Click to visit GAUGEMASTER's home page.
Click to visit the RIGHT LINES home page.

The Quarry Hunslets

Image of Martin LovellMARTIN LOVELL tells us the history of this narrow gauge locomotive.


Shortly to be produced as OO9 Scale models by Bachmann, these delightful little locomotives got their name from the fact that they were principally designed to work in and around the huge slate quarries in North Wales, principally the Dinorwic and Penryn quarries.

'Louisa', an early Hunslet locomotive built for the Dinorwic Quarries.

At Penryn, with a gauge of 1 foot 10 ¾ inches, the fleet comprised 2 larger Hunslets namely Blanche and Linda, both built in 1893. These two locomotives handled the 'main line' traffic from the quarries to Port Penryn six miles away, where the slate would be loaded onto ships or transferred to the standard gauge for distribution at home or abroad.

Although they were produced in the Hunslet factory, they were not the specific 'Quarry' type. The Quarry locomotives date back as far as 1883 and worked the galleries and processing sheds with some surviving right up to closure in the mid 1960s. Once withdrawn, a lot of the locomotives were snapped up by societies and enthusiasts, as they were sold off for prices as low as £60! Hence there are still a fair few of them running on preserved Narrow Gauge lines all over the world. In fact, twenty-nine are preserved in the UK, USA, Canada, and even Spain.

In this country, you can see them at Bressingham Steam and Gardens in Norfolk, Launceston Steam Railway in Cornwall, the Bala Lake Railway, the Llanberis Lake Railway, and of course on their home turf at the National Slate Museum at Dinorwic.

Dinorwic quarry had at least nineteen of this type of locomotive, mostly cabless for working on the galleries where unlined rock tunnels left no room for a cab. Most of these were built between 1886 and 1904, but with one being built to the same design as late as 1922!

To ship the finished slates to their destination, the wagons were loaded piggyback fashion onto 4 Foot gauge wagons and transported to Port Dinorwic on the Padarn Railway, of which part of the route had been taken over by the Padarn Lake Railway and regauged to 1foot 10 ¾ inch gauge.

Go Back To Top

For the technically minded, the dimensions of these locomotives are as follows:

  • Size of cylinders: 7 inches by 10 inches
  • Wheels: 1 foot 8 inches
  • Rigid wheelbase: 3 foot 3 inches
  • Overall length: 13 foot
  • Overall width: 5 foot 4 inches
  • Overall height (rail to top of chimney): 7 foot 3 inches
  • Weight (empty): 5 tons 10 hundredweight
  • Weight (Working order): 6 tons
  • Working pressure: 140 psi
  • Tractive effort at 75% boiler pressure: 2578lb

I had the good fortune many years ago to drive Lilian (Hunslet 317 of 1883, pictured above), at the Launceston Steam Railway in Cornwall under the supervision of the owner Nigel Bowman and his wife, and a great time was had.

So there we are, I’m looking forward to the arrival of these from Bachmann, keep an eye on our website for more news.

Happy modelling!


Go Back To Top