Welsh Highland Railway

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V4.3922

News (8/1/21)

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Modern images updated from 7/1/21

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Star Picture

This southerly view (3/11/19) shows No.608 hauling a heritage rake heading for Beddgelert between T2 and T3 in the Aberglaslyn Pass during the photo charter. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Phil Brown (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Welcome to Version 4 of this website, launched on September 8 2004 with news about work on Phase 4 of the WHR scheme. In addition to this Stop Press page and a Phase 1/2 page, there are 9 location pages, covering the Phase 3 works between Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu. There are a further 9 pages covering Phase 4, the full route through Beddgelert, the Aberglaslyn Pass and on to Porthmadog, including the Traeth Mawr to Pen-y-Mount works recently constructed by the WHHR with three regularly updated map links for this area by Laurence Armstrong.

Finally, there are pages covering 'Phase 5', Views from the Line, the history of the abandoned PBSSR works around Beddgelert, Archived News and a Contacts page for volunteers. Another page covers the current operation of the WHHR southwest from Pen-y-Mount.

 

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The above OS map shows the route through the Aberglaslyn Pass and Beddgelert. Click on the image to enlarge. Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Click here to use the free OS Get-a-map service.

Route section pages

Listed below are links to pages featuring progress on different sections of the line or archive views. Jump ahead to News section or follow the section links from page to page. Please note that access to the links below was restored on 2/9/04 at the new website www.isengard.co.uk

 

Phase 4 pages

Rhyd Ddu to Pont Cae'r Gors (updated 29/6/06)

Pont Cae'r Gors to Hafod Ruffydd Halt (new 8/10/06)

Hafod Ruffydd Halt to Beddgelert Forest Halt (updated 4/12/06)

Beddgelert Forest Halt to Beddgelert Station (updated 1/7/07)

Beddgelert Station Area (updated 30/6/07)

Beddgelert Station to Bryn-y-felin (updated 1/7/07)

Aberglaslyn Pass (updated 2/7/07)

Nantmor to Pont Croesor (updated 16/7/07)

Pont Croesor to Pen-y-Mount (updated 1/4/07)

WHHR (Porthmadog) (updated 1/4/07)

Porthmadog Cross Town Link (updated1/4/07)

 

Other pages

The 40km Dream Phase 1 (Updated 30/7/20)

The 40km Dream Phase 2 (Updated 1/10/20)

'Phase 6' page (new 2/4/06)

Views from the Line Page (updated 26/2/05)

PBSSR Works Historical Page (updated 25/3/05)

Rhyd Ddu Opening Page (New 14/2/04)

Archived News Page (updated 1/1/21)

Snow Scenes (updated 25/11/20)

Rolling Stock News Page (updated 28/12/04)

Phase 4 News Page (updated 3/3/05)

Volunteer Contact details page (updated 18/5/16)

Phase 2 and 3 page list (updated 27/8/08)

Video list (new 9/11/15)

Access to Phase 2 pages is currently being progressed.

 

If you would like an automated announcement of site updates, email me at the NEW (2013) address below replacing the letters 'dot' with a full stop

Isengard@talktalkdotnet

This has been introduced as an anti-spam feature.

Disclaimer

There has never been any intent by myself to suggest that the views on these pages represent the views, opinions or policy of the F&WHR, the WHRCL or the WHRS.

I am happy to confirm that this is an INDEPENDENT web news service.

 

Stop Press!!

New construction images/text will be posted on a regular basis.

New text in RED!

 

News Section

WHR timetables

Click here for Laurence Armstrong's latest WHR North map dated 5/11/07

Click here for Laurence Armstrong's latest WHR Middle map dated 14/3/10

Click here for Laurence Armstrong's latest WHR South map dated 14/3/10

Click here for Mike Schumann's Phase 4 TWA maps and other maps courtesy of WHRS

Click here for John Sreeves Gradient profile courtesy of WHRS

Click here for Chainages and OS Map Reference

 

Archive photos from 2000

This northerly view (1/7/00) shows Mountaineer on the last train of the day passing Cae Hen level crossing. This was a short rake as numbers were depressed whilst supporters waited for the line to open to Waunfawr a little later than planned on 7/8/00. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Centon DF300 SLR camera and scanned using a Minolta DiMage Scan Dual III AF2940. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Historic railway bridge destruction

There is a petition opposing the destruction of historic railway bridges which may be on trackbed with the potential to be reopened or reused as footpaths. The move could be seen as a Tory cost saving move rather than facing the ongoing cost of maintenance/repair these structures:

