Welsh Highland Railway
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News (updated 27/8/15)
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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 17/8/15)
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
Caernarfon Station plans 27/8/15
This southerly view (27/8/15) shows an artist's impression of the latest £2 million plans for Caernarfon's WHR station. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
See Daily Post story for full information.
Team Wylfa report 25/8/15
Clive Briscoe report: Gone backwards this week, just Pete and myself. John is on his travels to Derbyshire and Den still suffering with his back - although he tells me the physio he's getting may allow him to make an appearance again next week.
So, started with the carriages (F Set) - as though you needed to be told! Then off to the Loco Shed and work on No.134. Set up two of the valve jigger modules under one of NGG16 No. 143's wheelsets to do some measurements for a pair of new tie bars to prevent the outer ends of the modules from kicking outward when in use by mounting the ties on the outermost bolts rather than in the middle. Cut a length of 50 x 8 flat to length, cleaned it up, marked and drilled pilot holes which I'll then open out to full size at the No.134 Group working weekend - this coming Bank Holiday weekend.
Lilla at Shrewsbury Flower Show 14-15/8/15
Click on the YouTube box above to watch 3 mins 2 secs of video of Lilla at the Shrewsbury Flower Show (14-15/8/15) published 24/8/15. The video is best watched in 1080p HD large screen format. This video is copyright John Wooden (F&WHR).
This Shrewsbury view (13/8/15) shows Lilla with bug boxes Nos.1/12 on the temporary track alongside the River Severn at Quarry Park, Shrewsbury. 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.
No.134 number plate update 20/8/15
A member of the No.134 Group has agreed to purchase the original NG15 number plate for use on the loco. Clive Briscoe has sufficient promises to pay back a significant proportion but more promises would be welcome. Contact Clive Briscoe if you are happy to donate.
ROWG May update
The Rest of the World Gang spent their May Working Week attending to track faults in various locations. It has been decided that wet loco ash corrodes track fittings and must be removed. The pile at the water tower end of Caernarfon station was moved away from the track first followed by a patch at Cefn Werthyd, just north of Bontnewydd Halt, where some had been used for embankment strengthening.
Later in the week attention turned to Coed Mawr area, Beddgelert. The marshy ground just north of the forest Boundary near Meillionen level crossing had developed a dip so the 9m of track was jacked and packed. Next it was the area between the Cwm Du Curve (Ch.42.20) and the new footpath crossing, Tro Elain (Ch.41.90) above the Natural Resources Wales car park. Natural Resources Wales has recently taken over the responsibilities of the former Forestry Commission Wales agency. The rail gaps had closed up on this section causing the spade ends of the steel sleepers to dig into the ballast on the outside of the curve on hot days. This resulted in voids under sleepers and an uneven top, which results in poor ride quality.
Finally the gang rebuilt the wall that protects the TOTP cabinet at Pont Croesor south point.
This northerly view (12/8/15) shows Russell pondering when, if ever, he will be allowed to use the crossover between the two railways as the midday WHR service disappears towards Pont Croesor. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Locos on holiday
The National Trust's Hunslet Hugh Napier is to visit Bristol Temple Meads replacing the planned De Winton Leary over the Bank Holiday weekend 29-31/8/15.
Blanche will be visiting the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway Gala 25-27/9/15. L&BR replica loco Lyd has been to the North Devon railway in previous years.
Quarry Hunslet Winifred will be visiting the F&WHR in the first week of November for photocharter purposes.
Volunteers' Memorial demolished
It is planned to extend the Carriage Shed at Boston lodge to accommodate WHR rolling stock as part of the Sustainable Railway proposals. In order to do this the track in the throat of the yard must be realigned and an extended headshunt constructed. It has proved necessary to remove the Memorial constructed during Kids' Week several years ago that carries a Fairlie driving axle. This was achieved in Kid's Week in early August.
The F&WHR has now had the benefit of three visits from professional aerial photography company Vertical Horizons Media who use sophisticated drone technology to give a new perspective on the 40 mile railway. Most of the footage will appear in future video productions and some has already done so.
