Welsh Highland Railway

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News (24/5/20)

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Modern images updated from 23/5/20

Archive images updated from 22-24/12/97

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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 (Updated 23/5/20)

'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 11/5/20)

Snow Scenes (updated 10/12/18)

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

 

£250,000 cheque supports F&WHR 23/5/20

Click on the YouTube window to watch 23 mins 16 seconds of video covering the latest update from the General Manager. This YouTube was published on 23/5/20 and was taken by John Wooden on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

North Wales trains news 24/5/20

Five Class 70s were noted in use on the North Wales Coast between Rhyl and Bangor on Sunday 24/5/20, Nos. 70802/803/805/816/817 bringing welcome variety to the motive power scene in the absence of the TfW loco hauled expresses. Bustitution was provided between Holyhead and Rhyl.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 13

January 1998

The Public Inquiry in Caernarfon came to a close in January after some 4 weeks of gathering evidence. Work continued on the WHR to improve the ride with tamping allowing 25 mph in future. The Stop and Proceed operation at Hendy Crossing was examined to see if it could be replaced by a speed restriction in consultation with the Railway Inspectorate. Work was underway to make the carriage connections fit for passengers to use which would also permit trolley sales when the line extended to Waunfawr. A full year's timetable was planned for 1998 with trains starting for the Easter holidays and continuing to the Autumn Half Term holiday, with thoughts given for eventual Santa Trains and an Xmas service as on the FR.

The boiler of No.143 was due to be completed at Ian Riley Engineering at the ELR by the end of January after some delay waiting for bottle ended superheater flues from the manufacturer. The boiler was to be placed on its cradle frame on return to Dinas on accommodation bogies as work is still underway at Boston lodge on the on the power bogies. The loco was to be reassembled by volunteers and it was hoped the loco would be complete by April, supporting No.138 on the Easter services and hopefully not requiring a spare loco from the FR. The reassembly of K1 had started at Tyseley Loco Works at the BRM but progress depends of volunteers and funds. a new boiler is under construction at Winson Engineering and the loco may be back in steam before the end of 1998.

On the FR, the Funkey diesel was nearing completion, to be named Vale of Ffestiniog, and it was hoped could be in use from Spring1998. The loco resembles a miniature BR Class 58 has acquired new cabs and the power unit and bogies have been overhauled at Boston Lodge. Along with the unaltered Castell Caernarfon, the loco was purchased from the Port Elizabeth Cement Co. South Africa, but has been cut down to meet the FR tunnel profiles. National Power has sponsored much of the work and it is hoped to have a NP Class 59 and the Funkey side by side in Blaenau Ffestiniog at some stage.

An abortive project to build a 2' gauge line on the trackbed of the closed Scarborough & Whitby line at Robin Hood's Bay, a popular north east coast tourist spot produced an unexpected benefit for the WHR. An enthusiast had purchased five steam locos from Port Elizabeth SAR arriving in the UK in mid-January at Tilbury Docks. The locos went into store on arrival when the project folded whilst the locos were on the high seas. NG16s Nos.87/115/130 along with NG15s Nos.133/134 were to be available for purchase if any sponsor would like to support the WHR.

Final agreement was reached in early January after solicitors checked the FR/WHRL (64 Co.) agreement of 30/11/97.

FR Chairman Mike Hart said he was 'delighted' that agreement had finally been reached and that everyone should work together for the benefit of the WHR project. The WHLR had consequently withdrawn its opposition to the granting of the WHR LRO.

 

Cambrian Heritage Railways Sprinters 22/5/20

Cambrian Heritage Railways took delivery of two Pacers, Nos.144006/7 on 22/5/20. The pair worked under their own power from storage at the K&WVR to Gobowen arriving a few minutes early at 1426. They then shunted back into the Civil Engineers siding and across the boundary onto Cambrian tracks in Gobowen station being handed over at 1547. The Cambrian Heritage Railways intend to run a shuttle service between Gobowen and Oswestry in the future though permission must be obtained to cross the A5 Oswestry Bypass where there is an operating AHB level crossing. The Oswestry-Gobowen line has been cleared many times by volunteers and is probably passable with care. It is uncertain if a special working can be arranged or the units will remain stabled at Gobowen for the foreseeable future where the CHR owns the bay and run round. The units have been donated courtesy of Porterbrook and the Community Rail Partnership. See CHR website.

The CHR is completing its line from Oswestry to Weston Wharf (for Stonehouse Brewery) where a run round loop is being installed just north of the A483 level crossing. A similar issue about 'new' level crossings to that on the A5 north of Oswestry restricts further development to the isolated sections of the CHR at Llynclys North/Blodwel routes even though the track is all in place and has been cleared in recent years!

 

This southerly archive view (22/5/97) shows two Class 144s (No.144006 nearest) now stabled on the CHR at Gobowen along with the one item of rolling stock that declared the CHR's presence. Maybe the units will acquire the Brown/Cream GWR Skipper livery reminiscent of GWR colours as the CHR was eventually a GWR route. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy CHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

See CHR Press Release for full details and further images.

'Yesterday Cambrian Heritage Railways took delivery of two class 144 passenger trains. These trains were built in 1987 have recently been retired from front line passenger work and have been rail delivered to us, another first for CHR. The intention is for these trains to provide modern stock with which to operate the Oswestry to Gobowen Community Rail service we are promoting with others. This is another exciting step forward with this project which now means CHR has control of the railway, Parliamentary Powers and stock to run the service. The acquisition was organised following discussions between the Community Rail Partnership and Porterbrook CEO Mary Grant. CHR Chairman Roger Date said "We are immensely grateful to Porterbrook for all their help. It is ironic that these trains were built in part as a cost effective way to provide new stock for routes that would otherwise have shut, in their retirement they will once again provide cost effective modern stock to the travelling public".'

 

The 40km Dream Episode 12

December 1997

The Millennium Fund had granted the FR £4.3 million on the assumption the FR would reopen the WHR throughout but the reopening of Dinas-Porthmadog had aroused local opposition and become subject to a Public Inquiry which started on 9/12/97 in Caernarfon. Some 372 objections had been raised and a similar number of letters of support had been received. As a consequence the Inquiry would continue into late January.

Conservation groups, farmers and Gwarchod representing some of the local community were against the plan even though the scheme was reopening a railway that had never been formally abandoned and was essentially, except for rails, in place as a vacant trackbed. Evidence of the scheme's worth to the local community was presented as the railway as more than 9,000 had travelled on the short 3 mile Caernarfon-Dinas line during its very brief 3 week opening in October/November. Caernarfon's shops and cafes had benefited from increased tourism brought about by the opening of the railway and the town supported the extension of the railway to Porthmadog. The FR estimated that if the full route was permitted to be opened it could attract as many as 200,000 visitors per year and increased employment, both permanent and seasonal.

One of the main objectors to the routes reopening south from Dinas was the Snowdonia National Park Authority whose Planning Committee members voted against withdrawing their objections even though the railway forms part of the Local Plan!! There was concern from environmental groups that as the area already has the largest concentration of outdoor pursuits in Europe, another railway would do even more environmental damage in terms of pollution.

The NFU had also raised objections. Farmers had been using the trackbed for access without permission since the closure for over 50 years. Some 15 of its members had enclosed sections of the trackbed into their fields claiming the trackbed was not maintained by the Official Receiver and they had not purchased the land. Now they were saying they should not be forced to give it back! The Ramblers Association objected that parts of the route were a permitted path near Rhyd Ddu and in the Beddgelert Forest and Aberglaslyn Pass.

Your webmaster visited the Inquiry 22/12/97 and made some observations:

At Dinas 'Llanfair', a 3' gauge De Winton of 1895 was in evidence weighing 5 tonnes. It had previously worked at Penmaenmawr Quarries and had been purchased for £500 as an exhibit. The 0-4-0 loco 'coffeepot' loco has 2 vertical cylinders and a Stephenson Link motion. No.143's boiler was due for return at the end of the year. Components of the former Southam water tank were on site and a curved roof and tank support columns had been delivered.

 

This northerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows the complete Loco Shed tracks at Dinas with a flat wagon on the newly commissioned easterly shed road carrying two ex-SAR buffer stops. The Loco Shed is on the site of the original WHR Carriage Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows a PW train being loaded in the depot headshunt which curves into the WHR cutting under the A487. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows the completed track layout at Dinas South Yard with the rake of coaches stored in the very temporary siding curving into the yard and the Loco shed headshunt on the left. The building on the right stands on the site of the WHR Loco Shed and was becoming a machine shop. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows Upnor Castle on a PW working at Caernarfon. The train is returning to Dinas with RRM's connected at the rear by a long towing bar. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows Upnor Castle on a PW working departing Dinas possibly the next day as seen from Ty'n Llan Road bridge. The train is returning to Caernarfon propelling RRM's connected at the front by a long towing bar. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows Upnor Castle on a PW working crossing Hendy Crossing. The train is returning to Caernarfon with ballast wagons on the rear but no sign of the RRMs. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows Upnor Castle on a PW working at Caernarfon. The staff are laying the water tower siding and loose rails are being moved from the loop track as seen from Segontium Terrace. Sleepers have been laid out ready to receive the rails which are being slid over from the left. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows Upnor Castle on a PW working at Caernarfon with rails being laid for the water tower siding as seen from Segontium Terrace in the later afternoon sunshine. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Late Hits 3/5/97

A number of slides have recently been found from July 1997. They will be moved to the appropriate section, The 40km Dream Episode 7 in due course.

 

This easterly archive view (3/5/97) shows a static No.140 on display at Glan-y-pwll, a rare view as the loco was to be cannibalised when it arrived at Dinas a few years later and now exists as a kit of parts with some in use on other locos. A temporary bridge had been built across the Afon Barlwyd on the right to allow visitors to access a viewpoint of the test track and No.138's test runs. The FR's new PW Mess Coach is also visible in grey undercoat. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (3/5/97) shows No.138 running on the test track as seen from the viewpoint on the eastside of the Afon Barlwyd. The loco is on the pointwork for the new Glan-y-pwll shed and the buffer stop for the missing Afon Barlwyd bridge can be seen in the distance below the incline. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (3/5/97) shows stacks of track panels and 9 flat wagons at Dinas in the area north of the Goods Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Serco Track Recording Train visits Holyhead 21/5/20

Class 67s Nos.67023/27 top and tailed the Serco Track Recording train on a run from Crewe to Holyhead on 21/5/97 bringing a welcome return of the class to the line after months with no TfW Holyhead/Llandudno-Cardiff/Manchester loco hauled expresses.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 11

November 1997

Following the preliminary meeting on 28/10/97 between WHLR officials and DoT officials the format of the Public Inquiry was agreed and the date set for the start on 9/12/97 in Caernarfon. It was expected the Inquiry would last until late January. the Inquiry was ordered by the new Labour government and will ultimately be a decision to be taken in the spring by the Secretary of State for Transport. If the order is approved the WHLR will have the right to reopen the 22 miles from Dinas to Porthmadog along with powers of compulsory purchase. Letters of support (including one from your webmaster) and objections were invited from interested groups and the WHLR was invited to discuss mitigation with objectors.

Railtrack has withdrawn its objection to the WHR reinstating its former level crossing of the Cambrian Coast line at Cambrian Crossing (likely to be renamed to avoid confusion as there are so many similarly named crossings on the Cambrian Coast line). Agreement has been reached for the crossing to be controlled by signals with electronically interlocked catch points on the narrow gauge. These will be interlocked with controls for adjacent level crossings.

Since the Caernarfon-Dinas section was opened traffic on this short line has been better than the FR envisaged with 18361 single journeys made by some 9200 passengers. Alco Mountaineer returned home to the FR at the end of the season after seeing little use with No.138 hauling most of the trains except when there were problems with the oil burners. Yorkshire Engines took delivery of the ex-Chattenden & Upnor Combination coach and some spare ex-SAR bogies. When work is complete the coach will be used on the Works Train for the extension of the WHR to Porthmadog. On the trackwork side, the opportunity was taken to tamp and tweak the alignment of the railway to improve running speeds to the eventual line speed limit of 25 mph. Initially trains had operated at 15 mph.

AIRPS Chairman and solicitor David Morgan chaired a meeting between the FR and WHR (P) in Warrington starting on 20/11/97 aimed at resolving the ongoing dispute between the two railways. A further meeting at Harbour Station on 30/11/97 confirmed arrangements subject to examination by solicitors for the two parties. The WHR Ltd (aka 64 co.) was to build the track as far as Pont Croesor and beyond depending on their finances. They would run trains on this section until the FR reached there. The WHRL agreed not to compete for grant monies against the FR. Once the line from Caernarfon to Porthmadog was complete the WHRL would have guaranteed access over this section subject to certain provisions:

The agreement also envisaged the possibility of FR trains terminating at Tremadog road as there was still some uncertainty about the Cross Town Link. Access charges were still to be agreed.

The dispute about the name Welsh Highland Railway was resolved as the whole line will become the WHR when complete but until that time the northern section will be known as the WHR(Caernarfon) and the southern section as WHR(Porthmadog). This was too late however for the printing for the 1998 season's trains.

 

North Wales misses out

The general improvement in train services across the UK from 18/5/20 does not seem to have reached North Wales as all the Holyhead-Cardiff/Manchester loco hauled express services remain sidelined. However NR's Class 37s Nos. 97302/3 worked from Crewe to Pant-y-ffynnon during the evening 19/5/20 and will return during the morning of 20/5/20 bringing the rare sight of a loco to the Central Wales Line.

 

F&WHR Review of 2019 9/5/20

Click on the YouTube window to watch 5 mins 2 seconds of video covering the best of the F&WHR from 2019. This YouTube was published on 9/5/20 and was taken by John Wooden on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

Gwili sees NR visit

A report in Heritage Railways states that Network Rail senior managers and engineers have visited the preserved Gwili Railway, near Carmarthen, to advise about some of the challenges faced by the heritage railway if it expands from Bridge 10 north towards Llanpumsaint. The Gwili Railway started in 1975 following closure of the remaining parts of the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen route by BR in 1973. This is intriguing in light of the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen Feasibility Study and the Government's 'Reverse Beeching' strategy...if that survives the current BREXIT/PANDEMIC recession. It may have a bearing on restoring rail access to North Wales and the WHR from South Wales, a difficult journey at the best of times. Gwili Chairman Matthew Bowen states that the railway has never had any communication about the proposed scheme which is surely unfair as it suggests using the Gwili trackbed.

The GR operates the line from Dan-y-coed to Abergwili Junction just outside Carmarthen based on Bronwydd Arms station. The recent Feasibility Study suggested the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen route could be reopened along the existing Gwili Railway as there was space along the west side of the Carmarthen Bypass to restore the 2 km route between Abergwili Junction and Carmarthen but needing a new 100m skew bridge across the Afon Tywi, just north of Carmarthen Station. It also included a sum for moving the Gwili Railway to another local branch line such as e.g. the 15km Pencader to Newcastle Emlyn route or Lampeter to Aberaeron as the report suggests an operating a mix of preserved and modern trains on the same route was not thought acceptable.

The Gwili Railway has used the advice given by NR to reconsider a northwards extension. The GR owns the 13km of trackbed northward from Abergwili Junction to Llanpumsaint but only operates the southern 7km leaving a possible extension to the north of 6km along the Afon Gwili valley. There are seven bridges over the Afon Gwili to restore north of Dan-y-coed. In the 1980's volunteers started laying a section south from Conwil station to Dan-y-coed but this was later ripped up to concentrate on the section south of Dan-y-coed. The Bronwydd Arms to Dan-y-coed Extension was reopened in 2001 and the Abergwili Junction section in 1/7/17. The GR wants to start clearing vegetation toward Llanpumsaint over the summer months and inspect bridges to see what restoration is required and prevent further damage. They are appealing for volunteers to help in the both the manual labour and the paperwork.

 

B&FRHT plan work parties

The Bala & Ffestiniog Railway Heritage Trust plan to resume work parties on 19-20/9/20 subject to Government pandemic advice. The location will not be on Network Rail land as the Trust is still working towards the necessary permissions from NR.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 10

October 1997

In October the Welsh Highland Railway was set to open having previously been set opening dates of 1/7/97 and August Bank Holiday. Coaches and the Alco Mountaineer had arrived on 23/9/97 and tracklaying in Caernarfon was completed by the start of October with points tested and some basic ballasting/tamping done sufficient to invite HMRI to inspect the line. The inspectors came on 2-3/10/97 and produced a snag list giving a positive indication of approval when snags were completed on a one engine in steam basis. The WHRS AGM was being held on 4/10/97 at The Mount pub in Dinas. Driver training was underway and Mountaineer was first out being tested with the full rake of 5 coaches. Next came No.138 light engine and finally it was announced at the AGM that No.138 would be running loaded at 4pm which encouraged an early finish to the often verbose AGM questions and Points of Order! Castell Caernarfon was also trialled on the test train so all three large locos were used.

Your webmaster was in North Wales for the weekend and must have taken many photos but this film has failed to surface as yet. If it does it will be added here. Fortunately, friends (including the late Dr. Ben Fisher) provided me with photos of the day but more would be welcome and due credit will be given!

 

This southerly archive view (4/10/97) shows Castell Caernarfon on the test train during the WHR AGM during dull weather as it prepared to start from Dinas. The train made a return trip from Dinas to Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a negative copyright Russell Edwards and was taken on an SLR camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (4/10/97) shows Castell Caernarfon on the test train during the WHR AGM as it crossing the Seiont Viaduct. The train made a return trip from Dinas to Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a negative copyright Russell Edwards and was taken on an SLR camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (4/10/97) shows Castell Caernarfon on the test train during the WHR AGM after it had arrived at Caernarfon as seen from Segontium Terrace footbridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a negative copyright Russell Edwards and was taken on an SLR camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (4/10/97) shows No.138 on the test train leaving Dinas shortly after 4pm as viewed from the site of the future Carriage Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a negative copyright Dr Ben Fisher and was taken on an SLR camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (4/10/97) shows No.138 on the test train leaving Dinas shortly after 4pm as viewed from the site of the future Carriage Shed. The Gullick & Dobson tamper is to the right in the North Yard headshunt. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a negative copyright Dr Ben Fisher and was taken on an SLR camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (4/10/97) shows No.138 on the test train returning to Dinas near Bontnewydd. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a negative copyright Dr Ben Fisher and was taken on an SLR camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The pace of developments now speeded up as the snagging list was dealt with. The LRO was granted on 8/10/97 and HMRI granted an initial operating permit for one engine in steam on 9/10/97 until 30/11/97. The opening ceremony was set for 13/10/97 with advertised public services starting the following day 14/10/97. In fact with most of the season's traffic lost from the previous suggested opening dates of 1/7/97 and August Bank Holiday, it was decided to run an unadvertised service over the weekend of 11-12/10/97 to try and recoup some of the lost revenue.

For some reason your webmaster was not in the loop and, as it happened, had responded to a crisis at work to go in with the team on Saturday 11/10/97 to help. On the way into work a teenager pulled out of a side road and wrote off your webmaster's car in a serious accident. Although injuries to both drivers consisted of heavy bruising, it took some time to hire a car and feel well enough to drive the 200 miles to Dinas so it was not until Half Term that your webmaster was able to visit the WHR. So again the website has to rely on photos from friends.

