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WELSH RAILWAYS

 

Peter Bleasdale

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Updated: 24/05/2014

 

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Ffestiniog Railway

Ffestiniog Railway Sept 2013

 

Welsh Highland Railway

Welsh Highland Railway (Sept 2013)

 

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FFESTINIOG RAILWAY

(Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog)

 

 

 

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Click below to visit the joint website of

Ffestiniog Railway & Welsh Highland Railways

 

 

 

 

 

To view the

RVR Historical Rail Map

which includes the

Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways

click image below

 

 

 

 

Double Fairlie "Merddin Emrys"

approaching Tanybwlch Station

on an "up" train to Blaenau Ffestiniog

on the Ffestiniog railway.

 

 

 

 

   
 

Whilst returning from Blaenau Ffestiniog

behind Single Fairlie locomotive "Taliesin",

the Exhaust Ejector on the loco failed

just outside Minfford Station

causing the train to execute an emergency stop.

 

The guard was able to release the train brakes

from the guard's van

and we limped into the station to await rescue

by a diesel locomotive!


Luckily, our observation carriage stopped

immediately opposite the cupboard

containing the Electric Token apparatus,

and I was able to obtain this very rare shot

of the equipment,

 

which I used in 1993 as a trainee fireman.


 

Double Fairlie locomotive "Merddin Emrys"

and train leave Porthmadog Harbour Station

for Blaenau Ffestiniog,

 

crossing the "Cob" built  by William Maddox,

 

as the fireman wrestles with the Injector Steam Valve

trying to get more water into the boiler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

Single Fairlie locomotive "Taliesin"

has just taken on coal and water

in preparation for our journey to Blaenau Ffestiniog

 

before backing on to the train.

 

 

"Merddin Emrys". with steam much in evidence,

starts the train from Porthmadog

for the long climb to Blaenau Ffestiniog,

 

as the lady-fireman prepares for her arduous task ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

Another shot of "Merddin Emrys" and train

leaving Porthmadog Station.

 

Single Fairlie "Taliesin" rounds Tank Curve

heading towards Dduallt Station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

As "Taliesin" leaves Dduallt Station,

it begins the ascent of the spiral section of

"The Deviation",

 

built in the 1970's

to avoid the old Moelwyn Tunnel,

 

which was flooded during the construction

of the pumped storage scheme at Tanygrisiau.

 

"Taliesin" on "The Deviation"

rosses over the original line,

which approaches Dduallt Station under the bridge,

 

and which led to the old Moelwyn Tunnel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

On arrival at Blaenau Ffestiniog, "Taliesin"

runs round the train

and takes on water for the return journey to Porthmadog.

 

After taking on water, "Taliesin"

couples up to the train

to make the return journey to Porthmadog bunker first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

A view of the recently refurbished

First Class Observation Carriage

at Blaenau Ffestiniog Station,

 

which affords panoramic views of the

wonderful North Wales scenery in much comfort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This shot, taken from the Observation Carriage,

shows Taliesin and train

approaching Tan-Y Bwlch Station

from Blaenau Ffestiniog.


The fireman has already alighted from the locomotive

with the Token/Staff from the previous section

in his left hand

to be exchanged with the one

from the approaching "up" train,

thus allowing progress into the next section

from Tan-Y-Bwlch to Minffordd,

 

together with permission from Control in Porthmadog

by internal telephone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

 

To visit the

 

FFESTINIOG RAILWAY

Website

 

click here

This is a view of the new Rhiw Gogh Signal Box,

which recently won a Design Award,

 

the photo being taken

through the window of the Observation Saloon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

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West Somerset Railway

 

Model Railway at Gilling East

 

Ellenroad Steam Museum

 

Bluebell Railway (Bleasdale)

 

 

 

 

   

 

FFESTINIOG RAILWAY

Re-visited July 2011

 

 

Double Fairlie " 'David Lloyd George" on the Cob,

 

having just rounded the curve by Boston Lodge Works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

" 'David Lloyd George" returning across 'The Cob' with the last train of the day from Blaenau Ffestiniog.

 

2011 is the 200th anniversary of the building of "The Cob" by William Maddocks

in October 1811.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"David Lloyd George" rounds the curve at Porthmadog Harbour Station,

 

having taken on a fresh supply of coal, and awaits the coaches for our train to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst the splendid locomotive shimmers in the hazy sunshine,

the driver looks anxiously at the boiler water gauge

to see if the fireman's attempts to put on the 'injector' are successful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking satisfied with their efforts, the driver and fireman

appear relaxed as they discuss the forthcoming journey up the line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having received 'The Token' from The Yard Operative, the Fairlie moves over the points

to take up position on the main line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The engine backs carefully up to the rake of coaches, carefully guided by the fireman's signals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A general view of the Harbour adjacent to Porthmadog Station

 

from where tall-masted sailing ships used to carry slates

brought down by The Ffestiniog Railway

 

from the quarries in Blaenau Ffestiniog to all parts of the world.

