There was a time when these little engines puffed and panted up and down practically every valley in Wales; when spoil heaps and pit head winding gear provided the back drop to the echo of their exhaust beats. So much has changed since then – the docks and wharves are marinas now, the sidings and sheds are supermarkets, car parks, or industrial estates. Whole communities of railwaymen and miners are now just pictures in a museum, or archive footage in some TV documentary of ‘times gone by’ – a nostalgia so thick you can cut it with a knife.
The past is presented as some golden idyll when everyone had work, everyone knew their place, and all was well with the world. We all know that really this is pure nonsense, but we prefer it to the grim reality, not only the grim reality of those long ago times, but the equally grim realities of today.
This was Barry in 1966, No.3612, and behind her No.34027 Taw Valley, both of which have seen a new lease of life since then, as for No.9629, well she’s slowly on her way back, 50 years on – which gives a whole new meaning to ‘slow train’.
Just had an update from a reader – No.3612 was broken up an used for spares, not returned to traffic. Hope this hasn’t spoiled your enjoyment of the blog.
The photograph of No.5775 shows her at work on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, sometime in the 1990s. The mill chimney in the background, like the pit head winding gear, is now just a piece of history, as is the mill.
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