Bellerophon was a hero of Greek legend, famous for riding Pegasus and slaying the Chimera – a fire breathing beast. Being one of the greatest names of mythology, it comes as no surprise that it has been used for a number of warships. A little more surprisingly though, is that is name of a quirky industrial steam engine. Or is it?
Maybe this steam engine deserves the respect of a legendary hero! It is the only survivor of six (identical) steam engines built by Haydock Foundry. Josiah Evans, son of Richard Evans (then owner of Haydock Collieries) is credited with the design of this well tank class. Interestingly the type’s outside motion with piston valves were a long way ahead of their time of construction (in the case of Bellerophon this was 1874.) The motion is particularly complex as it connects with the third (rear) axle.
Usually when describing a locomotive, we would usually refer to the number to aid clarity. Bellerophon’s number is “C” and therefore it is a little difficult to refer to it in this way without confusing you, the reader! Each of the Haydock Foundry locomotives were numbered in alphabetical order, so C indicates that this was the third of the six locomotives.
The loco outlived it’s classmates and was saved by the NCB who donated it to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. No other locomotive looks the same as Bellerophon in the present day preservation scene. It is certainly one of the most special steam engines that can still be seen in full working order. This was not my first encounter with this delightful little steam engine, as I remember seeing it quite some time ago when it visited the Kent and East Sussex Railway. However I was much younger at the time and the memory was quite distant, so it was great to see it again and hope less years proceed before seeing it again. Industrial locomotives are such an important part of our heritage and Bellerophon is particularly charismatic ambassador.
These pictures were taken of Bellerophon hauling passengers on the East Lancashire Railway during their Small Engines weekend (click here to read more.) Bellerophon’s usual home is the Foxfield Railway where it is on long term loan. Working at Foxfield Railway means it spends much of it time hauling freight trains, just as it was intended. With that said, Bellerophon is not a complete stranger to passenger workings, as in the 1880’s it would have helped haul Haydock employees to Blackpool, so the role it was serving at the East Lancashire wasn’t completely un-prototypical.
I hope you liked looking at this steam engine as much as I did! Thanks for reading.