Having left the harbour station far behind, we roll into Minfford Station

 

with its fairly new waiting shelter and carefully-tended gardens on the 'down' platform.

 

 

Our next point of interest, above Penrhyn Station,

is the magnificent curved stone embankment known as Cei Mawr,

 

the scene of a few slate wagon accidents with the old FR company.

As we leave Minffordd station, we cross the new bridge

over the long-awaited Porthmadog By-pass,

 

now completed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the long hard climb, some stretches at 1 in 50,

the fireman refills the locomotive's water tanks from the large tank

at the northern end of Tan-y- Bwlch Station.

 

This is a delightful station in a wonderful setting,

and a good base for some scenic walks.

Snatched through the carriage window as we pass quickly,

a shot of the waterfall

just before Tanygrisiau Station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

Having reached the summit of the line at Blaenau Ffestiniog,

 

after running round the coaches, the fireman once again

prepares to refill the locomotive's water tanks for the return journey.

 

 

Having somewhat depleted the coal supply

on the climb to Blaenau Ffestiniog,

 

the fireman pushes fresh amounts further down into the cab bunker

for the journey back to Porthmadog.

 

 

 

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As this is the first train of the day, the reservoir for the pumped storage scheme of the Tanygrisiau Power Station

has been almost emptied overnight, allowing us a wonderful view of the northern portal

of the old Moelwyn Tunnel as we pass by,

 

and clearly visible is the sealed-entrance, rubble having now been removed.

 


This is one of the original features, which the preservation company is lucky to be rid of !

 

 

 

 

 

 

And lastly, as we descend once more into Tan y Bwlch Station,

 

we pass the "Earl of Merioneth"

as it stops for water on its way up to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

 

This locomotive was a 'quick build' in the early 1970's,

utilising parts from other Double Fairlies'.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The driver and fireman fill the coal bunker of "'England"' 0-4-0 and locomotive no.4 "Palmerston"

 

at Porthmadog Harbour Station, in readiness for The Vintage Train,

which runs on Tuesdays to Tan y Bwlch only

 

to avoid delay to the ordinary services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fireman keeps a watchful eye as "Palmerston" leaves the coaling plant

 

and prepares to couple to the vintage set of coaches.

 

 

 

This is the Guard's Van of the vintage set

known as 'The Curly Roof Van'.

 

I am unsure whether this has been refurbished or is a replica,

but, in either case, it is a credit to the skills of the FR workforce

at Boston Lodge works.

The guard stands on the rear platform of his pride and joy

as Funkey diesel " Vale of Ffestiniog"

 

reverses the vintage set carefully into the platform

at Porthmadog Harbour Station.

 

 

 

 

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With three 4-wheel 'Bug Boxes' at the head of the train,

the fireman hands the 'Token' to the driver for the next section to Minffordd,

 

as eager passengers (myself included after this shot!) await the guard's whistle to start us on our journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As "The Earl of Merioneth" runs in with the down train to Porthmadog,

we wait patiently at Minffordd Station

 

for the drivers to exchange tokens, so we may proceed into the next section to Penrhyn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After leaving Penrhyn Station we approach the newly-constructed signal cabin

at Rhiw Goch passing loop,

 

which won a Heritage Award in 2009/10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After stopping for a 'blow up' in the woods

due to a slight shortage of steam,

we finally run into Tan-y-Bwlch station

 

as the driver looks back to check that the rest of his charge

has made it safely over the facing points at the station throat.

 

Now two photos showing the fireman replenishing the water supply

of the little engine's saddle tank.

See caption on the left

 

This picture clearly illustrates the very cramped conditions in the driving cab of these tiny 'England' engines,

which were built WITHOUT tenders in 1865

 

to replace the horses, which pulled the empty slate wagons back up to Blaenau Ffestiniog from Porthmadog Harbour.

 

I think that the fireman must have kept a small supply of coal in his pockets!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having run round his train, the driver edges carefully over the facing point

past the new children's play area at Tan-y-Bwlch.

 

Note the FR Disc Signal in the foreground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taken from the footbridge, "Palmerston"

has coupled to the head of the train once more.

 

On a warm sunny day, this delightful country station is very popular and relaxing

with visitors from both near and far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Merddin Emrys"runs into the down platform

and covers our driver with steam as he tries to eat his sandwiches,

whilst waiting for permission from 'Control'

to make the return journey to Porthmadog.

