|Driving Wheels||2ft 0in|
|Cylinders||Inside – 16in x 22in|
|Valve Gear||Modified Gooch-type Stephenson link motion|
Bellerophon was built in 1874 at for working at Haydock Collieries to a design produced by Josiah Evans who was the son of the owner.
These collieries later became the largest privately-owned mining and ancillary engineering complex in Lancashire. The works covered more than six acres and by 1920 had a fleet of 5,000 coal wagons which had all been built at Haydock Foundary.
The section between, what is now Earlestown and Warrington was taken over from 1831 by a succession of companies and eventually became part of the British Railways network. Evans held running rights over the main lines and for several years coal trains from Haydock to Warrington had priority over passenger trains on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. Similar running powers were also granted over the newly-built St Helens – Glazebrook branch when it incorporated a section of the coal line between Ashton-in-Makerfield and Golborne.
Josiah Evans studied engineering, mathematics and classics in London before returning to Lancashire with Jones & Potts to undertake an apprenticeship. The company he worked for was a sub-contractor to Robert Stephenson & Co of Newcastle. The Daniel Gooch design for the GWR Firefly class which included parts supplied by Jones & Potts and Josiah was impressed with the Gooch-Stephenson valve gear.
Josiah then joined his father’s company where he was placed in charge of the foundry that supplied the rails, wagons and carriages. All of the early locomotives were supplied by outside builders and by the late 1860s the fleet of 25 new and second-hand locomotives were proving to be inadequate for the work. Josiah was convinced that the foundry could built the necessary locomotives.
He started by taking a four-coupled tank engine design and then utilised the knowledge he had gained of the Gooch engines. He produced the first of his six-coupled well tank engines in 1868. Bellerophon was the third of the six locomotives built. The successful application of piston valves was a completely new feature.
Previous attempts had failed to overcome the problem of lubrication and hence Josiah Evans is regarded by many as the person who invented the piston valve. The design employed by Josiah Evans was an adaptation of the Gooch-Stephenson arrangement, with the cylinder piston valves activated by rocking levers working off a modified version of the Gooch reversing link motion. This was driven by a Stephenson-type eccentrics worked from return cranks on the rear axle.
The locomotives also had outside cylinders and motion.
Bellerophon was employed to undertake two daily runs alternately between Haydock and Northwich and Golborne and Edge Green collieries and the Haydock shunting yards. Both of these involved running over the main line railways. The running over the West Coast Main line between Earlstown and the Evans private coal yard at Warrington continued right up to the nationalisation of the railways.
The locomotive was fitted with a cab in the 1880s. this coincided with the company running annual trips for the employees and families to Blackpool. Four trains which were all double headed with Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway locomotives made the journey from Haydock to Blackpool over LNWR and LYR track. The trains were made up of loose-coupled four and six wheeled coaches. Bellerophon was amongst the locomotives which hauled these trains.
When the coal mines were nationalised in 1947 Haydock Foundry became the Central Works for the St Helens area. The six well tank engines were then dispersed amongst the various collieries in the area and Bellerophon was deployed at Bold Colliery.
In 1957 Bellerophon received its last overhaul at Haydock but it continued to operate until 1964. Latterly it was employed at Lea Green Colliery which closed in 1964.
The other five locomotives built along with Bellerophon were cut up in the early 1960s. Bellerophon was initially offered by the National Coal Board (NCB) to the City of Liverpool Museum but they were unable to accommodate it. The NCB then donated the locomotive to the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society who provided it with a home at Haworth. As it was seen as being unsuitable to haul the heavy trains on the line Bellerophon went on static display in November 1966.
The Vintage Carriage Trust then bought the locomotive for a nominal sum and obtained a 50% grant from the Science Museum towards the cost of restoring Bellerophon.
The locomotive steamed again in May 1985 and hauled its first passenger train in preservation in October 1985.
The Vintage Carriage Trust have loaned Bellerophon to the Foxfield Railway, in North Staffordshire, so that it can be seen in an authentic industrial railway environment.
In 2013 Bellerophon received attention to its wheels and axles at the South Devon Railway.
|Home Base||Current Status||Owner|
Vintage Carriage Trust