Steam Age Daydreams
Trains of a certain vintage
Bellerophon, the name of the locomotive in the photograph, was a Greek, mythological, dragon slayer, well Chimera slayer, to be more precise, whose tale is told in Homer’s epic, The Iliad. The Chimera, a lion’s head, on a goat’s body, with a serpent’s tail, is finally nailed by Bellerophon, with the help of his trusty winged steed Pegasus. Classic stuff, sounds a bit George and the Dragon myth to me, but he came later – that’s the thing with all this classical antiquity, myths mixed with philosophy, and a dash of Chinese whispers thrown in, nearly as good as modern propaganda.
There’s nothing mythological about the Bellerophon in the picture, a scan of one of my old photographs, in her day Bellerophon was quite an innovative bit of machinery, having outside motion and piston valves, the latter being particularly state of the art in 1870s Britain. Built for Haydock Colliery, in 1874, she is the last of the only six engines ever built by the Haydock Foundry. The Haydock Colliery / Foundry complex had more than 60 miles of private railway and a fleet of locomotives operating over them. The Haydock Colliery railway system maintained connections with the London & North Western Railway and the Liverpool & Manchester Railway for the onward shipment of the company’s coal and manufactured goods. ‘Where there’s muck there’s brass’, the old saying goes, and in the case of Haydock Colliery there was plenty of muck and brass.
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Nowadays, the loco ‘Bellerophon’ is to be found at Foxfield Railway, Staffordshire