Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway

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News (18/6/24)

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Star Picture

No.590 safely tucked away at Gelert's Farm depot WHHR after loaded test trains between the FR and Beddgelert. It was intended the loco would feature in a launch event at the WHHR and in the WHR100 event at the end of June but the loco developed a hot box after several days of testing. This image is courtesy WHHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Welcome to Version 4 of this website, launched on 8/9/04 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.

 

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)

Caernarfon Cross Town Link  (updated 10/10/10)

 

Other pages

Phase 1 images (Updated 8/9/23)

Railtours 2023 (Updated 15/12/23)

The 40km Dream Phase 1 (Updated 12/2/21)

The 40km Dream Phase 2 (Updated 1/4/21)

'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 31/5/24)

Prince Charles Visit July 2003 (updated 5/1/22)

Snow Scenes (updated 17/12/23)

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

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

Volunteer Contact details page (updated 23/6/21)

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!

 

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 References

Timetables

2024 Timetable

Trains commence on Saturday 25/3/24 and continue until 31/10/24.

Click on the image to enlarge and click again to enlarge to full size where available. This image is courtesy the F&WHR. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

To compare with the archived 2023 timetables click here for upper half or here for lower half of the timetable.

 

F&WHR events 2024

SuperPower will return for 2024 as a weekend event but not on the Friday even though the FR's Bygones Weekend will again be a three day event. This replaces the low key WHR Society Members' Weekend last September to match the Society AGM so appears to be aimed at the general public as well and might feature appearances by both No.590, the WHHR's Baldwin and Russell given the disappointment when No.590 failed just before the Centenary of the WHR event. The WHR Members' Weekend in September 2023 was relatively poorly attended but the F&WHR's promised Baldwin did turn up at Dinas for cab rides. As last year, it seems the Snowdonian Limited has been dropped from the schedule but a rerun of The Snowdonian does occur on Saturday 21/9/24.

 

Date Event
1/1/24 Final Day of Festive Trains
10-11/17-18/24-25/2/24 Half Term Holiday Blanche cab rides at Caernarfon Station
29/2/24 Palmerston goes to Aberystwyth on display and August Gala
15-16/3/24 NLHF Boston Lodge Open Days with steam shuttle to Boston Lodge Halt
23/3/24 First day of 2024 Season
29/3/24-1/4/24 Cab rides at Caernarfon and Porthmadog over Easter weekend
6-7/4/24 Britomart and Hugh Napier visit Beamish 'Wheels of Industry' Gala
20/4/24 The Snowdonian
4-5/5/24 'Friends of the Ffestiniog' events at Porthmadog (standard WHR service)
6/5/24 Family Fun Day at Blaenau Ffestiniog with extra train to Tan-y-bwlch
11/5/24 Caernarfon Food Fair (connections available via The Harbourmaster)
18-19/5/24 Model Railway Workshop
27/5/24 Felinheli Bank Holiday cab rides Caernarfon Station
28-30/5/24 TWThO The Cwellyn Half Term Holiday service
2/6/24 PTG Tour with James Spooner solo to Caernarfon and Lyd on the FR
7-8/6/24 Rail-Ale (Dinas with connecting shuttles)
24-26/8/24 Palmerston running at VoR Rheidol Steam Festival
13/9/24 Palmerston photo charter at VoR
14-15/9/24 SuperPower and WHRS AGM involving extra trains and the launch of NG15 No.134
21/9/24 The Snowdonian II possibly with Kalahari No.134
28/9/24 Trailffest (special train following runners)
4-6/10/24 FR Bygones Weekend (may involve additional services on WHR)
7-8/14-15/21-22/12/24 F&WHR Santa Specials Caernarfon-Rhyd Ddu/Santa's Grotto at Porthmadog
26/12/24-1/1/25 Festive trains on F&WHR

 

News Section

Timetable w/c 15/6/24

Click on the timetable to enlarge. Copyright F&WHR.

 

F&WHR 18/6/24

Tuesday was forecast to be a improving day with temperatures of 8-15C and sunny periods later. The weekly forecast suggests showers and sunny periods with temperatures no better than 18C by mid Summer's Day. Tuesday's train service was the normal 5 FR trains (both  Mountain Spirit trains and Woodland Wanderer trains and The Quarryman) and the two through WHR services. All three webcams were available today.

Vale of Ffestiniog was noted shunting at Pen Cob Junction at 08:30 while steam was being raised in the yard. The Funkey turned up in the station yard light engine at 08:45 to shunt the coal wagons. The signaller opened the box at 09:00 and assisted as the Funkey propelled two empty B wagons out onto The Cob. The train departed for Dinas to collect coal at 09:14 as the ECS for The Harbourmaster was being prepared in Boston Lodge. No.87 hauled the ECS into the WHR platform at 09:22. The Harbourmaster departed on time as David Lloyd George hauled the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit into the FR platform at 10:05. Run round came at 10:15.

Up at Tan-y-bwlch Harlech Castle waited with the works train for the Mountain Spirit to pass and  the Woodland Wander to arrive before continuing towards Minffordd Yard. No.143 was on the Snowdonia Star and was standing in the WHR platform at 13:50. This must have passed the 14:05 return working of the Snowdonia Star at Pont Croesor. The station was very busy at 14:35 with the Funkey and two loaded coal wagons standing in the WHR platform. DLG was standing in the FR platform and Blanche was shunting around The Quarryman in the yard.

The Funkey propelled the coal into the fuelling point at 14:40. At 14:53 DLG departed with the Woodland Wanderer having performed the Fairlie swop. The Funkey departed light engine at 15:04 for the depot after The Cob section had cleared. The final lunchtime working was Blanche which shunted The Quarryman back into the FR platform for the 15:25 return working.

The first of the returnees was No.143 at 16:24 departing ECS for the depot 10 minutes later. DLG arrived with the Woodland Wanderer at 17:00. The open coach was shunted to the seawall siding at 17:20 and the ECS was shunted into the yard at 17:30 with the Mountain Spirit approaching from Minffordd. This seemed a strange move as the Mountain Spirit could have run into the WHR platform. There does seem to be a reluctance to use the WHR platform possibly because of the necessary light engine movements to the refuelling and watering point. Merddin Emrys arrived back at 17:40 allowing the ECS Woodland Wanderer to depart with the ECS a minute later. The ECS departed at 18:00 to close the day's activities.

 

North Wales Coast Electrification 'dead in the water'

The £1billion Tory scheme to electrify the North Wales Coast seems to have died with the announcement of the General Election. The scheme was Sunak's idea of what he could do for Wales once HS2 was cancelled north of Birmingham. A report in Rail Magazine indicated no progress has been made since last October's announcement. Indeed the Welsh Government is showing little interest in the scheme which is no surprise given they have moved all but one Holyhead-Cardiff Class 67 working to the Swansea-Manchester route and left the North Wales coast as the Cinderella Line! This despite the North Wales transport Commission report recommending electrification in its December Report.

As electrification projects of this size are 'reserved items' rather than WAG responsibilities, the UK Transport Minister takes lead in such schemes and has added nothing since 23/2/24 when he said it was 'too early to say anything new'. Now we are in the election period Ministers are in 'purdah' so any announcement will have to await a new Government after the General Election.

There seems to be a consensus that Phase One must be a sympathetic rebuild of Chester station complete with the redualling of Gresford Bank into Wrexham General. Chester has so many different services it seems no one is taking a lead so here is a role for the North Wales Coast Transport Commission to push the scheme forwards.

 

F&WHR 17/6/24

Monday was forecast to be a day of light cloud with temperatures of 9-16C with Britain still suffering from the 'arctic Summer'. The weekly forecast suggests showers and sunny periods with temperatures no better than 17C by mid Summer's Day. Monday's train service was limited to just two FR trains (10:40 Mountain Spirit trains and the 14:50 Woodland Wanderer) and just one WHR service, the Gelert Explorer. All three webcams were available today.

Merddin Emrys hauled the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit by 10:00 and the loco was running round at 10:05. The lightly loaded train passed through Tan-y-bwlch on time. The loco was used to shunt coal wagons in the yard in advance of a Dinas coal run on Tuesday

It seems Vale of Ffestiniog brought the ECS Woodland Wanderer into Harbour Station just after the Mountain Spirit returned. The loco then shunted to the yard at 13:50 and coupled up the Woodland Wanderer to return it to the depot. The ECS departed at 14:04. Merddin Emrys coupled to the front of the train ready for the 14:50 departure. The lightly loaded train arrived in Tan-y-bwlch at 15:28. It was at least warm enough for a few people to sit in the open carriage.

 

Palmerston photo charter Friday 13/9/24

Palmerston, currently under repair at the VoR, will be ready for a photocharter on 13/9/24. Full details including contacts are available here.

 

F&WHR 16/6/24

Sunday was forecast to be an improving day of sunny periods with temperatures of 11-16C with Britain still suffering from the 'arctic Summer'. Some violent hail showers occurred across North Wales on Saturday. Sunday's service was limited to just one FR train (10:40 Mountain Spirit trains hauled by James Spooner and one WHR service, the Gelert Explorer. All three webcams were available today.

 

Volunteer Buffet stewards needed

Do you love trains and enjoy providing excellent customer service? The F&WHR is looking for enthusiastic volunteers to join the team of on-train Buffet Stewards. The team meets and greets passengers, serves refreshments, provides information and sells guidebooks' If you would like to get involved, get in touch with the F&WHR at volunteer@ffwhr.com. Buffet services are provided on some trains but may be extended to more services. See F&WHR On Train Catering.

 

Royal Cheshire County Show 18-19/6/24

Come and see the F&WHR at the Royal Cheshire County Show, Tuesday 18-19/6/24. The Royal Cheshire County Show ground is situated at Tabley, near Knutsford on the A556, approximately 1.5 miles from Junction 19 of the M6. Staff be manning Stand No.34 in Row C4 - just a short walk from the Main Ring. As well as being able to find out more about the trains and services, there is a special offer that is only available for visitors to the show. So, come along and say "Hello!" - the F&WHR would love to see you there!

 

F&WHR 15/6/24

Saturday was forecast to be a mixed day of sunny periods and showers chilly 9-14C with Britain still suffering from the 'arctic Summer'. Some violent hail showers occurred across North Wales. Saturday's service was limited to just 3 FR trains (two Mountain Spirit trains and The Quarryman) and the two through WHR services. All three webcams were available today. No. 87 was on The Harbourmaster at 10:00 in the WHR platform and Merddin Emrys arrived with the ECS for the Mountain Spirit as the train departed.

 

F&WHR 14/6/24

Friday was forecast to be an improving day of sunny periods with temperatures of a chilly 9-14C with Britain still suffering from the 'arctic Summer'. Friday's service was limited to just one FR train (the 10:40 Mountain Spirit) and no trains on the WHR. All three webcams were available today.

James Spooner hauled the Mountain Spirit on Friday passing Minffordd with a heavily laden train at 10:55 in mixed weather conditions.

 

Moving Pictures No.94 14/6/24

Click on the YouTube link to watch 14 minutes 7 seconds of video showing the Beer Festival and progress with the NG15 No.134 project. This video is copyright F&WHR and was published on 24/5/24. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod on a 4K camcorder by John Wooden (F&WHR).

 

F&WHR 13/6/24

Thursday was forecast to be a deteriorating day of increasing cloud and rain with temperatures of a chilly 12-14C with Britain still suffering from the 'arctic Summer'. Thursday's service was the standard 5 FR trains (both Mountain Spirit/Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman) and two through trains on the WHR. All three webcams were available today.

First up was No.87 with the ECS for the 10:05 Harbourmaster arriving in the WHR platform at 09:40. No.87 must have arrived with a Garratt swop at Beddgelert yesterday afternoon off the Gelert Explorer, replacing No.130. Linda and Merddin Emrys arrived with t he ECS for the Mountain Spirit at 09:58 into the FR platform. The pair ran round each other and then round their train at 10:12 with Linda piloting the Fairlie. It is not certain why Linda was required to assist today. Maybe the train is heavily laden or possibly Merddin Emrys has a steaming problem. Merddin Emrys was running round Woodland Wanderer at 10:48 in the WHR platform having arrived before the Mountain Spirit's departure. Departure came on time as the rain set in for the day.

No.130 departed with the Snowdonia Star at 14:07 in the rain and wind. James Spooner was running round the Woodland Wanderer in the FR platform. Blanche complete with tender cab was shunting the seawall siding at 14:20 as the afternoon Mountain Spirit departed with James Spooner. Merddin Emrys was shunting the Woodland Wanderer back to the FR platform after the Fairlie swop. At 15:00 Blanche shunted The Quarryman back to the FR platform.

Up at Tan-y-bwlch Merddin Emrys ran round the Woodland Wanderer at 15:50. Blanche arrived on The Quarryman at 16:05. No.87 arrived back again on the Harbourmaster at Porthmadog at 16:35 and Merddin Emrys hauled in the Woodland Wanderer at 17:00. The ECS Harbourmaster departed for the depot at 17:02. The Fairlie ran round the Woodland Wanderer at 17:10. The final arrival was James Spooner at 17:30 hauling the return working of the Mountain Spirit.

 

F&WHR 12/6/24

Wednesday was forecast to be a day of light cloud with temperatures of a chilly 10-13C with Britain still suffering from the 'arctic Summer'. Wednesday's service was the standard 3 FR trains (both Mountain Spirit and The Quarryman) and three on the WHR with two The Aberglaslyn and one Gelert Explorer. The signaller opened the box at 09:10. All three webcams were available today.

First up today was No.130 which arrived on the ECS for The Aberglaslyn shortly after 09:30. James Spooner was on the Mountain Spirit which left on time at 10:40. The Garratt departed at 13:43 for the afternoon The Aberglaslyn. and the Fairlie left a little later with the Mountain Spirit. At 14:30 Blanche shunted The Quarryman rake back into the FR platform ready for the 15:25.

 

No.134 nearing completion

This northerly view (11/6/24) shows No.134 nearing completion at Dinas Depot. It seems the loco only needs the cylinder covers to complete a very tidy job! This loco will see a period of testing on the WHR to see how it performs (including running in reverse tender first). The loco carries its number American style either side of the headlight. The tender cab appears to be missing in these images. Cowcatchers have been fitted to the front and to the rear of the tender for working in reverse. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a digital camera.

 

There will be a report on No.134 in the next edition of Moving Pictures YouTube due on Friday 14/6/24. The May Working Party report and images can be found here. For more images or to make a donation click here.

 

New TRAWS suggestion

The recently mentioned alternative route for the TRAWS project to reconnect North and South Wales via Talerddig, Llanidloes and the Heart of Wales Line from Builth Road has a problem at Llanidloes where the A470 runs for 1 km along the trackbed through the existing station site in a similar way to Welshpool. However, unlike Welshpool, there is no room to accommodate both road and railway and if the railway were to return then the A470 would have to divert around the east side of the town in an expensive new bypass.

To reduce costs of rebuilding the reinstated rail route street running has been suggested with a single track set in tarmac through the Llanidloes station site and the A470 traffic light controlled like a tramway section to prevent conflicts between trains and traffic. There is no need for a passing loop in the station area. A loop could be provided 1 km away where there is no interaction between the trackbed and the A470. With modern train braking profiles and dwell times, it is estimated that traffic lights might be on red for about 5 minutes every 2 hours depending on the level of service.

 

Heart of Wales railtour 7/9/24

LSL is promoting the SugarLoaf and Stormy Push Pull under its InterCity brand featuring Class 37/4s in top and tail mode over the Heart of Wales line on 7/9/24. The train runs from Crewe calling at Shrewsbury passing over Sugar Loaf Summit and the Swansea District Line with a 2 hour stay at Cardiff. The train returns via Gloucester and Birmingham New Street To Shrewsbury and Crewe. The train will reverse on the Maindee triangle so the rear 37/4 leads on the return journey.

