Rail Ale 2014
tenth Rail Ale Festival was a great success with a
large attendance in perfect weather conditions. Around 100 ales and
many ciders were on offer in the goods whed and regular entertainment
in the marquee. Regular shuttle trains ran between Caernarfon, Dinas
and Waunfawr mostly hauled by the visiting locomotive Fiji or by K1.
The opening ceremony was performed by the Secretary of
Wales, Rt Hon. David Jones MP who arrived by train from
Caernaron, having driven the train there himself.
The atmosphere of the weekend was captured on video by John Wooden:
28th April 2014 A
further public consultation on improvements to Caernarfon station is
being held at the station on Thursday 08 May 2014 between 1100 and
1900. For further details see here. 28th April 2014 The
Rail Ale weekend has become a popular fixture in the year's programme
and takes place on May 16-18. For full details see the Rail Ale microsite
13th April 2014 The "Snowdonian" ran again on 12th April, completing an 80
trip from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog, Caernarfon and back to
Porthmadog, carrying a large number of sponsors and raising further
funds for developement of the railway.
John Wooden gives a
video account of the trip:
2013 The new-build coach No 2046 is now complete and is
expected to be moved over to Dinas on 2nd January. where it
ready for use. The building of this coach has been funded by the Welsh
Highland Railway Society. Note the new panoramic
windows matched to the seat positions, offering an enhanced field of
view. Pictures by Norman Bond.
Opening of Lôn Gwyrfai. A special train ran between Porthmadog and Rhyd Ddu on
Tuesday October 29 to carry walkers and cyclists to the opening of the
Snowdonia National Park’s new Lôn Gwyrfai Path from Rhyd Ddu to
Beddgelert. The train, formed of vintage stock and headed by Linda and
Taliesin, then waited at Beddgelert to return walkers to Porthmadog in
the afternoon. The walk combines well with the Railway to provide an
attractive circular trip between Rhyd Ddu and Beddgelert. Comprehensive
details of this new route are available on the
Snowdonia National Park website.
Pictures by Chris Parry
Highland Great and Small" This popular event featured might Garratts contrasting
with little England locos, modern spacious carriage stock contrasting
with the diminutive vintage stock, full size locos contrasting with
model railways, some of which layouts were of exquisite quality, and to
the delight of many, the return to steam of K1 allowing a
pairing with 143 as the first and last of the line.
5th August 2013
Welsh Highland Great and Small - September 6th-8th
year's "Superpower" event on the WHR will be based at the northern end
of the line with Dinas as its focus. Among the many activities will be
heavy goods trains (the "Great"), vintage trains and locos, footplate
rides, model railway layouts (the "Small"), and of course
displays of all sorts with a real ale bar and cafe. For full details
see the Festrail
2nd July 2013 75 years ago tomorrow, A4 Pacific Mallard became the
of the world speed record for steam locomotives, attaining a speed of
126.88 mph. To mark the event, Garratt NG/G16 No. 138 has been
fitted with the whistle from Mallard’s 1935 sister locomotive, Silver
King, which was taken out of service in 1965. The whistle –
and Gresley’s A4 Pacifics – have a strong link with the F&WHR,
as one of the LNER’s best-known drivers, Bill Hoole, drove the class
regularly between London and Scotland and moved to Porthmadog to become
a driver on the Ffestiniog Railway when he left King’s Cross shed. He
was given the engraved chime whistle on his retirement in 1959 and last
year it was presented to the F&WHR by Hoole’s grandson, Bill
28th June 2013 Isaac went on its first testing run on the WHR after
restoration at Boston Lodge. In a collaboration with the Welsh Highland
Heritage Railway, it was accompanied by its sister Bagnall
Gelert, the locos hauling a rake of Ffestiniog heritage coaches
with invited guests and supporters of the WHHR.
Having crossed with the WHR service train 14.30 from Caernarfon at Pont
Croesor, the train ran to as far as Hafod y Llyn and
back. At Hafod y Llyn Isaac was found to have an
overheated eccentric, so for the return journey Gelert
provided the motive power from the rear, while Isaac at the
front provided the braking. Report and pictures by
19th May 2013 The 2013 Rail Ale Festival at Dinas was highly successful
broke the previous records. The weather was favourable, the shuttle
trains were busy, a large
good-humoured crowd enjoyed the entertainment in the goods shed and the
wide selection of special ales on offer was so popular that the barrels
even ran dry by the end
night. Early estimates suggest that numbers were 20-25% up on the
previous year, with over 2,000 people attending. By all accounts it was
the "best ever".
John Wooden's video captures the occasion:
9th May 2013
Rail Ale Festival May 17-19 2013
Real Ale... Steam Trains... Live Music... Stunning Scenery - The ninth
annual Rail Ale festival promises to be the best yet.
Past events have delivered over forty real ales on tap in the historic
goods shed venue at Dinas with live music, displays from other local
groups and even a beer specially brewed for the event by a local
microbrewery. This year there will be the usual wide selection of real
ales from Wales, Welsh cider and perry, and even a Welsh-brewed lager.
Regular steam-hauled trains will also be running throughout the weekend
to take you into Snowdonia’s spectacular countryside - why not take a
trip through the Aberglaslyn Pass to Porthmadog?
The hostelries so far confirmed as part of this year’s festival are
'The Black Boy', Caernarfon; the Snowdonia Parc Brewpub, Waunfawr and
the Royal Goat Hotel, Beddgelert. (click here for venue map). The
greatest selection of ales will be in the Goods Shed at the railway’s
station at Dinas, which will be transformed into a bar and music venue.
The live entertainment this year will feature local bands 'Y Moniars',
The Rough Shunters' and The 'Wee Bag Band'.
The Ex-Harrogate Gasworks 0-6-0 Peckett
loco "Harrogate" was delivered to Dinas on 8th May for use on
Ale Festival shuttle
has a long association with the Ffestiniog Railway and has previously
visited. At the same time Lyd was loaded to be taken to the
Lynton and Barnstaple gala this coming weekend. Report and pictures by
3-6 May 2013 "Steam 150" This event to celebrate the 150th anniversary of
steam power on the Ffestiniog Railway was hugely
successful with some 4000 tickets sold and trains packed to capacity.
By its nature it was essentially staged on
the Ffestiniog Railway and is reported elsewhere. However in
commemoration of the period when the FfR operated the service on the
Welsh Highland Railway, a 1923 vintage train ran from Porthmadog to
Beddgelert on the Monday of the event and recreated a scenario
familiar from old photographs. The train of three vintage
coaches was hauled by Palmerston, which unusually was making an
appearance on the WHR. The service proved very popular and tickets were
out long before the day.
Other notable workings
affecting the WHR included a reprise of the "Queens of the Hill" with
Linda and Blanche heading a return trip from Porthmadog to
Caernarfon passing non-stop through Harbour station on
their return journey to Minffordd, an early morning "push-pull" round
Porthmadog to Hafod y Llyn with 12 coaches topped and tailed
by Prince and Palmerston, and a heavy freight train hauled by Garratt
87 from Dinas to Porthmadog, with the wagons then taken by
Linda on a further excursion to Hafod y Llyn.
23/24 March 2013 The spring service started this weekend amid wintry snow
scenes. Pictures from David Firth show the arrival at Beddgelert of the
first train of the season
from Porthmadog. the arrival of the second from Caernarfon and in the
third picture the departure of the train to Caernarfon on the Sunday
8th March 2013 The visit of Princess to Paddington to commemorate 150
years of steam on the Ffestiniog Railway has provided the opportunity
thousands of rail travellers to be introduced to the Ffestiniog/Welsh
Highland Railways. Princess was delivered from Porthmadog to
Paddington overnight arriving on 24th February where a team of
volunteers unloaded the loco and built the stand around it.
In a ceremony on 1st
March, Lord and Lady Dafydd Elis Thomas unveiled the loco after a
speech by Dr John Prideaux, accompanied by a brass band and a good
company of onlookers.