 

This northerly archive view (11/10/97) shows No.138 with one of the first arrivals of the unadvertised public service at Dinas. The discounted fares attracted quite a crowd and despite the lack of advertised, trains ran 3/4 full by the end of the weekend. Many also stood by the lineside to take pictures of the passing trains despite the damp autumn weather. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a negative copyright Dr Ben Fisher and was taken on an SLR camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The 2.5 mile long line was officially opened by the Lady Mayor of Caernarfon on Monday 13/10/97 when after speeches, the opening special carried the Mayoress, Millennium officials and local politicians from Caernarfon to Dinas and back. The station was decorated in bunting and flags and the opening train, hauled by No.138, left Caernarfon at 1330. Mr Wigley, the local MP spoke about his hopes that people would unite behind the project (the self styled opposition group Gwarchod was gearing up for a fight in the coming Public Inquiry). He hoped the railway would produce spin off for employment and bring extra visitors to the area. 'I want visitors to empty their pockets and go home happy' he said. At the reception Mike Hart, who was leading the project, injected a note of caution. 'There is plenty to do over Winter to turn a basic railway into a tourist attraction. We need to be able to move onwards towards Beddgelert and Porthmadog', he added.

Any help with photos from this day would be gratefully received and full credit given.

Over the first weekend of advertised services 18-19/10/97 over 900 people were carried on both days. this traffic volume is equivalent to a good shoulder season on the FR and required extra trains to be run. The management was said to be delighted with the response. Services begin at 10 am from Caernarfon with the stock running ECS to and from Dinas. Five return trains a day are scheduled though some thought has been given to starting trains from the bay platform at Dinas in future. As part of the HMRI rules, corridor connections are currently locked OOU as they are considered too short. This matter was to be remedied over Winter.

Despite the help offered by the WHR tracklaying volunteers over the Summer, an EGM of the WHR '64 co. rejected an offer by the FR to finally settle all outstanding matters. Alistair McNichol, the '64 co. Chairman claimed 'The goalposts have been moved' following receipt of a draft agreement from the FR which they claim did not agree with the Heads of Agreement formulated earlier in the year. The FR had asked if they could use the WHR(P)'s Tremadog Road terminus as a temporary measure following difficulties getting approval for the Cross Town Link on the original alignment. In exchange the FR had agreed that the WHR(P) could build the section to Nantmor following opening of the Waunfawr section planned for 1999 and operate trains on it. Although the WHR(P) was in favour of this they were not prepared to release the name 'Welsh Highland Railway' for the FR to use for its Caernarfon-Dinas line and extensions to Porthmadog. Instead WHR(P) members voted to raise a fighting fund for their recently registered name and logo.

In response FR Chairman Mike Hart was seeking a meeting of all parties under an independent chair from the AIRPS, who agreed to the proposal subject to WHR(P) agreement. Mike Hart denied that what was being offered was different to the Heads of Agreement from the previous meeting on 19/8/97. 'It was becoming clear that their interpretation of what were offering was diverging from what we had put in writing', he said. 'I hope they will accept this initiative to restart negotiations under AIRPS chairmanship and that the differences of opinion can be resolved' he added.

Your webmaster was finally recovered enough from the car accident to embark on the 200 mile drive in a replacement car by Half Term and visited the line on 27-28/10/97 when Mountaineer was in charge of services. Unfortunately this coincided with a short period of unavailability of No.138 which has problems with its oil burners. Services closed until Easter on Sunday 2/11/97.

 

This northerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer with a lunchtime arrival at Dinas. The Open Coach was placed next to the loco so that enthusiasts could enjoy the loco working hard up the bank out of Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer running around its train at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer  being serviced at Dinas. There was a temporary water tank at this location and the delivery pipe can be seen on the right. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer being serviced at Dinas as viewed from Ty'n Llan bridge. The temporary water tank and delivery pipe can be seen and a red oil fuel bowser. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer being prepared fro its next turn at Dinas as viewed from Ty'n Llan road bridge. There are good crowds on the platform but the bay platform still has no track. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer, having run round, preparing to leave Dinas. The yard area is cordoned off with orange plastic tape as work was still underway tidying up the area. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer arriving at Dinas in the late afternoon passing Castell Caernarfon stabled in the yard as rescue loco. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer being serviced at Dinas before possibly its final trip of the day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer running round at Caernarfon. The initial position of the ticket office (a Portacabin) can be seen on the left and temporary toilets were provided. The car park looks pretty full! Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer passing Hendy Crossing now with full tarmac and road markings, with possibly the final train of the day returning ECS to Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

First Hydro, which operates the pumped storage power stations at Dinorwig and Ffestiniog, reached a sponsorship deal with the FR worth £100,000 to help some WHR rolling stock. The first tranche sees First hydro sponsor the disabled coach No.2090 with the company logo carried on the coach. The second tranche sees support for the restoration of a loco, presumably No.143, which will be named Edison after Edison Mission (California), First Hydro's holding company. The loco was to appear in Edison Mission's house colours. The final part of the sponsorship will see a coach painted in First Hydro's house colours for the Millennium. Nigel Petrie speaking First hydro said that the FR was viewed as an important neighbour and a good friend adding that the WHR project was 'exciting'. No.138 appeared in three different shades of green before acquiring the name Millennium for the Millennium.

The next day (28/10/97) dawned fine and your webmaster arrived bright and early to photograph the first trains of the day in sun from the southeast. Access was also granted to photograph the completion of the South Yard and Engine Shed.

 

This southerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer being prepared for possibly the first train of the day at Dinas already coupled up to the rake in the platform. Brake/disabled coach No.2090 with extra wide doors is next to the loco. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer departing Caernarfon from St Helens road bridge. The train is just starting the 1 in 45 climb towards Hendy Crossing. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer passing Hendy Crossing in the morning light on probably the first train of the day returning to Dinas with a loaded Open coach. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer arriving at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer being serviced at the temporary water tank at the south end of Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Upnor Castle stabled in Dinas South Yard with the completed trackwork and Loco Shed extension. At this stage the more easterly of the two loco shed roads was still being laid as can be seen from the use of RRMs just outside the shed. Another loco lies inside the shed on the left hand road probably No.138. The track in the foreground leads to the temporary Carriage Siding and PW Yard. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly archive view (28/10/97) shows the depot headshunt which tantalisingly heads into the cutting towards the A487 overbridge at Dinas indicating the way towards Porthmadog. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows spare track panels in the south Yard at Dinas. The building on the left stands on the site of the original WHR Loco Shed and that to the right on the site of the original WHR Carriage Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

After lunch your webmaster went back to record the afternoon workings, again in bright sunshine.

 

This southerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer crossing the Afon Seiont Viaduct approaching Caernarfon as seen from St Helen's road bridge on an afternoon service. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer running round at the south end of Caernarfon station. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer hauling the return service to Dinas attacking the 1 in 45 bank over the Seiont Viaduct taken from Lon Eifion on the viaduct with St Helen's Road bridge in the background. The Open coach again looks popular in the Half Term holiday. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer hauling the return service arriving at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer having detached from the train being serviced at the watering point at the south end of Dinas station. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer hauling possibly the penultimate return service approaching Hendy Crossing having stormed up Coed Helen bank very audibly. The Open coach was again very popular. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (28/10/97) shows a silhouette of Mountaineer hauling a late afternoon train heading north past Hendy Crossing. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer hauling possibly the final train of the day crossing the Gwyrfai Viaduct. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

A preliminary meeting was held on 28/10/97 between WHLR officials and DoT officials to agree the format of the Public Inquiry into reopening the Dinas-Porthmadog section of the WHR due to start before the end of the year.

 

Class 70s on the Coast 17/5/97

There is bustitution west of Rhyl on the North Wales Coast line on 17/5/97 and Class 70s Nos.70805/816 made late night ballast runs from Basford Hall to Llandudno Junction the previous night in association with the project.

 

Concerns about Plas-y-nant bridge

The General Manager has expressed concerns about the state of Plas-y-nant bridge which cannot take double-headed Garratt locos and has speed limits. This bridge needs rebuilding or strengthening. When Phase 3 was opened the three bowstring bridges were treated differently, with the Betws Garmon replaced by an ex BR structure, the Salem bridge being removed and strengthened on site and the Plas-y-nant bridge having a cantilevered walkway added on the west side at the request of a local resident who was using the structure without permission (there is little evidence the walkway has been used). In fact there is a locked gate at the south end which suggests the resident claims the whole walkway is private property.

If the bridge had to be closed the railway could only operate a limited service between Caernarfon and Waunfawr and Porthmadog-Rhyd Ddu, cutting fares income considerably. There is the possibility of completing the loop at Play-y-nant just south of the bridge as the formation was constructed with this in mind and a siding was present at the north end for a while. The point for the south end of the loop was dumped on the side of the line for a period before removal when the embankment started subsiding. This has since been stabilised by improved drainage though there is currently no plan to complete the loop.   

 

Four more versions of Lyd planned

Lyd is to receive a new right hand cylinder casting to cure its ongoing problems in that area. It has been revealed that a further four sets of castings will be ordered from Cerdic Foundry for the L&B railway who intend to recreate their fleet of four Manning Wardle locos Yeo, Exe, Taw and the later Lew (with an updated design of cab). The first three were scrapped on closure of the railway in 1935 but Lew was delivered to South America and has become lost.

Frames for a new Yeo were cut by Winsons in 2000. The L&B is raising money for an initial two Manning Wardle loco as it plans to extend its line to Blackmoor Gate/Wistland Pound temporary terminus but has ordered the cylinder castings for all four. The first two pairs will go to Boston Lodge along with Lyd's new cylinder and will be prepared for assembly. Following this wheel casting and motion components will be forged as these have long lead times. For the same reason tyres will soon be ordered from South Africa. Lyd's design will be used for the new Manning Wardle locos but with improvements based on the 10 years of experience with Lyd. Each loco is estimated to cost £500,000.

The 762 Club which funded the building of Baldwin No.762 Lyn (the L&BR loco that appeared on the WHR last year) will be raising funds for the new L&B fleet and over £100,000 has currently been raised. It is hoped that when the pandemic is over, the committee can meet and kick start the process, encouraging more donations. If all four locos are constructed there could be many new visitors to the F&WHR and in return visits, up to an unprecedented 5 Manning Wardle locos on the L&B!

On the downside, Exmoor Associates who are acquiring sold off L&B trackbed and stations for the future extension of the L&B to Barnstaple were unsuccessful in a recent bid to win Bratton Fleming station on the section south of the temporary terminus at Wistland Pound. The purchasers must be unaware of the project to build a railway through their garden!!

 

Welsh Pony progress 9/5/20

Click on the YouTube window to watch 1 mins 58 seconds of video covering the General Manager's update about Welsh Pony. This YouTube was published on 9/5/20 and was taken by John Wooden on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

No.134 progress 11/5/20

Laurence Armstrong has been making pony truck axlebox covers as a homework project for NG15 No.134. After making replacements for those beyond repair, Laurence has decided to go and make the full set at home. See NG15 No.134 Facebook page.

 

WHHR 10/5/20

The Welsh Highland Heritage Railway is like the F&WHR in lockdown and nothing moves. Gelert, stabled at a very quiet Gelert's Farm, has become the proud owner of a bird's nest and a bunch of fledglings!

 

The 40km Dream Episode 9

September 1997

In September, given continuing good news about tracklaying during August and rolling stock deliveries, the WHR's Opening Day was set for 13/10/97 subject to HMRI approval. The Lady Mayor of Caernarfon was booked to welcome the first train into the town since 1972. Public services were planned to begin the next day and it was hoped trains would run at least hourly with trains continuing during the school Half Term Holiday until 2/11/97 both on weekdays and at weekends. After this the line would close until Easter for an intensive track tamping/slewing phase to improve speed limits and riding comfort. Initially trains would be limited to 15mph as track has not yet settled properly. A journey time of under 15 mins was likely for the 2.75 mile line and it is possible a half hourly service might be run if traffic exceeds the 200 that can be accommodated on a 5 coach train. On 18/10/97 a Mayor's Fun Day was to be held on the line with profits going to charity. Over the FR's Vintage weekend 26-27/10/97 there would be a Dinas Works Open day, as well as regular train services.

The last panels laid by the tracklaying gantry were positioned on the Afon Seiont Viaduct in early September and Upnor Castle returned the tracklayer to Dinas for storage. The weekend of 6-7/9/97 saw another seven lengths laid manually using the RRMs. At the end of the Sunday, Castell Caernarfon inched gingerly down the untamped track to St Helens Road bridge, just outside Caernarfon, to collect volunteers and return them to Dinas. There is less than half a mile from this bridge to Caernarfon buffer stops and it is likely to be a centre of attention for photographers as locos work hard up over the viaduct and up the 1 in 45 bank to Hendy Crossing.

 

This southerly archive view (6/9/97) shows the head of steel just south of St Helens road bridge with Bontnewydd Viaduct in the background as viewed from the level crossing. The steep gradient across the viaduct can be seen against the level balustrades. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (6/9/97) shows the head of steel just south of St Helens Road bridge with Bontnewydd Viaduct in the background as viewed from St Helens Road bridge. The 'thruppenny bit' nature of the panel track can be compared with the smoother manually laid rails in the foreground. Piles of spare steel sleepers remain to be used. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (6/9/97) shows track comfortably laid through the newly propped Coed Helen bridge now that adequate clearance was available. The stainless steel smoke deflector had yet to be fitted. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (6/9/97) shows the PW team bringing rails forward with RRMs and placing them in the 2' in Coed Helen Cutting ready to be taken forward by volunteers later in the weekend to extend the head of steel into Caernarfon. Upnor Castle was in attendance to drag the RRMs back to Dinas to reload. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (6/9/97) shows the PW team picking up rails with RRMs to take forward from the rail store just north of Hendy Crossing. Upnor Castle was in attendance and the ballast wagon and compressor is also visible just beyond the rail store. Rails were paired in terms of length and handedness according to head wear to reduce cutting. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (6/9/97) shows the PW team picking up rails with RRMs with Upnor Castle attached to help move the rails. There are still plenty of steel sleepers stored at the side of the line. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly archive view (6/9/97) shows the plethora of signs needed at a level crossing in Wales, twice as many as in England due to the bilingual policy. This is Dinas Farm crossing just north of Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (6/9/97) shows the head of steel just south of St Helens Road bridge with volunteers manhandling track over rollers and planks on carefully spaced out sleepers. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (6/9/97) shows the head of steel just south of St Helens Road bridge with the Afon Seiont Viaduct in the background as viewed from St Helens Road bridge. The 'thru penny bit' nature of the panel track can be compared with the smoother manually laid rails in the foreground. Piles of spare steel sleepers remain to be used. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (6/9/97) shows the extension of Dinas Loco Shed well underway as viewed from Lon Eifion with roof trusses erected. At this stage the local contractor had not made a start of the trackbed through the South Yard site. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The oldest UK diesel loco was set to return to the WHR after 67 years. Kerr Stuart No.4415 was built in 1928 in Stoke on Trent and was trialled on the WHR arriving at Dinas in July 1928. The 10 tonne chain drive 0-4-0 loco was booked for trials on the Bryngwyn branch and operated the winter passenger service but was transferred for shunting duties on the FR in March 1929. It left in August 1930 as Colonel Stephens could not afford to purchase it. The loco saw some use in construction of the East Lancs Road before it emigrated to Ireland and then Mauritius where it worked on a sugar cane railway from 1934-1971 after which it was plinthed. From the start of 1996 the Greenwich & District Narrow Gauge Society with some French help was in discussions with the Mauritius authorities about repatriating the loco due its historic nature. The loco has now been donated by its owners Mon Tresor and the FR is paying for its return to Wales, possibly in time for the Vintage Weekend 26-27/10/97.

In mid September tracklaying had reached within two lengths of the south end of the station loop which was planned to be completed during the weekend 20-21/9/97. Creation of the formation and tracklaying in Dinas South Yard was a priority with rolling stock about to arrive. Work started in mid-September extending the line eastwards from the BR formation into Dinas South Yard. The secure area will become the line's PW base and loco maintenance area as well as providing secure storage for the rake of coaches. It had been suggested that one of the NWNGR's bowstring bridges could be repurposed and restored for use as a turntable in the yard as they are thought to be too weak to support Garratt locos. There are three of these bridges between Betws Garmon and Plas-y-nant and at least one of them will be replaced, possibly with a repurposed NR bridge that is redundant.

Alco 2-4-2 Mountaineer was expected at the end of September along with the WHR Open coach No.2020 from Boston Lodge, following satisfactory completion of its ride tests. Garratt No.138 was due to arrive as a complete unit during the first week of October allowing time for driver familiarisation on the route. The final items are the four Winson coaches expected around the same time. It was hoped to run a photo special for WHRS members on the morning of their AGM at 'The Mount' Dinas on 4/10/97. Steam tests will follow with the Garratt and Winson coaches leading up to the final HMRI trials days before the opening. The WHLR is still looking for volunteers to finish tracklaying, tamp the track and generally help prepare the line for the October opening.

 

This northerly archive view (7/9/97) shows the Castell Caernarfon propelling the PW train with staff north across Hendy Crossing for duties near St Helens Road bridge. At this stage the crossing tarmac was still to be applied after tamping. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (7/9/97) shows the Castell Caernarfon propelling the PW train with staff just north of Hendy Crossing for duties near St Helens Road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (7/9/97) shows the Castell Caernarfon propelling the PW train with staff examining the rail stockpile in the 2 foot. The rail store to the left appears empty. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (7/9/97) shows PW staff riding and pushing the two RRMs carrying two rails downhill towards the Afon Seiont viaduct as seen from Coed Helen Lane bridge. It is a little surprising the RRMs needed pushing as the gradient was 1 in 45 in favour at this point. There are still plenty of steel sleepers at the trackside which would have to be collected later. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (7/9/97) shows Castell Caernarfon stabled in Coed Helen Cutting on the untamped track as seen from Coed Helen Lane overbridge. The train consists of a ballast wagon, the compressor wagon and a small red rail trolley with a tool box. Staff can be seen starting up the compressor ready for tamping. The track behind the train cannot be tamped as it still has rails stored in the two foot. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (7/9/97) shows Castell Caernarfon in the dappled light of Coed Helen Cutting stabled on the PW train as seen from Lon Eifion. The track in front of the train still has spare rails in the 2 foot so cannot be tamped until they are moved forwards. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (7/9/97) shows the PW team using a pair of RRMs bringing a pair of rails down Coed Helen bank passing through the new bridge prop at Coed Helen Lane overbridge as viewed from Lon Eifion. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (7/9/97) shows the head of steel at the end of the weekend as seen from St. Helen's Road overbridge. This location is where the Llanberis branch diverged to the right at a lower level hidden in the trees. Caernarfon station is half a mile further ahead so track laying was on the last lap. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (7/9/97) shows Castell Caernarfon in the dappled light of Coed Helen Cutting preparing to move forwards and collect the PW team at the end of the day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (7/9/97) shows Castell Caernarfon gingerly approaches the head of steel crossing the Afon Seiont viaduct for the first time seen from St Helen's Road overbridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (7/9/97) shows Castell Caernarfon propelling its rake under St Helen's Road Bridge for the first time as seen from St Helen's Road overbridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (7/9/97) shows Castell Caernarfon preparing to move forwards and collect the PW team at the end of the day with St Helen's Road bridge in the background as seen from Lon Eifion. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly archive view (7/9/97) shows Castell Caernarfon stabled under St. Helen's Road bridge, the closest a train had been to Caernarfon in 25 years. The head of steel was just sufficient to allow the loco to nose out from under the bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (7/9/97) shows Castell Caernarfon taking the PW train and staff back to Dinas as seen from St Helen's Road overbridge at the end of the day. The RRMs are stored in the ballast wagon next to the loco . Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At this stage you webmaster was making the 200 mile trip to Caernarfon every fortnight to photo progress but seemed to be hitting the dull weekends. This was not to last however. Track was laid into Caernarfon station a fortnight later and the points were being connected up. This time Upnor Castle was on PW duty. By 1630 the track was connected to the south loop point and one length laid in the platform which has previously been ballasted.

