Miniature steam loco Billy, Rhyl

Miniature steam loco Billy, Central Station, Rhyl

Billy is the centrepiece of the museum at Central Station. It was the last of six steam engines built between the First and Second World Wars to re-equip the Rhyl Miniature Railway, now Britain’s oldest miniature railway.

The railway opened in 1911 and initially used steam locomotives designed by Henry Greenly and built by WJ Bassett-Lowke. Rhyl Amusements Ltd, which bought the railway in 1912, needed larger engines as mass tourism returned to North Wales after the war. Mr Greenly provided a suitable design, and Albert Barnes, Rhyl Amusements Ltd’s talented young manager, began to construct the new locos at his engineering workshops in Rhyl.

The first of the larger locos was Joan – still in use on the railway today. It entered service in 1920.

Billy was built c.1934. Like its cousins, it’s a 4-4-2 tender engine. This denotes four little wheels on a rotating bogie at the front, four large driving wheels which transmit the power, and a pair of wheels (known as a “pony truck”) at the back.

The new locos were named after the children of Isaac Gaunt Butler, who owned Rhyl Amusements Ltd. His family’s fortune come from iron making in the Leeds area. Billy was named after James Gaunt Butler, who was known as “Billy”.

Billy was auctioned at Sotheby’s in London in 1978. Rhyl Town Council was the winning bidder, paying £9,000 for the engine. Billy was displayed in the Town Hall and the main railway station before becoming the central exhibit at the new Albert Barnes Room in 2007. Many youngsters have enjoyed sitting on the tender to “drive” the engine.

The museum also features vintage model trains and displays which enable children – and older visitors – to discover how traditional railways work.

Postcode: LL18 1AQ    View Location Map

Website of Rhyl Miniature Railway