Welsh Highland Railway

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Star Picture

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.

 

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

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

Route section pages

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

 

Phase 4 pages

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

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

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

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

Beddgelert Station Area (updated 30/6/07)

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

Aberglaslyn Pass (updated 2/7/07)

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

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

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

Porthmadog Cross Town Link (updated1/4/07)

 

Other pages

'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 15/8/16)

Snow Scenes (updated 20/11/15)

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

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

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

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

Video list (new 9/11/15)

Access to Phase 2 pages is currently being progressed.

 

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

Isengard@talktalkdotnet

This has been introduced as an anti-spam feature.

Disclaimer

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

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

 

Stop Press!!

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

New text in RED!

 

News Section

WHR timetables

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

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

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

Click here for Mike Schumann's Phase 4 TWA maps 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

 

Classic Cars report 21/8/16

Martin Kressman reports: "The Shoreline Skiffle Band" performed in the Goods Shed. The 'Playbus' was in action as a refreshment stand serving hot and cold drinks, snacks and bottled beers and wines as on the on-train trolleys. This gives a whole new meaning to the term 'mess coach'. The weather was fine until just after three so we had good weather for the show sandwiched between Saturday's and today's terrible weather.

 

This northerly view (21/8/16) shows the Classic Car display in Dinas North Yard. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Val Kressman and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (21/8/16) shows Lilla giving train rides in Dinas North Yard and Hugh Napier giving footplate rides. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Val Kressman and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

No.130 progress 20/8/16

This southerly view (20/8/16) shows the painting of the inside of  No.130's water tank in Dinas North Yard by the manufacturer's staff. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (20/8/16) shows No.130's completed water tank in Dinas North Yard with new PW diesel No.9. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Merddin Emrys progress 19/8/16

This Boston Lodge view (20/8/16) shows Merddin Emrys receiving its first coat of undercoat. The loco has new stainless steel smoke-boxes. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Welsh Pony progress 18/9/16

This Boston Lodge view (18/8/16) shows the trail fitting of Welsh Pony's boiler to the firebox. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

WHHR LyD2 No.60 haulage 24/8/16

For all those LyD-2 fans out there some exciting WHHR news! LyD-2 No.60 will be hauling trains on Friday the 26/8/16. This is a rare chance to ride behind the only working LyD-2 in the country. Not only is it the only working LyD-2 in the country but it is the most powerful 2 ft gauge loco in the country.

 

Earl of Merioneth problems 17/8/16

Terry Scott reports: It appears that Earl of Merioneth has been failed. Services on the FR were disrupted on 17/8/16 and Vale of Ffestiniog, David Lloyd George and Lyd were in action.

Bob Rainbow adds: I happened to be relaxing on the hills behind Prenteg on Wednesday and through binoculars from 2 miles off saw Vale of Ffestiniog depart light engine up the FR about 2.30, whereupon Earl of Merioneth came on shed light engine at 3pm. Lyd then left Port with the 14.30 some 15 minutes late. However I was also passing Minffordd about 7.30pm. on Thursday night and Earl of Merioneth was seen hauling a train (it was the Jazz Train to Tan-y-Bwlch-Ed) so the loco appears to be back in action.

 

Linda on the coal train 20/8/16

A regular freight duty is the coal run to Porthmadog Harbour station to fuel both FR and WHR locos. At the end of Saturday's cab rides at Porthmadog Linda made a trip across The Cob to bring fresh supplies of coal. On the way back the stormy weather was evident and the fireman had to get out and brave the waves at the trident signal to phone and ask to pass it at danger!

 

This easterly view (20/8/16) shows Linda hauling two of the WHR's loaded B wagons full of coal from Boston Lodge. The strong winds have whipped up the sea with waves crashing over The Cob. A particularly strong gust has dislodged the weather strip between the loco and tender cab. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This composite view (20/8/16) shows Linda shunting the WHR's loaded B wagons full of coal after footplate duties. After the shunt the two empty wagons were returned to Boston Lodge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Classic Cars at Dinas 21/8/16

Over 80 vehicles from the 1920s to 1970s are expected today (Sunday 21/8/16) at the Classic Car Family Fun Day at Dinas. The weather is forecast to be sunny periods for most of the day.

 

Caernarfon station update

Funding arrangements for the £2.2 million Caernarfon station development are said to be 'well advanced' though there remain concerns about the effects of Brexit on the ERDF grants that support the project. Architects will start work in September to finalise the design details of the development. The railway has been working closely with Caernarfon Harbour Trust, which has been extremely supportive of the project, and passengers who arrive at Caernarfon by road will be able to use their car park by the Castle, a short walk from the station. The development makes use of land already occupied by the railway's temporary station buildings and car park. Work will begin in November when contractors move in to relocate a large sewer which runs under the site. Construction of the new station is scheduled to begin in March 2017 for completion in Spring 2018. Due to the works, this year's Welsh Highland Santa trains will run from Dinas rather than Caernarfon and will be even better this year as a number of new features are to be introduced. WHR service trains will operate from temporary accommodation on St Helen’s Road, possibly the vacant area next to the former De Winton works, while works progress but this will not come into use until the start of the 2017 season.

