Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway

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News (14/4/24)

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Star Picture

No.590 safely tucked away at Gelert's Farm depot WHHR after loaded test trains between the FR and Beddgelert. The loco will feature in a launch event this weekend at the WHHR and in the WHR100 event at the end of June. This image is courtesy WHHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Welcome to Version 4 of this website, launched on 8/9/04 with news about work on Phase 4 of the WHR scheme. In addition to this Stop Press page and a Phase 1/2 page, there are 9 location pages, covering the Phase 3 works between Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu. There are a further 9 pages covering Phase 4, the full route through Beddgelert, the Aberglaslyn Pass and on to Porthmadog, including the Traeth Mawr to Pen-y-Mount works recently constructed by the WHHR with three regularly updated map links for this area by Laurence Armstrong.

Finally, there are pages covering 'Phase 5', Views from the Line, the history of the abandoned PBSSR works around Beddgelert, Archived News and a Contacts page for volunteers. Another page covers the current operation of the WHHR southwest from Pen-y-Mount.

 

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

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

Route section pages

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

 

Phase 4 pages

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

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

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

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

Beddgelert Station Area (updated 30/6/07)

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

Aberglaslyn Pass (updated 2/7/07)

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

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

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

Porthmadog Cross Town Link (updated1/4/07)

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

 

Other pages

Phase 1 images (Updated 8/9/23)

Railtours 2023 (Updated 15/12/23)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archived News Page (updated 1/4/24)

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

Snow Scenes (updated 17/12/23)

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

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

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

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

Video list (new 9/11/15)

Access to Phase 2 pages is currently being progressed.

 

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

Isengard@talktalkdotnet

This has been introduced as an anti-spam feature.

Disclaimer

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

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

 

Stop Press!!

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

New text in RED!

 

WHR timetables

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

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

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

Click here for Mike Schumann's Phase 4 TWA maps and other maps courtesy of WHRS

Click here for John Sreeves Gradient profile courtesy of WHRS

Click here for Chainages and OS Map References

Timetables

2024 Timetable

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

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

 

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

 

F&WHR events 2024

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

 

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

 

News Section

Timetable w/c 13/4/24

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

 

F&WHR 13/4/24

Sunday 14/4/24 was a day of sunny periods at Porthmadog with temperatures of 6-10C with some showers late in the day. This is the final weekend of the school Easter holidays (those that started on Good Friday) and many holidaymakers have already gone home. So there are just 2 F&WHR trains today, with the morning Mountain Spirit train and the Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon. It is now 18 days since access was lost to the Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch webcams and there must be questions now about whether they will ever be restored.

At 09:50 James Spooner hauled the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit into the FR platform. The loco ran round at 10:00 and departed on time. There was a good crowd visiting the platform in the sunshine to look at the loco, which had its cab roof removed. The train came back about 14:00 and was soon disposed to the depot as there was no afternoon service. At 15:00 Vale of Ffestiniog was noted shunting the new Carriage Shed at Boston Lodge to close the day's activities.

 

Webmaster's holiday

Your webmaster will be on holiday in Porthmadog for the next week so this may lead to the website being updated less often and notifications not being made. Normal service will resume on 23/4/24.

 

Service patterns

Sunday, Monday and Friday have much reduced service patterns with just one FR train a day on Fridays. Tuesdays and Thursday have the maximum 7 trains including two through trains on the WHR which also appear on Saturdays. The Aberglaslyn appears WO for the next two weeks and the Gelert Explorer SuWO. The Quarryman runs SuMFX. The Victorian runs STuThO for the next two weeks and has replaced the Woodland Wanderer. So it seems the post-Easter service levels are very similar to those of the Easter Holiday peak service.

The Cwellyn might appear at Late Spring Bank Holiday (Whitsun school Holiday week from 27/5/24) as it did last year after people arriving at Caernarfon expressed dissatisfaction with just one train a day on most days. On days when The Harbourmaster /Snowdonia Star run it is possible to take a hop on/hop off afternoon return working from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu if not fully booked, where the trains cross. Any delays on the A55 driving to Caernarfon would mean there are no alternative services on most days for people who miss their trains.

 

F&WHR 13/4/24

Saturday 13/4/24 was forecast to be an overcast rainy day at Porthmadog with temperatures of 5-13C with some sunshine late in the day. This is the final weekend of the school Easter holidays (those that started on Good Friday) and many holidaymakers have already gone home. So there are just 5 F&WHR trains today, with 3 on the FR, the two Mountain Spirit trains and The Quarryman. There are also the two through trains on the WHR. It is now 17 days since access was lost to the Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch webcams and there must be questions now about whether they will ever be restored.

No.130 departed on time at 10:05 on The Harbourmaster as the ECS for the Mountain Spirit approached through the murk across The Cob. James Spooner arrived with the rake in the FR platform at 10:10, run round by 10:20 and departed on time as the murk lifted. No.143 arrived with the Snowdonia Star at 12:25 but with two B wagons full of coal attached to the front for the fuelling point. At 12:33 the loco shunted the wagons to the refuelling point. Linda, with canvas cab sheet, arrived at 13:00 with The Quarryman and the loco ran round at 13:14 to shunt the rake clear of the FR platform for the return of the Mountain Spirit. No.143 ran round by 14:00 and departed on time 5 minutes later. Blanche shunted its rake back to the FR platform after the afternoon Mountain Spirit departed and left on time at 15:25. See Chris Parry's Facebook post for 12 images of the return journey of Blanche from Caernarfon.

 

This easterly view (13/4/24) shows No.143 propelling two loaded coal wagons into the yard having detached them from the Snowdonia Star. The wagons had gone up to Dinas empty on Thursday 11/4/24 attached to the rear of the Snowdonia Star. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

No.130 arrived back at 16:35, about 10 minutes late. The ECS set off for the depot promptly at 16:41. James Spooner arrived back with the afternoon Mountain Spirit at 17:39 as the sun came out. The loco went to refuel and water before running round at 17:57. The ECS departed for the depot at 18:01 to close the day's activities.

 

Moving Pictures No.91 12/4/24

Click on the YouTube link to watch 15 minutes 52 seconds of video showing the initial train services with snow on Snowdon and Hunslet races in Caernarfon. This video is copyright F&WHR and was published on 12/4/24. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod on a 4K camcorder by John Wooden (F&WHR).

 

Loco roster w/c 13/4/24

Over the coming week the F&WHR will have five steam locos working passenger trains on the F&WHR. On the FR: James Spooner and David Lloyd George will again be working out of Porthmadog - with Linda in charge of trains starting from Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Services on the WHR will be covered by NG/G16s Nos.130 /143:
No.130 will start the week working from Porthmadog.
No.143 will start the week working from Caernarfon.
• On Wednesday 17/4/24 the two locos will swap trains at Beddgelert and work from the other end of the railway for the rest of the week.
In addition to the regular service trains, there will be a number of extra workings on Friday 19/4/24, in association with the Snowdonian weekend. Three further locos will be in steam on that day - resident Hunslet Lilla, along with visiting locos Chuquitanta and Lily from the Richmond Light Railway.
--------------------------------------------------
NOTE: This information is provided in good faith, solely as a guide, but could be subject to change at any time.

 

Garratt views 11/4/24

This northerly view (11/4/24) shows No.130 preparing to depart the little used Meillionen Halt in the former Beddgelert Forest campsite, now home to a very small number of millionaires log cabins, on the returning The Harbourmaster. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera.

 

Other Garratt views from 11/4/24 can be found on the Facebook Festrail page.

 

Local Discount half price offer 22/4/24-22/5/24

The F&WHR is reviving its popular North Wales residents discount which will apply for a month from Monday 22/4/24 excepting the May Bank Holiday Weekend 4-6/5/24. The ‘LOCALS’ DISCOUNT OFFER’ will be offering a 50% discount for the whole family, on specific train services, to local residents with their primary address in the postcode areas LL22-LL78 inclusive. This covers the area Abergele, Betws-y-Coed, Bala, Dolgellau, Aberdyfi and all areas of Gwynedd and Anglesey, essentially covering people within an hour or so drive of Porthmadog or Caernarfon.


This discount will be valid on the following services from Porthmadog:
• 14:50 - THE VICTORIAN
• 14:20 - MOUNTAIN SPIRIT [Standard and Gold]
• 13:40 - THE ABERGLASLYN [Standard and Gold]


This discount will be valid on the following services from Caernarfon:
• 11:30 - GELERT EXPLORER [Standard & Gold]
• 10:10 - SNOWDONIA STAR [Standard & Gold]


🎫 Use voucher code SPRING50 to receive the discount when buying tickets online, by phone, at one of our Booking Offices or from the Guard on a train.
🆔 Customers must bring proof of residency (e.g. Driver’s Licence) on the day of travel to show at the check-in desk.
ℹ️ PLEASE NOTE: the Discount offer is for tickets only and does not include Guidebooks, shop items or Food & Drink. The code will only work on the specified train services between 22/4/24-22/5/24 inclusive (excluding 4-6/5/24).
For more details and online tickets click on www.festrail.co.uk/trains.

 

Click on the postcode map to enlarge. Click again to enlarge to full size.

 

F&WHR 12/4/24

Friday 12/4/24 was forecast to be an overcast day at Porthmadog with temperatures of 10-12C. This is the final weekend of the school Easter holidays (those that start on Good Friday) and many holidaymakers have already gone home. So there is just 1 F&WHR train today, the 10:40 Mountain Spirit. The signaller opened the box at 09:12 and a train was noted started out from Boston Lodge shortly afterwards. Blanche was rostered for a private train to/from Caernarfon today, while Hugh Napier and Britomart will be running light-engine from Dinas to Porthmadog following their return from Beamish Museum. It is now 16 days since access was lost to the Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch webcams and there must be questions now about whether they will ever be restored.

Blanche turned up with a 3 coach special train in the WHR platform at 09:30 on which a number of Boston Lodge staff were travelling. The coaches involved were part of the rear of the Woodland Wanderer set, Nos.11/12 and a third bogie coach, possibly No.17. Steam was being raised at Boston Lodge for the one public train of the day at the same time. James Spooner pulled in with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit at 09:55. The Fairlie ran round as Blanche departed at 10:05 in the path of The Harbourmaster with the Mountain Spirit departing on time.

 

This easterly view (12/4/24) shows Blanche preparing to depart with the 10:05 Staff Special while James Spooner arrives on the ECS for the only public train of the day, the 10:40 Mountain Spirit. This is a repeat working so may have become a weekly duty. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

The Mountain Spirit had arrived back by 14:30 and the rake was standing in the FR platform as James Spooner ran round. It was only making one trip today so the ECS departed for the depot at 14:37. Blanche returned at 15:20 and went directly to the depot with its 3 coach rake to close the day's activities.

 

TfW timetable review annoys locals

TfW has given its proposals for Welsh Rail Services and they will not please users of the Cambrian Lines. The proposed hourly service to Aberystwyth is delayed until 2026 and there are cutbacks on the Cambrian Coast. Mainline enhancements are focussed on South Wales again and there is no sign of reinstatement of Holyhead/Llandudno-Manchester/Birmingham International loco hauled trains. The only good news for North Wales is that the Liverpool to Chester DMU service is to be extended to Llandudno from 2026, subject to agreement with Network Rail and work completed to level crossings. Another deferred service is Cardiff-Liverpool via Shrewsbury. This one has been delayed by the amount of NR upgrades required, possibly the re-dualling of the single line between Wrexham and Rossett. Some cynics are suggesting a more appropriate name for TfW is TfSW as it concentrates so much on South Wales services to the detriment of North Wales, which currently has just the one loco hauled train to Holyhead to Cardiff.

The review opened on 10/4/24 and closes on 13/5/24 and the public can make comments until then. See Cambrian News views on the Cambrian Coast cuts. To see the review and feedback form click here.

 

F&WHR 11/4/24

Thursday 11/4/24 was forecast to be an overcast day at Porthmadog with temperatures of 10-13C and misty at first. Thursday is only half way through many school Easter holidays (those that start on Good Friday) so there are 7 F&WHR trains today, with five on the FR including two Mountain Spirit and two The Victorian services and The Quarryman from Blaenau Ffestiniog. There are also the two through WHR trains. It is now 15 days since access was lost to the Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch webcams and there must be questions now about whether they will ever be restored.

First up today was No.130 which arrived with the ECS for the 10:05 The Harbourmaster at 09:43 in thick fog and LED headlights blazing. David Lloyd George turned up with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit as the Garratt left on time. James Spooner arrived with the ECS for the 11:!0 The Victorian rake into the FR yard shortly before the Mountain Spirit departed on time as the fog cleared. James Spooner ran round at 10:49 and shunted its rake to the platform before departing on time. At 12:42 the Snowdonia Star arrived behind No.143, some 18 minutes late. This may have bee3n due to flooding which was said to be inches below the sleepers just south of Plas-y-nant where subsidence continues to occur. The loco shunted off to fuel and water in the yard 2 minutes later. Linda arrived with The Quarryman at 13:03. Weather problems had forced footplate staff to erect a canvass backsheet in the absence of the demountable cab backsheet the loco can have fitted to the tender. Linda ran round at 13:10 to shunt the rake clear of the FR platform at 13:15 for the arrival of The Victorian. James Spooner arrived back with The Victorian at 13:25.

At 13:28 No.143 coupled to two B wagons and attached them to the rear of its rake allowing James Spooner to run round a few minutes later and remove its rake to the yard, clearing the FR platform for the arrival of the Mountain Spirit. No.143 then ran round at 13:42 ready for the 14:05 return working of the Snowdonia Star which left on time. DLG arrived on The Mountain Spirit at 13:56 while Linda was running round its rake in the yard. James Spooner swopped to the Mountain Spirit which departed on time at 14:20 watched by a school visit in hi-vis yellow jackets. At 14:30 DLG shunted The Victorian rake back to the platform for the 14:50 departure. Once the train had left, Linda started shunting The Quarryman back to the platform for the 15:25 return working.

 

This easterly view (11/4/24) shows No.143 removing two B wagons with coal from the yard and attaching them to the rear of the Snowdonia Star for transit to Dinas in a mixed train. This is a repeat working so may have become a weekly duty. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

F&WHR 10/4/24

Wednesday 10/4/24 was forecast to be an overcast drizzly day at Porthmadog with temperatures of 10-11C. Wednesday is only half way through many school Easter holidays (those that start on Good Friday) so there are 6 F&WHR trains today, with three on the FR including two Mountain Spirit services and The Quarryman from Blaenau Ffestiniog. There are also three on the WHR with two Aberglaslyn services out of Porthmadog but just one train out of Caernarfon (the Gelert Explorer).

Both the Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were out of action yet again today for an unprecedented two weeks running and there must now be a question as to whether these services will ever be fully restored. There must be a major IT problem at Porthmadog with the telephone booking system also experiencing problems earlier in the season as well as the ongoing webcam problems!

First up today was No.87 which arrived on the ECS for the 10:15 The Aberglaslyn at 09:40 followed by David Lloyd George on the ECS for the 10:40 which arrived at 09:55. At 10:15 DLG shunted the B wagons so that coal was available close to the loco refuelling point as the Garratt departed for Beddgelert on time. The loco ran round its train by about 10:30 coupled up and departed on time.

 

This southerly view (10/4/24) shows David Lloyd George shunting coal wagons in the refuelling sidings before departing with the morning Mountain Spirit working. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Mark Bishop and was taken on a phone camera.

