Welsh Highland Railway

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News (7/12/21)

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Star Picture

This southerly view (3/11/19) shows No.608 hauling a heritage rake heading for Beddgelert between T2 and T3 in the Aberglaslyn Pass during the photo charter. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Phil Brown (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Welcome to Version 4 of this website, launched on September 8 2004 with news about work on Phase 4 of the WHR scheme. In addition to this Stop Press page and a Phase 1/2 page, there are 9 location pages, covering the Phase 3 works between Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu. There are a further 9 pages covering Phase 4, the full route through Beddgelert, the Aberglaslyn Pass and on to Porthmadog, including the Traeth Mawr to Pen-y-Mount works recently constructed by the WHHR with three regularly updated map links for this area by Laurence Armstrong.

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

 

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

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

Route section pages

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

 

Phase 4 pages

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

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

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

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

Beddgelert Station Area (updated 30/6/07)

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

Aberglaslyn Pass (updated 2/7/07)

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

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

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

Porthmadog Cross Town Link (updated1/4/07)

 

Other pages

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 1/12/21)

Snow Scenes (updated 25/11/20)

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!

 

News Section

WHR timetables

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

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

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

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

Click here for John Sreeves Gradient profile courtesy of WHRS

Click here for Chainages and OS Map Reference

 

Storm Barra hits North Wales 7/12/21

NR in connection with TfW are insisting on a 40 mph speed restriction and extended journey times over Tuesday and Wednesday 7-8/12/21 as Storm Barra hits North Wales. With 70 mph winds likely tress and other debris may fall across the track and setting a speed limit of 40mph gives trains more time to stop if they drivers see an obstruction ahead. One gust at Aberdaron on the Llyn peninsula topped 86mph and heavy seas hit The Cob. In fact it appears all TfW trains to Blaenau Ffestiniog are cancelled!

It is possible the WHR will be hit by the storm with high winds bringing down trees and power lines just before Santa Specials start this weekend. As regards the WHR Santa Specials, three of the six days are now fully booked, with only the three morning trains left available on 11th,12th and surprisingly 22/12/21. All the Christmas Cwellyn/Glaslyn trains are currently available to book.

See Wales Online story.

 

Beddgelert 'Frontier' station concept

It seems likely that the F&WHR will be continuing to operate its 'Frontier Service' like the FR/WHR of old with trains from Caernarfon and Porthmadog travelling to Beddgelert. However this model does not currently provide a through service as it was designed to ensure that two trains did not meet there in order to reduce crowding on the platforms and comply with WAG's COVID regulations. The ticketing arrangements were for return services only and anyone who wanted to make a through journey would find it very expensive, have a long wait at Beddgelert and have to return to their starting point by bus or taxi.

When Phase 3 to Rhyd Ddu was under completion planning permission was sought for a station building in the car park area just outside the footpath crossing but this was later abandoned in favour of a more significant station building at Beddgelert. In fact as Phase 4 developed, the concrete foundation for the Beddgelert station building was completed right next to the current wooden station building. There were some objections from Beddgelert residents that had the station building gone ahead it would abstract revenue from local businesses. This despite the substantial climb up to the station from the car park and the fact the trains would have brought additional visitors to the village.

If the Frontier station business model is here to stay then surely the F&WHR must look to provide a permanent building on the current foundation at Beddgelert. This should provide facilities for a trainload of people who might arrive and descend into Beddgelert during their hour or so break. While the train itself can provide shelter during its layover in case of inclement weather and the existing toilets seem just about adequate, a cafe and shop might be helpful in the longer term.

 

Omicron hits Wales 7/12/21

The Tories confirmed that 4 cases of the new highly infectious Omicron variant of COVID have been found in Wales (of 336 cases nationwide) confirming that Omicron is spreading within the community independently of any imported cases from overseas. The BBC website anticipates Wales may introduce new rules shortly. The Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan revealed that WAG expected a COVID surge in January (see BBC report) but all Welsh adults will be offered booster vaccinations by the end of January. Various plans are available if the NHS in Wales is overwhelmed, potentially including lockdowns. It is possible these might impact the F&WHR's festive train services but Mark Drakeford, the Welsh First Minister, has said he does not expect any drastic measures to affect retail and entertainment over Xmas.

 

Preparations for the Prince 29/7/03

Initially the weather was better on 29/7/03, the day before Prince Charles' visit. Another practice run was organised to Rhyd Ddu and the train was accompanied by Prince Charles equerry and security staff. The Prince was to take control of the regulator between Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu so the train was set to stop at various places for staff inspections.

 

This northerly archive view (29/7/03) shows Prince with the full HRH test train standing at Waunfawr ready for the start of the practice run. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (29/7/03) shows Prince with the full HRH test train departing Waunfawr in better weather for the start of the practice run. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (29/7/03) shows Prince with the full HRH test train departing Waunfawr in better weather for the start of the practice run. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (29/7/03) shows Prince with the full HRH test train approaching Pont Betws. The weather was already deteriorating and staff can be seen out of the train inspecting the area by the new Afon Gwyrfai bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (29/7/03) shows Prince with the full HRH test train approaching Pont Betws. The train sets off again after its brief stop. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

FR relaying 4/12/21

FR tracklaying continues from Boston Lodge to Rhiw Plas bridge. Plastic sleepers are being used and second hand 75lb/yard ex-MOD rail. See F&WHR Facebook page for images.

