Historic steam engine 'Nancy' has beaten Brexit to return to Co Leitrim!

Darragh Connolly


Darragh Connolly

Historic steam engine 'Nancy' has beaten Brexit to return to Co Leitrim!

Nancy is set to arrive in Ireland this Thursday, March 28!© Douglas Roberts

Proving that dreams really can come true, the historic steam locomotive, 'Nancy', built by the Avonside Engine Company of Bristol in 1908, will return to Ireland on Thursday, March, 28, 2019 following extensive restoration by Alan Keef Ltd.

Nancy steamed for the first time in 60 years on March 23, 2019 at Keef's workshop in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire following a complete rebuild from little more than a rolling chassis.

© Douglas Roberts, Nancy is seen in steam with C&L director Philip Bedford

Nancy is a narrow gauge 0-6-0T locomotive built to run on the Ironstone quarries of the Midlands in the UK. She last ran in 1959 at the Eastwell Ironstone Quarry.

Nancy will be based at the 3ft narrow gauge Cavan and Leitrim Railway at Dromod, Co Leitrim. The intention is to operate steam services for members of the public at Dromod in the near future with Nancy and their collection of heritage rolling stock.

Nancy was sent to Keef's for a rebuild in 1997, which included a brand new boiler, cab, smokebox, water tanks and coal bunker along with heavy restoration to the chassis, wheels and cylinders.

£160,000 has been invested into her restoration over the past 20 years through donations. This was the first major Irish railway preservation project to utilise social media as a resource, with the “Avonside Nancy Restoration Group” partnering with the Cavan and Leitrim Railway to assist in fundraising in 2017, they raised €10,200 within the first five months.

Nancy’s restoration was put on the backburner due to the recession hitting rural Ireland particularly hard circa 2008 and recommenced in anticipation of Brexit.

Keef’s completed four months worth of work within just three-and-a-half weeks due to the time constraints that had been in place when Brexit had been anticipated to come into effect by March 29 of this year.

Nancy will come back to Ireland carrying “The Brexit Express” headboard atop here smokebox with UK and EU flags pictured on it.

Nancy is due to arrive back to Ireland Thursday, March 28, and will be unloaded at her new home in Dromod, Co Leitrim on Friday, March 29.

The arrival will have special poignancy as Nancy will arrive back to Dromod in advance of the 60th anniversary of the closure of the Cavan and Leitrim Railway which occurred on March 31, 1959.