 

Timetable changes Green timetable, Santas and Xmas trains

As the Winter Major Works Programme incorporates major engineering work planned for Tan-y-Bwlch, starting in November. FR trains will be running from Porthmadog to Hafod-y-Llyn in November and December. Trains continue to head down the Welsh Highland to Beddgelert for the FR Santa services, giving as much time as possible for the Tan-y-Bwlch work. It is better to plan to give extra time now than to have to change our plans at the last minute as last year.

As a result of the closure of Caernarfon station for works over Winter this year trains will start from Dinas for the Winter period. WHR Santa trains will run from Dinas to Waunfawr and the Goods Shed will be festively attired for the occasion. The F&WHR is planning a small retail area, local stalls and some live music. As the Dinas site now has a license too it may help the Winter cash flow. Dinas will continue to be the terminus for Christmas week when trains will run to Beddgelert rather than Porthmadog. The F&WHR has worked out that they can fit in two return trains, giving extra journey opportunities.

At the beginning of 2017 there will be no trains out of Porthmadog until the beginning of March as the WMWP sees major track works at Boston Lodge and on the Cob. The Green timetable February Half Term trains will again run from Dinas to Beddgelert as above. From the beginning of March to the start of daily trains, there will be a 4 days a week service from Porthmadog to Hafod-y-Llyn. This will be the first use of the Hafod-y-llyn loop by passenger trains for a few years so it promises to be an interesting winter with some very different services.

 

Time for an exchange visit?

Thirty years ago Mountaineer visited the Vale of Rheidol, though, to be fair, this was in BR ownership before it was privatised in 1989 and became owned by the Brecon Mountain Railway. More recently Palmerston was hired by the VoR in September 2014 for a series of special runs. Let us hope that one the VoR locos will make a return visit to the WHR one day, maybe for SuperPower. No.8 Llewellyn and No.9 Prince of Wales are in traffic at the VoR with No.7 Owain Glyndwr under overhaul.

 

This westerly archive view (13/9/86) shows the FR's Mountaineer running round at Devil's Bridge with BR driver Murray Dodds at the regulator. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Richard Watson Zenit 35mm SLR camera. Images scanned on a Canon Canoscan 9000F scanner at 600 dpi.

 

This westerly archive view (13/9/86) shows the FR's Mountaineer passing the ex-BR loco shed at Aberystwyth with a 5 coach train. 6 coaches had proven too much for the loco the previous day. In the background is the former oil siding which received a weekly delivery, the only freight train on the Cambrian Coast by that time. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Richard Watson Zenit 35mm SLR camera. Images scanned on a Canon Canoscan 9000F scanner at 600 dpi.

 

This westerly archive view (12/70) shows the VoR's No.7 being craned onto a flat wagon by a BR steam crane for repair (in Chester?). Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Halina Paulette 35mm camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Bill ready for Dinas 19/8/16

This Boston Lodge view (19/8/16) shows ex-Shotton Steelworks shunter Bill resplendent in its new green livery ready for release from Boston Lodge. The loco will be used as Dinas shunter. Its twin, Ben, remains unrestored in Dinas North Yard. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Linda on Porthmadog footplate rides 20/8/16

Linda will probably be fitted with its demountable tender cab when it is in use on footplate duties at Porthmadog on Saturday 20/8/16. This will protect visitors (and staff!) from the forecast poor weather. There will be sunny periods this afternoon. The loco resembles Blanche when the full tender cab is fitted.

 

Tuesday Gang report 16/8/16

Tony Baker reports: The gang, having completed the installation of anti slip membrane to all foot crossings used by staff or public, turned their attention once more to the replacement of rotten crossing timbers. At LC 44.39 Meillionen we replaced the 2 centre timbers. The cutting out of notches to fit over the track fastenings is the most time consuming part of the operation. With the red timetable in operation we tried and succeeded mostly to have the timbers being prepared on the saw horses at the times the trains passed.

 

This northerly view (16/8/16) shows the Tuesday Gang cutting notches in the central timbers of Meillionen Crossing adjacent to Beddgelert Forest Campsite. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (16/8/16) shows the Tuesday Gang screwing down the central timbers of Meillionen Crossing adjacent to Beddgelert Forest Campsite between trains. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (16/8/16) shows the Tuesday Gang screwing down the central timbers of Meillionen Crossing adjacent to Beddgelert Forest Campsite between trains. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Caernarfon footplate rides 20/8/16

While Hugh Napier will perform footplate rides at Caernarfon station on Saturday 20/8/16, some 'Summer of Fun' activities have been cancelled due to forecast high winds.