 

Linda arrived at 12:55 with The Quarryman. No.130 was on the afternoon The Aberglaslyn noted departing at 13:47, having swopped with the Gelert Explorer at Beddgelert. The afternoon became a little foggy at Porthmadog as Linda ran round The Quarryman at 15:10 and was shunted to the FR platform ready for the 15:25 return service. No.130 returned at 17:27, over an hour late! The loco may have had to assist the Gelert Explorer which was due to leave Beddgelert shortly after The Aberglaslyn arrived at 14:20. DLG arrived at 17:42 with the Mountain Spirit allowing the ECS from The Aberglaslyn to be signalled to the depot and departure came at 17:43. The ECS for the Mountain Spirit left shortly after to close the day's activities.

 

Storm Peirrick hits transport links

High tide again on the morning of 10/4/24 saw stormy weather hit coastal North Wales. Train services were disrupted west of Machynlleth with an isolated service running north of Morfa Mawddach and the Conwy Valley closed again. The A5 was blocked for a while at the Gobowen roundabout with an overturned lorry caught by a gust of wind.

 

F&WHR 9/4/24

Tuesday 9/4/24 was forecast to be a windy overcast chilly day at Porthmadog but with sunny periods later and temperatures of 6-11C. Tuesday is only half way through many school Easter holidays (those that start on Good Friday) so there are 7 F&WHR trains today, with five on the FR including two Mountain Spirit services, the two The Victorian trains and The Quarryman from Blaenau Ffestiniog. There are two through services on the WHR. The two new The Victorian trains utilise the Woodland Wanderer path and will run on Tuesday and Thursday this week featuring newly restored Victorian coaches. Both the Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were out of action yet again today for the thirteen day running. There must be a big IT problem at Porthmadog with the telephone booking system also experiencing problems earlier in the season as well as the ongoing webcam problems!

No.87 arrived with the ECS for the 10:05 The Harbourmaster at 09:22. At 09:30 steam was being raised for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit which pulled into the FR platform at 10:05 behind David Lloyd George as The Harbourmaster departed. The new 11:10 The Victorian service was being prepared at Boston Lodge as DLG ran round at 10:20. The High Spring Tide passed at 09:41 along with the lower than expected gusts of wind so there was no spray across The Cob. The Victorian arrived at 10:35 and rather than being directed into the vacant WHR platform, as is usual for the Woodland Wanderer, it was signalled into the yard! This may have been because the Fairlie needed to fuel and water. The rake was noted being shunted out to the signalbox at 10:48 and back into the FR platform a minute later. This shunt seemed to be unnecessary had the rake been signalled into the WHR platform? The rake consisted of the curly roofed van ) Van No.1), three bogies and three 4-wheelers on the rear (including Nos.2/5). James Spooner ran round at 10:59 and the train departed on time after Vale of Ffestiniog arrived in the yard at 11:09 with an additional bogie coach, possibly No.100. The Funkey shunted the yard at 11:15 and again at 11:50 with the weather improving before departing for the depot shortly afterwards.

Linda arrived on The Quarryman shortly after 12:50 as the sun came out and No.143 arrived at 12:55 with the Snowdonia Star, with No.138 noted at Dinas. At 12:59 the Garratt ran to the yard to refuel and water and at 13:05 Linda was running round in the yard and possibly added coach Observation Car No.100 to The Quarryman rake where it normally belongs. Linda shunted The Quarryman rake to the yard to clear the FR platform for the next arrival and the Garratt then ran round its train at 13:15. At 16:03 Linda departed the FR platform with the return working of The Quarryman. The Victorian arrived back in the FR platform at 17:45 some 45 minutes late on its first run in the hands of James Spooner, having swopped Fairlies at lunchtime with the Mountain Spirit. The ECS departed at 18:00. DLG arrived back at 18:24, almost half an hour late. DLG ran round at 18:41 after refuelling and watering and departed with the ECS at 18:45 to close the day's activities.

 

 

This southerly view (9/4/24) shows James Spooner refuelling after returning with the late The Victorian in the late afternoon sunshine. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Mark Bishop and was taken on a phone camera.

 

Rodding?

No progress has been made with the rodding of ground frames at Beddgelert or Pen-y-Mount. In Pen-y-Mount's case it is ridiculous that a signalbox has been provided for the location but that the junction is not rodded into a frame there. Instead its takes about 10 minutes for staff from both railways to simultaneously unlock several pairs of padlocks which prevent accidental run-throughs of WHHR  trains onto the WHR main line. Rhyd Ddu could also do with a ground frame for the yard and also the Waunfawr siding if it is ever installed.

 

F&WHR 8/4/24

Monday 8/4/24 was forecast to be an overcast day with rain later at Porthmadog and temperatures of 6-13C. Monday is only half way through many school Easter holidays (those that start on Good Friday) so it is a surprise that there are only 3 F&WHR trains today, with two Mountain Spirit services and one Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon. The two new The Victorian trains following in the Woodland Wanderer path will run on Tuesday and Thursday this week featuring newly restored Victorian coaches. Both the Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were out of action yet again today for the twelfth day running. There must be a big IT problem at Porthmadog with the telephone booking system also experiencing problems earlier in the season as well as the ongoing webcam problems!

The first train today was the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit which was hauled into the FR platform by James Spooner at 10:00. Run round came at 10:11 and departure was on time. The afternoon train was due back by 17:35 and arrived back behind James Spooner at 17:36. The loco ran round at 17:46 and the ECS departed for the depot at 17:51 to close the day's activities.

 

F&WHR 7/4/24

Sunday 7/4/24 was forecast to be an overcast day of stormy weather with rain later at Porthmadog and temperatures of 9-12C. Wind gusts of up to 50mph are expected until later in the day. Sunday is only half way through school Easter holidays so it is a surprise that there are only 2 F&WHR trains today with one Mountain Spirit and one Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon. The two new The Victorian trains following the Woodland Wanderer path will run on Tuesday and Thursday next week featuring newly restored Victorian coaches. Both the Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were out of action yet again today for the eleventh day running. There must be a big IT problem at Porthmadog with the telephone booking system also experiencing problems earlier in the season as well as the ongoing webcam problems!

Given the stormy conditions it is possible an early test train was run to see if there were ant tress down blocking the line. James Spooner arrived in the FR platform at 10:15 with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit, running round by 10:25. The train departed on time with strong winds blowing across The Cob. There were about 20 people on the station around midday but no train services for them. The storm was clearly keeping people away but its possible that only offering one train a day discourages visitors who consult the timetable before visiting.

 

This southerly view (7/4/24) shows James Spooner running round the single Mountain Spirit working at midday. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Mark Bishop and was taken on a phone camera.

 

Mainline news

Even though TfW strengthened Cambrian Coast trains to four cars, some of these workings were full and standing over Easter Holidays. A video has emerged of the double headed Cambrian coast Express from Reading. The Blue & Grey Mk2 rake looked pristine and brought back many memories of the BR era to linesiders. See video of the train passing Newtown.

The Aberystwyth logs did not operate on Friday 5/4/24 or even the 10:40 SO reserve path. Maybe there is a bird nesting season in the Spring when trees are not cut down.

 

F&WHR 6/4/24

Saturday 6/4/24 was forecast to be a day of mild but stormy weather with sunny periods at Porthmadog and temperatures of 9-16C. Wind gusts of up to 50mph are expected until late on Sunday. Saturday is only half way through school Easter holidays and there are only 5 F&WHR trains today with three departures from Porthmadog, including two Mountain Spirit workings. There are also the two through trains on the WHR and The Quarryman from Blaenau Ffestiniog. The two new The Victorian trains following in the Woodland Wanderer path will run on Tuesday and Thursday next week featuring newly restored Victorian coaches. Both the Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were out of action yet again today for the tenth day running. There must be a big IT problem at Porthmadog with the telephone booking system also experiencing problems earlier in the week as well as the ongoing webcam problems!

First up was No.87 on The Harbourmaster, having arrived ECS by 09:50. This remains a full length rake with two FR coaches on the rear behind the Open coach. The train departed on time shortly after the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit arrived behind James Spooner. The new Fairlie ran round at 10:22 after fuelling and watering and departed on time. The Snowdonia Star arrived at 12:27 behind No.143 with its 7 coach rake. The loco detached and ran to the yard to refuel and water. Linda arrived with The Quarryman at about 12:50 and No.143 returned to its train and completed its run round at 13:00. Linda ran round and returned to its train at 13:12 before shunting its rake to the yard at 13:15 to make space for the returning Mountain Spirit.

 

F&WHR 5/4/24

Friday 5/4/24 was forecast to be a day of light cloud at Porthmadog and temperatures of 12-13C. Friday sees a major cut back in services despite it being only half way through school Easter holidays. There are only 3 F&WHR trains today with only two departures from Porthmadog being two Mountain Spirit workings. There is just the Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon. Both the Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were out of action yet again today for the ninth day running. There must be a big IT problem at Porthmadog with the telephone booking system also experiencing problems earlier in the week as well as the ongoing webcam problems!

The Woodland Wanderer disappears from the timetable for the week ahead but The Victorian appears on Tuesday and Thursday with a similar diagram. Altogether there are fewer services next week with only one train planned for Friday 12/4/24, though the peak Tuesdays and Thursdays continue to see 7 trains a day. with fewer trains today the signal box was opened at 9:30 with steam being raised at Boston Lodge for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit.

First today was Harlech Castle with a lineside clearance train consisting of two wagons carrying the shredder and the Mess Coach No.1111. This departed for the WHR at 09:37. Blanche and Lyd arrived double headed on the returning Mountain Spirit on time at 17:39. The pair ran round each other after refuelling at 17:55 ran round the train. The ECS left at 18:00 to close the day's activities as the signaller closed up the box.

 

NLHF Boston Lodge report 4/4/24

 

Click on the YouTube link to watch 8 minutes 15 seconds of video showing NLHF progress at Boston Lodge, particularly with the small Loco Shed which will soon be connected to the fan of new points and tracks outside the shed. This video is copyright F&WHR and was published on 4/4/24. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod on a 4K camcorder by John Wooden (F&WHR).

 

Hunslets visit Beamish museum 6-7/4/24

Britomart and Hugh Napier have travelled from Dinas to the Beamish Museum (near Newcastle-upon-Tyne) for the Beamish Steam Gala 'Wheels of Industry' event on 6-7/4/24. They will return by Friday 24/4/24. For full details see Beamish Museum.

 

Loco roster w/c 6/4/24

Over the coming week the F&WHR will again have a total of eight steam locos in action - five working passenger trains, with a further three also in steam. On the Ffestiniog Railway: James Spooner and David Lloyd George will be working out of Porthmadog - with Linda in charge of trains starting from Blaenau Ffestiniog. The two Fairlies often swop duties at midday when both Mountain Spirit and Woodland Wander/The Victorian are hauled by Fairlies.
Services on the Welsh Highland Railway will be covered by NG/G16s Nos.87/143:
No.87 will start the week working from Porthmadog.
No.143 will start the week working from Caernarfon.
• On Wednesday the two locos will swap trains at Beddgelert and work from the other end of the railway for the rest of the week.
In addition, on Friday 12/4/24, Blanche will be in charge of a private train to/from Caernarfon, while Hugh Napier and Britomart will be running light-engine from Dinas to Porthmadog following their return from Beamish Museum.
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NOTE: This information is provided in good faith, solely as a guide, but could be subject to change at any time.

 

F&WHR 4/4/24

Thursday 4/4/24 was forecast to be a day of sunny periods at Porthmadog and temperatures of 10-11C with showers at the end of the afternoon. Thursday sees a repeat of Tuesday's service with no less than 5 departures from Porthmadog including two Mountain Spirit workings and two Woodland Wanderer trains. There are the two through trains on the WHR and also The Quarryman from Blaenau Ffestiniog. Both the Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were out of action yet again today for the eighth day running. There must be a big IT problem at Porthmadog with the telephone booking system also experiencing problems earlier in the week as well as the ongoing webcam problems!

The Garratt was first up with the ECS for the 10:05 The Harbourmaster which had arrived by 09:40. This left on time as David Lloyd George arrived with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit. The ECS for the Woodland Wanderer arrived at 10:35 behind James Spooner, which started its run round 3 minutes later. DLG departed a few minutes late. Vale of Ffestiniog turned up about 10:50 in the yard possibly having made a coal wagon delivery and departed light engine for Boston Lodge at 10:58. The Woodland Wanderer departed on time at about 11:10. Linda propelled The Quarryman rake into the FR platform at 15:03 and left a few minutes late at 15:28.

At the end of the afternoon the Garratt was back on The Harbourmaster by 16:55. All three webcams were off line at 17:00 on Thursday and the Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch webcams had been off line for 8 days. There seem to be major IT issues at the F&WHR Porthmadog with the Porthmadog webcam becoming intermittent after 17:00. At 17:39 James Spooner arrived back in the rain with the afternoon Mountain Spirit to close the day's activities.

 

Storm Kathleen to hit this weekend

Half way through the two week school Easter Holiday, the Met Office has warned of Storm Kathleen which will bring 70mph winds, transient snow and heavy rain to North Wales on Saturday and Sunday. Storm Nelson brought snowfall to some parts of North Wales a week ago. A yellow weather warning has been issued for Storm Kathleen.

 

Bala Lake Railway resubmits planning application

Refused last year over environmental concerns about visitors increasing sewage levels in the River Dee, the BLR resubmitted its planning application for its Bala Town Extension on 27/3/24. Much of the new alignment is in the hands of the railway or has been prepared for them by Welsh Water as part of flood defences alongside Bala Lake. The SNPA will soon publish a link on their planning website and then the BLR would like supporters to write in any comments of support that they can for the scheme. The revised planning application has been very thoroughly researched and addresses the environmental concerns that caused the previous application to be denied.

 

Railtours 4-5/4/24

Double headed Class 97s are expected hauling the Cambrian Coast Express on 4/4/24 from Reading to Pwllheli. On 5/4/24 the Midland Blue Pullman was expected on the North Wales Coastal Pullman from Plymouth to Llandudno.

 

Cambrian Coast loses a diesel

Cambrian Coast loco No.97301 has been taken to Colwick for component recovery. This loco has not operated for some time. It leaves the Cambrian dangerously short of a loco for PW, the Aberystwyth logs and excursion workings. Will NR replace it with one of the Class 37s being offered for sale by GBRf?

 

Spooner's new menu 8/4/24

Spooners is having a major expansion of its hot food offering for the Spring. From 8/4/24 Spooners will be open for hot meals with breakfast from 09:00-11:30 and main meals from 12:00 until 21:00 seven days a week. There will be over 10 main courses as well as starters, sharers, pizzas and burgers, sides and sweets.

 

Click on the menu to enlarge. Advert copyright F&WHR.

 

F&WHR 3/4/24

Wednesday 3/4/24 was forecast to be a cold foggy overcast day at Porthmadog and temperatures of 8-10C. Wednesday sees no less than 6 departures from Porthmadog including two Mountain Spirit workings and two Woodland Wanderer trains and two The Aberglaslyn trains. There is just the one Gelert Explorer departure from Caernarfon (hauled by No.87) and also The Quarryman from Blaenau Ffestiniog. Both the Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were out of action yet again today for the seventh day running. There must be a big IT problem at Porthmadog with the telephone booking system also experiencing problems earlier in the week as well as the ongoing webcam problems!

No.130 pulled into the WHR platform at about 09:50 with headlight blazing in the fog with the ECS for the 10:15 The Aberglaslyn. James Spooner arrived with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit at 10:10 as the fog lifted slightly. No.130 departed on time and James Spooner ran round at 10:20. David Lloyd George arrived with the ECS for the 11:10 Woodland Wanderer at10:43. The loco ran round immediately as the fog cleared and the Mountain Spirit departed. The Woodland Wanderer left on time. More steam was being raised at Boston Lodge at midday.

At the end of the afternoon DLG arrived in the WHR platform at 17:40. The loco ran to the fuelling point a minute later as James Spooner departed with the ECS Woodland Wanderer. DLG completed its run round at 18:07. At 18:11 the ECS left for the depot to close the day's activities.

