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£95k raised in three months

Created on 16/09/2020 @ 12:18
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The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR) has raised £95,000 in just three months to complete the mandatory 10-year overhaul of its original locomotive ‘The Earl’.

The work on the locomotive, which was built in 1902, started in June 2019.

With the line’s own workshops focused on the restoration of locomotive no 699.01 ‘Sir Drefaldwyn’, a large legacy of unassigned funding allowed the contract for overhauling The Earl to be awarded to the Vale of Rheidol Railway at Aberystwyth.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic and resultant closure of the W&LLR over the first four months of the 2020 season put significant pressure on the railway’s finances.

This raised the prospect of having to ask the Vale of Rheidol to suspend the overhaul, which was half complete at the time the pandemic closed the workshops in March.

By June, the success of the W&LLR’s ‘Tracks to Recovery’ appeal, which in less than three months raised more than £55,000 to help meet the line’s fixed costs during closure, encouraged the line to repurpose the appeal to ‘Keep The Earl on Track’ with a minimum £30,000 target to complete the loco’s rolling chassis.

However, in a three-month period members and supporters of the line have raised the entire £95,000, enabling management to authorise the overhaul to proceed to completion when the Rheidol workshop in Aberystwyth reopens, expected to be in November.

“We are absolutely delighted with the success of the appeal and very grateful to all those who made contributions – having The Earl back in time for the majority of the 2021 season is essential to our plans for 2021, particularly as sister locomotive ‘The Countess’ reaches its 10-year overhaul point early next year,” said W&LLR spokesman Andrew Charman.

“Our friends at the Vale of Rheidol completing The Earl will allow our own mechanical engineering department to concentrate on completing the restoration of Sir Drefaldwyn, the work on which has suffered from many delays not least due to Covid-19.

“With The Earl, Sir Drefaldwyn and our visiting Austrian engine Zillertal on the roster in 2021, we should be able to offer visitors three contrasting but equally interesting types of motive power on their trains.”

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