 

This southerly archive view (20/9/97) shows Upnor Castle on the PW train at the south end of Caernarfon station as viewed from over the fence from St Helen's Road. The RRMs are in front of the loco the loco. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (20/9/97) shows PW staff clipping a recently laid rail to the steel sleepers at the south end of Caernarfon station as viewed over the fence from St Helen's Road. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (20/9/97) shows a general view of the track layout at Caernarfon station with sleepers for the platform and loop laid out and the left hand turnout for the watering siding visible on the left. PW staff are busy clipping a recently laid rail to the steel sleepers at the south end of the platform road as viewed from Segontium Terrace footbridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (20/9/97) shows a general view of the track layout at the south end of Caernarfon station with the right hand turnout for the loop laid out as viewed from Segontium Terrace. Most points delivered from SAR were left handed. PW staff are busy clipping a recently laid rail to the steel sleepers at the south end of the platform road thus connecting the turnout to the head of steel. Planks and rollers are in position to take the next set of rails forward from the point. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (20/9/97) shows Upnor Castle has brought the RRMs forward with another set of rails to advance beyond the loop point as viewed from Segontium Terrace. Some 10 staff and volunteers stand ready to drag the rail forward from the RRMs onto the rollers. This is achieved by releasing the rail from the front RRMs onto the roller and then dragging the rail forwards with tongs, still supported by the rear RRM which is pulled forward in the process to meet the front RRM. The rail, now roughly in position, can be released from the rear RRM and manhandled with crowbars and tongs into its final position. Jacks are used to align rail for fishplating and crowbars to lift sleepers to get the rail clipped up. The new end of Lon Eifion is visible next to the loco. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (20/9/97) shows Upnor Castle with the bar ready to connect to the RRMs and drag them back to collect additional rails. The two long timbers were for the turnout lever and mechanism. The small generator in the foreground is was used to supply power tools such a rail cutters, bolt tighteners and rail drills. A locked gate provides a southern entrance to the platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (20/9/97) shows the first rails being laid in the platform as viewed from Segontium Terrace. The point for the watering siding is placed roughly in position. PW staff are carrying the rollers and planks forward for the next length to be laid. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (20/9/97) shows Upnor Castle preparing to take workers back to Dinas at the of the day. The RRMs are coupled together and the hauling bar is visible connection them to the loco. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (20/9/97) shows Upnor Castle taking workers back to Dinas at the of the day as viewed from the footbridge at the south end of the station. The RRMs appear to have been left behind at Caernarfon chained to the rails. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (20/9/97) shows Upnor Castle taking workers back to Dinas at the of the day as viewed from the footbridge at the south end of the station. This section of rough stone retaining wall was to give problems in later years but various plans at this stage had included double track and a Carriage Shed south of the station between here and the point at which the Llanberis branch diverged close to St Helen's Road overbridge. The Lon Eifion diversion is visible to the right of the loco. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The following day the weather had improved and your webmaster was back at the WHR again recording progress. Upnor Castle was again on duty on the works train departing Dinas at 9:30 and track was being laid in both Caernarfon platform and the loop line. The water tower siding was connected up and track was extended in parallel down the platform and the loop. At Dinas 0-4-0 shunter The Colonel was stabled and track had appeared in the South Yard with a point laid to access the Loco Shed and a long temporary siding for stock storage. The Loco Shed tracks and headshunt were due to appear at the end of September before the arrival of locos at the start of October.

 

This southerly archive view (21/9/97) shows Upnor Castle heading for Caernarfon with the PW train with about 10 staff and volunteers crossing the Afon Seiont Viaduct as viewed from St Helen's Road overbridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view from Segontium Terrace (21/9/97) shows PW workers and volunteers laying track in the platform at Caernarfon. By midday preparations were being made to join the loop track to the water tower siding point. A wooden spacer tool can be seen being used to space out the steel sleepers in the loop track while volunteers clip the rails to the sleepers in the platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (21/9/97) from Segontium Terrace shows RRMs delivering another set of rails to extend the Caernarfon platform track with about 12 staff and volunteers laying a rail north from the loop point. Initially the rails are connected with fishplates while straight but then curved with the help of crowbars to retain them until fully clipped down. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (21/9/97) from Segontium Terrace shows Upnor Castle back with the ballast train while staff and volunteers take a well deserved break. The second attempt at the platform edge still does not match the curve of the track and was used as an access to the south platform gate as the platform was longer than the initial lengths of train. This area was to be changed in later years as train lengths increased. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view from Segontium Terrace (21/9/97) shows Upnor Castle carefully advancing into the platform over recently laid track with the RRMs in the loop track while volunteers prepare to extend the loop to the water tower point. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view from Segontium Terrace (21/9/97) shows PW workers and volunteers laying track in the loop at Caernarfon while Upnor Castle gingerly advanced up the platform road. Volunteers were clipping down the length in front of the loco while in the loop road, volunteers are about to clip in the length that joins the track to the water tower siding. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

While good advances were being made at Caernarfon your webmaster checked out changes at Dinas before returning to Caernarfon to see progress by the end of the weekend then heading back home with a 200 mile drive over the Berwyns.

 

This northerly archive view (21/9/97) shows track laid into South Yard at Dinas through the security gate on the right as seen from Lon Eifion. The completion of the platform loop at the south end would allow locos to run round their trains and has been laid out for right hand running as with the FR. The platforms are now clear of wagons that formerly carried track panels. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The Colonel, one of two shunters moved to Dinas when Upnor Castle's engine failed before delivery to Dinas, was original purchased by Colonel Campbell of Dduallt Manor and was bequeathed to the FR. The loco saw short term use on ballast duties by the WHLR during August and September and is a 20HP Simplex normally to be found at Glan-y-pwll Yard on the FR.

 

This easterly archive view from Lon Eifion (21/9/97) shows The Colonel, a small 0-4-0 DM shunter, along with two FR ballast wagons Nos.168/171. The loco was based at Dinas during August and September, remaining for a while after Harold returned to Boston Lodge following the delivery of Upnor Castle. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (21/9/97) from Ty'n Llan Road bridge shows Dinas South Yard. Track has been laid to form a short lived siding that curves right to store carriages. The  point just beyond the gate was to give access to the loco depot which was nearing completion, though no track had yet been laid. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Back at Caernarfon in the late afternoon, PW staff and volunteers were packing up after a very productive weekend with six lengths laid, three each in Caernarfon platform and loop. The PW train departed at 16.55.

 

This northerly archive view from Segontium Terrace (21/9/97) shows PW workers and volunteers laying track in the loop at Caernarfon while Upnor Castle waits to take them back to Dinas at the end of the shift. With the water tank siding point connect, volunteers were laying another length north of that point. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view from Segontium Terrace (21/9/97) shows Upnor Castle carefully advancing into the recently laid loop track for the first time propelling two RRMs with a set of rails for the loop track. Some 14 PW staff and volunteers are preparing to pack up at the end of a productive weekend. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view from Segontium Terrace footbridge (21/9/97) shows Upnor Castle while a decision is made to leave two RRMs with a set of rails for the next day. PW staff and volunteers are clipping down the last rail laid in the platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view from Segontium Terrace footbridge (21/9/97) shows Upnor Castle, now back in the platform road, with staff and volunteers packing away. A few final track clips are being inserted in front of the loco while the point is being checked in the distance. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view from Segontium Terrace footbridge (21/9/97) shows Upnor Castle with staff and volunteers climbing aboard for the ride back to Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

On 23/9/97 the main rake of 4 coaches was delivered from Winsons and the test coach No.2020 from Boston Lodge along with the Alco Mountaineer. The coaches were stored in the new long siding in South Yard for security. It was proposed to test the rolling stock within days and have the Railway inspectorate visit to approve the line.

 

Gowrie project progress 9/5/20

With one side effect of the current pandemic being that all public events are cancelled, The Gowrie Locomotive Trust has lost a large number of fundraising opportunities at railway events it was due to attend. One of these would have been the Trust organised model railway show on the 2/5/20 at which it was hoped to raise a significant 4 figure sum. Despite the current circumstances the Trust hope to maintain momentum with the project and build on all recent progress. They have had a number of components cast recently with more due immediately after lock down is lifted. Funds permitting, the cutting of frame components and casting of the bogie pivot should follow shortly after.

A Fundraiser was launched on 1/5/20 and has so far raised £230 out of a hoped for £5000. This will cover the cost of an axlebox pattern. The fundraiser is open until the end of May. See Facebook Fundraiser.

 

Class 70s on North Wales coast 9/5/20

Class 70 locos worked ballast duties from Basford Hall Yard to Llandudno Junction on 9/5/20. All Sunday trains on the North Wales Coast were bustituted until the normal timetable resumed on Monday 11/5/20 while the PW continued near Rhyl with Nos.70803/812/816 in attendance.

 

Ffestiniog Tunnel lit up 7/5/20

Network Rail lit up the south portal of Ffestiniog Tunnel on 7/5/20 to give thanks to the NHS. Although train services are not operating, the portal is visible from the A470 for those driving up the Crimea Pass towards Betws-y-coed. See NR story.

 

This northerly view (7/5/20) shows the south portal of Ffestiniog Tunnel lit up by Network Rail to express public thanks the NHS for their hard work in dealing with the current pandemic. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy Network Rail and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Aerial views of F&WHR 7/5/20

Click on the YouTube window to watch 1 mins 27 seconds of video covering the F&WHR. This YouTube was published on 7/5/20 and was taken by John Wooden on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

Network Rail increasing lockdown services from 18/5/20

NR is proposing to ramp up services to 70% of normal by Monday 18/5/20 after running a Sunday service through the pandemic lockdown. Most of these additional services are likely to be commuter trains rather than long distance services. The Conwy Valley line is still closed and there is only one Euston-Holyhead train.

 

'Ready to Resume' train run to Dinas 5/5/20

As part of the 'Ready to Resume' plan, an ECS ran from Porthmadog Harbour to Dinas on 5/5/20 taking stock that was cut off in Harbour Station to Dinas Carriage Shed for safe storage. The train was hauled by Vale of Ffestiniog and checked all the signalling and pointwork operated correctly as well as checking for debris on the line and plant growth that might scratch the carriages. The four carriages were stored in the Dinas Carriage Shed and there were no problems on the route except for the occasional sheep that had found their way onto the line.

 

Click on the YouTube window to watch 24 mins 02 seconds of video covering the ECS/Inspection train from Porthmadog to Dinas. This YouTube was published on 9/5/20 and was taken by John Wooden on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

This westerly view (5/5/20) shows Vale of Ffestiniog heading north on a stock transfer/inspection train from Porthmadog Harbour to Dinas as it crossed Britannia Bridge. 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 digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (5/5/20) shows Vale of Ffestiniog arrived at Dinas with the inspection train/ECS. The four coaches were shunted into the Carriage Shed for safe storage. It is strange to see the bay platform and even the release road empty of stock. No doubt stock is in safe storage against any metal thieves who might be tempted to take advantage of the lockdown. 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 digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

A line inspection train also operated on the FR on 4/5/20. See YouTube.

 

Stoneblower at Porthmadog 23/4/20

NR are still maintaining tracks on the Cambrian with a Class 97/3 (ERTMS fitted Class 37) and a stoneblower present on 23/4/20 at Porthmadog.

 

Corris Extension underway in April

The Corris Railway is seeking to extend south along the Dulas Valley from Corris towards Machynlleth. Construction work started on a new section this Spring which will double the length of the railway to a run round loop at Pont Evans. The eventual aim is to extend to the popular tourist spot at the Centre for Alternative Technology, near Pantperthog via a station already in the care of the railway at Esgairgeiliog. See Corris Extension website.

The original passenger terminus is still visible in Machynlleth station yard, however sections of the trackbed near the Dyfi Bridge may be destroyed in the upcoming works for the new A487 Dyfi bridge due to be started this summer. This will improve access to the F&WHR from the popular tourist area around Aberystwyth and mid Wales. For the foreseeable future the Corris Railway has no intention of extending along the roadside trackbed the remaining 2.5 miles to Machynlleth which would require a new bridge over the Afon Dyfi. See TfW website.

 

Second attempt at 'Behind the Scenes' F&WHR Facebook Event 6/5/20

There will be a Facebook Premiere event at 11:00 this Saturday, 9/5/20 for a little ‘Bank Holiday’ entertainment, in which the F&WHR will be streaming a video presentation on the F&WHR Insider Facebook page featuring ‘Behind the Scenes’ topics from around the F&WHR. The Premiere will launch with a look back at some of the best F&WHR footage from years gone by, before giving an update on the progress of Welsh Pony. The film will run for 1 hour, and will be repeated at 14:00 on Sunday 10/5/20. Facebook Premiere presentations ‘stream’ automatically at a preset time - so all watchers have to do is go to the ‘F&WHR Insider’ page a couple of minutes before show time and wait for the video to start. If you cannot watch it at that time, the video will be available to watch at a later date or time that suits individuals.

 

Network Rail celebrates F&WHR link 5/5/20

Network Rail has published a web page emphasising its strong links to the F&WHR and is featured in the new series The Architecture the Railways Built (airing 5/5/20 at 8pm on the Yesterday Channel and repeated Saturday at 11pm. See NR website.

 

TrainSim F&WHR 2020

The new 2020 edition of TrainSim for the F&WHR route is packed full of new content. Phase 1 includes a fully detailed FR and basic detail on WHR. Phase 2, to come, will include improved detail on WHR. Purchasers of Phase 1 will be a discount on Phase 2 when it is released. All proceeds from sales will go to the F&WHR Trust. The product features realistic terrain from digital terrain data, accurate track layout and gradients. Rolling stock has 90% photorealistic textures, opening doors, interior passengers views as well as loco steam and sound effects. As well as the FR stock and steam locos (including Welsh Pony), the three existing WHR Garratts are included but there are no diesel locos and no freight stock other than the FR's Gravity train. The price is £5.99 but you also have to have purchased a copy of TrainSim 2020 and certain other routes from which content is borrowed.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 8

August 1997

It became clear in early August that it was unlikely the railway would be open by the revised date at the end of August as had been hoped. It was much more likely that a date in late September or early October was possible. By 3/8/97, a determined effort by manual means had seen a speeding up in tracklaying, helped by volunteers from other railways, with the head of steel passing the halfway point at the 2.2km marker as measured from Caernarfon footbridge. On 8/8/97 the newly assembled tracklaying gantry was tested to see if it could lift a 2 tonne 18m track panel and the test proved successful. The panels tended to jam when passed through the framework because of limited clearance over the sleeper ends and a tendency to sway, so the lift mechanism was adjusted to allow the panels to be carried at a slight tilt thus improving the clearance between the vertical supports. The unit was then in use laying complete panels on the long straight approaching Hendy. A dedicated Volunteer phone line was set up to provide information about how to volunteer.

Work is in hand on occupation crossings and triangular grids are being. fitted either side of all crossings to deter straying animals or trespassers. Mowlem finished in mid-August with one of their last tasks being to alter walls at Hendy crossing and Caernarfon station to improve visibility and moving the bridge prop base at Coed Helen on 11/8/97 which allowed completion of the ballast bed. By 7/8/97 the BR PW hut south of the Gwyrfai Viaduct had been demolished and the tracklayer had been painted yellow and tested and approved for use. The railhead had progressed by 12 lengths to Ch.2500 with a rail store by level crossing Ch.2520. The railhead advanced to Ch.2155 that day but fencing on the viaducts had been damaged by vandals.

Small 0-4-0 shunter Harold (No.7195 of 1994) arrived on 9/7/97 but it was found the small 39hp loco could only manage 1 ballast wagon on the steeply graded BR section of the route. Upnor Castle, the originally proposed loco, was fitted with a new engine after the first failed during refurbishment and consequently arrived at the WHR somewhat later than expected on 13/8/97 to take over from Harold. The loco had no nameplate on the left hand side. The Railway Inspectorate visited the FR in August and gave type approval to Garratts, Funkeys, new WHR coaching stock and ex-SAR wagons that will be used on the WHR. The original rolling stock has 'grandfather rights' and does not need specific type approval.

 

This southerly archive view (7/8/97) shows Harold in use during its short stay on the WHR in August just south of Bontnewydd Viaduct. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (7/8/97) shows the head of steel on the long straight just north of Bronnydd Crossing. The wooden sleeper spacing tool is visible on the left. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Work began at Caernarfon station on 11/8/97 when three points were craned into place. However, the Southam Cement Works water tank was not ready a hoped so was to require an additional crane hire. The 15m3 tank will be installed next to the siding next year. There will be a run round loop and a siding capable of taking two Garratt locos. As the station site is deemed to be temporary by the FR, a short 200 m tarmac platform has been constructed. Long term plans include double track south of the station and a Carriage Shed on the wide formation where the BR Llanberis branch diverged. A temporary ticket office was to be provided for the Autumn opening but permanent buildings are unlikely to appear until GC has agreed a final site for the station. The car park on the site of the BR station just west of Morrisons has been considered and this could form an interchange station if the BR line from Bangor is ever reopened.

A delay in the delivery of boiler tubes has put back the completion of No.143, making its return to Glan-y-pwll later than expected. This meant it was more likely that a small loco such as Mountaineer or Blanche would be needed to support the WHR steam service. Ian Riley Engineering (Bury) is making good progress but the loco was to be delayed beyond the expect August return date. Meanwhile the delivery of No.138 to Dinas awaits the completion of the Loco Shed extension, now that the land had been purchased from the National Rivers Authority. Trackbed pointwork and sidings also need to be completed in the South Yard area of Dinas. The land and south half of the existing shed was transferred to the WHLR on 14/8/97 for £80,000 after vacant possession was gained on 11/8/97. The NRA retained the north end of the shed for the time being but may eventually sell it to the WHR.

By the end of August the south end of Dinas will be completed with the station loop points installed and the track curving sharply east onto the original WHR formation. A crossover will allow access to the loco headshunt near the A487 overbridge and another turnout will give connect the two roads in the loco shed to the headshunt. The main line will curve right off the WHR formation into the south yard and serve as a temporary secure storage location for the rake of coaches, due to arrive soon. In the future, after a Carriage Shed is constructed in Dinas North Yard, the siding will be used as a PW base to start work on Phase 2, the extension along the original WHR trackbed to Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu.

After representations by the local community, the FR has agreed to build a halt at Bontnewydd next year. This will be sited just north of the footpath crossing north of the Afon Gwyrfai Viaduct. The WHR (64) Co. had suggested that the Public Inquiry into the extension of the WHR Project to Porthmadog must be delayed as signage needed to be erected inviting objections from users of the Permissive Paths on the trackbed that would need to be closed. The Parliamentary answer was given in response to the Ramblers Association which uses paths near Rhyd Ddu, in the Beddgelert Forest and through the Aberglaslyn Pass.

With the first few coaches coming off the production line at Winsons (Daventry) details of the new coach numbering sequences have been agreed, allowing for future fleet expansion.

The initial fleet consisted of Nos.2000, 2020, 2040-2042 and Pullman Car which was to be finished later at Boston Lodge No.2115. Brake wheelchair access coach No.2000 was to be renumbered No.2090 when the first Brake coach proper is delivered in a later batch. It appears that initial plans were to have a push/pull rake, possibly diesel powered with Castell Caernarfon, much enhanced First Class accommodation with first class saloon coaches and at least one other Pullman car to go with the second rake. The number series starting with 2000 was chosen so as not to clash with existing FR rolling stock.

