Barclay 'Taxi' Diesels

Andrew Barclay Diesel Locomotives

Our two Barclay Locomotives last operated at an explosives works at Powfoot, Annan but had spent most of their working lives at ICI Explosives, Ardeer, Scotland. In all, Andrew Barclay of Kilmarnock supplied seven of this class of 2ft. 6ins. gauge machine, four were delivered in 1970 with a further three arriving the following year.

At that time, Barclay’s locomotive production had fallen to very low levels and the four machines built for ICI in 1970 apparently accounted for two thirds of that years total. The firm was in a crisis and was purchased by Hunslet between December 1970 and August 1972.

The locomotives left Ardeer and moved to Powfoot, from whence they were purchased.

Once they arrived at Porthmadog, it became apparent that the coupling castings, axle boxes and brake blocks appeared to be very similar to those used by Rustons. Further inspection revealed that they were more than similar, a number of components actually carried Ruston identification numbers, indicating the use of either original Ruston parts or patterns.

The Ardeer Works possessed a considerable number of Ruston locomotives and they seem to have been well regarded. However in 1969, shortly after it had been taken over by English Electric, Ruston had ceased to construct locomotives. One can only speculate that Ardeer turned to their local locomotive builder and asked for a design of locomotive similar to a Ruston. Presumably Barclays were then able to obtain parts or patterns from English Electric.

Although they were turned out with Ruston axle boxes and a chassis design that owes a great deal to that Company, nothing above the chassis displays any Ruston origins. Each machine has a three cylinder 30 hp Perkins engine attached to a Hunslet hydraulic transmission unit.

We had been told that when they were first constructed the locomotives had axle mounted disc brakes. On examination the remains of a disc was found on one of the axles and marks could be seen showing where the others had been. Evidently this innovation was not a success and they were later fitted with conventional brakes.

Turning to recent progress, all the wheel sets have been regauged. Both locomotives have now been restored to full working order. The original braking safety features, including the “dead man’s pedal” and parking brake were disconnected at some earlier stage in the locomotives’ history. These features have been re-instated. Freshly painted, they have become the first choice for small works trains because of their ease of use.

Both locomotives were donated by ICI.

Specifications for No. 555

Builder Andrew Barclay Ltd.
Built 1970
Works number 555
Wheel arrangement 4 wheel
Driving wheel diameter 17" 444mm
Engine 30 h.p. 22.4kW 3 cylinder Perkin
Transmission Hydraulic
Final drive Chain
Weight 3.5 tonne
Arrived W.H.R. May 1993
Owners W.H.R. Members consortium
Previous owners ICI Ardeer


Specifications for No. 554

Built -
Works number 554


scruffy loco and rail bolster set
Barclay loco. No. 555 brings a light load of rail from the stacks at Pen-y-Mount. No. 555 was operational but was still awaiting cosmetic restoration when this photo was taken in July 1996.
smart orange and grey locomotive
No. 555 next to Gelert's Farm Signal Box, just after its repainting, 1997.
two Barclays, one smart and the other scruffy
No. 555 by the RED Shed. 1998.
loco with inspection panels removed
No. 554 with its engine panels open for inspection. Apart from its paintwork, it is nearly fully restored to working order. 1998.
two Barclays side by side, each with a works train; the track gang are working on the left
Both Barclays on works trains. No. 554 (centre) has brought a ballast train to site. No. 555 (right) stands with the generator and tools vans. No. 554's paintwork is fresh and bright now.
554 at Snowdon RangerDuring WHR Project Phase 3 Construction (July 2003), No.554 was despatched to Rhyd Ddu and the then-isolated section that ran northward to OB71, to haul the fencing contractor's material train. It replaced a small Simplex that had failed. No.554 was used at the 'golden spike' ceremony amd was the first locomotive to run the complete length from Rhyd Ddu to Waunfawr.