VISITORS to a narrow gauge railway in Mid Wales on the weekend of September 4 and 5 will get a chance to ride on a train pulled by a steam engine that is celebrating its centenary.

Due to the pandemic, Corris Railway’s Annual Gala Weekend is later this year and will not have the usual mixture of trains and differing steam and diesel locomotives in action.

The undoubted highlight is a chance to ride behind a steam engine that last worked passenger trains on the railway in 1930 and is celebrating its 100th birthday.

The locomotive is Corris Railway number 4, built in Stoke on Trent in 1921. It worked on the line from Machynlleth to Corris and Aberllefenni until it was closed by British Railways in August 1948 and seemed destined for scrapping.

However, it was kept under wraps and protected from prying eyes by Machynlleth stationmaster Campbell Thomas and was eventually purchased by volunteers who took over Talyllyn Railway and began the heritage railways movement.

Since the early 1950s, number 4 has been a mainstay of Talyllyn Railway’s services and has been named Edward Thomas,  although it also appears sometimes as Peter Sam, the character created by the late Rev Wilbert Awdry in his railway books for small children.

The locomotive back in 1952 following its move to Talyllyn Railway

The locomotive has returned to the revived section of Corris Railway, between the station in Corris itself and Maespoeth Junction, once before when it headed demonstration freight trains.

In 2005, construction work was completed on a new steam engine for the Corris which is a 21st century version of number 4.

These two steam engines will be heading passenger trains throughout the gala weekend, leaving Corris station on the hour between 11am and 4pm. Tickets can be purchased at the station on the day of travel.

Passengers will travel in carriages built by volunteers to the original Edwardian layout of those hauled by number 4 in the 1920s. The original passenger services ceased in 1930.

The museum and sales area at Corris station will be open and visitors may be able to visit the carriage shed at Maespoeth Junction if enough Corris Railway Society volunteers are available. There may also be an opportunity to see work on the southern extension of the line.

Another new steam engine is now being built, based on a trio constructed for the railway in Loughborough in 1878.  It should enter service in autumn 2022, dependent on fundraising.

To help fundraising, there will be a sale of railway books, priced £2 each. Stock has been donated by supporters of the Corris revival and is augmented by donations of duplicated items from the library of the Historical Model Railway Society.