 

F&WHR 11/6/24

Tuesday was forecast to be an overcast day with temperatures of a chilly 5-14C with Britain still suffering from the 'arctic Summer'. Tuesday's service was the standard 5 FR trains (both Mountain Spirit, Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman) and both through trains on the WHR. All three webcams were available today.

No.130 was on The Harbourmaster today and had arrived with the ECS by 09:40. Merddin Emrys hauled the ECS for the 10:10 The Harbourmaster into the FR just before the Garratt left with a friendly wave to the webcam from the driver. The Fairlie ran round by 09:19 and coupled up. James Spooner turned up with the ECS for the Woodland Wanderer at 10:35.

Up at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:20 Harlech Castle was stabled in the loop with the early morning PW train as Merddin Emrys passed with the Mountain Spirit. The PW train waited for the Woodland Wanderer to arrive at 11:45 before returning to Minffordd at 11:50. James Spooner then ran round. Down at Porthmadog at 13:00 Blanche was shunting The Quarryman to the yard to free up the FR platform for the next arrival. Five minutes later No.87 was running round the Snowdonia Star having tanked up with water from the fuelling point. At 13:25 James Spooner was running round the recently arrived Woodland Wanderer and shunting it clear of the FR platform to leave space for the return working of the Mountain Spirit.

James Spooner arrived back at 13:50 into the FR platform and detached to refuel and tank up with water while Merddin Emrys completed the Fairlie swop, coupling to the other end at 13:58 to form the 14:20 Mountain Spirit. The new Fairlie worked out of the yard to shunt the Woodland Wanderer out of the seawall siding after the 14:20 had departed. James Spooner departed at 14:55, At 15:05 Blanche started shunting to prepare the 15:25 return working of The Quarryman reversing the rake into the FR platform at 15:15 and departing on time.

The first of the returnees was No.130 which arrived back just before 16:30. The ECS had departed for the depot just 5 minutes later. The Woodland Wanderer was next and the ECS departed behind James Spooner at 17:39. Merddin Emrys departed with the Mountain Spirit ECS to close the day at 17:53.

 

National Volunteers' Week 2024

The F&WHR would not be able to run their trains without the support of their loyal band of volunteers. Everywhere you look around the railway, you will see people who have chosen to come and work with permanent staff during their spare time, retirement or holidays - and the F&WHR is forever grateful for their dedication.
They come from all walks of life, from all around the world, to do an enormous number of tasks - some in the public eye, some behind the scenes - all of which ensure that the F&WHR can provide our visitors with a quality experience, on and off the trains.
Engine Drivers, Firemen, Guards, Signallers, Station Hosts, Gardeners, Handymen, Skilled Craftsmen - the list goes on and on. Each brings their own special talents and personalities with them. Some come to teach others, many come to learn, but all are welcome - and, once work is done for the day, it is great to socialise together as one big family! Indeed special trains to Tan-y-bwlch are sometimes run to Tan-y-bwlch tea room in the evening at the end of a week to say thank you.
So, in recognition of #NationalVolunteersWeek, the F&WHR would like to say a hearty "Thank You !" to all their volunteers for their efforts over the years - from the early preservationists back in the 1950s, through Deviationists (such as your webmaster in his teens) to the present day.
If you would like to get involved or find out more about volunteering with the railway, send an email to volunteer@ffwhr.com and someone will get back to you with further information. For images of volunteering see Festrail Facebook page.

 

F&WHR 10/6/24

Monday was forecast to be a day of sunny periods with temperatures of a chilly 9-15C. Monday's service was just 2 FR trains (the 10:40 Mountain Spirit and the 14:50 Woodland Wanderer). There was also just one train on the WHR (the Gelert Explorer). All three webcams were available today. The Mountain Spirit was hauled by Merddin Emrys again and was heavily loaded being it was the only FR train available today for those that had limited flexibility about days they could travel.

First up was Harlech Castle which entered the WHR platform with the Romanian Ballast wagon No.4023 at 07:40. The short train advanced to the starter at 07:45 and departed for the WHR at 07:51. At 13:13 Vale of Ffestiniog hauled the ECS for Woodland Wanderer rake into the WHR platform before shunting to the yard light engine. James Spooner arrived at 13:53 with the returning Mountain Spirit. The Funkey then extracted a spare carriage from the seawall siding at 13:55 which was taken to Boston Lodge. The Funkey returned to collect the ECS Mountain Spirit at 14:20. Meanwhile, the Fairlie had refuelled, tanked up with water and shunted onto the Woodland Wanderer which departed on time after the ECS had left.

 

F&WHR 9/6/24

Sunday was forecast to be an overcast day with temperatures of a chilly 8-13C. Sunday's service was just 1 FR train (the 10:40 Mountain Spirit). There was also just one train on the WHR (the Gelert Explorer). All three webcams were available today. The Mountain Spirit was hauled by Merddin Emrys again and was heavily loaded being it was the only FR train available today for those that had limited flexibility about days they could travel.

 

Corris Southern Extension YouTube June 2024

Work started planning the southern extension of the Corris railway into the Snowdonia National Park in 2003 but had to wait for planning permission, fund raising and material so construction did not start until 2015. The railway now has all the fill material it needs to complete the project. Another 2 years of delay has recently been incurred in building the stream bridge at the south end of the worksite. While the Highway Authority would have paid for the bridge, the SNPA planning authority was not happy with the design so the Coedwig Bridge is now the last problem in completing this first stage of the Corris Southern Extension.

Work has started south of the bridge to build an area where a run round loop can be constructed. Later phases will see the railway extended along its roadside shelf to Pont Evans level crossing and finally to the Forestry Commission Car Park near Tan-y-coed giving a total length of 2.75 miles. This will become the main starting point as there is very limited car parking at Corris. Ideally the railway should continue on its roadside shelf to the next level crossing near Pantperthog where the tourist attraction The Centre for Alternative Technology lies just across the river bridge. There is currently no plan to extend to an exchange station in Machynlleth (6 miles) in the NR Yard, the original terminus of the steam line, which would require an expensive new bridge across the Afon Dyfi.

 

Click on the YouTube link to watch 15 minutes 14 seconds of video showing progress with the Corris Southern Extension. This video is copyright Corris Railway and was published on 24/5/24. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod on a camcorder by Corris staff.

 

The extension to Pont Evans is about 600m in all and an area for a run round loop south of the Coedwig bridge has already been created. Permission to cross the minor road at Pont Evans level crossing T Junction will be sought in due course after the railway has gained experience operating over the 1 in 30 section to Coedwig Loop. The Corris Railway is still seeking donations to help with its extension and full details can be found here.

 

Hand-drawn map by Edwin Lambert. December 2020

Map courtesy Corris Railway.

 

North Wales Coast Sea defence works

Following concerns about rising sea levels and storms cutting the North Wales Coast Line and flooding both houses and holiday camps between Rhyl and Llandulas a study reported areas of concern and gave options. A contract has now been given to Jones Brothers of Ruthin who helped reconstruct the WHR. A report in New Civil Engineer reveals the £13m contract and what is entailed between the Foryd Estuary and Pensarn which will see the sea wall raised by about 75cm. The sea wall along this area of coast was constructed about 100 years ago by Whitley Bros. relatives of your webmaster. The narrow gauge railway equipment (including skips) used in the 1920s was dumped at Rhosesmor Sand and Gravel whose quarry provided the aggregate. The railway equipment was still present at Rhosesmor around 1960. The quarry area has since been landscaped.

With rising sea levels and more frequent storms local authorities are trying to prevent another disaster like the Towyn sea incursion of 1990 which flooded homes and cut the Chester-Holyhead line for several days. See BBC story.

 

F&WHR 8/6/24

Saturday was forecast to be a day of sunny periods with temperatures of a chilly 6-15C. Saturday's service was a reduced version of the standard Saturday service with just 2 FR trains (the Mountain Spirit train and The Quarryman). There were also the two through trains on the WHR and the Beer Festival shuttles between Caernarfon and Waunfawr. All three webcams were available today.

Merddin Emrys was on the Mountain Spirit passing through Tan-y-bwlch at 11:17. James Spooner arrived with a 10 coach ECS which  included the Woodland Wanderer in the FR platform at 11:12 even thought no public train was booked. The loco ran round at 11:30 and departed at 11:33 passing through Minffordd at 11:45. This special was being run in association with Vintage Trains Ffestiniog Express which had S7029 Clun Castle and 47773 top and tail from Dorridge to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The steam loco was left at Llandudno Junction for some reason. Maybe the Conwy Valley is not passed for Castles? Presumably the participants are having a ride to Tan-y-bwlch being due in at Blaenau Ffestiniog at 13:04 and destined to leave at 16:10.

Blanche arrived at the signalbox light engine at 12:00 and shunted the yard 5 minutes later. No.143 arrived with the Snowdonia Star at 12:28 while No.130 was on The Harbourmaster. No.143 ran to refuel and water in the yard at 12:32. Linda arrived with The Quarryman at 12:54 and Blanche shunted out of the yard, immediately coupled to the rear and shunted the rake to the yard to clear the platform for the returning Mountain Spirit. The Garratt emerged from the yard at 13:00 to run round its train ready for the return journey. Linda shunted out of the yard at 13:20 light engine before heading to Boston Lodge. The Ladies had exchanged duties on The Quarryman as Blanche shunted the yard and coupled to The Quarryman. Meanwhile the Fairlie shunted the first 5 coaches to the seawall siding. Blanche propelled The Quarryman into the WHR platform. The Fairlie brought 5 coaches back to the rake in the FR platform. This strange manoeuvre was apparently because a coach had seized brakes and the rake was partly blocking the point allowing The Quarryman to exit the yard.

At 14:15 the excursion was stopped at Tan-y-bwlch so that participants could avail themselves of refreshments at the cafe. Blanche departed on time from Porthmadog for Blaenau Ffestiniog with the return The Quarryman and Merddin Emrys left with the ECS for Boston Lodge shortly after.

 

F&WHR 7/6/24

Friday was forecast to be a chilly overcast day with temperatures of 11-14C. Friday's service was the standard Friday service with just 1 FR train (10:40 Mountain Spirit) and the Beer Festival shuttles between Caernarfon and Waunfawr on the WHR. All three webcams were available today.

The only train today was hauled by a Fairlie. As a result the train was heavily laden departing Tan-y-bwlch at 11:27. James Spooner was noted hauling the ECS back to the depot at 14:25 to close the day's activities.

 

F&WHR 6/6/24

Thursday was forecast to be a chilly day of sunny periods and showers with temperatures of 9-14C. Thursday's service was the standard Thursday service with 3 FR trains (two each Mountain Spirit and Woodland Wanderer plus The Quarryman) and the two through WHR trains. All three webcams were available today.

First up was Garratt No.130 which arrived with the ECS 10:05 Harbourmaster at 09:22. The loco was carrying a white disc on the front and departed on time. James Spooner arrived shortly afterwards in the FR platform with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit and ran round at 10:20. Harlech Castle was waiting at Tan-y-bwlch with the morning PW train to pass the morning public trains.

Linda pulled into Porthmadog at 12:49 with The Quarryman, not long after the No.143 arrived with the Snowdonia Star. The Garratt emerged from the yard at 12:55 to complete the run round. Linda shunted its rake to the yard at 13:00, clearing the FR platform for later arrivals.

 

NLHF Boston Lodge progress 2/6/24

Click on the YouTube link to watch 7 minutes 9 seconds of video showing progress with the NLHF Boston Lodge refurbishment project. This video is copyright F&WHR and was published on 24/5/24. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod on a 4K camcorder by John Wooden (F&WHR).

 

Fitting out of the Small Loco Shed continues with buffer stops fitted and large diameter water pipe routed through the roof space. Locos can be filled up with water in the shed in future. The fan of sidings outside the shed has been levelled and all the point rodding fitted. Fitting out the new shed is nearing completion.

 

Earl of Merioneth display 5/6/24

Earl of Merioneth was taken to Glan-y-pwll headshunt on 5/6/24 with a freight train made up of B wagons and FR wagons and a brake van and  posed against the slate tips. Upnor Castle was present to assist with shunting. There are some photos by Dave Thurlow on the Friends of F&WHR Facebook page. The train was later returned to Boston Lodge for storage. The General Manager states that the next step is for the loco to go on display but that options remain open.

 

F&WHR 5/6/24

Wednesday was forecast to be a chilly day of sunny periods with temperatures of 7-13C. Wednesday's service was the standard Wednesday service with 3 FR trains (one each Mountain Spirit and Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman) and the three WHR trains (two The Aberglaslyn and the Gelert Explorer). All three webcams were available today. Photos of Sunday's PTG specials would be welcomed.

By 10:00 No.143 was present in the WHR platform with The Aberglaslyn. At 10:05 Merddin Emrys was running round the Mountain Spirit in the FR platform. Harlech Castle was present in the westbound platform at Tan-y-bwlch with the early morning PW train returning to Minffordd and waiting to pass the Mountain Spirit. Linda pulled into Porthmadog at 12:50 with The Quarryman. Five minute later The Aberglaslyn returned and the Garratt immediately detached and shunted to the yard to refuel and tank up with water. Linda ran round its train and shunted the rake to the yard to clear the FR platform for the return of the Mountain Spirit. The Garratt shunted out of the yard at 13:17 to rejoin its train for the afternoon working.

Vale of Ffestiniog brought in the ECS for the afternoon Woodland Wanderer at about 14:20 as there was no morning working and Merddin Emrys emerged from the yard to couple to the rear. The Funkey shunted to the yard and at 14:45 it took the ECS from the Mountain Spirit back to the depot. The last loco of the lunchtime rush came as Linda shunted its rake back to the FR platform for the return of The Quarryman at 15:00.

 

This easterly view (5/6/24) shows Vale of Ffestiniog bringing the ECS rake for the afternoon Woodland Wanderer into Porthmadog. Merddin Emrys can be seen approaching the rear to couple up. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

Corris visitor arrives 4/6/24

The oldest surviving Corris loco has joined the newest there this June. The 1878 built No.3 Sir Haydn will visit from the Tal-y-llyn Railway where it has been since 1951 following closure of the original Corris Line. It will be in action alongside Falcon No.10 completed in 2023. There is a Gala on 15/6/24 where all three locos including Tattoo No.7 will be in action.

 

Rail-Ale Festival 7-8/6/24

It is less than 48 hours until the doors open for the F&WHR's two-day real ale festival at Dinas Station, near Caernarfon...
The list of beers, ciders and perries has just been released by the festival organisers and is now available to download from https://bit.ly/RA24-Tasting-Notes.

As well as the 58 Beers, 23 Ciders and 4 Perries on offer at Dinas, there are a further 10 Beers on tap at the Snowdonia Parc in Waunfawr. Don't forget, you can make use of the Festival Shuttle trains to travel between Caernarfon, Dinas and Waunfawr! More details and advance tickets available from the festival website @ rail-ale.com

 

F&WHR 4/6/24

Tuesday was forecast to be an overcast day with heavy rain at times but clearing up in the late afternoon with temperatures of 6-15C. Tuesday's service was the standard Tuesday service with 5 FR trains (both Mountain Spirit and Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman) and the two through WHR trains. All three webcams were available today. Photos of Sunday's PTG specials would be welcomed.

The first train today was the ECS for the 10:05 The Harbourmaster hauled by No.143 which arrived in the WHR platform at 09:14 in the rain. At 10:05 James Spooner pulled into the FR platform with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit as the WHR service departed. The loco ran round at 10:20. Merddin Emrys with the ECS for the 11:10 Woodland Wanderer pulled into the WHR platform at 10:25.

No.130 arrived with the Snowdonia Star at 12:24. The loco detached and shunted to the yard to refuel and tank up with water a few minutes later. The loco returned to the train at 12:50. Linda arrived on The Quarryman at 12:55 and the Garratt ran round its train. At 13:10 Linda coupled to the rear of its train and shunted its rake to the seawall siding clearing the platform for later arrivals. Merddin Emrys pulled in at 13:20 with the return of the Woodland Wanderer. The loco ran round 10 minutes later to shunt the rake clear of the platform to the seawall siding for the return of the Mountain Spirit. James Spooner arrived at 13:54 with the return Mountain Spirit to complete the lunchtime arrivals.

