John Bull to head to Wales

The Tramway Museum Society’s steam tram engine “John Bull” is to have a brief holiday in Wales after it was confirmed that it will be visiting the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway for their Beyer Bash taking place between 20th and 22nd May 2022. Built at the Beyer, Peacock Works in 1885 the engine will be making its first visit to Wales (as opposed to New South Wales which is where it initially operated) and will be joining other historic Beyer, Peacock vehicles during the event.

The Beyer Bash has been arranged to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the railway’s two original locomotives The Earl and The Countess which were both built by Beyer, Peacock. And what better way to mark the anniversary by celebrating all things Beyer, Peacock?

Built in 1885 by Beyer, Peacock “John Bull” was exported to New South Wales, Australia but its time down under was brief as it was found to not be suitable for its original use. Back at Beyer, Peacock by 1890 it would be used as a shunter at their Gorton Works until 1959 when it was stored. It soon headed to Crich with its arrival in 1962 and after a few years of operation it fell out of favour but was restored to operation in the mid 1980s with its infamous appearance in Blackpool during the Centenary celebrations of the tramway (coinciding with its own 100 year anniversary). A fault on the loco in 1989 meant further withdrawal came and aside from a brief visit to Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry to celebrate the centenary of Beyer, Peacock’s first articulated locomotive it has since been on static display in Crich’s Exhibition Hall.

In addition to John Bull, K1 will be on loan from the Statfold Barn Railway (with support from the locos owner the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways Trust) and 1827 which is one of the UK’s oldest working steam locomotives having been built in 1879. The standard gauge no. 1827 is usually based at the Foxfield Railway and will be operating at the event on a specially laid section of track allowing it to feature in photographic opportunities with other locos on display. This will be something of reunion for “John Bull” and 1827 as they were both used as shunters at Gorton for many years.

Oliver Edwards, Event Lead for the event, said: “Adding Crich’s No. 47 steam tram means the event is going to be a fantastic party to celebrate the 120thbirthdays of our own flagship locomotives. The event will feature an intense timetable and all-day tickets -perfect for the enthusiast.”

With the event seeing an intensive service with two main train sets running over the full line behind Austrian locomotive Zillertal and resident Taiwan diesel no. 17 and The Earl due to operate shuttle trains to the new loop and halt at Sylfaen (the first time its been used) there will be plenty of action at the railway. More details of the event can be found at

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5 Responses to John Bull to head to Wales

  1. David says:

    The “fault” means that it is still not capable of running?

    • Steve Hyde says:

      The loco may well have been sidelined due to a fault in 1989 and I do recall that when I last saw it run it appeared to sound as though there was some mechanical problem causing an uneven action. However that aside it would now be in need of extensive boiler work to obtain a valid boiler certificate. Keeping a steam locomotive operational is a very expensive exercise and with other calls on limited resources maintaining John Bull in running order for very limited operations scope would be hard to justify.

    • Paul D says:

      A steam locomotive is a very different machine to the relatively simple electric tramcar. Brobably the most significant thing is that the boiler certificate required to run in 1985 would have expired around 1989 or not long after… to renew it would mean completely dismantling to inspect the tubes, pressure testing and inspection by an appropriate insurer. Undoubtedly after this long some parts will need renewal making it a very expensive job potentially running to tens of thousands before you consider any mechanical overhaul. To even consider it you have to be confident you have a guaranteed revenue stream over the life of the new boiler certificate (usually 3-7 years) to recoup the expense. It’s simply not viable for a one-off visit or the very limited potential use it would get at Crich…

    • John says:

      As itys presumably never been fixed and would need a boiler overhaul after 33 years I wouldn’t expect it to be able to run!

  2. Andrew says:

    I’m quite disappointed at how little response there has been to this very welcome development – its exactly the kind of thing I’ve really missed these last few years in tram world! Always good to see museums co-operating with other organisations to create something special, and hopefully Crich can benefit by promoting the museum to a new audience through one of its most unique and valuable exhibits. As a child ‘John Bull’ was actually my favourite tram and I still appreciate its importance now, so its great to see it put in the spotlight again.

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