The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum has purchased the Fletcher Jennings Locomotive “William Finlay”, works number 173L of 1880. This loco, together with its twin “Townsend Hook” (no 172L), was purchased from new by the Dorking Greystone Lime Company, based near Dorking in Surrey. It was built to the unusual gauge of 3ft 21⁄4 in used within the quarry. The great limestone quarry of the Dorking Greystone Lime Company stood to the north of the Southern Railway line at Betchworth, Dorking. William Finlay was the owner who set up the Quarry in 1865, and incorporated the first Hoffman kilns for lime-burning erected and fired in England. It once extended to around a 1/3 of a mile wide and was 300feet deep, with other workings in tunnels which stretched much further.
The presence of this locomotive in our collection at Tywyn brings another aspect to the collection that had not been represented, that of limestone quarrying, and is appropriate, not just because of the manufacturer of the locomotive but also because much of the track from the quarries came to the Talyllyn for re-use in the 1950s, with some of it in use to the present day.
The locomotive has been cosmetically restored and displayed in the museum, replacing “Jubilee 1897”, which moved on loan to the Penrhyn Quarry Railway at Bethesda, its former home, where part of railway is currently being rebuilt. While the cost of purchase of the locomotive has been covered by museum funds and a loan from the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society, we need to repay the loan and cover its restoration and display. Total costs have been estimated at £60,000.
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