The Fairlie swop took place just 2 minutes after the arrival and the 14:20 was ready to depart. The 14:05 return Snowdonia Star started on time but came to a sharp stop before resuming at 14:11 for an unknown reason. James Spooner shunted light engine to the WHR platform and propelled the Woodland Wanderer into the FR platform at 14:38. Vale of Ffestiniog arrived light engine in the FR platform at 14:47 as Linda shunted the yard, Vale of Ffestiniog departed with the Woodland Wanderer at 14:57. James Spooner must have been substituted and this may have been the first time. At 15:07 Linda shunted the return The Quarryman rake out of the yard and departed in a torrential downpour at 15:35 to complete the lunchtime activities. The footplate staff could have done with the demountable cab or the backsheet in this poor weather.

Up at Tan-y-bwlch the Funkey pulled the rake forwards at 15:45 and propelled them back into the westbound platform at 15:49 leaving the eastbound platform clear for The Quarryman.

 

New TRAWS route proposed

A new route for the proposed TRAWS North Wales-South Wales rail service has been proposed which involves less new construction and may garner more political support that existing plans via Aberystwyth. The proposers are taking advantage of the focus on Welsh politics caused by the General Election to gather support for the scheme. Instead of reopening Aberystwyth-Carmarthen with its expensive new tunnel exit from Aberystwyth, the route uses a section of the Cambrian east from Machynlleth to join the Mid Wales railway from the former Moat Lane Junction near Caersws to a junction on Shrewsbury-Swansea Central Wales Line at Builth Road which is then followed to Swansea.

The section to be restored between Moat Lane Junction and Builth Road Junction is much shorter than Aberystwyth-Carmarthen and also less developed. It also avoids reversals at both Machynlleth and Aberystwyth. Reinstated loops might be required at Caemmaes Road, Llanbrynmair and Caersws with a new curve onto the Mid Wales at the site of Moat Lane depot near Caersws. The Mid Wales route through Llanidloes would be reclaimed from the current A470 bypass and the A470 rerouted around the east of the town via a new bypass. South of here the trackbed is largely clear via a summit of over 1000 feet at Pant-y-dwr before the route enters the Wye Valley. Rhayader comes next and then there is junction with the existing Central Wales Line just south of the existing Builth Road station where a new station would be required. There is an opportunity to construct a deviation of about 10km between Rhayader and Llandrindod Wells to serve one of the few centres of population in this area but it would require a short tunnel around the north of Rhayader. Additional loops might be required on the Central Wales between Builth Road and Llanelli depending on the frequency of service..

The proposers must be hoping that candidates for Montgomeryshire and Brecon & Radnorshire might campaign to reopen the rail route to reconnect a North-South rail route within Wales. Both of these seats were held until recently by Liberal Democrats who will be campaigning hard to reclaim them from the Tories.

 

F&WHR 3/6/24

Monday was forecast to be a day of sunny periods at first and light cloud later at Porthmadog with temperatures of 13-15C. Monday's service was for just two FR trains with the morning Mountain Spirit and afternoon Woodland Wanderer and one WHR train, the Gelert Explorer. All three webcams were available today. Photos of Sunday's PTG specials would be welcomed.

The ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit arrived behind James Spooner (with cab roof fitted) at 09:54. The loco ran round 10 minutes later.

 

Llangollen diesel gala 1-2/6/24

The Llangollen Railway had its first Diesel & Industrial Gala of the new regime at the weekend. 08202 arrived from the AVR at Bitton (for a 12 month stay) had its first trip out along the line on the 15:40 shuttle to Glyndyfrdwy. It was very popular!

 

PTG Tour images 2/6/24

Mark Lewis has published an excellent set of photos of the PTG Tour from Sunday 2/6/24. See Facebook story.

 

F&WHR 2/6/24

Sunday was forecast to be a day of sunny periods at Porthmadog with temperatures of 12-18C. Sunday's service was for just one FR trains with the morning Mountain Spirit as special trains would be operating for PTG Tours. No public services were operating on the WHR. A train was signalled out of the FR platform at 08:00 and Vale of Ffestiniog emerged with a four coach train with an Observation car on the rear at 08:09. This was a planned visit to Boston Lodge for the PTG Tour group. Returning to Porthmadog the PTG Tour was booked to go to Caernarfon with James Spooner, the locos first solo trip to Caernarfon. After a prompt return to Porthmadog the PTG Tour will be taken to Blaenau Ffestiniog behind Lyd followed by a booked meal at Spooners with guest speakers. All three webcams were available today. Photos of Sunday's PTG specials would be welcomed.

 

This easterly view (2/6/24) shows James Spooner ready to depart on the PTG Special to Caernarfon. The 5 coach train is probably part of The Harbourmaster rake as  the Mountain Spirit rake is in use later this morning on a public service train. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

James Spooner coupled to the rake presumably at Boston Lodge Halt (and the Funkey was dropped off) to haul it back to Porthmadog at about 09:30, departing for Caernarfon in sunny weather at 09:37. For those staying in Portmerion PTG had organised a champagne and croissants meal in the Observation Car at some stage during the day. The afternoon Mountain Spirit was cancelled on Sunday to free up the path for the PTG Special.

The public service train for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit arrived ECS at about 10:10 and the loco was noted running round at 10:15. The train returned to Porthmadog at 13:50 and Merddin Emrys ran round at 14:05. The ECS departed at 14:09 for the depot.

The PTG special took water at Rhyd Ddu and Waunfawr on return where it got a good dousing! The weather was fine so the cab roof was detached for the whole journey. The return working of the PTG Special arrived in Porthmadog at about 15:45 and the loco detached and went to the yard to refuel and water. Meanwhile, Lyd which had also been watered in the yard shunted to the front of the four coach train. The train departed at 16:10 for Blaenau Ffestiniog.

 

This easterly view (2/6/24) shows Lyd passing through Minffordd with its 4 coach PTG Special in sunshine, heading for Blaenau Ffestiniog. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

The train arrived back from Blaenau Ffestiniog just before 19:00 and was promptly signalled for a propel movement out of the FR platform. The train left at 19:09 with Lyd propelling the four coach rake across The Cob to Boston Lodge to close the day's activities.

 

F&WHR 1/6/24

Saturday was forecast to be a day of sunny periods at Porthmadog with temperatures of 8-19C. Saturday's service was for 3 FR trains with the morning Mountain Spirit, afternoon Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman from Blaenau Ffestiniog. The two through WHR trains will also run. The reduced Saturday service is because the F&WHR believes that the Spring Bank Holiday traffic will have started going home by this weekend. Sunday's PTG special on the FR is rostered for Lyd on the FR and James Spooner on the WHR All three webcams were available today. Photos of Sunday's PTG specials would be welcomed.

 

Help wanted for Beer Festival

It is now only a week away from the legendary RailAle 2024! Tickets and times are available at www.rail-ale.com
To help prepare for the event, the WHR Society needs some extra help! Here is a message from Dafydd Thomas for anyone who might be able to support:
“We will be doing the last jobs to prepare Dinas for the Real Ale Festival next Wednesday & Thursday, 5-6/6/24 and could do with a little extra help, if you can only do half a day, it would be gratefully received.
We will kick off from 08:00 on Wednesday morning but would be glad to see you there at anytime up to 17:00.
We also need some help clearing it away on Monday, 10/6/24. If you can help, please contact me at dthomas@crhe.uk for further details.”

 

Beer Festival shuttles

There will be diesel hauled shuttles on both Friday and Saturday 7-8/6/24 probably hauled by Caernarfon Castle. Most will operate between Caernarfon and Waunfawr but some of the lunchtime turns will turn back at Dinas. Trains continue until almost midnight both days.

 

Click on the image to expand. Friday shuttles. This image is copyright F&WHR

 

Click on the image to expand. Saturday shuttles. This image is copyright F&WHR

 

F&WHR 31/5/24

Friday was forecast to be a day of sunshine at Porthmadog with temperatures of 17C, with a northerly wind. Friday's service was for 4 FR trains with the Mountain Spirit and one WHR train with the Gelert Explorer. The TWThO The Cwellyn (Caernarfon-Rhyd Ddu) Spring service has now finished so Lyd will return to the FR until required again when the service resumes in the school summer holidays in August. Saturday's PTG special on the FR is rostered for Lyd. All three webcams were available today.

The first service was hauled by James Spooner which arrived with the ECS not long after 10:00. Run round came at about 10:15. A second steam loco was being prepared at Boston Lodge for the Woodland Wanderer. Merddin Emrys arrived at 10:34 with the Woodland Wanderer set in the WHR platform. Run round came after the Mountain Spirit had departed.

Merddin Emrys arrived back at Porthmadog in the WHR platform at 13:26. The loco detached and went to coal and water in readiness for the Fairlie swop. Lyd double headed No.87 on the Gelert Explorer as far as Beddgelert then proceeded light engine towards Porthmadog. At 13:44 Lyd returned via the WHR through line from its 3 days of duties on The Cwellyn at Dinas depot and continued to Boston Lodge. James Spooner arrived back on the Mountain Spirit at 13:55 and the Fairlie swop occurred 5 minutes later.

At the end of the afternoon Merddin Emrys arrived back at 17:34 with the Mountain Spirit. Run round came at 17:48 and the train left as an ECS to close the day's activities at 17:50.

 

F&WHR 30/5/24

Thursday was forecast to be a day of sunshine and showers at Porthmadog with temperatures of 11-16C, improving in the late afternoon. Thursday's service was for 5 FR trains with the Mountain Spirit/The Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman and the two through WHR trains with the addition on TWThO of The Cwellyn (Caernarfon-Rhyd Ddu). The train is hauled by Lyd. All three webcams were available today.

First today was Vale of Ffestiniog which arrived light engine by the signalbox at 07:41. Five minutes later the loco was shunting the yard to deal with coal supplies. The loco reappeared at 08:15 to run round the wagons. Ten minutes later the loco propelled two empty B wagons up to the signalbox. The loco propelled onto The Cob at 08:32 and pulled forward into the WHR platform starter 5 minutes later and departed for Dinas at 08:50. No.143 arrived in the WHR platform at 09:24 with the ECS for the 10:05 The Harbourmaster.

At 12:20 No.87 arrived with the Snowdonia Star. The loco detached and shunted to the yard 5 minutes later to tank up with water. Linda rolled in at 12:54 allowing No.87 to return to the front of its train. Linda then ran round and shunted The Quarryman rake to the yard in order to clear of the FR platform to allow the other trains space to arrive. James Spooner shunted to the signalbox at 13:30 then cleared the Woodland Wanderer rake from the FR platform to the yard to allow space for the Mountain Spirit to arrive at about 13:50. James Spooner shunted onto the front of the Mountain Spirit as No.87 departed on the return Snowdonia Star at 14:05 with the driver giving a friendly wave to the webcam watchers. DLG now swopped onto the Woodland Wanderer rake in the seawall siding and shunted it to the FR platform and departing at 14:52 while Linda attended The Quarryman rake and shunted it back to the platform shortly after 15:00.

DLG returned with the Woodland Wanderer around 17:00  as the sun came out and the loco ran round and departed with the ECS at 17:15. The final arrival was James Spooner with the Mountain Spirit which rolled in at 17:50. The loco ran round by 18:10 and departed with the ECS to close the day at 18:12.

 

WHR Mess car moves to Boston Lodge 30/5/24

The WHR Mess Car No.1001 was moved to Boston Lodge on 30/5/24 hauled by Vale of Ffestiniog on its return from Dinas. The train also included a B wagon of coal. The long stalled volunteer project will receive some help from the Coach Works to restart the project. No.1001 saw some use on the later stages of reconstruction of the WHR but restoration work started in 2017.

 

F&WHR 29/5/24

Wednesday was forecast to be an overcast rainy day at first at Porthmadog with temperatures of 11-16C, improving in the late afternoon. Wednesday's service was for 5 FR trains with the Mountain Spirit/The Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman and four trains on the WHR (two Aberglaslyn trains and the Gelert Explorer) with the addition on TWThO of The Cwellyn (Caernarfon-Rhyd Ddu). The Cwellyn is retimed to 12:30 departure on Wednesdays to avoid any clash with the Gelert Explorer. The train is hauled by Lyd. All three webcams were available today.

 

This northerly view (29/5/24) shows Lyd stabled at Dinas for the Whitsun Holiday Week The Cwellyn trains. In the background is No.9, the Dinas PW shunter. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Paul Lewin (F&WHR) taken on a digital camera.

 

First up was No.87 arriving at 09:22 with the ECS for the 10:15 The Aberglaslyn with its powerful LED lights ablaze. The train departed at 10:17 with a friendly wave from the driver to those watching on the live webcam. Meanwhile David Lloyd George set off from the depot across The Cob with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit arriving at 10:23. The final departure of the morning was the Woodland Wanderer hauled by Merddin Emrys at 11:22, some 12 minutes late. Merddin Emrys passed Minffordd at 11:39 (19 minutes late) and arriving in Tan-y-bwlch at about 12:10 (some 25 minutes late). It was not clear what the Fairlie's problem was.

David Lloyd George arrived back at 17:14 with the Woodland Wanderer having swopped with Merddin Emrys at lunchtime. Merddin Emrys pulled into the WHR platform just a few minutes late at 17:41, allowing the ECS Woodland Wanderer to depart from the FR platform. The Fairlie detached and ran to the yard to fuel and water before taking the ECS back to the depot at 18:03 to close the day's activities.

 

PTG Tour Sunday 2/6/24

This year’s PTG special on the F&WHR, on Sunday 2/6/24, will feature the first run of James Spooner solo to Caernarfon and then Lyd on the FR. There is plenty of room on the train if anyone on the Friends of Ffestiniog and WHR Facebook Group wants to join. A reasonable donation to FRS and payment of £38 for the catering package will secure a ticket.

For full details of the PTG Tour of North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways based at Portmerion see PTG website.

 

More from John Rawlings 17-19/5/24

This easterly view (17/5/24) shows the eastern end of Boston Lodge Works and the old Loco Shed (far left). Many of the buildings in this view have been restored with the help of the NLHF grants. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright John Rawlings taken on a quadcopter digital camera.

 

This Boston Lodge view (17/5/24) shows the Heritage Carriage Shed on the left and the south end of the new Carriage Shed lower right. The C2 shed is just visible (lower centre) with the rejected Chinese cab stored outside the shed.. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright John Rawlings taken on a quadcopter digital camera.

 

This westerly view (17/5/24) shows the new VoR Carriage Shed in the former M&M bay at the lower left. TfW facilities are now concentrated on the remaining single platform (centre left). Pointwork for the run round used by the Aberystwyth log train can be seen in the lower centre of the image. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright John Rawlings taken on a quadcopter digital camera.

 

F&WHR 28/5/24

Tuesday was forecast to be an overcast rainy day at Porthmadog with temperatures of 11-14C,improving a little in the afternoon. The Tuesday service was for 5 FR trains with the Mountain Spirit/The Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman and two through trains on the WHR with the addition on TWThO of The Cwellyn (Caernarfon-Rhyd Ddu). All three webcams were available today. The signaller turned up at 08:45 to open the box to a busy day.

First up in the drizzle was No.143 on the ECS for the 10:05 The Harbourmaster which arrived at about 09:40. James Spooner turned up at about 10:00 with the ECS for the Mountain Spirit and ran round about 15 minutes later. David Lloyd George pulled into the WHR platform at 10:38 with the ECS for the 11:10 Woodland Wanderer and started its run round as James Spooner departed.

The Woodland Wanderer was back at 13:20 and DLG ran round at 13:29. The rake was shunted to the seawall siding at 13:33 to clear the platform for later arrivals. The loco then shunted to the watering point as the Garratt arrived from the depot with the ECS for the return Snowdonia Star. The Garratts must have swopped at Rhyd Ddu as No.143 was back and shunted to the watering point at 13:42. The damp air made for good condensation effects.

