Narrow gauge steam locomotive returns home

Watkin
Credit: FFWHR

The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway have announced that a narrow gauge locomotive has been moved to Caernarfon.

On March 31st 2019, De Winton locomotive, Watkin, was moved from its long-term home at Penrhyn Castle to the new three million-pound station at Caernarfon.

The locomotive is named after H. Watkin Darbyshire of the Penmaenmawr Stone Quarry where the locomotive worked. The locomotive was built in Caernarfon in 1893 by de Winton, whose works was immediately opposite the new station.

Watkin has been on long-term loan to the National Trust for the past 46 years, and has been cared for by staff and volunteers at the castle, in Bethesda.

Watkin rolled out the factory, brand new, in 1893, and was bound for the lofty heights of Penmaenmawr Granite Quarry where it would spend its 50-year working
life. Unfortunately, by 1944, its services were no longer needed, Watkin stood derelict on a siding near the
jetty at Penmaenmawr. In February 1966 the locomotive was purchased by Evan Hughes. Upon the death of Mr. Hughes, his daughter Mrs. D. Williams placed the engine on loan to the National Trust, and it was moved to
Penrhyn Castle in May 1972.

At Penrhyn Castle, the work began to restore and refurbish the locomotive, where it has since
stood in the Railway Museum.

What did the officials say?

Richard Pennington, House and Collections Manager at Penrhyn Castle explains why this is such
a bittersweet moment for the property:

“When the Watkin came to us if we hadn’t decided to care for it, it may just have been resigned to the scrap heap and lost forever. Although it wasn’t really connected to Penrhyn Castle’s history directly, it was felt that it was an important part of the areas story, one that needed to be
preserved.

“The team will be sad to see the engine they so lovingly cared for go but we’re over the moon that it is returning to Caernarfon where its life began and somewhere that is so relevant in its story. It will be a chance for a new audience to learn about Watkin and the roles these engines’ played in the industrial heritage of North Wales.“

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