On a very wet day, 23/8/97 some two weeks after the previous views, fresh supplies of rail were propelled out of Dinas by recently arrived Upnor Castle for use laying the long straight approaching Hendy level crossing. The tracklaying gantry, now in PW yellow hi-vis livery, was already waiting at Hendy Crossing for fresh supplies of rail. On 24/8/97 three lengths had been laid north of the crossing. By the end of the Bank Holiday weekend on 25/8/97 Upnor Castle and the mechanical tracklayer had crossed over Hendy Crossing and were working down the gradient of Coed Helen Cutting with the remaining preassembled track panels. Hendy crossing is a special 60' long unit inn view of the size of caravans that go down this farm track to the campsite.

 

This southerly archive view (23/8/97) shows the recently arrived Upnor Castle propelling complete panels of rails out of Dinas North Yard in order to lay track on the long straight approaching Hendy Crossing. The DZ wagon contains a compressor for use with the tracklayer airlift and also tamping. The bay platform track had still not been completed and it appears most of the wagons with panels of track in the westerly platform had been used. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (23/8/97) shows the recently arrived Upnor Castle propelling two DZ flat wagons carrying three panels of track out of Dinas North Yard in order to lay track on the long straight approaching Hendy Crossing. The DZ wagon contains a compressor for use with the tracklayer airlift and also tamping. A generator was also provided for electrical tools to drill fishplate holes and tighten fishplate bolts. The train is tacking the points for the main line and further wagons piles high with track panels can be seen in the headshunt. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (23/8/97) shows the tracklaying gantry at Hendy Crossing with Upnor Castle and its train to the rear in the pouring rain. The tracklayer's airlift/transport mechanism can be seen to have a slight tilt induced by a block of wooden to stop the sleepers scraping against the vertical supports. The wall on the left had recently been altered by Mowlem to reduce its height and improve visibility at the crossing. Six members of staff can be seen, some drilling holes for fishplate bolts. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (23/8/97) shows Upnor Castle and its train to the rear of the tracklayer and two of the three panels have already been laid. The loco would go back to Dinas to collect additional supplies later in the day. Staff can be seen drilling holes for fishplate bolts. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (23/8/97) shows the tracklayer and its crew completing the fishplates to the panel laid previously. It appears another panel has already been laid in the foreground, possibly the panel that contains Hendy Crossing where metal flangeways were incorporated into the structure and a centre tarmac support between the rails for carts etc. Clearly some adjustment was required before tracks could link to the crossing unit. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (23/8/97) shows Upnor Castle and its train as viewed from Lon Eifion. At this stage the Lon Eifion was a rolled gravel surface and it was to be some time before GC provided a tarmac surface. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (23/8/97) shows Upnor Castle and its train along with the tracklaying gantry as viewed from Lon Eifion. Red/white barriers can be seen protecting Hendy Crossing just beyond the tracklayer. The compressed air link can be seen hanging from the near corner of the tracklaying gantry. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Your webmaster was staying in the family caravan in Beddgelert Forest and was able to cover several days of progress in late August. The weather was much improved on 24/8/97 and tracklaying advanced north of Hendy Crossing. The WHLR moved into the Dins South Yard area in mid August and started to construct a Loco Shed by extending a garage built on the site of the WHR's original Carriage Shed. The shed is being extended to the south and new trusses will allow a common height throughout its 69' length sufficient for the taller locos such as Castell Caernarfon. The two road shed will have a 50' long inspection pit on the eastern side sufficient for a Garratt loco.

 

This northerly archive view (24/8/97) shows the trackbed curving into the station from Dinas South Yard. The new stainless steel smoke deflector can be seen fitted to the Ty'n< Llan road bridge. Just one wagon with 5 track panels remains in the westerly track in the station. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (24/8/97) shows the tracklaying gantry being propelled by Upnor Castle and the PW train towards Hendy Crossing. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (24/8/97) shows Upnor Castle, the PW train and tracklaying gantry from the Fron Goch Garden Centre level crossing viewed through Pant Road bridge. Spare sleepers litter the trackside. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (24/8/97) shows the PW team manhandling loose rails across Hendy Crossing to start track laying into Coed Helen Cutting. The rails are being dragged forwards with tongs on steel tube roller, themselves rolling on planks of wood places on the sleepers to reduce friction. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (24/8/97) shows the PW team explaining the project to passers by. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (24/8/97) shows the new prop erected under Coed Helen bridge and the completed ballast bed. The trackbed was now available for tracklaying right into Caernarfon with this last obstacle removed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (24/8/97) shows the PW team completing two panels of track laid that day north of Hendy Crossing. The crossing steel flangeway construction can be seen before tarmac was added. Some temporary wooden infills were used before the track was tamped and permanent tarmac laid in the roadway approaches and

 

This northerly archive view (24/8/97) shows the PW team returning to Dinas at the end of the day with Upnor Castle and a DZ wagon with compressor/generator and tools passing Pant Farm crossing with Hendy Crossing in the background. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (24/8/97) shows the PW team returning to Dinas at the end of the day with Upnor Castle and a DZ wagon passing Pant Farm crossing with Pant Road

 

The sun finally came out on 25/8/97 as Castell Caernarfon also come out to help with PW trains. Today saw the tracklayer advance beyond Hendy Crossing into Coed Helen cutting at 1450. Strangely only the first 8 out of a possible 24 photos are present in your webmaster's collection, the others likely being misplaced or not returned from magazines.

 

This northerly archive view (25/8/97) shows Castell Caernarfon shunting the DZ wagons loaded with stack of 5 rail panels in Dinas North Yard headshunt in preparation for them being taken down the line to feed the tracklayer. There is at lease one wagon on the headshunt loaded with rail panels. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (25/8/97) shows the tracklaying gantry being propelled across Hendy Crossing by Upnor Castle. The curve north of the crossing had been laid the previous day so it was possible to lay straight complete panels in Coed Helen Cutting. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (25/8/97) shows the tracklayer being shunted across Hendy Crossing. The side of the tracklayer has grids attached to prevent the PW team getting caught between a panel and the vertical supports as a panel was transported from the rear gantry to the front gantry. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (25/8/97) shows Upnor Castle with the PW DZ to the rear propelling a DZ wagon with three complete track panels and the tracklaying gantry across Hendy Crossing. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (25/8/97) shows Upnor Castle with the PW DZ to the rear propelling a DZ wagon with three complete track panels and the tracklaying gantry across Hendy Crossing. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (25/8/97) shows Upnor Castle with the PW DZ to the rear propelling a DZ wagon with three complete track panels and the tracklaying gantry across Hendy Crossing. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (25/8/97) shows Upnor Castle with the PW DZ to the rear stabled north of Hendy Crossing while the tracklayer prepared to lay track. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (25/8/97) shows Upnor Castle with the PW DZ to the rear propelling a DZ wagon and the tracklaying gantry as the PW team prepare to lay the 3 complete panels in Coed Helen Cutting, north of Hendy Crossing. A member of the PW team is starting up the compressor ready for the tracklaying gantry air lift. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (25/8/97) shows the tracklaying gantry lifting a panel of track off the DZ wagon just north of Hendy Crossing at the start of Coed Helen Cutting. A PW worker is carrying a spare sleeper to the head of steel. A block of wood can be seen angling the track panels in the lift mechanism so that they would present a narrower profile to the vertical supports of the tracklaying gantry after experience showed they tended to jam. Looking at clearance, it seems three panels would be the limit that could be shunted under the gantry. In this case something seems to have caught and all three panels are lifting off the rear of the nearer DZ wagon. A PW worker is attempting to unjam the stack After difficulties using the tracklayer it was decided not to use it on subsequent phases. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Subsequent photos would have shown further stages in tracklaying that afternoon. If the remaining 16 slides are found they will be added here.

Your webmaster was back in North Wales the following weekend when tracklaying had reached the outskirts of Caernarfon, with fine weather to assist the tracklaying gang. On 28/8/97 two LH points and a RH point were delivered to Caernarfon. There will be concrete base for the Caernarfon water tank between the two supports for Segontium Terrace alongside the water siding. The 15m3 tank was delivered by 11/8/97 but will need new supports capable of taking the weight. A mains supply capable of providing a full tank every hour is being sourced as Garratts have a 7.5m3 tank. A second tank is envisaged at Dinas or maybe Waunfawr, where locos are serviced before their turn of duty. 

By 31/8/97 track had just under a mile to go and was almost up to Coed Helen overbridge, now with newly installed pops as it has a weak deck. Exterior guide rails were to be provided here at the request of the HMRI as there was a risk that a derailed train could demolish the prop structure and bring down the bridge. With Mowlem off site, local contractors are completing the Dinas bay platform and work in Dinas South Yard as well as the Loco Shed extension, including the provision of an inspection. Excavations in the bay platform area which was the site of original WHR tracks unearthed an NWNGR point crank and a firebar. Measurements are underway to see which loco the firebar make have come from, whether Moel Tryfan, Snowdon Ranger, Beddgelert or even the Baldwin No.590.

When the WHR opens, it was planned that the Goods Shed would be used to sell tickets/snacks with possibly a small restaurant. Four ex-LNWR platform seats will be available for Dinas/Caernarfon initially. Minffordd Quarry is providing 5,000 tonnes of ballast to complete track and a further 4,000 tonnes for top ballast and tamping. Some £3,500 has been spent on wood for posts. Track will initially be tamped for 15mph.

 

This southerly archive view (30/8/97) shows the loop point and ballast laid in Caernarfon station. Unfortunately it had not been possible to use the same crane hire to place the water tank in the space to the left as it had not arrived at Dinas in time. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (30/8/97) shows the completed ballast bed at Caernarfon station with fencing to protect passengers from locos that would be making run round manoeuvres in this area. The loop point can be seen placed roughly in position under the footbridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (30/8/97) shows the headshunt area at Caernarfon with some sleepers and signage advertising the Millennium Commission project and the contractors. The car park was still in general use but was soon to become a railway passenger car park. The temporary ticket office was to be a Portacabin placed where the white van is located. The loop point can be seen in the foreground. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (30/8/97) shows the tracklaying gantry advancing through Coed Helen Cutting as viewed from the Coed Helen road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (30/8/97) shows a close up of the tracklaying gantry advancing through Coed Helen Cutting as viewed from the Coed Helen road bridge. The Lon Eifion cycleway/footpath ascends steeply onto the former Nantlle Railway alignment on a shelf to the right at this point. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (30/8/97) shows Castell Caernarfon in the Dinas Goods Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (30/8/97) shows Castell Caernarfon in the Dinas North Yard with a loaded ballast wagon. Stacks of complete track panels litter the yard. The WHLR offices are to the right of the red fuel bowser and staff facilities to the left. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (30/8/97) shows Castell Caernarfon in the Dinas North Yard with a loaded ballast wagon and the newly delivered Gullick and Dodson tamper. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (30/8/97) shows the extension of the Dinas Loco Shed underway in Dinas South Yard Dinas North Yard. At this stage no track had been laid in the area with ballast and track finishing at the Heras site fencing on the left. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (30/8/97) shows Dinas North Yard with the bay platform and siding area excavated to formation level. Stacks of completed points are visible to the right and a pair of RRMs can be seen in the platform along with wagons loaded with three track panels. Track panels litter the yard. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (30/8/97) shows Upnor Castle in Coed Helen Cutting having laid the last of the track panels from the wagons. Lon Eifion can be seen on the left descending steeply from the Nantlle formation shelf to run alongside the WHR and pass under Coed Helen road bridge. Staff appear to be getting ready to pack up and go home. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (30/8/97) shows the tracklayer just south of the propped Coed Helen overbridge. The tracklaying gantry and empty wagons appear to be left in the cutting ready for use the next day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Stockport Dual Gauge show cancelled 16/3/20

The Stockport Dual Gauge show planned for 2/5/20 which was to raise funds for the Gowrie Project was cancelled in March because of the pandemic. A virtual show was being held instead on the Stockport Dual Gauge Show Facebook page.

 

FR Society virtual AGM video 2-3/5/20 cancelled?

With social distancing continuing the FR Society Virtual AGM will feature a video presentation which will illustrate progress with Welsh Pony. This video is 1 hour 15 mins long and will be shown on both Saturday and Sunday on line. News of these events strangely disappeared from the F&WHR sources shortly after publication on 1/5/20.

 

Welsh Pony launch event cancelled 30/5/20

The Welsh Pony launch event planned for 20-21/6/20 has been cancelled because of the pandemic. There maybe an opportunity to launch Welsh Pony at the FR's Victorian Weekend that might also see some events on the WHR, especially if the WHR SuperPower event is also cancelled.

 

Caernarfon Food Festival cancelled 18/3/20

The Caernarfon Food Festival planned for 9/5/20 has also understandably been cancelled for this year and the planned additional train on the F&WHR has been cancelled along with all train services until further notice. See Caernarfon Food Festival news website.

 

Journey into the Past cancelled 30/4/20

This year's season of 'Journey into the Past' special heritage trains on five Sundays from 2/8/20-30/8/20 have been cancelled due to concerns about the pandemic. It is planned to reintroduce the service next year.

 

This southerly view (22/9/19) shows Prince waiting at Dinas whilst passengers were given a talk in the Goods Shed. WHHG staff accompanied each coach giving a commentary about points of interest. 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 digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (22/9/19) shows Prince making a run past under tracksafe supervision at Journey to the Past of 2019. It seems passengers will have to wait until 2021 for another such working. 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 digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

http://www.isengard.co.uk/images/JPEGS/JITP_BWH23-9-19B_small.JPG

This northerly view (23/9/19) shows Prince approaching Pont Croesor at 1104 with the ECS Journey into the Past heritage rake returning to Porthmadog at the end of the season in fine weather. Little did your webmaster realise it would be two years before this special train operated again. 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 digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Cambrian ballast 30/4/20

Yellow liveried NR Class 37s Nos. 97302/3 seemed to be heading off for a Cambrian ballast duty today. A 1246 Severn Tunnel Junction to Machynlleth (arrive 1753) is shown on RealTime Trains.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 7

July 1997

The FR management was considering sending ex WD 2-6-2T Alco Mountaineer to the WHR as a back up steam loco on the WHR when it opens later in the Summer to assist Garratt No.138. Trains are likely to be lightly loaded in the Autumn and the Alco was thought to be able to handle the short 1 in 43 up Coed Helen bank. There is a historical precedent for the use of ex-WD locos on the line as Colonel Stephens bought ex WD Baldwin No.590 to the line to assist with motive power shortages in the 1920s. Another loco being considered for the WHR was Monarch, an articulated Bagnall Meyer of 1953 built for Bowater's Paper Mill Railway, Sittingbourne in Kent and currently in store at Minffordd Yard. This 0-4-4-0T medium powered loco may suitable for lighter off-peak WHR trains and is historic as being the last narrow gauge industrial steam loco built in Britain. The loco was purchased by the FR in 1991 after fitful use on the Welshpool & Llanfair Railway from 1966-1978 but there were concerns about the slow steam raising power of its marine boiler.

The tracklaying gantry had been delivered to Dinas by 5/7/97 and assembled and painted PW hi vis yellow by 9/7/97. Winson staff had welded the girders to DZ1403 once they had arrived at Dinas. Two refurbished ex SAR 16 tonne (6.28 tonnes tare) ballast wagons Nos.1412/23 had been railed on the refuelling siding for use in the PW train. Also present are the final two larger wagons containing track parts B1806/48. Upnor Castle was delivered to Dinas on 18/7/97 to help with the PW train now being assembled. Track had also been connected to the WHR Goods shed in order to release Castell Caernarfon for PW duties. The lighter loco will be used initially as Castle Caernarfon is heavier and might derail until the track has had a basic tamp.

By your webmaster's visit on 5/7/97 the toilet block at the rear of the ex-LNWR/WHR waiting room had been demolished allowing the platform to be completed in this area. Platforms will be right hand running as with the majority of the FR so the easterly platform at Dinas will be the Down platform, taking trains north to Caernarfon. With so many imponderables in the delivery of stock and the delayed tracklaying, the FR has had to reschedule the opening to August from the original date of 1/7/97. It was hoped that the new line might be opened by the August Bank Holiday and catch the last of the Summer Holiday traffic given good progress with the tracklaying in July/August. Basic tracklaying should be finished in August and the Garratt loco and coaches delivered soon. The FR intended to apply for permission soon to run a service in late August on a one engine in steam basis initially as the route is unsignalled.

The Lon Eifion footpath reopened on 4/7/97 giving spectators a good view of progress with tracklaying with an almost 3 mile walk from Dinas to Caernarfon. Centreline fencing has now separated the railway formation from the footpath for almost the entire length to Caernarfon. Ballasting was complete 3except for a small gap at Hendy level crossing where a short road closure was necessary. Galvanised fencing had been provided for the underbridges. By 5/7/97 tracks were being extended towards the South Yard at Dinas and the original WHR formation. The WHLR hoped to have access to the south yard during August and to extend their half of the existing NRA workshops southwards to provide a 2 road shed for the Garratts.

Chainage markers on the trackbed provided a good guide for progress with the head of steel. By 5/7/97 the track had just passed Plas Dinas overbridge, Ch.3610 i.e. 3.61km or 2.25 miles from Caernarfon station footbridge. By mid July, the Head of Steel had advanced almost to Bontnewydd Viaduct, nearly 1 mile north of Dinas, laid entirely by manual means. Two small under-slung rail carrying trolleys have been constructed called RRM1/2 (Roland's Rail Movers, after Roland Doyle, the WHLR manager). Use of these should speed up progress in July/August. Stainless steel smoke deflectors had been fitted to the Ty'n Llan over bridge at Dinas and further were ordered for three road bridges and two footbridges nearer Caernarfon but the props under Coed Helen road overbridge still needed replacement. Further tree clearance has improved sight lines at level crossings. Badger flaps have been provided in the central fence line at several locations where there was evidence of badger activity.

Open coach No.2020 had arrived at Minffordd from Winsons on 1/7/19 and was promptly shunted to Boston Lodge after traffic for tilt tests and other checks. The coach resembles a Great Orme Tramway coach with its open sides and 36 slatted seats on six bays of 6 in a 2+1 format with a wide central isle. It is finished in Mercedes Red and Cream which were set to become the WHR coaching stock colours. Four more coaches are under construction at Winsons Daventry, one with a Guards compartment and wheelchair access. The coaches are almost 9' high and 40' long and so their width and height are out of gauge for much of the FR. Corridor connections will allow delivery of food and drink via a trolley service to all seats.

After riding trials with No.2020, the remaining coaches were to be delivered in mid-August. These four will have a red moquette cushioned seats with new FR/WHR logo. There is plenty of leg room on the new vehicles and the height to the roof centreline is 6' 7". Each bay of seats has a table on both the four seat side and the two seat side. Internally they are fitted with brass handles and varnished Brazilian hardwoods from fast-growing eco-friendly plantations. Becorit windows can be slid up and dawn at every table. Heating, lighting and public address systems are also provided making these coaches some of the most comfortable on any narrow gauge railway. A sixth coach frame will be provided as a kit of parts for completed at Boston Lodge as a Pullman for a proposed 'Steam and Cuisine' operation.

There is an urgent need for a Mess Coach for PW staff working on the WHR and a volunteer project based on an ex-Isle of Mann frame based at Southam has not progressed as quickly as hoped and the new FR PW coach No.1111 is needed on that line. Instead the WHLR has purchased the Combination Coach (ex- Chattenden and Upnor Railway) that was languishing at the South Tynedale Railway, Alston. The coach was originally purchased from the Royal Navy's 2'6" gauge line in Kent for use on the Welshpool and Llanfair railway. Winsons were contracted to re-gauge the coach for the WHR.

Both the WHR(P) and the Llangollen Railway planned to send teams of volunteer tracklayers by the end of July to help push the head of steel towards Caernarfon. Three turnouts have been laid at Dinas thereby allowing access to the platform loop and the North Yard siding. Another three were scheduled to be laid in Caernarfon with the crane also being used to lift the water tank onto its supports if it arrives in time. The historic water tank, formed from heavy cast iron panels, was recovered from Rugby Cement, Long Itchington near Southam, where it had been used to water the several Peckett 0-6-0ST locos used on the 2' gauge network e.g. Triassic, now at the Bala Lake Railway, see Long Itchington Cement Works Railway.