Highways England Historic Railways Estate plans to rapidly expand their demolition programme of redundant railway structures. The list attached shows 135 structures in the first tranche as published by HRE Group:

https://twitter.com/theHREgroup/status/1343533070855643137

and a map:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?ll=54.497867611651664%2C-2.141808848720559&z=10&mid=14uBPUTgoOoCWI0VKCAIDg-nc5zDHSE9M

Press reports this week:

https://www.railengineer.co.uk/railway-heritage-at-risk-from-highways-englands-wrecking-ball/

https://www.newcivilengineer.com/latest/plan-to-demolish-and-infill-hundreds-of-unused-rail-bridges-and-tunnels-must-be-stopped-dft-told-06-01-2021/

Not only are some of these bridges on aspirational route extensions for heritage railways, others could be on lines suitable for reopening to extend the national network if the government is serious about extending public transport use, and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Others may be developable as cycleways.

Highways England appear hell bent on wholesale destruction of the nation’s heritage. A lot of these are masonry arches, skills of a bygone era and mostly 150 years old. Survived Beeching, but once they are gone, they will never be rebuilt in the same way. Analogous to demolition of Stonehenge. Other bridges that are not on the list are likely to follow in subsequent tranches. Local authority ‘protected railway route’ status may not be sufficient. Highways ‘England’ remit includes Scotland and Wales.

It is important to note:

It is understood that Highways England has already notified local planning authorities of their intention to progress 124 schemes under permitted development powers which are only applicable when there is a threat of “serious damage to human welfare” involving the potential for death or injury. This approach circumvents the need for planning permission.

This means that the public will not necessarily be made aware of the proposals nor have any opportunity to object as would be the case with the normal planning consultation process. You won’t know until a contractor turns up on site, then it will be too late. This was the case with Chilcompton Bridge on the S&D mentioned in the Rail Engineer report.

There is also a petition that we could ask WHR Society members to sign up to:

www.change.org/theHREgroup

It is also important to note that the recent list is only the start. There are another 3000 bridges to go with the programme lasting up to ten years. Wales has got off lightly this time with only Peblig Mill in Caernarfon and another at Pont Llanio south of Tregaron of significance. The latter is on the former Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line (which WAG is proposing to be reopened as part of a North to South Wales Coast route.

 

F&WHR statement

LOOKING FORWARD TO THE 2021 SEASON

It’s time to look onwards and upwards as we continue to form plans for our 2021 services. Whilst the upcoming months will undoubtedly be clouded by much of the uncertainty which has overshadowed us for large parts of 2020, we are moving forward with renewed hope that 2021 will be a brighter year for our Railway. We are currently discussing numerous proposals which would allow us to potentially reopen the Railway during the Spring. Please keep a look out on our website and social media pages for updates. At present, all services and facilities along the Railway will remain closed. Thanks for your continued support.

 

Lineside clearance 7/1/21

This westerly view (7/1/21) shows Moel Hebog with the Lineside Clearing Train with volunteers working to reduce lineside growth that can scratch carriages. The location is adjacent to the long siding west of Minffordd Goods Yard Junction. If the westbound access from Minffordd is ever built it will join the FR here and complete a triangular layout that would allow stock to be turned to even out flange wear or provide new photo opportunities with chimney first photos going the opposite direction. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera and. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

English lockdown may hit F&WHR

The F&WHR General Manager said before Xmas that the then English 'firebreak' lockdown then operating and the new Welsh restrictions meant it was uneconomical to reopen the F&WHR for Santa Specials and the normal Festive Season trains. The new lockdowns in force until at least mid February will only be reduced gradually from March, Mr Gove said. The Welsh restrictions are to be reviewed in mid January but seem unlikely to be eased as the new fast spreading virus variant gains pace in Wales. This leads to the unpleasant likelihood of a severe impact on any resumption of trains at Easter as hoped for in the GM's statements.

Already the F&WHR has had to make cuts and is unlikely to produce timetable leaflets in the same quantity to stock tourist racks in hotels as in previous years, if at all. Services from Easter could be 'book only' as during last summer with the numbers of trains running adjusted according to demand. Already 32 staff have been made redundant following consultations in September when it was thought in excess of 20 jobs might need to be trimmed. In the March lockdown 93 of the 97 permanent staff were furloughed. The job losses were inevitable as the railway made only £1 million in the 2020 season compared to the £6 million budgeted for. Job losses have focussed on the commercial side in catering, train operations, shops etc, protecting the engineering businesses which earn money for the railway. There are now 60 permanent staff. Restarting in Easter, if possible, will still need an input of £2 million as maintenance alone costs £200,000 per month!

