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Updated: May 20

Red steam locomotive Furnace Railway No.20
Furnace Railway No.20 to visit Blaenavon for fortieth anniversary celebrations (image courtesy of James Dagger)

We are delighted to announce that Britain's oldest working steam locomotive, Furness Railway No.20, will visit the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway (Blaenavon's Heritage Railway) in late May and early June 2023, courtesy of our friends at the Furness Railway Trust.

Part of our 40th anniversary celebrations, to commemorate the visit and encourage people to see this historic survivor, we will also be applying our online 25% local discount for NP postcode residents during its visit. Simply enter LOCAL23 when checking out online from our official ticketing provider, TicketSource.

Originally constructed 160 years ago in 1863, the 0-4-0 tender locomotive was one of a batch of eight such engines constructed by Sharp Stewart and Co to operate on the Furness Railway in North West England. However, it quickly found itself obsolescent as traffic grew, and just seven years later it was sold to the Barrow Haematite Steel Company In 1870.

It would operate there for no less than 90 years, lasting in service right up until 1960. After originally being donated to a school, it was purchased by enthusiasts determined to restore this historic locomotive to steam. Following a Heritage Lottery Fund grant award of £97,000, it was given a heavy overhaul and returned to steam in December 1998, 135 years after its construction.

No.20’s visit to celebrates both the 40th anniversary of the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway, and also the locomotive's 160th birthday. Nathan Russell, the Railway's Event's Coordinator, said of the visit:

'It is a delight to welcome Britain's oldest working steam locomotive to Blaenavon for our fortieth anniversary celebrations.

It is a remarkable survivor that is testament to those who were determined to preserve the engine against all odds, and we really hope that many will come along to see her in action on our beautiful and challenging railway, and it is why we are allowing kids to travel free on the days when it is operation.

I would like to give my thanks to the Furnace Railway Trust for allowing this historic visit, and to our Operations Director Alex Hinshelwood and the Railway's steam Department for their efforts in securing the locomotive.'

Furnace Railway No.20 will be operating at Blaenavon Railway over the following weekends:

  • 20th & 21st May

  • 27th & 28th May (Coal Train Weekend)

  • 10th & 11th June (Model Railway Show)

We believe this will be No.20’s first visit to Wales, so don’t miss your chance to ride behind this iconic locomotive.

EDIT: Please be aware that this article was first issued with incorrect discount information. We'd like to sincerely apologise for any confusion caused.

Image credit: James Dagger

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