Visited Sept 2014


Peter Bleasdale






SuperPower Weekend




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Ffestiniog Railway & Welsh Highland Railways




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Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways

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September 2014


Peter Bleasdale



Over the weekend of 13/14 September 2014


the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways

held a 'Superpower Weekend',


when many variations on the usual train formations

were to be observed.

Here, Beyer Garratt locomotives, Nos.138 and 87,

double-heading a large combined passenger and freight train


are approaching Bryn-y-Felin Bridge over the Afon Glaslyn,

heading for Beddgelert Station,

having just left the tunnels through the Aberglaslyn Pass.



The oil tank separating the two locomotives

has been marshalled, I presume,


to prevent the couplings from locking on the tight curves

encountered on this very scenic railway.












As the double-headed Garratt mixed-stock train

crosses Bryn-y-Felin Bridge,

both locomotives are showing the 'white feather' from the safety valves,

a fitting tribute to the firemen of both engines

after the climb up from Nantmor.


Further preparation of the fires will be required

for the steep gradients of 1:40 encountered

through Beddgelert Forest ahead.












'K1', 0-4-0 + 0-4-0, the worlds first Garratt locomotive

built in 1909 by Beyer Peacock of Manchester

for the Tasmanian Government and 'Vale of Ffestiniog',


a Funkey diesel locomotive, built in 1967

for The Eastern Province Cement Co.

in Port Elizabeth, South Africa,


and rescued by the Ffestiniog Railway Company in 1996.


K1 has been undergoing much refurbishment,

and presumably, the diesel is accompanying K1

to ensure that she does not disgrace herself !


Meanwhile,a lucky passenger in the cab of the diesel

attempts to video the whole procedings.












Whilst the driver keeps a sharp lookout,

he gives K1 her head

as she progresses towards Aberglaslyn Tunnels.


Several enthusiastic photographers

lean out of the carriages to capture the event.


This is a delightful area to visit

and the warm September sunshine is an added bonus.












Tasmanian Garratt K1


approaching Beddgelert Station


whilst the waiting photographers

jostle for the best position












Garratt no.87, looking pristine in the sunlight,

makes an easy start, with a good head of steam,

from Beddgelert Station


and prepares to attack the steep 'S' bends through the forest.


This sylvan scene is disturbed slightly

as the sharp exhaust removes some leaves from the trees.












As we head towards the summit of the line at Rhyd Ddu,


Mount Snowdon comes into view

with the clouds just clearing the peak,

giving a rare view of this wonderful mountain,


which is all too often shrouded in mist,


the green leaves of the trees in the foreground

providing a sharp contrast to the bleak hills behind.












On our arrival at Rhyd Ddu,


Tasmanian Garratt K1 rushes by

with safety valves lifting after her stiff climb from Beddgelert,


a fitting tribute to the skill of the fireman

and the boiler refurbishment carried out recently.












When we reach the main WHR depot at Dinas Station,


interested observers watch

whilst the lcomotive has her coal stocks replenished

using a mechanical bucket loader.


Note the loaded oil drum mounted on the rear of the machine

to counterbalance the weight of the bucket!












This is a view of the newly built replica of Tryfan Junction Station building

which was demolished after closure of the line.

Originally, the branch line from here ( 1872 )

went to Rhostryfan and Bryngwyn ( approx. 2 miles ) .


From Bryngwyn, an incline, owned by the railway company,

led, via quarry owned lines, to a number of slate quarries

around Moel Tryfan Mountain.

The new station building is a tribute

to the hard work and dedication

of many volunteers on this railway.












On the approach to Caernarfon Station


this wonderful view of the Castle and Estuary opens up

which is only available from the train for a brief period.


The new station for Caernarfon ( WHR )

is now at the planning stage


and much deliberation is taking place

to ensure its compatability with the surrounding scenery.












The area around the ascent to Rhyd Ddu Station

provides some of the most spectacular views on this line,


where the track climbs on steeply curved sections,

offering the passenger wonderful contrasts

between rough scrubland and background hills.


Garratt no.87 makes light work of this section

with a fully loaded train.












On the descent from Rhyd Ddu,

behind the railway line in the middle distance,


the slag heaps

from the abandoned slate quarry workings

can be seen.


This must have been a difficult place to work

in the depths of winter at this wild location.












At Rhyd Ddu Station, standing in the adjacent platform,

was this large goods train,


comprised mainly of S.A ballast wagons,

with green Garratt no.143 at the head taking water

and red no.138 bringing up the rear.


The driver and fireman await their turn to fill up with water at the new tank.