 On 8/1/21 the WAG First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the current all-Wales lockdown will be continued until the next review on 28/1/21 and additional measures will be made to ensure shops and workplaces were complying with regulations. Already police have been very effective and turning away, prosecuting and impounding cars of people who visited Snowdonia from Tier 4 English areas.

 

Good progress with Phase 2 scanning

Phase 2 slide scanning has now reached July 2000 and will soon cover the whole construction period and the Phase 2 initial opening. It is hoped to start the Phase 2 page shortly. Some images have suffered from being stored in plastic wallets rather than slides boxes and will need cleaning. Hopefully the Phase 2 story will provide F&WHR supporters something interesting to read during lockdown.

 

This northerly view (17/6/00) shows Mountaineer and Conwy Castle arriving at Dinas with a short three coach rake. Conwy Castle had hauled the first train of the day and was left attached when this view was captured at 15:30. This scan shows some of the problems caused when filmstrips stick to the plastic A4 storage sheets. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Centon DF300 SLR camera and scanned using a Minolta DiMage Scan Dual III AF2940. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Premier Inn Ty Mawr demolition started 4/1/21

Work started demolishing the vacant former Tax Office at Ty Mawr opposite Harbour Station at the start of January. Permission has been given for a Premier Inn and associated restaurant on site. As usual the Premier Inn is not providing sufficient car parking spaces for the number of rooms it will have in the four storey flat roof building as they intend to cater for coach traffic stop-overs. It will however be a convenient place for those visiting the F&WHR as the Travelodge in the industrial estate the other end of town does not have an associated restaurant. The site was formerly the Britannia Foundry until 1972, see History Points. There might have to be a car park barrier to prevent people using the car park to visit Porthmadog or the F&WHR. Spooners might benefit by offering breakfast and all day meals when the Premier Inn restaurant is unable to cope,

 

This westerly view (7/1/21) shows work starting on the demolition of Ty Mawr, the derelict former Tax Office on the opposite side of The Cob to Harbour Station on the site of Britannia Foundry. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Happy New Year!

Your webmaster would like to wish a Happy New Year to all visitors to this website. 2020 was a bad year where we all suffered, not least the F&WHR which has had to make staff cuts to remain solvent with income much reduced and surviving on Government Grants. Assuming the vaccine roll out we might reasonably expect the F&WHR to reopen for Easter with a socially distanced booking system similar to the recent operations on both railways. Later, if the pandemic fades away, the service might expand. However, BREXIT might affect the economy adversely and families' disposable income too. Already the Daily Post reports in the first hours of BREXIT, 6 lorries turned away at Holyhead. The WHR, built largely with EU regional funds, can no longer look to that funding resource.

 

Good progress with Phase 2 images project 31/12/00

Progress scanning your webmaster's images of Phase 2 construction, which preceded this website, has now reached April 2000 and the appearance of Upnor Castle in the short lived construction siding at Wernlasddu between Rhostryfan Road Bridge and Tryfan Junction. A series of updates will be published month by month over coming weeks and will hopefully help people get through the current lockdown.

 

This westerly view (9/4/00) shows Upnor Castle propelling rails carried by RRM's out of the Wernlasddu Siding onto the main line while watched by WHLR Manager Roland Doyle. Track was being extended initially towards Cae Hen (Morgan's Hump) to the east and then to Rhostryfan Road bridge to the west behind the DZ wagon from a rail pile in the siding. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Centon DF300 SLR camera and scanned using a Minolta DiMage Scan Dual III AF2940. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

New WHR coach No.2048 30/12/20

This easterly view (30/12/20) shows Hugh Napier acting as yard pilot to haul new WHR coach No.2048 out into the open. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Christmas Update 25/12/20

Your webmaster would like to wish all readers a Happy Xmas and hopefully a much better 2021, maybe seeing the F&WHR reopen at Easter after we have all hopefully had the vaccine!

During a disappointing year plagued by the pandemic, which had a bad effect on the fortunes of the F&WHR, I launched a review of Phase 1 using construction photos and details which have never been revealed before on this website. The website struggled into existence around 2000 and covered construction mostly from the start of Phase 3. I have been busy sorting mixed boxes of undated slides from 1999/2000 then scanning them in order to launch the Phase 2 project covering the result of the Public Enquiry and construction works for Phase 2. Sufficient progress has now been made to make a start on 1/1/21. I hope this will provide some interest during the ongoing and threatened future lockdowns.

