg Steam Tramway Society, however in 2002 the engine was purchased privately and in July that year returned to Europe.

I think it is no secret that Felin Hen is curently in France and as the photos below show restoration is well under way. It is intended to return the locomotive to WW1 specification and livery.

Builder Baldwin Locomotive Works Philadelphia USA
Works No's467644682847143
WD No'sUSA5096USA5104USA5159
Penrhyn No'sNo.3 TregarthNo.2 Felin HenNo.1 Llandegai
Wheel arrangement2-6-2
Weight Working Order12 tons
Steam Press178lb

The Penrhyn Railway Trust would like to thank Mr D Brewer for supplying the photos below and for letting us use them. I think we should also thank Mr Brewer for tracking down Felin Hen in 1999, work that led to the current restoration. Also special thanks to our chairman for his help with this.