 

Dinas 30-31/3/24

This northerly view (31/3/24) shows Caernarfon Castle stabled in the bay at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a phone camera.

 

This northerly view (30/3/24) shows Hugh Napier in the loop at Dinas while offering footplate rides. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a phone camera.

 

This westerly view (30/3/24) shows No.130 preparing to haul the ECS Snowdonia Star towards Caernarfon after loading with coal. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a phone camera.

 

This northerly view (30/3/24) shows Caernarfon Castle running round in the headshunt along the back of the station building at Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a phone camera.

 

WHHR Easter news

This Gelert's Farm view (30/3/24?) shows Gelert's broken spring. The broken spring and copies of the spring diagrams were delivered to a company in the West Midlands on 2/3/24 and the WHHR hope to receive a replacement next week. This image is copyright Andrew Goodwin (WHHR).

 

This Porthmadog terminus view (2/4/24) shows Glaslyn substituting for Gelert after its broken spring. This image is copyright Andrew Goodwin (WHHR).

 

This Gelert's Farm view (30/3/24?) shows Gelert passing the depot before it broke its spring. This image is copyright Andrew Goodwin (WHHR).

 

F&WHR 2/4/24

Tuesday 2/4/22 was forecast to be a day of sunny periods at Porthmadog and temperatures of 9-12C. Tuesday sees no less than 5 departures from Porthmadog including two Mountain Spirit workings and two Woodland Wanderers and but just two through trains on the WHR. There is also The Quarryman from Blaenau Ffestiniog. Both the Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were out of action yet again today for the sixth day running.

At 09:55 No.130 was standing in the WHR platform with 10:05 The Harbourmaster which left on time. David Lloyd George arrived at 10:03 with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit. The Fairlie ran round at 10:20 as steam was being raised for the Woodland Wanderer at Boston Lodge. At 10:30 James Spooner (with cab roof installed) arrived in the WHR platform with the ECS for the 11:10 Woodland Wanderer. The Fairlie ran round a few minutes later just before the Mountain Spirit departed on time.

Harlech Castle arrived with the cherrypicker rake at 11:07 into the FR platform just before the Woodland Wanderer. departed on time. The diesel ran round at 11:17 and departed at 11:24 to attend to the trident signal on The Cob which also gave trouble last week. The Snowdonia Star arrived by 12:35 and Harlech Castle propelled its PW rake into the yard to clear the line for the three lunchtime FR arrivals. No.143 then ran to the yard to refuel and water. Blanche arrived at 12:56 with The Quarryman into the FR platform. The loco ran round at 13:00 and, unusually, took the rake to Boston Lodge at 13:05.

No.87 hauled two coal wagons out of the yard at 13:13 and shunted them onto the rear of the Snowdonia Star before completing the run round. James Spooner arrived back with the Woodland Wanderer at 13:22 and ran round to shunt the rake clear of the FR platform to the seawall siding with the Mountain Spirit arriving later. The Fairlie ran back through the FR platform at 13:34 to refuel and water. DLG arrived back with the Mountain Prince at 13:57 into the FR platform. James Spooner ran round and coupled up to the Mountain Spirit completing the Fairlie swop. The train left on time at 14:20. At 14:35 the ECS for the 15:25 The Quarryman was reversed into the station yard from Boston Lodge, another unusual move. DLG left on time with the Woodland Wanderer.

At 15:00  Harlech Castle emerged from the yard with the cherrypicker rake and reversed into the FR platform with Van No.51 on the rear to attend to the platform signals. Meanwhile Blanche came over from Boston Lodge with the ECS for The Quarryman in the WHR platform at 15:10. Run round came at 15:15 and departure came on time at 15:26. In the meantime the diesel detached from the S&T rake and shunted back and forth to test the signals.

 

This easterly view 2/4/24) shows Blanche running round The Quarryman while Harlech Castle is in charge of the S&T train in the FR platform. Due to congestion in the station area earlier in the afternoon with the S&T rake as well as passenger services, The Quarryman has been unusually stabled at Boston Lodge during its layover. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

Open coach No.39 was added to the Woodland Wanderer set over Easter as the weather was warm and sunny at Porthmadog. However on Wednesday 2/4/24 the weather turned to drizzle by the time the Woodland Wanderer returned at 17:11 (11 minutes late) and no one was sitting in the open coach understandably! DLG ran round at 17:21 and departed with the ECS at 17:25. The Mountain Spirit arrived back at 18:20, some 25 minutes late. The loco went to refuel and water before running round. The ECS departed at 18:38 to close the day's activities.

 

Glaslyn Ospreys return

The Glaslyn Osprey Centre at Pont Croesor re-opened 25/3/24 and the current pair of Ospreys, Elen and Aran, arrived over the next few days. The pair are already repairing the nest and catching fish. Visitors may arrive by buying a ticket to Pont Croesor. See Glaslyn Ospreys website for full details.

 

F&WHR 1/4/24

Easter Monday 1/4/24 was forecast to be a day of sunny periods at Porthmadog and temperatures of 6-10C, with settled weather much as yesterday. Monday sees a duplicate of Sunday's trains with no less than 6 departures from Porthmadog including two Mountain Spirit workings and two Woodland Wanderers and The Aberglaslyn but just one Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon. Both the Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were out of action yet again today for the fifth day running.

James Spooner arrived back at 14:02 with Mountain Spirit and David Lloyd George shunted out of the yard to couple to the :22.front at 14:05. James Spooner shunted to the yard to refuel and water at 14:10 while DLG departed with the Mountain Spirit at 14.22. James Spooner ran round the Woodland Wanderer in the FR platform at 14:35. DLG returned in the late afternoon sunshine with the Mountain Spirit and was noted departing with the ECS for the depot at 18:04 to close the day's activities.

 

F&WHR 31/3/24

Easter Sunday 31/3/24 was forecast to be a day of sunny periods at Porthmadog and temperatures of 7-12C, with settled weather much as yesterday. Sunday sees no less than 6 departures from Porthmadog including two Mountain Spirit workings and two Woodland Wanderers and The Aberglaslyn but just one Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon. Both the Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were out of action yet again today for the fourth day running. Steam was being raised at 09:00 at Boston Lodge.

Linda was expected first light engine as it was booked for cab rides 10:00-16:00. However, first up was Vale of Ffestiniog hauling the ECS for the 10:15 The Aberglaslyn which arrived in the WHR platform at 09:48. It seems that No.130, currently resident at Boston Lodge, is not available today. Linda turned up light engine at 09:55 and ran directly into the yard ready for its 10:00 start of the final day of its cab ride duties. David Lloyd George turned up at 10:07 hauling the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit into the FR platform.

 

This easterly view (31/3/24) shows Vale of Ffestiniog substituting for No.130 on the ECS The Aberglaslyn while Linda arrives light engine in the yard for cab rides. No.130 arrived later to take up its duty on The Aberglaslyn which departed late as a result. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

At 10:15 the Fairlie ran round the Mountain Spirit while No.130 arrived light engine and ran direly to the yard to take on fuel and water (maybe footplate crew had forgotten the clocks went forward today?). The Aberglaslyn was now destined to depart late but at least had a steam haulage. The Funkey detached at 10:24 and reversed onto the WHR loop line to run directly back to Boston Lodge where steam was being raised for the Woodland Wanderer. At 10:29 No.130 emerged from the yard to run round The Aberglaslyn and coupled to the front at 10:37, departing at 10:40, some 25 minutes late. DLG departed simultaneously on the Mountain Spirit on time. James Spooner (with cab  roof removed) arrived at 11:00 in the FR platform on the ECS for the 11:10 Woodland Wanderer. The loco ran round at 11:05 and the train departed on time at 11:10.

The lunchtime returning services began with No.130 at 13:17, still 23 minutes late after its late start in the morning. The loco uncoupled and went to refuel 5 minutes later. James Spooner was next back, arriving in the FR platform at 13:25 with the Woodland Wanderer. No.130 returned to its rake at 13:30 ready for the 13:40 afternoon run which left on time. Lastly DLG arrived at 13:54 in the WHR platform and James Spooner went to couple to the other end while DLG uncoupled and ran to the yard to refuel and water. The Mountain Spirit left at 14:23 a few minutes late. Steam shunting was noted at Boston Lodge at 14:35.  Velinheli came over to the station yard light engine at 14:44. DLG ran round at 14:48 and departed at 14:50 on time. Despite the damp weather a mountainside fire seemed to have started on the hillside above Talsarnau with white smoke blowing across the mountain.

 

F&WHR 30/3/24

Saturday 30/3/24 was forecast to be a day of sunny periods at Porthmadog and temperatures of 7-12C. Saturday sees no less than 5 departures on the FR from Porthmadog including two Mountain Spirit workings and two Woodland Wanderers and The Harbourmaster but just one Snowdonia Star from Caernarfon. There is a fifth FR train in the form of The Quarryman from Blaenau Ffestiniog and already, this early in the season, comments are being made about the disparity between service levels on the FR and those on the WHR. Last year the additional WHR service in the form of The Cwellyn did not appear until the Whitsun Holiday week and the School Summer holidays in August. Both the Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were out of action again today for the third day running. There was also a problem with phonecall bookings with some calls being dropped mid call and delays in answering.

First to arrive was No.130 at 09:30 with the ECS for The Harbourmaster into the WHR platform due to depart at 10:05. Linda was shunting in the yard at 09:48 after arriving light engine for the 10:00 to 16:00 footplate ride duty. It was without its demountable tender cab. James Spooner arrived at 09:56 into the FR platform with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit, running round at 10:02. The 10 car The Harbourmaster departed on time with apparently two FR coaches at the rear behind the open coach. There was more shunting in the yard ar 10:25 and steam was being raised at Boston Lodge for the Woodland Wanderer. David Lloyd George arrived with the ECS for the Woodland Wanderer in the WHR platform at 10:32 with run round following at 10:34. James Spooner departed a couple of minutes late and DLG then completed its run round of the 6 car FR rake after being held in the WHR through line. The Woodland Wanderer left a couple of minutes late.

No.87 (for the first time this season) pulled into the WHR platform at 12:22 with a short 7 car Snowdonia Star rake and the loco immediately detached and ran to the yard to fuel and water. It seems Caernarfon needs more promotion from the F&WHR if they are having to reduce the length of the 10 car sets usually used on this rake. One coach is usually kept empty to pick up passengers at intermediate stations too! Blanche pulled into the FR platform at 12:47 with The Quarryman. This means Linda and Blanche exchanged duties on this train recently. Though it may have been achieved by light engine moves the swop may have occurred when Linda was last in Porthmadog on The Quarryman on Thursday. No.143 returned to the train at 12:58 to complete the run round, followed by Blanche a minute later to shunt the stock in the FR platform clear for the return of services on the FR. Linda worked to the seawall siding at 13:04 to allow Blanche to shunt The Quarryman rake into the yard.

 

This northerly view (30/3/24) shows No.87 returning the Snowdonia Star to Caernarfon crossing Britannia Bridge. This was the first appearance of No.87 on public trains this year. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera.

 

The Harbourmaster with No.130 arrived back at 16:23 in strong sunshine. The train left ECS just 5 minutes later for the depot. James Spooner arrived back at 17:03 into the FR platform with the Woodland Wanderer. The loco ran round at 17:15 and waited for the Mountain Spirit which arrived back on time in the WHR platform at 17:37 behind DLG. James Spooner advanced down the platform and eventually left with the ECS at 17:39 while DLG began its run to the yard to refuel and water. Run round came at 18:05 and the ECS departed for the depot at 18:10 to close the day's activities.

 

Loco roster 30/3/24

James Spooner was diagrammed foe the Mountain Spirit and David Lloyd George for the Woodland Wanderer. These two locos may swop duties at midday.

No.130 was allocated to The Harbourmaster (the two Garratts may swop duties mid week at Beddgelert)

No.143 was rostered  for the Snowdonia Star

Blanche was diagrammed for The Quarryman

Linda was allocated for footplate rides at Porthmadog 30-31/3/24

Hugh Napier was allocated for footplate rides at Caernarfon 30/3-1/4/24

Lyd is also likely to be used on one of the lighter services

 

F&WHR 29/3/24

Friday 29/3/24 was forecast to be a cloudy day with showers later at Porthmadog and temperatures of 6-10C. The light dusting of snow on the Rhinogs had almost gone by the morning. Friday sees four Porthmadog departures including two Mountain Spirit workings and two Woodland Wanderers (the first of the season) but just one Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon. Holiday makers are increasing in the area despite the typically chilly weather of Easter Weekend. Both the Tan-y-bwlch webcam and Minffordd webcams were offline in the morning.

The first train today was the two light engines destined for the Caernarfon footplate experiences. These came over The Cob at about 09:30 and departed for Caernarfon at 09:39 while steam was being raised in Boston Lodge for the day's FR services.

 

This easterly view (29/3/24) shows Hugh Napier and Britomart departing for Caernarfon where they were due to give footplate rides from midday after refuelling and watering probably at Dinas. The train was due to pass the 11:30 Gelert Explorer departure, probably at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

David Lloyd George arrived in the FR platform at 10:00 on the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit, the first time the loco has been out on a public train this season. The loco ran round at 10:10 and coupled up shortly afterwards as steam was being raised at Boston Lodge for the first Woodland Wanderer of the year. James Spooner arrived at 10:28 on the ECS for the 11:10 Woodland Wanderer in the WHR platform making two Fairlie departures within half an hour on this schedule. The loco ran round immediately and coupled to the other end.

Harlech Castle arrived in the FR platform at 11:01 with brake van No.51 and the cherrypicker rake and ran round at 11:10 as the Woodland Wanderer departed. The works train departed at 11:31 but stopped halfway across The Cob probably to attend to some signal problem as the rain swept in. This is thought to be an interlocking issue between the Trident signal and the King point and may require the points to be manually operated and locked until fixed.

 

This easterly view (29/3/24) shows Harlech Castle on the cherrypicker rake while James Spooner waits to depart with the 11:10 Woodland Wanderer departure from the WHR platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

Having returned a little late into the WHR platform James Spooner ran to the yard to refuel and water at 13:55 with DLG approaching across The Cob. The Mountain Spirit arrived back in the FR platform at 14:06. A Fairlie swop occurred with James Spooner going on the 14:20 Mountain Spirit at14:15 which departed 3 minutes late while DLG re-fuelled and watered ready for the 14:50 afternoon Woodland Wanderer. The loco returned to the train at 14:41 and departed roughly on time. It was common practice last year to swop Fairlies mid-shift to even out staff duties and loco mileage. At 15:08 Upnor Castle propelled the cherrypicker rake into the station yard having taken over from Harlech Castle. By 15:30 the train was back out on The Cob maintaining signals. At 18:06 the ECS for the Mountain Spirit left the FR platform for the depot to close the day's activities.

 

NLHF Collecting Memories project

The NLHF interpretation of the F&WHR is entering a new phase by appealing for memories and images of key events in the history of the F&WHR. See the Interpretation and Boston Lodge project website. Local papers are carrying the story and pictures.

 

Caernarfon station 'Top Trumps' promotion

Britomart was at Caernarfon station on 29/3/24 and over the weekend to Bank Holiday Monday offering cab rides and to promote the launch of the F&WHR Top Trump cards. Click on the advert to enlarge. Copyright F&WHR.

 

During the Easter weekend (Saturday, 30/3/24 - Monday 1/4/24) there will be a whole host of activities taking place at ‘Y Stesion’ (aka Caernarfon station), between 09:00 - 17:00 every day, including:
 

There is even an opportunity to grab some complimentary Limited Edition extra Top Trumps cards whilst visiting!
The new F&WHR ‘Top Trumps’ edition will be available to buy in all F&WHR shops and online.
Entrance is free and the station houses both a large gift shop and Caffi de Winton, selling a range of freshly prepared snacks to eat in or take-away.

