Diesel locomotive ‘Feanor' will haul passenger trains at the Leighton Buzzard Railway gala this Sunday (17 September), for the first time in more than a decade.
Feanor is a a 60S-class Motor Rail Simplex locomotive, built at the Motorail works in Bedford as a 50hp Dorman 3LA machine and delivered in 1956 to be hired. Simplex locomotives were based on a World War One trench tractor design, and are commonly used on industrial narrow gauge railways.
In 1964, it was upgraded to 60hp with a Dorman 3LB engine, and took up residency at what was to become British Industrial Sands at Middleton (near Kings Lynn in Norfolk). In 1980, it transferred to the Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway (LBNGR). The Railway rebuilt No 18 Feanor with a larger cab and closed bonnet, then fitted air brakes which enabled it to work mainline passenger trains.
In 1999, the 4wDH ‘Beaudesert' (112hp) arrived at the LBNGR, and with its lesser power, Feanor was relegated to secondary turns, particularly jobs on the Permanent Way. It made occasional outings, on which it was recognisable for its immense noise!
Feanor has recently been extensively overhauled by the 60S Group, and will take final acceptance testing on Saturday (16 September) during the first day of the gala, in preparation for its return to the mainline. Feanor is a mixed-traffic loco, and will be showing off its versatility by bringing in the morning freight, hauling two passenger specials, and taking away the evening freight.
Five different locomotives will be working on the mainline on the day, with more shunting in the yard at Page's Park. This year, trains will run directly from Page's Park to Stonehenge before departing via Munday's Hill back to Page's Park, the reverse of the Railway's usual normal operation