• The Cavan and Leitrim Railway


Updated: Aug 1, 2020

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Nancy seen in steam on 23rd March at Keefs works (C) Douglas Roberts

The Avonside "Nancy" Restoration Group was founded as a joint effort by volunteers on a number of Ireland's Narrow gauge railways, with the ultimate goal of returning Avonside built 3ft gauge "Nancy" to Ireland and to steaming condition

A fund was set up in January 2017 with the ultimate aim of reaching approx £40,000 to pay for the completion of the loco.

Nancy seen from the air with Darragh on the footplate (C) C&LR

Nancy steamed for the first time since the late 1950's at Alan Keef ltd on 23rd March 2019 and at the time of writing is due to come back to Ireland the week of the 29th March.

Photo provided by Michael Whitehouse (C) Ken Cooper

A Brief History:

"Nancy" became works number 1547 of Avonside works and was delivered new to Stanton Ironworks Co. Ltd for use on their Brewer’s Grave tramway serving Woolsthrope Quarries in Leicestershire. It spent its working life in the ironstone Industry until 1961 when it was bought for preservation by a group based at Watnall, Nottinghamshire. It remained there until 1972 when it was acquired by Lord O’Neill for Shane’s Castle Railway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. 

Preservation at Dromod:

"Nancy" remained there until she was purchased by C & L in 1997 for restoration and service on portion of the restored line at Dromod. In early 1999 "Nancy" was shipped to the premises of Alan Keef Ltd., Lea Line, Nr Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, England to start the process of restoration.

Most of the components above the running plate were fit only to use as a pattern for new parts. By April 2001, “Nancy” had been stripped; the reusable components ultrasonically tested, and when fit for use, have been cleaned, repainted and reused. The reprofiled wheel sets have been reunited with the frames, and the assembly of the cylinders, motion work and valve gear is now complete. The manufacture of the footplates, new tanks, cab and bunker, using the originals as patterns, see right hand side. An article in the Railway Magazine shows further details on the restoration.

Nancy has now returned and has brought steam to Dromod for the first time since 2004 when Dromad's boiler cert required renewal.

The Dromod crew on shed, seen left to right are Thomas Fogarty, Darragh Connolly, Peter Williams, Philip Bedford and Micheal Kennedy

The Project:

We have fully funded the loco to steaming condition. Thank you for all your support throughout the 3 years. Steam can finally return to the Cavan and Leitrim!

The Avonside "Nancy" Restoration Group:

The group have given much direction and leadership to the project and without their input we would be no where, their site is available here.

The Swilly and NCC Connection:

Michael Kennedy has collected the whistle and gauge glass from a LLSR engine, it came from one of the "Big Giants" the biggest narrow gauge engines to operate in these islands, for the first time since 1953 a Lough Swilly engine can be heard.

The brass dome now fitted (C) CLR

There is also a bit of history from a former NCC 2-4-2T, the Downpatrick and County Down Railway donated the chimney to us. It has been fitted to Nancy and looks superb. The author recalls donating money into the chimney while visiting Downpatrick! He didn't think it would grace Nancy at some point!

Historical Gallery of "Nancy"

The first image is provided courtesy of James Waterfield, the second is courtesy of the Midland Railway Trust. The sixth and seventh are courtesy of Ken Cooper (held by Michael Whitehouse).

Nancy's Restoration:

Nancy at Keefs:

The album below shows the restoration work undertaken with Nancy while at Alan Keef ltd between 1997 and 2018, a period of 21 years! £160,000 and a new boiler later she has been completed. A special word of thanks must be extended to several groups including the Avonside "Nancy" Restoration Group, Martin Ball, Lord O'Neill for their contribution to the project. Thanks must also extend to the Downpatrick and County Down Railway for donating a former narrow gauge NCC locomotive chimney to the project.

Nancy Steams Again!

The album below shows Nancy steaming for the first time in preservation at Alan Keef ltd and her arrival at Dromod, including shots of her new dome.

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