 

This westerly view (19/12/10) shows No.138 piloting Castell Caernarfon on the first of three Santa Trains that day passing Cae Moel in increasingly rare December snow. The Funkey was added for insurance as the weather was icy. The loco is about to cross the diverted Afon Rhyd bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken by a Kodak DX 6490 digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

General Manager's Xmas message 20/12/20

Click on the YouTube window to watch 11 mins 57 seconds of video showing Paul Lewin the General Manager explaining how the F&WHR will operate in 2021. This YouTube was published on 20/12/20 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a 4K digital camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on the YouTube link.

 

Moving Pictures No.45 (19/12/20)

Click on the YouTube window to watch 46 mins 37 seconds of video showing Paul Lewin and John Whalley reviewing progress with Dinas and Boston Lo0dge loco sheds for 2021. This YouTube was published on 19/12/20 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a 4K digital camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on the YouTube link.

 

Hugh Napier finished 19/12/20

Paul Lewin reports: After a quick turn round ten year overhaul we are on the run again. The team at BL (who I am very proud of) have done a cracking job. Although Hugh Napier has always looked good there have been some niggly problems. So the following list has been done in addition to re-tubing boiler etc.

The result is just great and a happy running engine. When tested last week the valve settings were out due to this work. So they have been sorted out this week and retested today. This was done moving an African DZ wagon full of wet ash around to give a good load. We had to dodge a hail storm or three. The end result is a cracking little engine, better than ever.

 

This westerly view (19/12/20) shows Hugh Napier emerging from the works for its test run in foul weather. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Paul Lewin and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Work starts on L&BR Extension

Despite the pandemic, exploratory work has started on the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway with the aim of extending it from its current Killington Lane terminus to Blackmoor Gate and Wistlandpound Reservoir Park. The F&WHR's Lyd often visits the railway as a guest loco for L&BR Galas as it is a replica of the Manning Wardle loco type that operated trains on the route. While the extension has received planning permission from local councils in the last few years, a T&WO is required which needs the completion of various surveys. See L&BR website.

In other good news for the L&BR, Exmoor Associates, which is acquiring the sold of track trackbed piece by piece south to Barnstaple has been successful in purchasing Bratton Fleming station and associated trackbed after worries it might be sold to person who might block the railway's reinstatement. See Exmoor Associates website.

 

Welsh Xmas lockdown stops Members' Yuletide Specials 16/12/20

The Members' Specials planned for the Xmas holiday period have been cancelled because of the new Xmas COVID restrictions announced by WAG First Minister Mark Drakeford on 16/12/20. Even though North Wales infection rate is at least 10 times lower than that of South Wales the same level of restrictions is to apply across all of Wales. Tighter curbs will come into effect on Xmas Eve with all non essential retail and leisure being forced to close. Hospitality will close from 6pm Xmas Day. From 28/12/20 Wales will enter full Level 4 Lockdown to be reviewed every 3 weeks which means the restrictions will continue until 18/1/21 at the very earliest.

Despite this bad news, on 16/12/20 the F&WHR announced Tan-y-bwlch tea room will be open with limited indoor seating and take away from 1000-1600 from 19-24/12/20. Hot food will be available 1100-1500. It had been planned to open Xmas week but the new WAG restrictions mentioned above have led to the cancellation of those plans. However the Welsh Health Minister said a regional reduction of restrictions in North Wales would be possible if infections rates fell before the January review.

 

WHRS Christmas Appeal

The Welsh Highland Railway Society’s Christmas appeal for 2020/2021 is for a new third class saloon carriage – to follow Nos.2046/47 and the Pullman Observation carriage Gwyrfai which were also funded by the WHRS. Successful completion of this project will mean the Society’s members and friends will have provided four carriages for Welsh Highland trains. Boston Lodge was proud to out-shop the latest WHR saloon No.2048 on the 8/12/20 and are now ready for their next modern saloon build. All funded projects are especially welcome at this time as it enables the F&WHR to keep staff working at a time when redundancies might become necessary.

Supporters can donate to the appeal here: https://www.whrsoc.org.uk/index.php/join-the-society-2/donations-and-legacies

If there are any problems, please email the Booking Office.

 

F&WHR activity 15/12/20

Vale of Ffestiniog was noted shunting to stable outside the running shed. Further attention was given to the fan of sidings outside the new Carriage Shed with several staff visible working on the points.

