The Culdee Fell Railway - Engines & Rolling Stock

Culdee Fell Steam Engines

Mountain Engines - Steam

The Mountain Engines have been developed slightly throughout the Extended Railway Series, using events from the Snowdon Mountain Railway. It has also allowed for lesser known characters such as Ernest, Wilfred, Eric, Alaric and Shane Dooiney to be featured following their missing out on the first book by the Rev. Awdry in the 1960s. The steam fleet remains unchanged from the old days.

Important Information

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Culdee Fell Railway
LOCO TYPE: Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works of Winterthur Design
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: RWS #19 - Mountain Engines
DATE OF ENTRY: 1900 / 1964
WHEEL ARRANGEMENT: 0-4-2T
CURRENT STATUS: All Operational
CURRENT LIVERY: Purple with red and yellow lining
CREATOR: Rev. W. Awdry

About the Characters

The first batch of five locomotives were built for the Culdee Fell Railway in 1900 at Winterthur in Switzerland, and work on the Abt rack system, pinion wheels below the engine engaging with a fixed ‘rack’ of teeth set between the rails.

The names bestowed upon the first five appear to have some historical significance associated with the railway or indeed with Sudrian affairs and folklore. No.1 Godred was named after King Godred Crovan, ruler of Sodor & Man between 1079 and 1095, hailed in folklore as a hero; No.4, Culdee, and No.5, Shane Dooiney are named after the two tallest Sodor Mountains – the names of No.2, Ernest and No.3, Wilfred, remain obscured from historical records. All five were delivered in time for the inspection of the railway prior to opening in that year, where Culdee was put through his paces by the Inspector.

However, tragedy struck following a successful first month of operation when Godred ran away on the descending run from the summit, left the rails and plummeted down the mountainside. The damage to the locomotive was extensive, and he was immediately withdrawn from service. Although the locomotive’s salvageable components were, for many years, used for spares for the serviceable locomotives, the management have never replaced him as the locomotive No.1, whether this has been out of superstition, respect or historical significance remains unknown.

Nos. 2 to 5 carried on diligently for sixty years before the railway’s management decided to renew and revitalise the fleet in the mid 1960s. All four locomotives were returned individually to Winterthur for overhaul, with a set of newly built locomotives arriving in their place. No.6 was named Lord Harry, after Lord Harry Barrane, the Chairman and Owner of the Mountain Railway at the time. No.7 received the name Alaric, and No.8, Eric.

No.6 proved extremely temperamental in its early days, and after a very notable incident where the locomotive derailed at the Summit station, blocking all paths in and out, the name Lord Harry was removed both as punishment to the engine, and out of respect for the owner. No.6 was then placed onto goods duty for several weeks before being used in the daring and dangerous rescue of climbers stranded on Devil’s Back. He was renamed in the honour of one of these men, Patrick, and retains the name to this day.

All seven Culdee Fell steam locomotives still remain in active service.

Real Life Locomotive Basis

The first batch of locomotives are based on those built for the Snowdon Mountain Railway in 1896, with the second batch delivered to Sodor in the 1960s, based on the new super-heated versions which arrived in the 1920s. By comparison, the Culdee Fell 7 and 8 remain in active service, as opposed to their counterparts who were withdrawn in the late 80s and early 90s, for failing to remain 'steam-tight'. The future of these locomotives remains uncertain, but it is unlikely they will ever see service again.

Culdee Fell Diesel Engines

Mountain Diesel No.10 - Betty

Norman and Betty were brought to the railway in 1995 to reduce costs and maximise efficiency. Betty has always been a gentle, friendly and occasionally anxious engine, whilst Norman has always been full of his own self importance and arrogance, but was soon brought back down to earth following the trickery of Vermat the Rail Car when he tried to avoid being sent back to the manufacturers following multiple faults. Norman has learnt humility since and become a far better engine as a result, but still retains his snooty characteristics.

Important Information

  RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Culdee Fell Railway
LOCO TYPE: Hunslet of Leeds / Rolls Royce
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS # 58 - Brave Mountain Engines
DATE OF ENTRY: 1964
WHEEL ARRANGEMENT: 0-4-0
CURRENT STATUS: Both Operational
CURRENT LIVERY: Purple with red and yellow lining
CREATOR: Ryan Healy

About the Characters

Whilst not universally embraced as a ‘replacement’ to steam, the benefits of Dieselisation had been felt across the Island of Sodor in terms of economy and ease. The majority of the railway companies on the island boasted at least one, with the exception of the Culdee Fell Mountain Railway, which had become the last bastion of full-steam service. For a number of years, the company traded off this ‘other’ unique distinction, but by the early 1990s, the attitudes among the railway’s management began to change. They were optimistic that Diesel traction could be beneficial in carrying out necessary maintenance, engineering work and running other non-revenue earning services up the mountain, such as ‘The Truck’.

An approach was made to the Snowdon Mountain Railway to borrow one of their Diesel units in 1991, but given the importance and reliance upon the two existing units of the time, the request was denied. Instead, an offer to engage in participant observation of the Diesel units was made, and accepted by the Culdee Fell management. Experienced loco crews were sent across to Llanberis in North Wales on a three week ‘fact-finding’ mission, where they observed the running, maintenance and costs of the Diesel units. They returned suitably impressed with what they had experienced in terms of ‘turn-around time’, costs and running, and thoroughly recommended the investment in Diesel motive power for the purposes the railway was seeking them out for.

Following further consultations with the Snowdon Mountain Railway, the Culdee Fell management placed an order with Hunslet of Leeds with engines manufactured by Rolls Royce in late 1992. The locomotives were based on the designs to which the Snowdon Diesel locomotives were built, however, certain technical improvements were implemented, both to aid performance on the longer Culdee Fell route and to iron out teething problems encountered with the Snowdon Diesels. In addition to these locomotives, the railway was approached by HPE Tredegar Ltd, who were contracted to build Diesel Electric Railcars for the Snowdon Mountain Railway. The railway were reluctant to purchase further motive power at that time, and so agreed to a two-year trial of the Railcar design, beginning in 1996, shortly after the successful trials of the two Diesel units.

Trials on the two new Diesel locomotives took place in 1995, and they entered service on the railway in the spring of 1996. Whilst there proved to be some difficulties concerning the hydraulics with No.9, Norman, No.10, Betty proved to be a more reliable runner and took up responsibility for the non-revenue earning services throughout her first year in service.

Real Life Locomotive Basis

Norman and Betty are based on the Snowdon Mountain Railway’s Ninian (No.9) and Yeti (No.10) built in 1986. Dieselisation was seen as a necessity on the Mountain line, given the cost involved of running the railway with steam locomotives. Since then, Diesels have proven to be the preferred choice of crews and management from a costing and cleanliness point of view, however, steam locomotion still remains a popular and lasting feature of the railway when trying to vie for tourist traffic.