What is the Maid Marian Locomotive Fund?

The Maid Marian Locomotive Fund was formed in 1965 by a small group of enthusiasts to preserve a working locomotive from the Dinorwic Slate Quarry in North Wales. This was at a time of contraction of the slate industry and a number of locomotives were available from both the Dinorwic and Penrhyn Quarries. The "Maid" was chosen at the recommendation of the Quarry Manager as being the best locomotive that was then available and was brought down from the quarry galleries to be painted and overhauled in the quarry's workshops at Gilfach Ddu.

The Fund is managed by 4 Trustees, the President, Chairman, Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer, with the addition of 2 Committee Members. The locomotive and all the Fund's assets are held in the names of the 4 Trustees. The Committee is elected annually at the Fund's Annual General Meeting, currently held at Llanuwchllyn Station on the Bala Lake Railway, where the loco has been based since 1975. All members have voting rights in the running of the Fund's affairs (see below for further details). Its Rules are regularly updated at the AGMs where the policies for the following year are agreed. Since its inception, the Fund has been a member of the Heritage Railways Association (formerly the Association of Railway Preservation Societies) and is unique in that it represents a single narrow gauge locomotive, not a railway.

Are you interested in preserving Maid Marian?

Since its purchase and handover in 1965, the locomotive has been owned by the Fund and loaned out to several railways for operational purposes. The Fund has always maintained the view that the best way of preserving a locomotive in working order is by ensuring that it is worked regularly but carefully. It has also sought to promote the interests of subscribers, some of whom have been in regular attendance at the AGMs since 1965.

Over the years the "Maid" has been modified to meet operational requirements. From being a cabless quarry engine that was an all-purpose motive power supply in a remote quarry gallery, the "Maid" has been transformed by the addition of a cab, a sophisticated lubrication system and a number of other less "visible" modifications. The original design of the loco was intended to cope with short-haul duties along track that was variable in its condition (and gauge!) and open to all the elements of a Welsh hillside. These duties mainly consisted of:

  1. transporting slate slabs from the rock faces to the cutting sheds;
  2. removing the resulting slate waste in wagons from the cutting sheds to the slate tips at the extreme ends of the gallery level;
  3. moving the cut and trimmed slates by wagon from the cutting shed to the gravity inclines that transported the loaded wagons bodily to the bottom level of the quarry for trans shipment;
  4. carrying any other materials and equipment from one part of the gallery to another.

The robustness of the original design can be appreciated by the fact that the locomotive can now haul a train of some 5 loaded coaches the length of the line (4 ½ miles single trip, most of it along the shore of Bala Lake) and tackle the final long bank of 1 in 70 up to Llanuwchllyn Station with plenty of steam pressure left to spare.

Since "Maid Marian" has been on the Bala Lake Railway, the superb maintenance and careful driving she has received have ensured that she has remained in working order. The major part of this has been carried out by members of the Bala Lake Railway Society over a long period of time as part of the running agreement that the Fund has with the Railway Company. Every Winter the loco is removed from service and given an overhaul depending on the requirements at the time. Regular boiler inspections are carried out as appropriate to keep a check on the condition of the boiler, which was fitted during the 1950s and which is still providing satisfactory service.

However, the boiler has reached the stage where it may last for up to 10 years at the most and the Fund has decided that, to ensure that the "Maid" continues to operate, a new boiler will need to be purchased. A boiler is the most important part of a locomotive and its replacement will be a major expenditure for the Fund over the next few years. At the request of a recent AGM, the Management Committee is investigating means of raising funds for this purpose.

How can I become a subscriber?

The Fund sells voting rights at the rate of multiples of £20 per 2 votes; this does not represent a share in the locomotive but does enable the subscriber to enjoy the benefits of membership of the Fund (explained below). This robust form of management of the Fund has served members well over the years and has justified the original confidence of subscribers in the 1960s in subscribing to a group of then-unknown enthusiasts who wished to maintain a steam locomotive in working condition and to enable a large number of subscribers to share the enjoyment of this activity.

A subscription can be a single payment and does not need to be renewed subsequently, although further votes can be acquired at any time. All that is required of subscribers is that they notify the Honorary Secretary of any subsequent changes of address so that the Progress Reports and notices of AGMs can be forwarded. A subscriber can opt to pass on the subscription to another individual at any time, subject to notifying the Honorary Secretary of his / her intention, and many subscribers have passed on their interest in this manner (see #13 of the Rules, published elsewhere on this web site).

What benefits will I get from my subscription?

As mentioned above, subscribers will receive a twice-yearly Progress Report on the loco as well as the notification of AGMs and other meetings (see Progress Reports for the latest version of the Report). They will also receive their own Subscriber's card and their voting rights will be recorded centrally so that they can participate in AGMs and in voting for other matters concerning the management of the locomotive. Details of subscribers' names, addresses and voting rights are the only information that the Fund holds centrally. Subscribers are also welcomed at the Bala Lake Railway and can, during the day of the AGM, ride on the footplate of the loco.

They will also be able to purchase from time to time any items of interest that become available for sale via the Fund. One subscriber has written a book on the workings of the Dinorwic Quarry, "Slates to Felinheli", which has proved to be a popular sales item and has sold two editions of 1000 copies, both through the Fund and more widely through other sales outlets. A third reprint is being undertaken but is not yet available; further details will be made available at the appropriate time. Other sales items are a full-size replica of the "Maid Marian" name plate in cast brass and a copy of the locomotive's maker's plate in the same material.

When can I subscribe?

Subscription to the Fund can be made at any time by contacting the Honorary Secretary for further details. Your subscriptions will go towards ensuring that the locomotive is maintained in full working order, so make the most of this opportunity and get in touch NOW.

Hugh Jones

Honorary Secretary

18 April 2001

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