 

NG15 No.134 report 16-17/7/16

With No.138 in trouble on its way north from Porthmadog, much of the first day of the working party was concerned with helping get an No.87 into steam to be able to swap it with the loco on the service train from Porthmadog, together with sorting out the various bits from having our frames moved to the Carriage Shed. A loco swap was arranged for Caernarfon at lunchtime. As time was of the essence a number of the team helped with the preparation work to make it ready. Once lit volunteers could then get on with our intended tasks whilst it warmed up.

The first, and main task on No.134 for the weekend, was to work on the tender. The full time staff had kindly moved the tender into the Loco Shed for volunteers to work on over the weekend and this move had also allowed Brunswick Ironworks, the company that built the tender body, to do some work on the tender body earlier in the week. The position of a cut-out where the Vacuum Cylinder was to be positioned was adjusted. They were later going to weld on the standoff made by Clive Briscoe to the underside of the tank to support the twin vacuum pipe that will run underneath. To ensure the standoffs were to be positioned correctly some of the team spent Saturday and Sunday cutting the access holes in the body where the pipes were to enter and exit through the floor from the block of four vacuum reservoir cylinders mounted in the rear of the tender. Also the access hole in the rear of the tender was cut where the vacuum brake pipe for the rest of the train will be situated

Saturday also provided volunteers with a bit of light relief when Double Fairlie, David Lloyd George arrived with a Private Charter train from Porthmadog. The loco ran round at Dinas and before returning to Porthmadog and some of the team helped with coaling the loco. For full details and photos see NG15 website. The next Working Party is on 20-21/8/16.

 

Dinas news 16/8/16

Martin Kressman reports: Following last week's sandblasting of the exterior of No.130's tank it was given a coat of black paint. Today, the contractors were sandblasting the interior. The opportunity was taken last week also to sandblast hopper wagon NG-Y-1 4022. On Tuesday 16/8/16 it was being painted by Marcus Ingram.

 

This southerly view (14/8/16) shows the repainted No.4022 in Dinas North Yard after being painted and stencilled by Marcus Ingram. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Southport Flower Show 16/8/16

This Southport view (16/8/16) shows Velinheli and new FR coach No.118 on static display at Southport Flower Show. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Llyn Bach loading dock 15/8/16

With the staff car park clear of vehicles, the opportunity was taken to use the Llyn Bach loading ramp, rather than unload at Dinas. The lock proved rusted and the key broke so the chain had to be broken to open the loading dock gate. It had been several months since the gate was last used to load Winifred on 24/11/15 for its return to the BLR. The bug boxes were being returned from Shrewsbury Flower Show and the FR's new 'Super Saloon' No.118 was going for display at the Southport Flower Show (18-21-/8/16) along with Velinheli.

 

This southerly view (15/8/16) shows the return of bug boxes Nos.1/12 from the Shrewsbury Flower Show using the Llyn Bach loading ramp, rather than Dinas. the coaches are being lowered down the ramp by cable before being collected by Criccieth Castle for the haulage across the WHR Cross Town Rail Link. FR 'super Saloon'. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (15/8/16) shows FR 'super Saloon' No.118 being dragged up the ramp by cable for a trip to the Southport Flower Show (18-21/8/16) where it will be displayed with Velinheli. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (15/8/16) shows FR 'super Saloon' No.118 loaded on trailer for a trip to the Southport Flower Show where it will be displayed with Velinheli. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Track work

The North Wales Track Gang has been very active on the PW front this year. The work to clear Dinas North Yard for the enlarged marquees for the Beer Festival involved lowering sidings Nos.4/5. This required clearing the sidings of stock, lifting them back to the points, digging out the formation to a lower depth, laying fresh ballast and relaying the sidings. The BR signal has also been surrounded by a new fence and a new CCTV camera put up.

In late May the gang jacked and packed the new Pont Croesor north point. In June, the gang returned to the siding point ground frame at Beddgelert, work on which has been suspended for over a year awaiting parts. The ground frame is now in its final position and the rodding connected up. An Annetts Key has been obtained from the ex-LNWR Central Wales Line. Experience gained by the S&T Department with rodding the Boston Lodge Old Loco Shed points will come in handy with the future Beddgelert, Hafod-y-llyn and Rhyd Ddu ground frames. Some trailable points have had their return weights increased to ensure smooth operation.

It has sometimes been difficult to pull a Garratt out of the Loco Shed into the headshunt at Dinas due to the increased gradient in the headshunt. This has required sanding in the past through the trap point in damp weather. The S&T Department have been changing points to the PTFE system (rather than the previously used oiling regime) based on frequency of use and the South Yard crossover for the Loco Shed is clearly one of the most frequently used so has recently been converted. It required a lot of cleaning to remove the accumulated grime, including borrowing the Dinas Works steam cleaning lance) before PTFE lubricant was applied. Pont Croesor loop points have also been converted.

