Waterford tourist railway begins €250,000 appeal to restore donated steam engine

The 1885 locomotive will be rebuilt in UK before entering service on public trains at Waterford Suir Valley Railway

A Waterford tourist attraction has started an appeal to bring a 139-year-old steam engine back into service on their railway at an estimated cost of up to €250,000.

The Waterford & Suir Valley Railway (WSVR) is based at Kilmeaden and operates train services along a 10km section of the Waterford Greenway, parallel to the River Suir. The social enterprise and registered charity has been regularly running for the public with volunteers since 2003 with small diesel locomotives.

Earlier this week, the WSVR announced that it will fundraise to help restore a steam locomotive back to working condition to run on their tracks.

The engine in question, 1885-built Kettering Furnaces No 3, originally worked in the ironstone industry in England. The engine last operated in the 1960s and has been on display inside Penrhyn Castle in Bangor, Wales since then. It has been donated by National Trust Cymru (Wales), with full ownership passing to the WSVR.

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A fundraising page has been set up on iDonate to raise the money needed to carry out the restoration work.

WSVR general manager Maria Kyte said: “This is an amazing milestone for Waterford & Suir Valley Railway Company CLG ... Several companies who specialise in the restoration of heritage locomotives were invited to tender for the restoration of Kettering Furnaces No 3. The successful tender was submitted by a company in England which has extensive experience in the manufacture of new-build locomotives as well as the restoration of locomotives.”

The engine will require “considerable work to bring it back to full operating condition”, the railway said. For example, a new boiler for the engine could cost up to €100,000 if it is needed. The money raised will also be spent on improving infrastructure at Kilmeaden station to make it more suitable for running a steam train.

Railway director and company secretary Alan Moore said: “When the company was formed the mission statement included an ambition to one day operate with steam, we are now one big step closer to achieving this.”

“We are so grateful to the National Trust for transferring ownership of the Kettering Furnaces No. 3 locomotive to us,” Mr Moore said. “We hope to do them proud as we endeavour to restore this beautiful locomotive to its former glory and to put it back into operation.”

Steam trains regularly ran along the banks of the Suir up to the 1960s and the original CIÉ line, which now forms the greenway, carried freight only until its closure in the 1980s.

To find out more about the WSVR, see their website at wsvrailway.ie.

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