"Bellerophon" is one of the oldest steam locomotives to be seen in action anywhere in the world. Built in 1874 by the Haydock Foundry it's use included the twice daily runs between Haydock and Northwich in Cheshire and, alternately, twice daily runs between Golborne and Edge Green collieries and the shunting yards at Haydock. These duties all involved runs over the mainline railways, as private owners often exercised their rights to run their own locomotives as well as wagons at that time. Most unusually, in the 1880s, "Bellerophon" and similar locomotives ran annual passenger excursions to Blackpool for the Haydock employees and their families. Four trains, each double-headed, made the journey over the line of the LNWR and LYR hauling loose-coupled four and six wheeled carriages.
When the coal mining industry was nationalised in 1947, the Haydock Foundry became the Central Works for the NCB St Helens area and the Evans locomotives became dispersed among the various collieries. "Bellerophon" bears evidence of many repairs throughout its life, and received its last overhaul at Haydock in 1957. It then worked with little or no maintenance until 1964, by which time it attracted considerable attention from railway enthusiasts as it had been at work for 90 years. The five other similar Haydock locomotives were cut up for scrap in the early 1960s leaving only "Bellerophon", which was offered for display at the City of Liverpool Museum. As the Museum was unable to accomodate it, the NCB donated "Bellerophon" to the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, which received it in November 1966. Eventually rerstored in the 80s it put in sterling service until the turn of the millenuim. It was restored and repaired at the Foxfiled Railway and in stean again last year.
Bellerphon is in my opinion one of the most handsome steam locomotives around and it was a pleasure to see her in action at the GCR Golden Oldies Gala.
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