 

F&WHR 28/3/24

Thursday 28/3/24 was forecast to be a cold breezy day of sunny periods but showers later at Porthmadog with temperatures of 6-10C. There was a light dusting of snow on the Rhinogs for the second day above 300m. Thursday sees a repeat of Tuesday's service with three Porthmadog departures including two Mountain Spirit workings. There are two through WHR trains. The Quarryman runs again. Holiday makers are increasing in the area despite the chilling typical Easter weather as Easter Weekend approaches. The Tan-y-bwlch webcam was offline all day.

The first arrival by 09:45 was No.130 hauling the ECS for The Harbourmaster which was due to depart at 10:05 as James Spooner rolled in with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit. The Fairlie ran round by 10:25  and departed on time. No.143 arrived with the Snowdonia Star at 12:27. The loco detached and ran to the fuelling and watering point at 12:30 while some attention was given to the Service Car. Linda pulled in with The Quarryman at 13:03, some 13 minutes late, with demountable tender cab fitted in view of weather. At 13:06 the Garratt ran back to the depot and at 13:15 completed its run round shortly after Linda had completed its own run round. The Quarryman rake was then shunted to the yard to allow the returning Mountain Spirit access to the FR platform.

 

This easterly view (27/3/24) shows Linda with a canvas cab awning to protect footplate staff from the weather. The train eventually returned to Boston Lodge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

This easterly view (28/3/24) shows Linda with the demountable tender cab backsheet fitted to protect footplate staff from the weather. The loco briefly returned to Boston Lodge on Wednesday afternoon to have it fitted between duties. No.143 is running round after watering in the yard. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

Moel-yr-hydd was noted on the cherrypicker rake at 12:04 passing Minffordd  and heading east but the webcam went off line later. The second run of the Mountain Spirit departed by 14:25. No.130 was back a little early with the return working of The Harbourmaster and departed ECS for the depot at 16:28. With the rain showers in the afternoon the snow line retreated to about 400m on the Rhinogs. At 17:50 the Fairlie was running round the returned Mountain Spirit which departed ECS for the depot at 17:56 to close the day's activities.

 

This northerly view (28/3/24) shows No.143 shunting a 7 coach part of the ECS from the Carriage Shed at Dinas to form up the Snowdonia Star. There was early morning snow around the northern end of the WHR as well as the Rhinogs at Porthmadog. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Keith Holland and was taken on a iPhone camera.

 

This northerly view (28/3/24) shows No.143 shunting part of the ECS from the Carriage Shed at Dinas to form up the Snowdonia Star. There was early morning snow around the WHR as well as the Rhinogs at Porthmadog. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Keith Holland and was taken on a iPhone camera.

 

Easter weekend footplate rides confirmed

There will be footplate rides available on three different Hunslet locomotives during the Easter weekend. Two will be working at 'Y Stesion - The Station', Caernarfon and one at Harbour Station, Porthmadog. All three of these locos were built in the same factory in Leeds and worked for slate quarries in North Wales:
▪ Y Stesion, Caernarfon:

Friday 29/3/24
HUGH NAPIER & BRITOMART - 12:00-16:00 (after an ECS run from Porthmadog in the morning)
Saturday 30/3/24
HUGH NAPIER - 10:00-16:00
Sunday 31/3/24
HUGH NAPIER - 10:00-16:00
Monday 1/4/24
HUGH NAPIER - 10:00-16:00


▪Harbour Station, Porthmadog:
Saturday 30/3/24
LINDA - 10:00-16:00
Sunday 31/3/24
LINDA - 10:00-16:00
There is no need to pre-book and there is no charge, although donations are always welcome towards the cost of coal etc.

 

Snowline report

A website that started last year to give regular snow cover reports over winter has filled a much needed gap in the Meteorological Office's reports. However it has not been updated since 16/3/23 despite snow being visible on some of the mountains around Porthmadog. There are snowline reports back to 2000 on this website and links to various local on line weather stations. Snow definitely fell on the Rhinogs 27-28/3/24.

 

F&WHR 27/3/24

Wednesday 27/3/24 was forecast to be a cold breezy day of sunny periods and showers at Porthmadog with temperatures of 3-8C. Wednesday sees four Porthmadog departures with two Mountain Spirit workings and two The Aberglaslyn workings to Beddgelert. The Quarryman runs again and the Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon. Holiday makers are increasing in the area despite the chilling typical Easter weather for the school holidays take their two weeks break either side of Easter.

No.143 was on the 10:15 The Aberglaslyn working, the first of the new season, and James Spooner on the well loaded 10:40 Mountain Spirit which was noted departing a few minutes late and arriving at Minffordd at 10:53. The train arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:22 and it appeared some kind of trolley, maybe a buffet trolley, was removed from the middle of the train and taken to the rear along the platform. The train departed at 11:30 and was planned to cross The Quarryman at Tan-y-grisiau.

At 12:57 No.143 returned from Beddgelert while Linda arrived across The Cob on The Quarryman at 13:00. Given the weather Linda might have had its demountable tender cab fitted but instead a white sheet had been fitted to protect footplate staff. The loco is tabled at Glan-y-pwll but the tender cab is probably at Boston Lodge. At 13:05 the Garratt worked to the fuelling point. Linda ran round at 13:15 and departed on time. This was followed by the Garratt running round and departing at 13:41. No.143 was to be replaced by No.130 at Beddgelert in the afternoon. James Spooner arrived back on time in the FR platform at 13:56. and the loco soon detached to fuel and water. The train left 5 minutes late at 14:25.

Steam shunting was noted at Pen Cob Junction at 14:45, possibly Linda collecting the demountable tender cab. Linda departed at 15:25 on time with The Quarryman.

 

Dinas Carriage shed plans

The F&WHR Trust's  Diamond Jubilee Appeal is raising funds for an estimated £600,000 revamp of Dinas, the major part of which is for a new Carriage Shed in the bay area to ensure all coaching stock is stored under cover. Every pound donated will be matched by a pound from the F&WHR Trust so the target is £300,000.

The aim of the upgrade is to:

 

Three options were exhibited at SuperPower last year and Option 3 has now been chosen as the version that matches the future needs of the F&WHR at Dinas the best.

 

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

 

The new shed built in the bay platform provides through storage for a 10 coach WHR rake at expense of losing the little used bay platform. A shorter road on the east side of the Carriage Shed has enough space for a heritage set of NWNGR/WHR coaches (to be formed) or the summer dated The Cwellyn set. The shed also contains a covered servicing and catering stores as well as having room for 16 coaches.

Option 3 was chosen as it is the most cost effective, provides the largest amount of additional undercover storage and has no phasing issues as the current Carriage Shed can continue to be used until it is ready. The new shed eliminates the scarcely used bay platform and reduces views from the northbound platform across the yard which is little used except in special events and galas. The shed provides some protection from the weather for passengers on the adjacent platform. The new through line to the east of the station building reintroduces a historic feature and will require a fixed crossing point for safety even though tracks will be level with the gravel. It allows a rake to leave the shed in a southbound direction. There is even a headshunt siding to avoid shunting clashes with movements on the main line. To accommodate the new link, the existing south loop point will be moved north a short distance to allow for the new yard point. The shed will have a low pitched roof and be clad in wood so that it does not clash with the historic stone and slate Goods Shed and station building. For less than the cost of modifying the existing carriage shed, the railway gets a larger better shed and retains the original carriage shed for locos and other rolling stock.

Details of the shed are:

 

A comprehensive construction survey of the whole site is underway with detailed design work to follow, bearing in mind the proximity to the two remaining historical features. For example the low pitch of the roof compared to NWNGR/WHR structures gives less impact and will weigh less too. Phase 1 will be to install the new trackwork, possibly during the WMWP of 2024/5. This will allow normal operations to continue while the new shed in built. Phase 2 is the construction of the new shed which is expected to be completed later in 2025.

Ex BR Manager Dr John Prideaux is chairing the Dinas Steering Group and these plans have been developed over an extended period since 2017. The group's aim, as well as extending the life of the coaching stock by having it under cover, was to reduce the complicated (though interesting) shunts needed each day to prepare trains for service and to put them away at night. Using the bay platform means the shed will match the length of the 10 coach mega trains used these days with no need to split the set. The adjacent infrastructure yard can be developed with improved efficiency as trains can depart to the south without a shunt (the most likely direction for them to depart). 

 

F&WHR  26/3/24

Tuesday 26/3/24 was forecast to be a cloudy day at Porthmadog with temperatures of 6-10C. Tuesday sees a repeat of Saturday's train services with the two Mountain Spirit workings out of Porthmadog today and the two through trains on the WHR, The Harbourmaster and the Snowdonia Star. Holiday makers are likely to be in the area is greater numbers from today as next weekend is Easter Bank Holiday weekend and many school holidays take their two weeks break either side of Easter.

Linda came over The Cob light engine arriving in the WHR platform at 09:23 before shunting over t0 the FR platform at 09:26. This was probably to take The Quarryman rake ECS to Blaenau Ffestiniog for the 11:40 first working of the season. In previous years it is believed the rake may have been kept at Glan-y-pwll depot and the loco outstabled there returning to Boston Lodge at regular intervals for maintenance. A considerable number of people were on the platform at 09:30 ready for the 10:05 The Harbourmaster which was crossing The Cob ECS at 09:40 as Linda shunted the yard, departing with the ECS for The Quarryman at 09:47. James Spooner arrived in the FR platform at 10:20 with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit. As the Fairlie ran round Bill arrived light engine in the WHR platform to pick up a coffee before proceeding onto the WHR at 10:32. This loco seems to be returning to Dinas from its winter duty as Glan-y-pwll pilot. The Fairlie left on time and arrived at Minffordd at 10:50, continuing at 10:54 towards Tan-y-bwlch. The passing loops on the WHR are going to be busy today with two northbound trains.

Another departmental working turned up at 11:20 with Harlech Castle propelling the empty rail bolster wagon. The train set off towards Boston Lodge at 11:37. No.130 arrived from Caernarfon at 12:24 on the Snowdonia Star probably passing Bill at Beddgelert The loco uncoupled and ran to the yard to coal and water a few minutes later. The loco ran round just after 13:00. The Quarryman had arrived on time and was shunted to the yard at about 12:20 to clear the FR platform for the returning Mountain Spirit.

 

This easterly view (23/3/24) shows Harlech Castle with the rail carrying bolster wagon. The train eventually returned to Boston Lodge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

James Spooner returned at 13:55 and uncoupled to coal and water. No.130 departed a few minutes late at 14:08 on the return Snowdonia Star. The Fairlie ran round at 14:18 and the train departed a few minutes late at 14:23. The return working of The Quarryman was then signalled to shunt back to the FR platform for the 15:25 departure. At 14:40 Linda shunted the rake back to the platform ready for the return The Quarryman. At 16:31 No.143 arrived back with the returning The Harbourmaster. The ECS departed for the depot at 16:46.

 

This northerly view (26/3/24) shows Caernarfon Castle shunting the ECS from the Carriage Shed at Dinas to extract the Combination Car. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Keith Holland and was taken on a iPhone camera.

 

This southerly view (26/3/24) shows Caernarfon Castle shunting the Combination Car to the workshop at Dinas. This stop-go project has made little progress in the last few years. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Keith Holland and was taken on a iPhone camera.

 

KS4415 update 25/3/24

Keen followers of KS4415 might remember that in August 2021 the group sent the spare McLaren-Benz engine off for a 12 week job. Well, 12 weeks have finally passed, and in March 2024 it found its way back to the group! Welcome home MDB4, a little later than expected!
The first thing the volunteers did was take it apart. The new bearings have been removed from their housings so volunteers could clean out all the oilways. This was well worth doing, because aside from nearly 100 years of general grime, there was also a lot of swarf from the machining operations that have been carried out. Volunteers then refitted the oil pump and used it to pump kerosene through the engine to prove everything was clear.
Lastly, after getting all the bits out that have not been looked at for years it was realised that the engine was missing the arm for the fan belt tensioner pulley. Amazingly one was found on the 1945 McLaren MR4 that was in KS4415 when it came back from Mauritius. This was very pleasing, as up until now that engine has been utterly useless; despite looking like it could have been a useful source of spare parts. At least there will be one of it part that makes it onto the restored loco.

For images see KS4415 page.

 

F&WHR 25/3/24

Monday 25/3/24 was forecast to be a cloudy day at Porthmadog with temperatures of 7-10C. Monday sees a repeat of Sunday's train services with just the two Mountain Spirit workings out of Porthmadog today and one Gelert Explorer between Caernarfon and Beddgelert. Holiday makers are likely to arrive is greater numbers from today as next weekend is Easter Bank Holiday weekend and many school holidays take their two weeks break either side of Easter.

Steam was being raised at 09:55 and at 10:13 James Spooner arrived in the FR platform with the ECS for the first of two Mountain Spirit trains due to depart at 10:40. The loco ran round at 10:20 and the train departed on time at 10:40 and arrived at Minffordd at 10:50 with its 10 coach rake. Departure came at 10:58 after collecting the token and The train arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:25 with a fairly light loading and departed at 11:37 having built up lateness at both stops. The train was noted departing Minffordd during its return at 13:50 some 10 minutes late and arrived at Porthmadog at 14:01, just 6 minutes late. The afternoon Mountain Spirit departed 10 minutes late at 14:30. The train arrived in Tan-y-bwlch at 15:13 and departed at 15:21, some 21 minutes late. At the end of the day, the ECS departed Porthmadog in drizzle at 18:03 to close the day's activities.

 

Ricky & Sue visit FR screening 2/4/24
The first episode of new three-part series Ricky & Sue and a Trip or two streamed 19/3/24- if you missed it, you can still 'catch up' with the episode on More4 TV channel.
Actors Ricky Tomlinson and Sue Johnston are celebrating four decades on screen together in an all-new More4 series visiting landmark places from their lives and the special destinations the pair have always wanted to see together.
Episode 1 - 19/3/24
In Liverpool, Ricky and Sue visit Brookside Close, where they first starred on-screen together, the Cavern Club, where Sue recalls her friendship with Paul McCartney, and experience Bongo's Bingo
Episode 2 - 21:00 Tuesday, 26/3/24
Ricky & Sue visit the Midlands...
Episode 3 - 21:00 Tuesday, 2/4/24
Ricky & Sue visit North Wales - and take a train ride on the Ffestiniog Railway's Woodland Wanderer service...
You can see the official Press Release with a viewing link by clicking on this link https://www.channel4.com/.../ricky-tomlinson-and-sue...

 

Short video of first train of season 23/3/24

Click on the Facebook link to see a short video clip of James Spooner with the first train of the season departing Tan-y-bwlch by Alex Spring (F&WHR). The siding at Tan-y-bwlch now contains the large water tank wagon used to assist fire fighting in the forest in the case of hot dry spells in the summer.

 

F&WHR 24/3/24

Sunday 24/3/24 was forecast to be a day of sunny periods with temperatures of 6-10C at Porthmadog. There are just the two Mountain Spirit workings out of Porthmadog today with one Gelert Explorer between Caernarfon and Beddgelert. Early steam was being raised and shunting at Boston Lodge preparing the ECS rake. At 10:20 James Spooner was already in the FR platform with the first of two Mountain Spirit trains due to depart at 10:40. The train departed at 10:43 and arrived at Minffordd at 10:52 with its 10 coach rake. It was on its way two minutes later after collecting the token and arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:21 with a fairly light loading. No.130 was noted on the Beddgelert Explorer out of Caernarfon today after yesterday's problem substitution, said to be caused by a leaking boiler washout plug.

