Vandals force historic steam train out of Newport
A VINTAGE locomotive which stands on Newport’s riverfront is being given away to a new home in Blaenavon.
The Forester locomotive and truck, on Kingsway, is popular among children and train enthusiasts.
But over the years, the council has been forced to shell out time and again on repairing and maintaining the engine, as it was subject to repeated vandalism. The repairs total is believed to be in excess of £10,000.
As a result, the authority has donated it to the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway. There it will be restored and may even be put back into use.
The locomotive has no connection with Newport, but was refurbished by its former owner British Steel and put on display opposite the bus station to represent Newport’s coal and steel industry. Built by Andrew Barclay Sons & Co, the engine started life at Newport Tinplate Company in Abercarn in 1911. It was later used by British Steel at the Ebbw Vale steelworks.
Its new home, Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway, is run by volunteers and offers the public a chance to experience a working steam and diesel railway line.
Richard Flannigan, who helps run Cwmbran model railway exhibition, said: “I think it would be great, especially if they put it back in working order. That would be fantastic. Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway have come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of years.”
Keen historian and Newport councillor Charles Ferris said he understood repairs had cost the council more than £10,000 over the years, so it was a good idea it was being moved for it to be properly restored. He said: “It think that would be the best thing for it.”
COMMENT: It’s sad to see it go
WHAT a shame that Newport’s distinctive vintage steam locomotive, a fixture on the riverfront for years, will no longer be seen in the city.
The 1911 Forester locomotive was originally used by the Newport Tinplate Company in Abercarn, before being used at the steelworks in Ebbw Vale.
It was refurbished by British Steel to serve as a reminder of the importance to Newport of the coal and steel industries.
And it has stood for many years on a small piece of track on the site of the old Blaenavon Wharf alongside the Usk on the Kingsway.
Thousands of children have enjoyed playing on the engine since then, pretending to be drivers or firemen.
Sadly, the cost of repairing the locomotive (one councillor estimates this to be in excess of £10,000 over the years) following a string of vandal attacks means the engine is to steam out of Newport for the last time.
The good news is it is to have a new permanent home at the popular Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway.
Whether the engine will be restored to working order or simply continue its life as a static exhibit remains to be seen.
We are pleased the locomotive will be going to a good home.
But it is nevertheless disappointing that a little piece of Newport’s history will disappear from the riverfront.