Welsh Pony progress
The rebuild of Large England Welsh Pony is progressing well, with its cylinders being machined at Boston Lodge prior to reassembly.
Dinas Loco Shed snippets
No.143's power bogies are almost ready for re-wheeling with new horn guide slippers and horn stays in place, just waiting on the axleboxes to return from final fettling at Boston Lodge. NG15 No.134’s axle boxes are also receiving attention at Boston Lodge.
Caernarfon Castle has been up in the air for the last couple of weeks with the hind bogie out and inner wheelset/gearbox away for attention (again!-Ed).
Ex-Australian sugar cane railway diesel No.9 is progressing steadily and is not far off completion. The first top coat on the cab has been rubbed down smooth ready for what will probably be the finishing coat of yellow.
Team Wylfa report 18/8/15
Clive Briscoe reports: Three quarters of our normal core team tonight i.e. three - with John back from riding shotgun looking after quarry Hunslet, Lilla and two of the FR's 'Bug Boxes' and new FR observation car, No.150, which were visiting the Shrewsbury Flower Show this week. Dennis still having back problems. We quickly dispatched the E Set (inspection and oiled up) and then on to the Loco Shed. We did what I said we'd do last week - the shelf got finished under the bench and the new valve jigger modules got lifted off the floor onto it so it's now no longer a tripping hazard and will keep all the mess off them. Also got around to some work on the small stub pipes for No.134's tender mounted brake vacuum tanks so advances all around tonight!
Coaching stock report 6/8/15
New FR carriage No.117 is in the Carriage Works at Boston lodge and making good progress; before too long it will be in the Paint Shop. The underframe for new FR carriage No.118 has been built and is awaiting attention by the Carriage Works staff. The underframe for WHRS sponsored carriage No.2047 is being built in the erecting shop. Before Observation Car No.150 can enter service, a new service car (to be numbered No.125) will be required. This service car will take priority before either No.117 or No.2047. The order of build of the latter two has yet to be decided.
New WHR coach No.2047 will be to the same design as No.2046 and have large panoramic windows with opening top lights for ventilation, rather than the smaller windows on earlier WHR stock. This carriages will allow the E and F sets to have eight WHR carriages each and reduce the need to reinforce the trains with FR carriages. However the F&WHR may prefer to build a second Observation Car so that both sets have an observation car. Coupled with Pullman car Bodysgallen, currently used for First Class in the set without an observation car, this would provide an enhanced First Class offering on one set.
Work has started on the manufacture of new roller bearings for the remaining WHR coaches that have plain bearings with just 6 bogies left to complete. No further progress has been made with DZ wagon conversion given the workload on coach underframes and private contracts.
Ron Walker reports: FR PW Mess Coach (No.1111-Ed) was the last coach to have gas for cooking. This is to have the gas removed and a generator fitting for converting to electric cooking (mainly kettle boiling). The coach needs to go into the welding bay to be cut about to take the generator.
This Boston Lodge view (8/5/15) shows an underframe of the next FR coach, superbarn No.118 to the maximum profile of the FR and offering similar, if not better, quality to the more ample WHR coaches. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ron Walker and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This Boston Lodge view (6/8/15) shows the interior of the Paint Shop painted by young volunteers during Kids' Week as it was empty. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ron Walker and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This Boston Lodge view (6/8/15) shows the replica Ashbury's coach No.21, similar in profile to WHR No.23, being built by volunteers in the Carriage Works. When this coach is complete it could make a historically accurate WHR rake with No.23, hauled by an England engine or Russell. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ron Walker and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This Boston Lodge view (6/8/15) shows FR coach No.117 nearing completion in the Coach Works. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ron Walker and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Winter Infrastructure Programme
Various trackworks are planned for this coming Winter and volunteers are invited to join the regular PW gangs:
On the S&T side new lever frames are needed at Beddgelert and Hafod-y-llyn as well as adding PTFE to point blades to reduce the need to oil so often.
On the buildings front:
On the lineside front:
Also tree felling at numerous other locations now the new well wagon is available and can accommodate a larger flail with a greater reach due to the lower centre of gravity.
