Welsh Highland Railway
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News (updated 4/8/15)
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This northerly view 14/4/14 shows No.138 drifting down towards Beddgelert Forest Campsite at 1116. Most of the services leading up to the Easter Bank Holiday weekend were hauled by Nos. 87/143 so this was a relatively rare outing for the red Garratt. The train was due to depart Beddgelert at 1125. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Welcome to Version 4 of this website, launched on September 8 2004 with news about work on Phase 4 of the WHR scheme. In addition to this Stop Press page and a Phase 1/2 page, there are 9 location pages, covering the Phase 3 works between Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu. There are a further 9 pages covering Phase 4, the full route through Beddgelert, the Aberglaslyn Pass and on to Porthmadog, including the Traeth Mawr to Pen-y-Mount works recently constructed by the WHHR with three regularly updated map links for this area by Laurence Armstrong.
Finally, there are pages covering 'Phase 5', Views from the Line, the history of the abandoned PBSSR works around Beddgelert, Archived News and a Contacts page for volunteers. Another page covers the current operation of the WHHR southwest from Pen-y-Mount.
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)
WHR (Porthmadog) (updated 1/4/07)
Porthmadog Cross Town Link (updated1/4/07)
'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 3/8/15)
Snow Scenes (updated 6/12/14)
Rolling Stock News Page (updated 28/12/04)
Phase 4 News Page (updated 3/3/05)
Volunteer Contact details page (updated 20/12/14)
Phase 2 and 3 page list (updated 27/8/08)
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
This has been introduced as an anti-spam feature.
There has never been any intent by myself to suggest that the views on these pages represent the views, opinions or policy of the FR, the WHRCL or the WHRS.
I am happy to confirm that this is an INDEPENDENT web news service.
New construction images/text will be posted on a regular basis.
New text in RED!
Phase 2 DVD released
Following many requests, your webmaster's Hi8 (stereo) Phase 2 analogue camcorder footage has been captured with a digitiser and edited to make a 2 hour DVD. All footage is from the year 2000, including:-
Click here for the Clip List.
The previous Phase 3 VHS video has been edited from original material onto DVD. Both Phase 2 and Phase 3 DVDs come in library boxes with smart illustrated inserts and a clip list (no commentary). The DVDs themselves are attractively labelled with a snowy alpine railway scene at Rhyd Ddu. The DVDs can be provided in any format (+R/-R/+RW/-RW) and the DVDs are not regionalised. Special orders for NTSC versions could be considered if the technology proves workable. All monies raised from the sale of these DVDs will go to the WHRS to support Phase 4. Contact the WHR/FR Shop. Limited numbers of copies of both DVDs will be on sale at WHRS events.
Phase 3 Video Offer
A new video offer for Phase 3 was launched at Easter 2004. The last video generated over £1,000 all of which was donated to the WHRS and the new video sold out at Super Power 2004, raising over £400 for Phase 4 funds.
The new video shows the construction, works trains, Royal test trains and the opening to Rhyd Ddu. The video is over 1.5 hours long covering the period 2000-2003. It also includes a few Gala clips and a 'chase the train' sequence at Llwyn-y-bedw. The special Xmas Edition now contains K1 in action footage and the 2005 Gala and the delivery of K1 to Dinas.
Phase 2 is also available in DVD format mastered from digitised analogue footage.
Phase 3 is now available in DVD format mastered from VHS tape for better reproduction!
Click here for Phase 3 Construction video Clip List
Sept 2007-Aug 2008 Edition of Phase 4 DVD
A new edition appeared at Garratt 50 including scenes from SuperPower 2007 through Palmerston at Beddgelert, the Supporters' Specials in the Aberglaslyn Pass to the final stages of linking up at Traeth Mawr. The DVD is an hour long. John Wooden sold them from his shop and also his on-line shop with all money raised going directly to the WHRS for Phase 4 funds. Following the review to be published in the Winter 2009 TSR, more copies will be produced over Xmas.
Click here for FR on-line shop
Click here for DVD Clip List
Click here for the latest YouTube Clip or on the box below
Click on the YouTube box above to watch 1 min of video of Prince crossing Bryn-y-felin bridge on 27/10/08 working a photo-charter. The quality of the YouTube clip does not represent the quality of the DVD. This video was taken by Barrie Hughes on a JVC Everio GZ-MG21EK camcorder.
