A BRAND new steam locomotive built by a local railway engineering firm is up for a national award.
The Corris steam locomotive No 10 has been some 15 years in the making, and was unveiled for its first public steaming at an open day at Alan Keef Ltd’s Lea works near Ross-on-Wye last September.
It is hoped to start operating the engine on the Corris Railway in North Wales this year, and the loco and re-modelling at the station with a new platform, track layout and traverser have been nominated by Steam Railway magazine and the Heritage Railways Association for the honour, alongside nine other projects.
The new Falcon narrow gauge steam engine is expected to cost some £400,000 in total, with funds raised via the heritage railway and from contributions from steam fans.
Founded in 1859 as a horse tramway, the Corris Railway served the local slate quarries running from quays on the Afon Dyfi west of Machynlleth.
Tracks able to support locos were laid down in the 1870s, and three Falcon engines arrived in 1878, which enabled passenger traffic.
But in 1930 it stopped ferrying passengers and closed completely in 1948, with its locos later acquired by the Talyllyn Railway.
Sixteen years later, a group of enthusiasts led by Alan Meaden formed the Corris Society with the aim of preserving and restoring what was left of the railway. Later renamed the Corris Railway Society, it acquired a new loco in 2005, and the idea of having a replica of its original No 3 Falcon loco to share the load then fired up steam fans to start a new round of fundraising.
The No 10 project is now close to fruition, after rail fans were blown away by its first public steaming at Lea Lines last year.
Family-owned business Alan Keef Ltd was founded in 1968, and is run today by managing director Patrick Keef and Alan’s daughter Alice Basey as chief design engineer.
An initial trial assembly took place in the workshop of a CRD volunteer in Nottingham before the sections were taken to Keef’s for the main assembly.
A post by Alan Keef said: “Our work on heritage narrow gauge railways has been recognised and utilised around the world where sound historical understanding of the railways needs to be melded with craftsmanship and modern engineering.
“We undertake complete projects from initial inspection and survey through to restoration and installation or can work on a consultancy only basis to provide specialist teams with the back-up and knowledge they need to make their project a complete success.”
Voting for the awards is online at www.steamrailway.co.uk/read/hra-awards