Welsh Highland Railway

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News (7/7/20)

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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 7/7/20)

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

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

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

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

Archived News Page (updated 1/7/20)

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

 

Wales opens up 6/7/20

Covid restrictions on travel have been lifted in Wales allowing both local travel and travel from the rest of the UK as of Monday 6/7/20. Restaurants with outdoor areas can open and 'self-contained accommodation' can reopen from 13/7/20. Heritage Railways such as the SVR are opening from 1/8/20 while the G&WR reopens later on 15/8/20 selling compartments only. A safe opening plan is being developed by the F&WHR and the WHR with its larger coaches may be the easier line to reopen. See BBC News story.

 

More heavy rainstorms hit North Wales 4/7/20

July has been cool, wet and windy in North Wales which opens for tourists this week. There was heavy flooding in the Conwy Valley and the Vale of Ffestiniog with temporary traffic lights on the A487 at Maentwrog due a flood across the road. See BBC News story.

 

Welsh Pony 'The Director's Cut' 5/7/20

Welsh Pony returned to steam on Saturday 27/6/20 and moved under its own power for the first time in 80 years. The original live broadcasts have been available to view on Facebook since day one, but an edited 'Director's Cut' reboot of each (combining material from the original live broadcast and previously unseen footage recorded on different cameras) has now been uploaded to YouTube.

Video One: Introduction and lighting the first fire (36 mins 19 seconds)

Video Two: The first whistle and a look around the cab (30 mins 20 seconds)

Video Three: The first movements in steam (20 mins 11seconds)

 

The 40km Dream Episode 16

April 1998 Part 6

Two of the NG15's stored at Pickering for the aborted Robin Hood's Bay railway were purchased for the FR by sponsorship courtesy of benefactor FR Co. director Mike Schumann. Nos.133/134 had been worn out in the final years of use and were quite rusty having been stored in the open. Both had been stripped of non-ferrous metal. It was expected that the locos would move to Dinas in late April from their owner's, Simon Boak, storage site at Pickering. These two Franco-Belge 2-8-2 locos were from the 1953 batch and look like proper locos as there is no tank in front of the smokebox. The large tender designed for the arid desert regions where they worked may be redesigned to reduce its impact and permit better running in reverse in the absence of a turntable. Once volunteers have restored No.143 it is hoped the team will turn to the better of the two locos and get it into traffic with two years.

The AGM of the WHR(P) approved the Agreement reached with the FR by a substantial majority. It gives the opportunity to build and operate a section of the railway from Pen-y-mount to Pont Croesor and possibly further north but the WHR(P) would need to raise funds for the construction and new rail.

Your webmaster visited the railway at Easter which was a bit dull. Any help with dates would be appreciated.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 emerging from the Loco Shed ready for service on the first train of the day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 being dragged from South Yard by Upnor Castle to be prepared for hauling the  first train of the day as viewed from Ty'n Llan road bridge. This was though to be normally Castell Caernarfon's duty. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 being dragged from South Yard by Upnor Castle to be prepared for hauling the  first train of the day as viewed from Ty'n Llan road bridge. The light engines take the run round loop as the rake of coaches is already in the platform on a rather wet day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 coupled to the front of the train ready to leave for Caernarfon on a rather wet Easter Holiday morning. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 using the watering siding to tank up with water ready for the several Dinas-Caernarfon trips timetabled for that day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 coupled to the front of the train ready to leave Caernarfon on a rather wet Easter Holiday morning. The final alignment of the track did not meet the revised platform edge in this area. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 heading towards Dinas during a rather wet Easter Holiday. The loco has just crossed Hendy level crossing which was at this time a Stop and Proceed Crossing but later became a PSR when local traffic got used to it. It was sometimes difficult to restart trains here with the rake still on the steep ascent of Coed Helen bank. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138  heading back towards Caernarfon approaching Bontnewydd footpath crossing, the site of the future Bontnewydd Halt. The train has just crossed Bontnewydd viaduct visible in the background. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows Upnor Castle  in Dinas North Yard with the rail bolster wagon behind. A dumper truck is being used to construct the way platform and release road and the ballast bed has already been formed with piles of sleepers available. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138  heading back towards Dinas approaching Bontnewydd viaduct passing the site of the future Bontnewydd Halt. The train has just crossed Bontnewydd footpath crossing. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138  heading back towards Caernarfon departing Dinas as seen from Lon Eifion. Upnor Castle can be seen in the North Yard siding with the rail bolster wagon and spare rails can be seen in the two foot in front of the loco. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows some 8 volunteers working on laying the release road in the bay platform area at Dinas starting from a genuine ex-SAR buffer stop. Upnor Castle can be seen in the North Yard siding with the rail bolster wagon. Spare rails can be seen being levered over from a stockpile to the right. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