 

SuperPower update

There will be a social event on Friday 9/9/16 with hog roast, bar and entertainment. Prior booking is essential but so far there does not appear to be a booking form on line.

There will be a Slate Shunt at Dinas on all three days.

The 'Frontier' working will simulate the FR's operation of the WHR from 80 years ago on all three days. Short trains will operate from Dinas and Porthmadog to Beddgelert where they will used to reconstruct historical tableaux, including use of the old water tower.

On Friday there will be a photo-stop at Tryfan Junction. England engines will be used on Friday and Saturday.

On Friday the shuttle stock moves from Porthmadog to Caernarfon and there will be a positioning move from Porthmadog to deliver wagons to Rhyd Ddu and Dinas.

The Loco Shed will be open on Saturday.

Sunday will see Garratts on large B-wagon freight trains and collecting spare wagons from Rhyd Ddu sidings.

 

Classic Car show Dinas 21/8/16

Martin Kressman reports: There is to be a bar in a bus at the Classic Car Show at Dinas on Sunday 21/8/16.

 

Click on poster for full details of Dinas Classic Car Family Fun event Sunday 21/8/16.

 

PW progress

Although the Winter Major Works Programme (WMWP) saw most work focussed on the FR, there was work to do on the WHR too. There was a collapsed culvert required a new headwall just south of Castell Cidwm bridge. Water backed up and flooded the line south of Plas-y-nant halt where it was once planned to build a loop. A wall also collapsed near Plas-y-nant.

The WMWP 2016-17 will again see attention focussed on the FR but track will be removed at Caernarfon to coincide with the construction of the new station. A new temporary level crossing will be constructed just north of Bontnewydd Halt to allow a haul road for the Caernarfon/Bontnewydd Bypass which might start this Autumn. When complete the new bypass will bridge the WHR at this location.

Since mid-May the KMX tamper has been in use on an early shift dealing with fault problems reported by train crews and PW inspections. The whole railway has been treated with weed killer (including the FR) and lineside clearance has been continuing.

The PW team has been strengthened recently and some are taking college courses in Civil Engineering/PW skills.

 

Velinheli at Shrewsbury 12-13/8/16

This westerly view (12/8/16) shows Velinheli plus bug boxes Nos.1/12 on 12/8/16 hauling passengers at the Shrewsbury Flower show. Hopefully this will attract visitors to the F&WHR. The GM is on the footplate in the sun hat whilst the loco carries the new Snowdonian Limited headboard. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (13/8/16) shows Velinheli plus bug boxes Nos.1/12 on 13/8/16 hauling passengers at the Shrewsbury Flower show. There was a constant demand for train rides on Saturday, and a great deal of interest was generated. The GM is on the footplate in the sun hat whilst the loco carries the new Snowdonian Limited headboard. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Coach news

New WHRS funded coach No.2047 is making steady progress. The floor has been fitted and the side panels are in place. After varnishing the interior boards and fitting them the roof insulation can be fitted to be followed by the roof. The coach will be ready before the 2017 season. It has been decided to convert one of the original Winson saloons to a coach similar to No.2091 with a toilet, extra luggage space for stores/bikes/buggies etc.

 

Hugh Napier footplate rides 20/8/16

Hugh Napier will repeat the footplate rides at Caernarfon on 20/8/16. Meanwhile Linda worked all weekend 13-14/8/16 at Porthmadog Harbour station, whereas the new Caernarfon option is Saturdays only.

 

Royal Goat Hotel sold

The Royal Goat Hotel adjacent to the WHR's Beddgelert station and used by the F&WHR for The Snowdonian buffet facilities has been sold. The new owners, Parkfield Snowdonia, who operate the recently refurbished Saracens Head pub restaurant with accommodation in Beddgelert. See Daily Post story.

 

Porthmadog Flour Mill for sale

The old Porthmadog Flour Mill alongside the WHR is for sale. The mill originally had a siding that was worked by the FR. More recently there was a Day Nursery there which had to close when the WHR was built across its frontage. A company bought the building and started to fit it out with double glazing for sale as luxury flats but this project stopped several years ago. The site has planning permission for 27 luxury flats. See Daily post report.

 

Velinheli at Shrewsbury 11-13/8/16

This westerly view (11/8/16) shows Velinheli plus bug boxes Nos.1/12 on 11/8/16 ready for action at the Shrewsbury Flower show on Friday/Saturday 12-13/8/16. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Hugh Napier at Caernarfon 13/8/16

Hugh Napier will offer footplate rides at Caernarfon between trains on Saturday 13/8/16.

 

Dinas update

A perennial problem seems to be brick arch collapse in the Garratts. This seems down to over-enthusiastic use of the fire irons. At times the breakage rate has exceeded the ability to produce new expensive arches.