Tracklaying starts on 2/11/15 and continues until 12/2/16 during the closed season. Volunteers are invited to contact Dafydd Thomas. See Contacts page.
Dafydd Thomas to step aside from infrastructure role
In a long planned move, WHRS Chairman and Interim Infrastructure Manager Dafydd Thomas is to concentrate on his WHRS role in future as Alex Spring (ex-LUL) eases into the role from November. The changeover will be phased with Dafydd supervising the Winter Maintenance Programme and Alex taking over completely on 1/3/16. Alex is a former volunteer fireman on the FR.
NG15 No.134 re-wheeling for SuperPower?
There is still hope that the axleboxes might be returned from Boston Lodge in time for a re-wheeling of No.134's chassis at Dinas during SuperPower (Déjà vu-Ed!). There is a working party on 29-31/8/15 over the Bank Holiday weekend and volunteers will be hoping to prepare for this stage. Current work has focussed on the lubrication system with the Wakefield steam oil mechanical lubricator fitted to the driver's side of the footplate. The C2 project has provided a larger Chinese lubricator for the lubricating oil used for rotating parts. A great deal of effort has gone into constructing the pipe runs.
Little and Large 12/8/15
This southerly view (12/8/15) shows No.138 on the 1320 from Porthmadog passing Russell running around its WHHR working at Pen-y-Mount. Supporters of both railways must be wondering when, if ever, Russell will be allowed to use the crossover between the two railways. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Pont Croesor level crossing and loop restored
After a major effort by staff and volunteers, the damage caused by the road accident at Pont Croesor has been repaired. Train crew will no longer have to stop and guide the train across the crossing. Cables have been sealed against the inevitable wet weather that North Wales if often subject to! Indeed some at Dinas have already had to be replaced as they were not damp sealed on their initial installation almost 20 years ago.
Improvements have been made to the new point at Pont Croesor as the awkward configuration required by right handing running means the drive from the point motor was not in line. Maybe the time has come to consider left hand running at this loop as the FR has left hand running at Rhiw Goch loop where the topography demands it. The loop is not normally required for passenger use in the current timetable but is useful for PW workings and out of course running. It is available for SuperPower in September.
Other S&T work involves coating point blades with PTFE to increase lubrication intervals, the installation of the siding point levers at Beddgelert, Rhyd Ddu and the Hafod-y-llyn loop, which is essentially a PW siding.
From Monday 16/11/15, the singled line between Wrexham North Junction and Saltney Junction, controlled from Chester PSB, will be redoubled between a new junction near Rossett Level Crossing and Saltney Junction, some six months late. Permissible line speeds will be changed and additional signalling provided in order to increase capacity of this 10 mile bottleneck and reduce journey times for North Wales/South Wales services. This will put right some of the damage done in the 1990s when the line was singled as an economy measure and to reduce the cost of the A483 dual carriageway bridge under the line at Gresford, just north of Wrexham. The work cost £44million for the 5.5 mile section, about half of the distance that needs redoubling. The Welsh Assembly Government is hoping for further redoubling but provision of an extra parallel single track bridge over the A483, as well as a single track A483 overbridge nearer Wrexham, will be too expensive. Extending the 'dynamic loop' from Rossett to the A483 underbridge on Gresford bank would be difficult to work as southbound freight trains checked at the end of the double track on the 4 mile bank would have difficulty restarting on the 1 in 82.
Black 5 No.45231 hauled the Welsh Mountaineer advertised as from Preston to Blaenau Ffestiniog on 4/8/15 with load 6. However, due to atrocious conditions at Pont-y-Pant the train slipped to a stand and, after a second attempt, was forced to propel back to Llanwrst North to run round and return home. Although Pont-y-Pant is notoriously difficult with its steep grade of 1 in 47, sharp curves and check rails and occasional (!) rain, steam excursions have operated successfully in recent times. The worry is now that NR will impose load limits on the route (and elsewhere following a similar incident recently on the South Devon banks) and this will increase costs to make the operation of such excursions beyond the price the market will bear unless a tail diesel loco is accepted. As such excursions often bring traffic to the FR this might lead to a loss of income to F&WHR on top of that lost by the absence of Cambrian Coast excursions in recent years brought about by the failure of NR to provide a portable ERTMS unit.