It seems your webmaster returned the following day with better weather with sunny periods.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 shortly after arrival at Dinas in the early afternoon as seen from footpath crossing. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 running round shortly after arrival at Dinas in the early afternoon as seen from Ty'n Llan Road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 running round shortly after arrival at Dinas in the early afternoon as seen from Ty'n Llan Road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 coupling up at Dinas ready to take an afternoon departure to Caernarfon as seen from Lon Eifion. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 heading north passing under Plas Dinas bridge in the early afternoon as seen from Lon Eifion. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 departing Caernarfon in the late afternoon as seen from St Helen's Road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 shunting at Dinas in the late afternoon as seen from Ty'n Llan Road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 running round at Dinas in the late afternoon as seen from Ty'n Llan Road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 approaching Caernarfon crossing the Seiont Viaduct in the late afternoon as seen from St Helens Road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 departing Caernarfon in the late afternoon as seen from the southerly footbridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 running round at Caernarfon in the late afternoon as seen from the platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 running round at Caernarfon in the late afternoon as seen from the platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 taking water in the watering siding at Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 reversing out of the watering siding at Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 completing its run round move at Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 setting back onto the at Caernarfon in the late afternoon as seen from the platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 crossing the Seiont Viaduct in the late afternoon as viewed from the Open Coach. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 setting back onto the Loco Shed at Dinas at the end of the day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows Castell Caernarfon in the depot headshunt at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/4/98) shows heavy snow on the Horseshoe Pass from the days before Global Warming on the way home at the end of Easter. An Open Top tour bus is running Easter trips from Llangollen to the top of the pass for the hardy few! Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Pickering Brake 3/7/20

When the Pickering Brake is completed at Boston Lodge the WHHR will be able to run an authentic WHR vintage train from the 1920s/30s rather than relying on the ex-VoR brake. The replica Pickering Brake being built under contract for the WHHR at Boston Lodge has an authentic appearance complete with guard's ducket. The replica is a copy of one of two NWNGR 1907 built brake coaches which became WHR Nos. 8/9 in 1922 and feature in many photographs of the railway in its final years. It is not know what number this coach will carry but it may as a replica carry either No.8 or No.9.

The WHHR railway has an agreement with the F&WHR to run specials along the whole length of the rebuilt WHR and ran photocharters to Rhyd Ddu last year.

 

This Boston Lodge view (3/7/20) shows the replica Pickering brake coach for the WHHR in Boston Lodge Carriage Works where the roof will be completed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Glen Williams (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Conwy Valley line closed until September (NR 11/6/20)

Having been closed after winter floods for two years on the run NR are investing in a £2.2 million resilience fund to protect the Conwy Valley line from floods. The rock armour will be added between Tal-y-cafn and Llanwrst. Track has recently been restored to Llanwrst and the auto-ballaster has reached that point. Some 20,000 tonnes of rock are to be added to a 1 mile section north of Llanwrst as was added to a section south of Llanwrst last year, curing the problem in that vicinity. Although this will take an additional 10 weeks the cost and delay is necessary to ensure the resilience of the line given the increased flooding risk from climate change associated with global warming. The continued closure will impact on passengers using the train to come to the FR which might reopen sometime in July for the summer peak school holiday traffic. The train service remains bustituted until the line is reopened. 

See NR report.

 

Turning back Beeching 1/7/20

The Times published a list on 1/7/20 revealing the government's chosen schemes. Some 50 schemes have been selected for further consideration. In Wales, the Bangor-Afonwen and Aberystwyth-Carmarthen lines have been ignored.  However the Gaerwen-Amlwch line has been slated for examination by a panel. This could run as a shuttle service from Bangor. Track is in place and a preservation group has been clearing the line with an NR licence. One downside is the bridge that was knocked down in Llangefni by a lorry in 2018 but presumably NR's insurance will cover this.