The Mountain Spirit was back at Tan-y-bwlch at 13:16 and departed for Porthmadog at 13:19 where it arrived by 14:00 ready for the afternoon working. The loco was fuelled and watered and then ran round at 14:18. The train departed a few minutes late at 14:23. Returning from Blaenau Ffestiniog the train was noted passing Minffordd at 17:46, some 26 minutes late and arrived at Porthmadog at 17:54, still 19 minutes late. Run round came at 18:13 and the ECS departed for the depot to close the day's activities at 18:18.

 

F&WHR Monopoly

A Snowdonia Edition of Monopoly has been produced and was launched at Portmerion on 21/3/24. The new edition is on sale in the F&WHR shop at £34.99 and features Snowdonia/Eryri landmarks but surprisingly none of the F&WHR stations are included although the railway features on the box. It would be interesting to know which four Snowdonia stations replace the London Termini. One of the new penalty cards could be 'You have been caught exceeding the 20mph speed limit'! There must be 3 or 4 castles in the Snowdonia area that feature on the new game board. The classic counters have been replaced and Welsh themed counters including a dragon and a train carriage. See F&WHR story.

 

Loco roster w/c 23/3/24
To get the 2024 season underway, there will be eight steam locos in action on the F&WHR this coming week.
On the Ffestiniog Railway: James Spooner, David Lloyd George and Linda will be working the passenger services - with Blanche making an appearance on Saturday on an evening Staff Special.
James Spooner will be busy working two trains every day on the Mountain Spirit.
David Lloyd George will make its first appearance of the season on Good Friday.
Linda will be hauling The Quarryman trains starting from Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Blanche will heading a Private Train on Saturday evening 23/3/24.
Services on the Welsh Highland Railway will be covered by NG/G16s Nos.130/143.
No.130 will start the week working from Caernarfon.
No.143 will start the week working from Porthmadog.
• On Wednesday the two locos will swap trains at Beddgelert and work from the other end of the railway for the rest of the week
Hugh Napier and Britomart will steam from Porthmadog to Caernarfon on Friday morning 29/3/24, and then provide footplate rides in the afternoon and over the whole Bank Holiday weekend, returning after completing the Easter Monday duty..
--------------------------------------------------
NOTE: This information is provided in good faith, solely as a guide, but could be subject to change at any time.

 

F&WHR 23/3/24

Saturday 23/3/24 was forecast to be a day of showers and sunny periods with temperatures of 6-9C at Porthmadog. With the new season starting today and some school's starting Easter Holidays there were people about on the platform early. Early steam was being raised and shunting at Boston Lodge preparing the ECS rakes. Three departures were due today with ECS trains likely to arrive about half an hour before departure. First up was The Harbourmaster due to depart 10:05 followed by the first of two Mountain Spirit trains due to depart at 10:40. The Snowdon Star was due to arrive at 12:25 and the second Mountain Spirit depart at 14:20.

Large numbers of people had crowded onto the platform by 09.55 and surprisingly the ECS for the WHR service had not left Boston Lodge leaving them standing in the cold windy weather. The ECS eventually arrived behind No.143 at departure time 10:05 and departed 7 minutes late while the ECS for the FR service approached across The Cob. The ECS Mountain Spirit arrived in the FR platform at 10:15 and ran round by 10:30 and departed on time. A large group of sightseers watched the train depart. The train arrived at Minffordd at 10:51 with Observation Car No.152 Eryri Snowdonia on the rear, departing 2 minutes later.

 

This easterly view (23/3/24) shows No.143 on The Harbourmaster, the first train of the new season. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

This easterly view (23/3/24) shows James Spooner arriving with the ECS for the  Mountain Spirit, the first FR train of the new season. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

Caernarfon Castle arrived on the Snowdonia Star at 12:57, over half an hour late, having probably substituted for the rostered No.130 for all or part of the journey after a boiler wash out plug was said to have leaked. Some of the lateness might be a reaction to late running by The Harbourmaster. The loco ran round at 13:15 and departed at 14:07, almost on time, just after the Fairlie returned. No.143 returned on time with The Harbourmaster by 16:30 and set off ECS for the depot at 16:43 while Blanche was shunting light engine in the yard. See Friends of F&WHR Facebook page for further images of Caernarfon Castle's journey on 23/3/24.

 

This easterly view (23/3/24) shows Caernarfon Castle on the Snowdonia Star, running round at Porthmadog. Despite a half hour late arrival due to a late substitution for No.130 no doubt, the return working managed to leave on time. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

Blanche shunted a 7 coach rake into the WHR platform with Observation Car No.100 on the rear, presumably from the yard. This is believed to be The Quarryman rake that has not yet moved to outstable at Glan-y-pwll. James Spooner was back at 16:50 in the FR platform with the second Mountain Spirit and run round came 5 minutes later. The ECS set off at 18:00. Blanche set off with the Staff Special (no doubt a thank you from management for their hard work in preparing the railway for the new season) at 18:17 as sunset illuminated the Rhinogs in flaming red. It passed through Minffordd at 18:28 heading for Tan-y-bwlch where it arrived at 19:11 where staff visited the cafe. The train departed at 20:58 on its return journey arriving back in Porthmadog at 21:50. Blanche ran round at 21:55 and the ECS departed for the depot at 22:00 to close a busy day's activities.

 

Spooners and Tan-y-bwlch tea room change opening hours

Spooners bar extended their hours with the start of the new season - with evening meals now available every day of the week. The revised details are listed below...
CAFÉ:
Open daily 09:00-16:00
for drinks, sandwiches, cakes etc.
BREAKFAST MENU
09:00-11:30
LIGHT BITES & EVENING MEALS
12:00-21:00 - Monday to Saturday
15:00-21:00 - Sunday
SUNDAY CARVERY
12:00-15:00
BAR:
Open daily from 12:00
12:00-22:00 - Monday to Thursday
12:00-23:00 - Friday and Saturday
12:00-22:30 - Sunday

The Tan-y-bwlch tearoom is also changing its opening ours from the start of the new season. Come and enjoy a tasty treat and refreshing drink at the Tea Room at Tan-y-Bwlch Station. You can arrive by train, by road or on foot - there's a welcome for all. The basic hours will be from 10:00-16:00 every day, with hot food available from 10:30-14:30. However, these times will be extended on days when the Woodland Wanderer or The Victorian trains are running to Tan-y-Bwlch. The tea room will stay open until 16:30, with hot food available until 15:30, so staff can more easily serve passengers arriving on those trains.

 

F&WHR 22/3/24

Friday 22/3/24 was forecast to be a day of sunny periods with temperatures of 5-10C at Porthmadog and showers later. With the new season starting tomorrow there was an expectation of some steam testing as neither Merddin Emrys nor Linda has been noted on test yet and the Mountain Spirit is booked to run twice on Saturday. While no trains were noted at Porthmadog or Tan-y-bwlch at 09:45, staff were present checking the signalbox at Porthmadog at 10:00 as a signaller may be on duty all day starting tomorrow. The drooping WHR platform starter seems to have been fixed.

Harlech Castle propelled the FR Mess Car No.1111 into the WHR platform at 11:17 for filling with water from the platform watering point. Other staff were greasing the pointwork in preparation for the resumption of services tomorrow. The train left at. 12:05 for Boston Lodge. No other movements were noted.

 

Moving Pictures No.90 22/3/24

Click on the YouTube link to watch 29 minutes 50 seconds of video showing shuttles to Boston Lodge for the NLHF Open Days, a report from the Coach Works and Velinheli's steam test. This video is copyright F&WHR and was published on 22/3/24. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod on a 4K camcorder by John Wooden (F&WHR).

 

Alco Mountaineer news

Aside from are usual working party reports, there is some exciting news that the boiler is now off Mountaineer. It has also been shot blasted ready for further testing and inspections. Dylan Ham and his team have very kindly carried out this lifting operation for the team. They also arranged for the shot blasting to be carried out by E Jones, Sandblasting and Spraying services, saving the team hours of work. This is another big step in returning Mountaineer to steam.
Click here to see Jay and Dylan's photos.

There are many ways to support the project and get involved.
Please find the Mountaineer Appeal page on the Ffestiniog Railway society web site.
https://www.ffestiniograilway.org.uk/.../mountaineer-appeal
The Mountaineer Group has its own website, where they have a selection of items for you to purchase to support the project.
https://www.alco1265.org.uk/
Finally if you would like to get involved please contact pbooth@ffwhr.com for more information on how you can do this.

 

F&WHR 21/3/24

Thursday 21/3/24 was forecast to be an overcast day with temperatures of 7-10C at Porthmadog. Steam was being raised at 09:45 at Boston Lodge and it appeared the Tan-y-bwlch PW duty has been withdrawn. With the new season starting in just 2 days there was an expectation of some steam testing as neither Merddin Emrys nor the Penrhyn Ladies has been noted on test yet and The Harbourmaster is booked to run on Saturday and there has been no sign of the Boston Lodge Garratt (No.87?). It could arrive light engine from Dinas on Thursday/Friday. Steam shunting in the new Carriage Shed was noted at 10:15.

The train came over The Cob at 10:40, stopping at the king point to uncouple a second portion. James Spooner pulled into the FR platform with the three coach test rake and Vale of Ffestiniog arrived in the WHR platform at 10:44 with a long 9 coach rake (possibly The Harbourmaster rake) with  a buffet car at the front and No.2060 and an open coach at the rear(No.2021 or 2022). The train set off for Dinas at 10:47 while James Spooner ran round the rake in the FR platform. The Fairlie left at 10:53 with the three coach rake (Nos.21/10/11), possibly another Boston Lodge Tour Group, but did not progress to Minffordd. Further steam shunting was noted at Boston Lodge a t 11:05.

At 11:25 blue Hunslet Mines diesel Moel-y-hydd emerged from Minffordd Yard light engine and at 11:30 reversed towards Boston Lodge. At 12:45 a steam train was noted reversing its rake in the area of old Loco Shed sidings. At the same staff were giving Tan-y-bwlch platform benches a good pre-season clean. At 13:00 the short rake departed Boston Lodge Halt and headed back to Porthmadog, possibly with another Boston Lodge Tour Group. James Spooner arrived back in the FR platform at 13:05 with the short 3 coach rake.

 

.

This westerly view (21/3/24) shows Moel-y-hydd shunting out of Minffordd Yard and continuing towards Boston Lodge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

Blanche arrived from the WHR at 13:19 with a 5 coach mixed train with a cherrypicker and Mess Car No.111, returning from trackside clearance duties, on the rear. This was probably a working from Dinas which had passed Vale of Ffestiniog's ECS at Rhyd Ddu. At 13:30 the Fairlie ran round but attached to the front of Blanche. At 13:45 Blanche reversed its train into the FR platform with the Fairlie double heading and the short 3 coach rake was coupled to the rear. The assemblage departed at 13:49 for Boston Lodge. At 14:25 green liveried Garratt No.143 arrived in the WHR platform from Boston Lodge and gave a cab ride to a party of 5 along the length of the platform. This must have arrived recently as it was noted on steam test at Dinas on 15/3/24. Others then had a cab ride up and down the platform as there seemed to be a number of families visiting the platform on this windy afternoon. The loco departed for Boston Lodge at 14:52.

 

This easterly view (21/3/24) shows No.143 giving cab rides in the WHR platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

Harlech Castle arrived in the WHR platform with the WHR Mess Car No.111 at 15:25 from The Cob and ran round 5 minutes later and departed for the depot at 15:37. With the return of Blanche from Dinas it seems only Linda and Merddin Emrys remain to be tested as of the end of the day on Thursday. Vale of Ffestiniog returned light engine from Dinas at 16:55 into the WHR platform and arrived at Boston Lodge at 17:00 to close the day's activities

 

FR Coach No.20

Glenn Williams, Carriage Works Supervisor reports:
Introducing Gloucester 'Bowsider' No.20, in roughly late 1950s condition - fresh from the paint shop.
This carriage has really been a team effort with almost every member of the team doing something on it.
▪ New window mouldings and drop lights.
▪ Rebuilt balconies, with wood replacing steel chequer plate.
▪ Cill and door rot removed and new teak timber grafted in.
▪ New carpet in the First Class compartments.
▪ All the door interiors changed from 1990s varnished wood to a painted finish, matching the rest of the interior.
▪ A full repaint into 1950s green and ivory livery - to run alongside Vans Nos.11 & 12, Carriages Nos.17, 21 & 38 to help celebrate 70 years of the FR Society and the first trains to run under the new management.
▪ We have even added the slip boards so prominent in those 1950s pictures.
Look out for it in the 'Woodland Wanderer' set - we're sure it will be very popular with enthusiasts and the general public alike!

 

For images see F&WHR Facebook page.

 

F&WHR 20/3/24

Wednesday 20/3/24 was forecast to be a rainy overcast day at first with temperatures of 5-11C at Porthmadog but brighter later. The Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were out of action again in the morning, for the second day. Steam tests for the new season might be expected with Merddin Emrys, Blanche and Linda and the Boston Lodge based Garratt. Lyd, James Spooner and David Lloyd George have already been tested at Porthmadog and No.143 at Dinas. No trains were observed at Porthmadog at 09:30. With the new season starting in just 3 days one might have thought there would be more activity anticipating the four passenger trains booked to run on Saturday 23/3/24, the two Mountain Spirit workings, The Harbourmaster and the Snowdonia Star. If the Garratt for The Harbourmaster is not yet at Porthmadog, a light engine positioning move must take place by Friday in anticipation of the start of the new season on Saturday.

The sun came out in the late afternoon and access to the Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch webcams was restored but it did not appear that there were any movements. A surprisingly large number of people walked on the platform looking for trains and photographing rolling stock suggesting that the F&WHR could have started the 2024 season a little earlier. PW staff were still present at Tan-y-bwlch at 17:00.

 

Busy Easter events

The F&WHR has a busy Easter ahead. In addition to the train services, there will be footplate rides on a number of Quarry Hunslet locomotives at Caernarfon and Porthmadog - plus the launch of the F&WHR's very own set of 'Top Trumps' collectors cards, with games and activities at Caernarfon. There will certainly be fun for all the family. Visitors can find out more about the Easter activities over the weekend of 29/3/24-1/4/24 on the F&WHR website : festrail.co.uk/easter.

Caernarfon footplate rides:
29/3/24 –             12:00-16:00 – HUGH NAPIER & BRITOMART
30/3/24-1/4/24 –  10:00-16:00 – HUGH NAPIER
Porthmadog footplate rides:
30/3/24                10:00-16:00 – LILLA
31/3/24 –             10:00-16:00 – LILLA


The F&WHR are also looking further forward. This year will see the start of our Guided Tours of Boston Lodge Works - looking 'behind the scenes' and discovering some of the fascinating stories about the historic railway. Details will be added to the F&WHR website as soon as they are finalised. Don't forget - if you want to check what trains are going to be running on a specific date, check the online calendar at festrail.co.uk/calendar.

 

F&WHR 19/3/24

Tuesday 19/3/24 was forecast to be a day of sunny periods with temperatures of 9-11C at Porthmadog. The Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were out of action in the morning. Steam tests for the new season might be expected with Merddin Emrys, Blanche and Linda. At 09:30 a PW train came slowly across The Cob with Harlech Castle propelling a DZ wagon with ballast and the FR Mess Coach No.1111 and waited for clearance in the WHR platform. This may have been in association with the spot PW work from the last few days which saw 4 rails and sleepers taken towards the Aberglaslyn Pass by a small PW train. The train departed for the WHR at 09:42.

Vale of Ffestiniog emerged from Boston Lodge in the afternoon and was noted at Pen Cob Junction at 13:50 before shunting back into the depot. This may have been connected with the ECS movement noted below. The Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were off line all day and as a result some interesting movements were missed. Vale of Ffestiniog brought a mixed rake including the Curly Roofed van and some four wheelers down through Minffordd loop and Bill, recently stabled at Glan-y-pwll, hauled two empty B wagons normally used for coal deliveries through the loop later, possibly entering Minffordd Yard for refilling.

