Our first and oldest locomotive, Lilian was built in 1883 by the Hunslet Engine Company (works number 317) for the Penrhyn Quarry in North Wales. She was named after Lilian Douglas-Pennant, the then 2-year old daughter of quarry owner Lord George Sholto Gordon Douglas-Pennant – most new locomotives at Penrhyn were named after members of the family!

Lilian spent the majority of her life working at Port Penrhyn, sorting wagon loads of slate for loading onto ships which would transport the slate worldwide. However she was also used in the quarry itself and occasionally on the ‘mainline’ which linked the quarry to the port as necessary.

Lilian was one of three locomotives built to the design known as the ‘Penrhyn Port class’; the others are Gwynedd (built in 1883 and preserved at Bressingham Steam Museum) and Winifred (built in 1885 and preserved at the Bala Lake Railway).

Like any piece of machinery Lilian was repaired regularly throughout her working life; notable repairs included new fireboxes being fitted in 1908 and 1929, whilst in 1952 she was fitted with the boiler and one cylinder from sister locomotive Winifred.

In 1955 Lilian was withdrawn from service when her boiler was condemned, and parked in a line of redundant locomotives at Penrhyn Quarry.

Lilian was rescued for preservation in 1965 by Nigel Bowman. Soon moved back to his home in Guildford, Surrey, a full restoration was undertaken over 1966 and 1967. From 1968 Lilian was kept in full working order at a friend’s farm nearby, where there was a private collection of other narrow gauge locomotives and a short length of track which Lilian occasionally ran on.

Lilian moved to Cornwall in 1983 and hauled the first passenger train at Launceston on Boxing Day 1983. A new boiler was built in house and fitted in 1993, and a tender was added in 2008. Lilian has been used every season since we opened, and is our main locomotive.

  • Weight in working order: about 8 tons
  • Boiler pressure: 120 PSI
  • Stephenson’s valve gear
  • Cylinders: 7″ bore X 1″ stroke
  • Wheelbase: 4′ 0″
  • Length (without tender): 13′ 10″
  • Width: 5′ 4″
  • Tractive effort at 75% boiler pressure is 2205 lb

Boiler work winter 2007/8 and new tender

Over the winter of 2007/8, Lilian was dismantled for her boiler to be retubed. The boiler she currently carries is one built at the railway in 1993 to replace the life-expired boiler she carried before. Here we see her chassis in the back of the workshop.


Corrosion was encountered on the inside of the boiler barrell, which was dealt with by filling the pits with weld. The corrosion encountered is more than was expected, but there are two likely reasons for this; one, that the steel supplied for the new boiler is not to the same quality as the steel on the original boiler, and two, oxygen pitting/scarring. Here we see the boiler under repair, followed by a view in the boiler, where the weld repairs to the corrosion are visible.

lb1 lb2

To reduce problems encountered with corrosion in the future, it was decided to convert Lilian’s boiler from side-feed to top-feed, and also to use water treatment, which it is hoped will reduce or even eliminate corrosion.


Lilian’s boiler was retubed and complete (as seen in the photo below), ready for hydraulic and steam tests for the boiler inspector in April 2008. Having passed both, Lilian was reassembled, and re-entered passenger service on the 25th May.





In 2006, work was started on a new tender for Lilian to operate with. Here we see the chassis under construction in August 2006, followed by the tender in the workshops in 2007:

ltender newtender

The tender was completed by 2008 and entered service with Lilian on the 18th July. Here we see a selection of photos of Lilian on her first day with her new tender:

jon-lilian1 jon-lilian2

The wheelsets on the tender are repaired examples formerly used on wagons at the Cliffe-at-Hoo Cement Works in Kent. Springs came from a WW1 bogie, whilst her axleboxes were built, along with the rest of the tender, at the railway.