 

Linda appeal 15/12/20

An Xmas appeal for £60,000 has been launched to refurbish Linda so that it can be ready for its  60th anniversary at the F&WHR in 2022. Linda's boiler dates back to 1936 and will require much work as will the tender. The frames also need some work with some new rivets being required. Linda's last day in service is likely to be 27/3/21 assuming services resume after the pandemic subsides next Spring.

 

Conwy Valley problems again 14-15/12/20

On 14/12/20 TfW was unable to offer a service on the Conwy Valley line due to rolling stock shortages. Heavy rain disrupted the line on Tuesday and flooding south of Llanwrst saw bustitution between there and Blaenau Ffestiniog.

 

FR Members' Yuletide Specials 14/12/20

These services are planned to run on the 28/12/20 and the 1/1/21 on the FR provided WAG does not change its current COVID advice over Xmas. There will be no matching service on the WHR despite the WHR Gala being cancelled and the FR Gala  going ahead. However WHRSoc. Members are invited to join the train along with FRSoc. members.

The trains will depart Harbour Station at 11:00 and will be steam hauled and double headed. The train will pause at Tan-y-Bwlch before continuing to Dduallt where the locos will top and tail to enable the train to run around the deviation so we can catch a glimpse of the new Tunnel South portal before returning to Tan-y-bwlch, with a half hour stop for coffee and then back to Harbour Station. Alternatively members can alight at Tan-y-bwlch on the outward journey for a walk and a leisurely lunch before re-joining the train.

To travel on the train members will need to book in advance as space is strictly limited and is being sold on a compartment basis. Once members have booked a compartment, they may fill it with other people as long as they are in their family bubble. Compartments are free of charge to both Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Society members and are sold on a ‘first come first served’ basis. Very limited First Class is available as Carriage No.152 has been added into the train. Otherwise, the F&WHR is using heritage stock so it will be chilly! Members should make sure they dress accordingly and bring a flask of hot tea/coffee etc.

This is also a chance to try out the new online ticket system. Members should enter their membership number to get a 100% discount. Bookings will available from 11:00 on Tuesday 15/12/20. Member tickets for these services can be booked via the following link.

 

Trackside Drains' Train special 13/12/20

Ron Walker reports: On Sunday 13/12/20 The Trackside Drains Team lead by Iain Harris (from Swindon) had a train to put out new drain chambers covers. The order for 80 covers, made to order from October and November 2019, are made of treated gravel board, by a volunteer in Buckinghamshire, transported up to Wales in an FR Co. van by volunteers in January 2020 and were stored in Rodney’s Caban in Minffordd yard. The party of 6 was mainly local volunteers from Conwy and the train driven by John Fry from Mold. Criccieth Castle hauled the train of two RAF’s and three bo-coals, two bug boxes and two vans. We went all the way to Blaenau to run around.  Fifty one  made to measure covers were put out and 10 standard covers, many were replacements for life expired ones.

 

This easterly view (13/12/20) shows Criccieth Castle running round the Drains Train in Blaenau Ffestiniog in rather wet weather. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Paul Lewin (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Ash Train 12/12/20

Britomart and Lilla double headed a loco ash train from Boston Lodge to Dduallt on 12/12/20. This seems to be becoming a regular Saturday working.

 

Hugh Napier test train 12/12/20

As predicted Hugh Napier came out on a loaded test train on 12/12/20. It ran to at least Rhiw Goch loop and maybe further after reversing out onto The Cob with Moelwyn's assistance as pilot.

 

This easterly view (12/12/20) shows Moelwyn drawing Hugh Napier's test train out of Boston Lodge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Paul Lewin (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/12/20) shows Hugh Napier at Minffordd returning on the test train with the General Manager Paul Lewin driving. The loco has been turned to face north of the WHR. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

F&WHR activity 9-11/12/20

On 9/12/20 the greasers were out greasing the points at Minffordd.

On 10/12/20 they were working at Tan-y-bwlch and a loco was in steam at Boston Lodge, possibly Lilla on test again with much blowing off of steam noticeable possibly setting the safety valves prior to some running in trials. Some shunting was also taking place in Pen cob headshunt. Work is also taking place to complete the concreting of the centre road in the New Carriage Shed so that track can be laid and more carriages be put under cover. Last week two bowsiders were still outside in Harbour Station in 4 road. The concrete lorry seemed to be working at the west end of the shed in the afternoon.

A diesel loco, possibly Criccieth Castle, emerged from Boston Lodge at 12:50 and shunted the Old Loco Shed. It appeared to remove 3 coaches stored in the open at 13:02 and shunt them back into Boston Lodge by 13:25.