James Spooner arrived at 13:55 with the returned Mountain Spirit and No.143 emerged from the yard seconds later to return to its train having topped up with water. The train departed at 14:08 with an understandably empty semi-open coach on the rear. DLG departed with the Mountain Spirit at 14:22 while James Spooner with complete cab roof shunted to the seawall siding to extract the Woodland Wanderer rake. Linda emerged from the yard as the Woodland Wanderer was shunted to the FR platform. The signaller is coming out of his box to set points for sidings. The three points near the signalbox could be motorised to help the signaller who has to operate the yard in the pouring rain sometimes. The points near the fuelling/watering point could remain crew operated.

Once the Woodland Wanderer departed Linda emerged from the yard to shunt The Quarryman rake back to the FR platform as the weather brightened up a little for the 15:25 departure.

 

East Anglian Group closure

The WHR Society's East Anglian Group has had to close due to the officers falling ill and no one coming forward to help. Over the years the Group has contributed homework projects such as WHR station signs and the running trucks for the KMX tamper. The group used to meet in a pub just south of Cambridge and your webmaster made contributions including slideshows about the various phases of WHR re-construction and the development of the Channel Tunnel over the years.

 

More from John Rawlings 17-18/5/24

This easterly view (17/5/24) shows Merddin Emrys arriving at Porthmadog with the morning Mountain Spirit. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright John Rawlings taken on a digital camera.

 

This westerly view (18/5/24) shows No.130 arriving at Porthmadog with the Snowdonia Star. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright John Rawlings taken on a digital camera.

 

This northerly view (18/5/24) shows  Britomart shunting at Porthmadog. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright John Rawlings taken on a digital camera.

 

F&WHR 27/5/24

Monday was forecast to be an improving day at Porthmadog with temperatures of 12-13C, overcast at first but brighter in the afternoon. The Monday service was for 5 FR trains with the Mountain Spirit/The Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman and just one train on the WHR (Gelert Explorer). All three webcams were available today.

Felinheli may have made an early trip to Caernarfon this morning (possibly accompanied by Lyd) as it was due to be used on Bank Holiday cab rides inn Caernarfon Station. Lyd is the usual loco allocated to The Cwellyn which runs TWThO this week for the school Half Term holiday. David Lloyd George arrived first with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit at about 10:15 and James Spooner was next into the WHR platform with the ECS for the 11:10 Woodland Wanderer. Linda arrive at about 12:50, then promptly ran round and shunted its rake to the yard by 13:00 to clear the platform for later arrivals.

At 13:40 James Spooner ran up to the signalbox in order to swop with the Fairlie coming in on the Mountain Spirit. DLG arrived in the WHR platform at 13:53 and the new Fairlie shunted onto the rear to remove the Observation car to the seawall siding before returning to its train for the 14:05 departure. Linda shunted The Quarryman back to the platform at 15:00 and left on time at 15:25 as the final afternoon departure.

The Woodland Wanderer was back at 17:02 and the station deserted by 19:00.

 

North Wales Railtours

19/6/24 sees another Snowdonia Statesman to Blaenau Ffestiniog from Cardiff Central and stations to Birmingham New Street. Statesman Rail operate the train with top and tail Class 47s.

21/6/24 has a new venture by Northern Belle who offer a Spirit of Travel Lunch /Champagne Afternoon Tea on a circular journey from Crewe to Chester/Wrexham and a four hour mystery circle before returning to Wrexham! The Pullman coaches are hauled by a Class 47/57.

22//6/24 has an unusual Holyhead and stations to Wigan departure for the Settle & Carlisle Coastal Pullman. This train is operated by Midland Pullman.

 

July General Election called

As predicted a General Election has been called for 4/7/24. Labour are unsurprisingly offering rail re-nationalisation. This could reduce fares as we are currently paying 'cost plus' for our tickets. Most of the franchises are in fact Nationalised rail companies of other European countries who charge a premium on top of the basic cost of providing the service. The theory goes that by operating the railways ourselves at cost, we would have cheaper fares. Labour say that as franchises come up for renewal they will be subsumed into the new Great British Railways company or whatever Labour choose to called the new BR. Already TfW, ScotRail and Merseyrail are owned by local government and some of the franchises are run by the operator of last resort, the DfT. However, there is still interest in Open Access Operators and Branson has indicated Virgin might want to enter the rail market again with a service from Euston to Preston via Manchester and aspirations to serve Birmingham, Liverpool and Glasgow!

The Liberal Democrats have also pushed for rail re-nationalisation and reopening of branch lines to stations closed by Beeching. Helen Morgan, Lib Dem MP for Shropshire North, has been very vocal about reopening the Gobowen-Oswestry branch and the ex MP and candidate for Ceredigion Mark Williams wants to see the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen line reopened, along with Bangor-Afonwen, to complete an internal Wales North-South Link as proposed by TRAWS. The Greens and Plaid also favour something similar whereas the Tory MP for Anglesey Virginia Crosbie has backed both restoration of the Amlwch Line or its conversion into a multi use travel path!

 

F&WHR 26/5/24

Sunday was forecast to start with heavy rain and even a thunderstorm at Porthmadog with temperatures of 10-14C but brighter in the afternoon. The Sunday service was for 4 FR trains with the Mountain Spirit/The Woodland Wanderer and three trains on the WHR with two The Aberglaslyn and a Gelert Explorer. All three webcams were available today.

No.143 arrived with the ECS for the 10:15 The Aberglaslyn at 09:25. Merddin Emrys arrived at 10:05 with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit. The Garratt was back again by 13:35 preparing for the 13:40 The Aberglaslyn and the yard was being shunted by David Lloyd George. The return Mountain Spirit arrived at 13:53 and DLG dropped onto the rear of the rake in the WHR platform to remove the Observation car to the seawall siding. Merddin Emrys shunted to the yard to fuel and water and complete the Fairlie swop by preparing for the 14:50 Woodland Wanderer.

At the north end of the line, the Snowdonia Star is being strengthened from 7 to 10 cars so the TThSO mixed train with coal empties/loaded coal noted earlier in the season no longer runs as it would be beyond the capacity of a Garratt on the 1 in 40. The coal train was handled by Vale of Ffestiniog this week.

 

More from John Rawlings

This southerly view (19/5/24) shows the reinforced arch of the former Morben Tramway Extension of the Corris Railway with the Cambrian Coast Line crossing above at Machynlleth station. The level has been raised as this location frequently floods. The Morben Tramway preceded the standard gauge route and had to be accommodated as a horse worked tramway for a few years before the Morben Dock became disused. All Corris produce was then transferred to the Cambrian in the exchange yard at Machynlleth. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright John Rawlings taken on a digital camera.

 

This easterly aerial view (19/5/24) shows the new NR arrangements and VoR tracks at Aberystwyth. The log train is dealt with on the station run round loop which is looking quite rusty here at the top of the image as there has not been a weekly log train for some weeks. The VoR station and Exhibition Centre are at the bottom of the view and the VoR Loco Shed on the upper right side of the view. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright John Rawlings taken on a quadcopter digital camera.

 

This easterly Exhibition Centre view (19/5/24) shows various items of rolling stock being exhibited at Aberystwyth. It seems Palmerston has left the exhibition and is being restored ready for its August Gala appearances on trains in the VoR Loco Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright John Rawlings taken on a digital camera.

 

This easterly Exhibition view (19/5/24) shows various items of rolling stock being exhibited at Aberystwyth including the diminutive Wren and No. 9 Prince of Wales (Aka No.1213 and awaiting overhaul). Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright John Rawlings taken on a digital camera.

 

North Wales main line

The 15/5/24 saw the first working from Penmaenmawr Quarry for some months with No.70809 on a stone train to Longport.

On the same date the Snowdonia Statesman came to Blaenau Ffestiniog with IC livery No.47828 and ScR livery No.47712 Lady Diana Spencer. The photogenic namer led up the Conwy Valley to find sunshine at the terminus.

No.60163 Tornado may soon be tested over night on the Cambrian ERTMS system. This is the lead loco for the ERTMS Heritage locos unit for testing south of Peterborough. The original plan was to run it on the Old Dalby test track but a landslip problem has closed this line for several weeks whilst repairs take place.

There have been a number of weekend PW trains recently on the North Wales Coast and Genesse &Wyoming orange liveried No.66509 Josiah's Wish led the train west on 18/5/24. It has certainly been a colourful time in North Wales with pink ONE (Ocean Network Express) liveried No.66587 As One We Can the previous week.

TfW has purchased two Class 67s to strengthen its fleet. Currently it hires several a day for the current diagrams and rarely seems to be able to operate all of them. It is understood one is for spares and the other will strengthen the Manchester Diagram. There seem no intention to reinstate the second loco hauled diagram to Holyhead. The locos concerned are Nos.67026/28 and are the first actual locos owned by TfW.

TfW has reminded people of its 'Kids go Free' offer which is always available and might give parents some ideas for the Half Term holiday next week. See TfW offers.

 

F&WHR 25/5/24

Saturday was forecast to be a day of light cloud at Porthmadog with temperatures of 11-17C. The Saturday service was a repeat of last week's with The Woodland Wanderer substituting for The Victorian. There are the two usual through WHR trains. All three webcams were available today.

First up was No.143 with the ECS for The Harbourmaster which arrived in the WHR platform by 09:35 ready for the 10:05 departure. No.143 departed as the Fairlie arrived with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit. Run round had occurred by 10:15. At 10:37 sensible use of the WHR platform was made when the ECS Woodland Wanderer rolled into Porthmadog hauled by Merddin Emrys. Previously the ECS had run into the yard and required a propel movement to access the FR platform after the Mountain Spirit had left. At 10:40 the loco waited in the WHR run round whilst James Spooner departed before departing on time at 11:10.

 

Locals Discount offer continues into June

The F&WHR's LOCALS’ DISCOUNT scheme continues to be very popular so the F&WHR has decided to make it available throughout June - and on a wider variety of train services!
As usual, the F&WHR are offering a 50% discount (for the whole family) to local residents with their primary address in postcode areas LL22 to LL78 inclusive.
This discount will be available on the following trains:
▪ WOODLAND WANDERER (Porthmadog to Tan-y-Bwlch return)
▪ MOUNTAIN SPIRIT (Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog return)
- 14:20 departure only
▪ THE QUARRYMAN (Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog return)
▪ THE ABERGLASLYN (Porthmadog to Beddgelert return)
▪ GELERT EXPLORER (Caernarfon to Beddgelert return)
▪ SNOWDONIA STAR (Caernarfon to Porthmadog return)


In effect only The Harbourmaster and The Victorian are banned.

Use voucher code JUNE50 to receive the discount when buying tickets online, by phone, at one of our Booking Offices or from the Guard on a train. Customers must bring proof of residency (e.g. Driver’s Licence) on the day of travel to show at the check-in desk.
ℹ PLEASE NOTE: the Discount offer is for tickets only and does not include Guidebooks or Food & Drink. The code will not work on train services running before or after June 2024, or on trains other than those listed above.
More details and online tickets @ www.festrail.co.uk/trains.

 

UK Railtours Excursion 28/9/24

On Saturday 28/9/24 UK Railtours will be organising a train from London to Chester (via an interesting route!) and Llandudno Junction where the Glan Conwy freight sidings have been requested.

 

F&WHR 24/5/24

Friday was forecast to be an overcast day at Porthmadog and temperatures of 8-12C with a warmer sunnier weekend ahead. The Friday service was a repeat of last Friday's with just the one FR train (the 10:40 Mountain Spirit) from Porthmadog but no WHR trains. All three webcams were available today.

Merddin Emrys was running round at 10:05 in the FR platform ready for the only train of the day. The front Observation car was removed to reduce fuel use as first class Gold bookings had been lighter. The coach was left in the seawall siding and the loco returned to the train at 10:18. From the number of children joining the train it appeared that school Half Term holidays had started today for some areas.

 

Moving Pictures No.93 24/5/24

Click on the YouTube link to watch 31 minutes 58 seconds of video showing a review of the loco fleet. This video is copyright F&WHR and was published on 24/5/24. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod on a 4K camcorder by John Wooden (F&WHR).

 

Another Baldwin!

A third Baldwin is in restoration at Statfold Barn where the frames of the Narrow Gauge Trust's No.779 are being reassembled. The 4-6-0T arrived at Statfold in March 2013 from India where it worked in Ryam Sugar Factory Bihar until the early 1990s. See Ryam Sugar Factory Railway. Work has been underway at Workshop X since 2020 and about 100 renovated and labelled components have been returned to Statfold for final assembly. When the loco is complete it is possible it may visit the WHR as other locos from Statfold have. The fourth Baldwin 10-12-D is at the Leighton Buzzard Railway.

 

F&WHR 23/5/24

Thursday was forecast to be an overcast day with showers in the afternoon at Porthmadog and temperatures of 9-11C. A weather warning was published for heavy rain with potential flooding. The Thursday service was a repeat of last Thursday's with five FR trains (both Mountain Spirit/The Victorian trains from Porthmadog with The Quarryman from Blaenau Ffestiniog) and the two through WHR trains. All three webcams were available today. The signalbox was opened by 09:00 and steam was being raised at Boston Lodge with Vale of Ffestiniog coming across The Cob light engine and arriving to shunt the yard at 09:09.

No.143 arrived with the ECS The Harbourmaster at 09:34 while the Funkey was standing in the yard at 09:40 before continuing its shunt. James Spooner arrived with the ECS for the Mountain Spirit at 09:48. At 10:18 the Funkey emerged from the yard propelling two empty B wagons, to be reloaded at Dinas. The train came forwards into the WHR platform at 10:22 and departed for Dinas when the 10:05 had cleared the section to Pont Croesor. The train advanced to the starter at 10:29 and departed at 10:30 after activating the crossing lights. Having run round in the yard, the Fairlie shunted the rake to the FR platform at 10:52. Merddin Emrys arrived with ECS for the 11:10 The Victorian at 10:36.

Upnor Castle was noted departing the yard at 11:34 with a short departmental working arriving at Minffordd at 11:42. Merddin Emrys was noted swopping to the 14:20 Mountain Spirit. Upnor Castle came through the WHR platform with its short Departmental working at 14:17. The diesel ran round at 14:25. James Spooner shunted The Victorian back to the FR platform at 14:45. Linda was shunting to run round and collect The Quarryman rake at 14:55 as The Victorian departed.

At 18:00 Merddin Emrys was noted departing with the ECS Mountain Spirit to close the day's activities.

 

More from John Rawlings 18/5/24

This northerly view (18/5/24) shows No.143 heading north at about 13:00 crossing Snowdon Street level crossing with the return working of the Snowdonia Star. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright John Rawlings taken on a digital camera.

 

This westerly view (18/5/24) shows Linda with The Quarryman stabled in the station yard awaiting the return working. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright John Rawlings taken on a quadcopter digital camera.

 

Oswestry CHR north end cleared

Cambrian Heritage Railways has announced that contractors have cleared the trackbed at the north end of Oswestry station as far as the unauthorised level crossing to the Medical Centre in the old Loco Works. This will allow track to be extended in the through road and platform 2 to link up in points to be laid at the north end. The first aim is to complete a run round loop to avoid top and tail working. This will allow the Class 73 many more turns rather than using a Pacer DMU. The station at the south end of the line at Weston Wharf already has a run round loop. Eventually the CHR hopes to bring platform 2, the island platform, back into use presumably with a footbridge connection as originally.