The DfT said that successful schemes will be awarded up to £50,000 from the £500 million fund to develop economic studies and business cases. They will be named by the end of the summer.

 

Mostyn tidal lagoon might bring freight to Conwy valley line

A proposal to build a tidal lagoon on the west bank of the Dee estuary between Mostyn Dock and the Point of Ayr might mean slate waste being shipped from Blaenau Ffestiniog. The proposal to build a tidal lagoon follows the recent collapse of the Swansea Bay scheme. The Mostyn Docks Company is enthusiastic about the project and slate waste could be loaded in Blaenau Ffestiniog and delivered to the sidings at the former Point of Ayr colliery to be tipped in the sea and form the wall of the tidal lagoon.

 

This southerly view (29/7/97) shows 37422 passing Ffynnongroyw with a short rake for Bangor/Holyhead. Mostyn Docks are in the background and the tidal lagoon would be the area of mudflats to the left. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (29/7/97) shows 37426 passing Ffynnongroyw with a short rake for Crewe/Manchester. Point of Ayr is in the background and the tidal lagoon would be the area of mudflats to the right with the wall extending  from Point of Ayr around to Mostyn Dock. This area of mudflats would often be flooded as a result. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

See Daily Post report.

 

No.130 progress 30/6/20

This Dinas Works view (30/6/20) shows No.130 now mounted on its front power unit. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Paul Lewin (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Pickering Brake 26/6/20

Boston Lodge restarted work on several jobs during June, whilst socially distancing, one of which was the contract replica Pickering brake coach for the WHHR.

 

This easterly view (27/6/20) shows the replica Pickering brake coach for the WHHR in Boston Lodge Yard where it was to go over the pit for electric work to start. The frame and internal cladding is complete but the coach is on temporary bogies while design work for permanent bogies is underway. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

RAIB report 6/2/20 on Beddgelert run through

The RAIB has released its report into Vale of Ffestiniog's run through at Beddgelert whilst running light engine from Dinas to Porthmadog on 16/4/19 driven by a senior manager. This was the only loco on the WHR at the time and the loco came to a stop when it reached a level section at Sheepfold Curve just south of Bryn-y-felin having travelled 1.7 km into the next section. The Funkey was being returned to Porthmadog before the start of passenger trains as it was to be paired with a smaller steam loco to replace a failed train engine (presumably a Garratt) and was the only train on the WHR.

During the journey the loco brakes were noted as underperforming on route and the senior manager did make a phone call at Rhyd Ddu to ask for fitter's attention when arriving in Porthmadog. The train was operated in Shunt mode which disabled the Deadman's Switch and the 40 second reminder that is only fitted to this loco. The loco was supposed to stop at Beddgelert but the brakes did not stop the train and it ran through a red signal. When it finally came to a stop on a level section, the driver reversed it to Beddgelert having no signal in the Aberglaslyn Pass and chocked the loco. Another manager then shunted it to the siding.

The report concludes that an alteration to the braking system in 2001 caused fouling of the brake cranks and prevented full application of the brakes. Diagrams and photos in the report make this clear. The F&WHR has altered the brakes on Vale of Ffestiniog so that the fouling of the linkages does not occur. The report recommends improvements to the F&WHR's systems of risk assessment of engineering changes to rolling stock and inspection of brakes. The RAIB also recommends a review of lone working arrangements and that the Deadman's Switch be used on light movements, where fitted.

What is perhaps surprising is that they did not consider fitting a trap point/sand drag at Beddgelert given the long 1 in 40 gradient into the station from Rhyd Ddu, which would have avoided the overrun into the next section, albeit at the cost of possibly derailing the loco. The is the third time in recent years the F&WHR's safety critical engineering standards and operations have come under scrutiny by the RAIB. The previous occasions were the potentially serious derailment that occurred on the WHR at Clogwyn-y-gwin on 10/6/18 and the run through at Penrhyndeudraeth Level Crossing on 10/6/19.

See RAIB report.