At 16:50 Lyd arrived in the FR platform at Porthmadog light engine. The loco moved out to the king point at 17:15 and staff rejoined the loco which then ran into the WHR platform. After receiving some attention to the lubrication of its motion the loco departed at 17:29 for Boston Lodge to close the day's activities.

 

Infrastructure WMWP complete

With the new season's trains just day's away the final touches are being completed with the WMWP. Here is a list of what has been achieved:
Toilets refurbished at Beddgelert
Harbour station gents toilet refurbished and level access created
Blaenau Platform re-constructed
Spooner's kitchen re-floored
Topsy electrical distribution board replaced in Spooners
Tan-y-bwlch cafe required some work
Micro ETS installed Rhyd Ddu to Waunfawr
Second token machine re-instated at Boston Lodge
New cable from Tunnel North to Minffordd to improve ETS reliability on FR
Tan-y-bwlch water tower refurbished and roofed
600m of track relayed on FR in the Whistling Curve to Hafod-y-llyn and crossing Bothy area
Track laid inside and the fan outside the new Small Loco Shed
All company Personal Computers upgraded
New internal phone system based on MS Teams introduced and commissioned
With cooperation of the F&WHR's neighbouring land owners around 20km of Lineside clearance has taken place
Boston Lodge toll gate steps re built
Oh and staff had two weeks off for Christmas!
Every weekend since November has seen volunteers working on the infrastructure and without this help none of the above could be achieved.
Finally despite having a fairly hefty programme of work to ensure the F&WHR has locos and carriages for the season Boston Lodge built a tool van for Lineside team.
Thanks everyone!

 

This easterly view (18?/3/24) shows the completed fan of sidings for the Small Loco Shed. Work by the ROWG and White Rose Group over two weekends in March has almost completed the job with a little ballasting and tamping still to complete. The track to the left with the ballast wagon will lead to the new Garratt Shed incorporating a suitable sized pit for maintenance of the Boston Lodge allocated Garratt. The WHRS is funding this single road shed project. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera.

 

This westerly view (18/3/24) shows the completed new Tool Van, resembling a GWR Toad Brake Van from this perspective. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera.

 

F&WHR 18/3/24

Monday 18/3/24 was forecast to be a cloudy day with temperatures of 10-11C at Porthmadog. There were no trains visible at 08:15 at Tan-y-bwlch or Porthmadog. Steam test for the new season might be expected with Merddin Emrys, Blanche and Linda. Vale of Ffestiniog was shunting outside the Carriage Shed at 08:30.

Upnor Castle turned up in the WHR platform by 09:25 propelling the FR Mess coach No.1111. The train departed up the WHR by 09:44.

 

Dinas steam tests 15/3/23

Up at Dinas No.143 received a steam test on 15/3/23.

 

WHR on TV

The new season is nearly here as final preparations are made for the official ‘first day’ back this Saturday, 23/3/24. The services for the opening Saturday will include the Snowdonia Star, departing from Caernarfon Station, a location which featured on the popular S4C programme; ‘Am Dro’ last month. This popular Welsh language programme sees 4 contestants battle it out to have their favourite Welsh walking trail immortalised in the S4C walk of fame, with a cash prize for the winner. The WHR featured on an episode, aired on the 25/2/24, where Carys (a former FWHR Buffet Steward) lead the other 3 contestants on a walk around Caernarfon and the Foryd (the road around the shore of the tidal inlet west of Caernarfon Harbour), which included a special train journey to kick things off.

So why not come and visit the WHR for your own special train journey at Caernarfon, Porthmadog or Blaenau Ffestiniog this year?
The countdown to the reopening continues!

 

Mainline news

On Thursday 14/3/24 Freightliner 66605 hauled 6Y63, the Crewe Basford Hall-Crewe Basford Hall, a short ballast train running east along the North Wales Coast back from Holyhead with 66540 on the rear. There did not appear to be an Aberystwyth log train on Friday 15/3/24 or Saturday 16/3/24. On Sunday 17/3/24 the Padeswood Cement train ran with GBRf 66737 Lesia hauling the heavy rake over Buckley summit to Avonmouth.

 

F&WHR 17/3/24

Sunday 17/3/24 was forecast to be an overcast day with temperatures of 8-11C at Porthmadog. There were no trains visible at 09:15 at Tan-y-bwlch or Porthmadog and it appeared the Tan-y-bwlch PW duty had been withdrawn for the weekend. Over the last three days Lyd and James Spooner and David Lloyd George have been steam tested on test trains or Boston Lodge Halt NLHF shuttles so Merddin Emrys, Blanche and Linda might be expected out on test before the new season starts on 23/3/24. Later in the season, Welsh Pony might be repaired and Taliesin might appear after its 10 year boiler refurbishment. Palmerston is away at Aberystwyth so will not reappear until October. Prince is unlikely to appear this year as work has not yet started on its 10 year overhaul. On the WHR, the NG15 No.134 Kalahari might appear in the Autumn in addition to the usual 3 Garratts.

Steam was raised at Boston Lodge at 14:00 and a loco was noted shunting in the works several times in front of the Erecting Shop on test. This may have been Quarry Hunslet Velinheli which was completed over the weekend. The formal steam test will be on Friday 22/3/24.

 

Russell steam test 16/3/24

This northerly view (16/3/24) shows Gelert and Russell passing their steam test before the start of the new season at Gelert Farm depot. It is the final full year of Russell's boiler certificate. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Andrew Goodwin WHHR and was taken on a phone camera.

 

With Russell due its 10 year boiler exam in 18 months, a prompt return of No.590 from the VoR is essential if there is to be any chance of the two locos operating side by side in events later this year on the WHHR or shared events such as SuperPower or Bygones. There was considerable disappointment at last year's WHR 100 Celebrations when No.590 was a last minute 'no-show', especially after the extensive WHHR test running campaign in the weeks before.

 

These westerly views (16/3/24) shows Hunslet Mines diesel Emma (very similar to the F&WHR's S&T loco Moel-y-hydd) at Gelert's Farm depot. On the left the loco can be seen with components removed for winter maintenance and on the right the engine and gearbox have been re-fitted. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Andrew Goodwin WHHR and was taken on a phone camera.

 

NLHF Boston Lodge Visit report 15-16/3/24

James Waite reports: The runs with double Fairlie James Spooner and the three green and cream coaches (Nos.21, 10 and 11) were to take us participants in the NLHF Boston Lodge Open Days from Harbour Station to Boston Lodge Halt. I was on the morning visit. The visit was interesting and the amount of structural work being done on the old buildings was impressive - and the guides were helpful and informative. Downsides were that we were not allowed to set foot in either the Erecting Shop or the Carriage Shop which caused a lot of disappointment. A Workshops Visit which does not involve visiting the workshops clearly lacks something!

I was particularly hoping that the shed containing Chinese C2 loco project's Dahuichang No.4 might be opened up but this also was not on offer and I had to make do with the photo of its old redundant parts outside! The sun shone briefly in the afternoon, providing my first sight of James Spooner when it was not pouring with rain!

 

This westerly view (16/3/24) shows James Spooner preparing to shunt a 10 coach rake. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright James Waite and was taken on a digital camera.

 

This easterly view (16/3/24) shows James Spooner shunting the yard at Porthmadog Harbour station. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright James Waite and was taken on a digital camera.

 

This westerly view (16/3/24) shows coaching stock in the yard at Porthmadog Harbour station as viewed from the Premier Inn where you can specify a room overlooking the station. The short green rake in the platform was used for the Boston Lodge Halt NLHF Open Day shuttle. James Spooner can be seen at the watering point. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright James Waite and was taken on a digital camera.

 

More about new Wrexham - Euston service

Further details about the new Wrexham-Euston service via Wolverhampton and Walsall have emerged with the Government sounding supportive. The Daily Post has a story about the new service which is due to launch next year, five times a day. See Daily Post story.

 

F&WHR 16/3/24

Saturday 16/3/24 was forecast to be a day of showers and temperatures of 10-11C at Porthmadog. There were no trains visible at 08:30 at Tan-y-bwlch or Porthmadog and the Tan-y-bwlch PW duty had been withdrawn for the weekend. Over the last two days Lyd and James Spooner have been steam tested on test trains so Merddin Emrys, David Lloyd George, Blanche and Linda might be expected out on test before the new season starts on 23/3/24. Later in the season, Welsh Pony might be repaired and Taliesin might appear after its 10 year refurbishment. Palmerston is away at Aberystwyth so will not reappear until October. Prince is unlikely to appear this year as work has not yet started on its 10 year overhaul. On the WHR, the NG15 might appear in the Autumn in addition to the usual 3 Garratts.

Steam was being raised at Boston Lodge and shunting was noted at 10:00. David Lloyd George arrived at 10:14 with a very mixed 10 coach rake containing parts of the Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman rake. The loco ran round 5 minutes later. After some shunting the double Fairlie took the 3 coaches from the Woodland Wanderer set Nos.21/10/11, back towards Minffordd, arriving at 10:56. The train was noted during its return, re-starting from Boston Lodge Halt at 12:45, arriving back in the FR platform at Porthmadog at 12:50 and returning to the depot at 12:53 light. This was the second day of NLHF visits to Boston Lodge but this time with David Lloyd George for haulage!

The loco returned with coach No.23 and the WHR water carrier wagon in Harbour Station carriage sidings at 13:13. The loco was shunting the seawall siding 15 minutes later and was signalled for departure by 14:00. David Lloyd George departed hauling the 3 coach rake at 14:05 towards Minffordd and arriving there at 14:15.

 

This westerly view (16/3/24) shows David Lloyd George arriving at Minffordd with the 3 coach NLHF special train for the second time that day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

The loco ran round at Minffordd at 14:31 and departed back towards Porthmadog at 14:35, arriving at Boston Lodge Halt at 14:41. At 16:36 the Fairlie was back in the station shunting coach No.23 in the FR platform onto the 3 coach test train. This departed at 16:44 towards Boston Lodge to close the day's activities.

 

Carriage Works Update 16/3/24

Glenn Williams, Carriage Works Supervisor reports:
As we enter the last week before services start, it’s all go in the carriage works. Recent departures from the paint shops include Service Carr. No.2011, on which Allison trialled a new manufacturer's paint. The carriage now looks very smart in the set.
Allison next tackled Carr.No.2043, which has received a new end and new roof covering, as well as a host of other jobs, before a full repaint and also now looks great. This one will be back next year for an internal upgrade. Sarah has done a couple of quick touch-up and varnish jobs on Carr. No.2047 and Carnforth Carr. No.113 - again, both now very smart.
The Tal-y-llyn carriage has made good progress and is all but ready for the paint shop thanks to our volunteers. It should be in the painting area late next week and it now sports the customary picture on a window - Pac-Man this time.
WHR Pullman Car No.2115
Bodysgallen makes progress, with the end plastic floors installed, new sliding windows in place, ceiling painted and new walnut panelling being cut and fitted.
Bowsider No.17 has been sanded down and issues with the doors attended to, as well as a little cill rot being dealt with. The carriage is now in 17 Road paint shop and should start receiving paint next week. While Bowsider No.20 is almost complete in 16 Road paint shop, having received new balcony woodwork, window mouldings, attention to the doors and again cill rot. Meanwhile, Lee has been sorting various faults and doing a number of fitness to run and door lock inspections.
Finally, today we start to say 'good bye' to our winter staff, with Phil leaving today and Eurig mid-week next week. Thank you to both of them for their hard work this winter. Both had a supervised go at shunting today, to get Carr. No.17 into the right place, as a 'thank you'.

For images see Facebook Festrail page.

 

F&WHR 15/3/24

Friday 15/3/24 was forecast to be an improving day with murky conditions at first and temperatures of 3-10C at Porthmadog. There were no trains visible at 09:20 at Tan-y-bwlch but PW staff were present. At 09:20 Upnor Castle arrived at the king point at Porthmadog propelling the FR Mess Car No.1111 before advancing to the WHR at 09:25. At 09:30 the train set off up the WHR platform before advancing onto the WHR. A rake of coaches was still present in the yard at Harbour Station from the previous day's shunt with Lyd.

 

This easterly view (15/3/24) shows Upnor Castle propelling the FR Mess coach No.1111 through the WHR platform at Porthmadog for some PW on the WHR. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

At 10:04 James Spooner arrived in the FR platform with the 3 coach rake used yesterday for the Lyd test run (coaches Nos. 21, 10 and 11). The double Fairlie ran round at 10:15. The train set off at 10:33 towards Minffordd with much condensation in the damp air and passed through at 10:46. The loco ran round there at 10:56 and departed for Porthmadog at 11:04 but after a substantial time in section between Minffordd and Boston Lodge Halt the train arrived back in the FR platform at 12:37. The loco ran round 5 minutes later and shunted the yard to collect the FR's tank wagon and shunt this to the watering point. The stops at Boston Lodge Halt were in association with the NLHF Open Day visits to Boston Lodge.

 

This westerly view (15/3/24) shows James Spooner running round  at Minffordd. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

Upnor Castle arrived back in the WHR platform from its PW job on the WHR towards Beddgelert at 13:19 and, after a very brief stop, crossed The Cob a minute later arriving at Minffordd wrong line at 13:30 and reversing into the yard at 13:32. Meanwhile shunting was completed in Harbour Station by 13:50 and James Spooner was signalled for departure. The train finally departed at 14:03 with its three coach train heading for Minffordd again where it arrived at 14:16 carrying what appeared to be a wreath of flowers.

AT 14:36 Harlech Castle arrived at Tan-y-bwlch from the east in the Down line at 14:35. A steam loco was noted going on shed at Boston Lodge at 14:40 (probably James Spooner) while the sun was out at Porthmadog. Harlech Castle and its single BZ wagon train continued to the west at 14:41. Harlech Castle eventually entered Minffordd Yard at 15:25 to close the day's PW activities.

James Spooner was back in Porthmadog at 15:28 coupling up to coaches left in the yard for the last few days. The 10 car train departed at 15:31 with Service Car and Observation Car on the rear. The loco then turned up light engine at Minffordd still carrying the wreath and collected the three coach rake left there earlier at 16:00. The train paused at Boston Lodge Halt departing at 16:10 and arriving at Porthmadog in the FR platform at 16:16. The departure was signalled by 16:30 and left at 16:44 without running round, a long propel movement across The Cob to the depot!

 

This easterly view (15/3/24) shows James Spooner propelling the three coach rake out of the FR platform at Porthmadog back to Boston Lodge at the end of a busy day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

No.143 steam test

Garratt No.143 received a satisfactory steam test on Thursday 14/3/24 prior to its planned use on Snowdonia Star services which recommence on 23/3/24.

 

F&WHR 14/3/24

Thursday 14/3/24 was forecast to be a day of heavy rain with temperatures of 10-11C at Porthmadog. There were no trains visible at 09:40 at Tan-y-bwlch but PW staff may have been present. At 09:40 a mixed rake was noted in the FR platform at Porthmadog with the WHR Water Wagon No.2003 on the rear of an Open Carriage and the Romanian Carriage No.2060.

Vale of Ffestiniog came over The Cob at 10:30 propelling a flat bolster wagon carrying 4 rails and several sleepers and stopped in the WHR platform. The train departed at 10:42 for the WHR.

 

This easterly view (14/3/24) shows Vale of Ffestiniog propelling a rail bolster wagon through the WHR platform at Porthmadog for some spot re-sleepering and rail replacement on the WHR. Meanwhile a mixed rake with the WHR water tank wagon stands in the FR platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

This easterly view (14/3/24) shows Vale of Ffestiniog hauling the rail bolster wagon past the Llyn Bach car park Porthmadog returning from some spot re-sleepering and rail replacement on the WHR. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright Andrew Goodwin (WHHR) and was taken on a phone camera.

