What is the Lyd Project?

Lyd steamed for the first time in public on May 2nd. 2010 at Boston Lodge Works.

This is a project to build a replica of one of the long-lost Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Manning Wardle locomotives. These fine engines were last seen in operation in 1935, after which the line they ran on closed and the locos were scrapped - with the exception of one which was exported to Brazil and never seen again.

The Inspiration for Lyd

In the early part of the 20th Century the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway formed, arguably, the most sophisticated development of the British narrow gauge. Its story has been told in numerous books and articles, culminating in the unhappy closure in 1935. It was a line connected in many people’s minds with Sunny West Country holidays. This may account for the enormous nostalgia on a par with other lost lines such as the Somerset and Dorset, and for the large number of period amateur photographs. These often featured the three elegant locomotives purpose built for the line in 1897, followed by a fourth in 1925.

One or two of the project supporters actually rode on the line in their childhood. Many who missed the opportunity dream of recreating similar scenes from the past for the benefit of present and future generations. These ambitious proposals are now becoming reality.

The Birth of the Project

A band of keen and hard working activists is actively working to restore the line to its former glory, a painful and lengthy task. In the meantime, James Evans, West Country based enthusiast of all things L&B, resolved that the sight and sound of these distinctive machines should be seen and heard once more within a reasonable timescale. To this end a partnership was formed with the Ffestiniog Railway for the replica to be completed in their Boston Lodge Works. Paul Lewin - since appointed General Manager of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways - took on the task of Project Manager. Boston Lodge Chief Mechanical Engineer Jon Whalley has had an active role in the project throughout. James Evans had chosen the name ‘Lyd’ to coincide with the practice of naming L&B locos after Devon rivers and had already started design work and fabrication of the frames. In 1996 work to date was transferred to Boston Lodge.

Progress to 2009

Lew - The fourth L&B locomotive: bought, in 1925, by the Southern Railway from Manning Wardle.

In the past ten years, as with any project of this magnitude, there have been times of significant progress and times awaiting resources to proceed. The rolling chassis, with connecting and coupling rods, is complete and has already travelled over fifty miles of running and testing hauled by other motive power. The boiler was completed seven years ago and sits in the frames awaiting final fitting up and lagging. The key players remain the same with James, Jon and Paul regularly working on different aspects of the project. There is a large supporting cast too, including many FR footplate crews who have operated the Ffestiniog Railway ‘Guest Driver’ scheme to earn extra income for the project. The FR team that built single-Fairlie replica ‘Taliesin’ have also provided some very gratefully received support including building the cowcatchers (an unusual adornment on a UK locomotive). Although the original chimney from ‘Yeo’ exists within the ‘Lyd’ team it is too fragile for use and a beautifully crafted replica sits at Boston Lodge awaiting final fitment. The fruits of the endeavours were last admired at ‘Railfest’ at the National Railway Museum in 2004. Since then the loco has rarely been available for public inspection.

Progress to date

Following many months of sustained hard work, good progress on Lyd can now be seen. The cab has been trial fitted and removed to allow work on the backhead. The back head itself is looking more like a steam engine and less like a bare boiler. Work is in hand on a first class overhaul of a vacuum ejector and many of the fittings worked on for so many years are now emerging from cupboards to be put in place.

A great source of pleasure is seeing the curved slotted links and weigh bar shaft complete and ready for installation. These items were last seen as long lead time parts sought from the beginning and finally they are done and the motion can be assembled.

As with any one-off engine project, the final assembly can take longer than expected with two steps forward and one back. We do not want to rush the important finishing stages so our planned launch tour with the locomotive for spring 2010 has been put back, probably till autumn 2010.

At 1100 on Sunday May 2nd, 2010, Lyd's burner was lit for the loco's first public steaming. An hour later, the safety valves began to lift and Lyd's whistle was sounded for the first time. The Bishop of Bangor blessed the loco using water from an upturned England sand pot.

It is estimated that Lyd could be ready for its first trials within three months.

Of course, offers of financial help in these final stages is till warmly welcome as we approach the finish line with the bank account that is rather close to empty. If you can help please contact Paul Lewin at [email protected]

Some Technical Details

Lyd is blessed by the Bishop of Bangor at Boston Lodge Works.

Boiler design has been given particular attention. The aim has been to achieve peak economical performance. The original envelope, although small in diameter relative to its length, has been retained. A higher boiler pressure will be used along with a modest degree of superheat or ‘steam drying’ to improve the power output. Originally designed for oil firing the locomotive is now most likely to burn coal. The ability to change fuels is incorporated in the design.

Pony truck design has created some heartache. Although the L&B was not deficient of curves they were not of unduly sharp radius. To allow more flexibility in operating over sharp radii, the truck suspension has been revised and has also received detailed alterations to allow more side play. The unusual Joy valve gear has received detailed analysis. Although some small anomalies have been discovered in the original drawings the valve events appear to be excellent. A working model of the valve gear has been created to check the operation of the valves.

Future Operation

Where will ‘Lyd’ operate? Those who have seen the scenery on the mountain stretch of the Welsh Highland Railway cannot fail to see the similarity with Exmoor. ‘Lyd’ is planned to operate both on the WHR and the FR. Originally it was not expected that the loco would fit the FR loading gauge due to problem with clearances on the cab in the tight tunnel on the FR at Garnedd. Many ‘Lyd’ supporters are also FR members and have expressed strong opinion that they would like to see the locomotive run on the FR. To this end the loco will be fitted with a slightly modified cab to permit operation on the FR. In all other respects the locomotive meets loading gauge requirements as drawn.

Operational experience on the WHR to date has shown that larger and more powerful locomotives are desirable. As such whilst ‘Lyd’ is expected to work the line it will only be capable of lighter workings, with a likely haulage capacity of five bogie vehicles.

It is of course possible that the locomotive will be available for hire to be used on other lines. As the L&B restoration moves forward it is possible that the loco will operate there, once the length of lines and loadings demand such a powerful machine. It must be recorded that, in respect of developing and re-opening the L&B line, both the ‘Lyd’ team and the L&B company share a similar vision. Cordial relations exist between the two groups and ‘Lyd’ team members are regular visitors to the Woody Bay HQ of the L&B revival.

How can you help?

With the locomotive 80% complete, and with half the funding to completion on hand, a further £40k is all that is needed to see a Lynton & Barnstaple loco in action again. Regular donations continue to be made by existing contributors and the ‘Lyd’ team work hard to raise funds by other means too. You can join the team either by making a lump sum donation (preferably using gift aid) or by making small regular payments. Those donating more than five hundred pounds will be assured a place on the first passenger train hauled by ‘Lyd’. Donations in excess of one hundred pounds will ensure receipt of the annual ‘Lyddite’ newsletter and special access to the locomotive and project team on official open days.

Any donation brings you the satisfaction of knowing that you helped to make the dream of a working Lynton and Barnstaple locomotive a reality.

For more information: write to Paul Lewin (‘Lyd’ Project Coordinator), Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways, Harbour Station, Porthmadog, LL49 9NF.

The address for donations is:

Bill Edmondson
Lyd Project
Bushy Cross Lane
Somerset TA3 5JY

You can download a gift aid form here (.pdf)


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