On 11/12/20 there seemed to be considerable activity on the fan of points leading to Boston Lodge yard, possibly the greasers again as these are new points.

 

This northerly view (10/12/20) shows concreting taking place at the south end of the New Carriage Shed, possibly the last piece required before track can be laid. The points that gives access are already in place both ends of the shed. Vale of Ffestiniog can be seen stabled outside the Heritage Carriage shed. What looks like Castle Caernarfon's cab is also visible to the left of the Funkey. It is now been 3 years since this loco last saw service, being stopped with gearbox problems. It has been at Boston Lodge since 24/5/19. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

F&WHR activity 5-8/12/20

Trains continue to operate on the F&WHR on an occasional basis to maintain competences and lift staff and volunteer morale. On 5/12/20 a works train was noted at Tan-y-bwlch in the hands of Linda, disposing of several years' worth of well matured and now inert loco ash from Boston Lodge which had been occupying the car park area. Over 20 trains have now gone up the line with Lilla hauling many of them. One train is the B wagons normally used for coal and the other two DZ wagons. On 14/11/12, Linda and Lilla were on this duty and the two trains were combined at the end of the day to return the empties.

Another two train loads were carried to Dduallt on 5/12/20, Linda, 4 x B wagons, a Hudson four-wheeler with tools, two Bug boxes and brakevans Nos.6/7 for carrying personnel, socially distanced. The second train was hauled by Prince and made up of two DZs and one B wagon. The inert fill is being deposited on the inside of the embankment off the sidings at the top end of Dduallt station to fill in a wet hollow.

With the first trainload emptied, Prince took the empties and propelled them up to Tunnel South to pick up a load of scrap timber and sleepers left behind from the tunnel Portal works and leave that site tidy. The Dduallt embankment was advanced towards the hill by about 1m for about 20m at the close of play. Eventually the whole area will be covered in top soil and will probably be planted with memorial trees.

On 7/12/20 an S&T works train was positioned by the Trident signal on The Cob which was receiving maintenance.

On 8/12/20 the greasers were in action at Porthmadog at about 13:30 maintaining the points, whilst a loco was noted in steam at Boston Lodge, possibly Hugh Napier under test again.

 

No.130 update October-November

The four cylinder claddings were expected to be returned to Dinas by the start of November repainted by Glenn Williams in a matching shade of red.

By 12/10/20 the final drilling and preparation of the makers' plates was being undertaken, together with the big casting that goes in the cab to indicate the function of each valve. However, for ergonomic reasons, they will not be laid out quite as per the casting, so the incorrect names will be ground off and stylist letter writing will indicate the valve's function.

By 30/10/20 No.130 will be fitted with the newly designed and super strong cow-catchers. They have been constructed at Dinas by permanent staff with no doubt some help from Work Manager Jon Whalley and the first one was just waiting welding up.

By 2/11/20 No.130's Cylinder Cladding had arrived at Dinas with the cylinder cladding all painted and varnished back where staff lost no time in fitting them.

By 10/11/20 No.130 Makers' Plates have now been drilled and fitted. This completes all of the number and builders' plates. There are just a few copper pipes to go to complete the loco.

By 13/11/20 the cab fittings were being assembled or re-assembled, now the cab is in place. Large copper pipework is well advanced, driver's brake valve fitted, duplex valve fitted and one of the cow-catchers complete with other well advanced. A hydraulic boiler test was planned to take place week ending  23/11/20.

On 24/11/20 a hydraulic test was carried out on No.130's boiler by the team at Dinas. The gauge held steady at 300 psi with no leaks. It was planned to repeat the test in the presence of the British Engineering Boiler Inspector on 25/11/20. If it passes, then the final plumbing can be fitted to enable No.130 to be made ready for a fire to be lit and a steam test.

 

Snow on the mountains 4/12/20

Martin Kressman reports: The first snow of the season fell yesterday on the Glyders and Carneddau down to about 250 metres on 4/12/20.

 

This easterly view (3/12/20) shows an empty Porthmadog station with snow on the Rhinogs above Harlech. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Hugh Napier steams 3/11/20

Hugh Napier was returned to steam on 3/12/20 at Boston Lodge. Its 10 year overhaul was completed in four months with a heavy chassis overhaul and a new smokebox too. The chimney has also been restored to its original height. The loco appeared to be on test as it ran the full length of Glan-y-mor headshunt to Pen Cob headshunt several times between 14:00 and 14:30 before retiring to the Erecting Shop area.