 

Welsh Pony steaming event 27/6/20

This westerly view (27/6/20) shows Welsh Pony carrying No.5 on its nameplate in Boston Lodge Yard, shortly after moving under its own steam for the first time. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The launch ceremony for Welsh Pony took place in bad weather on Saturday 27/6/20 at Boston Lodge and the loco was run round the yard a few times before venturing out for a short trip along the main line to Boston Lodge Halt. The regulator was quite stiff as the loco needs running in. It is of the older original type.

The Welsh Pony mugs sold out and a fresh batch to a new design also sold out but the limited edition print is still available. See F&WHR webshop.

Three videos have been made available on line for those that missed Saturday's live streamed event.

 

Click here for Video One 50 minutes 54 seconds

Click here for Video Two 34 minutes 55 seconds

Click here for Video Three 21 minutes 25 seconds

 

F&WHR opening plans

F&WHR Co. Announcement 25/6/20

'While a Summer of sun is hardly guaranteed here in North Wales, June normally heralds the arrival of peak season and excited visitors galore at the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. However, this summer is now very different to the usual, owing to the pandemic that has caused significant difficulties on a global scale. Whilst our peak season will undoubtedly be different to previous years, recent announcements have brought renewed hope that we can offer an experience that will be both safe and enjoyable in these challenging times. Throughout the lockdown months, we have monitored and diligently adhered to Welsh Government advice. Whilst the situation in Wales remains different to that of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, recent announcements from the Welsh Government have signalled that the Tourism industry should prepare to reopen.

We have plans in place for a limited service that works within the requirements for social distancing outlined by the government. We are now working through the fine detail of this plan and hope to make an announcement about our plans for services in 2020 before mid-July. We would hope to further extend our services as and when restrictions are eased further. The health and wellbeing of all who visit and work at the Railway is of prime importance and services will only resume when we are confident about their safety. While plans remain in the preliminary stages, like many businesses we will offer streamlined services, reduced capacities, online booking only, deep cleaning of carriages and safety screens installed between seating sections. We will also consider carefully the flow of visitors around our railway stations. Further details will follow as the plans develop and we will revisit operating procedures when new government guidelines are issued. For the time being, we ask that you adhere to government guidelines and wait a little longer to visit the Railway. A warm welcome awaits when we open once more.'

 

Welsh Pony YouTube Live event 27/6/20

Welsh Pony will be steamed for the first time in eighty years on Saturday 27/6/20, and the F&WHR will broadcast the action live (presumably on Facebook) so that the public can witness this momentous and long-awaited occasion.

The F&WHR are planning three broadcasts to cover the web event:

10:00 - The lighting-up.

13:00 - The first whistle.

16:00 - Welsh Pony will hopefully move under her own steam.

Full details of how to watch will be posted later when live streams have been set up.

A spectacular painting by Rebecca Kitchin BA has been specially commissioned for the occasion, and will be auctioned with all proceeds going to the Welsh Pony Fund. Limited edition prints are also available for purchase from the F&WHR shop.

Limited edition Welsh Pony mugs (100 only produced at £20 each) can also be bought to help support the F&WHR railway.

Welsh Pony's history can be followed on the F&WHR Insider Facebook page.

 

Welsh Pony progress 23/6/20

On 20/6/20 the ejector and blower were tested on compressed air producing the first wind up the chimney for 80 years.

On 22/6/20 the Boston Lodge team have been careful to collect all original parts and label them for their new use. A great effort over the weekend from the staff resolved an issue with the boiler clack valve flange. After some time on the milling machine, this 120-year-old component has now been fitted to create a steam-tight seal.

By 23/6/20 the steam chest cover between the cylinders has been removed and the valves and valve spindles inspected prior to the final valve-setting process. This ensures the correct timing of inlet and exhaust steam in and out of the cylinders.

By 18/6/20 the final large diameter steam pipes were being fitted.

 

No.130 progress 24/6/20

By 24/6/20 the small bore lubrication pipework was complete and the power bogies can go under the boiler cradle for the final time.

 

This Dinas shed view (18/6/20) shows No.130 with much of the boiler cladding in place in undercoat. Even the first washout plug brass shield is in place. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Paul Lewin (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

By 16/6/20 attention was focussed on the second hand ex-SAR ejector. It was overhauled several years ago, however the exhaust steel pipe needed machining up and the threaded end was completed in the Dinas machine shops.