 

How a Steam Locomotive works workshop visits

These bookable F&WHR workshops provide a unique opportunity for visitors to join two of our friendly loco drivers/fitters who will provide an in-depth breakdown of the building, maintaining and driving of locos!
Participants will also get to help prepare a steam loco, see it in action behind the scenes (at our historic Boston Lodge workshops), receive information on ‘How it Works’ and then have a go at firing and driving in the yard!
It’s all very friendly and relaxed… and an ideal experience if you are looking for something a little different.
These workshops will be running on the following dates:
🟠 29/5/24 and 31/5/24
🟠 1/6/24 and 14/6/24
🟠 26/7/24
🟠 2/8/24, 9-10/8/24, 16/8/24, 23/8/24 and 30/8/24.
We ask all attendees to read the information on the Workshop webpage carefully and watch the Safety Briefing video, before booking your ticket/s.
For further information and to book your tickets, visit our website: https://www.festrail.co.uk/boston-lodge-tours-and-workshops/.

 

F&WHR 22/5/24

Wednesday was forecast to be a day of showers and sunny periods at Porthmadog with temperatures of 10-14C with heavy rain due overnight. The Wednesday service was a repeat of last Wednesday's with three FR trains (both Mountain Spirit/The Quarryman) and the three WHR trains (two The Aberglaslyn and the Gelert Explorer). All three webcams were available today.

No.130 was first up today with the ECS for The Aberglaslyn arriving at 09:28. Merddin Emrys arrived at 10:00 with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit. The train was back by 14:00 and the loco ran round at 14:15 ready for the 14:20. Linda left on time with The Quarryman with the cab sheet erected to protect the crew from the rain. At 16:20 No.143 was back having swopped with No.130 on the Gelert Explorer. Ten minutes later the train left on the ECS. The final arrival was the Mountain Spirit which rolled in at 17:28. The spare Observation car and saloon were drawn out of the seawall siding and reattached to the rake to make the full length train again. The ECS left at 17:49 to close a rather wet day at Porthmadog.

 

School Whitsun Half Term holiday 27/5/24

This Bank Holiday Monday (27/5/24) the F&WHR will be offering Footplate Rides at ‘Y Stesion’, Caernarfon! Felinheli will be the engine on Footplate Ride duties from 10:30 - 16:30 and the loco must first make its way to Caernarfon and return later to Boston Lodge. Café De Winton and the Station Shop will also be open during the day! So, come along and join in the fun. There is no need to pre-book and there is no charge, although donations are always welcome towards the cost of coal etc. Additional services operate from Caernarfon during the holiday week with The Cwellyn TWThO.

 

Wylfa B announced-General Election called for 4/7/24

The Government announced it will go ahead with Wylfa B, the new nuclear power station on Anglesey on 21/5/24, leading to speculation it was trying to ensure the future of the Tory MP for Anglesey in whose constituency the power station lies. The Government has already approved a Westinghouse Pressurised Water design AP1000 or AP1200 currently under construction in the USA. Two or three reactors could be constructed at this site providing up to 3GW of power, enough to supply North Wales and much of the North West of the UK. The Government bought the site from the previous failed developers just a few months ago. New Nuclear is a key part of Carbon Reduction Policy as the reactors are Carbon Neutral and generate power 24/7 unlike wind turbines and solar arrays.

The confirmation gives hope that the Amlwch branch line might be refurbished as part of the early preparatory work for the new power station. While the Valley Nuclear Electric Siding will be used for transfer of exhausted fuel rods when the power station is operating in 5 years time, the former tank farm siding at Rhosgoch on the Amlwch branch could be used as a staging area for cement trains and aggregate with a short 5 km haul road across fields to the site of the power station. A refurbished line could be used by a preservation group at weekends or TfW could introduce a commuter service Amlwch to Bangor under 'Rolling Back Beeching'.

 

F&WHR 21/5/24

Tuesday was forecast to be a day of showers and sunny periods at Porthmadog with temperatures of 12-19C and thunderstorms in the afternoon. The Tuesday service was a repeat of last Tuesday's with five FR trains (both Mountain Spirit/The Victorian) and the two through WHR trains. All three webcams were back on-line this morning with improvements showing with the Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd cameras.

The first train today was the ECS for The Harbourmaster which arrived at 09:41 hauled by No.130. Merddin Emrys arrived with the ECS for the Mountain Spirit at 09:57. James Spooner ran round The Victorian in the yard before propelling it into the FR platform. No.143 arrived at 12:20 with the Snowdonia Star and uncoupled and ran to the yard to water five minutes later. Linda ran round The Quarryman at 12:55 as No.143 ran round the Snowdonia Star. James Spooner arrived with The Victorian at 13:18 followed by Linda running to Boston Lodge. James Spooner ran round at 13:22 and shunted The Victorian to the yard to clear the FR platform for the final lunchtime arrival. Once the 14:20 Mountain Spirit had departed James Spooner shunted The Victorian back to the platform for the 14:50 departure. Linda shunted the return The Quarryman service to the platform at 14:58 ready for the 15:25 return service.

 

This easterly view (21/5/24) shows a busy scene at Porthmadog with Linda in the WHR through line delivering staff to the Garratt while No.143 readies for the 14:05 return Snowdonia Star and James Spooner shunts spare coaches in the seawall siding. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

The last train came home at 17:40 with the return of James Spooner on the Mountain Spirit. The loco detached and shunted some spare coaches from the seawall siding to reform a full length train before departing with the ECS to close the day's activities.

 

Drone views of Boston Lodge 17/5/24

This southerly view (17/5/24) shows Vale of Ffestiniog shunting rolling stock and the new Carriage Shed with its solar panels at 12:30. The strange grey vehicle outside the Coachworks is the new infrastructure vehicle which includes platforms for working at height. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright John Rawlings taken on a quadcopter digital camera.

 

This southerly view (17/5/24) shows Vale of Ffestiniog shunting, James Spooner outside the loco shed, No.130 in the Garratt pit road where the new Garratt Shed will be built and works pilot Moel-y-gest outside the new Small Loco Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright John Rawlings taken on a quadcopter digital camera.

 

This easterly view (17/5/24) shows James Spooner outside the loco shed and No.130 on the Garratt pit road with works pilot Moel-y-gest in front. The WHR Society is finding a new Garratt Shed on this siding and there will be room for a store between the siding and the new Small Loco Shed. the fan of sidings next to the Garratt leads to the Small Loco Shed which will soon be used to store locos. In the foreground is the Coach Works and C2 Chinese Loco Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright John Rawlings taken on a quadcopter digital camera.

 

F&WHR 20/5/24

Monday was forecast to be a day of showers and sunny periods at Porthmadog with temperatures of 13-20C. The Monday service was a repeat of last Monday's with just two FR trains (the Mountain Spirit) and one WHR train (the 11:30 Gelert Explorer train). Both the Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch webcam were again off line this morning, the latter for the fifth day. These cameras have been very unreliable this season and have also taken staff weeks to fix when they go wrong. Frequently it is both the Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch cameras that fail together suggesting a cable problem.

The ECS for the Mountain Spirit turned up shortly after 10:00. James Spooner ran round at 10:10 and the rake departed on time  made up to full length with Observation cars both ends. The train returned at 14:00 and made its afternoon run. The Fairlie departed with the ECS at 17:56 to close the day's activities.

 

Boston Lodge tours

The recently purchased battery locos my be used for the Boston Lodge shuttles in connection with the NLHF Boston Lodge tours commencing this summer. The Clayton built 14 tonne four wheel locos can be charged off the roof panels on Boston Lodge Carriage shed. The locos were obtained from Costain who were disposing their construction railway after completing the Tideway Tunnel Project in London. The original idea was that the locos could be used as Boston Lodge/Dinas Works pilot locos (assuming the new Dinas Carriage Shed also has solar panels fitted to charge the batteries).

For full details see Festipedia Tideway Battery Locos page.

 

WHHR No.590 news

Baldwin No.590 will be having an annual steam test at the VoR before restitution of the hot box on the centre driving wheel axle box which ran hot just before the WHR gala last year leading to sidelining at the event. It is hoped the issue can be quickly resolved and enthusiasts hope it might return to the WHHR in time for the SuperPower Weekend 14-15/9/24.

 

Gowrie boiler appeal

Gowrie, the replica single Fairlie being constructed as the final NWNGR loco, is advancing in leaps and bounds. Now, unexpectedly, the boilermaker has a construction slot available and so the project team is launching its £100,000 boiler appeal a year earlier than expected. A £20,000 deposit is needed by late autumn to allow work on the boiler to begin. The left cylinder has been cast and the right hand one will follow soon. It is intended that this 0-6-4T loco will be a higher power than the original loco and will be available to run on the WHR and visit other 2' gauge railways too. Non prototypical greedy bars on the top of the bunker will allow the loco to carry a quarter tonne of fuel for the longer journeys possible of the WHR.

 

F&WHR 19/5/24

Sunday was forecast to be a day of day long sunshine with temperatures of 13-23C. The Sunday service saw just one FR train (the 10:40 Mountain Spirit) and one WHR train (the 11:30 Gelert Explorer train). Both the Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch webcam were again off line this morning, the latter for the fourth day. James Spooner was booked for the Mountain Spirit this weekend.

James Spooner, with cab roof installed, arrived at 09:57 with the ECS for the Mountain Spirit. The train returned at 13:55. The loco shunted the seawall siding at 14:10 and added the Observation car to the head of the train. There were quite a few people on the platform in the sunny weather probably disappointed there was no afternoon service. At 14:30 the ECS left for the depot to close the day's activities.

 

F&WHR 18/5/24

Saturday was forecast to be a day of improving sunny periods with temperatures of 10-22C. The Saturday service was reduced to three FR trains (both Mountain Spirit/ The Quarryman) and the two through WHR trains by cancelling the normal Saturday The Victorian trains. Both the Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch webcam were again off line this morning, the latter for the third day. James Spooner was booked for the Mountain Spirit this weekend.

The Garratt arrived with the ECS at 09:28 with white discs again. The ECS Mountain Spirit arrived at 10:02. At 11:42 Velinheli was noted departing the yard and returning to Boston Lodge. No.143 arrived at 12:23 with the Snowdonia Star with the Observation car coupled to the loco. The loco shunted to the yard promptly to water, returning at 12:45 when it had to wait for The Quarryman. After Linda had arrived the loco strangely coupled to the front and headed off to Boston Lodge with the ECS at 12:52 maybe for lunch at Boston Lodge. This detracts from interest for people on the platform who like to see trains shunting around. At 13:05 Linda shunted its rake to the yard to clear the FR platform and then made its way to the refuelling point. No.143 was back at 13:34 with the ECS for the 14:10 return working of The Snowdonia Star. Linda returned from refuelling as James Spooner arrived at 13:51 with the returning Mountain Spirit. Britomart arrived light engine in the WHR platform at 14:15 after The Snowdonian had departed and gathered a small crowd of interest. James Spooner ran round at 14:17 and departed on time with the afternoon working.

The first train back was No.130 which arrived at 16:27.

 

F&WHR 17/5/24

Friday was forecast to be a day of improving sunny periods with temperatures of 9-18C. The normal Friday service was operated with one FR train (the 10:40 Mountain Spirit) and no WHR trains. The Tan-y-bwlch webcam was again off line this morning. Merddin Emrys was said to be on the Mountain Spirit with James Spooner booked for the weekend.

The train arrived back at 13:55 and the loco ran round after fuelling and watering and departed with the ECS for the depot at 14:18 to close the day's activities.

 

GVT Chirk progress 11/5/24

Volunteers have been busy at Chirk and have made further progress with the trackbed and track in the station and depot area. The line was closed in 1936 and the formation in the station area became overgrown with many trees. In the last decade there have been a few false starts cutting down trees etc but in the last 2 years the pace of work has increased with a reinvigorated volunteer group. In the last year, track has been laid, the platform cleared and the foundations of the station building and original bricks excavated. This year the trackbed has been cleared to the south including an area for the location of the depot. The railway will be built to 2'3" gauge common with the Tal-y-llyn and Corris railways to allow exchange of rolling stock for gala events etc. See GVT Facebook page for more details.

 

This northerly view (11/5/24) shows rolling stock stored on track laid against the platform in Chirk station with the NR station visible the other side of the fence as seen from Station Avenue bridge. Beyond the station the track used to extend to a canal wharf with the canal emerging in a cutting to the left of this view from the Ceiriog Viaduct and Tunnel. The foundations of the GVT station building are visible on the right. A run round loop will be installed in the space to the left of the track. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Russell Edwards taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

This southerly view (11/5/24) shows the future loco shed area just south of Chirk station with the trackbed given geotextile and bottom ballast to prevent mud incursion as seen from Station Avenue bridge. Track panels for the 2'3" railway are stored in this area. The trackbed curves to the right in the distance under Castle Road bridge (B4500) and into the Ceiriog Valley dropping steeply down to Pontfaen level crossing of the B road. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Russell Edwards taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

This northerly view (11/5/24) shows access to the GVT platform will normally be via the NR stairs and platform. The brick areas in view bottom left are the foundations of the GVT station building which is being rebuilt. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Russell Edwards taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

This westerly view (11/5/24) shows local signage advertising the project under GVT Trust. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Russell Edwards taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

This southerly view (11/5/24) shows the track heading under Station Avenue bridge just south of Chirk station. At one time the GVT station had its own separate access but this has fallen into disuse. Click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Russell Edwards taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

F&WHR 16/5/24

Thursday was forecast to be a day of sunny periods with temperatures of 12-19C but with heavy rain in the late afternoon. The normal Thursday service was operated with five FR trains (two Mountain Spirit/The Victorian and The Quarryman from Blaenau Ffestiniog) and the two through WHR trains. Upnor Castle was already in the WHR platform with the weed killer train at 07:10 but disappeared soon after that. The Tan-y-bwlch webcam was off line this morning. The signaller arrived at 09:15 as an ECS train departed Boston Lodge.

No.130 arrived with the ECS for The Harbourmaster in the WHR platform at 09:20. James Spooner arrived on the Mountain Spirit at 10:05 as No.130 departed. The loco ran round at 10:15 and had the cab roof fitted as inclement weather was forecast. The Victorian arrived at 10:27 in the yard. Merddin Emrys ran round and shunted The Victorian into the FR platform at about 10:50.

Merddin Emrys was back at 14:00 running around the 14:20 Mountain Spirit with a large number waiting on the platform for the return working of the 14:05 Snowdonia Star which seemed delayed returning from Boston Lodge. No.143 pulled in at 14:15 and departed 19 minutes late at 14:24. Merddin Emrys departed on time. James Spooner ran round in the yard having swopped duties and emerged from the seawall siding at 14:29 to shunt The Victorian into the platform at 14:35. Linda then shunted the yard to collect The Quarryman rake at 14:42 for the 15:25 departure. At 15:20 Upnor Castle was back from the WHR with the weed killer train in the WHR platform awaiting a path across The Cob after Linda left on time. The departmental departed at 15:39 to Minffordd arriving 10 minutes later and shunting into the yard.

 

This westerly view (16/5/24) shows a very wet Upnor Castle returning to Minffordd yard after a whole day spraying the WHR with weed killer. Let us hope the heavy rain did not wash the weed killer away! Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a webcam.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Trains began to return in the late afternoon with No.130 on The Harbourmaster departing with the ECS a minute after James Spooner pulled in with The Victorian. Merddin Emrys arrived at 17:32 with the final return of the day. The loco extracted a spare coach from the seawall siding at 17:51 to add to the rake and then hauled the ECS back to Boston Lodge at 17:59 to close the day's activities.

 

F&WHR 15/5/24

Wednesday was forecast to be a day of sunny periods with temperatures of 11-19C. The normal Wednesday service was operated with two FR trains (the morning Mountain Spirit and The Quarryman from Blaenau Ffestiniog) and three WHR trains (two Aberglaslyn trains and a Gelert Explorer). The signaller turned up at 09:00 but Vale of Ffestiniog had already arrived from Boston Lodge in the WHR platform with two empty B wagons to be returned to Dinas for the regular fuel train. The train advanced to the starter at 09:00 and set off two minutes later for Dinas.