 

This easterly view (3/12/20) shows Hugh Napier in steam at Boston Lodge after a successful test run in the yard. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Paul Lewin (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

F&WHR Members' Festive Specials 3/12/20

On 3/12/20 WAG announced that Welsh travel restrictions had been eased and travel into and out of England is now allowed for English Tier1/2 locations but not for Tier 3. See BBC Report. This has encouraged the F&WHR to suggest it will run 'one or two trains for Society Members' on the FR over the Festive Period but sadly with no mention of the WHR which could operate Porthmadog-Rhyd Ddu or Caernarfon-Waunfawr as the Plas-y-nant bridge replacement is underway, through the support of a private donor, preventing through trains. However, there will be no Santa Trains or Festive services over Xmas.

 

This painting Xmas card shows Merddin Emrys waiting with a train at Minffordd. Click on the image to enlarge and click to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was painted by David Perrin. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

F&WHR announcement

WINTER IS COMING - AND IT WILL BE VERY QUIET ON THE F&WHR..!

This week, the Welsh Government announced a new set of regulations which will particularly affect the hospitality sector, whilst warning of a new rise in Covid cases across Wales.

Many local hospitality businesses are planning to close as a result of these changes. Therefore, with this in mind - and for the safety of all our customers, staff and supporters - we have sadly decided that we will not run any Passenger or Santa trains for visitors this winter. This was a very difficult decision for us to make and not one that has been taken lightly.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers, staff, volunteers, members and friends who have both supported us and worked tirelessly throughout this year to keep our railway steaming. It has been a year full of difficulties and challenges, but your support and generosity has epitomised all that is great about the F&WHR.

Thank you all and stay safe..!

PLEASE NOTE:

• Our Gift Shop in Harbour Station remains open at present (10:00-15:00 Wed. to Saturday) and our online shop @ www.festshop.co.uk is also currently available ‘24/7’. Any purchases will, of course, help to support the F&WHR at this time.

• The Tea Room at Tan-y-Bwlch Station will re-open over the festive period, with opening times to be announced soon.

• All other services and facilities around the F&WHR will remain closed.

• Don’t forget - maintenance and inspection trains can run at any time, so please keep off the railway tracks.

• It is hoped to run one or two trains for Society Members on the Ffestiniog Railway during the festive period - details of these will be announced at a later date.

• Whilst it is difficult to provide any further clarity at this moment in time, we hope to restart services and reopen our other facilities in Spring 2021.

 

F&WHR activity 2-3/12/20

A steam loco was fired up at Boston Lodge at midday on 2/12/20. On 3/12/20 Vale of Ffestiniog took a short rake up the WHR passing Gelert's Farm at 10:32. It later reappeared at Porthmadog at 14:00 in the WHR platform having had time to run to Rhyd Ddu or Beddgelert and back.

 

This northerly view (3/12/20) shows Vale of Ffestiniog  heading up the WHR passing Gelert's Farm at 10:32. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Andrew Goodwin (WHHR) and was taken on an iPhone camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (3/12/20) shows Vale of Ffestiniog arriving back in Porthmadog from the WHR at about 14:04. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The loco shunted the rake into the yard at Porthmadog at 14:15 before detaching and shunting onto a rake of loaded ash wagons at 14:30. These eventually departed for Boston Lodge at 15:00 where they arrived at 15.10.

 

This easterly view (3/12/20) shows Vale of Ffestiniog after depositing its rake in the yard at 14:20. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (3/12/20) shows Vale of Ffestiniog shunting out of the yard with full ash wagons at about 14:29. In the background, the steam loco on test can be seen returning to the Erecting Shop. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Heritage award 2/12/20

The winner of the 2020 Hendy & Pendle Trust Volunteers Award is the F&WHR for the restoration of Y Gweithdy (the tin shack) at Minffordd,  with particular praise for the part played by the late Eileen Clayton MBE in managing the project. The Chairman’s special ‘Highly Commended Certificate’ was awarded to Andy Savage for the restoration of the grave of Mr and Mrs Jones at Betws Garmon, the former Tan-y-bwlch station staff of the original FR who carried on into the revival.

 

North Wales Main line 1/12/20

Nos.56096/302 top and tailed the Rail Head Treatment Train to Holyhead on 1/12/20. On some days this has been single headed with a need for run round at the terminus.

 

Gradient graph

John Hopkins has contributed this image of the gradient profile of the WHR. It makes clear how much of a mountain we have climbed and how steep the drop through Beddgelert is. Maybe most of all, it reveals the challenge facing northbound trains after they stop at Beddgelert!

This image is courtesy/copyright John Hopkins and is derived from data courtesy John Sreeves with additional work by Michael Bentley. Click on the image to enlarge.