KS No.4415 2-6/8/14
David High's volunteer working party has made a start on the rebuilding of KS No.4415. They have lifted the engine and gearbox off the body of the loco and stripped out them out. They have also dismantled the brake gear and taken the frame off the wheels for grit blasting.
Ron Walker reports: Last week I was at Boston Lodge works helping with the FR Kids' Training week. At the same time some of the team that are working on heritage diesel KS-4415 were there (see Festipedia page for full details of this loco numbered as No.8 in FR hierarchy-Ed). The chassis has now had almost all of the components removed, during the week the chassis was lifted onto its side for cleaning underneath. Soon a contractor will come in to sand blast it clean ready for a few minor repairs then re-painting. The wheel are out and will be re-profiled soon, the springs have gone away for refurbishment. A section of the old foundry has been cleared for the components. Some have already been cleaned other await cleaning. Turning the chassis on its side you can now see when the locomotive was converted to a wider gauge, I think 3ft?
This Boston Lodge view (2/8/15) shows KS-4415 reduced to a frame. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ron Walker and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This Boston Lodge view (2/8/15) shows KS-4415 chain-driven sprocket wheelsets. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ron Walker and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This Boston Lodge view (6/8/15) shows KS-4415 frames being cleaned. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ron Walker and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This Boston Lodge view (6/8/15) shows KS-4415 frames being cleaned. The brackets show signs of being moved at one time in the locos history to accommodate the wider gauge, Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ron Walker and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This Boston Lodge view (6/8/15) shows KS-4415 frames cleaned up and ready for sandblasting. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ron Walker and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Tryfan Junction appeal
The lovingly restored halt at Tryfan Junction station building shows the best of the old WHR/NWNGR alongside the new trains that pass by or call at the halt by request. It has been restored from a few bare walls in a thicket when you webmaster first saw it to a condition much the same as when it was in its prime. The Friends of Tryfan Junction are looking for volunteers to man the station as it is having to remain closed for much of the time for security. Their aim is to open the station as much as possible and encourage use of the Bryngwyn Branch Slate Trail. Membership is free to members of the WHHG or alternatively there is a nominal £5 annual membership fee for the Friends of Tryfan Junction group. Contact Mike Hadley if interested.
Carriage maintenance appeal
Despite the steady replacement of axleboxes with roller bearings, carriage maintenance still has a high priority. Each carriage has 8 flange lubricator grease sticks which have to be filled each week by volunteers lying on the ground. These reduce flange wear and the ear bending squeal of metal on metal on the tight curves on the WHRS. Although the teams do have at least two people each sometimes finds themselves down to one and this has safe working practice implications. Team Wylfa often goes on to work on No.134 in the Loco Shed after finishing work on the carriages
In order to ensure there are enough volunteers to run the maintenance evenings the WHRS is appealing for more volunteers. Contact Martin Kressman.
Titbits Spring 2015
The Real Ale Festival was successful again with cider being an increasing aspect of consumption (25% now!). Over 2,500 people attended and over 1,000 travelled on the trains.
The toilet block at Beddgelert has been repainted in maroon and cream. New doors and frames are needed at the station as these are already rotten and of non standard size. This may be a job for the Coleg Merion Dwyfor joinery students at Dolgellau who have helped the railway before.
Development of the station plans for Caernarfon continues. With a £2m budget, it is important to satisfy lots of potential grant funding organisations. The F&WHR has been in negotiations with the Harbour Trust for alternative car parking as the current car park will be permanently lost from the day the construction starts.
Team Wylfa report 11/8/15
Clive Briscoe reports: There was an improvement on last week - Pete was back from his business trip but Dennis is still 'excused boots' with back problems. Oh, Big John is also away standing shotgun over the new £250k FR observation car which is on show at the Shrewsbury Flower Show this week.
As usual at this time of the year, it was carriage inspection and oiling to start the evening after which we went to the Loco Shed to continue on No.134 related work. We've got the steel brackets now cut and fitted beneath the steel bench and cut the first couple of shelf boards. Should finish the shelving next week and lift the 4 valve jigger modules off the floor onto them to keep them safe and clean.