Pictures by Andrew Thomas
A video record of the occasion has been produced by John Wooden:
8th March 2013 The Invensys
website recently carried this report: Twenty
graduates and apprentices from Invensys Rail have completed a
challenging five day training and team building programme, working with
the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway (F&WHR) in North
Wales. The group was tasked with work on the new signalling system at
Porthmadog Harbour station and worked on a range of projects including
the fit out of the relay room. Commenting on the
programme, Tim Maynard, a Solutions Architect at Invensys Rail (and
volunteer on the Ffestiniog Railway) said: "This is a great opportunity
for engineers new to the signalling industry to get together as a team
and learn some practical skills. "During the week away,
the group had the opportunity to look behind the scenes of a working
railway and also saw a demonstration of the unique 'rail-to-rail' level
crossing at Cae Pawb on the Cambrian Coast Line which has been
implemented by Network Rail and the F&WHR." Tim Prent, Signalling
and Telecoms Manager for F&WHR said: "This was a great
experience for the young graduates and trainees and they certainly rose
to the challenge. During the week they worked incredibly hard, learned
some valuable skills and had the chance to meet a group of apprentices
from Network Rail who were working elsewhere on the railway. It was a
pleasure having them here to support the work of the F&WHR and
I will be following their careers in the industry with great interest." The trainees were pictured by Andrew Thomas during their
visit in mid February:
A Princess at Paddington 150 years ago, two companies introduced new steam
technology for the first time, in very different sectors. In London,
the Metropolitan Railway ran the world's first underground train
between Paddington and Farringdon, whilst 200 miles away, in a remote
corner of North Wales, the world's first narrow gauge steam locomotive
on a public railway was arriving at the Ffestiniog Railway in
Porthmadog on a horse and cart.
Now that locomotive, Princess, is returning to London for the first
time since she was built in 1863 to join in the London Underground's
celebrations, along with an original Metropolitan Railway carriage
restored by craftsmen at the Ffestiniog Railway’s workshops.
Princess will be on display on Platform Nine at Paddington Station for
six weeks from March 1st – St David's Day – and her sister Prince will
be pulling trains at London Transport's museum depot in Acton in April,
alongside the Metropolitan Railway carriage rebuilt in the same North
Wales workshop. Later in the Spring, Princess is also due to travel to
Ireland to appear at Dublin’s Heuston Station.
Ffestiniog Railway staff and volunteers will be on hand to answer
questions about Princess and her railway following the official
unveiling of the locomotive at 1100 on St David's Day by Lord Dafydd
Elis-Thomas, PC, AM.
Princess is truly a pioneering narrow gauge steam locomotive. Built in
1863 - barely more than 30 years after Stephenson's Rocket - at George
England's Hatcham Iron Works in East London, it was carried by rail
from London to Caernarfon and then brought by road to Porthmadog on Job
and Harry Williams’ specially built cart, drawn by ten horses. She
became the first locomotive to haul a train on the Ffestiniog Railway
on Tuesday 4 August 1863.
The Princess was named after Princess Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925),
who had married Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII, 1840-
1910) in March 1863. The engine’s name was shortened to Princess in
1895 and she continued to work on the railway, becoming the last steam
locomotive to operate on the line under the old company, working the
last train on 1st August 1946.
A few years later when the Ffestiniog began to be reopened by
volunteers, Princess was mounted on a plinth in Blaenau Ffestiniog as a
statement of intent that the railway would once again run its full
length – a goal finally achieved in 1982.
By then, Princess had received a much-needed coat of paint and given an
honourable retirement in Spooner’s – the railway's pub at Porthmadog
Harbour Station - where she remained on display for more than 30 years
before embarking on her celebratory tour of the UK and Ireland in this,
the year of her 150th birthday.
New wagons arrive from South Africa The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway has taken
delivery of six more B Wagons. The wagons originated from the Port
Shepstone-Harding line in Natal and have been fully refurbished by
Sandstone Heritage Trust’s wagon shop. Their purchase has been funded
by a specific donation from a supporter through the FR Trust.
The six new wagons will be put to work as soon as
F&WHR engineers fit them with standard chopper couplings. The
WHR now has the potential to run a Garratt-hauled recreation of a full
length train of SAR bogie freight stock, together with the
newly-restored SAR brake van – a piece of South African railway history
in the mountains of Snowdonia.
For the full story see the Festrail website
Pen y Mount junction and Signal Box It is planned to upgrade this junction by installation of
a lever frame and signalling to permit more regular use in
future. A lever frame has been delivered from Minffordd yard
to Gelert's Farm for refurbishment and possible use at Pen y Mount
junction. The frame is planned to control the point motor and signals
and will be locked by the tokens of both lines. If the Harbour Station
to Pont Croesor section is upgraded to the ElectricTrain Staff system
at some stage in the future, an intermediate token machine at this
location would facilitate operations significantly. The new ETS system
tested recently between Pont Croesor and Beddgelert could accommodate
intermediate token machines, and the results of the tests on the system
are to be considered shortly. A signal box is to be erected
on the concrete base which has been laid at the junction. The box is a
replica of the Cambrian
Crossing box which was constructed in 2007 by the Welsh
Highland Heritage Group for use at the modern day Cae Pawb crossing.
However ongoing difficulties in reaching agreement about siting the box
have meant that the box has remained in store ever since, and no
resolution of the impasse is in sight. In the intervening period
it has become apparent that the Cae Pawb crossing could be
operated remotely from the Control Office at Harbour Station,
thereby making a valuable saving in operating staff time.
Such a move, if implemented, would be likely to make any signal box on
the crossing redundant. The sponsors of the signal box have therefore
taken the pragmatic view that it is better for the box to be used at a
location where it can be installed now and can be expected to serve a
long term purpose. Accordingly they have agreed for it to be
used at the nearby location of Pen y Mount where it will be installed
in due course.
December 29th 2012 Gelert undertook a test run in wet weather from
Mount Junction to Beddgelert and back, pulling a rake of four
carriages and a
guards van, testing among other things the behaviour of the couplings
on the curves at Bryn y Felin. This is the furthest a WHHR train has
reached on the restored WHR. Picture by Andrew Thomas.
John Wooden's video records
this notable occasion in some detail:
October 28th 2012 NG/G16 №138's overhaul is complete and the loco worked a
double headed special Railtour train on the 22th October 2012. More
information on the the 138 page.
October 7th 2012 Porthmadog, Sunday 7th October 2012. The 1100 Welsh
Highland Railway Porthmadog - Caernarfon service carried a genuine
Flying Scotsman headboard, on loan from the National Railway Museum in
York, in honour of Alan Pegler, the man who rescued both the Ffestiniog
Railway and the locomotive Flying Scotsman, currently under restoration
at the NRM. His friends and family travelled in the First Class Pullman
Bodysgallen as the train crossed Britannia Bridge in bright sunshine to
the sound of bagpipes.
The previous day a memorial service for Pegler, who died earlier this
year, had been held at Tan y Bwlch station, one of his favourite
locations on the railway.
Report and pictures by Andrew Thomas
October 2nd 2012
Beer train back on track Award-winning Purple Moose Brewery has teamed up with the
Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway to recreate a scene from
the past – the delivery of casks of beer from its Porthmadog brewery to
Harbour Station by rail.
Steam locomotive Merddin Emrys, built in the FR’s workshops in 1879,
pulled a replica beer wagon through the streets of the town on Monday
evening carrying barrels of beer ahead of the railways’ Classic
Ffestiniog gala over the weekend of October 6-7, when there will be a
rare chance to see the longest gravity slate train – over 50 wagons -
since the 1930s in action.
The beer being carried was 'Pegler’s Passion', a 4.0% pale bitter,
brewed especially for the Classic Ffestiniog weekend and the associated
tribute to the late Alan Pegler OBE, the man recognised as having
rescued the railway from dereliction in the 1950s, who died earlier
Purple Moose Brewery turned out both of its Ffestiniog Railway
volunteers for the delivery – brewer Kevin Pye, a steam driver, and
Brewery owner Lawrence Washington, a diesel driver.
The wagon is a replica of an old general freight wagon which became
known as the Beer Wagon after an old photograph showing it carrying
casks of beer in the 1870s was discovered in 2006. The Ffestiniog
Railway Society and Purple Moose put up the funds for the construction
of a replica at the FR’s Boston Lodge Works – the oldest railway
workshop in the world, which still builds and maintains engines and
Purple Moose’s Lawrence Washington says the recreation is an echo of
times gone by when the railway provided a vital link between Porthmadog
and Blaenau Ffestiniog, carrying everything from flour from Snowdon
Mill to the bakery at Penrhyndeudraeth, to gunpowder for the quarries
and beer from Porthmadog to Blaenau.
