Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Light Railway
The optimistically entitled Potteries, Shrewsbury & North Wales Railway, opened over 18 route miles from Shrewsbury to Llanymynech on August 16, 1866, died on June 22, 1880, and decayed.
Luckily early in the 20th century, Colonel Holman F. Stephens took an interest in the poor "Potteries" and decided it was not dead, but sleeping. He got a Light Railway Order and even used some of the old rails along with the original bridges, most of which were sound. Rebirth came in 1911. The new title was Shropshire & Montgomeryshire. To work the line he assembled a strange collection of engines and vehicles.
He ordered two new engines, 0-6-2 tank, which he named Pyramus and Thisbe. These seem not to have been a success, and soon departed, one of them to the Longmoor Military Railway in Hampshire. Then there were two oddities. One was a Shrewsbury & Hereford 0-4-2, of incalculable age. Even odder was the minute 2-2-2 tank engine Gazelle, almost describable as a steam wagonette, built by Dodman & Company of Kings Lynn, about 1901, for W. Burkitt, a private owner who seems to have had curious running powers about Middle-East Anglia. In that same year of 1911, Stephens had her rebuilt as 0-4-2, still with Mansell wooden wheels. She has survived, and now belongs to the NationalRailwayMuseum, York. It is currently on long term loan to the Colonel Stephens Railway Museum, Tenterden, Kent.
The Shropshire & Montgomeryshire's initial giant was a standard Beyer Peacock 0-6-0, ex-London & South Western No. 324, built in 1875 for the Ilfracombe line which was severely curved and had a ruling gradient of 1 in 36. She had been rebuilt by William Adams in 1888, and the South Western now repainted her in its elegant "goods" style of dark green with pea-green lining-out, but lettered for her new owners and named Hesperus.
Two sisters followed: LSWR Nos. 300 and 283 (one of the originals of 1873), both in December 1914. They became the new Pyramus and Thisbe, Stephens liked the "Ilfracombe Goods"! His Kent & East Sussex Railway had LSWR Nos. 282 and 284, which became Rother and Juno. To the East Kent went No. 394, which kept her tall dome right-aft until she rotted away in the 1930s.
The Shropshire & Montgomeryshire closed to passengers in 1941 and was run by the military until 1960.
'Gazelle' The one locomotive that says it all about Col. Stephens and the S&MLR