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 courtesy of Steve Harris/WHRS
Click here for John Sreeves Gradient profile courtesy of Steve Harris/WHRS
Click here for Chainages and OS Map Reference
Kid's Today! Special 3/8/15
This northerly view (3/8/15) shows Prince and Taliesin running round at Beddgelert on the Kids Today! Special. This train is carrying the participants in the 24th Kids' Week as a special treat. The two locos had hauled a 60th Anniversary Special of the first FR steam train earlier in the day. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Bala Gala 28-31/8/15
The Bala Lake Railway Gala over the August Bank Holiday weekend 29-31/8/15 will feature the last chance to have a haulage from Winifred as well as all their available locos in steam and some double headers and demonstration freight trains. See BLR website for more details.
Hot food menu
A new hot food menu has been introduced on the WHR. This will be an upgraded lunch menu initially for first class passengers and extended to third class passengers if successful.
Taliesin repaint 30/7/15
This northerly view (30/7/15) shows Taliesin repainted at Boston Lodge. The loco was to be used with Prince double heading on the FR. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Moel Tryfan update
There are new images on the Moel Tryfan Facebook page, some dating back to 1948.
Team Wylfa report 28/7/15
Clive Briscoe reports: As usual we started with carriage inspections and oiling up. Then a quick visit to the Clip Shed to clear the last bits of No.134 from under the old benches and find space on the racking. Finally, we got back to the Loco Shed. Dennis and Pete started fitting a shelf under our steel bench by the loco on which we'll store the valve jigger. Yours truly had to do drill sharpening duties as Dennis was finding the angle iron frame of the bench very tough. I wonder if it's old angle iron from the 1950's which were often re-rolled old tram rails having a high manganese content?
Last North Wales freight
With the announcement that Wylfa Nuclear Power station is to close on 30/12/15 it is clear that an end is in sight to freight on the North Wales coast line west of Saltney Junction. As with Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power station there will be a period of continuing flask traffic as fuel rods are removed from the reactor. This follows the loss of the coal traffic from Llandudno Junction, freightliner traffic from Holyhead, Octel chemical traffic from Amlwch, Aluminium products from Anglesey Aluminium and even ballast from Penmaenmawr quarry. On the positive side it is hoped that there will be construction traffic for Wylfa B, the proposed nuclear power station to be built next to the closing power station and then flask traffic when it comes on line.
The closure of Wylfa Nuclear Power station takes another 0.5GW baseload out of the National Grid who have admitted the margin will be just 1% this winter between electricity demand and supply meaning the lights could go out. Governments over the last 20 years have prevaricated over 'New Nuclear' and only now are new baseload nuclear power stations being progressed, often with French and Chinese support.
There will be a short break in updates until 2/8/15 as your webmaster takes a well earned break on the Cumbrian Coast for a change!
WHHR Anniversary 2/8/15
On 2/8/15 it will be 35 years since the first WHHR train ran from their Tremadog Road terminus on 2/8/80. The WHHR has now been operating longer than the original WHR did. Ruston diesel Kinnerley ran with one coach between Porthmadog and Pen-y-Mount.
North Wales August Excursions
There has been a big decline in special trains on North Wales coast compared with recent years. With the recent post Wotton Bassett restrictions, there are only two offered in August providing further interest to those taking a railway hobby holiday. It is now several years since an excursion ran via the Cambrian Coast due to the ERTMS restrictions as apparently no one likes a yellow Class 37/9 haulage and NR is still avoiding the cost of developing the promised solution for visiting heritage traction or for that matter an HST. This is damaging excursion traffic to the F&WHR which benefitted from circular tours via the Cambrian and Conway Valley in the past.
There is some doubt about whether the North Wales Coast express will serve Llandudno, making a bit of a white elephant of the newly relaid excursion sidings there which, apparently, have yet to see any use. Galatea was removed from the last North Wales Coast Express on 19/7/15 at Llandudno Junction when it ran a hot box. The train continued to Holyhead 34 minutes late using the Class 47 No.47760 that was on the rear. The steam loco limped back to Carnforth with its support coach.