Garratt ashpans have been repaired and are fitted with drenching equipment to avoid lineside fires. These can be left on all the time which also helps reduce dust. However, No.87 has had to have its ashpan repaired as the drench does not seem to have been much used.

No.143 has developed a few problems, with one safety valve blowing off at much lower than the set pressure of 180 lb psi. The loco has also got through two new expensive braided steel blower pipes already whereas the same ones have been fitted to the other two Garratts with no problem. This could be a manufacturing problem.

The new Loco Shed roof has stopped the leaks and the LED roof lights provide better illumination but the loco inspection pit still floods.

 

Playbus hired 28/7/16

Martin Kressman adds: Tomorrow (13/8/16) a special 'pop-up' café is planned for Dinas station complete with barbecue and licensed bar in support of the Motiv8 charity walk. It will be open between 11:00 and 15:00 serving tea/coffee/soft drinks/beer/cider plus snacks, burgers, bacon rolls, sausage baps. The 'Playbus' will be used for this purpose. The bus is fitted out as a catering facility with tables and seats inside and a large number of refrigerated cabinets for cold drinks and snacks. It is also fitted with a serving hatch along one side. It may also be used for this purpose during Superpower.

 

This Dinas view (28/7/16) shows the Playbus hired by the F&WHR, presumably for 'Summer of Fun'. The bus is currently showing 'Rail Replacement' as the destination but lets hope not! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Keith Holland and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

No.130 update

On 9/8/16 No.130's driving wheel sets (less the tyres) were loaded onto a freight wagon and transported on freight wagon DZ1424 from Dinas to Boston Lodge for attention. The wheel sets will have new tyres shrunk on as well as the journals and crank pins machined. The new water tank (previously allocated to No.140) is being sandblasted before being primed and stored. The tank is 90% complete and needs the internal baffles fitted.

No.130 will have its steam brake removed and thus be identical to Nos.138/143 in having only vacuum brakes. This will require modification of the boiler cradle and the necessary steel profiles were delivered to Dinas in the Spring.

 

Caernarfon station news

The Daily Post has suggested work may start next March on the construction of the new £2.2 million Caernarfon station following completion of the sewer diversion work this Winter. See Daily Post story.

 

Vale of Ffestiniog working 9/8/16

Martin Kressman reports: This working was returning the five wagons including the ex-SAR guard's van from their 'MoT' inspection at Boston Lodge. The loco returned after lunch with five more wagons from Dinas for their 'MoT'. These movements will continue until all the wagons at Dinas have been inspected -probably in anticipation of extensive use in mixed trains, simulated freights etc. during SuperPower 9-11/9/16-Ed).

 

This southerly view (9/8/16) shows Vale of Ffestiniog on a morning stock movement to Dinas, including the ex-SAR brake van, alongside Llyn Bach. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Matthew Hall and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Dinas Loco Shed news

Martin Kressman advises: On Sunday morning 7/8/16 Prince, Lilla and Hugh Napier arrived at Dinas, one of which will be giving footplate rides at Caernarfon Station this weekend. One of the others will be loaded up later to go to the Shrewsbury Flower Show this weekend (the track was being prepared on 9/8/16 at Quarry Park, Shrewsbury, see website-Ed). The third will be going to the Southport Flower show the following weekend.

The water tank originally intended for NG/G16 Garratt No.140 but now to be used on No.130 was being sand blasted on 9/8/16 in preparation for painting. The pipework for the compressed air ring main in the Loco Shed is currently being erected.

 

Tuesday Gang

Tony Baker reports: Due to several volunteers holidays there was no working party on 9/8/16.

 

Cab rides at Caernarfon 5/8/16

As well as cab rides at Porthmadog, next Saturday 13/8/16 will feature cab rides in Caernarfon station between trains. Prince, Lilla and Hugh Napier are being sent to Dinas for use on this duty this week. With no siding available anymore at Caernarfon the loco will have to squeeze up to the end for the headshunt to allow the train locos to run around with permissive working as there is no shunt token at Caernarfon unlike most other intermediate stations on the WHR.

 

This northerly view (5/8/16) shows Linda giving cab rides at Porthmadog whilst David Lloyd George arrives on an FR train and No.143 waits to depart for Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Lyd off to L&BR Gala in September

Lyd is due to leave the F&WHR after SuperPower and attend the L&BR Gala on 24-25/9/16 in Devon. The L&BR has recently had planning approval for the redevelopment of the former station, now a restaurant, and the extension of the railway from there to its intermediate terminus at Wistlandpound Reservoir. Planning permission for the intervening 4.5 mile section Killington Lane to Blackmoor Gate, where a new depot will be established, is expected to be determined in the Autumn by the Exmoor National Park planning committee. If a positive decision is given the L&BR will apply for a T&WO for the route. Phase 2 is to expand back from Woody bay, its current operating headquarters, to a new station site at Lynton. Phase 3 will be to extend as far into Barnstaple as possible, maybe to the extant former Pilton MPD sheds. See Exmoor Associates website who are buying up the trackbed. Several section of trackbed including Snapper halt are already secured. As regards locos, Yeo, No.759, will be completed after the Baldwin, Lyn, now nearing completion at Keef's. Another 3 Manning Wardle locos are planned to develop a replica motive power fleet to match the replica coaches recently completed. See L&BR website for full details.