 

The Funkey was back at 12:17 having deposited the rails and sleepers besides the track probably in the section before Beddgelert. The train continued to Boston Lodge 5 minutes later. At 12:55 Upnor Castle ran round an 8 coach rake in the WHR platform and was signalled to shunt by 13:00. The rake was shunted into the yard at 13:08 with the loco flying the Welsh flag. The diesel coupled to the water tank wagon in the FR platform at 13:13. The train departed at 13:23.

Lyd arrived in the FR platform with a three coach train from the Woodland Wanderer rake at 14:02 (coaches Nos. 21, 10 and 11)and ran round soon after arriving. The train departed back to Boston Lodge about 5 minutes later.

 

Alsthom to run new Wrexham service

Alsthom, who provide rolling stock for the franchises, is to work with SLC Rail to run the new open access Wrexham Shrewsbury and Midlands Railway service to Euston, planning to start in 2025. The new operator is likely to pass DfT scrutiny as Avanti is abandoning its only Shrewsbury service this summer (see story below). See Rail Advent news story.

 

F&WHR 13/3/24

Wednesday 13/3/24 was forecast to be a day of heavy rain with temperatures of 9-10C at Porthmadog. There were no trains visible at 09:00 at Porthmadog or Tan-y-bwlch but PW staff were present at Tan-y-bwlch. At 09:30 Vale of Ffestiniog was noted light engine at Tan-y-bwlch in the Down line platform. The loco left light engine at 09:39 towards the east and no other trains were noted during the day.

 

Whole year timetable now available

The F&WHR has produced a whole year timetable suitable for those who like to 'hop on/hop off' at intermediate halts. Some of the halt timings are missing, particularly from the WHR and The Cwellyn times will be added later. While most trains have an extra un-booked coach added for such 'hop on/hop off' services passengers can only be accepted at intermediate halts if there is space. The guards will do their best to find space but the Woodland Wanderer is sold on a compartment basis and there may be no compartments free. This timetable represents the base level of service. Certain trains are duplicated on days according to demand and passengers should look on line on their day of travel to confirm any extra services that may be running or for cancellations. It is likely there will be Festive services on 1/1/25 which are not shown in the timetable. On occasion the base service may not run or advertised duplicates cancelled because of operational difficulties.

This timetable is unlikely to be printed and distributed but those who wish can print out their own copy of the PDF from the following website.

F&WHR SUMMARY TTs 2024 v6 (festrail.co.uk)

To magnify these images hover over images and click CTRL twice then use scroll to adjust to desired size.

 

F&WHR 12/3/24

Tuesday 12/3/24 was forecast to be an overcast day with temperatures of 10C all day at Porthmadog. There were no trains visible at Porthmadog or Tan-y-bwlch at 09:15 but PW staff were present at Tan-y-bwlch. No train movements were noted today.

 

Avanti abandons Shrewsbury trains from June

Avanti, now running under Direct Award control by the DfT, is to abandon train services from Shrewsbury that provide direct London connections to Mid Wales. This hopefully makes it more certain the new Open Access operator Wrexham, Shropshire & Midlands Railway, operating to Euston on this route, will have better loadings through Shrewsbury and Telford. The route is via Walsall, Sutton Park and Nuneaton though it appears at least this one direct path Avanti are abandoning might be available to them.

 

F&WHR 11/3/24

Monday 11/3/24 was forecast to be a day of light cloud with temperatures of 7-10C at Porthmadog. There were no trains visible at Porthmadog or Tan-y-bwlch at 08:55. At 09:03 Vale of Ffestiniog arrived at Tan-y-bwlch wrong line light engine from the Porthmadog direction before continuing to the east 3 minutes later. No other train movements were noted during the rest of the day.

 

BBC Archive YouTube: Colonel Campbell's train 1975

Click on the YouTube link to watch 8 minutes 53 seconds of video including a ride with Simplex The Colonel and Upnor Castle on a Dduallt service. This video is copyright BBC and was published in 1975. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod by the BBC.

 

Blaenau Ffestiniog works complete

The platform improvement works at Blaenau Ffestiniog were finished in early March well in advance of the start of the new season. The platform edge kerb stones have been renewed on the main platform face and the central block paving replaced. The tarmac at both ends of the platform has also been renewed. A dropped kerb has been installed at the west end of the station near the water tank and fencing at the very end of the platform. This is to deal with local residents who frequently treat the station as a thoroughfare.

 

PW Supervisor job vacancy

The Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways is looking to consolidate its position as one of the premier tourist attractions in North Wales! To help the F&WHR achieve this the railway is looking to expand its Permanent Way team, which is responsible for the inspection, maintenance, repair and installation of track. The team also undertake other infrastructure related works (fencing, drainage, lineside clearance) in accordance with current and developing F&WHR Company policies and plans.
In order to complete these tasks, the railway is looking to employ a Permanent Way Supervisor, whose permanent, full time role will be based at the Infrastructure Depot, Minffordd, near Porthmadog.
The F&WHR can offer the successful applicant:
🟢 Salaries in the range of £26k – £28k dependent on experience
🟢 Full time hours (40 hours per week), usually Monday to Friday with occasional weekend working
🟢 A minimum of 28 days paid holiday, inclusive of all Bank and Public holidays
If this sounds of interest, head over to the Jobs page to find out more: https://www.festrail.co.uk/jobs/

 

F&WHR 10/3/24

Sunday 10/3/24 was forecast to be a day of light cloud with temperatures of 6-12C at Porthmadog. It was an early start for the trainees at Porthmadog with Vale of Ffestiniog arriving on a six coach train by 09:25 in the WHR platform and running round at 09:29 while the trainees went to the signal box. The train shunted to the FR platform at 09:42 once the trainees had boarded and appeared to be The Quarryman rake with coach No.103 in the consist. At Tan-y-bwlch there was no activity to be seen on Sunday morning.

Another group of trainees was present at Minffordd wearing orange PW protection gear observing operation of the Mineral Line junction. The train consisted of the FR Mess Car No.1111 with top and tail diesel locos, probably Harlech Castle at the east end and Upnor Castle at the west end if required. This train departed at 09:45 towards Porthmadog and arrived at Pen Cob Junction at 09:50 before shunting into Boston Lodge yard. This allowed the signals to be cleared for the Funkey to depart Porthmadog but the rake set back instead and the trainees rejoined the train from the signal box. The Funkey shunted up and down the FR platform at around 10:10 and at 10:30. At 10:47 the rake was shunted back to the WHR platform as the trainees rejoined from a well earned break in Spooners.

At 10:58 the train departed for Minffordd. Trainees got off at Minffordd and were shown how to operate the loop and Mineral Line Junction from 11:15-11:25. At 11:45 the train was back in the WHR platform at Porthmadog and the Funkey ran round at 11:48 before shunting the rake to the FR platform at 12:05. At 12:47 the front three coaches were shunted into the seawall siding and back at 12:56. The train departed at 13:18 for Minffordd passing there about 10 minutes later.

The trainees were out at Minffordd Mineral Line Junction at 13:54 when Harlech Castle arrived hauling the cable drum wagon and FR Mess Car No.1111 running wrong line into the loop. Once the S&T train had cleared the area, the Funkey having already run round, hauled its train back towards Porthmadog at 14:00. At 14:10 the train reversed into Boston Lodge depot to close the day's training session.

 

F&WHR 9/3/24

Saturday 9/3/24 was forecast to be a day of sunny periods and temperatures of 7-11C at Porthmadog. No trains were noted at either Tan-y-bwlch or Porthmadog in the morning. Vale of Ffestiniog turned up light engine in the WHR platform at 13:30 and a second train appeared to be shunting at Pen Cob junction. At 13:35 the Funkey left for Pen Cob Junction passing through adverse signals and the longer then waited at the junction before starting back to the station at 13:45. The diesel and six coach train arrived in the WHR platform at 13:50 with what appeared to be The Quarryman set with coach No.103. Some 10-20 trainees got off to examine the signalbox and its workings. Run round came at 13:53 and the train departed 10 minutes later and was propelled back into the FR platform. At 14:10 the loco uncoupled and shunted light engine to the WHR platform to give trainees, who now exited the signal box, practice with operations. The loco ran through the Britannia Bridge section next and came back to the WHR platform at 14:26 and then repeated the manoeuvre arriving back at 14:46 when the trainees returned from the Britannia Bridge tramway section. The loco coupled up and after the trainees revisited the signalbox, set off at 15:02 to perform the shunt into the WHR platform. The end of the trainee exercise came at 15:12 when the train departed for the depot.

 

This easterly view (9/3/24) shows Vale of Ffestiniog running round its train in the WHR platform at Porthmadog for the benefit of trainees. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

NLHF March 24 update

Click on the YouTube link to watch 8 minutes 53 seconds of video including progress with the new Small Loco Shed where concrete work has been completed. Ducting for water and drainage is being completed outside before the fan of tracks connects to the shed internal tracks. Internally, The Small Loco Shed is almost finished, needing just a few extras like compressed air lines. This video is copyright F&WHR and was published on 3/09. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod on a 4K camcorder by John Wooden (F&WHR).

 

Station Hosts needed

The start of a brand-new season is fast approaching and the F&WHR is counting down the days to welcome visitors back to the much-loved railways! In preparation for this new season, the F&WHR is looking for new Station Hosts, to help greet customers at Harbour Station in Porthmadog and at Tan-y-Bwlch Station (there are also station hosts at Beddgelert and Caernarfon).
This is a fantastic role where you will have an opportunity to meet visitors from across the world.
Station Hosts greet customers, make them feel welcome and special, answer their enquiries and ensure that the customer experience they receive is excellent. If this sounds of interest, head over to the F&WHR Volunteering page: https://www.festrail.co.uk/volunteering/

 

National Lottery Open Week 9-17/3/24
To say thank you for the £30 million raised for Good Causes every week by players, hundreds of National Lottery-funded venues like the F&WHR across the UK will be offering free entry, discounts and special offers throughout National Lottery Open Week.
Any National Lottery ticket, Scratchcard or Instant Win Game can be used to unlock the offers at http://www.nationallotteryopenweek.com/. National Lottery Open Week runs 9-17/3/24 and, this year, aims to encourage people to open up to new experiences.

 

Click on the image to open the advert. Advert copyright F&WHR

 

Free Tours of Boston Lodge
The F&WHR is taking part in The National Lottery Open Week, to say a huge thanks to National Lottery players for their support of the Interpretation and Boston Lodge Project. To celebrate this occasion, on the 15-16/3/24, the F&WHR will be offering free tour with them. It is as simple as that! Visit the NLHF website to book your place: https://nlhfproject.festrail.co.uk/boston-lodge-tours/. There are however limited spaces remaining on 16/3/24.

 

F&WHR 8/3/24

Friday 8/3/24 was forecast to be a murky breezy start but an improving day with a sunny afternoon and temperatures of 5-9C at Porthmadog. At 09:35 there were no trains visible at Tan-y-bwlch but Upnor Castle arrived in the FR platform with a mixed rake for sorting. The loco ran round at 09:45and coupled to the open coach and Romanian coach No.2060 on the rear. At 09:52 seven of the 8 coaches were shunted to the seawall siding leaving the Observation Car in the FR platform. One coach was left there and the remaining 6 shunted back to the FR platform. The three rearmost coaches were removed at 10:10 and shunted to pick up another so four were shunted back into the FR platform at 10:17. At 10:45 the seven coach rake with a service car and Observation car No.2152 Gwyrfai on the rear was shunted into the WHR platform. The sun finally came out as the loco detached and ran to the seawall siding at 11:19 to collect three B wagons of coal which were shunted to the fuelling point. More shunting followed and Upnor Castle eventually left the yard to recouple to the rake in the WHR platform at 11:48. The rake departed for Boston Lodge at 12:06.

At 12:37 Upnor Castle arrived back in the WHR platform with a second rake apparently for sorting out. This rake features an observation car No.2100 Glaslyn and service car next to the loco. The loco ran round by 13:38 and departed for Boston Lodge at 13:44 with no sorting having taken place as it was sorted on Tuesday. At 14:30 Moel-yr-hydd was noted in the WHR platform with the FR's Mess Van No.1111 and some S&T wagons. Run round occurred by 14:50. The train departed at 14:57 towards Minffordd.

 

This easterly view (8/3/24) shows Moel-yr-hydd running round the FR Mess Van in the WHR platform at Porthmadog. This narrow bodied Mines Hunslet loco was purchased from Adrian Shooter's collection last year. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

At 15:17 Moelwyn was propelling Nesta out of Minffordd Yard as Moel-y-hydd propelled its S&T train into the station with a cable drum wagon with an empty drum. While Nesta is nominally 2' gauge its 'back to back' flange measurements would cause it to derail on F&WHR pointwork so the loco is being transported to Boston Lodge on flat wagon No.192. Moelwyn departed for Boston Lodge at 15:19. At 17:27 the S&T train was propelled back into Minffordd Yard to close the day's activities.

 

This westerly view (8/3/24) shows Moelwyn propelling Nesta (recently transferred from the BLR) and some wagons out of Minffordd yard while Moel-yr-hydd approaches from Porthmadog on the main line with the S&T train. This narrow bodied Hunslet Mines loco was purchased from Adrian Shooter's collection last year and has replaced Moel Hebog as the S&T loco. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

WHHR new season

The Welsh Highland Heritage Railway will kick off the new season from Monday 25/3/24 with a 5 train a day diesel service from its Tremadog Road terminus. No.590 has been sent to Aberystwyth for repair (see separate story). Coach No.7, the Eisteddfod coach, appeared in its new light blue livery during the WHHR's February coach painting week. Click here for WHHR timetable.

 

This Gelert's Farm view (2/24) shows No.7 in its new blue livery bringing memories of the FR's Toy Railway era of the inter-War years. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright WHHR and was taken on a digital camera.

 

Baldwin No.590 returns to Aberystwyth 26/2/24

It has been several months since No.590 (formerly Imperial War Museum's No.794 in disguise) failed with a hot box shortly after arriving from restoration at the VoR at Aberystwyth. The VoR must have accepted some liability as the loco was returned there in late February as part of several loco moves, with Nesta arriving and placed on a flat wagon from the BLR and Palmerston also going to the VoR. Hugh Napier was selected as shunter of the day rather than a diesel shunter as the FR's General Manager was driving and the same lorry was used for all three moves. WHHR diesel No.4 was used to propel No.590 to Pen-y-Mount Junction which is still operated with switch-rail fitted padlocks rather than rodded to the signalbox. Surely the padlocks could be fitted to levers in the signalbox rather than staff having to scrabble around on the ground every time the link is used?

Hugh Napier hauled the Baldwin to Minffordd, propelling it into the yard and pushing it up the ramp onto the low loader using FR wagon No.192 to reach. Two days later Moelwyn was used to unload Nesta onto flat wagon No.192 and propel Palmerston onto the low loader in poor weather. The loco left for Aberystwyth the next day 29/3/24 in slightly improved weather conditions.

 

Moving Pictures No.89 7/3/24

Click on the YouTube link to watch 31 minutes 37 seconds of video showing the three loco transfers in February and early March. This video is copyright F&WHR and was published on 3/09. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod on a 4K camcorder by John Wooden (F&WHR).

 

F&WHR 7/3/24

Thursday 7/3/24 was forecast to be a day of sunny periods with temperatures of 4-10C at Porthmadog. At 08:50 the KMX tamper/liner was stabled by the signalbox on the Down line at Tan-y-bwlch.