2/8/15 North Wales Coast Express (Liverpool-Holyhead steam hauled)
4/8/15 Welsh Mountaineer (Preston-Blaenau Ffestiniog steam hauled)
Prince 60th Anniversary train
A further event in the Summer of Fun will occur on 3/8/15. On that date in 1955 Prince hauled its first passenger train of the restoration era, comprising WHR carriage No.23 (now in regular use on the WHR) and brake composite No.12. Prince entered regular passenger service two days later, although Simplex Mary Ann had hauled the first preservation train a few days earlier on 23/7/55. To mark the 60th anniversary of this landmark in steam preservation, the 152 year-old Prince will double head (with Taliesin in new livery) the 1010 and 1335 departures from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog for the three days 3-5/8/15 no doubt bedecked with UK and Welsh flags as in the original working.
Double Fairlies to Rhyd Ddu 7-10/4/12
Click on the YouTube box above to watch 9 mins 10 secs from 7-10/4/12 showing Earl of Merioneth and Merddin Emrys (on test) in snowy conditions. The late afternoon working between Porthmadog, Beddgelert and Rhyd Ddu was lightly used and not repeated in subsequent years. The video is best watched in 1080p HD large screen format. This video is copyright Cutting Edge video (Dave Waldren).
WAG TRAWS scoping study
The Welsh Assembly Government has now appointed the consultants for the Scoping Study into reopening the Carmarthen-Aberystwyth line. This is the first stage in reconnecting the Caernarfon-Carmarthen Cambrian Coast route to provide a North Wales-South Wales route within Wales. TRAWS volunteers are fully included in the study and have already input much information, maps etc. The study should be concluded by mid-September. This is the preliminary stage prior to getting a full feasibility study.
Alan Pegler documentary
The Alan Pegler documentary partly filmed in June at Harbour Station is to screen in the Xmas-New Year period. The film features Robson Green and Penny Vaudoyer, daughter of Alan Pegler, who travelled to Tan-y-Bwlch on the train. The production crew are the same people who did The Golden Age of Steam programme.
Lyd to kick off Summer of Fun 25/7/15
Saturday 25/7/15 sees Lyd offering free footplate rides at Porthmadog Harbour station as the first event in the 'Summer of Fun' added value offers aimed at families.
Gasworks Siding progress 22/7/15
This northerly view (22/7/15) shows the start of construction of the concrete loading dock at Gasworks Siding. Although the stub of the point exists, the siding was never laid and its projected use for turnover locos during Galas is now less likely following completion of the new track layout at Harbour Station. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Quadcopter view of WHR
Vertical Horizons Media has published their recent Quadcopter footage of the WHR. The impressive Vimeo contains aerial views of Boston Lodge, Harbour Station and along the WHR as far as Rhyd Ddu. Some early clips are shown in reverse but a re-edit has been made to correct this. Eventually a DVD will be released showing full edited footage of the railway and will be sold in the F&WHR shop.
A selection of shots lasting 3 mins and 11 secs from recent weeks in Porthmadog, Beddgelert and Rhyd Ddu best watched in HD large screen format. This Vimeo is copyright Vertical Horizons Media.
This westerly view (21/7/15) shows a quadcopter still view from the Vimeo above. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Vertical Horizons Media and was taken on an video camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Team Wylfa report 21/7/15
Clive Briscoe reports: Same as last week, but F instead of E Set last night and because our B Team (Thursday evenings) are on their holidays this week, we had to inspect and service the whole consist.
After that, it was into the Clip Shed to carry on sorting and moving our tool cupboards around for Tony, the Works Manager. Another load of junk was turfed out and loads more floor space for him to erect his new storage racking. Still one or two bits of No.134 to be moved to the racking but generally, we've cleared as much space as we can until somewhere else is found to safely store our tools - nearer the Loco Shed where we're restoring No.134 would be handy. A half length ISO shipping container would suit as there's simply no room in the Loco Shed.
With most of the clear-up work done in the Clip Shed, we 'should' be able to continue work on 134 itself again next week.
Double diesels 21/7/18
Castell Caernarfon and Upnor Castle are to haul the 1000 from Caernarfon on 21/7/15 and 1315 return from Porthmadog. This unusual pairing will probably allow a full length train to be hauled at linespeed whereas the Funkey on its own is usually limited to six coaches. The diesel hauled substitution is probably due to planned preventative maintenance on a Garratt as the line is currently operating with only two Garratts. Upnor Castle itself is a heritage loco and, at 61, it is older than the NG16 it is replacing today (No.138 was diagrammed for this duty). The loco rarely hauls passenger trains.