 

Beer Festival postscript

The Beer Festival income was up 17% on similar attendance to last year due to higher entry prices (and more cider!). This helped the WHR receipts which have improved after a weak start with poor weather early in the season before the Spring Bank Holiday.

 

Winter WHR YouTube

Jonathan Guilbert has a video on Linda and Blanche struggling with the rain in December last year as they operate the Green Timetable from Porthmadog to Rhyd Ddu. See YouTube link. The weather has improved considerably since this video was taken with Porthmadog having record UK temperatures on some days this summer!

 

Chester station event 6/8/16

The F&WHR will have a stall at ATW's Chester Station Community Rail event on Saturday 6/8/16. The event, from 10am-4pm, will see Chester Model Railway Club exhibit one of their model rail layouts and F&WHR will be promoting days out on the railway. There will be a range of stalls and visitors/passengers can find out more about the history of Chester Station with an hour long guided walk by John Whittingham at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.

 

Aussie KMX

John Browning reports: In view of the recent story on the KM-12 tamper, you may be interested to know that Wilmar Sugar in the Herbert River district of north Queensland has recently had their KMX-12T refurbished by a local contractor. The machine was built in Sydney in 1998 and operates on the approximately 200 miles of 2ft gauge track of Victoria and Macknade sugar mills.

 

This Australian loco shed view (7/16) shows the Queensland KMX-12T returning from refurbishment. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Chris Hart and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

TRAWS news 4/8/16

During the Labour leadership hustings at Cardiff on 4/8/16 Jeremy Corbyn committed himself to the reopening of the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen rail link as well as renationalising British Railways. His opponent, Owen Smith, also promised infrastructure would be high on his list of priorities.

 

Porthmadog signalbox video

A time-lapse video of the operation of Porthmadog signalbox has been published on YouTube. It compresses 5 hours into 6 minutes showing all the action out of the window from the shunting of the first WHR train of the day by Vale of Ffestiniog.

 

Plas-y-Nant bridge

Recent examination of this bridge has indicated it appears to need strengthening.

 

Caernarfon station latest

The station is likely to close in November to allow the relocation of the sewer under the site. A temporary facility is likely on an adjacent site off the existing footprint (maybe across the road on a vacant site next to the former DeWinton foundry?) for about 18 months. The F&WHR is going out to tender on the detailed design for the station building and also for project management. These have to be arranged within EU funding rules for best value for money. Work is due to start in Spring 2017 once the sewer works are completed. The actual commencement of work ultimately depends on the release of European Union Regional Development funds and these might be affected by the BREXIT situation. While, as the scheme is part of a previously agreed package F&WHR management does not believe so, BREXIT effects may delay the release of ERDF monies until the BREXIT negotiations are complete assuming the Chapter 50 exit trigger is passed by parliament after a debate on the advisory referendum result.

Today (4/8/16) the Bank of England advised it was decreasing the base rate to an historic 0.25% and may reduce it even further to avoid a BREXIT recession over the next 18 months, the chance of which it described as 50/50. The Bank made this decision on the basis of many negative indications from the economy after the BREXIT vote. It warned about increasing inflation caused by the pound's exchange rate collapse that will increase costs of imports. It also warned about unemployment increasing and the effect of such low interest rates on savers such as pensioners. Railway magazines continue to caution about the effects BREXIT on heritage railways such as the WHR, though there are a few bright spots such as increased staycations if people can no longer afford to fly abroad for their holidays and of course the possibility of more foreign tourists as the pound is 10% lower now.

 

Caernarfon closure effects

Santa and Xmas trains will run from Dinas not Caernarfon this year as work will have started on the sewer, closing the Caernarfon station site from November until the Spring.

 

SuperPower visitors

Adverts for SuperPower on 9-11/9/16 state there will be visiting locos. WHR enthusiasts would probably like to see Russell from the WHHR and the Baldwin from the Leighton Buzzard Railway to recreate historical tableaux. Friendly relations exist with many railways including, Statfold Barn, the Launceston Steam Railway, the L&BR and of course the VoR, who in September 2014 had a visit by Palmerston. A reciprocal visit by one of the VoR's GWR locos would be a great draw!

 

WHRS donations

With the Dinas access road coming under F&WHR ownership along with the Loco Shed from Welsh Water a few years ago, the WHRS contributed £6,000 towards re-surfacing the entrance as well as £14,000 to the cost of a new roof for the Loco Shed.