 

Special Events 2020

1/1/20

Final Mince Pie special (two Caernarfon-Rhyd Ddu trains)

15-23/2/20

Half Term Blue timetable Caernarfon-Porthmadog (one return service from each end)

26/2/20-26/3/20

MTFX Orange timetable Porthmadog-Hafod-y-llyn twice a day

28/3/20

Main Season Easter service starts POSTPONED

18/4/20

The Snowdonian POSTPONED TO 17/4/21 and subsequently POSTPONED AGAIN INDEFINITELY

2/5/20

FR AGM and FR extra services? VIRTUAL AGM-NO TRAINS

9/5/20

Caernarfon Food Festival with additional train on WHR? POSTPONED TO 2021

5-7/6/20

WHR Beer Festival POSTPONED TO 4-6/6/21

19-21/6/20

Fairlie Eventful (may include some WHR events) POSTPONED TO 18-20/6/21

27/6/20

Welsh Pony Launch (Live Stream). The public launch/naming is POSTPONED TO VICTORIAN WEEKEND

20/7/20 Restart of limited services with virus compliant protection measures on FR ONLY six times daily all week
13/8/20 Restart of limited services on the WHR with an 11:00 once a day TWThSO service to Beddgelert with hampers

11-13/9/20

SuperPower POSTPONED TO Sept 2021 (may feature Baldwin No. 608 and K1)

12/9/20

WHR Society Members Day. Two special trains between Porthmadog and Beddgelert with No.5 (Welsh Pony)

9-11/10/20 Bygones Event replacing FR Victorian Event will feature two trains Porthmadog-Beddgelert on both 10-11/10/20
5/11/20 The Snowdonian Limited (0800-2000 possibly some running in dark with fireworks?)

 

Trackwork Volunteering 2020

Volunteering is currently suspended due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The F&WHR has a small number of staff ensuring the railway remains secure. Keeping the permanent way, in particular, and the infrastructure in general, fit for trains to run is an essential task. Volunteers have a lot to offer by assisting with this and will be needed later in the year when the railway resumes service. We have a mix of weekend and weekday working parties. The Black Hand, Tuesday Gang and Rest of the World Gangs will be very glad to accept your help. Contact the relevant organiser to let him know when you plan to join us. Please do not just turn up as that makes it difficult for us to plan ahead.

The programme for 2019 is as follows with the ROWG in BLACK and the North Wales Track Gang in RED:

January

 

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

1-2/8/20

 

15-16/8/20

 

29-30/8/20

September

 

5-10/9/20WW

 

 

26-27/9/20

October

 

10-11/10/20

 

 

24-25/10/20

November

7-8/11/20

7-11/11/20WW

 

21-22/11/20

 

December

1-2/12/20

15-16/11/20WW

 

 

29-30/12/20

^ Bank Holiday weekend

! Subject to confirmation when the Winter Major Works Programme is available

WW-Working week Saturday-Thursday

The Tuesday Gang expects to be operating most Tuesdays.

Arrangements may change so contact the working party organiser before you commit yourself to joining us just to make sure.

Contacts

If you intend to join one of the weekend or Tuesday gangs, please contact the appropriate organiser. If you are interested in weekday working or have any queries about track work volunteering, please contact Phil Nock.

Tuesday Gang:

North Wales Black Hand Gang (BHG):Dafydd Thomas Phone: 01248 681019 Email: dthomas@ffwhr.com

Rest of The World Gang (ROWG): Phil Nock Email: pnock@ffwhr.com

If you intend to join one of the weekend or Tuesday Gang days, please contact the appropriate organiser. If you are interested in weekday working or have any queries about track work volunteering, please contact Paul Bradshaw. See Contacts page.

 

Site development

If you have suggestions for development of this site, please contact me by email at the address at the top of the page.

 

Comments

If you would like to make a comment about this website, why not visit my Guestbook? If you have a correction or require a reply please leave your email address or, more simply, send an email directly to my email address shown near the top of this page, just after the list of links to other pages.

 

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Maps & Plans and links

Click here for Steve Harris' /WHRS' full list of Historical Maps and Gradient Profiles

DVD material can be purchased from Jon Marsh who is the WHRS' (DVD Only) Mail Order officer. All other materials are now sold in the F&WHRS shop.

Click here for the Mail Order web page

Click here for the Official WHR website

Click here for Official WHHR site

Click here for FR Company websites

Click here for Welsh Highland Heritage Group

 

V4.3922 updated 8/1/20