We own an 0-4-0 Saddle Tank steam locomotive no.1498 named ‘Desmond’ which was built by the Avonside Locomotive Company in Bristol in 1906. ‘Desmond’ was bought to serve the Lysaght’s Orb Steelworks in Newport in 1906. Named after a Lysaght family member, Desmond was in use at the steelworks until 1973, when it was handed over to the National Museums and Galleries of Wales (NMGW) which is the last time that it was steamed. After leaving Newport, the locomotive was sent to the 2ft gauge Teifi Valley Railway, where it was a static exhibit. While there, it caught the eye of LMMR chairman Des Thomas, and a loan from the NMGW was arranged with the loco later being formally handed over to the company.
The locomotive is the only one of its’ kind remaining in the United Kingdom. The only similar type remaining is currently located at the Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum in New South Wales, Australia.
The locomotive is currently located at the Flour Mill restoration works in Bream, near Lydney. 'Desmond' was moved to the Llangollen Railway in 2006 for restoration. It has so far been partly overhauled with the help of a £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (2006) and additional work has been completed using our own charity funds totalling around £20,000. ‘Desmond’ has so far received boiler work, a new cab, tank and bunkers, and attention to bearings. An £18,000 grant was secured from the AIA to complete the final tasks of painting, as well as the fitting of vacuum brake equipment to haul passenger trains, boiler tube replacement and final testing. We currently have no fixed date on when 'Desmond' will return to steam, however now that we have secured this significant grant we can safely say it will not be too much longer to wait.
Bringing the first working steam locomotive to Cynheidre since 1969 would be a significant boost to the area and would allow us to return steam to an area that historically thrived industrially by using such a machine. It would raise the profile of our site and would allow us to progress the project further by increasing visitor and volunteer numbers, as well as provide much needed charity funds with which we can continue to develop the site for continued use by the local community.
The preservation of the local history is of great importance to our project. Primary school pupils from Ysgol Pum Heol were engaged with Llanelli & Mynydd Mawr Railway project during 2017 and this resulted in the pupils learning about the history of the railway and the steam locomotive as well as putting together some excellent work that the charity can put towards this grant funding application.