Says Washington: "I learned some time ago that a group of volunteers
wanted to build a replica and was asked if I would be interested in
sponsoring it. Of course with its obvious connections to the brewery
trade, through the historic photos which have been discovered, I was
more than happy to donate some funds towards the building of the
replica wagon – and very fine it looks too, particularly with our casks
"We are already looking into further possibilities of joint marketing
for the Ffestiniog Railway and Purple Moose Brewery using the wagon."
Report by Andrew Thomas
14/15/16 2012 Quarrypower weekend
This year's Superpower weekend was renamed
Quarrypower with its focus the reunion of the Penrhyn quarry
locomotives last seen together in the melancholy scrap line at Penrhyn around 1960.
The picture by Andrew Thomas gives a flavour of the occasion:
The following press release was published by Andrew Thomas: Porthmadog, September
17th, 2012: The Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway’s
Quarrypower gala, which also involved the Welsh Highland Heritage
Railway, proved to be extremely popular with both members of the public
and the crews of the visiting locos. Half a century ago, the
scrap line at Penrhyn was photographed and the locos which looked so
sorry for themselves have now been restored to their former glory. Over
the weekend of September 15-16, the scrap line was recreated at Dinas
on the WHR with the engines back in steam and lined up as they were 50
years ago. Winifred, newly-repatriated from exile in the US, was placed
on a flat wagon as its wheelsets are still the original PQR gauge and
would foul pointwork on the F&WHR. “It was fantastic to
meet old friends and to make new ones,” says F&WHR General
Manager Paul Lewin. “The crews of the visiting locos had a great time
and it was another example of how different heritage railways can work
together to put on a truly excellent event. “We were also delighted
at the interest shown by local people in this recreation of a vital
part of their history. It was especially good to welcome back
ex-Penrhyn driver Gareth Williams, who proved that driving a steam loco
is a skill that stays with you for life. “I’d like to say a big
thank you to those who brought their engines, to the staff and
volunteers whose hard work made the whole thing possible and especially
to the Welsh Highland Railway Society. People are already asking how we
can top this next year – the 150th anniversary of the introduction of
steam power on the Ffestiniog.” The locos ran almost the
full 25 mile length of the WHR from Porthmadog to Dinas on Friday 14th
and featured in a nightglow photographic event before forming the
historic lineup on Saturday morning. For many of the locos it was the
longest single journey they had ever made. Eigiau, Stanhope, GP39
(formerly Bronllwyd), Lilla, Winifred and Hugh Napier then set off in
convoy for Beddgelert, where they took turns to run up and down the S
curves above the station. A trip through the Aberglaslyn Pass took the
consist on to Pen y Mount Junction where the locos spent the night. Additional services on
the WHR were handled by Lilla and Britomart, Britomart and Moelwyn, and
Hunslet ‘Queens of the Hill’ Linda and Blanche. On Sunday, a variety of
double headed special trains ran non-stop from Pont Croesor to
Minffordd on the Ffestiniog."
Highlights of the weekend are shown in the video by John
On the Friday the locos were first on display at
Harbour station having
processed across the Cob. They then moved across Britannia bridge
in an unprecedented scene:
The locos steamed over to Dinas where they were on display for the
evening with their owners in attendance, accompanied by
music, food and beer.
On the Saturday
Dinas was open for breakfast while the
engines steamed up again and, accompanied by the Nantlle
Silver Band, the scrap line scene was recreated. The
cavalcade of locos then steamed to Beddgelert with photo opportunities
on the S-bends, finally spending the night at the WHHR.
Meanwhile the "Queens of the Hill" Linda and Blanche double
headed a service train.
Britomart and Moelwyn headed a vintage train across from Dinas to
Porthmadog. The quarry locos steamed at at the WHHR and made their way
in due course to Pont Croesor despite the rain, where the grand finale
special was assembled, headed by the quarry locos in tandem across
More pictures of the occasion are welcome August 20th 2012 Gordon Rushton's magnum opus "Welsh Highland Railway
Renaissance" was launched. The picture show Mike Hart
congratulating Gordon on his achievement. The book is
available from the railway shops.
July 29th 2012
Quarry Power Book Sale The
WHR Society has been given a quantity of railway books,
"as new" condition. They will be on sale at Dinas during the
Quarrypower weekend with the proceds going to the Phase 5
Some of the books are quite rare and expensive.
has compiled a list of the books
with prices. Books can be reserved in advance of the event by
means of a cheque to Tony
July 28th 2012 The WHR maps formerly hosted by Steve Harris have now been
transferred to the Cymdeithas
Rheilffordd Eryri/Welsh Highland Railway Society
website. They include the large scale Ordnance Survey maps
around 1916, the maps used for the Transport and Works Act application
and the gradient profile.
July 21st 2012 Welsh Highland Heritage Railway members attending the
company’s AGM in Porthmadog on Saturday 21st July 2012 had the chance
to ride on a special train from the WHHR’s Porthmadog terminus to Hafod
y Llyn, joining the rebuilt Welsh Highland Railway at Pen y Mount
Junction. This was the first chance members have had to ride on a train
of WHHR stock on the 25 mile WHR, which joins Caernarfon and
Porthmadog, following preliminary engineering tests in late 2011.
The special ran in an engineering possession arranged by the Festiniog
Railway Company, which operates both the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland
Railways. A possession was required as the WHHR stock – which has a
braking system incompatible with that used on F&WHR locomotives
and carriages - has yet to be approved for public use on the WHR.
F&WHR Director Mike Hart travelled as a special guest on the
train, headed by WHHR stalwart steam loco Gelert, and was pictured
congratulating WHHR Chairman Martyn Owen on arrival at Hafod y Llyn. It
is anticipated that the spirit of cooperation between the two companies
will lead to further specials in the future.
A special Three Day Rover ticket is
available, giving access to Gelert’s Farm and Dinas plus travel on the
FR, WHR and WHHR. It includes the walks and travel on the bus services
but note that places on these must be reserved at the time of booking.
for individual days are also available. Prices start at £25. For more
details, check the microsite at www.festrail.co.uk/quarrypower
the booking office on 01766 516024.
21st June 2012
Garratts and Kalaharis of the Welsh Highland Railway by David Payling This keenly awaited book is now available in hardback from
the Festrail Shop,
Elwyn Jones reports: A further grant of
£30,000 has been received from the Welsh Assembly to Llanwnda Council
that will enable the completion of the slate trail footpath on the
Bryngwyn branch. The money will also fund repairs
to the unique NWNG pedestrian overbridge at
Rhostryfan. Tryfan Junction is the ideal halt from
which to explore this fascinating narrow gauge branch line and the
slate quarries that it was built to serve.
6th June 2012
Quarry Power September 14th-16th 2012 The following announcement on the Festrail
website outlines the plans for
this year's version of the "Superpower" on the WHR.
September, the Welsh Highland Railway's popular SuperPower weekend will
become QuarryPower and restored Penrhyn Scrap line locos will be in
action over the 40 miles of the F&WHR. There
will also be the added attraction of the chance to see the locos in a
convoy from Caernarfon to Porthmadog and onto the FR over the course of
the weekend. The sight of a dozen
locos crossing Britannia Bridge at sunset should be one to savour. It's also hoped that the locos
will also pay a visit to the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway.
Plans are still being drawn up and more locos are likely to be added to
the list of visitors over the coming weeks.
date is set for the 14th – 16th of September when Lilian, Stanhope,
Eigiau, Sgt Murphy, Bronllwyd and the newly-retored Hugh Napier will be
reunited with the F&WHR's Lilla, Linda, Blanche and Britomart
what promises to be an unforgettable demonstration of Quarry Power.
19/20th May 2012
Rail Ale Festival 2012
This year's festival was a huge success with last year's records being
surpassed, more people attended, rode on the trains and of course got
through more beer.
weekend saw the majority of the North Wales Black Hand Gang involved
with the 8th Real Ale Festival. Preparatory work had gone on
previous weekend as well as during the week leading up to the weekend.
On Monday, 21st they came back down to earth with the big clear up at
Dinas. The Goods Shed and surrounding area now looks as if nothing had
Report by Dafydd Thomas
8th May 2012
Hugh Napier launch
Work on restoring 108 year-old
ex-Penrhyn Quarry steam locomotive Hugh Napier is now complete and on Friday 11th May 2012,
the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway will host the relaunch
of the historic engine, owned by the National Trust. (see itinerary
The loco started work at Penrhyn Quarry in 1904 and after 50 years of
hard work was deemed to be worn out and in 1954 – the year food
rationing ended, Bill Haley recorded Rock around the Clock and Roger
Bannister ran the first sub-four minute mile - it was dumped on a
siding awaiting its fate. But somehow the loco escaped the scrapman's
torch and was given to Penrhyn Castle Industrial Railway Museum in 1966.