 

This is a very relaxing afternoon out and highly recommended,

although I cannot guarantee the same weather, unfortunately!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, as we return to Porthmadog, we pass Minffordd Quarry,

 

which has had a huge amount of stone removed for use in the construction of Porthmadog Bypass

and has lopped off a large amount of the original grassy hillside.

 

To visit the

Ffestiniog / Welsh Highland Railways

website

click here

   
     
 

 

 

 

WELSH HIGHLAND RAILWAY

September 2013

 

Caernarfon

to

Beddgelert & Porthmadog

 

 

For further information

visit the Welsh Highland Railway website,

 

which is most interesting and informative

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To view the

RVR Historical Rail Map

 

which includes the

Welsh Highland Railway

 

click here

 

 

 

 

 

Due to the failure of Beyer-Garratt locomotive no.143 the previous day,

diesel locomotive "Vale of Ffestiniog"

pulls the empty stock for the first train of the day

 

into Caernarfon Station.

 

 

Beyer-Garratt No.87 draws into Waunfawr Station

 

under one of the many bridges,

which had to be under-pinned

and the trackbed lowered from the original,

 

to allow the Garratts to operate on this line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

Garratt No.87 draws into the platform at Waunfawr Station

heading for Rhyd Ddu and Beddgelert.

 

This location is idyllic on a warm sunny day,

and the white building on the left is the Snowdonia Parc Hotel,

which serves a good range of food all day,

 

as well as providing a good campsite.

 

This is Beyer-Garratt No.87 leaving Waunfawr

 

on the Welsh Highland Railway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

A view of the magnificent lake at Llyn Cwellyn

from the train between

 

Snowdon Ranger and Rhyd-Ddu Stations.

 

This picture emphasises the steep nature of the track

and the magnificent, desolate, Welsh Highland scenery

 

between Snowdon Ranger and Rhyd-Ddu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

Garratt No.87 tackling the steeply curved track

towards Rhyd Ddu Station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After leaving Rhyd-Ddu, the train heads into the Beddgelert Forest.

 

At 1 in 40, this has the steepest gradients on the line

and the climb back up from Beddgelert

has to be heard to be appreciated, behind one of these snorting monsters!


There are two huge "S" bends to be negotiated,

allowing the train to lose height before entering Beddgelert Station,

passing Meillionen Camp Site Halt on the way.

 

Restarting from here, even in the dry, was quite a challenge

for the tractive effort of these huge engines.

 

In the wet, it should prove extremely interesting!

 

 

 

 

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As the train approaches Beddgelert station

 

the concrete base for the old water tank

can be clearly seen on the right of the picture.

 


Incidentally, the open wagon immediately behind the locomotive

is the bicycle-carrying wagon.

 

After leaving Beddgelert Station,

 

the train passes through the short "Goat Tunnel"

behind the Goat Hotel, with steep rocks on either side,

 

then after a short time crosses the new Bryn y Felin Bridge,

before entering the Aberglaslyn Pass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

A view of the new Beddgelert Station.

 

The concrete base for the main station building,

which has yet to be built, is out of sight on the right of the picture.

 

The footpath from the car park and village

enters from the right behind the photographer.

 

Beddgelert Station from the platform

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A driver's eye view of the new Bryn y Felin Railway bridge

over the River Glaslyn.


In the background is the new concrete road bridge

built by the local council.

 

The train moves towards the first short tunnel in the Aberglaslyn Pass.

 

The fisherman's path and the river Glaslyn

can be seen on the right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

This view of the first tunnel through the trees

was taken from the fisherman's path,

 

clearly illustrating the mountainous terrain in this area.

 

The same view of the first tunnel taken from the train.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

No. 87 in the Aberglaslyn Pass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having reached the former temporary terminus at Hafod-y-Llyn,

 

the locomotive runs round it's train

and returns to Beddgelert to take on water.

 

The new Pullman Observation Carriage "Bodysgallen"

can be seen in this shot

as the fireman prepares the filling hose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

Beyer Garratt No.87 takes on water at Beddgelert Station

 

before tackling the long 1 in 40 climb to Rhyd Ddu.

 

 

 

 

Two days later, Garratt No.143 had been repaired,

just in time it seems,

as it was captured at Waunfawr,

 

having left its coaches from the northbound train outside the station

to be collected by Ffestiniog diesel "Vale of Ffestiniog",

 

whilst No.143 went to the rescue of failed No.87 !!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

A little while earlier, No.143 was captured at Rhy Ddu

with its southbound train.

 

Again, the converted South African Railways (SAR) open wagon

performs its role as a cycle carrier next to the engine.

 

The Welsh Mountains add an extra background dimension to the picture.