At the end of June work was focussed on the big exhaust pipe and ball joint for the front unit. The second image shows further new steam pipes ready for assembly and the final image shows the blower union on the LHS of the smokebox.

 

Wales to open for tourists on 6/7/20

With WAG slowly easing the lockdown it will be welcome news for the tourist industry that Wales will permit holiday traffic in July 6th. The F&WHR must be planning how it can accept traffic again. However the General Manager has stated he will not run trains at a loss so it may not be until the school summer holidays from mid/end of July that traffic on offer returns in volumes that will justify running trains again. Outdoor venues like Spooners outdoor area might be the first areas to open. Counters might have Perspex sneeze guards and markings on the floor might suggest an appropriate spacing in queues. It is currently unknown if the Government's requirement that a face covering is essential on public transport will be necessary on F&WHR trains. It might also be difficult for footplate staff to adhere to the current 2m rule for social distancing while operating a steam loco though diesels with one man operation would be no problem.

Meanwhile works trains run at irregular intervals to maintain the railways in a state ready to start again at a moment's notice.

 

This southerly view (18/6/20) shows Criccieth Castle with a rake of various ex-SAR wagons collected from various sidings approaching Minffordd station. The wagons are to be stored in Minffordd Yard. This might remind trespassers that even during lockdown trains can run at any time. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Upnor Castle was also involved in the collection of wagons.

 

This easterly view (21/6/20) shows Upnor Castle running through the run round loop at Harbour Station after collecting wagons to be stored in Minffordd Yard. This might remind trespassers that even during lockdown trains can run at any time. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Alasdair Stewart and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

No.130 update 13/6/20

The remaining parts of the cladding have been undercoated and are likely to be fitted soon with their insulation. The gloss finish will only be started once the loco is complete. See FR Insider Facebook page for images.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 15

March 1998

After the closure of the Inquiry into the LRO, the FR was urging supporters to write to the Snowdonia National Park Authority to protest about their decision to withdraw support from the WHR project. Originally the SNPA gave their full support in the Draft Local Plan as the rebuilt railway could provide a public transport function and keep cars out of the Snowdonia National Park, an environmentally sensitive area by providing a regular local service of several trains a day to rival local bus services. The line could be used for transporting timber from Beddgelert Forest  from a new siding at Hafod Ruffydd keeping large articulated vehicles off the inadequate local roads. In November the SNPA made a U-turn, overturning the advice of its officers, and excluded the WHR from the Local Plan.

Mike Hart, the FR Chairman, appealed to supporters to write into the SNPA to indicate the level of support and get the WHR reinstated in the Local Plan. 'We know many people want to see the WHR rebuilt. If they can just spend a few minutes to write to the Local Plan Inquiry Inspector, he can judge the wide level of support against the three objections to the WHR. Letters had to arrive by 10/4/98. Your webmaster was one of those who wrote in supporting the rebuilding of the WHR.

Some deliveries to the WHR had gone to the WHR(P) at Gelert's Farm by accident so the FR took out adverts in the local press directing local suppliers to Dinas for the WHR(C) and the WHLR (Dinas). Unfortunately timetable materials prepared for the WHR had gone to print before the agreement to characterise the WHR as the WHR(C) as it is based in Caernarfon and the WHR(P) as that based in Porthmadog Gelert's Farm. Preparations were being made for the Easter season of this the first full year of WHR operations which were due to begin on 4/4/98 in time for the school Easter holiday break (Easter weekend 10-13/4/98). Consideration is being given to Santa Specials, Xmas Holiday trains and February Half Term Holiday trains over Winter 1998-1999.

Engineering solutions/quotes for the underpinning of bridges on Phase 2 from Dinas to Waunfawr were being sought as well as solutions to the major landslip just east of Tryfan Junction. All the WHR are much too small for the Garratt/Funkey loading gauge. Some thought was also given to potential rockfalls in the Aberglaslyn Pass and insurance liability of persons using Bryn-y-felin bridge and the Aberglaslyn Tunnels permitted path. It was deemed essential that Phase 2 Dinas-Waunfawr, which was already funded, was ready to go the moment a positive decision to allow the LRO to go ahead was received from the Minister.