Here ends this week's epistle except to thank yet more people who have contacted me who are prepared to put their hands in their pockets to help us secure No.134's original number plates and bring them to the UK.
Tuesday Gang report 11/8/15
Tony Baker reports: On 11/8/15 we repaired APG's in the Waunfawr area. This done we moved to Beddgelert and sheep-proofed a footpath gate using poles on chains reinforced with slip proof rubber matting. This same rubber matting was then used to coat the crossing hem slip proof.
Loco update Summer 2015
More wear has been found on the motion parts of No.143 than expected and once repaired they will refitted to the two power bogies. With the vacuum pipework completed on new PW Drewry diesel shunter No.9. All that required is to complete the paintwork before the loco is available for duty, maybe in time for SuperPower. Some £14,000 of the anticipated £20,000 cost has been raised for the refurbishment of PW diesel No.9 and Ben, the ex-Shotton Steelworks stockyard loco. The Appeal for the locos is still open and funds may be sent to the WHRS.
Newly arrived Garratt No.130 has jumped the queue on loco restoration as Pete Waterman continues to struggle to find funds for No.109 which has been resident at Dinas for over a year. Already No.130's boiler is being refurbished at the South Devon Railway. The F&WHR will build clean the power units and establish what work is needed as well as constructing a new cab, coal bunker and water tank. It is hoped the loco will be ready before No.87 has to be withdrawn at the end of its 10 year boiler ticket in a few years time. Ideally the WHR should have three operating Garratts, with one spare available every day.
Components were received for the new boiler for Welsh Pony by 8/5/15 following approval of the boiler design. Work will start this summer and include a new tender. Earl of Merioneth has received attention after a few problems. Linda is still awaiting new pony truck wheels to replace those borrowed from Moel Tryfan. The loco often double heads with Blanche, which is available for traffic. Linda failed earlier in earlier in the year whilst double heading with Taliesin but the faulty equalising beam between the front axle and the pony truck has now been replaced. Another failure affected The Snowdonian on 18/4/15 when Lyd had problems double heading with Taliesin. Improvements are being made to Lyd's lubrication. Diesel Harlech Castle is also receiving attention and might be fitted with chopper couplings.
No.87 clocked up the largest F&WHR mileage this year at almost 10,000 miles with No.138 just 500 miles behind and No.143 at 8,000 miles before withdrawal for overhaul. The longer journeys balance out the sparser service compared to the FR where Merddin Emrys held the record at about 8,000 miles. Castell Caernarfon put in just under 1,000 miles, mostly on PW work, showing the reliability of the NG16 fleet. K1 hauled 668 miles last year before withdrawal for its 10 year boiler exam.
Boston Lodge has made new steam brake cylinders for the L&B's new build 2-4-2T Baldwin Lyn. See Lyn page for latest news on this project which might see the loco in steam next year despite problems with the newly cut frames.
The KMX has received attention and is back doing the early morning tamping run. However, whilst it can still tamp, the lining part of the equipment will need a visit from Plasser. It is intended to tamp as much as possible of the WHR through the summer to maintain a smooth ride. This will allow winter work on improvement projects with Network Rail confirming they will send apprentices again in early 2016. Two new pw trolleys have been obtained which will ease carrying equipment to remote sites. These are braked which is essential on the 1 in 40 in some areas.
No.134's original number-plates found in South Africa 9/8/15
Negotiations have started to purchase No.134's number-plates following their finding in South Africa. The loco is currently being rebuilt by volunteers at Dinas and may appear in steam in a couple of years on the WHR depending on funding. See NG15-No.134 Facebook page.
