Enid The Locomotive Celebrates 120 Years – Snowdon Mountain Railway
On Saturday 27th June, our Llanberis railway station forecourt will play host to all sorts of fun goings-on. There’ll be face painting, cake, prizes and much more for visitors to enjoy – whether or not they travel on the railway itself. Best of all, we’ll be raising money for charity all day long. The cause we’ll be supporting on this occasion is the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team, whose invaluable work is no doubt much appreciated by all those who enjoy the mountain and its spectacular surroundings.
For those curious about Enid’s history, she’s actually originally from Switzerland. She was constructed at the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works in Winterthur way back in 1895, and was delivered to help with the construction of the 4.7-mile mountain railway here at Snowdon in the very same year.
You might also be wondering where Enid got her name – which, by the way, is pronounced ‘Ennid’ in the local dialect – from. She was in fact named after Enid Assheton-Smith, the daughter of Snowdonia’s then-landowner George William Duff Assheton-Smith and his wife Laura Alice Assheton-Smith.
It’s worth noting that Mr Assheton-Smith was originally less than thrilled about the proposal to build a railway on his beautiful mountain and had initially opposed it for fear of spoiling the scenery. Fortunately, he relented and Enid Assheton-Smith herself cut the very first sod of earth as construction began on the Snowdon Mountain Railway in 1894.
Enid has even inspired a fictional counterpart. The locomotive served as the inspiration for the Reverend W. Awdry’s Ernest character from the world-famous Thomas the Tank Engine series. Ernest even shares the same number (two) as Enid and works on the Cuddle Fell Railway, featured in Mountain Engines – the 19th book in the series – published in 1964. You may have already guessed by now what the inspiration for the Cuddle Fell Railway was!
Rev Awdry visited the Snowdon Mountain Railway in 1963 and wrote a pair of articles about it. The railway’s then-director, A.O.E. Davis, subtly hinted to the Reverend that he might like to include a similar mountain railway in his Thomas the Tank Engine series – which he duly did. Fortuitously, a mountain – Cuddle Fell, standing rather higher than Snowdon at 2,046ft above sea level – had already been featured on maps of the Isle of Sodor where the books are set, so the Rev Awdry simply added a railway to it.
Anyway, that little historical detour should give you some idea as to why we’re so excited about celebrating Enid’s 120th birthday – not least because it gives us an excuse to support our marvellous local mountain rescue team as well.