At 10:50 Vale of Ffestiniog was noted on the FR platform shunting rakes of coaches. The loco had propelled a rake including coach No.103 into the platform from The Quarryman set. The train had probably been moved to the yard by 11:30 and the KMX tamper had moved from Tan-y-bwlch by midday and did not appear to return that afternoon. At 12:18 the Funkey shunted out of the yard and back into the FR platform light engine. The four coach rake with No.112 on the rear and No.103 in the centre was pulled forward to the starter signal in the FR platform at 12:54. The train reversed in again at 12:56 and was out again by 13:20 before setting back a minute later. The rake was back out at 13:26 before reversing back again a minute later. More than 10 trainees, possibly guards, were noted on the platform and these movements may have been to train the guards with coupling.

Upnor Castle arrived back in the FR platform with another rake at 16:00 and ran round. The six car rake departed at 16:14 with the four coaches from the morning shunt and an extra two on the rear, possibly forming up The Quarryman rake.

 

Glan-y-pwll activity 2-3/4/24

There are several photos and short videos available showing volunteer activity at Glan-y-pwll depot on the Friends of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways Facebook page on 2-3/3/24. One video shows the stripped boiler of Mountaineer being drawn out of the shed by Bill. Other videos show Dolgarrog and Andy shunting round the depot. Dolgarrog showed much use during construction of the WHR and Andy is a volunteer built Simplex which includes parts from The Colonel, Lady Diana and Sandra.

 

RAIL ALE appeal for help

The WHR Rail Ale Festival, taking place on the 7-8/6/24 at Dinas, is always a highly anticipated highlight in the F&WHR calendar, featuring Real ales and ciders, live music and catering vans! This year, the Welsh Highland Railway Society are on the lookout for volunteers in order to make this Rail Ale the best one yet! There is a whole range of tasks you can help the WHRSoc. with including the pouring of beer, the selling of tickets or the set-up and take-down. If you would like to get involved, head over to the F&WHR Volunteering page to get in touch: https://www.festrail.co.uk/volunteering/.

 

See video advert.

 

F&WHR 6/3/24

Wednesday 6/3/24 was forecast to be a sunny day with temperatures of 4-11C at Porthmadog. At 08:40 the KMX tamper/liner was stabled by the signalbox on the Down line at Tan-y-bwlch. Down at Boston Lodge Vale of Ffestiniog appeared to be stabled outside the Loco Shed at 13:00 while the KMX had not moved at Tan-y-bwlch. At 13:40 the Funkey arrived in the WHR platform light engine while it appeared a rake had been left at Pen Cob junction. Vale of Ffestiniog ran back to Pen Cob Junction at 13:49 and at 14:00 returned with a 6 coach train into the WHR platform consisting of stock some of which is normally used in The Quarryman rake such as No.103. Several staff got off the train. The loco ran towards the WHR at 14:04 returning at 14:35 to wait by the king point and the crowd on the platform went to look at the king point before returning. This may have been for trainee guards to familiarise themselves with Cae Pawb and tramway road crossing procedures. The loco completed the run round at 14:50 and departed for Boston Lodge at 15:03. The KMX remained stabled at Tan-y-bwlch at 15:10 and did not appear to have been used today.

 

Mountaineer progress report March

Up at Glan-y-pwll depot excellent progress is being made with Alco Mountaineer. All of the boiler tubes are now out of the boiler and both tube plates are clear and ready for inspection. The rest of the boiler has also now been thickness tested which has shown that the plate work is in good condition. These readings need to be documented for future reference and review by the boiler inspector.
The chimney has also been removed now meaning the boiler is ready to be lifted off subject to future arrangements. A wagon has been made ready to accept the boiler once it is ready to be stored. Lastly a start was made on cleaning down the frames. A good first clean was achieved but further work is required. This will lead on to more detailed design work on the chassis and measurement taking to determine the future scope of work required. For images of progress see F&WHR Facebook page.
There are many ways to support the project and get involved. Please find the Mountaineer Appeal page on the Ffestiniog Railway society web site https://www.ffestiniograilway.org.uk/full_article/mountaineer-appeal
The Mountaineer Group has its own website, where they have a selection of items for supporters to purchase to support the project https://www.alco1265.org.uk/. Finally if you would like to get involved please contact pbooth@ffwhr.com for more information on how you can do this.

 

F&WHR 5/3/24

Tuesday 5/3/24 was forecast to be a cloudy day with temperatures of 3-9C at Porthmadog. At 08:30 the KMX tamper/liner was stabled by the signalbox on the Down line at Tan-y-bwlch. It departed towards the west at 09:33. The tamper was back by 17:00.

 

KS4415 progress February

The gear levers have had some attention and are a step closer to being refitted. The levers are held in position by a spring loaded ball bearing that lands in a corresponding dimple in the quadrant. The ball needs to be stiff enough to hold the lever in the right position for high/neutral/low, but still allow the driver to move it between positions. One of the levers had a screw broken off in it, and the position of it made it seem virtually impossible to drill out. However, a brainwave came in the form of a Dremel and a flexible attachment that was just small enough to get in up against the side of the gear lever. The screw was drilled out and the thread in the hole was cleaned up. Volunteers then made new cover plates and installed a new ball bearing and springs.
The next job tackled was fitting the cover for the main drive gears. To make this easier volunteers removed the gearbox, as they were planning to take it out anyway. Fitting the gear cover was relatively straightforward, but even without the gearbox it was a fiddly job working between the frame stretchers and the front sprocket and chain.
The last job volunteers did was fitting the missing clips to the vacuum pipe. For some reason these were missed off when they originally fitted the pipe, so it was good to finish it off properly. Aside from ticking jobs off volunteers also dug out the old exhaust and put it together so they could take some measurements and work out what brackets need making for it. While they were getting excited about engine bits they found the original air filter box too; this needs some cleaning up! Finally they unboxed the MDB4 water pump that has been rebuilt for us as a homework job by one of the volunteers.

The KS4415 Group is hoping to complete the loco and get it working by its centenary on the F&WHR in the summer or 2028. For images see F&WHR Facebook page.

 

F&WHR 4/3/24

Monday 4/3/24 was forecast to be a day of sunny periods becoming overcast later and breezy with temperatures of 6-8C at Porthmadog. There was still a dusting of snow on the top of the Rhinogs and Moelwyns in the morning. At 08:30 the KMX tamper/liner was stabled by the signalbox on the Down line but had left by 10:00. It returned by 12:25 for a staff lunch break but had gone again by 13:45.

Meanwhile, down in Boston Lodge, Vale of Ffestiniog was preparing rakes fore the new season. It was noted shunting outside the new Carriage Shed and came across The Cob at 12:56 with a 10 coach ECS rake to enter the WHR platform. The Funkey ran round at 13:00 revealing coaches Nos.11/12 at the head of the rake.

 

This easterly view (4/3/24) shows Vale of Ffestiniog with a long mixed rake of coaches in the WHR platform at Porthmadog. This rake required sorting in the yard to prepare the rakes for the new season in 3 weeks time on 23/3/24. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR and was taken on a web camera.

 

The train shunted at 13:09 after completing the run round. The rake was shunted into the FR yard and the three rear coaches left behind The remaining rake consisting of two observation cars No.150 Gwynedd and No.152 Eryri Snowdonia sandwiching 4 modern carriages was shunted into a different siding. A further shunt extracted No.150 and the first three coaches. At 13:37 this pulled out of the station with an additional 2 coaches attached including No.124 on the rear and set back into the yard. The rake was pulled forward again at 13:44 leaving No.124 in the siding before setting back into a different siding a minute later. At 13:48 5 the rake was pulled out again with 5 saloons on the rear before setting back again and collecting No.152 now sandwiching 7 saloons. This long rake was propelled back into the FR platform at 14:02.A group of trainee guards/buffet attendants came onto the platform to observe the shunt as well as a group of infant school children and their teachers. The trainees joined the train for staff familiarisation purposes. The train departed at 14:07 heading across The Cob and entering Boston Lodge. Coaches Nos.11/12 were left in the seawall siding to form part of the C set for the Woodland Wanderer.

 

Velinheli refurbishment 3/3/24

Quarry Hunslet Velinheli has moved from the BES boiler inspector regime that covered construction to the local independent inspector who looks after the F&WHR boilers in service. This involved a further hydraulic test along with a thorough exam. All tests were satisfactorily completed on Wednesday 28/2/24.
The engine is now going back together again and solid progress was made on 3/3/24. This includes fitting the ash pan c/w spark arrestor mesh, fitting injectors and water gauges, final fit (hopefully) of saddle tank and even the nameplate and worksplates are on now. A tired but happy Velinheli team left the engine with water in the glass for the first time. A steam test is likely as soon as the smokebox has been completed. For images see F&WHR Facebook page.

 

F&WHR 3/3/24

Sunday 3/3/24 was forecast to be an overcast day with sunny periods later and temperatures of 3-7C at Porthmadog. There was still a dusting of snow on the top of the Rhinogs and Moelwyns in the morning. At 08:50 the KMX tamper/liner was stabled by the signalbox on the Down line and it appeared to stay there all day. Now that Blanche has finished its cab ride Half Term Holiday duties at Caernarfon it might be returned to Boston Lodge light engine.

 

The Snowdonian 20/4/24

With The Snowdonian due to run 20/4/24 already sold out by early March the train will be run again on Saturday 21/9/24. It is possible that Kalahari, NG15 No.134 may be available for the September run!

The April run is planned to be 08:45 from Porthmadog where a light inclusive breakfast can be upgraded to 'full English' at Spooners. Coffee is served on the train and there is a short break at Blaenau Ffestiniog. The train swops locos at Boston Lodge and this allows a non stop service through Porthmadog (assuming Cambrian Coast ERTMS signalling allows). The train will stop at Waunfawr for a buffet lunch at The Snowdonia Parc brewpub (which served real ales, including its own prize winning brews). The final stop will be Caernarfon where a comfort break is allowed before the train returns to Porthmadog. Tea and a sweet treats box will be served on the final leg. Arrival at Porthmadog is planned for 18:10 and Spooners will be available for optional evening meals.

The booked haulage on the FR will be Lilla, Linda and Blanche with Lilla dropping off at Tan-y-bwlch. At Boston Lodge, a locomotive swap sees new 2023 Fairlie, James Spooner and 1879 Fairlie, Merddin Emrys double head to Caernarfon and back to Porthmadog. This will be the first time James Spooner will have been on the Welsh Highland Railway. An unusual chance to see the oldest and newest Double Fairlie locomotives working together.

Lilla is likely to be operating shuttles to Boston Lodge later in the day. At Boston Lodge, and possibly later on, on show at Harbour station, two visiting locomotives – Decauville 0-4-0Ts CHUQUITANTA (Works No.36/1885) and LILY (Works No.648/1912) – courtesy of Jeremy Martin and the Richmond Light Railway team. There is also a chance to see these visitors making a cameo appearance at Beddgelert Station on Saturday.

Locos for the September rerun have yet to be confirmed.

 

F&WHR 2/3/24

Saturday 2/3/24 was forecast to be an overcast day of heavy rain with temperatures of 1-5C at Porthmadog. There was a dusting of snow on the top of the Rhinogs and Moelwyns in the morning. At 08:50 the KMX tamper/liner was stabled by the signalbox on the Down line and it appeared to stay there all day. Now that Blanche has finished its cab ride Half Term Holiday duties at Caernarfon it might be returned to Boston Lodge light engine.

 

This westerly view (2/3/24) shows the KMX tamper liner stabled at Tan-y-bwlch. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Nigel Shaw and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Waunfawr resignalling completed 1/3/24

Waunfawr has been resignalled with the internet based computer signalling system devised by Roland Doyle. New distant and illuminated home signals have been installed, shunt tokens, points indicators, wrong line working equipment etc. This should ease the use of Waunfawr as a location to terminate shuttles and special workings during Gala events or out of course working. See F&WHR Facebook page for images.

 

Appeal for help with Waunfawr station gardens

Dafydd Thomas, Chairman of the Cymdeithas Rheilffordd Eryri / Welsh Highland Railway Society, has made a plea for volunteers to help look after the lovely station at Waunfawr. Interested in the opportunity? Find out more below:

 

This northerly view (8/23) shows The Cwellyn passing Waunfawr station last summer in the hands of Lyd. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Nigel Shaw and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.


"We urgently need a small group of volunteers to take on looking after the gardens at Waunfawr Station. The Society has hired a contractor to put the gardens into good shape and he has done an excellent job, so all the hard work has been done.
Apart from the fact that the contractor has other commitments with the growing season now in full swing, the cost to the Society of employing him further will not be a small amount. Since the station opened in the year 2000 the gardens have been maintained by volunteers and we hope that this can now continue.
There is a range of tools available and the cost of any new plants, fertiliser, etc will be borne by the Society. Waunfawr Station has excellent facilities with regularly cleaned modern toilets and a small kitchen where a 'panad'
(cup of tea) can easily be prepared, as well as a refrigerator to keep food fresh. The bonus is that you get to see, close up the trains coming and going from Caernarfon. There is the added bonus of the ‘Snowdonia Parc’ brewpub close by, that has excellent snacks and meals available - as well as real ale, brewed on the premises to slake your thirst at the end of a day’s gardening.
If you’d like to take up the challenge with some fellow enthusiasts, family members or friends please get it touch with me – dthomas@crhe.uk
"

 

F&WHR 1/3/24

Friday 1/3/24 was forecast to be an overcast day after a sunny start with temperatures of 2-7C at Porthmadog. Snow was forecast across North Wales on Friday 1/3/24, particularly above 200m and was noted on the top of the Rhinogs and the Moelwyns in the afternoon. At 08:50 the KMX tamper/liner had already left Tan-y-bwlch to go on site of the recent tracklaying and complete the job. The KMX was back at Tan-y-bwlch by 16:00 and staff prepared to leave at the end of their shift.

 

Trackwork Volunteering 2024

Volunteering is currently organised differently due to the Covid-19 outbreak. We have a mix of weekend and weekday working parties. The Black Hand, Tuesday Gang and Rest of the World Gangs will be very glad to accept your help. Contact the relevant organiser to let him know when you plan to join us. Please do not just turn up as that makes it difficult for us to plan ahead.

The programme for 2024 is fortnightly for the North Wales Track Gang in RED but details are still awaited for the ROWG in BLACK:

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

Bank Holiday weekend

! Subject to confirmation when the Winter Major Works Programme is available

WW-Working week Saturday-Thursday

The Tuesday Gang expects to be operating most Tuesdays.

Arrangements may change so contact the working party organiser before you commit yourself to joining us just to make sure.

Contacts

If you intend to join one of the weekend or Tuesday gangs, please contact the appropriate organiser. If you are interested in weekday working or have any queries about track work volunteering, please contact Phil Nock.

Tuesday Gang:

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

Rest of The World Gang (ROWG): Phil Nock Email: pnock@ffwhr.com

If you intend to join one of the weekend or Tuesday Gang days, please contact the appropriate organiser. If you are interested in weekday working or have any queries about track work volunteering, please contact Paul Bradshaw. See Contacts page.

Gradient graph

John Hopkins has contributed this image of the gradient profile of the WHR. It makes clear how much of a mountain we have climbed and how steep the drop through Beddgelert is. Maybe most of all, it reveals the challenge facing northbound trains after they stop at Beddgelert!

This image is courtesy/copyright John Hopkins and is derived from data courtesy John Sreeves with additional work by Michael Bentley. Click on the image to enlarge.

Site development

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

Comments

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

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

 

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Maps & Plans and links

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

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

Click here for the Mail Order web page

Click here for the Official WHR website

Click here for Official WHHR site

Click here for FR Company websites

Click here for Welsh Highland Heritage Group

 

V4.4833 updated 14/4/24