After a further inspection, on 19/3/98 the HMRI gave full and permanent approval to the FR to operate Caernarfon-Dinas following the temporary permission granted October 1997. The only change required was that structures are numbered for maintenance records rather than named as in the past. Cast plates have been ordered to be fixed to every structure. As the railway is built to modern metric measures a kilometre based 'chainage' is being used for all underbridges and overbridges based on 20km 'zero' at Caernarfon station footbridge. This will avoid duplication with FR mileposts out of Porthmadog if these also change to metric measures in future.

 

Welsh Pony to steam on line soon 12/6/20

Volunteers have been working in a socially distanced way to complete Welsh Pony at Boston Lodge. The F&WHR is to rebook the aborted steam test, which was cancelled by the lockdown, and show it on line. Some suggestions were that it could occur around 27/6/20 but the actual date will appear on F&WHR Insider page and limited edition prints will be made available to buy on line to raise funds for the F&WHR Appeal to help the railway get through the pandemic. The loco will not carry its nameplates until an official naming ceremony later in the year.

 

This Boston Lodge view (12/6/20) shows Welsh Pony with newly machined whistles to the original FR patterns fitted. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

North Wales main line 11/6/20

After berthing overnight at Llanwrst North Colas Class 56s Nos.56094/113 headed back to Basford Hall on 11/6/20 having completed the first stage of re-ballasting the storm damaged Conwy Valley Line.

 

No.130 progress 6/6/20

A few volunteers have been working whilst socially distancing at Dinas to complete Garratt No.130. By early June all the main boiler cladding was complete and undercoated leaving just the cylinder cladding to complete. In late May work was underway bending the large bore copper pipework to shape. Progress was also being made on the rear mechanical lubricator box. It is hoped the loco might be released to traffic before the end of the year.

 

Weed killing Train 4/6/20

This southerly view (4/6/20) shows the FR's PW loco Harlech Castle with the weed killing train heading back to Minffordd after a journey to Caernarfon. The train is near the 'teletubby' bridges at Portreuddyn with the Porthmadog Bypass Afon Glaslyn viaduct in the background. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

North Wales Trains news 8/6/20

The Q train passed along the Borderlands Line on 8/6/20 with 9701 propelled by 37254. Class 56 Nos.56094/113 were heading along the North Wales Coast on the same day with the auto-ballaster believed to be for the refurbishment of the Conwy Valley Line. It is good to see NR finally getting to grips with the repair of the line that was closed early this year after yet another incidence of flood damage. There were more Class 70s in action over the first weekend in June on PW trains west of Rhyl.

On 3/6/20 Nos.37401/407 hauled a single empty flask to Valley and back to refresh route knowledge.

On 2/6/20 Nos.70802/12 worked onto the Conwy Valley line to remove debris and spent ballast caused by the flooding earlier this year, which has left the line out of action for over 3 months now. Work is concentrated north of Llanrwst.

Labour's WAG Transport Minister Ken Skates has released a wish list of new stations and reopened lines, reopening the Gaerwen-Amlwch branch and re-emphasising the Bangor-Caernarfon link as well as the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen (but bear in mind it is election year next year). New stations he is seeking funding under the New Stations 3 Fund are listed for Deeside Parkway (just north of Hawarden Bridge) on the Borderlands Line and Carno on the Cambrian Coast line (west of Caersws). See Daily Post report.

The Pen-y-ffordd cement trains to Avonmouth have become very regular, almost daily.

 

This southerly archive view (26/5/20@1825) shows GBRf's No.66765 on the Pen-y-ffordd to Avonmouth growling up the steep incline from Hawarden to Buckley summit with a heavy rake of loaded cement tanks. This train pulls out of the Padeswood Cement factory and runs north to Dee Marsh sidings to run round before heading south again. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Melvyn Hughes and was taken on a phone camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 14

February 1998

Work continued to improve the rolling stock and the track of the Caernarfon-Dinas section. Dinas Works was kitted out and the machine shop came together in the building on the site of the old loco shed.

As regards the Inquiry, which reached its end in January, the inspector was expected to take three months to present his decision to the Transport Minister and after due consideration, the Minister was expected to make his recommendation after a further 3 months. The Inspector had visited the railway and experienced run pasts to determine the noise levels of the trains using No.138.

