• Builder: George England and Co.
  • Configuration: 0-4-0ST+T, originally 0-4-0T+T
  • Cylinders: 8" x 12"
  • Boiler pressure: 160 psi
  • Driving wheel diameter: 2 ft.
  • Wheelbase: 4' 6"

Palmerston was built in 1864. She was restored to service in 1993 after many years out of service, including a period when used as a stationary boiler at Boston Lodge. Went to Derbyshire for restoration in 1974, returning in 1987. Her only brother still in steam is Prince.


Palmerston is (probably) the fourth loco made for the FR. It was delivered to the FR in March 1864. The engine was named after Viscount Palmerston (1784-1865), Liberal Prime Minister and Chairman of the Welsh Slate, Copper & Lead Mining Co's quarry at Blaenau Ffestiniog.

At the start of the maintenance books, in December 1874 Palmerston is in the works awaiting ferrules for a second hand set of boiler tubes (from Little Giant). They arrived and were fitted, 4 months later!

Palmerston was sent to Llanwnda (Dinas) in May 1876 to help with the construction of the NWNGR. By September the record shows that a man had to be sent from Boston Lodge to repair 'her'. Palmerston returned to the FR on 9th July 1877. On return, there was a long list of repairs including wheel turning, new pistons and piston rings, crankpins, neck rings, piston cotters, closing up slidebars, closing up eccentric straps,link motion overhauled, axle boxes refitted, reversing lever and quadrant overhauled, 4 mudholes re-tapped, new brakeblocks, new gauge glass and valves set up. It wasn't until 30th July that the engine was fit for traffic.

By 1879 the tyres were working loose, they tried fixing them with steel pins in October but by December the tyres had been replaced by those of Mountaineer. The cylinders then started to go, a brass patch was fixed on a cylinder, but it didn't hold, the cylinder burst in March 1880. A major refit followed with the cylinders, the smokebox, the sandpots, the crossheads and slidebars all being replaced. It was fitted with 'sham' saddle tanks made from cast iron (weighing 24cwt) to improve adhesion. The first of the original engines to be treated this way.Two new whistles were put on (only one previously). A year later it had a lubricator put on. From December 1881 there is a constant comment that it needs retubing, but in the end it was withdrawn for a complete new boiler in 1886.

The engine re-entered traffic in September 1888 and became the first of all the England Engines, to be rebuilt with both a saddle tank and an enclosed cab. In 1889 it was fitted with "new sanding apparatus" which seems to be steam powered. On 13/12/90 the works recorded "Repairs required after Engine leaving rails at Tanybwlch through carelessness - all hands 14 days repairing".In 1891 the cylinders were recorded as being "in a very bad state". The valve port bridges were cracked and a piece of iron was bolted in. However this was to no avail, the cylinders finally failed in April. As part of the rebuild the opportunity was taken to shorten the length of the cab by 8 inches to enable it to have better access to the wharves at Portmadoc. Palmerston seemed accident prone in the 1890s. In 1892 an axle broke, In 1895 it was damaged "by running into Quarrymans train at Oakleys curve", In 1897 it was damaged at Glanypwll in July and at Minffordd in December. In 1900 it was retubed with Red Metal tubes from Livingston Thompson. From 1905 it started to get leaks from the firebox and it is recorded as coming out of service in October 1907.

It was rebuilt in 1910 with a Low Moor Iron boiler. The cab and tank were set 1 1/2" higher and a new balance weight fixed to the front footplate. The following year the axle from Little Wonder broke and the engine was repaired at Glanypwll, with the wheels, rods and eccentrics sent to Boston Lodge for refitting.

During the eleven years commencing in 1912, Palmerston was hired to the Vale of Rheidol Light Railway on a number of occasions as follows:

31 July - 21 August 1912 3 weeks in 1913 6 July - 4 August 1914 periods in 1921 and 1922 In 1923 Palmerston was used in the construction of the WHR from 9th May 1923 until a few days after the line was opened.

The locomotive had one more overhaul in 1930 to 1933. It really needed a new boiler, but in the end the boiler barrel from Little Giant was fitted and it then worked until the late 1930s. By 1940 it had been taken out of service and was being used as a stationary boiler for Boston Lodge Works. During part of this time (1942-44) it was also used as a stationary boiler for the Glaslyn Foundry. Parts from it were used in the 1955 restoration of Prince.

But by the late 60's what was left was considered beyond repair. However it was sold to a consortium in 1974 and removed to Derbyshire, together with a wooden framed tender that had also done service as a coal wagon (number 38) and then with Linda & Blanche as each was first put into service on the FR following arrival from the Penrhyn Quarry Railway.

The partially restored Palmerston, came back to the FR in 1987 for the final stage of its restoration, including the fitting of a new welded boiler, new cylinders and new wheels.

Palmerston re-entered service in 1993 as a coal-fired locomotive, for use on special trains and charters. In 1994 it visited the Chemin de Fer des Chanteraines in Paris, visiting Hollycombe in Sussex en route, and the Teifi Railway in mid-Wales.

On 19-20 September 1998, it ran between Dinas and Caernarfon on the WHR for the first Enthusiasts' Weekend. On 24-25 October 1998, it ran on the WHR(P) for the fifth Annual Gala, while Russell was visiting the WHR(C), returning to the FR in September 2000.

In 2003, Palmerston was withdrawn for overhaul and retubing by a team of volunteers, returning to service in 2005.

In autumn 2005 Palmerston was fitted with a new spark arrestor as part of wider coal firing trials. This was deemed a success with the loco steaming well whilst not throwing any sparks. On 9th September 2006, Palmerston become the first steam locomotive to run on the re-instated, phase 4, WHR track at Pitt's Head. Palmerston was helping celebrate the 125th anniversary of Rhyd Ddu station, carrying out demonstration runs with Mike Hart's Simplex. Palmerston was the first steam locomotive on this section for 69 years. The locomotive's appearance commemorated its use on both NWNGR construction and WHR construction hire duties. Palmerston was again on its travels in early 2007 with a visit to the National Railway Museum at York. On 27th October 2007 Prince & Palmerston became the first England Engines to get to Cwm Cloch on Phase 4 in over 71 years, for a photographic special.

Palmerston spent May 2008 in West Sussex at the Hollycombe Steam Collection. On 24th October 2008 Palmerston and Prince became the first England engines through the Aberglaslyn Pass in 72 years for a photographic special.

Principal physical dimensions are the same as Prince but the rated pressure of the new boiler is 180psi and it is rated to haul 5 carriages on the FR and 3 on the WHR. The maximum speed is limited to 15mph.

Bertram is based on her.

Ffestiniog Railway

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.