 

This easterly archive view (5/7/97) shows WHR Open coach No.2020 on test at Boston Lodge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly archive view (5/7/97) shows WHR Open coach No.2020 on test at Boston Lodge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly archive view (5/7/97) shows the FR's new PW coach No.1111 released from Boston Lodge in grey undercoat. This vehicle would be exclusively limited to FR until the WHR reached Porthmadog. It would have been very welcome on the WHR where a conversion of the Chattenden & Upnor coach was being considered as mess coach. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly archive view (5/7/97) shows Alco Mountaineer shunting at Boston Lodge. The loco was being considered for use on shorter off peak trains on the WHR. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly archive view (5/7/97) shows Boston Lodge with Criccieth Castle and Conwy Castle, with Blanche in the background, all of which were to appear on the WHR in coming years. There was a pressing need for a lightweight diesel and Upnor Castle was initially delayed with an engine failure. Either of these diesels could have been helpful in the early days on the WHR. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Boston Lodge archive view (5/7/97) shows Vale of Ffestiniog's cab in National Power livery nearing completion at Boston Lodge. The loco was to feature on the WHR after the two railways were linked and frequently after Castell Caernarfon's protracted refurbished after gearbox problems in 2015. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (5/7/97) shows WHR station building now with toilet block removed. The platform edge had also been completed next to waiting room. Track panels are still stored on wagons in the left hand track which will become the future Up track as the WHR was to adopt the FR's right hand running rules. The bridge behind the viewpoint had smoke deflectors fitted and progress was being made to extend the track into South Yard but your webmaster was short of film after taking too many in Boston Lodge so not recorded! Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (5/7/97) shows the tracklaying gantry ready for fitting to DZ wagon No.1403. The gantry was to be painted yellow and assembled over the next few days. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (5/7/97) shows laying track under Plas Dinas overbridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (5/7/97) shows the small gap in the ballast bed for Hendy level crossing. The ballast was complete from here to Caernarfon but you webmaster ran out of film after taking too many in Boston Lodge! Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The absence of Upnor Castle was being felt and the small green 0-4-0 shunter Harold was assigned to the WHR to drag the RRMs back uphill to Dinas from the railhead on 19/7/97. Glan-y-pwll pilot 0-4-0 diesel The Colonel was also moved to Dinas for shunting on the same day. DZ1410 and two bogie bolsters were initially used to carry rail to the railhead allowing flexibility on sharp curves. DZ2001 was one of the two wagons carrying rail on the bolsters marked 1963 SAR. A visit by the Llangollen Railway tracklaying team on 19/7/97 pushed the railhead northwards. In a gesture of friendship the WHR(P) volunteers also laid 12 lengths, a record number for one day, on 26/7/97, contributing to more than 500m of track laid that week. By 27/7/97 the head of steel had advanced to Ch.2720 (past the halfway point) showing 890m or fifty 18m lengths had been laid over the three weeks since your webmaster's last visit. Dinas bay platform had been excavated to formation level and was ready for ballasting. Mowlem advised they would be finished by the first week of August with the outstanding work including walling, clearing up and probably completion of the South Yard at Dinas. A new cast reinforced concrete base had been formed at Coed Helen overbridge in a new position allowing sufficient room for the railway on the east side of the formation.

Winson Engineering of Daventry, who were building the WHR's coaches, won the contract to supply a new boiler for K1 and the specification was due to be agreed by the end of July with construction due to be finished by Christmas. Some £75,000 had been received in donations to support the new boiler allowing the order to be placed. However, in order to maintain progress Ian McKenzie was looking to raise a further £30,000 to complete the loco, which is historic as being the first Garratt loco.

On 28/7/97 Castell Caernarfon emerged from the Goods shed and was shunted down the newly connected siding to a point alongside Lon Eifion to participate is a small ceremony with Sustrans celebrating the reopening of the Lon Eifion footpath/cycleway earlier in July.

 

This northerly archive view (27/7/97) shows the small gap in the track off the Up (southbound) platform. The first version of the rail carrier consisted of DX1410 and two bogie bolster supports. The gantry crane has been assembled on DZ1403 and 5 B wagons of track components reside on the bank above the former loading dock. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (27/7/97) shows the turnout at the north end of the station platform loop and the sharply curved track leading to the Goods Shed. A spare bogie lies on the Down platform track The tracklaying gantry was yet to be painted yellow at this stage just before use. Space had been excavated in the bay platform for ballast to be laid. Mowlem's equipment still litters the site but was due to be removed a week later. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (27/7/97) shows the crossover for Dinas North Yard with the headshunt on the left. A vast mound of rubble occupies the site of the future Carriage Shed on the left. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (27/7/97) shows a typical farm accommodation crossing just north of Pals Dinas overbridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (27/7/97) shows the new galvanised metal fencing on the farm underbridge just south of the Afon Gwyrfai Bontnewydd viaduct. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (27/7/97) shows the Bontnewydd Viaduct with new galvanised fencing. The pile of sleepers and the rail store in the 'two foot' shows the viewpoint is near to the head of steel. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (27/7/97) shows the Bontnewydd footpath crossing with more rail stored in the 'two foot'. The area to the right was later to become Bontnewydd Halt after requests by locals. Unfortunately it has become little used in recent years. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Unfortunately some 13 slides of work on the WHR north of Bontnewydd, including the head of steel on this day, have gone missing from your webmaster's collection for 27/7/97 but may yet turn up, hopefully.

 

This southerly archive view (27/7/97) from Ty'n Llan bridge at Dinas the completed trackbed curving up to the South Yard boundary fence with sleepers ready to be laid. The Lon Eifion footpath/cycleway is to the right following the ex-BR line to Afonwen. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

YouTube Messages from the General Manager 27/4/97

Click on the YouTube window to watch 2 mins 7 seconds of video from Paul Lewin, the General Manager on Blanche thanking supporters for their help keeping the F&WHR afloat. This YouTube was published on 27/4/20 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

Click on the YouTube window to watch 0 mins 47 seconds of video from Paul Lewin, the General Manager on Lyd thanking supporters from the L&BR. This YouTube was published on 27/4/20 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

A message from the F&WHR Directors 25/4/20

The Directors of the F&WHR have addressed the following message to supporters of the railway.

'The events of the last month have been incredibly challenging for everyone - and our railways are no exception. No effort is being spared to ensure that our railways survive this crisis, so that we can all go on to enjoy them again in the years to come. We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the Ffestiniog Railway Society, the Welsh Highland Railway Society and the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways Trust. These organisations have worked together to give every support to the Company. Whilst there remains much uncertainty and much work to do, their immediate and significant help is of tremendous value. The response to our appeal to members has seen an outpouring of support, reminding us of just how much our railways mean to so many people. We will be sharing details of the appeal with members in more detail in forthcoming publications, but an amount well in excess of a hundred thousand pounds has been received. These donations are incredibly important at a time when our ability to earn money through running trains is seemingly many months away. Thank you again to each and every one of our supporters.'

 

Click on the image to see enlarged. Image courtesy F&WHR.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 6

June 1997

The Caernarfon terminus was beginning to take shape in June with the platform kerbs had been laid and the surface tarmaced. The line of kerbing has been adjusted to give a 2.5m platform the full length of the station, which may be a temporary location as thought had been given to other locations e.g. in the town centre with better car parking. By 14/6/97 ballasting had advanced about 1km south from the station to beyond Coed Helen overbridge while from the Dinas direction ballasting has reached Pant level crossing, which continues to be the main delivery point/stockpile for ballasting. It was anticipated construction work would be completed and Mowlem off site at the end of June.

In the absence of the tracklaying machine, which was due from Winsons (Daventry), WHLR staff and volunteers have been progressing the head of steel by manual means. In the two weeks since the start of June some 400 yards of track had been laid working north form the station, including an occupation crossing for Dinas farm. WHLR staff are pleased with the volunteer effort and 8 lengths were laid over the Spring bank Holiday weekend to add to the track panels previously laid in Dinas platforms. In all about 1/10th of the track (totalling 4.4km with sidings) has been laid so far. Rails are carried in matched length pairs on a Jubilee skip bogie to the railhead by manual means in the absence of a lightweight diesel loco at Dinas. Fortunately it is all downhill to Caernarfon but the skips have to be pushed back uphill again to collect more! FR diesel Upnor Castle was being refurbished and was due to arrive at the end of June to assist but it was becoming Obvious that the 1/7/97 opening date would be missed and a date later in the Summer Holiday period was more likely. WHLR manager Roland Doyle was looking at improved methods of getting rails to the railhead and to assist with shunting Dinas yard as points and sidings would be laid soon.

No.143's boiler was to go to East Lancs Railway where boilersmith Ian Riley would be working on it throughout July. It was hoped the boiler would be back for the start of services, now anticipated for August. A new concrete lining had been added to the firebox at Glan-y-pwll but the condition of some of the rivets left much to be desired as ultrasonic testing had revealed 29 to be suspect. There are 54 wash out plugs on the loco and 10 were found to be broken or in scrap condition. The FR has been concerned to discover the standard of maintenance and lack of refurbishment when it examined to loco in detail. On the other hand No.138 passed its hydraulic test with 270il pressure of cold water and ran faultlessly on the Glan-y-pwll test track over the FR Gala 3-5/5/97. Driver experience courses raised over £2,000 for the Lyd Appeal.

Dinas Yard was beginning to take shape and on 14/6/97 a refuelling road complete with ex SAR buffer stop was laid close to the former loading dock at the north end of the site. To further tracks are to be provided for a two road Carriage Shed in this area with a headshunt reaching to the accommodation crossing. The yard tracks would be connected to the Goods Shed and a crossover provided from the headshunt to the main line. In addition a bay platform and parallel siding were to be provided and a point at the north end of the platform loop. Pointwork for all of these 8 points was the crucial challenge with staff at Minffordd Yard working on 12 examples covering three for Caernarfon and the south loop point at Dinas. Each point requires 5 man-weeks of labour as re-gauging by half an inch needs special care to ensure there is no risk of derailment. There was an appeal for more help to complete this essential element of the work.

Work at Dinas station was nearing completion with recent grants enabling the purchase of 5 period lamp standards, block paving and the attractive gate and fencing. The ex-WHR/LNWR station building would be restored to its original style following demolition of the modern toilet block, which in turn will allow completion of the platform. By 14/6/97 tracklaying had reached the first Nantlle Railway culvert just before the Plas Dinas bridge while sleepers were laid out to the level crossing just south of Bontnewydd. Ballast been laid north of there to the former Pant ballast dump while fence poles to divide the railway from the Lon Eifion had reached the same location. Ballast was nearing completion with a gap of just 80m between Pant and Coed Helen Cutting although Caernarfon station needed completion.

The Yorkshire Engine Co. Becorit tamper was delivered to the Bala Lake Railway at Llanuwchllyn. There it was hoped Roger Hine, the mechanical engineer, would check the operation of the machine before deliver for trails on the FR. The articulated ex-NCB tamper was finished in yellow hi-vis PW colours and it was anticipated it would be available for tamping WHR track in July. Mrs Jan Woods, Dinas Admin Assistant, was still encouraging volunteers to get in contact as it was planned to have volunteer tracklaying each weekend with permanent staff working two shifts on the long summer days in June and July so that the railway could be opened in August. It did not appear there was a volunteer working party doing any tracklaying on 14/6/97, a rather dull wet weekend.

 

This southerly archive view (14/6/97) shows the completed track at Plas Dinas Farm crossing with the future headshunt to the left where rails are stored. pools of water confirm it was a dismal wet weekend. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (14/6/97) shows the head of steel on that day with a pile of sleepers ready to use in the foreground. This location is at the point where the former Nantlle Railway crosses from right to left in a cutting with Plas Dinas bridge behind the viewpoint and Lon Eifion to the right separated by a fence from the railway. Regular weekend volunteer groups appeared not to be in action on this date. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (14/6/97) shows the completed ballast bed at Bontnewydd level crossing with the viaduct in view to the north. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (14/6/97) shows the completed ballast bed just south of Pant Farm level crossing with Pant Road overbridge visible in the background. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (14/6/97) shows the completed ballast bed at Hendy crossing, the former site of Mowlem's ballast dump after they moved out of Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (14/6/97) shows the completed tarmac platform at Caernarfon, now the same 2.5m width throughout as seen from the Segontium Terrace footbridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (14/6/97) shows the completed tarmac platform at Caernarfon, and the scarified trackbed as viewed from the Segontium Terrace footbridge. The WHLR had by now taken ownership of the former car park on the station site. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The FR had submitted a request for permission to reopen the WHR on 27/3/97 under the T&WO regulations a distance of 21.5 miles from Dinas to Porthmadog where end on junction would be made with the FR. Glenda Jackson, the Minister for Local Transport, responded on 5/6/97 announcing that the decision would be referred to a Public Inquiry. In all there had been 328 letters of objection, many from members of the Snowdonia National Park Society. These did not query the principle of the railway but rather wanted to seek a harmonious development, such a drystone walling.

A petition has been signed by 180 residents of Porthmadog who were concerned about the level crossing of the A487 at Britannia Bridge. This area was frequently congested in holiday times with long queues from both directions. The FR had proposed a hazard box crossing with tramway signalling similar to those adopted on the Manchester Metro. Research on behalf of the FR, produced for the T&W documentation, states that if signals are tied into signals for foot crossings nearby no further congestion will occur. Trains would not be signalled away from Porthmadog until the hazard box was clear. A 'hurry' signal would permit emergency vehicles to cross.

Railtrack said it was happy with the proposals for the proposed reinstatement of the flat crossing of the Cambrian Coast Line, often a source of expense and awkwardness in GWR days which led to WHR eventually terminating just north of the crossing in the final years. The new crossing would be protected either side by catchpoints on the WHR (but not on the standard gauge) and lights wired into the local level crossings and BR's Porthmadog station starter signal.

Footpaths along the trackbed were to be diverted along improved local footpaths at the WHLR's expense. This was particularly important in the Aberglaslyn Pass where a new footbridge was needed and diversion of the Fisherman's Path out of the tunnels, one of which, T4, was 400m long. FR sources say there is no problem with the millennium Commission grant about the Public Enquiry as it was always known this might be the case.

Purchase of the derelict trackbed was continuing from the Official Receiver on the original timescale despite the Public Inquiry. Following purchase, boundary and clearance works can proceed under the normal responsibilities of a landowner, whilst waiting for the result of the Inquiry. The WHR Project had been subject to a previous Inquiry in 1995 which adjudicated between opposing claims by the FR and the WHR(64 Co.) as to who had the right to redevelop the WHR. This earlier Inquiry granted the Transfer Order to the FR on the basis it was the more successful organisation. The FR anticipated that the new Inquiry might start in August of 1997 and the decision be announced the following Spring. The FR's team was negotiating with objectors in the hope that with appropriate mitigation, many of the objections would be withdrawn before the Inquiry. Nevertheless, the local opposition group that represented residents alongside the line, Gwarchod, was becoming more vociferous and would be expected to continue objecting.

On the last day of June the first coach No.2020 was being prepared at Winsons for dispatch. The tracklaying gantry was also being readied for dispatch to arrive at Boston Lodge and Dinas respectively at the start of July.

 

This Daventry archive view (30/6/97) shows the completed tracklaying gantry being loaded at Winsons for transport to Dinas for fitting to a DZ wagon. The gantry was to appear in yellow hi vis PW colours at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Daventry archive view (30/6/97) shows the completed WHR Open coach No.2020 being loaded at Winsons for transport to Boston Lodge on test. The slings were covered in sleeves to avoid damaging the paintwork. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Daventry archive view (30/6/97) shows the completed tracklaying gantry being loaded onto a flatbed articulated lorry at Winsons for transport to Dinas for fitting to a DZ wagon. Because of its length the lorry probably ran under Convoi Exceptionnel rules with an escort. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Daventry archive view (30/6/97) shows the interior of the completed WHR Open coach No.2020 receiving a final clean before loading at Winsons for transport to Boston Lodge on test. The slatted seats were used to help drain any water that entered through then open sides during inclement weather. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Daventry archive view (30/6/97) shows the final pieces of the completed tracklaying gantry being loaded onto a flatbed articulated lorry at Winsons for transport to Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Mainline News

Class 37 No.97307 worked from Shrewsbury Coleham CE depot to Porthmadog on 23/4/20, arriving at 1239. This was probably a PW working. Class 67 workings on the North Wales coast are currently rare due to the reduced Sunday service given low levels of traffic after the pandemic and limited to testing Mk4 rakes. The cement workings from Hanson's Padeswood cement works are now regular. There are rumours of the service ramping up to a Saturday+ service in mid-May as NR apparently makes preparations for an anticipated Government relaxation of social distancing rules.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 5

May 1997

After driver training on the Glan-y-pwll test track over previous several days, green liveried No.138 did appear in steam at the FR Gala 3-5/5/97, along with a static No.140 in red livery and parts of No.143.

 

This southerly archive view (3/5/97) shows No.138 in steam at Glan-y-pwll. This poor view is all that remains of several views your webmaster took at the time which has subsequently been lost. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (3/5/97) shows No.138 in steam at Glan-y-pwll setting off for the headshunt near Dinas (FR). In the background can be seen the boiler of No.143 as well as PW loco Harlech Castle and small shunter The Colonel. The temporary bridge across the Afon Barlwyd gave access to viewpoints of the test track from the eastern side. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Russell Edwards and was taken on an SLR camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tracklaying began at Dinas over the period 12-14/5/97 when a hired crane placed several hundred yards of track panels between the platform faces. The 9 DZ wagons purchased from Alfred County railway were placed on these panels and loaded up with the spare panels with each wagon holding five 18m panels, enough for over 100 yards progress towards Caernarfon. Three of the wagons on the track nearer the station building were loaded with loose rails for use on curves. Eight trackmen were now employed and, with safety training underway, tracklaying is set to begin in earnest at the end of May. The panel wagons with clear identities were in order from south to north DZ863/DZ1365/DZ1418/DZXXX/DZ977? and two others whilst the row of three held two unidentified wagons and DZ1410. Other wagons identified on site were 1848/1899/1806 and all were to be fitted with FR style chopper couplings.

Winsons of Daventry were commissioned to build a tracklaying machine which would be delivered to Dinas by the end of May. It consists of a 100' long cradle to be fitted to a DZ wagon at Dinas with compressed air lift/travel to carry a 2 tonne track panel or two rails from the overhang gantry at the rear to the overhang gantry at the front. The idea was that the tracklayer wagon would be propelled to the rail head with a wagon of track panels or loose rail to the rear. Once at the railhead, the gantry carrying mechanism would lift a panel of track from the wagon at the rear, carry it through to the front and place it ready to be joined to existing railhead. The process would then be repeated until the loco has to take the empty wagon back to Dinas and return with a fresh wagon of track panels/rail. This would mean a lot of movements on the railway with the possibility of 150m a day being laid once the learning curve is mastered and, with two shifts in action (6am-2pm and 2pm-10pm), the railhead could advance at a rate of up to 1 mile per week.

The WHLR has acquired Hibberd 4wDM Upnor Castle from the FR for use on the PW turns and it will arrive by road by the end of May. Some consideration has been given to using the tracklayer south to Dinas on the original WHR route to Rhyd Ddu. There are locations where the rail gantry will be out of gauge for bridges and so would need to be disassembled and reassembled beyond that point. As part of Mowlem's contract, packs of 13 steel sleepers have been placed at regular intervals along the trackbed, with 23 needed for each length of rail. Discussions were taking place with Mowlem about releasing sections of trackbed for tracklaying teams given the short time until the planned opening day of 1/7/97 but there were contractual questions of insurance so a delay in opening looked increasingly likely.