Former quarryman Iorwerth Jones and the curatorial team at Penrhyn
Castle spent many years gathering together all the missing parts needed
to return Hugh Napier to steam. He tried to persuade anyone who would
listen that the engine should be restored and was behind several
attempts to move things forward - an effort spanning over thirty years.
Sadly the extra effort he planned to put in to finish the job when he
retired never happened as he died shortly after retiring, but he did
leave behind a comprehensive collection of loco parts. But friends and
supporters were determined that his work would not be in vain and
engineers at the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland
Railway's Boston Lodge Works were asked to finish the job started by
Iorwerth, the loco being delivered to the works in July 2011. Now, less
than a year later, Hugh Napier is back in action and is set to play a
key role in the F&WHR's Quarrypower gala in September.
After the re-naming ceremony, the loco will be blessed by the Bishop of
Bangor and will then lead a triple-headed train of invited guests from
Porthmadog to Beddgelert. Helping the diminutive locomotive up the
steep gradients of the Welsh Highland will be ex-Penrhyn main line
Hunslets Linda and Blanche, which have worked on the Ffestiniog Railway
since the 1960s. Ex-Penrhyn Quarry drivers, who worked with
Hugh Napier in the quarry, will be on hand to see the engine's return
Now F&WHR engineers, led by Andrew Foulds and Jo Clulow, have
completed the task of restoring this historic locomotive to steam, it
will become a roving ambassador for the National Trust, visiting other
locations around the UK including the F&WHR where it will be
used for light duties and on special occasions.
Hugh Napier was named after the fourth Lord Penrhyn, Hugh Napier
Douglas-Pennant, who was actively involved in the community, as a
magistrate and farmer, in politics and Eisteddfods and as a patron of
the Penrhyn Male voice choir until his death in 1949.
Hugh Napier is an 0-4-0ST Hunslet quarry tank (works number 855 of
1904) which worked at Penrhyn Quarries, where it was part of the Large
Quarry class. It weighs around 7½ tons and was named after the fourth
Lord Penrhyn, Hugh Napier Douglas-Pennant, who was actively involved in
the community, as a magistrate and farmer, in politics and Eisteddfods
and as a patron of the Penrhyn Male voice choir until his death in 1949.
Itinerary for Hugh Napier Event Friday 11 May 2012
Guests arrive at Harbour Station, Porthmadog.
will be served and guests receive their badges
WHR service train departs
HN arrives Harbour Station with former Penrhyn driver (Owen) Gareth
Williams on board
Speeches and naming:
John Prideaux – Welcome
John Morgan – Response and invite Dr Dewi Roberts to name the locomotive
Dr Dewi Roberts – names locomotive
Passengers board train
Train departs for
Train arrives Beddgelert, local schoolchildren on
HN is blessed by Bishop of Bangor assisted by Bishop of
Guests depart Beddgelert Station to Royal Goat for Buffet Lunch
Guests return to Beddgelert Station and board train
Train departs Beddgelert Station for Porthmadog
Train arrives Porthmadog Harbour Station
(Report by Andrew Thomas)
22nd April 2012 Mike Hart's Simplex put in an appearance on WHR metals en
route to the WHHR Gala weekend. It is seen here at Harbour Station in a
"little and large" pose beside 143.
20th March 2012 The
death was announced recently of Alan Pegler at the age of 91. Among
many other achievements, Alan Pegler was instrumental in the early
efforts to preserve the Ffestiniog Railway which in turn has
to the restoration of the Welsh Highland Railway. Obituaries
have been published in the Daily Post, the
Times and Daily Telegaph
The following article appeared in the Caernarfon
and Denbigh Herald on 18th February 2012: A unique partnership
between a drug and alcohol rehabilitation agency,
a training firm and a narrow gauge railway has paid off for more than
CAIS Employment Services and Greenlight Training teamed up with the
Welsh Highland Railway in October last year to run a training scheme,
funded by the EU, aimed at helping people to get back into work.
then 54 people have been on the course honing their skills on vital
maintenance tasks on the railway, between Caernarfon and Porthmadog.
CAIS chief executive Clive Wolfendale said the trainees, all of whom
have had alcohol and substance abuse problems in the past, learned
tracklaying skills in an industry with a skills shortage: “More than 30
trainees have found full-time employment in the industry across the UK
and beyond,” he said.
Yesterday the Welsh Highland Railway ran a special train from
Caernarfon to Waunfawr to celebrate the scheme.
Clive said for many trainees it was the first time they’d travelled on
“They have been able to put their problems behind them, learn skills
and the Welsh Highland Railway have benefited. It’s a win-win
situation,” he added. Some of the successful trainees showed
civic dignitaries, including
Arfon AM Alun Ffred Jones and Caernarfon Mayor Ioan Thomas, what they
The pictures by Andrew Thomas show the trainees gathered at
at Waunfawr station where they demonstrated their skills:
Half term services started today with round trips from
Caernarfon and Porthmadog headed up by 143 and 87, crossing
at Rhyd Ddu.
John Sreeves reports:
Yesterday I was delighted to
visit the Institution of Civil Engineers to accept a Historic Bridge
& Infrastructure Award on behalf of the WHR project. The award,
one of six given, was a Special Mention’ and featured alongside other
outstanding examples of restoration such as Paddington Station roof
The judges commented:
‘An outstanding long-term volunteer project which has sympathetically
restored extensive historic engineering infrastructure.’
are sponsored by Adept, British Waterways, English Heritage, Network
Rail, New Civil Engineer magazine and ICE’s Panel for Historic
An FR works train paid a friendly visit to the Welsh Highland Heritage
Railway today to deliver a consignment of telegraph poles
which the FR had donated to the WHHR. Picture by Andrew Thomas
27th January 2012 The annual Rail Ale Festival/Cwrw ar y Cledrau will be
held this year on May 18th to 20th.
Entertainment has been booked as follows:
Friday, 18th May, early afternoon - Derek Harrison
(piano) accompanied by Ed
Lloyd Hughes (bass).
Friday, 18th May, late afternoon/early evening - Manhattan Jazz
Friday, 18th May, evening - The Wee Bag Band.
Saturday, 19th May, afternoon - Real Ale Festival
favourites - The
Saturday, 19th May, evening - Cwrw ar y Cledrau/Railale
regulars - Y Moniars
Sunday, 20th May, lunchtime/afternoon - LocalFolk Musicians
There is one more performer to be confirmed for Saturday
Welsh Highland Railway awards contract for Cob widening project Porthmadog,
January 3rd, 2012: Jones Bros Civil Engineering UK has been awarded the
contract for the first phase of the major alterations to the Ffestiniog
and Welsh Highland Railway's station at Porthmadog. At
present, both Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland trains have to share a
single platform at Harbour Station, dating back to January 6th, 1865.
This results in inconvenience for passengers and adds operational
complications for railway staff and a million pound station improvement
plan has been drawn up. The first phase of the plan involves the
delivery of some 25,000 tonnes of rock from the nearby Minffordd Quarry
to enable the westernmost 260 metres of the 200 year old Cob embankment
to be widened to enable the construction of a new platform for use by
Welsh Highland trains and to completely rework the station layout. "We're
delighted to be working with Jones Bros again," says F&WHR
Mike Hart. "Our collaboration on the Porthmadog Bypass bridge works
under the Ffestiniog at Minffordd and over the Welsh Highland at Pont
Bodawen was extremely successful and we look forward to working with
them in 2012." Work
will commence in January and is scheduled for completion by early
Spring. Local hauliers will transport the rock from Minffordd quarry to
a new haul road constructed across the station at Porthmadog. Jones
Bros supervisory staff, machine operators and labourers all worked on
the Porthmadog Bypass project and live locally. "It's
great to be able to keep our bypass team together as a result of
winning this contract," adds Huw Jones, Managing Director of Jones
Bros, which has its UK head office in Ruthin, Denbighshire. "Our work
on the sea defences at Tywyn demonstrates our capabilities for this
kind of challenging work and the good relationship we built up with
F&WHR during the bypass construction should ensure a
addition to staff working on the Cob, others will be based at Minffordd
to select rock and supervise loading the wagons. Road transport for the
two mile journey was chosen on environmental grounds and to avoid the
double-handling of the rock involved in delivery by rail or sea. After
delivery, rocks will be put in place one by one at low tide using
specialised plant, resulting in a widened and strengthened sea defence. "To
make sure that we take advantage of the window offered to us by the
Ffestiniog Railway, we will be importing the total quantity of 25,000
tonnes at 60 vehicle movements per day," says Hefin Lloyd-Davies,
Contracts Manager at Jones Bros. "If we can also utilise Saturday
mornings, we will take advantage of this." After
the Cob widening phase of the project is complete, railway engineers
and volunteers will begin the process of laying track and building new
platforms at the historic station. The project is scheduled for
completion in time for the main operating season in 2013.
