Velinheli is a 0-4-0ST built by the Hunslet Engine Company (Works No. 409) in 1886. She was the first of numerous ‘Alice’ class Quarry Hunslets built for the Dinorwic Slate Quarry at Llanberis in North Wales. Her name is derived from ‘Y Felinheli’ (also known as Port Dinorwic) where slate from Dinorwic Quarry was transferred into ships for transport around the world. Y Felinheli translates approximately into English as ‘salt water mill’.
She was in regular use at Dinorwic until 1962 when she was withdrawn. In 1965 Velinheli was one of two narrow gauge locomotives bought from Dinorwic by Armstrong Evans, after a certain degree of persuasion from his son James!
Stored at Dinorwic until 1969, Velinheli was then moved to Cornwall via a brief stay at the Exeter Maritime Museum. Once in Cornwall she was rebuilt by James Evans for use on the Evans’ family’s private Inny Valley Railway.
When the IVR closed in 1986, Velinheli was moved to Launceston. Still owned by James Evans after 50 years, she was in regular use at Launceston until the beginning of 2017, when her Dinorwic Quarry boiler was condemned and she was retired from service. Velinheli left the LSR in February 2018, bound for a new home at the Ffestiniog Railway where a new boiler is under construction.
Interestingly, when she was built Velinheli carried a domeless boiler, whilst she now carries a domed boiler. The domed boiler was fitted in 1952 along with (it is believed) the saddle tank from sister locomotive ‘Maid Marian’; it was common practice at the slate quarries for components and parts of locomotives to be swapped around when overhauls were taking place.
- Weight in working order: about 6 tons
- Boiler pressure: 120 PSI
- Cylinders: 7″ bore x 10″ stroke
- Wheelbase: 3′ 3″
- Length: 13′
- Width: 5′ 4″
- Tractive effort at 75% boiler pressure is 2578 lb