Volunteers have been working in the Clip Shed, one of the old GC sheds retained at the north end of the Dinas site, to grease and ease the track screws that will clamp the rail to the steel sleepers. These come in different sizes to allow for gauge widening on curves etc. While a 30 cm depth of bottom ballast has be laid, top ballast and tamping will follow when track has been laid and tweaked into its final smooth alignment. Yorkshire Engine Co. of Long Marston won a £25,000 contract to supply a refurbished ex NCB mines diesel hydraulic tamper to be tested on the FR in early June after being altered to fit the FR's loading gauge. This was one of several 60HP high speed tampers built by the NCB just before privatisation and was of a twin cab design with gauge adjustable between 2' and 3'.

 

This northerly archive view (17?/5/97) shows track laid at Dinas just a few days before as seen from Ty'n Llan road bridge. Fencing was being erected separating Lon Eifion from the trackbed and traditional style lamp standards were in place. The toilet block on the rear of the WHR waiting room had yet to be removed. There are six wagons in the left hand track each carrying 5 track panels whilst on the other track are 3 wagons with loose rail for curves. In the yard a large number of track panels, rails and sleepers can be seen as well as a large pile of ballast. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (17?/5/97) shows track laid at Dinas just a few days before. One of the flat wagons carrying five track panels can be seen. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (17?/5/97) shows loose rail laid on the track at the north end of Dinas. One of the 3 flat wagons carrying loose rail can be seen on the left. Mowlem's construction equipment can be seen in the yard. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (17?/5/97) shows the head of steel in the platforms. One of the flat wagons carrying six track panels can be seen. Fencing has been erected on the right separating the Lon Eifion footpath/cycleway from the platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Mowlem's contract was winding down at the end of May and it was hoped they would have finished the main contract by mid-June, though they might be retained for some additional work. By 17/5/97, the centre line fencing separating the railway from the Lon Eifion footpath/cycleway had advanced to Bontnewydd and ballasting had reached the Garden Centre level crossing just north of Bontnewydd (about half of the total). A start had also been made at the Caernarfon end and ballasting now reached southwards from Caernarfon to the former Llanberis Line divergence near Point Seiont. As Lon Eifion had been moved to the west between the station and St Helens Road bridge a large area has been cleared on the east side of the formation where the Llanberis line peeled away. Initial thoughts were to have a Carriage Shed at this location but it made more sense to assemble the train at Dinas where the loco would also be prepared, even if it meant more ECS running at the beginning and end of the day.

Mowlem's clearance, ditching and drainage has been good but one of three ex LNWR PW huts survived for a while half a mile north of Dinas. An ex LNWR rail was also found buried in the trackbed. Progress has also been made at Caernarfon station which was to consist of an edge platform on the west side with a run round loop on the east side against the Segontium Terrace retaining wall. As the site is so narrow the platform is just 5' wide in places. At the south end of the loop a siding was to be provided for shunting purposes. It was to be capable of accommodating two Garratt locos.

The WHLR has appointed an administration assistant Jan Woods to be based at the new site office block erected at Dinas next to the Clip Shed at the north end of the new car park. The WHLR hoped that volunteers would contact her by phone to organise tracklaying parties. The Dinas site has benefited from a late Grant of £300,000 from the Welsh Office environmental improvement fund. This helped pay for the improvement works already completed allowing the lottery grant to be used on more basic railway requirements.

Viewpoints were to be created on the Lon Eifion footpath/cycleway. The viaducts have already been identified as places for seats which will be made with a railway theme from rail and sleepers and feature old bicycles too. Photographers would find the Seiont Bridge near Caernarfon and the locos charge the 1 in 45 bank. Once the ballast bed has been laid and the centre line marked out it became obvious that clearances for the Garratts would require further cutting back of trees and vegetation. Some further clearance at the several footpath crossings will be needed to provide adequate sightlines for loco drivers.

Winson's also has a coach order coach order is progressing well and the first coach will be delivered soon for testing on the FR before delivery to Dinas. The Pullman coach was delayed so that the main order of 5 coaches could be quickly completed.

Some objections have been lodged to the T&W order application to the extension of the WHR to Porthmadog. Objections included

The period for objection closed by May and the WHLR was waiting to hear if a Public Enquiry would be needed as seems likely. A local community group which became known as Gwarchod (The Guardians) formed to coordinate opposition to the reinstatement of the railway calling it a 'white elephant'.

 

This northerly archive view (17?/5/97) shows the head of ballast just north of Plas Dinas bridge. At this point the former Nantlle line crosses the Carnarvonshire Railway in a 1m deep cutting and a culvert had to be constructed to carry water from the nearly Plas Dinas tunnel on the Nantlle Railway behind the viewpoint. Fencing had been erected in the distance separating the railway's bottom ballast from the Lon Eifion footpath/cycleway. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (17?/5/97) shows the completed Gwyrfai viaduct with the railway to the left with fenced posts separating the railway and footpath while the original edge fencing had been re4stored to preserve the appearance. Fencing has been erected in the distance separating the railway's bottom ballast from the Lon Eifion footpath/cycleway. The Lon Eifion path became popular with joggers and two are seen here resting. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (17?/5/97) shows the head of ballast just south of the more southerly footbridge at Caernarfon. A new bund on the left separates the railway from Lon Eifion which has been moved off the formation and close to St Helens Road. The rubble stone wall here was not up to the quality of that supporting Segontium Terrace above the station and collapsed in later years. The space on the right was originally considered for a possible Carriage Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (17?/5/97) shows the ballast just south of the more southerly footbridge at Caernarfon. A piles of steel sleepers on the right awaited the attention of the tracklaying teams who were yet to start out from Dinas, nearly 3 miles distant. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (17?/5/97) shows the ballast just north of the more southerly footbridge at Caernarfon. The railway formation sensibly keeps to the west side of the former BR double formation at this point which used to carry both the Llanberis and Afonwen branches. Various attempts had been made by BR over the years to shore up the wall. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (17?/5/97) shows the start of the platform kerbing at Caernarfon. There was plenty of space here for a run round track and a short siding off it which later became the watering point. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (17?/5/97) shows the first attempt at platform kerbing at the south end of Caernarfon. The platform was rather narrow at 5' at this point. BR had made further attempts to shore up the rubble stone wall that supported the footpath above at this point. Piles of kerbstones and metal sleepers await use near the future location of the water tank siding on the left. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (25/5/97) shows the start of volunteer tracklaying from Dinas on one of the first weekend working parties with track laying showing good progress compared to the preassembled panels visible the previous week (probably Sunday 17/5/97, see above). Some 10 volunteers are gathered around the head of steel and have spaced out some sleepers ready for clipping rails to the curve off the end of the platform. A wheelbarrow on the platform to the right contains all the volunteer's tools. Already a few curved sections of track have been laid from the preassembled panels laid in the platform. The trackbed is ballasted all the way out of the station and piles of steel sleepers await use. Several B wagons remain on the bank above the Loading Dock full of PW materials. Mounds of rubble dominated the rest of the Dinas site and needed to be cleared but Mowlem's ballasting operation has moved out. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (25/5/97) shows the start of volunteer tracklaying from Dinas on one of the first weekend working parties. Two volunteers are laying sleepers and clips ready for laying rails. Some 23 sleepers and 92 clips and bolts were needed for every 18m length of rail. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (25/5/97) shows the progress Mowlem had made with ballasting out from Caernarfon back towards their ballast dump at Hendy. The Lon Eifion cycleway/footpath had been moved to the extreme left and this created a large space on the right where the ballast dump. It was initially thought a Carriage Shed might be located at this point where the Llanberis branch. Mounds of ballast and slate fines for Lon Eifion are visible on the right. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (25/5/97) shows the realigned platform edge at Dinas after it was determined the restricted width of the platform at the south end might fall foul of current safety regulations. Packs of sleepers are stored on the left. Scarifying had reached the BR style level crossing gate that formerly marked the start of the Lon Eifion however the gate and two concrete car park bollards still needed to be removed though some can be seen stacked by the wall on the left. Piles of sub-base are visible on the right to make up the platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (25/5/97) shows the progress later that afternoon. One rail has been clipped onto the sleepers laid previously. Track clips and bolts are positioned alongside each sleeper. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (25/5/97) shows volunteers making progress later that afternoon. A second rail has been clipped onto the sleepers laid previously. Rail tongs are being used to drag a rail forwards over sections of pipe positioned to reduce friction. John Sreeves (the WHR's volunteer bridge engineer) is present in the T-shirt, one of two people on the rail tongs. Other volunteers are holding crow bars to guide the rail into place and holding sleepers up so that clips can be fixed onto the rail. Jacks are visible for lifting up the track when making a fishplate join to the existing rail head. The buckets contain collections of track fixings. The track panel is shifted with crowbars so that the offset from the metal survey poles seen on the left is constant and there is a smooth curve. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

John Sreeves has kindly released his notes as a typical volunteer experience of the day from this first volunteering weekend travelling from Aylesbury to the WHR.

Diary entry: Friday 23 May 1997. End of school. Drove to Dinas arriving 22.45. Slept in car.

Saturday 24 May 1997.

Safety induction talk. Cleaning sheds(?) easing bolts and general preparation. Fine, dry, sunny, but a cold wind. Overnight at Snowdonia Parc Campsite.

Sunday 25 May 1997.

A touch of ground frost. Track laying. Sleepers for four panels + one RH rail, 4 LH rails. Each rail 59', 24 sleepers per rail. Fine, dry, sunny, very hot. Sunburn on neck and arms. Overnight at campsite.

Monday 26 May 1997. Bank Holiday UK

Track laying continues apace. At the end of the day 7 panels were complete over the two days. Very hot, dry, sunny. Depart 15.50. Very heavy traffic everywhere.

That weekend was the first of many regular attendances from then on, although I had attended a practice track session at Glan-y-Pwll earlier.

 

This southerly archive view (27/5/97) shows the track panels on the wagons were now propped to stop the rails bending under the weight of the panels above. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (27/5/97) shows the south end of Dinas station with work stopped (probably Tuesday 27/5/97 was an Easter week off for the contractor). There was still a considerable amount of waste to dispose of at Dinas and the platforms required making up but ducting was in place for the lighting circuits visible on the right. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (27/5/97) shows the new ballast stockpile just south of Hendy Crossing (probably Tuesday 27/5/97). A back actor is visible and a dumper truck used to load and transport the ballast to the head of the ballast bed both north and south of this point, this freeing Dinas to Bontnewydd for tracklaying.. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (27/5/97) shows the view of Caernarfon station as seen from Segontium Terrace footbridge. The former De Winton ironworks is on the right. The platform extends up to footbridge but has yet to be backfilled. The platform was quite short for the 4/5 coach initial train service. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This archive view (28-30?/5/97) shows a view of Winson's Daventry factory where five coaches were under construction for the WHR. The one on the far right is the Open Coach No.2020 with saloons Nos.2040-42 nearer the camera in various stages of completion. All five coaches of Winson's first batch order are visible in various stages of construction. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This archive view (28-30?/5/97) shows a view of Winson's Daventry factory with Open Coach No.2020 nearing the final stages of completion. This coach does not have side windows and was planned as a summer coach where passengers could enjoy the environment in a more open way. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This archive view (28-30?/5/97) shows a view of Winson's Daventry factory with Open Coach No.2020 nearing completion and a fully glazed saloon visible to the right for comparison. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Work was nearing completion on the 10 tonne ex-NCB tamper at Long Marston. Yorkshire Engine Co. had purchased two that happened to be above ground at the time of the collapse of the coal industry. With its hydrostatic drive it could tamp, pack, lift and slew track of the lightweight type used in mines. The planned testing took place on the Bala Lake Railway, rather than the FR as planned, where the wiring of the machine was also refurbished before it came to the WHR. This meant much initial tamping of track was done by hand with Kango hand tampers.

 

This archive view (29-31?/5/97) shows the Gullick & Dobson tamper being restored to working condition for the WHR on a standard gauge wagon at Yorkshire Engines Co., Long Marston. Two cab roofs have been fitted to deal with the occasionally less favourable weather in North Wales. This articulated unit was due to be delivered to the FR by the end of May for evaluation and staff training. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The Best of The Snowdonian YouTube 17/4/20

The Snowdonian special train was due to operate on 18/4/20 with a variety of traction, possibly including the near complete No.130 and the recently returned to traffic No.87 on the WHR and a pair of England engines, Prince and Palmerston on the FR or Welsh Pony (if completed in time) on the FR. The F&WHR has produced a compilation YouTube of the best of the last 4 years of The Snowdonian. The next Snowdonian is now scheduled for 17/4/21, though it is hoped to run a Snowdonian Limited on 12/9/20 during SuperPower weekend.

 

Click on the YouTube window to watch 42 mins 36 seconds of video compilation from 1996-9 showing The Snowdonian in various locations. This YouTube was published on 17/4/20 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

The Snowdonian Limited postponed to 12/9/20

Assuming the virus crisis recedes sufficiently, The Snowdonian Limited will run on Saturday 12/9/20 during SuperPower. The annual 80 mile round trip through the Snowdonia National Park will cover the full length of both the Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog Railways in one day. To add more interest to this scenic journey, The Snowdonian Limited will be hauled by a variety of motive power, details yet to be confirmed. Passengers are advised to reserve their seats early as this is a popular event and places may be even more limited than usual if social distancing measures continue. Some possibilities of loco haulage include the newly restored K1 from Statfold Barn, No.130 (if finished in time), No.87 (recently released for traffic) and, on the FR, new Fairlie James Spooner and Welsh Pony (if both completed in time). These trains are being run to raise funds for The Diamond Jubilee Appeal. For further details, general enquiries and bookings call 01766 515835 or Email: snowdonian@msn.com.

 

No.130 March update

With work ceasing for the 'lock down' the final status of NG16 No.130 is that Boston Lodge at the end of March was varnishing the wood for the cab roof. The boiler will have hydraulic testing again before the start of service in order to reset its 10 year boiler ticket.

 

'Journey into the Past' specials August 2020

It is still intended to run JITP heritage trains over 5 August Sundays from 2-30/8/20 with the usual trip from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu and stop at Tryfan Junction and Waunfawr. Last year's offering was extended for additional Sundays in September until 22/9/19 due to demand.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 4

April 1997

Garratt No.138 was steam tested for the first time on 18/4/97 after being assembled by a 75 tonne crane of 7/4/97. Paul Lewin (later to become FR General Manager) had worked hard to get the loco ready for the FR Gala (3-5/5/97) after the loco's boiler was found to be below British standards. It was intended to do some driver training before the Gala weekend. On the other hand the boiler of No.143 will have to go away to be repaired, possibly to the SVR. It is hoped to have the dome rivets and drain plugs replaced by the time the WHR services start.

The same crane used on No.143 was also used to unload No.140 from its lorry when it arrived at Glan-y-pwll. It was intended that No.140 be overhauled over winter and retain its 'Midland Red' livery whereas No.138 is in green livery and No.143 will be in SAR black. To save transport costs, No.138's two power bogies were moved from Boston Lodge to Glan-y-pwll via the FR on 6/4/97 sandwiched between Criccieth Castle and Upnor Castle after the end of scheduled passenger services. The journey was slow at times as the bogies were a tight fit in several locations.

A decision was made to site the Carriage shed at Dinas rather than Caernarfon as the site is more secure and there have been occasional vandalism problems in Caernarfon from time to time. This will be at the north end of the yard and will be 80m long, alongside the headshunt from the former loading dock area. A loco running shed will also be located with fuelling and inspection facilities. This will be open to the public.

An appeal for £30,000 has been launched for K1's new boiler. Some 10% of the cost has already been raised and the target is to get the loco in steam on the WHR summer 1998. The K1 Group is holding an Open Day on 7/7/97 at the Birmingham Railway Museum at Tyseley where the loco is based. There will be an opportunity to drive a BRM steam loco is the evening. Entry to the Open Day is free but tickets for the evening events should be obtained from Colin Hill, the K1 Group Organiser.

With tracklaying about to begin the WHR took on 4 permanent staff to ensure the line opens as planned on 1/7/97. Roland Doyle, the Welsh Highland Light Railway manager, appointed 4 trackmen on 16/4/97 from some 72 applicants. After training the PW team will start work laying track at Dinas in early May. It is hoped volunteers will form regular gangs working at weekends between the weekday shifts of the PW team. Mowlem's contract has gone quite well with much fine dry weather and they hoped to finish in mid June. A 30 cm deep bottom ballast bed is complete from an underbridge just north of Bontnewydd Viaduct to Dinas and the centreline has been marked out. At the north end of the project ballasting was underway from Hendy Crossing towards Caernarfon with 9,000 tonnes being required for the full Phase 1 project.

A clearout of track materials from South Africa has seen 24 sets of points shipped to Immingham and a further 26 lorry loads delivered to Dinas in April. A set of 80 preassembled straight track panels were included which are intended for the initial track lay in Dinas platform in May. Winson Engineering, Daventry, which also won the initial coaching stock order, has won a contract for the construction of a rail gantry crane that will assist tracklaying. The structure will be based on an ex SAR DZ flat wagon and have overhang girders both ends capable of lifting rails or track panels off a supply wagon to the rear and passing through to the head of steel and placing them ahead of itself. With two shifts operating it was anticipated that 150m of track a day could be laid after staff have mastered the learning curve. A refurbished narrow gauge tamper has been ordered from the Yorkshire Engine Company at Long Marston. It is hoped to complete the 3 miles of tracklaying and tamping within two months of starting. The two machines will then be used on the 20 miles south of Dinas to Porthmadog.

On 27/3/97 the T&W documentation was submitted, including a lengthy environmental statement. The plans were available for public inspection at Porthmadog and Caernarfon public libraries or £42 from Harbour Station. A non technical summary is available for £2.70 and a traffic projection analysis for £13. Given the urgency of reaching Rhyd Ddu by 2000 it was hoped the order would be granted by early 1998 at the latest. In the meantime, once possession of the land is gained, possibly by summer 1997, fencing and clearance of the route can be undertaken under landowner's duties.

Over the weekend of 26-27/4/97 driver training was underway at Glan-y-pwll on the short test track in typically dull wet Blaenau weather in pr3eparation for the FR Gala the following weekend. A supporter sent your webmaster some prints of this event as your webmaster's slides do not appear to have been returned by Railway Magazine, which carried a picture dated 27/4/97 by your webmaster. Could the supporter please email me and full credit will be given. It is not known if the scans depicted below are in the right order but all are assumed to be from 26-27/4/97.

 

This westerly archive view (26-27?/4/97) shows No.138 with a driver training run on the test track at Glan-y-pwll as viewed over the BR tracks from wasteland off Dinas Road. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy of a supporter and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (26-27?/4/97) shows No.138 approaching the Dinas end of the test track at Glan-y-pwll as viewed from the end of the line off Dinas Road. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy of a supporter and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (26-27?/4/97) shows No.138 with a driver training run returning to Glan-y-pwll as viewed from the west side of the formation with BR tracks behind the loco. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy of a supporter and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (26-27?/4/97) shows No.138 with a driver training run returning to Glan-y-pwll as viewed from the west side of the formation with the new Glan-y-pwll shed in the background. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy of a supporter and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (26-27?/4/97) shows No.138 setting off from Glan-y-pwll Junction with a driver training run returning to the Dinas end of the test track. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy a supporter and was taken on of a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

F&WHR marketing initiative 15/4/20

The following message was sent by the F&WHR to supporters on 15/4/20:

'Following the recent restrictions on public movement, put in place by the UK Government in response to the COVID-19 emergency, we would like to take this moment to say a sincere thank you to all of you who have chosen to visit and enjoy the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways over the years. In line with Government direction, we have, with much sadness, had to close the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways to all visitors and we will remain closed until the Government advises us that it is safe to re-open. We spent the winter working hard to prepare our railways for you and were looking forward to seeing our visitors over the Easter break. We are so disappointed that we are closed and our staff and volunteers are staying at home; but we do strongly ask that you too adhere to government guidelines and spend your Easter holidays at home. Please do not come to Wales. Shops, attractions, beaches and mountain areas are all closed. The more we can do to help stem the spread of this virus now, the sooner you will be able to visit us again.

