Russell has a complex history.
- 1906 Russell was built by the Hunslet Engine Company for the Portmadoc, Beddgelert and South Snowdon Railway, a railway that was never completed, and was 'loaned' to its sister company the NWNGR, and named after the second receiver of that company.
- 1922 It became the property of the WHR along with the NWNGR and the partially completed trackbed of the PBSSR.
- 1924 after the WHR was taken over by the neighbouring Ffestiniog Railway (FfR), Russell was reduced in height in order to allow it to work trains on the FfR. The Ffestiniog's bridges and tunnels were built to a restrictive loading gauge. The work entailed lowering Russell's chimney, steam dome and cab; however locomotive was still too wide and could not pass through the long Moelwyn tunnel.
- 1937 the WHR closed, with Russell running the last through train. The locomotive was left in the sheds at Dinas.
- 1941 requisitioned for war service, refurbished by the Brymbo Steel Works, and sent to the Hook Norton Ironstone Pits in Oxfordshire. It was converted to a 0-6-2T after frequent derailments on the industrial tracks.
- 1953 broke a driving axle, and was laid up.
- 1954 Russell was purchased by the Birmingham Locomotive Club for £70 in order to secure it for preservation.
- 1965 It was donated to Welsh Highland Light Railway (1964) Co. through the generosity of the Birmingham Locomotive Club and moved to that company's base at Kinnerly in Shropshire.
- 1970 fitted with a new boiler by its makers the Hunslet Engine Company at Leeds and it returned to Kinnerly on January 29 1971.
- 1974 moved from Carnforth to Hills & Bailey Ltd. at Llanberis for further overhaul work. Subsequently the engine was moved to the Gelerts Farm Works of the Welsh Highland Light Railway (1964) Co. where the very extensive restoration work continued.
- 1987 steamed again at the Gelerts Farm Works and has since operated trains regularly on the Welsh Highland Railway (Porthmadog).
- 2000 visited the Welsh Highland Railway (Caernarfon) and operated trains on the occasion of the official reopening of the line between Dinas and Waunfawr.
- 2005 a full overhaul was begun, with the aim of running again between Porthmadog and Dinas, on the completed Welsh Highland Railway.
A 2-6-2T steam locomotive, the design of Russell is based on the locomotives supplied to the Sierra Leone Government Railway (indeed one driving wheel centre bears the initials SLR). Originally built with air train brakes, converted to vacuum train brakes following the linking of the Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog Railways. It was fitted with air and vacuum brakes following restoration.