 

More railtours

Wednesday 10/8/16 sees a diesel hauled Conwy Valley Explorer with dining and FR option. The tour will be hauled by two WCR 47/57 locos top and tailed from Kidderminster calling at various West Midlands locations to Stafford. A 10% reduction is offered quoting FB192 as WCR is keen to see the Festiniog and Trawsfynydd railway reappear as an option in the future as it was previous to being closed. The website mistakenly shows the WHR but there are few railtours to the WHR because of the cost/time delay of coach transfer from Bangor. This would be eased if the Caernarfon-Bangor BR link was rebuilt allowing more railtours to come to the WHR. WCR is also organising outgoing tours from Holyhead, encouraging the Irish enthusiast to come over by ferry as well as picking up passengers all the way along the North Wales coast. On 21/9/16 there is a Holyhead-Bristol/Bath again with two 47/57 top and tail calling at stations to Chester. A similar train from Holyhead running to Edinburgh Festival on 30/11/16 calling at stations to Warrington. See WCR website.

The Railway Touring Company runs the North Wales Coast Express with dining option on 21/8/16 from Crewe and Manchester to Holyhead with steam haulage (Leander or Scots Guardsman) from Manchester Piccadilly along the coast. The train is repeated on 4/9/16 and this will be the last steam train on the North Wales Coast for 2016. See RTC website.

 

Team Wylfa farewell 2/8/16

Clive Briscoe reports: It's been a bitter sweet week for the old Team Wylfa. On Tuesday, I joined Martin Kressman and a couple of the Tuesday Gang at Dinas to dig a hole in the garden at the Caernarfon end of the down platform. It was to be the final resting place of our former friend and colleague Peter Tweeddale who sadly passed away last year after an epic fight against a brain tumour. Today, Sunday was his birthday and his widow, family and friends assembled on the platform to lower the casket continuing his ashes into the prepared grave once the southbound train had departed.

The 12" sided slabs are the standard adopted by the railway for anyone's memorial and represent the early FR slate milestones which are triangular (but a bit larger). There are now quite a few of these memorials scattered up and down the F&WHR - principally in the memorial gardens at Boston Lodge Works, Minffordd, Tan-y-Bwlch on the FR section and Beddgelert, Rhyd Ddu and now Dinas on the WHR section.

Peter was a stalwart during the early days of Team Wylfa and did sterling work on stripping No.134, cleaning out and painting the clip shed to receive the rolling chassis then stripping and cleaning No.140 before our work was changed to carriage inspection and oiling up (so called 'core work'-Ed). Latterly, he had done more work with the Tuesday Gang before being struck down.

He had his fun times too, acting as one of Santa's elves on many Santa Specials. Those of us who worked with him on the railway will never forget him - and he'll be watching us from now on. If we ever dare to complain, we'll be hearing, 'What do you want? Jam on it?' - his favourite comment!

 

Tuesday Gang report 2/8/16

Tony Baker reports: Today we completed our programme of fitting anti slip membrane to all our public footpath crossings when we did LC 22.70 Bontnewydd and LC 33.66 Plas-y-Nant. Due to several volunteers holidays there will not be a working party next week.

 

Boston Lodge improvement plans

Once the archaeological excavations had been completed in Glan-y-mor Yard clearance commenced and contractor John Roberts of Ffestiniog cleared the rubble and carried out some preliminary rock removal to make way for the Heritage Storage Shed. The rubble generated has been stored ready to expand the site footprint onto the foreshore when necessary permissions have been granted. This will allow the clearance of the Carriage Shed site to create a much larger New Carriage Shed that will accommodate WHR rakes as well as FR rakes. Construction of the new three road Heritage Storage shed close to rock face will begin in late Summer with the aim to be available within months to protect heritage rolling stock over Winter 2016/7. The sewage system is also being renewed.

The latest plan shown below reveals the outline of several locos that might be kept in the shed including a Garratt, two Fairlies in the left hand road, two ladies and Taliesin in the centre road and three coaches in the right hand road. the shed consists of seven bays with the end bays of 5.7m and the five central bays of 6m. The edge of the cliff was surveyed in April 2016 and it is intended to give a 2m clearance zone around the shed on the cliff side. There is a 2m clearance from the centre line of the through road at the north end of the site but this widens towards the south end where some rock nibbling may be necessary.

 

This Boston Lodge plan shows the latest thinking for the Heritage Storage shed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was scanned from the FR Magazine. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The next plan shows the area between the Heritage Storage Shed (HSS) and the existing sheds. In this area it is proposed to build, from north to south, a Garratt shed over the recently constructed new pit road and a new 3 road Small Loco Preparation shed. While tracks for the new Garratt shed are not shown, points for the three new curved points for the HSS are shown, varying in radius between 170m and 130m.