This northerly view (8/8/15) shows No.87 on the first southbound train of the day at 0940. The sunlight is emphasising the dark blue livery of the loco. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This easterly view (8/8/15) shows the new running in signage at Waunfawr. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (8/8/15) shows new fencing near the Waunfawr footbridge erected by the rarely heard from North Wales Track Gang aka the Black Hand Gang. The fencing will probably be painted white. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Slow start to season
Traffic was beginning to pick up at the end of Spring after a slow start to the season with lower loadings from Caernarfon than Porthmadog. The F&WHR has promised to promote Caernarfon to encourage traffic from this end of the line and is planning a sign in the town square, Y Maes, with increased leaflet distribution on Anglesey, a popular tourist area. One big draw for railway enthusiasts would be the relaunch of No.143 as No.140. The loco, currently being refurbished after a 10 year boiler overhaul, is after all using No.140's frame (as well as other parts) which is the usual determinant of a loco's identity.
Super Power 11-13/9/15
A surprise visitor is hoped for to haul the shuttle trains as well as footplate rides around the yard at Dinas. The event will open on Friday 11/9/15 with a social evening for members, exhibitors and holders of the Weekend Rover ticket. There will be food, music and some of the 13 promised layouts will be running. The evening will run from 1800-2100 with free entry for WHRS members. There will be a fee for entry to Dinas for the rest of the weekend with real ale and live music on Saturday evening.
Caernarfon Bypass plans update reveals concerns
Work on the Caernarfon and Bontnewydd Bypass should start late 2016 for opening in late 2018. A haul road will be constructed along the route crossing the WHR just north of Bontnewydd Halt with similar arrangements to those used for the Porthmadog Bypass. For full plans and details see the Welsh Office website. On the Documents page are pdfs showing detailed zoomable maps/plans. Sadly these reveal there has been no provision for a junction with the A4085 to Beddgelert used by many WHR enthusiasts, not to mention local residents. Anyone wishing to protest about the lack of a junction can contact Bryn Jones, the Public Liaison Officer whose contact links are on the Have Your Say page. If current proposals are not altered this traffic, which always receives a big boost in the summer, will have to exit on the A4086 Llanberis Road roundabout and cross the narrow Afon Seiont bridge and awkward junction at Pont Rug and along the C-Class Bontnewydd Road to Caeathro roundabout on the A4085. A longer route would be to continue on the bypass to the new A487 Bontnewydd roundabout just north of the Meifod restaurant, proceed into Bontnewydd and then turn left at the old Bontnewydd roundabout before taking the C-Class road to Caeathro roundabout on the A4085.
The route consists of a new 9.8km highway, commencing at the new Goat roundabout just south of Llanwnda/Dinas (A499/A487 junction-the northern end of the Llanllyfni/Pen-y-Groes/Groeslon Bypass) and terminating at the Plas Menai roundabout, just east of Caernarfon (at the western end of the A487 Y Felinheli/Port Dinorwig Bypass). The bypass will be single carriageway and will be constructed with a 2+1 carriageway, i.e. two lanes in one direction with one lane in the other, separated by a 1m wide hard strip. The sections of 2+1 will switch from one side to the other with the 2 lane section likely to be on uphill sections where slow moving vehicles can be overtaken safely. The project involves the construction of 22 structures including seven bridges. These include a crossing over the WHR, a 300m viaduct over the Afon Seiont and a 280m viaduct over the Afon Gwyrfai and its flood plains. On the About the Project page there is a 5 minute Vimeo showing the route superimposed on a flyby of the landscape with some constructional detail. It is interesting to note that one of the alternative +proposals investigated was a 'Conventional north-south rail link including between Bangor and Caernarfon'.
Livery change for PW vehicles
The new well wagon No.62 has been finished in green and can carry a 5 tonne 360 excavator on the WHR although a more restricted load on the FR due the smaller structure gauge. It can also carry a larger flail which will make a big impression on the 25 miles lineside vegetation on the WHR. The lower centre of gravity of the well wagon will help improve stability and increase reach of the flail. The new green PW livery will slowly roll out across the PW fleet as will chopper couplings.
Click on the YouTube box above to watch 3 mins 12 secs of promotional video of the F&WHR published 6/8/15 using recent quadcopter footage. The video is best watched in 1080p HD large screen format. This video is copyright John Wooden (F&WHR).
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.
Food on the move
The FR continues its 'Food on the Move' evening train offer on the 18.05 from Porthmadog on TWThO in August (except 25/8/15) and the first week of September on the 1545. A similar experiment tried on a late diesel-hauled train from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu about 10 years ago has not been repeated after limited take up.
