May 2014










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Ffestiniog Railway & Welsh Highland Railways




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Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways

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May 2014


Peter Bleasdale



A general view of the new platform just completed in March 2014.


Passengers are waiting to board the

Welsh Highland Railway train to Caernarfon


standing in the new WHR loop,


which now allows the locomotive to access the front of the train

without the previous system of reversal into the FR platform.


Any FR train arriving from Blaenau Ffestiniog

now has its own platform face and track.












A view of the new semaphore bracket starter signal

at the end of the platform,


which has just been cleared for the Ffestiniog train


to leave from the new loop for Blaenau Ffestiniog.












This is the new outer home signal for the Cob in the 'up' direction.

Behind this can be seen the recently installed arms of the 'Trident Signal',

which will attempt to replicate the original signal of the old FR company,


and which was still in place up to the end of the 1960's












With the 'Relay Room' containing all the electrical equipment

in the background of the picture,


the new Signal Box controlling all train movements

in and out of Porthmadog Harbour Station


stands proudly on the Cob,


a magnificent achievement and fitting tribute

to all the hard work by both contractors and volunteers,


undertaken in some of the most challenging weather conditions

seen in recent times in this area.












The delightfully executed seating area,

provided outside Spooner's restaurant

enhances the new platform


and provides train viewing opportunities

whilst enjoying refreshments.


Mr.Spooner himself would surely have approved

of these new facilities in my humble opinion!












As coal fired NGG16 Beyer Garratt no.87

awaits permission to proceed into the station,


the safety valve lifts to relieve some boiler pressure,

which the fireman has raised in preparation


for the hard climb into the Aberglaslyn Pass ahead.












As No.87 runs round our WHR train,


the driver leans out to check the points are set correctly,

before proceeding, cautiously, over the crossover


to take up position at the head of the Observation Saloon












Under slightly overcast skies, No.87

finally receives permission to proceed,


passing the new Starter Signal

at the Boston Lodge end of the platform


whilst waiting photographers jostle for the best shot.












As the fireman checks the coupling

and the photographer grabs one last shot,


the driver ensures that all is well with his charge


as the departure time of our train rapidly approaches.












Having just come through the Aberglaslyn Pass

on a lovely warm sunny day on Sunday 18th May,


Beyer Garratt, no.138, heads towards Beddgelert.


Despite the warm weather, it appears that passengers were unwilling

to risk travelling in the open air coach


and enduring the smoke from the locomotive

through the previous long tunnel,


and who could blame them!












As the public footpath crosses the railway line near this point,


the driver keeps a sharp look out


on the approach to Bryn-y-Felin bridge.












As the train crosses Bryn-y-Felin bridge,


the driver opens the regulator once more

to negotiate the reverse curves towards the climb to Goat tunnel


on the approach to Beddgelert Station.


The fireman has just added another shovelful of coal to the fire apparently!












The fireman prepares to alight from no.87

to obtain the 'Token' for the next section as the down train


arrives in Beddgelert station,


the 'white feather' drifting from the safety valves

revealing that a good head of steam is available when required.












As NGG16 no.138 arrives in Beddgelert

on a down train from Caernarfon,


the driver of our up train hurries to the end of the platform

to exchange Tokens with the other fireman.


This allows our locomotive fireman the time to refill the water tanks

in readiness for the very hard climb ahead to Meillionen Camp Site

in the woods above Beddgelert.


This section is music to the ears of every steam engine enthusiast


and these beasts, together with their wonderful chime whistles,

do not disappoint!












I was extremely fortunate to obtain this picture

As the early morning weather, and the forecast for later, was for heavy rain,


the crew of Linda had seen fit to mate Linda with Blanche's tender cab

to protect them from the elements on the return journey!

There were also 4 men on board at the time ( trainees presumably)

and, when questioned about this decision by a member of the female staff,


the reply was "because they were all wimps"!












This is a view showing the Ffestiniog Railway platform


with the train beginning to load.


Note the 'Spooner's seating area

and the WHR coaches to the left of the picture.












As one of the loco crew snatch a quick bite to eat with the driver looking on

and our resident photographer once more in shot,


the Linda/Blanche hybrid prepares to depart for Blaenau.


The wet rail and the now sharper curve makes setting off much more difficult,

but the driver and my favourite Ffestiniog loco ( I have fired this one )

make an excellent effort


and finally gain enough traction to accelerate the heavy load.












On our return to Porthmadog Harbour, I witnessed the strange sight of

Hunslet locomotive, Linda, coupling up to Garratt no.87


and towing it back to Boston Lodge Works

and with seemingly little effort!

Whether there was problem with the NGG16,

or it was simply a fuel saving exercise, I know not.

Anyway, Linda set off without slipping

and sped off across the Cob

with the Garratt and driver in tow.












Another view of Linda coupling up to No.87