The Glenthorne Authority locomotives

The Glenthorne Harbour Authority always ploughed their own furrow, ordering two 2-6-2 Hunslet locomotives which were the precursors to the successful 'Russell' delivered to North Wales in 1906. These engines, No. 1 and No. 2 were slightly more powerful than the later 'Russell'.

Hunslet No 1 at Chelfham

As the harbour traffic increased, it became clear that an additional locomotive was needed. In 1906, they purchased from Baldwin, USA, at very good terms, a 2-6-4 tank locomotive which became the only locomotive to carry a name; 'Ben Halliday'. Hunslet No.2 was damaged beyond repair in a serious rock fall accident when entering Glenthorne Harbour in April 1912. The Baldwin was then numbered No 2.

The Glenthorne Baldwin was shipped to Plymouth and travelled by rail to Barnstaple where it was craned onto the track.

 Here, the new locomotive stands resplendent on its new metals.

In 1910, two 0-4-0-0-4-0 Garratt locomotives were purchased (no 4 & 5). These were developments of the compound K1 Garratts supplied to Tasmania the previous year. They were chosen to handle heavier loads up the steep winding grades from the port. The Garratts handled the task well but were notorious for damaging the track. It would appear that the wheelbases of the power bogies is too short which results in 'hunting'.

Garratt No 5 at Porlock engine shed

one of the Garratts climbing up from the harbour

Glenthorne locomotives on the main line

The traffic generated by the Glenthorne harbour was the mainstay of goods on the main line. Frequently, Southern was unable to supply sufficient motive power to operate their requirements. A joint running agreement resulted in Glenthorne locomotives operating on the main line. On occasion, the more powerful Glenthorne engines are even seen on special passenger workings.

Later locomotives

The Harbour Authority operates two very different branch lines. The Harbour branch is extremely steep and only heavy locomotives can deal with the growing traffic. The branch to Porlock is relatively flat and lighter locomotives suffice.

The company now operates the most powerful narrow gauge locomotives in Great Britain. Often the company purchases large colonial locomotives that have been left on the makers hands.  This has necessitated the easing of some curves and the relaying of the harbour branch in heavier rail.

Aerial photo of No 7 Hudswell Clarke crossing Waterfalls viaduct on the sea cliffs circa 1933
photo by kind permission of the Whitmore estate

The Kitson Meyer at Lynton - photo L.T.Catchpole

Kitson Meyer - photo L.T.Catchpole  - click on image to enlarge

After the Great War, two ex WD locomotives were purchased for very little money, although they are not very7 popular or successful and were used for shunting duties for the most part. Both remaining locomotives are now withdrawn. During my visit, this year, Garratt (no.4), Hunslet (no. 1),  Baldwin (No.2 ‘Ben Halliday’), Kitson Meyer No.6, Hudswell Clarke No7, Kerr Stuart No11 and North British No10 were in use. The Alco No 8 had been overhauled at Pilton Yard over the winter of 1930 but failed in 1934. Garratt No.5 (whose boiler had been condemned) and the mortal remains of Hunslet No.2 lie dismantled and raided for parts at Doone Sidings while No 8 is rusting away at County Gate engine shed. Baldwin No 9 was deemed surplus to requirements and has been shunted into a siding at the Harbour.

no.9 4-6-0 Baldwin; now withdrawn.

The easy grades of the Porlock Branch are more friendly to ex WD locomotives until they were withdrawn this year. During our visit in 1935, local traffic was being being worked by the No 2 Baldwin and ex main-line railcar No 201.

Coal transfer from Glenthorne Harbour is being undertaken with the Garratt No 4, Hudswell Clarke Mikado (No 7) and the Kitson Meyer. Ben Halliday and the Peckett (No 12) are handling general goods. Other heavy locomotives in use are North British Pacific (No 10) a Kerr Stuart tender locomotive (Mikado) (No 11), a massive 2-8-4 tank engine by Hunslet (No 14) and a 2-6-4 Kerr Stuart tank (No 15).

Hunslet No 11 (photo by author)

In 1929, a new diesel power unit was delivered to replace steam traction for summer passenger services on the Harbour Branch. This was built locally using two Gardner engines. One engine was used for each direction as the gearboxes only had one reverse gear.  The unit has proved to be less than reliable and it is not unusual to find the original push pull coaches being pressed into service with a steam locomotive.

the original Glenthorne railcar

Kerr Stuart 2-6-4 No 15 crosses the Glenthorne Viaduct. (photo by author)

In 1935, the original prototype railcars on the main line became surplus to requirements after the new series of railcars were delivered. These have been purchased by the Glenthorne Authority for use on both of their branches. This was followed by the purchase of railcar 302, needed to strengthen the harbour branch passenger service.

Unseen by myself, is the new diesel traction locomotive built as a joint venture between Southern Railway and the Harbour Authority.


Glenthorne Harbour Authority locomotive fleet

Glenthorne Locomotives
Name/number year built withdrawn Type Manufacturer
No 1 1902 - 2-6-2T Hunslet
No 2 1902 1912 2-6-2T Hunslet
No 3 (later No2) 'Ben Halliday' 1906 - 2-6-4T Baldwin
No 4 1910 - 0-4-0 0-4-0T Garratt
No 5 1910 ex WD 1929 0-4-0 0-4-0T Garratt
No 6 1918 - 0-6-0 0-6-0T Kitson Meyer
No 7 1917 - 2-8-2 tender Hudswell Clarke
No 8 1918 ex WD 1934 2-6-2T Alco
No 9 1917 ex WD 1935 4-6-0T Baldwin
No 10 1912 - 4-6-2 tender North British
No 11 1914 - 2-8-2 tender Kerr Stuart
No 12 1930   0-6-0T Peckett
No 14 1933 - 2-8-4 T Hunslet
No 15 1924 - 2-6-4 T Kerr Stuart
No 16 1926 - 2-6-2 T Chittaranjan Loco. Works
No 20/21 1935 - bo-bo,bo-bo Southern Rly/Glenthorne
harbour railcar 1929 -


built locally
No 200 (ex Southern) 1932 - railcar Eastleigh
No 201 (ex Southern) 1933 - railcar Short Bros.
No 302 (ex Southern) 1933/4 - railcar Eastleigh



Harbour locomotives are painted in maroon with black and yellow lining. Ex WD locomotives are not usually lined. The exception is No 6, the Kitson Meyer, which for some reason has always appeared in lined black.


bring 'Lyn' back to life