The 2008 gala celebrated the 50th birthdays of Garratts 138, 140 and 143, with a particular emphasis on no. 143 as the only one in service at the time, and also served as a wider celebration of the Garratt locomotive, and of designer H.W. Garratt and the firm of Beyer Peacock of Gorton, Manchester, which built four of the five WHR Garratts. As usual there were visiting engines, but unlike in previous years, none were of WHR gauge. The aim of assembling fifty Garratts was achieved easily - one count found 65 intact Garratts.
The gala did very brisk business despite weather which varied between indifferent and diabolical; the field adjacent to Dinas Station which is normally used for gala parking was too wet to use, so arrangements were made swiftly for visitor parking at a yard further away in Felinwnda, with a minibus service laid on to and from Dinas.
Standard gauge returned to Dinas for the first time since 1971, with a short length of standard gauge track hosting 0-4-0ST Beyer Peacock no. 1827 of 1879, the former Gorton Works shunter which is now based at the Foxfield Railway.
Gala preparations are seen in progress below, with four panels of standard gauge track being laid at Dinas by the newly formed BGG (Broad Gauge Gang), using South African rail left over from WHR Phase 3, and the visiting carriages (bowsider no. 20 and Van 2) arriving from the FR.
The saddle tank gave footplate rides throughout the gala, and left for Foxfield the day after the gala (last picture).
A 15" gauge line was also laid in Dinas Yard for the K1-inspired Garratt built in Tasmania and now based at the Perrygrove Railway in Gloucestershire (first picture below); while not intended to be a scale model (for instance it is not a compound), it captures the character very well. It too gave footplate rides (unlike the saddle tank, to one person at a time!), and proved to have quite a turn of speed.
A 7.25" line was laid between the standard gauge and 15" ones, featuring two locos. One was the fine model of K1 built by John Milner, now named Confidence and based on the private Kyre Valley Railway in Herefordshire. The second was Mount Kilimanjaro, the model of an East African Railways 59 Class 4-8-2+2-8-4 built for the former private Croesor Junction & Pacific Railway near Nantmor; the loco also ran at Tan y Bwlch Station in the 1980s, and is now based at the Weston Park Railway in Shropshire. Carriages came from the Conwy Valley Railway Museum at Betws y Coed.
Dinas featured several more Garratts in steam, on the 16mm Garratt Owners and Operators Association's live steam layout Ttarrag Shed, on a repeat visit. Displays in the Goods Shed and a marquee featured model and miniature Garratts in gauges from 00 to 7.25", the largest being the freelance 2-4-0+0-4-2 William Rufus from the Moors Valley Railway in Hampshire. Displays also featured Garratt plates and pictures from around the world, as well as closer to whom, with plates and patterns for WHR Garratts nos. 87 and 140.
The exhibits included original H.W. Garratt paperwork and memorabilia, and a live steam 4-4-0 built by Garratt himself and now owned by the Welsh Highland Railway Society.
A display of construction pictures was held in a marquee at Rhyd Ddu on Saturday.
Out on the railway, K1 and no. 143 ran the main services. Prince operated Caernarfon - Waunfawr shuttles, propelling on the return journeys, with carriage no. 1001 serving again as a suitable leading vehicle. Diesel Castell Caernarfon's duties included Waunfawr - Rhyd Ddu shuttles, involving shunts at Rhyd Ddu to switch trains to the opposite platform for departure, as well as running the loco round; having service trains effectively crossing at Rhyd Ddu gave a flavour of how the station would be able to operate after reopening to Porthmadog.
The opportunity was taken on Sunday to photograph re-posed versions of the presentations from the previous evening's Cymdeithas Rheilffordd Eryri/Welsh Highland Railway Society AGM. Chairman Dave Kent presented the Society's "token of appreciation" to bridge designer John Sreeves, and made another presentation to Pete Hugman, the railway's long-serving Dinas Operations Supervisor, who had departed for a new career on the canals of Yorkshire (Video, c/o the BBC), but returned as a volunteer to co-organise the gala with Dave.