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Joan on the move again after two decades

 
Created on 08/07/2011 @ 10:29
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Ahead of this weekend’s big promotion of £3 rides, the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway staff and volunteers were celebrating another major milestone.
 
After extensive work, last Sunday one of the line’s steam locomotives moved under its own power for the first time in 20 years.
 
Loco no 12 ‘Joan’ (pictured) was built in Stoke-on-Trent in 1927 for service on the sugar lines of the Caribbean island of Antigua. It has been under restoration at Llanfair Caereinion for five years, paid for by an appeal amongst members and supporters of the railway that raised £135,000.
 
On Sunday, a fire was lit in Joan before much of the day was spent carefully checking everything was working correctly, along with weighing the engine using specialist equipment.
 
Finally in the afternoon the regulator was gently eased open, and with a blast on the distinctive and deep-throated whistle Joan moved forward. The rest of the day was spent running around Llanfair yard, watching closely for any signs of problems, but initial results looked highly encouraging.
 
There are still several jobs to do before Joan is complete and ready to haul passenger trains. The team working on the engine hope that if enough volunteer help comes forward in the next few weeks Joan can be made ready for the summer high season before playing a starring role at the line’s annual Steam Gala from September 2-4.
  
Joan was found in Antigua by W&LLR Trustee Tony Thorndike and repatriated in 1971. The loco was a mainstay of the line’s fleet during the 1980s but firebox issues resulted in it last being steamed in 1991.
 
W&LLR Press Officer and locomotive fireman Andrew Charman said: “This was the loco I travelled behind when I first visited the railway in the early 1980s. To see the engine in steam again is great and I am looking forward to having a go on the footplate!”
 
The W&LLR is currently running every day except Monday and Friday – full timetable details can be obtained from www.wllr.org.uk or by calling 01938 810441.
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