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AIA restoration grant will bring steam to Cynheidre again

The Llanelli & Mynydd Mawr Railway are very pleased to announce that they have been awarded a grant of £18,000 towards the cost of restoring the 1906 vintage Industrial Saddle Tank locomotive ‘Desmond’ to working order for use on the line at Cynheidre. The award has been made by the Association for Industrial Archaeology who promote the study and appreciation of industrial archaeology.

The grant should allow for the rapid completion of a project to furnish the L&MMR with a suitable steam locomotive for use on open days at its site at Cynheidre near Llanelli. ‘Desmond’ is owned by the railway and has a life long association with South Wales, having spent its working days at the Orb Steelworks in Newport. It is somewhat sad and ironic that this project should reach its climax in the year that saw the steelworks finally close after 122 years.

A substantial amount of restoration work has already been completed on the locomotive at the Llangollen Railway in North Wales. It has now been transferred to the Flour Mill Locomotive Restoration Workshop in the Forest of Dean, arriving late on Wednesday 23rd September. Here an assessment of outstanding work required to complete the locomotive will take place, with the aim of putting in place a programme of work to complete the locomotive over a fairly short timescale. Outstanding work includes the fitting of vacuum brake equipment to haul passenger trains, boiler tube replacement, testing and cosmetic finishing.

This project has been supported by a restoration grant from the Association for Industrial Archaeology, the national society for industrial heritage, which has supported the study, preservation and presentation of industrial heritage in Britain since 1973.

More information can be found at

Historical Notes about the locomotive

‘Desmond’ is an 0-4-0ST Industrial Saddle Tank No.1498 built by the Avonside Locomotive Company at Bristol in 1906. It worked at the Lysaght’s Orb Steelworks in Newport South Wales from new. Named after a member of the Lysaght family, the locomotive had a long working career and was used at the steelworks until 1973.

It was then handed over to the National Museums and Galleries of Wales at a ceremony at the steelworks which turned out to be the last time that it was steamed. It was later put on public display at the narrow gauge Teifi Valley Railway at which it caught the eye of the then L&MMR Chairman Des Thomas. Initially a loan was arranged, with the loco later being transferred to the ownership of the L&MMR.

To date well over £70,000 has been spent on restoring the locomotive to working order, comprising a grant of £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £3000 from the Prism Fund (for spare parts) and over £20,000 of the railways own charity funds. This current grant should allow for the completion and testing of the locomotive.

The Llanelli and Mynydd Mawr Railway

The Llanelli and Mynydd Mawr Railway are a volunteer run charity who own and operate a Heritage Railway and visitor centre on the site of the old Cynheidre Colliery near Llanelli. Full details of the project are available on our website at

The LMMR Company Ltd. was incorporated on the 15th April 1999 as a non-profit making company limited by guarantee. The primary objective of the Company is to reinstate a working railway on this historic line which is recognised as Britain's first operating public railway authorised by the Act of Parliament in 1802 and which began traffic in May 1803 as the Carmarthenshire Tramroad.

Our scheme is utilising derelict land on the site of the former colliery at Cynheidre which is owned by the LMMR outright. In the long-term the railway, which closed to rail traffic in 1989 will be re-instated where possible. Our aim is to provide a heritage centre and a full size steam and diesel demonstration railway. Although currently closed to visitors due to Covid-19 restrictions we usually operate on selected dates throughout the year, our running line is currently around 0.5 miles in length. We own the track bed for just under a mile to the north of our running line and operations will be extended as resources allow.

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