1st January 2012
Details are available
of the Snowdonian
a repeat of last year's popular event which raised £25,000 towards the Phase
appeal. The train will traverse the entire route of the
WHR/FfR in both directions on 14th April 2012, accompanied by an
open top bus for photographers. On the FfR the train will be hauled by
the ladies Linda and Blanche now in matching green, while on
the WHR it will be double Fairlies. For full details of the
train, accompanying events and booking arrangements, visit
29th December 2011 Timetables
have been published. All trains will run through to Harbour Station in
2012. During the peak season there will be additional services in the
early morning and late afternoon between Porthmadog and Rhyd Ddu to
cater for walkers and visitors to Porthmadog from the Forest
campsite or Beddgelert.
2011 The Welsh Highland Railway has received the Heritage Alliance Hero Award
2011 for the reconstruction of the Welsh Highland
Railway. The awards are made to celebrate the contribution made by
volunteers in support of community heritage. The citation for the WHR
acknowledges the enormous contribution made by the volunteer workforce
in all weathers and the potential benefit to the tourist
industry in the region. The award was presented by Loyd Grossman at a
ceremony on 8th December 2011 attended by Andy Savage, Stuart McNair
and Pete Gray on behalf of the railway.
On receiving the award Andy Savage said: “We’re really delighted
to receive this Award in recognition of two decades of hard work from a
vast group of volunteers. Their effort has preserved the railway for
all to enjoy, and means it can again make a major contribution to the
economy of North Wales.”
The full press release is available here.
Two more awards for the railway
Following the successful completion of the rebuilt Welsh
Highland Railway from Caernarfon to Porthmadog, the Ffestiniog
& Welsh Highland Railway has received one of the most
prestigious accolades in the heritage railway industry, the Peter Manisty Award.
Presented by the Heritage Railway Association, the award is only given
to projects of the highest quality and, as such, is presented when
merited rather than on an annual basis. Previous winners include London
and Continental Railways for their superb adaptation and restoration of
St Pancras Station and the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust for the
construction of the steam locomotive Tornado.
The railway was also honoured with the Railway of the Year
award, presented at The Oldie magazine's Travel Awards ceremony in
London. Nominated by respected railway writer Christian Wolmar, the
magazine's editorial board praised not only the completion of the WHR,
but the heritage ambiance of the world's oldest independent railway,
"To receive two such prestigious awards within a few days is a great
honour," says F&WHR General Manager Paul Lewin, "And reflects
the determination and sheer hard work involved by permanent staff and
volunteers alike. "With traffic on the Welsh Highland up by more than
50% on last year, it's clear that visitors to North Wales are also
enthused and that all our hard work is paying off." Report
and pictures by Andrew Thomas
October 2011 The Vintage Weekend was primarily focused on the
Railway but it included some interesting re-creations of
trains passing on to Welsh Highland metals as in
times past. The photos by Dave Waldren, Andrew Thomas and
Parry show slate wagons
hauled by Palmerston and the Simplex crossing Britannia Bridge.
September 2011 For reports of the Superpower weekend see the Superpower 2011 page
17th August 2011
Further details of the Superpower weekend,
September 9th-11th, have been announced :
• Triple-headed Garratts
• Double-headed Double Fairlies
• Double-headed Penrhyn Ladies
• Double-header with Mallet + B Class
• Triple-header with Mallet + B Class + Lilla
• Triple-header with Garratt + Mallet + B Class
• Both WHR Passenger sets and one FR Passenger set required
• 1920s FR Vintage set
• Mixed trains
• Complete DHR train
• All Caernarfon departures running right through to Porthmadog
• Special train which includes Non-stop running Pont Croesor to
Minffordd and vice-versa
Porthmadog, Saturday August 6th, 2011: Vertical boilered
deWinton Chaloner made the short trip from the WHHR to Porthmadog
Harbour Station this morning – the first time a ‘coffee pot’ loco has
travelled over the cross-town link. Chaloner will remain on the
Ffestiniog for two weeks. Report and picture by Andrew Thomas
1st August 2011
Our Heritage Journey: Heritage
Lottery Fund Bid - A Message from Alan
The long term project is to share the heritage of the
Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways with visitors and local people,
at various sites along the length of the railways.
In this stage we develop the proposal and apply to the Heritage Lottery
Fund for a significant amount of money to enable us to achieve our
The project is being run by the Ffestiniog Railway Heritage Ltd, and
the team involved (so far) are Stephen Murfitt (FRHL Chairman) and
Adrian Gray and Andrew Scott (both FRHL directors) and Alan Norton, who
has volunteered to be project coordinator for this stage.
As part of the ongoing bid, Stage 2 is to develop the project idea and
costs, and then apply for funding. We are being assisted and guided on
this by a team of experienced people from Querceus Design, funded by a
grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Whilst there is an overall aim to the project and many ideas have been
developed, there is still a huge chance to influence how the project
will work and what is incorporated. The next few months are all about
all the dedicated, hard-working people with an opinion having chance to
put their views across. This includes staff, volunteers, local people,
historians, members, supporters…
A schedule for the necessary work has been developed and the following
are the significant milestones:
Right now we are issuing an invitation
for comments from all supporters. See below for links. There will be
paper copies available on the railway for those people that prefer hard
copy rather than digital communication.
During August, our various heritage
specialists (you!) will be invited to share your thoughts with the
During early September, the consultants
will liase with operational staff to discuss the implications of their
At Superpower Weekend (10/11th
September), the “story so far” will be displayed and written comments
invited on the Saturday. On Sunday, there will be a session from 10.00
until 12.00 for people to put their ideas / thoughts / comments in
A similar exercise will be repeated at
Vintage Weekend (14-16th October).
It is hoped to complete the development
of the project during November, and we will share this with interested
We expect to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund during December, and a
response could take up to six months, depending how we fit into their
Alongside this, the latest news, hot off the press, is that Cadw have,
on July 19th, indicated that they would accept an application from us
for funding towards a heritage centre at Boston Lodge, from their
Heritage Tourism Fund, specifically the pot titled “Wales – the first
industrial nation”. We now have to work out how to put together a
funding bid, and how to integrate it with the funding application to
So, please do take just a few moments to share your views… you are the
experts whose views are essential if this bid is to be successful.
The ‘Journey into our Heritage’ / ‘Taith i’n Treftadaeth’ questionnaire
is available in both Welsh and English (on the same document).
To download the document (in Word format) click here
July 19th 2011
historic steam locomotive is returning to the Caernarfon factory where
it was built 134 years ago, before undertaking the toughest journey of
On Saturday July 23rd, diminutive De Winton locomotive
Chaloner will travel from Dinas on the Welsh Highland Railway to
Caernarfon, where it will pose for photographers outside what was the
the erecting shop of De Winton and Co, where three of the original
buildings still survive.
The Mayor of Caernarfon will be in
attendance to flag off the little loco as she then heads south from
Caernarfon bound for Porthmadog 25 miles away - by far the longest
journey she has made in her life, but owner David Fisher has no qualms
about her abilities. Since thorough rebuilding at the Ffestiniog
Railway's Boston Lodge Works in 1987, she has been fine-tuned and is
now in as good mechanical condition as when built, despite bearing the
scars of a long hard life.
Saturday July 23rd
1300 depart Dinas
1320 arrive Caernarfon
1345 depart Caernarfon
1400 arrive Dinas
1530 Dep Dinas
1615 arr Waunfawr
1640 dep Waunfawr
1715 Rhyd Ddu
1830 Pont Croesor
1900 arr Penymount for access to WHHR
On arrival at Porthmadog, Chaloner will stay at the Welsh Highland
Heritage Railway for two weeks before moving over the Cross Town Link
and Britannia Bridge to the Ffestiniog Railway on Saturday August 6th.
