Sir Haydn (locomotive)

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Sir Haydn
Talyllyn Railway No. 3 Sir Haydn - 2018-06-16.jpg
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
BuilderHughes's Locomotive & Tramway Engine Works
Serial number323
ModelFalcon class
Build date1878
Total produced3
 • Whyte0-4-2 ST, originally 0-4-0 ST
Gauge2 ft 3 in (686 mm)
Driver dia.2 ft 6 in (762 mm)
Wheelbase8 ft 3.5 in (2.53 m)
Length16 ft 6.5 in (5.04 m)
Loco weight9 long tons 19 cwt (22,300 lb or 10.1 t)
(11.1 short tons)
Boiler pressure160 lbf/in2 (1,100 kPa)
CylindersTwo, outside
Cylinder size7 14 in × 12 in (184 mm × 305 mm)
Performance figures
Tractive effort2,900 lbf (12.90 kN)
NumbersCR/GWR/BR/TR: 3

Sir Haydn is a narrow gauge steam locomotive, built by Hughes's Locomotive & Tramway Engine Works of the Falcon Works, Loughborough in 1878. It operated on the Corris Railway in Wales, until closure in 1948, and since 1951 has operated on the nearby Talyllyn Railway. It has carried the operating number 3 under four successive owners.


Corris Railway[edit]

The Corris Railway was a 2 ft 3 in (686 mm) gauge tramway built in 1859, which ran from Machynlleth north to Corris and on to Aberllefenni to serve local slate quarries. Originally, the line was horse-drawn, but three identical 0-4-0 ST locomotives, numbered 1 to 3, were ordered from Hughes' in 1878.[1] Between 1883[2] and 1900, the locos were fitted with trailing pony trucks, converting each of them into an 0-4-2 ST.[3][4]

During the 1920s locos 1 and 3 were dismantled, "cannibalised" and rebuilt as a single loco using the best parts of each, with the resultant loco carrying the number 3. As a result, loco No.1 was withdrawn as life expired in 1923; meanwhile No.2 remained intact and available in reserve until 1928.[4] At the end of the 1920s negotiations began to sell the Corris Railway to the Great Western Railway and a report dated 12 October 1929 stated that locos 1 and 2 had been "marked off for some time as scrap";[5] they were handed over to a local scrap merchant and excluded from the assets taken on when the purchase was completed on 4 August 1930.

In the Great Western period the line was largely dependent on the slate output of Aberllefenni Quarry, which from 6 April 1935 was leased by the local member of parliament, Sir Henry Haydn Jones.[6] His support for rail transport for the quarry's output was critical in keeping the railway open up to and including World War Two; without this support it is likely that the railway would have closed and the locomotives been scrapped. No. 3 was still working when the Corris came under the control of British Railways following nationalisation in 1948, but operation under this organisation proved short-lived as the last train ran on 20 August that year. It then was left under tarpaulin at the rear of the Corris Railway's Machynlleth Station along with the other remaining Corris engine, No. 4.[7]

Talyllyn Railway[edit]

The Talyllyn Railway was built in opened in 1866 and ran from Towyn (now spelt Tywyn) to the slate quarries of Bryn Eglwys, only a few miles from Corris. It was built to the same gauge as the Corris Railway, but unlike that line used steam traction from the start. The line and quarries were bought by Sir Henry Haydn Jones in 1911. The venture made little money, but despite the closure of the quarries in 1946, Haydn Jones continued to operate the railway at a loss until his death in 1950.[8]

That same year, a group of enthusiasts, including the author Tom Rolt, had looked at the possibility of operating the railway on a volunteer basis. With the agreement of Haydn Jones' widow a deal was made, and control of the railway passed to the newly formed preservation society.[9] One of the major problems facing the railway was the lack of motive power; the railway owned two locomotives, the first of which, Talyllyn, had been out of service for some years, and the second, Dolgoch, was in need of a major overhaul. The society therefore approached British Railways to attempt to purchase the two remaining Corris locos, and successfully negotiated to purchase them at £25 each[10] (equivalent to £771 in present-day terms).[11]

Sir Haydn at Abergynolwyn in 1953. Note that at this time, the locomotive faced downhill towards Tywyn as there was no opening on the left-hand cab side