Superpower plans 11-13/9/15
SuperPower 2015 is on 11-13/9/15. There will be 13 layouts present at Dinas, mostly of 009 scale. Bron Hebog based on Beddgelert will feature in its final incarnation, along with layouts of Dinas and Tan-yr-allt and FR layouts. There will be a live steam layout as well as a Fairbourne stand and trade support from Chris Ward. Sausage and real ale will be provided at Dinas on Saturday night. It is anticipated that an interesting selection of trains will be provided with both freight and passenger trains but the focus will be on the north end of the line this year with Caernarfon-Waunfawr shuttles and cab rides on several Penrhyn engines in Dinas yard.
School's out for Summer!
Many school's broke up on 17/9/15 but some (including mine! -Ed) don't break up until 23/7/15. The F&WHR Summer of Fun programme (starting on the 25/7/15) includes free and cheap events such as family fun days, chip shop trips (but not on the WHR after early trials out of Caernarfon were not successful), footplate rides, clay & craft days and much more.
Trackwork Volunteering 2015/16
Volunteers are right at the forefront of keeping the permanent way, in particular, and the infrastructure, in general, fit for trains to run. We have a mix of weekend and weekday working parties. The Black Hand, Tuesday and Rest of the World Gangs will be very glad to accept an extra a hand. 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.
Please note revised dates for 2015 and new dates for early 2016 notified 26/7/15.
The programme for the remainder of 2015 is as follows:
^ Bank Holiday
LW-Long weekend Friday-Monday
WW-Working week Saturday-Friday
SWW-Short working week Monday-Friday
The Tuesday Gang expects to be operating pretty well every Tuesday.
Arrangements may change so contact the working party organiser before you commit yourself to joining us just to make sure.
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 Paul Bradshaw.
Contact Tony Baker for details. Phone: 01492 874579 Email: SPUDDY43@aol.com
North Wales Black Hand Gang (BHG):Dafydd Thomas Phone: 01248 681019 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rest of The World Gang (ROWG):Paul Bradshaw Phone: 01766 770034 Email: email@example.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.
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.
|1/1/15||Final Mince Pie Special 1000 return from Caernarfon|
|14-22/2/15||Prince in steam at the NRM during the Paddington Bear event aimed at children|
|28/2/15||Start of WHR 2015 Green SSuO Timetable|
|6-15/3/15||Welsh Pony components at Carrog for LlR Steam, Steel and Stars Gala|
|21/3/15||Start of WHR 2015 Season Blue Timetable|
|4-6/4/15||Easter Frolics family events around the F&WHR|
|1-4/5/15||150 Years of Passenger Trains on FR (some events on WHR 2/5/15)|
|15-17/5/15||Rail-Ale Beer Festival based at Dinas|
|25-28/5/15||May Day weekend family events around the F&WHR|
|11-12/7/15||Britomart and slate wagons at WHHR's Slate, Steam and Sail Gala|
|25-26/7/15||Lilla to visit to Threlkeld Museum of Mining near Keswick with Hugh Napier|
|25/7-29/8/15||Saturdays Only-Free footplate rides at Porthmadog Harbour Station|
|25/7-31/8/15||Summer family events around the F&WHR including Beddgelert this year|
|14-15/8/15||Carriage No.150 and Lilla will be at the Shrewsbury Flower Show|
|23/8/15||Family day at Dinas with Classic Cars, Footplate Rides and Sausage Making|
|29-31/8/15||The De Winton replica, Leary, is to visit Bristol Temple Meads Station over the Bank Holiday weekend|
|11-13/9/15||SuperPower 2015 (WHRS AGM 12/9/14)|
|25-27/9/15||Blanche will be guest of honour at the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Gala in North Devon|
|9-11/10/15||FR Victorian Weekend (some events possible on WHR in Porthmadog)|
|29/10/15||WHR Halloween Train Caernarfon to Waunfawr|
|12-13/12/15||WHR Santa Trains Caernarfon-Waunfawr|
|19-20/12/15||WHR Santa Trains Caernarfon-Waunfawr|
|22-23/12/15||WHR Santa Trains Caernarfon-Waunfawr|
|27-31/12/15||Mince Pie Specials 1000 return from Caernarfon|
If you have suggestions for development of this site, please contact me by email at the address at the top of the page.
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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
V4.3091 updated 4/8/15