The ECS for the 10:05 The Aberglaslyn arrived behind No.143 at 09:52. The ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit arrived at about 10:00 and run round was completed by 10:20. Work was underway on the Minffordd points cabinet at 10:50 when the train passed. The Quarryman has arrived in Porthmadog by 13:00. No.143 arrived back with the Aberglaslyn at 13:02. With the Snowdonia Statesman arriving in Blaenau Ffestiniog from Chesterfield it is surprising that the F&WHR has not offered them a special train option to Tan-y-bwlch where they could have a snack at the cafe and back as previously. The excursion arrived 5 minutes late at 13:02 and was due to depart at 16:02 giving 3 hours break with plenty of time for an excursion to Tan-y-bwlch.

After The Aberglaslyn had departed at 13:40, Merddin Emrys arrived back in the WHR platform at 13:50 and ran round 2 minutes later. Linda was occupying the FR platform with the stock for the return working of The Quarryman due off at 15:25 and ran round just after 15:00. James Spooner departed Porthmadog with an 8 coach rake at 17:53 which appeared to be a vintage set rather than the ECS Mountain Spirit set.

 

Main Line news 15/5/24

Cambrian ERTMS fitted 97304 was on its way from Coleham LMD to Tywyn for a naming ceremony with an inspection saloon and the garish Loram liveried 37418 on the rear. The NR loco was named Talyllyn Railway. No.37418 was painted on 25/1/24 and named An Comunn Gaidhealach on 13/2/24. The name refers to a society that promotes the Scottish Gaelic language and culture.

Class 70 No.70809 hauled 4D61, the 0612 Longport-Penmaenmawr ballast empties in a welcome return of ballast traffic from the North Wales Coast line.

 

Cambrian Heritage Railways news 12/5/24

No.73129 (E6036) is back in action after winter maintenance and hauled most of the trains from Oswestry to Weston Wharf on 12/5/24. The CHR's outstation at Llynclys has transferred a classic Class 101 DMU to Oswestry after receiving 142055 from Oswestry. A project is being developed to put the Class 101 back into revenue service following an extended project to restore them in 2025.

 

F&WHR 14/5/24

Tuesday was a cloudy day with temperatures of 12-18C. The normal Tuesday service was operated with five FR trains (both Mountain Spirit/The Victorian trains and The Quarryman from Blaenau Ffestiniog) and two through WHR trains. The signaller turned up at 09:00 but Vale of Ffestiniog had already arrived from Boston Lodge in the WHR platform with two empty B wagons to be returned to Dinas for the regular fuel train. The train advanced to the starter at 09:00 and set off two minutes later for Dinas.

No.87 departed with The Harbourmaster at 10:07 as the Fairlie pulled in with the Mountain Spirit. The Victorian worked directly into the yard a little later after the Fairlie had run round. At 12:40, unusually there was no sign of the Snowdonia Star rake inn the WHR platform. The train may have been taken ECS to Boston Lodge as Upnor Castle was working with the weed killer train (spray wagon/tank wagon, van with loco propelling at rear) in the WHR loop opposite the signalbox along with 5 of the orange army.

No.130 arrived at 12:54 but with no Observation Car on the rear and half an hour late. This allowed the weed killer train to proceed up the WHR at 13:00 as Linda ran round The Quarryman to shunt it to the yard. A few minutes later the Garratt worked forward to the depot with the ECS and Linda propelled its rake into the yard, clearing the FR platform for later arrivals.

 

This easterly view (14/5/24) shows a busy scene at Porthmadog with Upnor Castle propelling the weed killing train up the WHR from the WHR loop, No.130 was taking the ECS Snowdonia Star to Boston Lodge missing its rear Observation Car and Linda running round the recently arrived The Quarryman in the FR platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

The Victorian arrived back at 13:25 and James Spooner ran round 5 minutes later to clear the FR platform for a later arrival. With the WHR platform clear, this could avoid the need for some of these propel manoeuvres in the FR yard. However it appears signallers have had instructions not to use the WHR platform compared with last year when some signallers did make use of the facility for run rounds when the FR platform and station yard were congested by late running. Merddin Emrys arrived at 13:53 with the returning Mountain Spirit into the FR platform.

James Spooner ran round and shunted 3 coaches from the rear to the seawall siding presumably to deal with reduced loadings as No.130 came back from Boston Lodge at 14:07. Having deposited a coach in the seawall siding, James Spooner returned with two coaches and coupled up while the Garratt shu:38.nted to the watering point at 14:14 but was back at 14:33. Merddin Emrys, propelled The Victorian back into the FR platform at 14.35 arriving in Tan-y-bwlch at 15:24. The Garratt departed at 14:42, almost 40 minutes late. The Victorian was propelled back into the westbound platform at 15:34 and the loco then ran round.

Vale of Ffestiniog arrived back at Porthmadog with coal at 15:36 and was shunting the two loaded B wagons in the yard. This means there had been quite a few crossings to entertain passengers on the through WHR trains with an out and back coal train and a weed killing train. Upnor Castle had returned the weed killing train to Porthmadog Yard earlier in the afternoon and set off across The Cob at 15:39 heading for Minffordd Yard. The train entered the loop wrong line at 15:47 and reversed into the yard four minutes later.

No.143 returned with The Harbourmaster at 16:26 into the WHR platform at Porthmadog. This train departed for the depot ECS at 16:34. Merddin Emrys arrived back at Porthmadog with The Victorian at 17:00 with run round coming at 17:10 and departure with the ECS at 17:16. James Spooner rolled in at 17:36 with the return of the Mountain Spirit. The loco worked to the seawall siding but returned without the spare coach. Second thoughts saw shunting of coaching stock to bring the train up to full length at 18:13. The ECS departed at 18:22 to close the day's activities.

 

Mainline news 14-16/5/24

An interesting working on the Central Wales lines was 37418 along with Inspection Saloon Caroline No. 975025 on 14/5/24. The train travelled from Derby RTC to Llanwrtyd Wells before returning to Coleham LMD. The Aberystwyth log train did not operate last Friday/Saturday.

The Snowdonia Statesman with top and tail class 47s will run from Chesterfield to Blaenau Ffestiniog on 15/5/24. Sadly the Cambrian Coast Express from Cardiff to Pwllheli on 16/5/24 has been cancelled as NR could not provide suitable timings (even though this journey is relatively short). The problem seems to be the reversal at Shrewsbury where a Cambrian ERTMS fitted Class 37 comes on the rear. NR insists this is done at Coton Hill Goods Yard and apparently it takes and hour. They explain that passengers must detrain at Shrewsbury as they cannot be present during propel moves or when the train is entering non passenger lines like Coton Hill Yard. One has to ask how did BR managed to do those 10 minute loco changes at Crewe/Birmingham New Street etc. 30 years ago? Part of the problem is short sighted planning of layout alterations at Shrewsbury which have shortened Platform 3 where such loco changes could have taken place in similar times to those taken by BR, back in the day.

 

F&WHR 13/5/24

Monday was a day of sunny periods at first but heavy rain later and temperatures of 12-16C. The normal Monday service was operated with two FR trains (both Mountain Spirit) and one WHR train (the 11:30 Gelert Explorer). The 10:40 Mountain Spirit departed on time with James Spooner in charge. Up at Tan-y-bwlch Harlech Castle was waiting to pass with the FR Mess Car and PW container train off the early shift. Meanwhile Vale of Ffestiniog set off across The Cob at 10:53 with two B wagons of fuel as the rain set in.

The afternoon Mountain Spirit was at Tan-y-bwlch at 15:15 and departed for Blaenau Ffestiniog at 15:19, almost 20 minutes late. The train was back in Porthmadog by 17:55 and the loco was signalled to run round in rather wet conditions after refuelling and watering. At 18:08 James Spooner shunted the spare coach from the seawall siding to bring the rake back to full strength before leaving with the ECS at 18:22 to close the day's activities.

 

Llangollen 11/5/24

Just for a change your webmaster ventured out to the Llangollen and Corwen Railway (L&CR) and Glyn Valley Tramway (GVR) on a sunny Saturday 11/5/24. Class 47 No.47449 (now with TOPS numbering) handled the diesel service with the suburban rake and 3803 was on the steam working with the TSO rake, passing at Glyndyfrdwy. It was a brilliant sunny day and good numbers of passengers were present but the L&CR kept its rakes short to minimise fuel costs. The chair lift at Corwen's new station can accommodate light weight wheelchairs but is rather slow. Class 31 No.31271 was visible in the depot and the Class 03 diesel shunter was being worked on. Pentrefelin sidings was full of DMUs and the remaining BR Mk1 coaches.

 

This westerly view (11/5/24) shows 47499 running round at Corwen. The loco was carrying both TOPS and pre-TOPS numbers. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Barrie Hughes taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

F&WHR 12/5/24

Sunday was a day of sunny periods and thunderstorms at Porthmadog with temperatures of 25C predicted. The normal Sunday service was operated with just one FR train (the 10:40 Mountain Spirit) and one WHR train (the 11:30 Gelert Explorer). The ECS for the 10:40 arrived at about 10:00 in the FR platform and ran round 5 minutes later. The train departed on time and arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:22.

At 12:53 an unadvertised special working with a headboard celebrating 50 years of the Dee & Mersey Group arrived at Tan-y-bwlch hauled by James Spooner in the sunshine. The tea room had been booked for this party later in the afternoon. Merddin Emrys passed on the return Mountain Spirit at 13:17, departing 5 minutes later while James Spooner continued towards Blaenau Ffestiniog. Merddin Emrys was back with its rake in Porthmadog at 14:00 and running round 5 minutes later. At 14:15 the ECS departed for the depot.

 

'How a steam loco works' Workshop

The F&WHR's new ‘How a Steam Locomotive works’ workshops provide a unique opportunity for visitors to join two of our friendly loco drivers/fitters who will provide an in-depth breakdown of the building, maintaining and driving of locos!
Participants will also get to help prepare a steam loco, see it in action behind the scenes (at the historic Boston Lodge workshops), receive information on ‘how it works’ and then have a go at firing and driving in the yard!
It’s all very friendly and relaxed and an ideal experience if you are looking for something a little different.
These workshops will be running on the following dates:
29-31/5/24
1-14/6/24
26/7/24
2-9-10-16-23-30/8/24
The F&WHR asks all attendees to read the information on the Workshop web page carefully and watch the Safety Briefing video, before booking their ticket/s.
Please note; unless specifically advertised all workshops and tours are for adults (16+).
Watch the F&WHR's new promotional video to get a taste of what to expect!

 

Click on the YouTube link to watch 2 minutes 55 seconds of video showing How to Drive a steam loco and was published on 10/5/24. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod on a 4K camcorder by John Wooden (F&WHR).

 

F&WHR 11/5/24

Saturday 12/5/24 was a sunny day at Porthmadog with temperatures in the mid twenties in the afternoon. All three webcams were working and a typical Saturday service was run. There will be restricted opening at the Tan-y-bwlch tearoom on Sunday and Monday.

 

Click on the image to enlarge. This advert is copyright F&WHR.

 

The Snowdonia Star was cancelled on Saturday (for the first time this season) 'due to a last minute technical issue with the carriages at Dinas'. This could for example have been due to a points failure or minor derailment in the yard at Dinas.

 

Boston Lodge Garratt shed

Thanks to the generosity of WHR Soc. members and supporters, the Annual Appeal has been hugely successful and the WHRSoc. is getting closer to the initial target of £35k, with the total allocation standing at almost £30k when donations, Gift Aid, and a contribution from Society funds are combined. On the ground, as reported in The Snowdon Ranger, the pit has been excavated with the steelwork inspected, building extremities marked with the clearances checked, and drainage buried ready to be connected once the shed is built. The next step is to confirm the shed design before an order can be placed with the supplier. The design of the shed on 8 road (between the new 'Small Loco Shed' and the existing Loco Shed) is being coordinated with a stores facility being planned adjacent.

 

This easterly view (unknown/24) shows No.138 in the siding at the site of the Garratt Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR.


Thanks to the support the project has had so far and to ensure that the shed is future-proofed, the WHRSoc. is looking to incorporate some enhancements including lighting and a roller shutter (in common with the Small Loco Shed) to make sure the facility is truly fit for purpose! Every penny helps to make sure all the F&WHR's prized locos are appropriately stored and donations are warmly welcomed via the button on the WHRSoc. webpage or by visiting https://whrsoc.org.uk/index.php/join-the-society-2/donations-and-legacies.

 

F&WHR 10/5/24

Friday 10/5/24 was a day of light cloud at Porthmadog with temperatures of 11-21C and frequent sunny periods. All three webcams were working today. Today's public service was that of a typical Friday with just one FR train, the 10:40 Mountain Spirit. F&WHR management believes traffic is low on Fridays as visitors are in transit to/from holidays which often start/terminate at weekends.

Steam was being raised at 09:30 at Boston Lodge. The ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit arrived in the FR platform at 09:53 hauled by James Spooner with its cab roof open to reflect the fine weather. The train left on time. At 12:21 Vale of Ffestiniog turned up with an 11 coach train in the Porthmadog FR platform with Nos.11/12. This may have been a sort out of the stock used at the FR AGM/Blaenau Community Day events. Run round came about 10 minutes later and departure at 12:36. Some shunting occurred and a 5 coach rake with open coach No.37 on the rear was later shunted into the WHR platform. The loco then ran light engine to the yard and shunted the other half of the rake with an open coach, Nos.11/12 on the rear coupled to the spare coach and water wagon from the seawall siding and headed off to the depot.

 

This easterly view (10/5/24) shows Vale of Ffestiniog arriving with a mixed 11 coach rake. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

Upnor Castle seemed to have turned up by 13:30 and coupled to the rake in the WHR platform as a large number of staff appeared on the platform for a training exercise in orange safety wear. The Mountain Spirit arrived back at 13:50. There was some trouble getting a vacuum but Upnor Castle eventually departed at 14:05 with the training rake towards Minffordd. James Spooner ran round at 14:07 and departed for the depot with the ECS a few minutes later.

Upnor Castle arrived at Minffordd at 14:15 and ran round at 14:30 having dropped the trainees off at Boston Lodge. The train then waited at Minffordd for the Boston Lodge trainees to complete their exercises and return to Boston Lodge Halt. The train departed Minffordd at 14:55 and arrived back at Porthmadog before running round in the FR platform at 16:10 with more trainees observing as it departed with the ECS at 16:20.

 

Return of The Cwellyn

The summer dated TWThO The Cwellyn will run again for three days during the school Spring Bank Holiday Half Term week as last year. Trains will run on 28-30/5/24 with Tuesday and Thursday trains departing Caernarfon for Rhyd Ddu at 12:00 and the Wednesday train at 12:30 to avoid clashes with the Gelert Explorer.

On other Tuesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays it is possible to catch the Snowdonia Star through train from Caernarfon to the crossing point (normally Rhyd Ddu) and come back on the northbound service of The Harbourmaster, otherwise there is only one departure from Caernarfon and passengers must complete the full expensive round trip or ask for a fare to an intermediate station such as Beddgelert with a longer wait between trains. In the afternoon it is possible to catch the return working of The Harbourmaster from Caernarfon and intercept the return working of the Snowdonia Star, normally at Rhyd Ddu.

TThSO

Caernarfon dep 10:10 14:10
Rhyd Ddu arr 11:15 15:15
Rhyd Ddu dep 11:15 15:15
Caernarfon arr 12:25 16:25

 

Although these journeys and fares are not advertised, the journeys are available under the F&WHR's 'hop-on/hop-off' policy and may suit a passenger who cannot afford the £66 return fare on the Snowdonia Star, especially those with a large family.