No. 3 had been unnamed on the Corris, but received the name Sir Haydn upon arrival on the Talyllyn Railway, after the former owner of the railway; it seems that at that time it was not appreciated the crucial role Haydn Jones had played in keeping the Corris line running in the 1930s, which had played an important part in ensuring the locomotive's survival. Along with No. 4, it kept its Corris number, giving both locos the unusual distinction of carrying the same number though the ownership of four different railway companies (the Corris, Great Western, British Railways and Talyllyn Railway).[12][13] Because both railways were built to the unusual gauge of 2 ft 3 in (686 mm) it was relatively easy to adapt the Corris locomotives to work on the Talyllyn Railway. Sir Haydn became the first new locomotive to travel on the railway for over 90 years. Upon arriving Sir Haydn was the engine in better condition but frequently derailed however and could not be used safely. Upon inspection it turned out that the Talyllyn track was laid approximately 0.5 inches (13 mm) wider than the official gauge, a deliberate policy by the old company to accommodate the long wheelbase of Talyllyn. The two original Talyllyn locomotives had unusually wide wheel treads that allowed them to stay on the wide-of-gauge track. This problem was eventually cured by the fitting of wider wheel treads and by a Territorial Army members' exercise in 1953 relaying the railway to its correct gauge making Sir Haydn usable. The original cab was replaced in the 1960s.

Return visits to Corris[edit]

The Corris Railway was reopened to passengers in 2002, and No. 3 returned there in June 2003 for a month of running trains to celebrate the railway's rebirth. It returned again at the end of April 2012 to run a series of special trains before the expiry of its boiler certificate in May, and remained at Corris until 24 April 2013. Afterwards No. 3 commenced a tour of various railway sites in England to help raise funds for an overhaul, which was undertaken at the Vale of Rheidol Railway workshops, in Aberystwyth, before returning to service on the Talyllyn in June 2018.

The Corris Railway is currently constructing a new locomotive based on the design of No. 3.

In fiction[edit]

Talyllyn No. 3 in the guise of Sir Handel at Tywyn Wharf

Sir Haydn is the basis for the character Sir Handel in The Railway Series, running on the fictional Skarloey Railway.

In the 1980s, the Talyllyn Railway repainted Sir Haydn to represent Sir Handel. Christopher Awdry wrote this into the 1985 book Great Little Engines, explaining that Sir Handel was visiting the line to help out. An incident in which Sir Haydn ran into a tree branch and was given a bandage and eyepatch was turned into a story in the book, with almost no alteration from the real event.


  1. ^ Boyd 1965, p. 42
  2. ^ Corris Railway Society Journal 2010
  3. ^ Boyd 1965, p. 44
  4. ^ a b Davies et al. 1966, p. K264
  5. ^ Corris Railway Society Journal 1981
  6. ^ Corris Railway Society Journal 1988
  7. ^ Potter 1990, p. 176
  8. ^ Potter 1990, p. 41
  9. ^ Potter 1990, pp. 69–71
  10. ^ Potter 1990, p. 194
  11. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  12. ^ Holmes 2009, p. 39
  13. ^ Davies et al. 1966, p. K265


  • Boyd, James I.C. (1965). Narrow Gauge Railways in Mid Wales. Oakwood Press. ISBN 978-0-85361-024-3.
  • Davies, F. K.; Firth, J. M.; Lucking, J. H.; Thomas, R. E.; Allcock, N. J.; Sterndale, A. C.; Barrie, D. S. M.; Reed, P. J. T.; Mountford, E. R. (April 1966). White, D. E. (ed.). The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway, part ten: Absorbed Engines, 1922–1947. RCTS. ISBN 0-901115-20-7.
  • Holmes, Alan (2009). Talyllyn Revived. The Talyllyn Railway. ISBN 978-0-900317-07-1.
  • Potter, David (1990). The Talyllyn Railway. David St John Thomas. ISBN 978-0-946537-50-1.
  • Cozens, Lewis (1949). The Corris Railway.
  • The Corris Railway Society (1988). A Return to Corris. Avon-Anglia Publications. ISBN 978-0-905466-89-7.

External links[edit]