Again, the colourful platform flower beds and railway scene

contrast sharply with the background hills of Mother Wales.












Beyer-Garratt no.143

heading the Mega Goods Train


at Rhyd Ddu












Rear end of the Mega Goods Train


at Rhyd Ddu












Under the watchful eye of the crossing-keeper

and as the driver checks the steam pressure gauge,


Beyer-Garratt no. 138 crosses Brittania Bridge in Porthmadog

with a goods train comprised mainly of

South African Railways ballast hoppers.


The size of these mighty narrow gauge machines contrasts sharply

with the cars waiting for the passage of the train.












Garratt no.87

leaving Rhyd Ddu Station












Standing on one of the storage roads at Porthmadog Station,

having just returned from his journey up to Rhyd Ddu,

was 'England' locomotive no.2 Prince built in 1863,

with the heritage train.


Comprising, the replica 'Curly Roof' van, FfR. bogie coach no.15,

designed by G.P.Spooner

and built in 1872 by Brown Marshalls & Co. Birmingham,


which together with no.16

were the first bogie coaches, of any gauge,

to operate in Britain.


Behind these was coach no.19,

also designed by G.P.Spooner


and built by

The Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company in 1879,


the same company, which built bogie coaches

for the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway in 1898.

The family resemblance is easily recognizable.


The train, hauled by 335 HP Funkey diesel Castell Caernarfon.

built in 1967 for a diamond mine in S.A.


awaits the 'road' to haul the ensemble

back across the Cob to Boston Lodge Engine Shed.












Replica Lynton & Barnstaple locomotive 'Lyd',

in charge of the Heritage Coach Set the previous day,


is shunted into no.5 road to clear no.3 road

for the imminent arrival of the service train from Blaenau Ffestiniog.

The driver and guard meanwhile are sharing a joke

with the driver of Beyer-Garratt no.138 on an adjacent siding.












Newly refurbished Double Fairlie 'David Lloyd George',

in temporary works-grey paintwork,

stands simmering at the head of our train

awaiting departure from the new Ffestiniog platform.

The fireman meanwhile, having transferred the lamp

from the rear end to the front apron,


ponders the amount of exhaust from the chimney

and wonders whether he has enough blower setting

to maintain sufficient steam pressure

for the forthcoming journey.












We alighted on the up journey at Tan-y-Bwlch

to partake of some light refreshments.

'David Lloyd George' and train are seen here returning to the station,

whilst my long suffering wife awaits my return once more

to continue our journey back to Porthmadog.


The sponsor's 'Bridge to Nowhere'

replicates a previous structure

on this site


and makes a useful addition to this delightful spot on the railway.












In the refreshment room at Tan-y-Bwlch


stands this wonderful 5" gauge model

of the second Double Fairlie locomotive 'James Spooner',


which was built by

Winson Engineering of Birmingham in 1988

for The Festiniog Railway Society.


Being a narrow gauge model, it is much larger

than the normal size of an engine in this scale.


A part of the firebox area is cut away

showing the construction of the full-sized locomotive.













At Tan-y-Bwlch Cafe


mounted above the 5" gauge model

of 'James Spooner'


were the above information plaques.












Double Fairlie 'The Earl of Merioneth' arrives at Tan-y-Bwlch,

passing 'David Lloyd George' on the up journey.

'The Earl' was the first Double Fairlie to be built

by the restored Ffestiniog Railway Company

at Boston Lodge in 1979

due to ever-increasing passenger usage.


The locomotive reverted to coal firing from oil in 2006.












On reaching Minffordd Station


we pass 'The Earl of Merioneth'

on its upward journey.


Your reviewer managed to lean out

obtain this shot

and achieve the safety of the carriage


before the approaching driver suffered a cardiac arrest!












The new replica Trident Signal on the Cob


now sports its operating arms,

but is still awaiting final approval,


hence the colour light signal still being used.












Double Fairlie 'Merddin Emrys'


at Pont Croesor Station












The last service train of the day

hauled by Garratt no.87


approaches Brittania Bridge Road Crossing,

having just traversed Snowdon Street,


whilst the driver is keeping a wary eye on your photographer.












Tasmanian Garratt K1

rests at Porthmadog on the WHR arrival road


after returning with the Heritage Train Set.


The crew appear to be awaiting the arrival

of a well-earned cup of tea.












L&B 'Lyd' at Porthmadog


with the General Manager of the Ffr/WHR


on driving duties












Beyer-Garratt no.87

in the storage roads


at Porthmadog Station












L&B replica 'Lyd'


awaiting departure from the WHR platform

at Porthmadog,

whilst interested onlookers

chat with the driver