Tom Rolt (locomotive)

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Tom Rolt
Tom Rolt at Tywyn Wharf - 2005-07-16.jpg
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Builder Andrew Barclay Sons & Co.
Serial number 2263
Build date 1949
Total produced 3
Rebuilder Talyllyn Railway
Rebuild date 1991
Number rebuilt 1
 • Whyte 0-4-0WT0-4-2T
Gauge 2 ft 3 in (686 mm)
Driver dia. 2 ft 0 in (610 mm)
Trailing dia. 1 ft 4 in (406 mm)
Wheelbase 9 ft 10 in (3.00 m)
Length 18 ft 8.5 in (5.70 m)
Loco weight 14.25 long tons 285 cwt (63,800 lb or 29 t)
31.9 short tons
Boiler pressure 180 lbf/in2 (1.24 MPa)
Cylinders Two, outside
Cylinder size 8 12 in × 12 in (216 mm × 305 mm)
Performance figures
Tractive effort 5,527 lbf (24.59 kN)
  • BnM: 1 → 43
  • TR: 7

Tom Rolt is a narrow gauge steam locomotive constructed by the Talyllyn Railway, using parts from an Andrew Barclay locomotive built in 1949 for Bord na Móna.


Bord na Móna[edit]

The engine began life working for the Bord na Móna. This is a semi-state company in Ireland, created by the Turf Development Act, 1946. The company is responsible for the mechanised harvesting of peat, primarily in the Midlands of Ireland. This company uses narrow gauge railways to carry vast amounts of peat.

It was one of three 3 ft (914 mm) gauge 0-4-0WT well tank locomotives built by Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. in 1949; initially numbered 1 to 3; they were later renumbered 43 to 45.

Talyllyn Railway[edit]

As passenger numbers continued to grow during the late 1960s the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society realised that further motive power was needed, especially as the rebuilt No. 1, Talyllyn was not performing well. However, as the 2 ft 3 in (686 mm) gauge of the Talyllyn Railway was so unusual they could not buy an engine with the correct gauge, so would either have to buy and re-gauge an engine or else make a new engine. In 1969 the Talyllyn Railway purchased an 0-4-0 well tank engine from Bord na Móna, unofficially named Irish Pete, in order to create the new locomotive they needed.

Tom Rolt at Nant Gwernol

The new engine was built in 1991 at Pendre works on the Talyllyn Railway.[1] The frames,[citation needed] boiler, driving wheels, cylinders and other parts of the 0-4-0 well tank engine from Bord na Móna were used. The new engine became an 0-4-2 side tank and was named Tom Rolt after the author L. T. C. Rolt who inspired the Talyllyn's preservation.

Tom Rolt is running in the standard Talyllyn Railway livery of deep bronze green lined with black borders and yellow lining.

In fiction[edit]

All the steam engines on the Talyllyn Railway (and diesel locomotive Midlander) appeared many times in The Railway Series books by the Rev. W. Awdry on the Skarloey Railway. Tom Rolt formed the basis for the character Ivo Hugh.

Unlike the rest of the Talyllyn Railway engines Ivo Hugh only appeared in one story in which he was the new engine to arrive. His name, Ivo Hugh, is a reference to his real name, Tom Rolt, with even the same amount of letters and words. Also in the book of Thomas The Tank Engine in which he appeared (New Little Engine) it was announced he was named after the former Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Skarloey Railway, Mr. Ivo Hugh. This is a reference to Tom Rolt being named after an L.T.C Rolt on the Talyllyn Railway.


  1. ^ "Tom Rolt". Talyllyn Railway. Retrieved 2014-12-15. 


  • Bate, J.H.L. (2001). The Chronicles of Pendre Sidings. RailRomances. ISBN 1-900622-05-X. 
  • Boyd, James I.C. (1965). Narrow Gauge Railways in Mid Wales. Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-024-X. 
  • Holmes, Alan (2009). Talyllyn Revived. The Talyllyn Railway. ISBN 978-0-900317-07-1. 
  • Potter, D. (1990). The Talyllyn Railway. David St John Thomas. ISBN 0-946537-50-X.