(Report by Andrew Thomas)
July 16th 2011
The longest train ever thought to have passed through
Beddgelert was observed today. The photos show 87
pulling the train which was formed following the failure of 143. The
15.00 ex Caernarfon using the “F” set was combined with
the Special using the “B “set, 13 coaches in total. The first photo is
at Cwm Cloch and the second in the Aberglaslyn Pass. Report and
by David Firth.
July 14th 2011
Power Weekend 10-11 September 2011
A reminder that this event
is not far away.
year's Super Power, the first since the opening of the completed Welsh
Highland Railway, will feature a host of visiting locomotives, special
trains, and many other attractions.
Welsh Highland Railway
Superpower weekends are always worth a visit, but this year's event
over the weekend of September 10-11 promises to be the best yet.
only will there be the chance to see three Beyer Garratt NG/G16s in
steam for the first time, there's also the opportunity to see
triple-headed Garratt superpower across Britannia Bridge and through
the Aberglaslyn Pass.
And superpower of an older, but still
impressive, variety comes in the shape of the Ffestiniog Railway's
Hunslet sisters Blanche and Linda - both newly painted in matching
green livery - double heading a full Welsh Highland service train
between Porthmadog and Caernarfon.
Visiting locos include Adrian Shooter's Darjeeling B Class and Statfold
Barn's Jung Mallet making a return visit to the WHR.
the highlight of the weekend has to be the King of the Hill trials as
Garratts, Fairlies and Mallets battle it out on the toughest stretch of
railway in the UK - the 1 in 40 climb through the forest between
Beddgelert and Rhyd Ddu.
June 29th 2011
Enhanced Summer timetable announced
Due to the popularity of services covering the new section of
the Welsh Highland Railway opened in April, the Ffestiniog and Welsh
Highland Railway has evaluated options for enhancing the Summer
timetable to offer more opportunities for return journeys over the
whole line from both Caernarfon and Porthmadog.
"It is highly unusual to contemplate significant changes to the
timetable once the season is underway," says General Manager Paul
Lewin, "But traffic figures show a clear preference for the services
which cover the whole railway rather than those terminating at Pont
"We are continually working to improve the experience offered to our
customers and the addition of extra through services gives passengers
more choice and offers more opportunities to savour the unique
experience of watching two major heritage railways operating an
intensive service from the same station at Porthmadog."
The most significant enhancement is an improved service on Fridays and
Sundays in July and August, when two Porthmadog - Pont Croesor shuttle
services will connect with Caernarfon trains, offering a choice of
three full-line return trips a day from both Porthmadog and Caernarfon.
And from July 19 until September 8, an additional shuttle service will
operate from Pont Croesor to Porthmadog on most weekdays, allowing
passengers a choice of two return times from Caernarfon.
The existing bus links between Pont Croesor, Porthmadog and Caernarfon
will continue to operate as advertised.
Check the website for details of the changes or ring the booking office
on 01766 516024.
June 26th 2011
First WHHR test train runs on completed Welsh
The first Welsh Highland Heritage Railway train has run on the
challenging gradients of the Welsh Highland Railway. The five carriage
test train, double headed by WHHR locos Gelert and Gertrude, was run in
conjunction with Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland engineers to test
braking systems. The WHHR operates air-braked stock, while
F&WHR trains are exclusively vacuum-braked.
The train left WHHR metals at around 1800 and headed for the foot of
Nantmor Bank - the start of the almost continuous 1 in 40 six mile
climb to the summit of the line at Rhyd Ddu which makes the WHR the
toughest railway in the UK.
After the satisfactory completion of brake tests from speeds of up to
20mph to measure stopping distances on the level, Gelert proceeded
light engine through the Aberglaslyn Pass and tunnels to Beddgelert to
take water, before returning to Hafod y Llyn to test braking
performance down Nantmor Bank before rejoining Gertrude and the train
for the run back to Porthmadog, arriving back at around 2230.
This is the first time a WHHR train has travelled beyond the site of
Traeth Mawr Loop - the end of the section of the railway laid by WHHR
volunteers as their contribution to the rebuilding of the whole 25
miles of the Welsh Highland. The location is now marked by one of the
'Tin Tunnel' accommodation bridges built for farm access.
"This is an historic moment for both railways," says WHHR Chairman
Martyn Owen. "At times it seemed that it would never happen, but the
wait has definitely been worthwhile."
Further tests are planned over the coming months and the next movement
from Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland to WHHR metals is likely to be
the visit of historic de Winton vertical boiler locomotive Chaloner on
its way from Caernarfon to Porthmadog in July.
"We're very pleased to be working with our colleagues at the WHHR,"
adds F&WHR General Manager Paul Lewin. "The new spirit of
cooperation can only bring benefits to both our organisations and to
tourism in the area."
A video of the occasion is available through You Tube:
April 20th 2011
The final section of
the Welsh Highland Railway was officially opened in Porthmadog today by
Pete Waterman. The
opening took place on the 175th anniversay of the opening of the
Ffestiniog Railway which was celebrated at the same time .A
milestone was unveiled and has been placed where the two railways
meet. Llechwedd slate quarries
in Blaenau Ffestiniog supplied the milestone and it was
transported to Porthmadog on the Ffestiniog
At Pont Croesor, at the other end of the
final section of the line, a second ceremony took place where Lord
Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Presiding Officer of the Welsh National
Assembly, welcomed the rebirth of the Welsh Highland Railway. Guests
then continued to Beddgelert on the special train for lunch
There is a report on the BBC
website. To mark the occasion
Cymru broadcast a series of three half hour programmes leading
opening day, consisting of recorded reflections and
both from local individuals and from railway personnel. The
day marks the start of ten days of special
activities on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways.
Photos by Andrew Thomas and Chris Parry:
John Wooden recorded the occasion on You Tube:
April 8th 2011
The visiting Mallet from the Statfold Barn Railway arrives at
Dinas - see its new dedicated
April 2nd 2011
This remarkable special was arranged to raise funds for the
"Phase 5" appeal. It ran firstly from Porthmadog to Blaenau
Ffestiniog, then to Caernarfon, passing non-stop through Porthmadog,
finally returning to Porthmadog at the end of the day.
For the WHR section the train was double-headed with
double Fairlies. Photos by
Tony Baker and Richard Watson
March 1st 2011
Photo charters were once again in action on the WHR. The
photo from Alasdair Stewart shown Merddin Emrys returning across
Britannia Bridge at the end of the day.
February 21st 2011
The first weekday service over the whole of the Welsh Highland
Railway was Monday 21st February. The train below is that of the
service train from Porthmadog where it is seen at Dinas and
later again at Dinas heading back to Porthmadog.
We are advised that there are now only 100 seats left for The
Snowdonian Special on 2nd April 2011. This is a public special train
being run from Porthmadog to
Blaenau Ffestiniog and then to Caernarfon, and return to Porthmadog -
08.45 ex Harbour, 19.00 return.
will be a Breakfast of bacon butties, lunch at Beddgelert and afternoon
tea on the way back. A run past will be done at Fridd Isaf
open top bus with be tracking the train from Minffordd to
Caernarfon and back to Port.
Full details of the train are on the Phase 5 web site, www.Phase5.org.uk,
where both snail mail and electronic application methods will
February 19th 2011
The inaugural public trains ran today between
Caernarfon and Porthmadog. For
the first time public trains have
run on the entire line between the two towns . The train from
Caernarfon was hauled by K1
and 138, while the train from Porthmadog was hauled by
and Merddin Emrys. The trains departed simultaneously from
Porthmadog and Caernarfon at 1045am and passed each other at Rhyd
John Wooden's video charts
the progress of the train from Caernarfon to Porthmadog:
The two pictures below courtesy of Andrew Thomas/FR shows the
10:45 leaving Porthmadog and the 10:45 ex Caernarfon arriving at
Porthmadog later in the day..
February 12th 2011
The Sherry and Mince Pie winter train service to Hafod y Llyn
peaked with an exceptionally long train being run on Saturday 12th
February. The train of 11 carriages was topped and tailed with Vale of
Ffestiniog at the Porthmadog end and Taliesin at the Hafod y Llyn end.
