Trains first ran on the picturesque Talyllyn Narrow Gauge Railway in Wales on this date 14th May 1951, making it the first railway in the world to be operated by volunteers and paving the way (or laying down the tracks) for other preserved steam Railways like the Bluebell & Severn Valley Railway. The Talyllyn Railway runs for 7.25 miles (11.67 km) from Tywyn on the Mid-Wales coast to Nant Gwernol near the village of Abergynolwyn. The line was opened in 1866 to carry slate from the quarries at Bryn Eglwys to Tywyn, and was the first narrow gauge railway in Britain authorised by Act of Parliament to carry passengers using steam haulage. Despite severe under-investment, the line remained open, and in 1951 it became the first railway in the world to be preserved as a heritage railway by volunteers. Since preservation, the railway has operated as a tourist attraction, expanding its rolling stock through acquisition and an engineering programme to build new locomotives and carriages.
In 1976, an extension was opened along the former mineral line from Abergynolwyn to the new station at Nant Gwernol. In 2001, the preservation society celebrated its 50th anniversary, and in 2005 a major rebuilding and extension of Tywyn Wharf station took place, including a much-expanded facility for the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum. The fictional Skarloey Railway, which formed part of the Railway Series of children’s books by The Rev. W. Awdry, was based on the Talyllyn Railway and The preservation of the line inspired the Ealing Comedy film The Titfield Thunderbolt.
German-British locomotive engineer and co-founder of the firm Beyer-Peacock, Charles Beyer was born this date 14 May in 1813. He studied at Dresden Polytechnic, and Upon graduation Beyer took a job in a machine works at Chemnitz, and he obtained a state grant from the Saxon Government to visit the United Kingdom to report on weaving machine technology. He visited Manchester, then considered the major centre in engineering technology. Beyer began work with Sharp, Roberts and Company in Manchester, manufacturers of textile machinery, as a junior draughtsman and developed a lifelong friendship with Richard Roberts. During the following years Sharp, Roberts and Company began to turn its main attention to the construction of locomotives, and Roberts soon delegated most of the locomotive design work to Beyer. The Sharp locomotives of the 1840s, particularly the 2-2-2 passenger and 0-4-2 goods, were almost completely Beyer’s creations, and while he was careful to ensure that his designs were stout and long lasting, he also contrived to give his designs a distinctive and beautiful external appearance which became a tradition of Sharp locomotives. It almost certtainly caught the attention of the King of Saxony, who visited the Sharp factory in 1844, and it was not long before the Saxon railways ordered Sharp locomotives.
In 1853, with Richard Peacock, Beyer founded Beyer, Peacock and Company in Gorton, Manchester. The new works, known as Gorton Foundry was built on the opposite side to the railway to Gorton locomotive works of the Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway. Beyer, Peacock became one of the most famous locomotive building companies, exporting engines all over the world and becoming famous after Beyer’s death for the gigantic ‘Beyer-Garratt’ articulated locomotive.