To those of you that have already booked to travel on the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways and perhaps booked an Afternoon Tea in one of our Pullman Carriages, we would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused by the closure of the Railway and reassure you that our Booking Office team are working flat out to reschedule your booking for later in the year, when we hope the Railway will have re-opened. Once we are ‘up and running’ again we would love you to come along and enjoy all the wonderful things that the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways have to offer.

Please sign up on our website for our ‘News from the Line’ newsletters so we can keep in touch and let you know our plans for later in the year and when we reopen for bookings. To help you look forward to that time, may we guide you to our brand new website where you can climb aboard a virtual journey on the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways and enjoy the sumptuous interiors of our Pullman Carriages as well as the glorious Snowdonia National Park countryside our trains pass through. The website also enables you to discover a whole assortment of other services, opportunities, events and activities offered by the Railway. There is even an online shop where you can by guidebooks, model railways, Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways branded clothing, presents and souvenirs in readiness for your visit! You can also discover the assortment of possibilities for your future visit via the new ‘A Journey for All’ page, which provides an overview of accessibility options, accompanying hobbies and external activities, allowing everyone to make the very most of their journey along the Railway.

Please do let us know what you think about our new website by emailing marketing@ffwhr.com and if you would like to contact us about visiting the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways later in the year, First Class bookings, or anything else relating to the Railway, please email bookingoffice@ffwhr.com.'

 

Short F&WHR YouTubes

A series of short videos to entertain supporters during the social distancing will be featured here.

 

YouTube drone view of No.143 crossing Glan-yr-afon Viaduct (12/4/20)

Click on the YouTube window to watch 1 mins 21 seconds of video taken in bright sunshine showing a Caernarfon to Porthmadog hauled by No.143 crossing Glan-yr-afon viaduct. This YouTube was published on 12/4/20 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

'On this Day'

Since 25/3/20 the F&WHR's Facebook page has on most days been featuring an attractive image dated that day in a previous year or a short YouTube to illustrate the rich history of the railway including modern scenes from the F&WHR. Both steam, diesel and visiting traction feature so it is always worth a look whilst the social distancing keeps many supporters indoors.

 

This northerly archive view (4/4/10) shows the two Funkeys Vale of Ffestiniog and Castell Caernarfon hauling a train through the Aberglaslyn Pass. It has been several years now since Castell Caernarfon was in service. There have been calls for a diesel gala when it returns. 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 digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 3

March 1997

By the end of March the WHLR Ltd had settled the £80,000 cost of its Dinas Loco shed site, the south half of the 1960s built National Rivers Authority depot in Dinas South Yard. This stood on the site of the original WHR carriage shed. The shed is suitable for a two road shed for Garratt locos. It is hoped to transfer ownership in May allowing much needed maintenance and trackwork to be laid out of the public area of Dinas North Yard. Looking to the future when the route is completed to Porthmadog (estimated to be 2005), the FR has bought the sandpit area to the east of Boston Lodge for a running shed for the Garratts.

In other financial developments on 10/3/97 there was a financial settlement between Gwynedd Council and the FR over the two remaining obstacles, these were a bridge debt of £27,000 and the Debenture Stock of £29,000 referred to in the last episode. The bridge debt represented sums paid out for reinforcing WHR under-bridges (e.g. Coed Helen) for heavier traffic experienced since the railway closed in 1936. GC was now fully supportive of the WHR project and it was hoped will progress the next application to the EU for ERDF grants thus relieving the WHLR management of considerable cost and time.

Red Garratt No.140 was on its way, due to arrive in England about 20/3/97. It was destined to be stored at Glan-y-pwll shed by Easter for the time being before eventually moving to Dinas. Further parts of the 'train set' were on the same ship from South Africa with 9 wagons and a level crossing unit. It had been discovered that there was corrosion of the dome rivets on No.138 which were failed by the Boston Lodge boiler inspector. These have been keyed and fitted with nuts thus ensuring 10 years of boiler life. Unfortunately the same problem was found with No.143's boiler, unusual for such young locos built in 1958, a consequence of being stored by the sea at the terminus of the Alfred County Railway. It was likely No.138 would be ready for the FR's May Gala and would be steamed on the Glan-y-pwll test track.

Early March saw a key stage begin with construction when ballasting began from over the length from a point 250m north of the Gwyrfai Viaduct at Bontnewydd from a farm underbridge for 1km back towards Dinas. This allowed the dumper trucks to serve the trackbed from a Dinas ballast store making a 30cm depth bed of bottom ballast. By 12/3/97, kerb stones were in place to form the platform edges at Dinas though the toilet block attached to the WHR waiting room had yet to be removed. It was hoped that Mowlem would release the platform area could be released to the WHLR by the end of March so that tracklaying could be completed in the area over Easter.

Work on the reinforcement of the two viaducts and one underbridge (just north of Bontnewydd) was nearing completion adding another 100 years of life to these 1860s Carnarvonshire Railway structures. Around Bontnewydd, gabions were nearing completion to widen the formation to its full double track width needed for railway formation and Lon Eifion. This area had been skimped by the Victorian contractors due to lack of fill from the Plas Dinas cutting to the south. Mowlem had additionally used geotextile to strengthen the embankment and ensure it could bear the weight of a Garratt loco.

Clearance at Caernarfon has revealed the three track width of the formation. The easterly track was the Llanberis Branch and the central track was the Afonwen branch while the westerly track was the horse worked docks branch, later worked by a tractor pulling wagons. The WHLR has made a decision to build a carriage shed at the south end where the Llanberis branch peels off on the east side of the formation. This idea met with approval by GC's planning Department and Lon Eifion was diverted further west south of St. Helens Road bridge to make way for this. The new entrance to the footpath/cycleway was made further along St Helens Road at the south end of the future WHR platform opposite Gwynedd Tyres.

The WHLR manager called for a big volunteer effort over Easter to ensure the line opened on 1/7/97 as planned to capture the Summer tourist traffic income. Volunteers were needed in every department from April onwards without impinging of the FR's operations. Looking ahead, once the WHR trackbed has been purchased from the official receiver it will be scarified, with removal of 60 years of growth, including some small trees. Ditches would need to be cleared and fencing restored during the Autumn and Winter as the project heads towards completing the 1998 terminus proposed on the WHR proper to be at Waunfawr. This work can be progressed ahead of a TWO as the railway has the right to take good care of its land whatever the outcome of the TWO process. In some places the embankment must be restored after removal by farmers and a landslip dealt with. A number of project coordinators have been set up to be points of contact with volunteers in tracklaying, rolling stock refurbishment and train crew etc. Colin Hill, who was leading K1's restoration was to be the first point of contact.

 

This northerly archive view (22-23?/3/97) shows the new road built around the site at Dinas. The Goods Shed has a giant sign advertising the project, contractors and funding bodies. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (22-23?/3/97) shows the new wall and gate at Dinas nearing completion. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (22-23?/3/97) shows the laying of kerb stones to form the platform faces at Dinas in the space where the former BR tracks ran.. The toilet block attached to the WHR Dinas waiting room still needed to be removed at this stage. The viewpoint was Ty'n Llan bridge and a section of the Lon Eifion was open at this stage. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (22-23?/3/97) shows a view along the platform Dinas with the toilet block waiting to be demolished. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (22-23?/3/97) shows the northern end of Dinas station with the platform kerbing curving away. The bay platform face for the proposed 'Caernarfon shuttle' is also visible along with contractors equipment north of the Goods shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (22-23?/3/97) shows the head of ballast progressing south towards Dinas from the Afon Gwyrfai Viaduct. Fencing would soon be erected to separate the Lon Eifion on the left from the railway formation. The location is believed to be just north of the Dinas headshunt and footpath crossing with the railway dropping into Plas Dinas Cutting in the background. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (22-23?/3/97) shows the ballast bed approaching Dinas. The viewpoint believe to be the climb from Plas Dinas Cutting with the Dinas headshunt and level crossing in the distance. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (22-23?/3/97) shows the ballast bed just north of an overbridge over a farm road some 250m north of the Afon Gwyrfai viaduct which was in the process of having a new deck installed. The metal spikes inserted in the ballast bed denote the surveyed positions of the rails. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (22-23?/3/97) shows the newly reinforced concrete deck of the accommodation bridge about 250 south of the Gwyrfai Viaduct at Bontnewydd. The ballast bed starts just south of this point and extends for almost 1 km back to Dinas headshunt. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (22-23?/3/97) shows the gabions required to widen the trackbed just south of the Afon Gwyrfai Viaduct. The head of ballast can be seen just over the works for the farm accommodation underbridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (22-23?/3/97) shows the refurbishment of the Afon Gwyrfai Viaduct nearing completion The trackbed on the right is complete and rebar and concreting is underway on the left for the Lon Eifion footpath. The old Nantlle Railway formation can be seen as a shelf on the hillside below the houses and crosses the Gwyrfai on a single arch which still exists the right. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (22-23?/3/97) shows the situation at Hendy Crossing with the BR style gate pushed aside to allow dumper trucks and 360 degree backactors to access and lay ballast. The caravan and 'garden centre illegally occupying the trackbed just north of the crossing had been removed by this time although a range of interesting shrubs remained. This was the location of the former Pant terminus of the Carnarvonshire Railway where slate for the harbour was transferred to the final stub on the Nantlle Railway that connected to the quayside. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (22-23?/3/97) shows Coed Helen Cutting. It was important to restore the drainage of trackbed on the right in this rather wet cutting. The old Nantlle Railway formation can be seen as a shelf on the left and was converted into the Lon Eifion as the cutting is two narrow for both railway and footpath. The Coed Helen lane overbridge can be seen in the background. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (22-23?/3/97) shows the refurbishment of the Coed Helen cutting. The old Nantlle Railway formation can be seen as a shelf on the hillside to the left. At this point the Lon Eifion has descended off the shelf and rejoined the formation on the left. The propped Coed Helen overbridge can be seen as well as your webmaster's father. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (22-23?/3/97) shows the refurbishment of the Afon Seiont Viaduct. The concrete and rebar insert for the railway formation on the right hand side is nearing completion while that for the Lon Eifion on the left is complete. In the distance is the new St Helens Road bridge shows the way to Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (22-23?/3/97) shows the laying of kerb stones to form the platform faces at Dinas from Ty'n Llan lane over bridge.. The kerbs for the bay platform are also visible and a large ballast pile at the end of the platform to complete the ballasting. To the right in the distance are the retained GC sheds which were used by the railway for sorting and cleaning track clips, becoming known as the Clip Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (22-23?/3/97) at Dinas from Ty'n Llan lane over bridge shows the National Rivers Authority shed on the left on the site of the original WHR's Carriage Shed and beyond that another building on the site of the former Loco Shed.. The WHRL took ownership of the south half of the nearer shed and the land beyond the gate. The railway trackbed was to curve in from the Lon Eifion on the right to pass at an angle between the two sheds. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Track warning

While services have been suspended a limited number of PW inspection trains may operate on the F&WHR keeping it safe. Locals have been warned not to walk on the track as clearance is very limited in places.

 

Three chairmen appeal for F&WHR support

John Prideaux FR Co. chairman, Howard Wilson FR Society chairman and Dafydd Thomas WHR Society chairman have signed a joint letter appealing for funds to help the railway through these difficult times. The F&WHR has a £6.5m turnover and a £2.5m wage bill and train services, shops and restaurants are all closed. Only the internet shop is open. Staff essential for running the railway when it reopens could be lost. The Trust and the Societies have agreed to make loans in the short term to ensure the railway remains solvent. While they recognise that some government help may eventually come donations can help in the meantime. It is important to keep the railway in a condition it can make a swift return to service as soon as the restrictions are lifted. It seems likely that restrictions will not be eased until the end of May at the earliest, missing all the Spring/Easter traffic.

 

F&WHR internet shop still open

The F&WHR on line shop is still active and selling books, DVDs, BluRays etc. about a variety of railways. Purchasing some items from the shop could help the railway through its current economic crisis. Those who are socially distancing like your webmaster could find something to watch to pass the time. Click here for the F&WHR on-line shop.

 

iBase photo analysis continues

The iBase photo analysis campaign continues with four new photos every day. Some very interesting images appear here and the comments reveal the great depth of knowledge about the F&WHR amongst supporters, often providing new information about photos. Details of dates and locations and viewpoints are requested. Your webmaster hopes that the campaign has more luck than the requests made on this website for help with uncertain dates for images of construction of the WHR Phase 1 which has yet to generate a single reply.

 

Starting Upnor Castle YouTube 10/4/20

This is the first of a series of short Easter treat YouTube videos for F&WHR supporters.

Click on the YouTube window to watch 4 mins 0 seconds of video showing Upnor Castle being started up in Harbour Station to charge the batteries on 9/4/20. This YouTube was published on 10/4/20 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

Clearance of the Dinas (FR) branch (10/4/20)

An article in Heritage Railways 10/4/20 edition reports progress by a group of volunteers promoting the restoration of the 2 km Dinas (FR) branch. Before being locked down by the pandemic, the group had succeeded in clearing the trackbed at the far end of the line where it passes under the A470 near NR's Ffestiniog Tunnel portal. Funds are also available for clearing rhododendron growth on the Llechwedd Incline and it is possible trains might operate on the incline to the tourist attractions at Llechwedd Quarries, such as Quarry Tours, Zip World, Bounce Below etc. There were plans in the 1980s to reopen the branch following clearance of the Oakley Quarries tip over the original Dinas alignment and in fact the triangular formation of the junction at Glan-y-pwll was restored with this in mind.

Dinas (FR) was opened in 1836, the original FR opening date, for slate and the passenger station followed in 1865 but did not last long as it was far from the town centre. The extension of the line to serve the Maenofferen Quarry incline allowed a new more central station to be built known as Duffws. This opened in January 1866 and so Dinas (FR) closed to passenger traffic in 1870 though remained very busy with slate traffic until the closure of the FR. With an application in to declare the Blaenau Ffestiniog area a World Heritage Status site, funds may become available to develop the branch.

It is possible trains might operate from the FR's current terminus up the branch using Quarrymen's coaches hauled by steam or hydrogen powered locos. It might be possible to have a 'green' powered train if the latter was used. Trains could stop at the historically significant Pant-y-afon hydroelectric power station and incline car could carry passengers up the short incline to the Llechwedd Quarry. This might require the long disused second platform face at the FR's Blaenau Ffestiniog station to come back into regular use.

The expansion of the Oakley Quarries tip covered the original route from Glan-y-pwll to Dinas in 1899 and a deviation was constructed from Glan-y-pwll shed and the BR tracks to Dinas along the banks of the diverted Afon Barlwyd. Rather than reversing at Glan-y-pwll and using the test track built in 1997 for the WHR Garratts, it is more likely the scheme will use the original 1836 route and the triangular junction at Glan-y-pwll that operated between 1880 and 1899. The new shed at Glan-y-pwll, once used to assemble and test Garratts could be used to store the stock for the railway. For further details and volunteer opportunities contact smurfitt@ffwhr.com.

 

This easterly archive view (1/10/96) shows the headshunt of the Glan-y-pwll test track alongside NR tracks near the former Dinas (FR) station which is the viewpoint as the bridge in the foreground is one of several missing on the former Dinas (FR) branch. This track might be reused as part of the new Dinas reopening plan. 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 Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly archive view (1/10/96) shows the new shed at Glan-y-pwll, which might become the shed for the new Dinas (FR) Project, and the Garratt test track extending towards Glan-y-pwll junction. This section of line was built as a diversion in 1899 when the Oakley Quarry tip was built over the original 1836 Dinas formation that may be reopened as part of the Dinas (FR) Project. 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 Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (1/10/96) shows the test track at Glan-y-pwll Junction. Some redundant bridge beams had been used to shore up the disused and dilapidated FR formation at this point. This route was in use until 1946 and saw slate trains shunt at Glan-y-pwll to gain access to the LNWR/GWR exchange yards. 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 Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

TrawsLink cancels Caernarfon meeting 9/4/20

A new group has been set up as a northern branch of TrawsLink to push for Bangor-Caernarfon-Afonwen restoration under the Government's 'Reversing Beeching' strategy, see TrawsLink announcement. The existing TrawsLink branch based in the Cardiganshire area has successfully lobbied and obtained a TfW funded Feasibility Study into reopening the Carmarthen-Aberyswyth line. However, due to the current pandemic, the inaugural meeting for the Bangor-Afonwen Group planned for Y Galeri, Caernarfon, on 17/04/2020 to gather support for this final section of the West Wales Coast link has been cancelled. Organisers will rearrange the meeting once the current pandemic alert has passed.

In 2015 TrawsLink Cymru was successful in lobbying for a Scoping Study to be published on 18/9/15 for the reopening of Aberystwyth-Carmarthen section of the West Welsh Coast route (Bangor-Carmarthen). This showed that the scheme was possible with a diversion to avoid the preserved Gwili Railway which owns the trackbed from Abergwili Junction just north of Carmarthen to Llanpumpsaint. This in turn led to a full Feasibility Study presented to the Welsh Government 19/9/18 that suggested a new route into an expanded Aberystwyth terminus and crossing the Vale of Rheidol on the level (as with the WHR) at an estimated cost of £500m (£776m including optimism bias). Costs include a new tunnelled approach to Aberystwyth, displacing the Gwili Railway to a nearby branch e.g. Newcastle Emlyn, several new stations and two passing loops plus measures to deal with stability and environmental concerns crossing Cors Caron bog Nature Reserve SSSI approaching Strata Florida station. The service was suggested as an extension of the Manchester-Carmarthen service which did not meet local approval as this is often turned back early leading to reduced services on Carmarthen and its branches. Overall the report was negative about the cost benefit /analysis but did not seem to take into account the through route traffic from North Wales or even the Cambrian Coast!

Fortunately the Carnarvonshire Railway bought land for double track and so the Lon Eifion can be accommodated as far Bryncir where it ends. If the route restoration goes ahead on the old trackbed it might mean reuse of the little used road tunnel under Y Maes and interleaved track with some interesting signalling between Caernarfon and Dinas for the F&WHR with hourly TfW DMUs and the odd excursion/PW train passing over the WHR. Track would need to be lowered under St Helens Road bridge to allow standard gauge trains to pass through. WHR dwell times in Caernarfon station might have to be reduced. At Dinas the F&WHR might be asked to move over onto its original alignment east of the station building to allow a single standard gauge track to pass through where the WHR loop currently is situated but offering cross platform interface and a benefit to the WHR in terms of passengers arriving by NR as a joint station at Caernarfon is impossible given platform levels.

WHR engineers requested passive provision for standard gauge clearances where the new Caernarfon Bypass bridges the WHR just north of Bontnewydd. A diversion will be necessary at the A487/A499 roundabout at Llanwnda. At Groeslon a 1 km diversion to the west would be necessary to avoid two expensive road bridges as level crossings are disapproved of by the current planning rules. At Pen-y-groes there would probably be a station and passing loop but the A487 bypass occupies the site so a further diversion is necessary. A road bridge over the A487 Llanllyfni bypass/Lon Eifion also appears to have inadequate clearance for both reinstated railway and the Lon Eifion. The trackbed south of there is largely undeveloped and would connect to NR's existing Cambrian Coast Line at Afonwen. However the approaches to Afonwen at Chwilog are built over so a new curve from just north of Chwilog to the west of Penychain Halt (ex Butlins Pwllheli) would allow running into Pwllheli where it is possible trains could reverse and run along the Cambrian Coast Line.

