Earl of Merioneth to bow out at Ffestiniog

Double Fairlie Earl of Merioneth will haul a revenue-earning train for the last time on April 8, as the 0-4-4-0 is set to semi-retire from service on the Ffestiniog Railway.

 Set to be withdrawn semi-permanently on April 8,  Earl of Merioneth  undergoes winter maintenance at Boston Lodge on January 24 2017. THOMAS BRIGHT/SR

Set to be withdrawn semi-permanently on April 8, Earl of Merioneth undergoes winter maintenance at Boston Lodge on January 24 2017. THOMAS BRIGHT/SR

Built in 1979, Earl of Merioneth is arguably the first major new-build steam locomotive built in Britain in the preservation era, and will be the first new-build engine to be withdrawn when it hauls its final train into Porthmadog on April 8.

‘The Earl’ will depart Porthmadog at 13.35 on the day, with the return trip from Blaenau Ffestiniog expected to arrive back at the terminus at 16.15. Although the train is a regular scheduled service with no premium ticket prices, early booking is recommended as tickets are expected to be in high demand.

The Ffestiniog Railway is also offering the chance for two people to win a footplate ride on Earl of Merioneth’s penultimate train on April 7. Details of how to enter can be found here.

Affectionately known as ‘The Square’ owing to its angular appearance, the double Fairlie’s ten-year boiler ticket is due to expire, and requires a new boiler, boiler cradle, smokeboxes, chimneys and water tanks before it can steam again. Its current power bogies, built in 1986, will be overhauled and used in the construction of a new double Fairlie, James Spooner (see SR474).

Earl of Merioneth will be placed in dry storage on its original 1979-built power bogies, so as not to preclude restoration at a later date.