Integral to the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Trust's aim to recreate the atmosphere of the original railway is not only the L&B's carriages and E762 LYN - the solitary Baldwin, but also its unique Manning Wardle locomotives.
Back in 1996 it was thought appropriate that as YEO was the first of three engines delivered to the original Lynton & Barnstaple Railway from Manning, Wardle & Co of Leeds in 1897 it should be the first MW to be built for the new L&B, and a project to construct the loco was launched, even though we had only just bought Woody Bay Station the previous year and did not have an inch of track on which to run the loco.
Even more astonishingly, the first attempt to create a replica LYN was also launched the same year! Unsurprisingly, both schemes failed to garner the required support and eventually ground to a halt
In 2007, with a burgeoning railway and no steam loco of our own, the Trustees decided that given that there would ever be sufficient funds to support the simultaneous construction of two Manning Wardle replicas - let alone one - we should instead put all our effort behind completing AXE - as we had by this time owned the loco for over twenty years! With AXE now the priority, the YEO Project was put on hold.
The L&B at Woody Bay both supports and promotes the Ffestiniog Railway's LYD Project - after all it is the first time in over 70 years that we have seen one of these aesthetically pleasing locos in action and we will certainly be able to benefit from the knowledge obtained by the LYD team during the years of construction and from the locos operation. Click on the Lyd Project to visit the project's webpage for more information.
After LYD's very successful visit to Woody Bay in September 2010 - for which thanks must go to L&B Life Member and LYD Project founder, James Evans and also FR General Manager and L&B aficionado Paul Lewin - the relationship between the L&B and the FR has grown significantly.
LYD has already set the benchmark for a 21st Century Manning Wardle and we have the benefit of the lessons learned from building, and operating LYD and these will now be incorporated into the design and construction of YEO.
With the imminent completion of two of our heritage coaches in 2013, and LYN at an advanced stage given our plans to extend the railway, it will not be too long before we will need another L&B type loco and this time it will be YEO.
The current estimate of the finances needed to build a Manning Wardle is about £500.000. No small sum when there are so many other things that need funding - including the current funding priority the permissions needed to extend the railway. A considerable fundraising initiative will therefore be required before the project can recommence.
YEO will be constructed entirely under contract with the timescale for completion dependent on the availability of funds.
After being stored at Gartell's for a number of years, YEO's frames are now at Woody Bay where they are to be cleaned and repainted and put on prominent display to attract further interest in resurrecting this ambitious project.
If you are interested in supporting the YEO Project when it is relaunched, please send an email to the 21st Century Yeo Project