K1 has its place in history as it was the pioneer of the type of articulated locomotive that became known as the 'Garratt'. Two locomotives were built in 1909 by the Beyer Peacock company of Manchester in the UK, for the North-East Dundas Tramway in Tasmania, and these were designated the K class and numbered K1 and K2. They proved the worthiness of this type of articulated locomotive for use on the narrow gauge with tight curves and steep gradients. Further designs for railways of all gauges worldwide followed to ensure that the Garratt became one of the most successful types of articulation for steam traction.
Both locomotives eventually fell out of use but neither were scrapped at that time. Instead their unique nature was appreciated and so K1 (with K2's boiler and a few other parts) was offered to Bayer Peacocks for preservation. On the closure of Beyer Peacocks the loco was acquired by the Ffestiniog Railway and as it was not of immediate use was subsequently put on display at the National Railway Museum in York.
With the prospect of the reopening of the Welsh Highland Railway becoming more likely an opportunity was seen to restore and use the loco when that line opened.
A group of volunteers, the K1 Group, was set up with the intention of being responsible for its restoration to working order. This was started at Tyseley near Birmingham, and later moving to Boston Lodge on the Ffestiniog Railway, before finally arriving at the WHR in 2004.
The group then helped in finalising the loco for revenue earning service and that commenced three years later in October 2007. This involved numerous trials to remove the last few snags such as that with lubrication. When K1 entered regular service it was running the train service from Caenarfon the Rhyd Ddu when the railway was only open that far. With it in regular service the K1 group's responsibility moved from restoration to caring for its general well-being and upkeep, although the company looked after day to day maintenance whilst in revenue earning services.
In 2014 K1's boiler certificate expired and so work commenced towards stripping the loco down in order to receive its 10 yearly examination. However just before it was withdrawn K1 provided the traction for the Ffestiniog Railway's Trustees train on the 8th October 2014. The picture below shows it at Boston Lodge hauling the railway's vintage stock.
During that day a leaflet was made available giving a potted history of K1. This leaflet, 'A note from the K1 Group Committee', is now made available here.
The K1 Group wound down after 20 years as a separate WHRS 'project' group in the Autumn of 2015, with the remaining funds transferred to the Society for the continual financial support of K1. The remaining volunteers joined forces with those restoring NG15 locomotive №134 and the combined group will progress the overhaul of K1 as well as the restoration of the NG15. Any new volunteers are welcome to join in the fun and work on K1 or №134 as is required. The working parties take place at Dinas, usually in the Loco shed, but sometimes at the location of the various components, wherever they happened to be located. Full details of these working parties at Dinas can be found on the NG15 №134 website.
Much more detail about this historic locomotive can be found on the accompanying pages. Much of what is in these pages was originally authored by the late Dr Ben Fisher for his WHR Project website, however, the material has been updated and enhanced to give a more comprehensive and complete picture of K1's history. It gives the background to the Garratt locomotive as a type, how K1 came into being together with its early life. It then covers how the loco came to be saved and its subsequent return to steam and use on the Welsh Highland Railway, as well as bringing the story up to date with its current overhaul.