The first two photos are taken from up on Garth Terrace.
January 20th 2011
The winter service trains have continued to run out of
onto the Welsh Highland as far as Hafod y Llyn. These trains serve the
coach operators tour requirements and are being run on the WHR
whilst the Ffestiniog is severed at Minffordd for the by-pass bridge to
be installed. Taliesin has been the provider of motive power for theses
trains, but operated by WHR crews, and is seen here leaving Harbour
Station on the 20th January 2011.
January 17th 2011
80 miles on Narrow Gauge in one Day !
organising the train.
to Blaenau Ffestiniog behind a Double Fairlie
to Harbour, traverse theCross Town Link and over the Cambrian line
the Welsh Highland Heritage Line, up the New Welsh Highland line
by the oldest Garratt Locomotive K1 To Caernarfon
to Harbour Station by 18.00.
and some special little extra
to be missed day
£65.00 From Kim Winter 223 Camp Road, St Albans Herts AL1 5NE
payable to ;- London Area Group of the Ffestiniog Railway Society
following weekend is “Megabash” in which you could help).
January 8th 2011
First public train from Porthmadog
On 8th January 2011 the first public train ran out of
Harbour Station and onto the Welsh Highland Railway. The train was the
1130 sherry and mince pie service to Hafod y Llyn and back and headed
by Taliesin. It was followed by a later trip, the 1335. The
train was using a seven car set of FR carriages. The sun even came out
to celebrate the occasion and Vale of Ffestiniog was used as station
pilot at Porthmadog.
January 4th 2011
The Snowdonian Special - 2nd April 2011
On 2nd April a public special train is being run from Port to
to Caernarfon, and return to Port - 08.45 ex Harbour, 19.00 return.
will be a Breakfast of bacon butties, lunch at Beddgelert and afternoon
tea on the way back. A run past will be done at Fridd Isaf
open top bus with be tracking the train from Minffordd to
Caernarfon and back to Port.
Full details of the train are on the Phase 5 web site, www.Phase5.org.uk,
where both snail mail and electronic application methods will
December 13th 2010
The Phase 5 Appeal. "Let's
finish the job"
appeal appeared in Steam Railway and have been
circulated to current sponsors. There is a dedicated website
for the appeal which gives full details.
Phase 5 is designed to deliver the items we need to
finish the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. We are making a
major effort to raise the funds to do this, by appeals to the public,
to sponsors, and for government grants. When you give, we
hope it will act as match funding, pound for pound. The funds
we raise will be spent in key areas, such as:
1. Harbour Station: to have two trains in the station
together, allowing transfer between FfR and WHR trains,
another platform is needed. We have all the plans and
permissions to do this work. Harbour Station will then really
be the narrow gauge Grand Central!
2. We will soon have more locomotives and more
carriages than we have room to store. New locomotive facilities are
urgently needed at Dinas and Boston Lodge, and the carriage sheds there
do not house the current fleet. When the fleet gets bigger,
we will need bigger sheds, or have to leave even more of our
precious carriages outside.
3. We need two, more powerful, modern diesels to run
services not economic for steam, and to act as general purpose and
4. It would be unwise, having built the WHR, not to be able
to offer the level of service and the number of seats we want with
purpose built carriages. The initial need is for ten new FfR
width carriages, all to be built at Boston Lodge. This will
allow these vehicles to be used on both railways. More
carriages will follow as demand rises.
5. Upgraded terminal stations at Caernarfon and
Blaenau Ffestiniog are essential and we also wish to improve
This appeal has
been structured to encourage our sponsors to join the Ffestiniog
Family. Our experience from Phase 4 has shown how much this
is appreciated. Should you be kind enough to support the
Phase 5 Appeal, we shall welcome you to membership of the FfR or WHR
Society and to the annual tour of inspection, as well as offering other
ways in which you can join in.
The Company have
following note to the appeal literature:
The FR Co board would like to clarify the position with regard
phase 5 appeal.
the Board's overall responsibilities, this appeal seeks to raise funds
that benefit both the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. We were
offered an opportunity to present the appeal in this edition of steam
railway magazine. Space in this edition is highly coveted as it is read
over the all important Christmas and New Year holiday period. We had to
respond very quickly to this opportunity.
This appeal, which is
equally relevant, and open to, supporters of both railways, includes
the share for life offer for larger donors. It gives the opportunity
for donors to opt for membership of either society as part of the
package. The project lists published to date are preliminary and will
be developed and prioritised in consultation with the Ffestiniog
Railway Society and the Welsh Highland Railway Society.
December 9th 2010
Castell Caernarfon was in Porthmadog today to take a seven car
from Boston Lodge to Dinas, giving a rare opportunity to see both
Funkeys together on FR metals.
Earlier the WHR set had been split for gauging trials in the
Note that the Harbour groundframe now has its permanent labelling
Photos by Andrew Thomas
November 29th 2010
set to test Fairlies, Garratts and Mallets in head to head contest
November 29, 2010: The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways will have
an outstanding - and eclectic - selection of locomotives in action
during 2011. Not only is Manning Wardle replica 2-6-2 Lyd due to appear
in authentic Southern livery for the first time, but NG/G16 number 143
will return from major overhaul in its new green livery, popular
Hunslet 2-4-0 Linda will steam again and visiting locos already
confirmed include Adrian Shooter's Darjeeling Himalayan 19B, Chaloner,
a vertical-boilered DeWinton and, for the first time, a two-foot gauge
"2011 looks set to be a golden year for the Welsh
Highland Railway," says F&WHR General Manager Paul Lewin. "Not
will the full 25 mile line be officially opened on April 20, but we are
eager to bring a wide variety of locos to be put through their paces on
the UK's most demanding railway.
"For the first time,
visitors will be able to see three different types of articulated
locomotives working together - The FR's Double Fairlies; K1, the
world's first Garratt; NG/G16 143, the last Garratt to be built by
Beyer Peacock in Manchester; and Statfold Barn's Jung Mallet, No. 9.
For the first time, these different loco designs can be seen competing
in against each other to see who really is King of the Hill."
Barn's Mallet 0-4-4-0T, Jung works No. 4878, was delivered to H. E.
Oving of Rotterdam, Netherlands in April 1930 for use on the Jatibarang
Brebes Sugar Mill Railway in Indonesia , where it carried No. 9. The
Sugar Mill was built in 1842 by the government of the Dutch East Indies
The loco is now approaching completion and is
scheduled to undergo test runs before Christmas. The first time the
public will be able to see her in action will be March 19th, after
which the loco will move to Porthmadog.
Says Statfold Barn
spokesperson Henry Noon: "Graham Lee and the team at Statfold Barn
Railway are all very excited at the prospect of our latest rebuild
project visiting North Wales. It will be an ideal opportunity to see
just how the loco will perform on what is undoubtedly a challenging
"We believe this is the first time a Mallet has run
in Britain on a public passenger carrying railway and it is apt that it
should be on the F&WHR where articulated power is the norm!"
loco weighs 17 tonnes and is expected to offer performance approaching
that of a Double Fairlie, although the loco will undergo exhaustive
testing during its stay in North Wales to see exactly what it can do.
In Indonesia, the loco burnt sugar cane for fuel, but will be coal
fired in the UK.
"The Mallet has been overhauled to
Statfold's usual high standard in close cooperation with Ffestiniog
engineers," adds Lewin. "Wheelsets have been gauged and profiled to
meet FR specifications and the loco has been fitted with vacuum brakes
and chopper couplers to make it suitable for passenger use."
Mallet design has a rigid main frame that supports the rear end of the
boiler. At the front of the main frames are the high-pressure
cylinders. A sub-frame, carrying a second set of driving wheels powered
by low-pressure cylinders, is positioned ahead of and pivoted to the
main frames. Exhaust steam from the high-pressure cylinders is carried
to the low-pressure cylinders through flexible steam pipes, as is the
exhaust steam from the low-pressure cylinders to the blast pipe in the
smoke box. The overall result is a compact but powerful locomotive able
to negotiate tight curves.
