Russell, the Pride of the Welsh Highland Railway, has had a varied career. It was ordered in 1906 by the Portmadoc, Beddgelert & South Snowdon Railway Company before their line was ready (indeed, it was never completed) and set to work for the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways Company until that company, together with the P. B. & S. S. Company was incorporated into the Welsh Highland Railway in 1922.
In 1923, to allow through running over both the Welsh Highland Railway and the Ffestiniog Railway, Russell had its cab and boiler fittings cut down to suit the latter's restricted loading gauge. This was unsuccessful - it was still too large and it never actually worked through to Blaenau.
Requisitioned for the War effort in 1942, it was overhauled at the Brymbo Steel Company and set to work on an opencast ironstone site near Hook Norton, Oxfordshire.
At the end of the War, Russell was eventually sold by the Ministry of Supply, from Andover, to work in the Norden Clay Mines at Corfe, Dorset. Its work on industrial railways was not entirely successful as it disliked the appalling track standards. In an attempt to combat frequent derailments, at various times it had its pony and trailing trucks removed, but with little real improvement (the current W.H.R. has far superior permanent way). After severe damage to an axle in 1953, Russell was laid up.
Birmingham Locomotive Society purchased Russell for £70 and transferred it to the Talyllyn railway at Towyn.
The Hunslet Company repaired the damage (free!) and Russell once again commenced its wanderings - to Kinnerley, Carnforth, Llanberis and finally to Gelerts Farm Works. During its journeying, it collected a new boiler (£3440 in 1967). Restoration to the splendid state that you see in the photos was finished in 1987.
Since 2003, Russell had been out of service awaiting another expensive major overhaul.
Much fund-raising was done to get this fabulous locomotive back in service. Russell Returned to the WHHR on 2nd August 2014 haulling his first passenger train for 11 years. A vintage museum piece Russell will see occasional use throughout this year. Please phone to find out if Russell is running on the day of your visit.