Friday, 6 March 2015

The History of Moel Siabod and Carriage 5

At Snowdon Mountain Railway we are proud of our heritage and history spanning three centuries. We are very excited to see the reintroduction of Locomotive number 5 after an absence of 15 years and the re-building of carriage number 5.
An early picture of locomotive 5 with carriage 5

Historic picture of number 5

Locomotives numbers 4 and 5 were ordered in 1896 in the second batch of rolling stock after the arrival of locomotives 1, 2 and 3. All of the first 5 locomotives were manufactured by the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works of Winterthur Winterthur CH | Stadler . The first locomotives cost the railway £1,525 each, which in today’s money would be £181,205.88. An agricultural worker would earn on average £0.66p per week and would have taken 45 years to save up for it! Number 5 was named Moel Siabod after the nearby mountain in the Moelwynion range and at 872m it is the highest peak in the range. Like all of our steam locomotives the boiler is inclined to ensure the boiler tubes and firebox remain level on the steepest gradients, this is common to all mountain rack railways across the world.

In 2000, the boiler that was on locomotive number 5 (which we still have in storage) failed an inspection due to damage to the fire box. As the locomotive was no longer required for operations, it was removed from service and placed in storage. Over the years our rolling stock is all subject to wear and tear.  It is unclear how many different boilers loco 5 has had over the years, but with an average lifespan of 30-40 years so we think it has had 3 or 4 boilers. The water tanks and locomotive cab has been rebuilt many times. However, the chassis and the running gear of locomotive number 5 is all original from 1896.

The Original Chassis for locomotive number 5

Carriage number 5 was also ordered as part of the second batch of rolling stock in 1896 from the Lancaster carriage works and arrived in the original livery of brown and cream. The original design had the distinctive Snowdon Mountain Tramroad & Hotels Company header boards at the top of the carriage and curtains with no glass in the windows. The header boards were removed in the 1920’s as the ownership of the railway changed. In the 1950’s the carriage body was rebuilt and changed to the distinct design with 3 windows in the front and the livery changed to red and white. Carriage 5 remained unchanged until it was removed from service in 2012. 

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