Train services might possibly run Bangor to Pwllheli (reverse)/Porthmadog/Barmouth. Signalling is an issue as NR would not want to extend the recently discredited ERTMS scheme based at the Machynlleth powerbox after the system failed dangerously on 20/10/17 and did not correctly identify temporary speed restrictions to drivers. This was subject to an expensive analysis by the RAIB which reported that there were still concerns about the system (see below). Maybe it is time to remove the system and operate modern LED colour lights as recently installed on the North Wales Coast. This would allow excursions and steam specials on the Cambrian again which were lost, with all the income to heritage railways that they used to bring, due to NR's failure to keep their promise to provide a mobile receiver for visiting traction and the lack of availability of the dedicated Class 97/3 (ex Class 37s) from Shrewsbury.

See Daily Post story.

 

NR appeal for essential staff 7/4/20

The F&WHR has received an appeal for help from Network Rail. As they try to ensure that essential services continue they are struggling to find sufficient staff as staff go off ill. In particular, they have appealed for retired or former signallers to return in the short term. Other Heritage railways have responded to this for which NR has been most grateful. The need for help is growing and will likely continue to grow in the coming weeks with help needed in operations and infrastructure too. The F&WHR is happy to release staff laid off while the railway is closed. See NR Appeal.

 

Passing the social distancing time 6/4/20

With the Sunday timetable reducing news for the North Wales Coast website, the webmaster Charles Hulme is publishing images from the past with updates now more than weekly. It is well worth a look and some of your webmaster's main line contributions can been seen.

Railways of North Wales is a private group on Facebook that you must seek permission to join but has some nice images.

 

Moving Pictures No.42 3/4/20

The final edition of Moving Pictures until the pandemic is over and government restrictions are lifted is dated 31/3/20. The General Manager reminds passengers and volunteers they should not travel to the F&WHR as it is not open.

 

Click on the YouTube window to watch 18 mins 52 seconds of video showing a promotional trip with No.87 in the Aberglaslyn Pass, views of Lyd and Blanche on the Hafod-y-Llyn service including some drone views and a drone view of Baldwin No.608 on a test run to Beddgelert with Upnor Castle for insurance. This YouTube was published on 3/4/20 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

Welsh Pony progress 1/4/20

Trial fitting of the open cab side sheets took place earlier in the year. It is hoped to make adjustments to fitting so that the loco cab can be removed and within 24 hours an older cabless profile of the loco can appear at galas.

 

Snowdonia 360

One of the Brown timetable trains was stopped specially at Pont Croesor to allow Welsh TV presenter Sian Lloyd to pose flagging down the train. This was part of the Snowdonia 360 promotional tour which covered many of the tourist attractions in North Wales. Lotus Cars had sponsored the road trip and it covers a 360 mile road tour of North Wales visiting the Heritage Railways etc. For full details of the Snowdonia 360 campaign click here.

 

Good news for the F&WHR closure appeal

A generous benefactor has agreed to add 5% extra to any funds raised by the F&WHR Covid-19 Closure Appeal. See General Manager's Appeal video.

 

General Manager appeals for help with photo archive 1/4/20

Here is an activity F&WHR members can help with whilst 'locked down' at home, using their railway knowledge to expand captions on old photos of the two railways and identify locations. Images from iBase resource will be pasted on F&WHR Insider Facebook page for consideration and comments collated. If needed, you can zoom into the photograph further on the website, as they can be viewed in greater detail via the archive zoom. Simply visit F&WHR iBase resource, enter the iBase reference number into the search box, then click on the photo until you reach the level of magnification you require. There are also instructions as to how to give a 3 word location code that defines a 3m square location box.

Your webmaster hopes there is a better response than the appeal for help with archive images from 1996-7 featured on these pages to tie down dates/locations which generated nil response.

 

Click on the YouTube window to watch 6 mins 35 seconds of video covering the appeal for image analysis. This YouTube was published on 1/4/20 and was taken by John Wooden on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

Dinas (FR) branch progress March 2020

The original FR extended to a station at the foot of the inclines nearer the NR Blaenau Tunnel portal to a station called Dinas. This became a freight only line later in the railway's history when the LNWR Exchange station , GWR Exchange station and Duffws Terminus were constructed. When the FR reopened to Blaenau Ffestiniog thought was given to linking to the Rhiwbrifdyr Incline and the tourist attractions developing in the area. The original alignment was covered over by Oakley Quarries tip expansion but recovered during land reclamation works with material tipped in the LNWR station area and others.

Now a project group has been formed to examine the possibility of reopening the route. Volunteers have undertaken an initial survey of the missing bridges. There are four, five or six bridges depending on which are reinstated. The investigation was very much a preliminary look at what might be needed. There is also the question of what type of bridge is needed and what sort of train will they need to support? The report, although preliminary, contains much valuable information, particularly with regard to any grant application that might be made.

The second development is that on 13/2/20 project leaders visited the Rail and Research Department at the University of Birmingham, which leads the way on Hydrogen powered train technology. In partnership with Porterbrook Leasing, they have produced HydroFlex, the UK’s first Hydrogen train. A researcher had visited line in January 2020 and was particularly interested in the potential of the branch and the hydroelectric power station. Researchers from Birmingham University were enthusiastic about the prospect of the FR procuring a narrow gauge hydrogen engine for the Dinas branch. Steam engines are also wanted but an entirely green clean train will be of interest to many. The research team has a narrow gauge hydrogen locomotive, Hydrogen Hero, which they had intended to bring to the now cancelled Fairlie Eventful Festiniog Railway Locomotive trials in June 2020. It was the intension to have Hydrogen Hero running in the new Carriage Shed at Boston Lodge.

The next Dinas working party was planned take place on 21-22/3/20 but the pandemic closure has prevented that. It had been the intention to clear one of the bridge sites and hope to gain access to what is known as the ‘island’ site.

 

Click on the YouTube window to watch 1 mins 25 seconds of video covering Hydrogen Hero. This YouTube was published on 11/6/19. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

Moelwyn Tunnel south portal work almost complete late March

A start was made on the new portal at the south end of the Moelwyn Tunnel in early November following closure of the FR for the WMWP. It was planned to complete the work in time for the new 2020 Season on 28/3/20. By 6/12/19 work had been completed on the footings building upwards towards the arch.

This northerly view (23-31/3/20) shows the completed south portal of Moelwyn Tunnel on the FR with Criccieth Castle emerging on the works train. Work has been taking place as part of the WMWP during the FR closure to complete the south portal following completion of the north portal last year. With the railway closed and virus restrictions coming into force, the decision was taken to remove the scaffolding for HSAW reasons although a small amounting of pointing is required to the lower part of the face to finish the job. The indent space to the left of the portal is for a plaque to celebrate the completion. Your webmaster had a small part in building this tunnel, driving a mines loco with loaded skips to muck out the tunnel during its original construction in the late 1970s. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Ian Hartill (Moelwyn Tunnel Project Manager F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Baldwin No.608 test run March

Baldwin No.608, which failed during the photoshoot last November, has received attention at Boston Lodge and was allowed a trial run to Beddgelert recently. The loco was accompanied by Upnor Castle for insurance. There are still issues to deal with but progress has been made and the loco might be seen in traffic later this year when the railway reopens after the government eases the restrictions necessitated by the pandemic. The loco is similar to Baldwin No.590 which ran on the WHR from 1923 until scrapped in 1942 when the WHR was scrapped for the war effort. The WHHR also has a Baldwin nearing completion at the VoR. The Imperial War museum's No.794 will carry the identity No.590 to reprise many historical tableaux along the route now that the F&WHR and WHHR have an improving working relationship.

 

Heritage Group donation 28/3/20

As the WHR Heritage Group is unlikely to be doing anything with Glan-yr-Afon weighbridge project this year or indeed any other projects on the WHR – they have instead sent £2,500 for the FR/WHR Covid-19 appeal. While the Company may eventually get some help from the various Government Covid-19 schemes it seems pretty clear that the FR/WHR will need substantial donations to help make up for the loss of revenue from the trains, cafes and retail activities that would otherwise be about to come on stream at Easter.

 

F&WHR YouTube advert 26/3/20

Click on the YouTube window to watch 1 mins 43 seconds of video showing an advert for the F&WHR to keep the spirits up during the lock down. This YouTube was published on 26/3//20 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

TfW reduces WalesRail services 23/3/20

With the Government recommending a 'stay at home' pandemic policy, TfW has reduced services to a Sunday service to reflect demand so the loco hauled train have disappeared. A bus service is operating on the Conwy Valley line which it is hoped will be restored and made more weatherproof before the Summer should holiday traffic return. See TfW website for latest service reductions.

Elsewhere on the North Wales railways the new cement service to Padeswood (near Buckley) has started recently and TfW has confirmed that the loco hauled Crewe/Manchester-Holyhead/Llandudno service will after all continue and additional Mk4 coaches have been purchased to cover this despite not being mentioned in the initial prospectus. Mk3 coaches continue to be used with an extended derogation until they arrive. The proposed new freight services from Penmaenmawr stone quarry and Llandudno Junction (household refuse) have not commenced yet. An attempt to use the Valley triangle for reversing a steam loco on a recent excursion could not be completed due to NR not maintaining the junction points in a useable condition despite guarantees to the promoters!

 

NG15 No.134 Group cancels working party 21-22/3/20

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the NG15 Group has cancelled the working party due 21-22/3/20 and is likely to cancel following months too until the Government advises that it is safe to have such meetings. It was anticipated that the loco would have be wheeled during the March working party. Some small home-working projects may continue but it is unlikely the permanent staff will make any further progress as the F&WHR has closed down completely except for skeleton staff who are maintaining safety and security of the railway and its workshops.

 

Statfold Barn cancels 21/3/20 Enthusiast Day due to virus concerns

Statfold Barn has cancelled the Enthusiast Day planned for 21/3/20 following government advice which has seen all Heritage Railways closing. It had been hoped to showcase the restored K1 at the event but this will now be done later in the year when it becomes clear how long the virus lock down will last. See Statfold Barn website.

 

Welsh Pony progress 20/3/20

The brass front hand rail has been repaired and fitted. A new smokebox door of the original pattern has been produced. There has been good progress fitting out the cab with gauges and glasses and the boiler was tested to 170 psi (1.17 MPa) on 27/2/20.

 

This Boston Lodge view (20/2/20) shows good progress sitting all the gauges and glasses to Welsh Pony's backhead. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Ian Hartill (Moelwyn Tunnel Project Manager F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Beddgelert station seats renewal 19-20/3/20

The WHR Seats team were hoping to renew the station platform seats at Beddgelert on 19-20/3/20 but this may now be affected by the epidemic.

 

NG 15 No.134 progress summary Spring 2020

Progress had been made by Huw Einion Jones of the permanent staff and the Tuesday Engineering Gang. One of jobs that has been done is to tidy up the front buffer beam, filling in some of the holes from the old coupling and safety chains then giving it a coat of paint. The gang also had a go at modifying the front cow catcher, however it's still likely that it will need further enhancement. The front drawgear has been completed and assembled and is now in place. After re-wheeling the loco, it can be moved around easily, clearing space and allowing use of the pit for assembly when it is available.

The NG15 group has been busy replacing the chequered plate on the locomotive. The old plate was a mix of chequered and diamond plate and had a lot of holes in places where parts were no longer fitted. New 6mm chequered plate was purchased and has made the loco look a lot better. The lubrication system for the KH truck has been completed with the guidance of the permanent staff. It was decided to use standard components where possible. The KH truck flexible pipes are standard NG 16 pipes, as well as the 4 way oil splitter.

The axleboxes had suffered from scoring due to there being insufficient oil feed to the bearings so it was decided to skim the bearing surface and modify the boxes to be the same as a NG16. The front buffer beam has been cleaned up by the Tuesday Engineering Group with any unnecessary holes filled in and any areas of corrosion were ground and built up with weld. It is now ready for re-fitting the new vacuum pipe. The original cow catcher was made to fit around the lowered coupling. It was found that the cow catcher was in very poor condition and it may need replacing. Options will be discussed at the next working party. The new drawgear has been assembled but the bolts need fully tightening when a suitable socket can be found.

 

B&FRHT AGM cancelled 18/3/20

In light of Government's advice and reports that some of members are self isolating the AGM of the Bala & Ffestiniog Railway Heritage Trust will not now be holding a physical face to face AGM on 28/3/20 in Blaenau Ffestiniog. The committee are still working through legal requirements and alternatives to try to provide some certainty to the members and the Trust moving forward. It is likely to involve proxy votes so members will be asked to submitted proxy vote forms.

In the meantime the Trust's Facebook page is showing images of the line as a quiz for people B&FRHT Facebook page.

 

F&WHR suspends services because of Corona virus 18/3/20

The F&WHR reacted promptly to Government advice and closed the railway on 18/3/20 just prior to the start of the Easter Season on 28/3/20, so a great loss of income is anticipated and an appeal has been made for financial aid to support the railway and retain key staff. This will ensure the railway can restart as soon as allowed by the Government when the Covid-19 virus crisis is over. The F&WHR shops and cafes are also closed down and staff furloughed, with a few safety critical staff retained for security of the railway and premises. Click here to see Appeal.

 

Click on the YouTube window to watch 3 mins 53 seconds of video covering the F&WHR's General manager appealing on behalf of the railway concerning the economic damage the shut down of the railway will do to its future. The video includes some archive footage. This YouTube was published on 26/3/20 and was taken by John Wooden on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

Images of the final train on 14/3/20 were captured on the WHHR webcam apparently the Hafod-y-llyn service returning in the late afternoon with Linda or Blanche in charge.

 

Click on the YouTube window to watch 0 mins 47 seconds of video covering the F&WHR's final Hafod-y-llyn train before shutting down following government advice about Covid-19 measures. The video also shows Emma shunting Russell. This YouTube was published on 18/3/20 and was taken by the WHHR webcam courtesy Andrew Goodwin (WHHR). It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

K1 back in action 11/3/20!

This SBR view (11/3/20) shows K1 back in service after a rapid 3 month turn round at the Statfold Barn workshops. The loco appears to be in good condition following its overhaul with very little evidence of steam leaks. It had been was hoped to hold an enthusiast Day on 21/3/20. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Joey Evans courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Welsh Pony progress 6/3/20

Rapid progress is being made on Welsh Pony with work underway on the smokebox door and a start on the cab plumbing. A launch event has been planned for 20-21/6/20 replacing the 'Fairlie Eventful' event planned for the same weekend but subject to government restrictions concerning the current epidemic.

 

Fourth Observation Car to be named 4/3/20

It is planned to name the FR's Pullman Observation Carriage No.152 Eryri-Snowdonia(Welsh on one side and English on the other) when it is outshopped after re-varnishing later this year. This means that all four F&WHR Pullman Observation carriages will have local names. The FR Pullmans are named after the area through which the railway passes; Eryri after the local area and Gwynedd after the county (itself named after an ancient kingdom of North West Wales). The WHR Pullmans are named Glaslyn and Gwyrfai after rivers that flow through the area served by the railway.

 

Cabinet Office video 3/3/20

The Cabinet Office Press unit 'cab ride' (presumably taken 21/1/20) was finally published 3/3/20 and shows the WHR in atrocious rainy dark Winter weather with some of the line very wet e.g. Castell Cidwm bridge and The Traeth flooded. In places the video switches to a rear view camera as the front camera has raindrops on the lens. No action is shown at the terminals and there are unedited station stops. At Dinas, the brakevan and freight train are seen in the headshunt and PW diesel No.9 in the bay. At Rhyd Ddu, Upnor Castle in in the siding with a Mess Coach and some wagons. At Beddgelert there are two wagons in the siding possibly with loco ash, presumably for strengthening embankments in the Beddgelert Forest. At Porthmadog Vale of Ffestiniog is noted waiting in the run round loop with, possibly, No.143 presumably going to Dinas for refurbishment though for some reason the video blanks out for a second whilst passing the Garratt.

 

Click on the YouTube window to watch 2 hours 9 mins 24 seconds of video presumably taken on 21/1/20 in poor weather showing a buffer beam view from Caernarfon to Porthmadog. This YouTube was published on 3/3/20 and was taken by the Cabinet Office Press Unit courtesy of F&WHR on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

No.130 progress 2-16/3/20

Peter Best's Garratt No.130 has seen some progress during March though the corona virus pandemic will restrict progress for some months to come.

By 2/3/20 progress with trial fitting cladding had reached the smokebox.

By 7/3/20 the cladding bands had now been made, trial fitted and have had their first coat of rust prevention paint. The cladding is also complete except for the holes for the hand rail posts being cut. Painting will probably start as soon as the copper pipework is completed. The large steam pipes have been bent, trial fitted and flange connections added.

By 14/3/20 good progress was being made with the cladding, with holes cut for handrail posts, priming and undercoating in full swing. All of the cladding is now complete and will soon be fitted for the final time with the insulation.

By 16/3/20 the spark arrestor components were being fitted. All the component pieces are finished and the main steam pipes fitted with flanges.

 

Winter 2019-20 snowfall summary

Winter 2019/20 has been rather disappointing with no trains in the snow images to hand. There was a blanket of snow on Snowdon and the Carneddau on 8/11/19 which persisted until 9/11/19 and gave an alpine backdrop to the Hafod-y-llyn service which started that day. Snowfall was also forecast for Snowdon Summit on 14/11/19 and most days for the following week. However after this cold start December became milder. While the tops of the mountains often had a white dusting, the weather was mostly wild, wet and windy, which caused some disruption to the line. There were very few days that saw a frost and February seemed to be more like March weather with a series of storms and floods whereas February could usually be guaranteed to have some snowfall. The February Half Term train service from 15/2/20 was likely to be the last opportunity to travel on or photo trains in the snow but again the weather was mild and stormy but did see some days with a dusting on Snowdon, Cnicht and the Moelwyns.

 

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

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 4/6/21

19-21/6/20

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

20-21/6/20

Welsh Pony Launch (may include some WHR events) POSTPONED TO VICTORIAN WEEKEND

11-13/9/20

SuperPower and WHR AGM 12/9/20 (may feature Baldwin No. 608 and K1)

12/9/20

The Snowdonian Limited

9-11/10/20

Victorian Weekend (may include some WHR events and launch of Welsh Pony)

 

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

5-6/1/19

12-17/1/19WW

19-20/1/19

February

2-3/2/19

9-14/2/19WW

16-17/2/19

March

2-3/3/19

9-14/3/19WW

16-17/3/19

 

30-31/3/19

April

 

 

13-14/3/19

 

27-28/4/19

May

 

11-12/5/19

18-23/5/19WW

25-26/5/19^

 

June

 

8-9/6/19

 

22-23/6/19

 

July

 

6-7/7/19

13-18/7/19WW

20-21/7/19

 

August

3-4/8/19

 

17-18/8/18

 

31/8/19-

September

-1/9/198

7-12/9/19WW

15-16/9/19

 

29-30/9/19

October

 

 

12-13/10/19

 

26-27/10/19

November

2-7/11/19WW!

9-10/11/19

 

23-24/11/18

30-/11/19WW!

December

-5/12/19WW!

7-8/12/19

 

 

 

^ 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.

 

[Sign My Guestbook] [View My Guestbook] Powered by E-Guestbooks Server.

 

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

 

V4.3816 updated 24/5/20