Long-serving Lilian is 130 years young
A LADY who changed a man's life celebrates her 130th birthday today.
Steam locomotive Lilian, which will be hauling carriages at the Launceston Steam Railway, was delivered 130 years ago to the day to the Penrhyn Quarry in Wales, where she spent her working life.
She was named after a daughter of the quarry's owner, Lord George Sholto Gordon Douglas-Pennant, who named many of the engines in the quarry after members of his family.
The largest slate quarry in the world, it had an extensive rail system to move the stone around the quarry, works, and then to the harbour for shipment. In 1962 however, the railway closed, and the locomotives were stored on a siding – often referred to as the scrap siding.
Buy one get one free on main course and specials excludes fillet steaks and beef Wellington
Must book to qualify 01209 860332 and present voucher on arrival
Mon- Thur 6-9pm
Contact: 01209 700617
Valid until: Saturday, December 21 2013
Such was the appeal of these small locomotives, though, that they were bought by enthusiasts and found new homes throughout the world. Lilian was bought by Nigel Bowman in 1965, and taken to his home near Guildford in Surrey where he gradually restored her, steaming her in 1968 – the year in which Lilian Douglas-Pennant died.
Through owning the engine, Nigel developed the idea of creating a railway, and Lilian moved to Launceston in 1983, towed behind Nigel's truck – also still in use.
"Nigel had started teaching and that was going to be his career, but after getting Lilian he decided he wanted to run a railway," said the attraction's operations and marketing manager Jonathan Mann.
She is now the oldest locomotive of her type in regular use, so her birthday, 30 years after the opening of the Launceston Steam Railway, is a significant event, and a real cause for celebration.
However, unlike many celebrities, she is not pampered or spoiled, and she takes her fair share of work hauling trains along the Kensey Valley until the end of the main season, September 27.
The steam railway – along with Launceston Castle the major tourist attraction in the town – attracts around 30,000 customers a year.