 

Another view of No.87

 

taking water at Beddgelert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

The footplate of No. 87.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And lastly, another shot showing the construction of Bry-y-Felin bridge

over the River Glaslyn,

 

built to match exacly the original version, which had rusted away,

 

and which the original WHR company

had refused to paint in order to save money!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

No. 87 at Waunfawr

 

 

 

No. 87 approaching Waunfawr from Rhyd Ddu.

 

Taken from the footbridge at Waunfawr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

No. 87 approaching Waunfawr

from Rhydd Ddu

 

 

 

 

 

For further information, including timetables,

visit the Welsh Highland Railway website

 

 

 

WELSH HIGHLAND RAILWAY

Re-visited July 2011

 

Having operated the flashing lights and sirens with the special key on the end of the 'Token',

to stop the road traffic,

 

Beyer-Garratt no.138, now painted red, edges cautiously out onto Brittannia Bridge

from Porthmadog Harbour Station on a warm summer's day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watched by enthusiastic photographers, the train crosses Brittannia Bridge

onto the new track section adjacent to the main town car park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having climbed steadily through the Aberglaslyn Pass,

the train arrives at Beddgelert Station.

 

This pair of shots show the locomotive taking on water.

See left caption

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On leaving Beddgelert the line immediately climbs at 1:40 around a series of 'S' bends.

 

 

The sounds from the engine on this section are a treat not to be missed for the steam enthusiast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After negotiating the series of' 'S' bends safely, we now climb through the woods towards Meillionen Camp Site Halt.

 

Our powerful locomotive makes an easy restart on this steeply-graded section.

 

This is a delightful area with a very large camp site and inevitably involves a stop during the summer months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having climbed to the summit of the line at Rdyd Ddu and taken on water once more,

we descend past the beautiful lake at Llyn Cwellyn, and, after stopping at Waunfawr,

we finally arrive at Dinas, which was the original terminus of the WHR to be greeted by two surprises.

 

First, we are all asked to leave the train as one of the carriages has a hot axlebox

and needed to be removed for the rest of the journey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyer-Garratt, no.138, stands at Dinas,

resplendent in her new red coat, having previously been black.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second surprise was a very pleasant one,

for standing simmering quietly on the other road

was newly refurbished Beyer-Garratt no.143,

repainted in Ffestiniog green, and looking absolutely splendid.

Standing in front of no.143

was the FR & WHR company's second Funkey Diesel.

 

 

 

 

 

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Although no.143 is now coal-fired, the driver took her back to stand adjacent to the oil storage tank for some reason.

 

The two point-levers, next to the cab, add further interest to the picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The station platforms at Dinas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinas was original a transhipment station between the WHR and standard gauge railways

where goods and passengers had to change trains.

 

In this shot the standard gauge road bridge can be clearly seen in the left background

on the line to Afon Wen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An original WHR coach in which I shall be returning to Porthmadog

on a later train.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having taken the opportunity to stop for lunch at the pub next to the station on the return from Caernarfon,

my son, Paul, was able to capture this fine picture of no.138 leaving Waunfawr.

 

This is a beautiful station ( and pub! ) and is one of my favourite places on the WHR,

especially on a sunny day like this.

Photo: Paul Bleasdale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst waiting for my lunch, Beyer-Garratt, no.87,

arrived at Waunfawr with the next train to Caernarfon.

 

She has been repainted from the original grey into this delightful blue,

which seems to be a cross between Royal and SDJR blue.

 

 

I shall be returning to Porthmadog behind no.87 later in the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another of Joan's atmospheric pictures !!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was waiting for this train to return to Porthmadog.

 

Imagine my surprise and excitement when not one but two Beyer-Garratts

emerged under the road bridge at Waunfawr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The driver of no.143 whistles to his colleagues on no.87

and distracts the lady on the bench from her book reading.

 

Noisy smelly steam engines!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was anticipating a thrilling ride back to 'Port',

but, unfortunately, it was not to be.

 

No.143 had been on a running-in exercise from Dinas,

acting as pilot engine to no.87,

and was detached to return to the engine shed.

These are the new waiting shelters at Waunfawr

complete with seats,

and which are almost finished.

 

They should make a big difference in times of inclement weather.

 

 

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No.87 makes her way back onto the bridge towards Porthmadog Harbour Station.

Note the tactile paving alongside the track.

 

I ordered this weather specially, of course!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A view for the front as no.87 moves in front of the petrol station to cross the road.

 

A free advert for Shell methinks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No.87 at Porthmadog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No.87 steams onto the Cob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The train stops on the Cob.

 

Funkey diesel "Vale of Ffestiniog" is attached to the rear of the train

and hauls the coaches plus locomotive back into the platform

where the passengers alight.