November 24th 2010
service vehicle announced
The Company has made the following
detailed discussions between departments, it has been decided to
convert the original semi-open carriage 2020 into a second service
vehicle for the WHR, rather than to carry out further alterations to
2090. There are several advantages to this – 2020 is due for a major
refurbishment anyway and it is easier to start with a fairly blank
canvas and we get to keep 2090 as a spare brake with toilet and
disabled space. Yes, we lose a few seats but open carriages are not at
all popular on a wet day and retaining the 21 warm seats in 2090 is a
lot better. The costs are very similar and both sets will still contain
a semi-open carriage. Norman Bond has already started work on
2020 and we hope to have it complete for the start of daily services
October 30th 2010
The first train runs over the whole route
Caernarfon to Porthmadog
This was a historic day for the project, the
many years of hard work and preparation. The first train to complete
the entire journey was the Gold/Silver Supporters' train, hauled by No
left Caernarfon just after 0900 on a damp morning, and
passing through all four phases of the project, arived at Porthmadog
around 1230 to an enthusiastic welcome from supporters who had
gathered in and around the station. High points were the Network Rail
crossing at Cae Pawb, where the train had had stand and await
path owing to some earlier delays, and the street running
Britannia Bridge with crowds either side of the line to witness the
The video by John Wooden shows the
highlights of the
More reports are to be found on the BBC website,
with a rather longer clip on the Welsh site:
An interesting view from the observation Pullman at
of the train as the first train pulls off Britannia Bridge. It
clearly shows the huge crowds there.
In the first photograph below the first train is seen
Harbour Station after being
pulled out of the platform road and onto the Cob by Lyd. It's then seen
crossing Britannia Bridge in the second view.
Later in the day a second train ran for a further
group of sponsors, this time hauled by No 87:
The following day, October 31st, a
Platelayers Special ran from Porthmadog to Rhyd Ddu carrying
trackworkers who had contributed to the reconstruction. The train was
double-headed by Lyd and Taliesin:
October 15th 2010
Be one of the first
travel on the completed WHR
Saturday 19th February 2011 has been chosen as the date for
the first public train service between Porthmadog and Caernarfon - the
first time that members of the public will be able to buy a ticket to
do the complete journey.
As you would expect, demand
high and premium fares will apply. Half the proceeds from these trains
will go towards the rebuild of 2090 to enable both WHR sets to have a
proper guards van and catering facilities. The WHRS has also offered
money for this project which should begin to show results in early
Staff and society members
reminded that there will be a further eight days when the full route
service will run and that paying customers should be given preference
on the inaugural day. Both Caernarfon and Porthmadog booking offices
have a long list of people who are waiting for this opportunity and
they will be offered tickets first.
Third class return tickets
at £50.00 and First Class at £100.00 - including morning
& biscuits on the outward journey and a cream tea on the
return. All travellers will receive a special commemorative ticket to
celebrate the occasion. Trains depart from Caernarfon at 1100 and 1430
and from Porthmadog at 1045 and 1415.
Platelayers' Special As a thank you to the track gangs who worked on the
rebuilding of the Welsh Highland, a special train will run on Sunday
October 31. The train departs Porthmadog at 1000 running to Rhyd Ddu,
returning at 1145 and arriving back at Port at 1300. Motive power is
expected to be Lyd and refreshments will be available on board. Members
of the Black Hand, Rest of the World and Tuesday Gangs should contact Samantha.email@example.com
or phone the booking office on 01766 516024 to confirm attendance and
whether a partner will be accompanying them.
Spooner's will be open for
before departure and anyone requiring Sunday Lunch on their return is
asked to pre-book with the café by Monday October 25.
July 21st 2010 - Race the Train. The annual
Race the Train event took place on the evening of 21st July. The race,
now believed to be in its 13th year had around 300 runners
participating. This compares with approximately 60 in its first year.
The runners were seen off by the mayor
of Caernarfon and the race started after a minute's silence in
Bob Anderson who had worked incredibly hard to promote Caernarfon and
local businesses including support for the WHR in the early
days. The runners started at Dinas and ran to Caernarfon and this year
raced a train hauled by No. 87
June 20th 2010
The Pont Croesor temporary station buildings are in place. The
Portacabin style builds that form the temporary station are in place,
painted in a dull green to help them blend in with the surrounding
This is not exactly new-news, but is included here to show the visual
impact of these buildings, compared to that of the Osprey Centre in the
19th June, a glorious Saturday and the Black Hand Gang are
hard at work
at Pont Croesor fettling the alignment at the Northern end of the
Halts in their work were imposed by the regular train service.
On the same day as the above photos were taken a group of
project and commercial managers, with their partners were visiting some
of the North Wales railways. This group either work for, or have worked
for various companies in the North West of England and Germany that now
come under the Alstom banner.
One was heard to comment about what a magnificent railway we have, in
terms of the scenery, the quality of the locomotives and coaching
stock, and the friendliness of the staff (although this may have been
assisted by the presence of Philip Quayle in the party).
The following photographs give an impression of the day.
June 4th 2010
Completion of Phase 4
Paul Bradshaw writes: In
the past few days the decision has been made by the FR and WHRCL to
complete the works needed to obtain HMRI approval of the remaining
section of the new WHR. By mid-September we need to have the
section from Pont Croesor to Harbour Station brought up to the standard
required for a passenger service. It is expected that with
approval granted it will be possible to run occasional trains from
Harbour Station over the WHR later this year and, it is hoped, a
timetabled service over the winter.
our track volunteers this means we need a lot of your help over the
next 15 weeks. There is much to do. Tom's team have
started on the hugely important job of tamping this section.
need maximum support from the volunteer track gangs. The
volunteer work programme has been adjusted so that we can make this all
happen. For full details of volunteering for the track gang see
May 30th 2010
new buffet store at Dinas is now in place. Buffet crew can now load
supplies from the release road instead of needing the train to be in
the platform,. Empty coaching stock can therefore depart for
Caernarfon direct from the release road, thus speeding up train
preparation in the mornings. This development links in with
plan to serve a wider range of food from the service car, including hot
snacks, to cater for the longer journey times on the extended railway.
pictures below show the new buffet stores. K1 stands in the
platform awaiting parts for further repair work before returning to
service. Pictures by Laurence Armstrong
May 26th 2010
Official opening to Pont Croesor & Nantmor Halt opening
Whilst the section from Hafod y Llyn to Pont Croesor had been
22nd May had its formal opening on May 26th by Dr Dewi Roberts
accompanied by the FR company Chairman Dr John Prideaux.. Full details
and many more photographs of the
opening can be found on the Pont
Having opened Pont Croesor the party boarded the return train and
proceeded to Nantmor where the new Halt was also opened this time
the opening ceremony was performed by Dr Dafydd
station in Ben Fisher's memory.
final ceremony of the day was at Beddgelert station where two National
Awards won by the
railway in 2009 were unveiled. Again more details are on the Pont Croesor re-opening
May 20th 2010 - The Railway
opening of the next section of track to Pont Croesor.
The FR Company press release:
another two stations Heritage
Railway of the Year now in sight of final goal
Welsh Highland Railway is to open the penultimate section of its 25
mile route to passengers on Wednesday May 26th. An additional three
miles of track from the present Hafod y Llyn terminus at the end of the
Aberglaslyn Pass – voted the UK’s most beautiful spot by members of the
National Trust – will take passengers out across the wide flatlands
reclaimed from the sea in 1811.
station at Pont Croesor will form the new southern terminus of the line
until the final stretch linking up with the Ffestiniog Railway opens in
2011. The new station is alongside the RSPB's popular Glaslyn Osprey
Project viewing centre. Local residents and schoolchildren have been
invited to the opening ceremony at Pont Croesor at 1200 on Wednesday 26th
and to travel on the inaugural trains.
addition to the new station at Pont Croesor, the village of Nantmor
will also get its own halt on the 26th. The halt will be dedicated to
the memory of the late Dr Ben Fisher of Bangor University, who played a
key role in the rebuilding of the Welsh Highland.
section of the UK’s most exciting heritage railway project – current
holder of the Heritage Railway of the Year accolade - will offer
passengers a magnificent panorama, the railway being surrounded on
three sides by the mountains of Snowdonia and the ancient sea cliffs of
the Glaslyn estuary.
the magnificent views of Snowdon and delightful villages such as
Beddgelert, the WHR now runs from beneath the castle walls in historic
Caernarfon across the full width of the Snowdonia National Park using
the most comfortable narrow gauge carriages in the UK.
addition to this fleet of impressive carriages, trains also include
both heritage and luxurious first class Pullman carriages - including
the magnificent observation car built in the company’s own workshops in
2009 which was named Glaslyn by Her Majesty the
Queen during a visit to the railway in April.