Railtrack withdrew their objections to Cambrian Crossing which was to become Cae Pawb to distinguish it from other similarly named crossings on the Cambrian Coast route. Welsh Water was happy to reroute the Nantmor water supply, which uses the Aberglaslyn Tunnels, along the A498 through the Pass. The Forestry Commission was also happy with fire prevention procedures agreed with the FR. However the Snowdonia National Park authority overturned its officers recommendations and opposed the TWO as did the Rambler's Association, who wanted the trackbed as a walk, despite support from local members who had sought mitigation for an improved Fishermans' Path through the Aberglaslyn Pass. The paths through the Aberglaslyn Pass tunnels and the Bryn-y-felin bridge were to be fenced off for insurance reasons once the FR took possession of the trackbed. The National Trust also objected to the closure of their permitted path on the trackbed through the Aberglaslyn Pass despite the FR offering to fund improvement of the Fishermans' Path.

The FR was planning a small gala over the weekend of 2-3/5/98 centred on Glan-y-pwll with the completed Funkey Vale of Ffestiniog on view and footplate rides. There would be a bus link from Blaenau Ffestiniog and a six train service on the FR. A main line steam visit to the town was also due in May. During a small ceremony on 21/2/98 Vale of Ffestiniog was handed over to the operating fleet in Boston Lodge works.

 

This Boston Lodge archive view (21/2/98) shows the newly rebuild Funkey Vale of Ffestiniog resplendent in National Power livery. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Boston Lodge archive view (21/2/98) shows the naming ceremony for newly rebuild Funkey Vale of Ffestiniog resplendent in National Power livery. The loco was named by Linda Fairney, wife of Professor Fairney, the recently retired chairman of The Year of Engineering Success NP Executives and local councillors in attendance. Maybe the stage should have been on the sunny side of the loco that afternoon? Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Boston Lodge archive view (21/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog shunting off Boston Lodge for a run up the FR. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Boston Lodge archive view (21/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog waiting at Pen Cob Junction for the path. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Boston Lodge archive view (21/2/98) shows Earl of Merioneth passing light as the new diesel prepared to enter the running line at Pen Cob Junction. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Tan-y-bwlch archive view (21/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog arriving on the inaugural train carrying guests from the hand over ceremony. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Tan-y-bwlch archive view (21/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog running round the special train. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Tan-y-bwlch archive view (21/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog running round the special train. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Porthmadog Harbour archive view (21/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog arrived on the special train. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Porthmadog Harbour archive view (21/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog running round the special train. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Porthmadog Harbour archive view (21/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog preparing to depart Porthmadog. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Meanwhile at Dinas later that day....

 

This northerly archive view (21/2/98) shows Castell Caernarfon stabled outside the Loco Shed at Dinas with trackwork now complete. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Your webmaster went back to Dinas a week later with his father on one of their regular visits to view progress.

 

This southerly archive view (27/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog with No.138 outside the Loco Shed and the rake of carriages stabled in the short lived South Yard siding as seen from Lon Eifion. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This internal view of Dinas Loco Shed (27/2/98) shows No.143's boiler on ambulance bogies and the Gullick & Dobson tamper. The stair and office accommodation (since removed for the shed expansion) can be seen behind the loco. Each road could accommodate one Garratt initially before the shed expansion. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This internal view of Dinas Loco Shed (27/2/98) shows No.143's boiler, dome and chimney painted in aluminium paint on ambulance bogies and the Gullick & Dobson tamper on the newly completed pit. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This internal view of Dinas Loco Shed (27/2/98) shows No.143's boiler, dome and chimney painted in aluminium paint on ambulance bogies and the Gullick & Dobson tamper on the newly completed pit. The base support frame and lids for the Caernarfon water tank are being assembled on the right hand road as seen from the office stairs. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view of Dinas Loco Shed (27/2/98) shows No.138  and Castell Caernarfon outside the Loco Shed. The Garratt had been dragged out to allow work to proceed on the Caernarfon water tank in dry conditions. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (27/2/98) shows a wagon and buffer stop in the depot headshunt with the overgrown cutting leading to the A487 overbridge in the background. In Phase 2 it would be necessary to lower the ground level in this area to provide adequate clearance for Garratts/Funkey loading gauge under the road bridge. This would require gabions to the left of the wagon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (27/2/98) shows the five coach rake in the temporary carriage siding in south Yard. In Phase 2 it would be necessary to lower the ground level in this area and to remove the siding. The coaches were later stored in the North Yard Carriage shed when completed some time later. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (27/2/98) shows the No.138 dragged out of Loco Shed by Castell Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (27/2/98) shows the No.138 dragged out of Loco Shed by Castell Caernarfon. In the background is the short lived coach siding. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (27/2/98) shows a view of a snowclad Snowdon from Dinas in the days when we used to get snow in the Winter!. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Waiting for the Tide to Turn