Travelling the northern half of the Welsh Highland Railway, this journey offers scenic views over Ynys Môn / Anglesey and the Irish Sea before heading inland through the valley of the Afon Gwyrfai, past Llyn Cwellyn to reach Rhyd Ddu, the F&WHR's highest station, nestling on the slopes of Y Wyddfa / Snowdon.
The Cwellyn is a great, affordable, family-friendly, afternoon trip from the historic sights of Caernarfon to the dramatic mountain slopes around Rhyd Ddu. For more information and to book your tickets, which are on sale now, click the link below:
festrail.co.uk/the-cwellyn

 

Moving Pictures No.92 10/5/24

Click on the YouTube link to watch 42 minutes 9 seconds of video showing the opening of the Aberystwyth VoR Museum, Alco restoration progress and the FR Society Weekend special trains. This video is copyright F&WHR and was published on 10/4/24. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod on a 4K camcorder by John Wooden (F&WHR).

 

Taliesin progress

Single Fairlie Taliesin was always a popular sight on the WHR reprising the role of single Fairlies on the line such as the late lamented Moel Tryfan. Work on Taliesin is underway at Boston Lodge and its firebox has been re-stayed and passed its NDT exam recently. Re-tubing is about to start and bogie work is underway. The overhaul of the power bogie is progressing well and the trailing bogie has been stripped down for overhaul. The loco may reappear in traffic towards the end of the season.

 

Gowrie project

The Gowrie project has been running for 5 years now and there has been some recent progress constructing the flared bunker sheeting. The next step is to build the cab and tank sheeting. It is a pity the Group did not select to rebuild Moel Tryfan and, while beggars cannot be choosers, WHR supporters should be glad a replica is being made of this, the final NWNGR loco. Although its time on NWNGR was brief (1908-1918) and it did not quite make it into WHR ownership, many supporters will welcome a loco that looks like a loco rather than a square tank as the Garratts appear. The Gowrie Groups hopes the loco will be able to visit many 2' gauge railways including the F&WHR

 

F&WHR 9/5/24

Thursday 8/5/24 was a day of light cloud at Porthmadog with temperatures of 10-15C and frequent sunny periods. All three webcams were working today. The signaller opened the box at 09:00. Today's public services were a repeat of Tuesday's and saw 5 FR trains, including two Mountain Spirit/The Victorian and The Quarryman (from Blaenau Ffestiniog). There are also the two through services on the WHR.

First up was No.87 which arrived with the ECS for the 10:05 The Harbourmaster by 09:35 in the WHR platform. James Spooner was running round the Mountain Spirit as The Harbourmaster departed for Caernarfon. The last two coaches were shunted out of the Mountain Spirit rake to the seawall siding at 10:10 reducing the load and saving fuel in response to passenger booking levels. At 10:37, David Lloyd George arrived  in the yard with The Victorian rake, requiring a run round and a shunt/propel movement. The Mountain Spirit left on time and The Victorian was propelled into the FR platform. Surely it would be easier to run this train into the WHR platform and avoid the shunt/propel move. The only advantage of the more complex movements via the FR platform is the platform canopy on days when it is raining or the entertainment of onlookers!

No.130 arrived with the Snowdonia Star at 12:30.. The loco detached and went to refuel and water. Linda ran round in the FR platform and, at 13:00, shunted the ECS The Quarryman to the yard to clear the platform for subsequent arrivals. The Garratt emerged from the yard at 13:15 and ran round its rake in the WHR platform. DLG shunted to the FR platform and extracted The Victorian, propelling it into the yard at 13:35 to clear the FR platform for later arrivals. James Spooner arrived back with the Mountain Spirit at 14:02 and DLG shunted onto the front for the 14:20 afternoon working.

Linda and James Spooner shunted out of the yard at 14:30 with the Fairlie shunting The Victorian to the FR platform for the 14:50 departure. The final departure of the afternoon was Linda which shunted out of the yard with The Quarryman which was propelled back into the platform at 15:00 ready for the 15:25 return working.

At the end of the day the trains returned to base. DLG had run round the Mountain Spirit in the FR platform at 17:55 and was waiting the signal to return to Boston Lodge with the ECS. The train eventually left in sunshine at 18:03 to close the day's activities.  

 

Works Visit shuttles

This summer the NLHF Boston Lodge visits programme is set to commence with places becoming bookable soon. The F&WHR is hoping to increase engagement by this initiative and convert a passing interest into volunteer and eventually skilled volunteers needed to sustain the railway. Those booked on the visit will be taken to Boston Lodge Halt by a shuttle from Porthmadog station. These shuttle trains do not currently feature in the timetables but will have to be planned in view of the frequent trains across The Cob.

 

Coach Tours

The F&WHR has distanced itself from coach tours in recent years but there is room on trains from Caernarfon and this may be encouraged again as well as Cruise traffic. Holyhead cruise ships are expect to almost double from 46 last year to over 75 this year. A quality experience in Bodysgallen might see an external food supplier commissioned. Negotiations are underway with Dylan's Restaurants. Visitors may recognise the brand as the company took over the art-deco Morannedd restaurant at the end of Criccieth promenade. Other branches exist at Menai Bridge, Conwy and Llandudno, where they offer a Welsh flavoured experience.

 

SuperPower 2024 14-15/9/24

As well as the NG15 No.134 Kalahari, there will freight trains and mixed trains. The centre of attention will be between Caernarfon and Rhyd Ddu. Dinas will no doubt feature a number of stalls, possibly for the last time, with contractors moving in to build the new Carriage Shed over Winter. Many members hope that Russell and No.590 may put in an appearance as No.590 disappointed at the Centenary last year. As Russell approaches its 10 year exam this Winter, this is possibly the last year for a while that the original WHR locos can be seen together.

 

F&WHR 8/5/24

Wednesday 8/5/24 was a day of light cloud at Porthmadog with temperatures of 9-14C and occasional sunny periods. All three webcams were working today. The signaller opened the box at 09:00. Today's public services saw 3 FR trains, including two Mountain Spirit and The Quarryman (from Blaenau Ffestiniog). There are also the three WHR trains, including two The Aberglaslyn and one Gelert Explorer (from Caernarfon).

First up today was No.87 on The ECS for the 10:15 The Aberglaslyn. The orange army was tackling the king point at around midday as Caernarfon Castle arrived from the Ffos-y-fran coal store at Dinas with two B wagons of coal at 11:40 for the Harbour Station fuelling point. The two wagons were propelled into the fuelling point at 11:46. The diesel emerged light engine at 11:56 to wait by the signalbox for a path back to Dinas. The loco had gone 45 minutes later.

 

This easterly view (8/5/24) shows Caernarfon Castle propelling two loaded B wagons with coal from Dinas into the Porthmadog refuelling point. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

No.87 arrived back from Beddgelert at 12:56 with The Aberglaslyn. Linda arrived with The Quarryman at 13:00. No.87 detached and shunted to the yard to refuel at 13:03. Linda ran round the rake in the FR platform before shunting the ECS The Quarryman to the yard, releasing the FR platform for later arrivals. Linda then left light engine for the depot at 13:20. No.87 then ran round the rake in the  WHR platform and had coupled up before departing at 13:40. At 1353 the Mountain Spirit arrived in the FR platform.

At 17:38 the Fairlie was shunting the spare carriage from the seawall to the rear of the recently arrived Mountain Spirit rake in the FR platform. The ECS set off at 17:53 for the depot.

 

Rail-Ale 7-8/6/24

Click on the advert to enlarge. This advert is copyright F&WHR.

 

This year's Beer Festival at Dinas may be last one in the current format. With work planned to get underway later in the year on the new Carriage Shed, Dinas will not have the same space for such events in future so a rethink of the format might be necessary.

 

F&WHR 7/5/24

Tuesday 7/5/24 was a day of sunny periods at Porthmadog with temperatures of 11-18C. All three webcams were working today. Some additional trains may run today to tidy up the specials that operated over the Bank Holiday weekend. The signaller opened the box at 09:00. Today's public services saw 3 FR trains, including two Mountain Spirit and The Quarryman (from Blaenau Ffestiniog). There are also the two through WHR trains.

James Spooner brought the ECS for the Mountain Spirit over at about 10:00 and the rear two coaches were shunted to the seawall siding to deposit the saloon. The loco returned to the rake 5 minutes later light engine which meant there was no Observation Car on the rear for possibly the first time this season. On some days lighter traffic justifies reducing the length of the rake in order to save fuel. Meanwhile David Lloyd George was shunting the yard and after the Mountain Spirit departed, it propelled The Victorian rake into the FR platform for the 11:10 departure, which left on time.

No.130 arrived on the Snowdonia Star. By 13:15 the loco had run round and was coupled up to the return working. DLG arrived back at 13:20 with The Victorian. Linda was shunting in the yard at the same time as DLG ran round and shunted the rake to the yard. James Spooner arrived with the Mountain Spirit and the Fairlie swop occurred. After departure of the afternoon Mountain Spirit, Linda shunted the yard at 14:35. James Spooner departed with the afternoon The Victorian at 14:51. Linda shunted The Quarryman back to the FR platform at 15:02 ready for the 15:25 departure.

At the end of the afternoon trains began to return. At 17:17 the first ECS departed for the depot and DLG arrived with the Mountain Spirit. James Spooner was still in the yard with The Victorian at 17:30 but this also left ECS for the depot at 17:33.

 

Model Railway workshop

At the moment there do not appear to be shuttles to Minffordd to the Model Railway Workshop that takes place in the Gweithdy at Minffordd Station, Ffestiniog Railway, LL48 6HF
SATURDAY 18/5/24 : 10:30-16:30
SUNDAY 19/5/24 : 10:00-16:00


▪ WORKING LAYOUTS
• 'Rhiw Goch' - 7mm scale /16.5mm gauge - James and Peter Hoyle
• 'Port Wynnstay' - 7mm scale /16.5mm gauge - Phil Traxson
• 'Lôn Gof' - 7mm scale / 9mm gauge - Paul Towers
• 'Tutherside' - 009 - Martin Hallett
• 'Arnold Lane Wharf' - 009 - Thomas Williams
• 'Dinorwic' - 009 - Glenn Williams
• 'Railway Modelling on a Plate' - 009 - Paul Towers
• 'The Isle of Stoner Cheese Factory' and other adventures - 009 - John Wooden
• 'Dinas Depot' (under construction) - 3mm scale / TT - Robert Shrives
• 'Taste of Amlwch' - 2mm scale / N gauge - Carol and David Roberts


▪ MODELLING TECHNIQUE DEMONSTRATIONS
• Kit construction: Paul Martin / EDM Models
• Brandbright Kits: Ken Vine
• Etched brass and card building: Paul Holmes
• Various small layouts: John Wooden
▪️ REFRESHMENTS AVAILABLE
(including cakes from popular local baker - CelEmmabration Cakes)
▪️ ENTRY : £4.00 (£1.00 for under-12yrs)

 

Caernarfon Food Festival 11/5/24

It does not appear there will be an extra train to Caernarfon at this time as there has in previous years. Those intending to visit the Caernarfon Food Festival on Saturday 11/5/24 from Porthmadog and intermediate stations could catch The Harbourmaster at 10:05 from Porthmadog.

Visitors to Caernarfon on Saturday will be greeted by a vibrant tapestry of colourful stalls, as the annual 'Gŵyl Fwyd Caernarfon' - Caernarfon Food Festival is taking place in the town. The central square (Y Maes), surrounding streets, the quayside and the promenade will be lined by a vast array of tempting gifts and local produce - with entertainment and street food to enjoy as well.
Travellers on The Harbourmaster from Porthmadog will have around 1½ hours in the town to explore the festival, before re-joining their train for the return journey. It is possible to join/leave the train at intermediate stations such as Beddgelert/Waunfawr.
You can find more information, including a handy map, on the festival's website: http://www.gwylfwydcaernarfon.cymru/
Make sure you take the opportunity to wander round the stalls, you won't regret it. Come along and enjoy the festival - but make sure you bring a bag or two as well!

 

SuperPower 2024 14-15/9/24

It is possible that NG15 No.134 will be ready by September and K1 will be invited from Statfold Barn. However, many WHRSoc members will be hoping for Russell and the WHHR's Baldwin No.590 which missed last year's promised Centenary celebrations. No.590 was returned to the VoR earlier this year for rectification for its hot axleboxes. This year is the last time for some years that the two original WHR locos can appear together before Russell is withdrawn for its 10 year exam.

 

Coachworks projects

Work will start on panoramic window third class saloon coach No.2050 towards the end of 2024 for completion next year. With No.2049 replacing No.23, No.2050 will replace No.24 so that the Heritage rolling stock can be preserved for special trains. The restoration of Pullman coach No.2115 Bodysgallen (which holds 20 seats) will be complete by early summer given the support of a donor. In fact the carriage is due to be released from the paint shop in May after a roof replacement to remove the insulation which was not fireproof. The General Manager is looking for a package of Welsh food/travel that can be pitched at the cruise/corporate markets using Bodysgallen with an Observation coach Gwyrfai and a Service Car in the Snowdonia Star/Gelert Explorer rake.

 

Dinas alterations

The WHR internet based signalling system Micro ETS is to be extended from the recently completed Waunfawr installation to Dinas making full use of shunt tokens at this location once the alterations at the south end of Dinas are complete. These alterations are essential for the new Carriage Shed alterations which will be constructed 2024-6. The focus on Dinas seems to have pushed back the new Garratt Shed in Boston Lodge and news about Beddgelert station building has dried up too.

The extension of ETS to Waunfawr incorporated MicroETS with interlocked starting signals. In association with the Dark Skies project to promote astronomy, signals are switched off 2 hours after the last train passes and reactivated by the approach of a train to either home signal. This may be extended to the Dinas scheme.

Following on from the Dinas Carriage Shed works will be a new South Yard Loco Shed though there is no turnout for this shown on current expansion plans. This will be a running shed with provision for at least one Garratt normally in steam, the NG15, the diesels, the tamper and any small locos visiting. There will be a Volunteers Workshop where projects such as Mess coach No.1001 can be completed. This project will become a priority with staff employed to complete some of the work as a third Mess Car is definitely needed for next year's WMWP.

 

F&WHR 6/5/24

Monday 6/5/24 was a day of sunny periods at Porthmadog with temperatures of 10-18C. All three webcams were working today. Additional special trains, including gravity trains on the FR, were operating for the FR Society AGM Weekend/Community Rail Day at Blaenau Ffestiniog. Unusually, the additional services did not extend onto the WHR as they had in previous years. Today's public services saw 5 FR trains, including two Woodland Wanderer/Mountain Spirit and The Quarryman, but just one on the WHR, the Gelert Explorer.

Lilla and Blanche were first out of Porthmadog departing the FR platform at 09:29 with a 3 coach Vintage train for Blaenau Ffestiniog, picking up James Spooner (ex the Gravity train) at Tan-y-grisiau. Lily was shunting the station at 09:58 while David Lloyd George came across The Cob, arriving in the FR platform with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit at 10:01. The Woodland Wanderer had arrived and Merddin Emrys round in the WHR platform by the time the 10:40 departed.

The Harbourmaster was back by 16:30. Blanche arrived back with the Minffordd shuttle at 16:35 allowing The Harbourmaster ECS to depart for the depot at 16:36.

 

F&WHR 5/5/24

Sunday 5/5/24 was a day of sunny periods at Porthmadog with temperatures of 10-17C. All three webcams were working today. Additional special trains, including gravity trains on the FR, were operating for the FR Society AGM Weekend. Unusually, the additional services did not extend onto the WHR as they had in previous years. Today's public services saw 5 FR trains, including two Woodland Wanderer/Mountain Spirit and The Quarryman, and three on the WHR, including two The Aberglaslyn and the Gelert Explorer.

First up was Lilla shunting the station at 08:30 presumably ready to take the participants in the gravity train up to Dduallt. On Monday the gravity train will start from the Summit by the Tan-y-grisiau Power Station giving the added excitement of passing through Moelwyn Tunnel! The loco departed from Porthmadog with one coach presumably of gravity train participants at 09:00. The slate wagon rake had been collected from the Mineral Line at Minffordd earlier by David Lloyd George. Hugh Napier was noted reversing into Minffordd Yard at 09:30 light engine.