 

This Boston Lodge plan shows the latest thinking for the area between the Heritage Storage shed and the existing sheds. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was scanned from the FR Magazine. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Titbits Spring 2016

The toilets at Beddgelert Station have been repaired and the leaking ticket office roof has been replaced. Toilets at Caernarfon, Dinas and Harbour station have been refurbished. The leaking 50m long asbestos cement roof over Dinas Loco Shed was removed in the Spring and replaced with a new one using grey box-profile insulated aluminium sheeting similar to that used in the new buildings on the FR at Minffordd Yard.

 

Trackwork Volunteering 2015/16

Keeping the permanent way, in particular, and the infrastructure in general, fit for trains to run is an essential task. Volunteers have a lot to offer by assisting with this. 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.

Please note dates for 2016 notified 26/7/15.

The programme for the remainder of 2016 is as follows:

March 5-3/3/16 12-18/3/16WW 19-20/3/16    
April 2-3/4/16 9-11/4/16LW# 16-17/4/16   30/4/16-^
May -1/5/16^ 7-13/5/16WW 14-15/5/16   28-30/5/16^
June   11-12/6/16 18-20/6/16LW# 25-26/6/16  
July   9-10/7/16 16-22/7/16WW 23-24/7/16  
August   6-7/8/16 13-15/8/16LW# 20-21/8/16  
September 3-4/9/16 10-16/9/16WW 17-18/9/16    
October 1-2/10/16   15-16/10/16   29-30/10/16
November   5-11/11/16WW# 11-13/11/16   26-27/11/16
December 3-9/12/16WW# 10-11/12/16      

^ Bank Holiday weekend

LW-Long weekend Friday-Monday

WW-Working week Saturday-Friday

# For dates for April, June and August contact Paul Bradshaw if you are interested for confirmation. Dates for November and December 2016 are provisional pending preparation of the Winter Major Works Programme. Dates will be confirmed in Autumn 2016.

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.

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 Paul Bradshaw.

Tuesday Gang:

Contact Tony Baker for details. Phone: 01492 874579 Email: SPUDDY43@aol.com

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

Rest of The World Gang (ROWG):Paul Bradshaw Phone: 01766 770034 Email: pbradshaw@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!

 

Gradient profile.JPG (319064 bytes)

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.

 

Events 2016

1/1/16 Final Mince Pie Special 1000 return from Caernarfon
12-21/2/16 Princess visit to King's Cross with coaches Nos.1/12
13-20/2/16 Start of WHR 2016 Green Timetable Porthmadog-Rhyd Ddu (2 trains a day)
24/2-17/3/16 Green Timetable MTFX
19/3/16 Start of WHR 2016 Season Blue Timetable
26/3-29/3/16 Start of WHR 2016 Season Yellow Peak Easter Timetable (4 days only)
26-28/3/16 Family Easter Events around the F&WHR including cab rides with DHR No.19
16/4/16 The Snowdonian including DHR No.19
16-17/4/16 New Volunteer Event
30/4-2/5/16 FR Members Weekend (DHR No.19 on FR trains and may feature special workings on WHR)
30/4-2/5/16 Hugh Napier visit to Albert Dock, Liverpool with two coaches on a short running track
7-8/5/16 Moelwyn, Mary Ann and Busta visit Le Petit Train de Haute Somme, Picardy, France.
14/5/16 Extra trains from Porthmadog for Caernarfon Food Festival
20-22/5/16 Rail-Ale 12th Annual Beer Festival based at Dinas
21-22/5/16 Moelwyn, Mary Ann and Busta visit Apedale Railway, Newcastle-under-Lyme.
28-30/5/16 Hugh Napier at National Trust Penrhyn Castle Steam Days, Bangor
11/6/16 The Snowdonian Limited - a limited rerun of The Snowdonian
11-12/6/16 Moelwyn, Mary Ann and Busta visit Beamish Museum, Durham.
1-3/7/16 Moelwyn, Mary Ann and Busta visit Beamish Museum, Durham.
12-13/8/16 Launceston's quarry Hunslet Velinheli and FR coaches Nos.1/12 at Shrewsbury Flower Show
18-21/8/16 Launceston's quarry Hunslet Velinheli and FR coaches Nos.1/12 at Southport Flower Show
25/7-29/8/16 Summer family events around the F&WHR including Beddgelert this year
21/8/16 Classic Car and Family Day at Dinas including slate shunt, footplate rides and miniature railway
9-11/9/16 SuperPower 2016 (WHRS AGM 10/9/14)-A repeat of 2015 Great & Small III with layouts at Dinas
7-9/10/16 FR Victorian Weekend (some events possible on WHR in Porthmadog)
27/10/16 WHR Halloween Train Caernarfon to Waunfawr
10-11/12/16 WHR Santa Trains Caernarfon-Waunfawr
17-18/12/16 WHR Santa Trains Caernarfon-Waunfawr
22-23/12/16 WHR Santa Trains Caernarfon-Waunfawr

 

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

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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

 

V4.3334 updated 22/8/16