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Vale of Rheidol Railway to restore Victorian Locomotive

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

The Manning Wardle "Jubilee 1897" has been sold to the Vale of Rheidol Railway

When a heritage railway reopens later this year, it will have a new addition - a 123-year-old steam locomotive used by Welsh Slate. The 11-tonne Manning Wardle "Jubilee 1897" has been sold to the Vale of Rheidol Railway, which runs between Aberystwyth and Devil's Bridge.

The line did not carry any passengers in 2020 due to the pandemic. However, bosses hope they will be able to start operating again by late-summer this year. The railway line was used to transport lead ore from mines between 1902 and the 1930s. These days it carries tourists, while volunteers at its workshop at Aberystwyth station restore locomotives for museums and railways across the UK.

The new addition, which was named to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, initially worked at Cilgwyn slate quarry in Nantlle, hauling waste to remote tips.

Jubilee 1897

After being withdrawn from service in the late-1930s, the locomotive was restored and displayed by the Narrow-Gauge Railway Museum Trust at Tywyn, Gwynedd. In 2016, Jubilee 1897 was moved to Felin Fawr and dismantled, with the plan being to restore it and use it as a steam locomotive in a project at Penrhyn Quarry Railway. However, the project collapsed and parts were relocated to Aberystwyth in 2018 as its owners worked out what to do with it.

Jubilee 1897 will now stay permanently on the Vale of Rheidol Railway, with chairman Robert Gambrill saying: "We are delighted to have secured the sale from Welsh Slate of this significant addition to our roster and can assure Welsh Slate she will have a happy home with us. Manning Wardle is a locomotive builder not previously represented within our collection so we jumped at the chance to secure an example of this manufacturer. The team will restore this "historic Welsh locomotive" to run again by 2023. While it is unlikely it will pull passengers, bosses said it will be on display and run during special events.

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