Originally built by Sir Arthur Heywood in 1894 and named Muriel, River Irt is the oldest working 15 inch gauge locomotive in the world. It is believed she saw service at the munitions factory in Gretna (as 0-8-0T Muriel) before arriving at Ravenglass in 1917 where she was subsequently rebuilt and renamed in 1927. In 1972 she changed appearance again to a style closer to her original outline with a taller chimney, dome and cab profile, whilst retaining her power and reliability as well as her historic fabric. She still hauls heavy trains capably even though she is now over 100 years old.
River Esk was purpose-built for the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway and was delivered in 1923 from Davey, Paxman & Co of Colchester. The design was mastered by Henry Greenly and inspiration for dozens of narrow gauge locomotives that were subsepauntly built in Britain and Germany between the wars. After early innovations in her design (including a steam powered tender!) proved unsuccessful, she became a tireless performer, and has run thousands of miles per year every year since 1952. For many years painted green, the loco is currently in black livery.
River Mite is owned by the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway Preservation Society, and first entered service in 1967. Built by Clarkson’s of York using components from River Esk’s steam tender, the engine made history when it was delivered to Ravenglass by traction engine. River Mite attracted a great deal of publicity when new, her distinctive Indian Red Livery from the old Furness Railway sets her apart from similiar River Esk features. She has travelled as far as Dresden in Germany as an ambassador for the R & ER.
Built in the workshops at Ravenglass to the design of the then chief engineer, Ian Smith, Northern Rock first saw service in 1976. She has given another generation of visitors continued reliable performance and her design has been replicated in two locomotives also built in our Ravenglass workshops for the Niji-no-Sato Country Park in Japan. The loco has always carried the Muscat Green with red, dark green and white lining of the Highland Railway.