Like the state of the tide in the photograph, we are at a low point in our history with train services being suspended over the whole railway for the first time in the preservation era. However, in a similar fashion to the natural rhythm of the tides, we will return and trains will once more steam across the Cob and into the mountains. The F&WHR's priority now is to ensure the railway is ready to reopen to visitors once the current restrictions are lifted. The company has followed government advice and closed down the majority of their operations with most permanent staff being sent home under furlough arrangements. A skeleton staff are still at work handling essential planning and financial matters, as well as maintaining the social media, enquiries and online retail activities. However, there are still a number of fixed costs that have to be covered whether running trains or not.

The company has been examining every possible way of obtaining funds to secure the survival of the business - and are extremely grateful for the assistance they have received from supporting societies, as well as from individuals. The appeal fund is still open and the company will be very happy to receive donations, large or small, so that it can keep the railways in as near an operable position as possible, enabling a swift return to running trains again at the appropriate time.

Click here for more Appeal details.

Of course, the web shop remains ‘open for business’ selling a wide range of items to suit all tastes. Visit www.festshop.co.uk to see what is available - any money spent here also helps the railway. Purchasers are asked if they would kindly top up the sale to a whole number of pounds as your webmaster found out when buying replacement F&WHR cups for the treasured one his wife broke!

With various businesses being allowed to reopen, no date has been suggested for the Heritage Railways as the Government's much criticised easing strategy is very dependent on any second wave of the virus.

 

F&WHR loco update 23/5/20

Palmerston is behind Welsh Pony in Boston Lodge's priority list. It hasn't run since 2019 Vintage Weekend and needs some work to the axleboxes to eliminate a knock. Welsh Pony needs drawgear, spark arrestor and plumbing completed but will not carry its nameplates until a ceremony at a launch event once the F&WHR reopens. Taliesin is currently out of ticket but the F&WHR has benefitted from a legacy aimed at getting it back into traffic. It needs boiler work and bogie work. New Fairlie James Spooner's boiler needs a hydraulic test and is likely to see traffic in 2021.

Double Fairlies Merddin Emrys and David Lloyd George will both be available after a steam test although the latter needs some work on its valve settings. Lyd was withdrawn for its 10 year overhaul in May and a new cylinder is available for the troublesome cylinder as detailed previously. It will need new boiler tubes. Diesel loco Moelwyn needs a new drive shaft. Linda and Blanche are both available for traffic.

No.87 was released in its new SAR black livery briefly in February before the lockdown which pleased its benefactor who always wanted it in black. The other sponsored Garratt No.130 still requires a few months work but must be completed for 2021 as No.143 reaches the end of its 10 year boiler ticket then. NG15 No.134 needs more work on axleboxes before it is wheeled. Some funding is available and the boiler is at David Wright's Loughborough works receiving attention.

No.138 has travelled 100,000 miles over its last 10 year boiler ticket which has now expired and is due to be fitted with the new boiler ex-Puffing Billy Railway No.129. A benefactor paid for the boiler to be imported from Australia and David Wright's Loughborough works has refurbished the boiler. The loco will be outshopped in red again with a refitted cowcatcher. No.138 should be in traffic sometime in 2021 but No.143 boiler's certificate expires Spring 2021 so it is essential that privately sponsored locos No.87/130 are in traffic.

 

Colas PW on Central Wales this week

Class 37s Nos.97302/303 are booked to run from Crewe to Llandrindod Wells on Tuesday and Wednesday 26-27/5/20 and return from Llandovery Thursday 28/5/20 in connection with a major PW scheme on the Central Wales Line.

 

£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.

 

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 Plas-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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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

27/6/20

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

Mid July Possible restart of limited services with virus compliant protection measures

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

 

V4.3827 updated 7/7/20