Lilla goes to Shrewsbury Flower Show 14-15/8/15
The recently refurbished Lilla will be visiting the Shrewsbury Flower Show on Friday/Saturday 14-15/8/15. The loco will be operate on a 130m temporary track and may give rides in a small coach as last year. The new FR Observation carriage No.150 will act as a Press Office. See FR website for full details. The show takes place in Quarry Park, Shrewsbury SY1 1RN.
Tuesday Gang reports 4/8/15
Tony Baker reports: On 4/8/15 we were back at Weighbridge Crossing completing the installation of crossing timbers started 3 weeks ago. The previous 2 weeks had seen the gang preparing for the "Summer of Fun" at Beddgelert where we erected a marquee. Back at Weighbridge crossing the installation of crossing timbers was somewhat different to what we do on the Welsh Highland. For a start we were in an area which was track circuited so metal fixings were a non-starter. We were also in a spot where plastic sleepers were in use so the crossing timbers were screwed directly onto the sleepers with nine inch coach bolts. Prince and Taliesin passed the worksite with a train celebrating 60 years of operating, picture one.
This westerly view (4/8/15) shows the Prince and Taliesin passing Minffordd reprising the first steam train 60 years previously on 3/8/55. 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 easterly view (4/8/15) shows the Tuesday Gang improving Weighbridge Crossing (Minffordd Yard access) to the same standard as the WHR crossings. 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 (4/8/15) shows the Tuesday Gang improving Weighbridge Crossing (Minffordd Yard access) to the same standard as the WHR crossings. 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 easterly view (4/8/15) shows the finished job with the Tuesday Gang improving Weighbridge Crossing (Minffordd Yard access) to the same standard as the WHR crossings. 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.
Team Wylfa report 4/8/15
Clive Briscoe reports: Well that was different! Regret no work on No.134 at all this week. Pete was away on business, John is on his annual trip around the UK visiting his sisters and Dennis called in sick. I rang one of our reserves and he thought he could meet me at Dinas - that was Plan A. Got to Dinas and he called in that he couldn't make it after all so I had to invoke Plan B - only used a couple of times before, call one of my work colleagues who lives in the Caernarfon area to act as safety man. I would call him every half hour until I'd finished carriage inspection & oiling. If I didn't call, he was to 'call out the troops'. Mission accomplished safely- carriages checked and oiled, safe to run. Locked up by 9pm, early night!
Kid's Today! Special 3/8/15
This northerly view (3/8/15) shows Prince and Taliesin watering whilst running around at Beddgelert. This train is carrying the participants of the 24th Kids' Week as a special treat. The two locos had hauled the 60th Anniversary special commemorating the first FR steam train on 3/8/55. 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.
'No' to WHHR's Russell SuperPower offer 1/8/15
At the WHR Ltd AGM on Saturday 1/8/15 the departing chairman, Martyn Owen, confirmed Russell had been offered to the F&WHR for their WHR Super Power weekend in September in exchange for a couple of WHHR trains to Beddgelert and the F&WHR had said "No". Many WHRS members (including your webmaster!) will be very disappointed to hear this. The issue seems to be the ongoing dispute over land at Pen-y-Mount. The F&WHR apparently approached the WHHR to negotiate a settlement some considerable time ago without any progress being made despite promises made to deal with the matter by the WHHR.
This northerly view (5/8/15) shows Russell running around at Pen-y-Mount where land is apparently in dispute between the F&WHR and the WHHR. Many must be wondering when, if ever, Russell will cross the junction onto the F&WHR. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy WHHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
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: [email protected]
North Wales Black Hand Gang (BHG):Dafydd Thomas Phone: 01248 681019 Email: [email protected]
Rest of The World Gang (ROWG):Paul Bradshaw Phone: 01766 770034 Email: [email protected]
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||National Trust Hunslet, Hugh Napier, 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|
|1-7/11/15||Photocharters with guest quarry Hunslet Winifred|
|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.
If you would like to make a comment about this website, why not visit my Guestbook?
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
V4.3107 updated 27/8/15