Manning Wardle    Works No 1317 Rhiwnant 0-6-0ST

This locomotive was built in 1891 by Manning and Wardle & Co and it was supplied new to Birmingham Corporation to work on the Elan Valley Reservoir construction.

It was a large special design with 15in by 22 in cylinders. This locomotive was named Rhiwnant and it was one of two bought for the work. The other was Manning Wardle 1316 which was named Calettwr.

The Elan Valley Reservoirs are a chain of man-made lakes created from damming the Elan and Claerwen rivers within the Elan Valley in Mid Wales. Work to build the Elan Valley reservoirs was undertaken because the rapid growth of the industrial city of Birmingham in the late 19th century had led to a lack of available clean water. Numerous outbreaks of disease prompted Birmingham City Council to petition the British government which passed the Birmingham Corporation Water Act in 1892.

It allowed the Corporation to acquire by compulsory purchase all the land (approximately 69square meters) within the water catchment area of the Elan Valleys and to move more than 100 people living in the valley. Thousands of navvies and their families lived in the purpose-built Elan Village during the construction of the first four dams at the turn of the 20th century.

The Elan Valley Railway was built by the Birmingham corporation especially for the project. It ran through the Elan Valley from a junction near Rhayader on the Mid-Wales Railway. The first section to be built was a 2.5 mile branch from the main line at Rhayader to the main work site at the Caban-coch dam. This depot included a cement cooling shed, general stores, coal storage, workshops for carpenters, smiths, fitters and waggon builders, and sawmills. Further branches were eventually built to all the other dam sites. Engines and trucks reached the top of the dams on wooden trestle scaffolds supported by concrete parapets. The line went as far as the site where the foundations of the Dol-y-mynach dam were being built. At its height, the railway had a total length of 28 miles with six locomotives transporting up to 1,000 tons of materials a day. Following the completion of the lower dams, the entire Elan Valley Railway had been entirely lifted by 1916. Road transport was used when the Claerwen dam was built in the late 1940s and ’50s.

The railway was required because the core of the Caban-coch, Pen-y-garreg and Craig-goch dams were built from large irregular stone blocks embedded in concrete. The rock was mined locally from Cigfran and Craig-cnwch quarries by the Elan River and the Aberdeuddwr quarry on Cerrig Gwynion, just to the south of Rhayader. The shaped stones were hauled by locomotive to the dam sites on flatbed trucks. They were then lowered into place by steam crane. The central cores of the dams were encased with a thick concrete lining. The outside walls were faced with cut stone brought from quarries at Llanelwedd near Builth Wells and Pontypridd. The cement, which was made near Chatham in Kent, was sent by sea to Aberystwyth and brought by railway to the Elan Valley.

When the they were no longer required the both locomotives were sold to T W Ward & Co. The Elan Valley Railway was completely closed in 1916.

In 1912 they were sold to Lloyds who later became Stewarts and Lloyds, Minerals Corby where they became No 34 (MW1316) and No 35 (MW1317).

The two locomotives were a success at Corby and a further three were ordered to the same design between 1910 and 1925, works numbers 1762, 2009 and 2010. The only difference with the originals was the cylinders were 16 in by 22 in. As the quarries expanded then further locomotives were required. As Manning Wardle had by then gone out of business the orders were placed with Kitsons, who had taken over the goodwill from Manning Wardle. Seven locomotives to the same design were delivered (Kitson works nos 5469,5470,5473, 5474, 7476, 5477 and 5478) between 1933 and 1936.

Expansion at both the steel works required further locomotes to the same design and five were supplied in 1940 and 1941, this time by Robert,Stephenson and Hawthorn Limited (RSH), Kitson also having gone out of business. The RSH works numbers being 7003, 7003, 7031, 7031 and 7032 The later 15 locomotives continued working until the end of steam at Corby. A number of these locomotives have survived into preservation.

After being withdrawn in the late 1960s the MW1317 was sold for preservation and moved to the Nottingham Transport Centre at Ruddington (now the great Central Railway, Nottingham). The other locomotive was scrapped in 1966.

Rhiwnant was moved to a private site in Kent but is believed to have subsequently moved to a location in Portland where it was being restored.

The current status of the locomotive is unknown.

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