Ffestiniog Railway set to bid farewell to steam locomotive ‘Lilla’

Lilla at Minffordd
Credit: FRCo/PAL

The Ffestiniog Railway is set to bid farewell to steam locomotive ‘Lilla’ this weekend as the locomotive bows out of service ahead of an overhaul.

Lilla will be in steam prior to the overhaul this Saturday, 10th November 2018.

The Hunslet locomotive arrived at the Ffestiniog Railway in 1993 in a tired but operable condition. Being a small engine, it isn’t seen on the normal heavy service trains, but can be seen on P-Way trains, as well as taking part in special weekends and trains on both the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways.

Until 12 years ago, Lilla carried its original boiler from when it was built in 1891, this was thought to be the oldest boiler still in regular use. However, with regret, the decision was made to build a new one for the Quarry Hunslet.

A new boiler was made in short order and was fitted to the locomotive. Now, ten years later, its first overhaul is now due. Lilla could be used until March 2019, however, the team overhauling her want to use the winter months to get a head start on the work needed to be completed.

Halfway through its last boiler ticket, Lilla was dismantled for a full bottom end overhaul – this was probably its first extensive overhaul since it was brand new (built in Leeds). With four years left on its boiler ticket, the team chose to make the most of this lovely locomotive and run the locomotive rather than take it out of service. Performance of the locomotive has been brilliant and has since spurred on the team to press on with the boiler work without delay.

Currently, Lilla is seen in Cilgwyn Green, she was painted in this colour by young volunteers in 2016 and has since been seen at a number of PR events, including the Shrewsbury Flower Show.

Lilla is funded by the Lilla Loco Group, who purchased her for use on the Ffestiniog Railway in the late 1990s. They have since raised more than £110,000 for the locomotive. The group has thanked the Ffestiniog Railway Society for their support in financing the locomotive.

Often seen on Slate Shunt programs, which offers guest driving opportunities, Lilla will be replaced by ‘Hugh Napier’, which is owned by the National Trust and is cared for by the Lilla Loco Group.

We have seen Lilla on a number of occasions, and we look forward to welcoming her back to steam in the future.

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