Welsh­pool & Llan­fair 60 years on, and say­ing farewell to Lew

Bid­ding a fond farewell to the leg­endary L&B lo­co­mo­tive. Pho­tog­ra­phy: Robert Les­lie Sher­wood

Steam Railway (UK) - - Contents -

Eighty years ago, the last sur­viv­ing Lyn­ton & Barn­sta­ple Rail­way Manning War­dle 2-6-2T, No. 188 Lew, was used to help dis­man­tle the 19-mile rail­way. In Septem­ber 1936, with its solemn du­ties com­pleted, the lo­co­mo­tive was shipped to Brazil. What hap­pened to Lew af­ter it left our shores is one of the big­gest mys­ter­ies in rail­way his­tory. Lew’s last mo­ments on the much-mourned 1ft 11½in rail­way were cap­tured by Robert Les­lie Sher­wood, a phar­ma­cist from Birken­head. These pho­to­graphs are, pos­si­bly, the last ever im­ages taken of this fa­mous lo­co­mo­tive be­fore it crossed the At­lantic Ocean. It hasn’t been seen or heard of since. Lew was built in 1925 along sim­i­lar lines to the L&B’s other Manning War­dle 2-6-2Ts - Yeo, Exe and Taw. Af­ter a work­ing life of only ten years, Lew, dou­ble-head­ing with sta­ble­mate Yeo, would haul the last train over the Lyn­ton & Barn­sta­ple Rail­way, on Septem­ber 29 1935. Fol­low­ing the rail­way’s clo­sure, the orig­i­nal Manning War­dle lo­co­mo­tives, as well as Bald­win-de­signed 2-4-2T Lyn, were auc­tioned off for scrap. Only Lew sur­vived, re­tained to haul the de­mo­li­tion trains; by the sum­mer of 1936, the track be­tween Pil­ton and Lyn­ton had been torn up. Lit­tle is known of what hap­pened to Lew af­ter it left the L&B. The lo­co­mo­tive de­parted Swansea aboard the SS Sa­bor on Septem­ber 28 1936, des­tined for Re­cife, in the state of Per­nam­buco in north-east Brazil. Af­ter that, the trail goes cold. There is no record of Lew ever ar­riv­ing in South Amer­ica, nor is it known who pur­chased the lo­co­mo­tive. There have been var­i­ous failed at­tempts to track down the leg­endary lo­co­mo­tive, but Lew’s fate seems un­likely ever to be solved. In­stead, let us en­joy R.L. Sher­wood’s last im­ages of Lew, and pon­der what might have been.

An uniden­ti­fied LSWR 4-4-0 ar­rives at Barn­sta­ple Town sta­tion with the steam crane and well wagon in tow, ready to take Lew to Swansea. Al­though the lo­co­mo­tive’s iden­tity is un­known, it ap­pears to be a Drum­mond ‘K10’, in­tro­duced in 1901/2. Farewell Lew. Se­cured to the well wagon, and with an LMS three-plank wagon cou­pled be­hind, No. 188 is pre­pared for its long jour­ney to Swansea, where it would be loaded onto the SS Sa­bor for its voy­age to Brazil. Is this the last pic­ture of Lew? On its last day on Lyn­ton & Barn­sta­ple Rail­way me­tals, No. 188 Lew is in de­plorable con­di­tion. Al­ready stripped of its name­plates, the Manning War­dle’s dis­tinc­tive cow­catch­ers have been re­moved and placed on top of the tanks. The writ­ing on the front and side re­lates to Lew’s forth­com­ing voy­age, but the sig­nif­i­cance of the let­ters ‘ALC’ is not clear.

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