The mixed freight arrived with the RLR locos in Porthmadog yard at 10:00 and No.130 departed with The Aberglaslyn at 10:17. James Spooner was on the font of the Mountain Spirit as Merddin Emrys ran into the WHR platform at 10:33 with the ECS for the 11:10 Woodland Wanderer and ran round after the 10:40 had departed. Blanche arrived with a 3 coach train at 11:14 delaying the departure of the Woodland Wanderer slightly.

The 14:20 Mountain Spirit was noted leaving the WHR platform at 14:35 in the hands of Merddin Emrys in dull conditions. This passed a short 3 coach train at Minffordd in the hands of Blanche at 14:45 which arrived in the WHR platform at Porthmadog at 14:54. The 14:50 Woodland Wanderer then departed at 14:58 behind James Spooner (missing its cab roof) and Blanche ran round as soon as The Cob section was clear. Linda shunted the yard while the run round was underway as the sun came out again and moved The Quarryman back to the platform ready for the 15:25 return working. The RLR goods train was shunting the yard at 15:28 as Linda departed. DLG and Lilla top and tailed coach No.102 being shunting around the yard. At 15:43 they headed for the depot. Meanwhile Blanche and its 3 coach train arrived Minffordd at 15:58 and the loco ran round 5 minutes later. The RLR freight arrived at Minffordd at 16:24.

 

FfWHR Explore app launched 2/5/24

Click on the advert to enlarge. This advert is copyright F&WHR.

 

FfWHR EXPLORE - a travelling companion in your hand!

Visitors to Harbour Station this weekend were among the first to get their hands on the F&WHR's new app - which has been designed with everyone's enjoyment in mind, during their journey on the F&WHR.
FfWHR EXPLORE provides descriptive and historic information about stops and points of interest along the line, marking your route as you go with a locomotive icon on the map. Each railway also has three 'Out the Window' games, where the whole family can spot things seen along the route.
The FfWHR Explore app is free, provides a choice of Welsh or English text and is now available to download from the Apple Store or Google Play Store - simply click the link below and choose your preferred option:
www.festrail.co.uk/ffwhr-explore/
----------------------------------------

The App has been created as part of the Railway’s Interpretation and Boston Lodge Project - thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, National Lottery players, the Ffestiniog Railway Society and the FfWHR Trust.

One problem with V2.2 of the app released 2/5/24 is that does not have an EXIT button, requiring the phone to be switched off to exit the app which is not ideal. There are quite a few problems with the WHR map with Pen-y-Mount exchange platform not shown, Nantmor station shown south of its location, Plas-y-nant Halt the wrong side of the river Gwyrfai, the railway the wrong side of the road south of Waunfawr, Bontnewydd Halt the wrong side of the Afon Seiont and Caernarfon terminus the wrong side of the Seiont harbour! Furthermore, none of the request stops are named. The WHR is also shown the wrong side of the river Glaslyn in the Aberglaslyn Pass!

Features: From the app you can look at the map, or 'Out of the window' which gives options for 'Back to Nature', 'On the Railway' or 'Picture Perfect'. There is also an external link to buy tickets.

 

Trawsfynydd SMR opportunity lost? 3/5/24

The future of the Trawsfynydd Branch is in question again since the recent announcement that the former Trawsfynydd nuclear power station site is 'less suitable' for redevelopment for modular nuclear reactors than other sites such as Wylfa B site which continues to be favoured however. Recently some clearance work has taken place on the Trawsfynydd branch line close to the Blaenau Ffestiniog headshunt. At some stage it is possible the disconnected line will be given to a community group if there is no possibility of future reuse. See BBC story.

However, it has emerged that the Government has bought the Wylfa B site off Hitachi who were leading the previous attempt to build a new nuclear power station. £160 million has changed hands and includes the Oldbury site in Gloucestershire. The Government has no firm plans but is clearly interested in new nuclear as part of de-carbonising the UK Energy economy. Labour also supports the general principle of New Nuclear. See BBC report of 6/3/24. Wylfa B, if built, may have significant effects on freight traffic on the North Wales Coast line both during construction and to deal with the future nuclear waste flask traffic for which GBRf retains paths.

 

F&WHR 4/5/24

Saturday 4/5/24 was an overcast day at Porthmadog with temperatures of 7-12C. Today there were the usual seven Saturday services, including five on the FR and the two through services on the WHR. All three webcams were working today. Additional special trains, including gravity trains on the FR, were operating for the FR Society AGM Weekend. Unusually, the additional services did not extend onto the WHR as they had in previous years.

The Mountain Spirit left at 10:43 while James Spooner shunted in the yard and propelled The Victorian into the platform. The two RLR locos brought the well wagon rake with Model T Ford into the yard at 11:10 and ran round. The Victorian departed at 10:27 in overcast weather.

The Snowdonia Star was in the WHR platform by 12:50 and No.87 returned to the train at 12:58 after refuelling and watering. Linda arrived a 13:15 with The Quarryman. Linda ran round and shunted the rake to the seawall siding at 13:25 to clear the platform for the arrival of the Mountain Spirit. James Spooner then coupled onto the rear of The Victorian which was also shunted to the yard to clear the platform for the arrival of the Mountain Spirit.

The last of the afternoon departures was the return The Quarryman. Linda shunted the train back to the platform at 15:02 ready for the 15:25 departure. The train departed on time as Lily shunted the yard. In the afternoon, Lilla gave cab rides in Porthmadog station. Blanche hauled the FRS Members Special which was unusually routed into Platform 2 at Blaenau Ffestiniog. Apparently one of the coaches caught a limited clearance marker showing how rare such a visit by rolling stock is. Open coach No.37 was positioned on the west end of the rake despite the weather.

 

Alco Mountaineer's cab

Alco restoration project Mountaineer has accelerated recently with the stripping of the boiler tubes. The cab was recently shot blasted at Boston Lodge and returned to Glan-y-pwll by road on a trailer on 4/5/24.

 

Gravity trains

The Gravity Slate train will be running three times this Bank Holiday weekend, so don't miss your opportunity to see it in action:
SATURDAY...
08:55 - Slate Waggons hauled by DAVID LLOYD GEORGE from Harbour Station to Dduallt - arriving around 10:00
▪️ 10:15 - Gravity Train leaves Dduallt
▪️ 10:25 - Passes through Tan-y-Bwlch
▪️ 10:45 - Passes through Penrhyn
▪️ 10:50 - Arrives Minffordd - runs onto Mineral Line for stabling
SUNDAY...
08:55 - Slate Waggons hauled by DAVID LLOYD GEORGE from Minffordd to Dduallt - arriving around 09:45
▪️ 10:15 - Gravity Train leaves Dduallt
▪️ 10:25 - Passes through Tan-y-Bwlch
▪️ 10:45 - Passes through Penrhyn
▪️ 10:50 - Arrives Minffordd - runs onto Mineral Line for stabling
MONDAY...
08:35 - Slate Waggons hauled by JAMES SPOONER from Minffordd to Power Station Summit - arriving around 09:35
▪️ 09:50 - Gravity Train leaves Power Station Summit
▪️ 10:00 - Passes through Dduallt
▪️ 10:15 - Passes through Tan-y-Bwlch
▪️ 10:35 - Passes through Penrhyn
▪️ 10:40 - Arrives Minffordd - runs into Minffordd Yard
Train services on Saturday, Sunday and Monday include a number of special trains for Ffestiniog Railway Society members only. Timetables (plus other information on loco and stock diagrams) can be downloaded @ https://bit.ly/FRS-AGM-2024
______________________________
NOTE: This information is provided in good faith, solely as a guide, but could be subject to change at any time.

 

F&WHR 3/5/24

Friday 3/5/24 was a drizzly overcast day at Porthmadog with temperatures of 10-11C. Today there was just one FR service, the 10:40 Mountain Spirit and no services on the WHR. All three webcams were working today. Vale of Ffestiniog was noted shunting Boston Lodge from 09:00. Work appeared to be underway on the trident signal on The Cob.

James Spooner arrived with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit at 10:05 and the loco ran round at 10:12 in misty conditions. A second loco was being steamed at Boston Lodge, no doubt in association with the FR Society events of the evening. Blanche arrived with a private 5 coach train (including an open coach on the rear) in the FR yard at 10:33, running round 5 minutes later. As soon at the Mountain Spirit departed Blanche was signalled to shunt in the yard. The loco left light engine before midday for the depot.

Steam shunting was taking place near the Old Loco shed at 12:10 for an hour and an additional loco was in steam at Boston Lodge as fog closed in at about 13:00 hiding the action. One interesting working was the arrival of a Model T Ford on the well wagon! The murky weather hid a lot of the evening shunting but the gravity rake was visible in the FR platform at 21:00.

 

Loco roster w/c 4/5/24

A very busy Bank Holiday weekend ensures there will be six steam locos working passenger trains on the F&WHR, with a further four locos in action on other trains...
On the Ffestiniog Railway: James Spooner, David Lloyd George and Merddin Emrys will be working out of Porthmadog with the latter on Mountain Spirit and The Victorian on a daily basis - with Linda in charge of service trains starting from Blaenau Ffestiniog-The Quarryman.
Services on the Welsh Highland Railway will be covered by NG/G16s Nos.130/143:
No.130 will start the week working from Porthmadog.
No.143 will start the week working from Caernarfon.
• The two Garratt locos will swap trains at Beddgelert twice this week, so after a complicated diagram they will eventually end up back where they started at the beginning of the week.
In addition to the regular service trains, there will be a number of extra workings in association with the Ffestiniog Railway Society AGM.
Resident locos Blanche and Lilla will be busy providing footplate rides or working private trains, while visiting locos Chuquitanta and Lily (from the Richmond Light Railway) will be out in action hauling goods trains every day of the Bank Holiday weekend.
James Spooner will also be working a special train on Bank Holiday Monday, in connection with the Family Fun Day in Blaenau Ffestiniog.
So, that brings us to a grand total of TEN steam locos that can be seen running this week.
--------------------------------------------------
NOTE: This information is provided in good faith, solely as a guide, but could be subject to change at any time.

 

F&WHR 2/5/24

Thursday 2/5/24 was a day of sunny periods at Porthmadog with temperatures of 10-17C. Temperatures are expected to rise this week after a bout of unseasonably cold Spring weather which has seen temperatures comparable with Christmas in April! Today there were five FR services, both Mountain Spirit and The Victorian as well as The Quarryman from Blaenau Ffestiniog. There were also the two WHR trains through trains. All three webcams were working today.

No.130 arrived with the ECS for the 10:05 The Harbourmaster at about 09:40. Some people are using this train as a genuine transport link coming with their suitcases, presumably from the adjacent Premier Inn. David Lloyd George arrived at 10:07 with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit. The Harbourmaster departed about 4 minutes late. DLG ran round by 10:23. James Spooner arrived with the ECS for the 11:10 The Victorian at 10:35 routed into the FR yard for some reason. Unless the loco needed fuelling or watering it would make more sense to route the ECS into the WHR platform and run round there, rather than run round in the yard and then shunt to the FR platform after the Mountain Spirit has departed. DLG departed on time and following James Spooner run round, the rake was shunted to the FR platform at 10:50.

The Snowdonia Star arrived shortly after midday and the loco detached and went to fuel and water. At 12:50 Linda arrived with The Quarryman in sunshine but with a canvas sheet to protect the footplate crew rather than the demountable tender cab. The loco started its run round 5 minutes later but stood in the yard for a while before shunting the rake to the yard to clear the FR platform at 13:25 as the returning The Victorian approached across The Cob. DLG arrived with The Victorian at 13:36 and ran round 5 minutes later to clear the platform at 13:48 for the arrival of the return Mountain Spirit which was approaching across The Cob. No.87 emerged from the fuelling point at 14:00 and ran around its train in the WHR platform. The return working of the Snowdonia Star departed at 14:08. DLG coupled up to the 14:20 Mountain Spirit which left on time. Last out was Linda which ran round The Quarryman in the yard at 14:35 and shunted to the FR platform and departed at 15:28.

Vale of Ffestiniog returned The Victorian unusually at 17:07 after some problem earlier in the day. There was no sign of James Spooner which may have been replaced before departure on the 14:50. This allowed the Garratt on The Harbourmaster to depart ECS for the depot at 17:10. The Funkey ran round at 17:13 but as the rake was still in the FR platform the returning Mountain Spirit ran into the WHR platform unusually at 17:34. DLG detached and started a run to the depot but had to wait until the Funkey departed with the ECS from The Victorian at 17:37. The ECS from the Mountain Spirit was able to depart at about 17:50 to close the day's activities.

 

NLHF May Update 2/5/24

Click on the YouTube link to watch 8 minutes 34 seconds of video showing progress with rebuilding Boston Lodge. This video is copyright F&WHR and was published on 2/4/24. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod on a 4K camcorder by John Wooden (F&WHR).

 

Friday night at the FR (3/5/24)

There will be a flurry of activity around the railway on Friday, as final preparations are made for the Ffestiniog Railway Society's AGM weekend. There will be a lot of shunting around the yard and carriage shed at Boston Lodge (not open to the public), with a few additional stock moves to various locations.
The slate wagons for the Saturday 'Gravity Train' will be collected from Minffordd Yard and brought to Harbour Station (by UPNOR CASTLE) in the late afternoon...
Meanwhile, VELINHELI, CHUQUITANTA and LILY will have arrived in Harbour Station around 16:00 - bringing the short Goods train that the two visiting locos will be in charge of over the Bank Holiday Weekend.
During the next three hours, the locos will be busy in Harbour Station, with a little light shunting and steaming about the station yard, entertaining visitors arriving for the AGM weekend. Around 19:00, they will couple up to the Goods train and head off back to Boston Lodge.
There will be a 'Model T' Ford as well.
______________________________
Train services on Saturday, Sunday and Monday include a number of special trains for Ffestiniog Railway Society members only. Timetables (plus other information on loco and stock diagrams) can be downloaded @ https://bit.ly/FRS-AGM-2024
⚠ IMPORTANT - If you have previously downloaded the timetables for this weekend, the train graph shown for Monday was actually a duplicate of Saturday's graph. This error has now been corrected, so you can download the fresh version using the link above.
______________________________
NOTE: This information is provided in good faith, solely as a guide, but could be subject to change at any time.

 

F&WHR 1/5/24

Wednesday 1/5/24 was a day of sunny periods at Porthmadog with temperatures of 10-14C. Temperatures are expected to rise this week after a bout of unseasonably cold Spring weather which has seen temperatures comparable with Christmas! Today there were three FR services, both Mountain Spirit and The Quarryman. There are also three WHR trains, including two The Aberglaslyn trains and the Gelert Explorer. All three webcams were working today.

Blanche arrived  with The Quarryman set at 12:48. The morning The Aberglaslyn returned by 12:59 as Blanche ran round and as No.87 ran to the yard to fuel and water. Blanche shunted the rake to the yard to clear the platform for the return of the Mountain Spirit. No.87 had run round and coupled up for the 13:40 afternoon trip by 13:30. The afternoon was a bit dismal so the loco turned on its LED headlight. Linda turned up at Harbour Station possibly on test in preparation for the weekend events.

Thursday's timetable will be a repeat of Tuesday's with 7 trains again.

 

Trackwork Volunteering 2024

Volunteering is currently organised differently due to the Covid-19 outbreak. 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 2024 is fortnightly for the North Wales Track Gang in RED but details are still awaited for the ROWG in BLACK:

January   13-14/1/24      
February          
March          
April          
May          
June          
July          
August          
September          
October          
November          
December          

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@ffw

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.

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.

Site development

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

Comments

If you would like to make a comment about this website, why not visit my Guestbook.

If you have a correction or require a reply please leave your email address or, more simply, send an email directly to my email address shown near the top of this page, just after the list of links to other pages.

 

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Maps & Plans and links

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

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

Click here for the Mail Order web page

Click here for the Official WHR website

Click here for Official WHHR site

Click here for FR Company websites

Click here for Welsh Highland Heritage Group

 

V4.4898 updated 18/6/24