This engine was designed by Josiah Evans, the son of Richard Evans who owned the Haydock Colliery and Engineering businesses in Lancashire. The early locomotives for the Haydock enterprise were bought from outside contractors but by 1868 the engineering arm of the business was in a position to design and build its own locomotives, ‘Bellerophon’ is one.
Bellerophon” was built in I 874 and is by far the oldest engine based on the KWVR. The engine is unusual in having a well-tank, so called because the water is carried in between the frames-under the boiler. Despite being built for goods workings, ‘Bellerophon'” and its class mates double-headed passenger trains over the lines of the Lancashire and Yorkshire and the London and North Western Railways when heading annual workers trips to Blackpool.
In 1947, the coal industry was nationalised and became part of the NCB. Engines were dispersed around the St. Helens area and after a final overhaul at Haydock, the engine was withdrawn from traffic in 1964 and eventually donated to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.
In 1981 the engine was sold for a nominal sum to the Vintage Carriages Trust at Ingrow and it was through them being registered as a charity that funding was found for the engine to be overhauled and returned to steam. Although returned to operation on the KWVR, the engine is unsuited to regular operation on the Railway and has become somewhat of a roving ambassador for the two organisations but is currently in regular use at the Foxfield Railway in Staffordshire where it can be seen at the head of that railway’s restored North Staffordshire Railway’s coaches.
Featured image: Neil Harvey