 

Main Line news 2/12/21

No.67008 failed on the 11:33 Holyhead-Cardiff on 2/12/21 and No.56096 was borrowed from the RHTT to rescue it from Rhyl. Furthermore No.67015 on the 11:22 Cardiff-Holyhead was cancelled for unexplained reasons at Chester and went forward as ECS.

Freightliner's recent driver training on the North Wales Coast was explained when No.66547 was noted on PW duties on 5/12/21 returning to Chester. The line had been closed west of Llandudno Junction for PW work.

 

Llangollen Santa specials 4/12/21

Santa Specials began running at Llangollen on 4/12/21 with steam loco No.3802 in charge. They run at weekends and 22-24/12/21. See Llangollen website for details. The railway is running festive Mince Pie specials 27-28/12/21 and 3-4/1/22.

 

Cambrian Heritage railway trial runs 13-20/11/21

In preparation for the 2022 season the Cambrian Heritage Railway has run some passenger trains to its new southern terminus at Weston Wharf. With the Pacers having been moved from Gobowen to Oswestry they were available for a Members Special on 13/11/21 before the AGM. The following weekend a special was run to Weston Wharf for a brewery visit for 20 plus members of North Shropshire CAMRA. Next year a timetabled service is planned between Oswestry and Weston Wharf on operating days. 

 

Good Santa Special bookings 4/12/21

With just a week to go before the first Santa Specials run, two days (19/12/21 and 23/12/21) are already fully booked as are all six afternoon trains. Four of the 6 morning trains are still available to book excepting those two dates. All the Christmas Glaslyn/Christmas Cwellyn trains are still available to book.

 

No.143 update 3/12/21

Paul Lewin (F&WHR General manager) has kindly provided this update on No.143:

'As requested an update on No.143 following last week's update on No.138. No.143 was expected to be available for service for its last season in 2020. It passed annual inspection without problems in February 2020. The expected out of service date being late September. The boiler insurers changed their rules at this time and subsequently told us that the boiler needed immediate withdrawal for inspection and hydraulic test. Whilst we knew that rules were changing to make the ten year ticket run from hydraulic test our previous arrangement was ten years from steam test. This arrangement served us well without problem for the last twenty years. Fighting this decision was futile as by the time the situation was understood there was only a few months left to the expected withdrawal. We now re-hydraulic our boilers with lagging in place immediately before steam test to gain the full ten years of service. For No.143 though this meant a quiet and unmarked end to 9 years service following the outstanding efforts of Tony Williams and the Dinas team to put it in the best of order.

So in 2020 all attention went to completing No.130 whilst No.87 hauled the limited train service. Knowing that we urgently need a third Garratt in service to back up the other two we set about a plan to use the best parts of No.138 and No.143 to achieve a working loco as soon as possible. It is important to remember that most of our Garratts have seen parts interchanged over the years. We decided to take the completed boiler ex No.129 from Puffing Billy in place of the current boiler which was previously in No.140. The cradle frame from No.143 has been overhauled. It is the cradle frame which determines the number the loco carries. The power units under No.143 are fit for a further five years service. If pressed these units were to be deployed again. However we took the opportunity in 2020/21 to completely overhaul the very tired units from No.138. This included a new cylinder on the rear unit. Again due to the foresight of Tony Williams we had a new casting ready. The rear unit was brought to the loco in September 2020, the front unit should make the same journey from Boston Lodge this month.

The cladding, cab, bunker and tank from No.143 are all to be reused as they are all in good condition. There is a new smokebox with this boiler and largely new spark arrestor gear. The old SA parallel chimney is good to go again which means the casting for an original shape chimney on hand will be used on No.138. New steam pipes replace the very thin old ones. The loco will be painted in the Splendid Brunswick green livery carried in the previous ten years of operation whilst No.138 will carry LMS red.'

 

This Dinas view (3/12/21) shows one of  the newly completed steam pipes for No.143. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image is copyright Paul Lewin (F&WHR) and was taken on a phone camera .

 

Even More Preparations for the Prince 28/7/03

This northerly archive view (28/7/03) shows Prince with the full HRH test train approaching Snowdon Ranger in the pouring rain. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (28/7/03) shows Prince with the full HRH test train approaching Rhyd Ddu in the pouring rain. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (28/7/03) shows Prince with the full HRH test train standing in the temporary platform at Rhyd Ddu in the pouring rain. A gallery of very wet photographers is visible on the hillock by Ffridd Isaf level crossing. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (28/7/03) shows Prince reversing over Plas-y-nant bridge. Such were the dull conditions that speed blur was inevitable even at the slow speed the rake was propelled at! Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (28/7/03) shows Prince with the full HRH test train waiting at Waunfawr as seen from the new footbridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (28/7/03) shows Prince with the full HRH test train with No.143 arriving on a service train in very wet conditions. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

Minffordd Xmas fair postponed

Due to unforeseen circumstances the F&WHR has had to postpone this weekends’ Ffair y Nadolig/Gweithdy Christmas Fair to Friday 10/12/21 through to Sunday 12/12/21. The F&WHR apologise for any inconvenience caused, but please come along from Friday 10/12/21-Sunday 12/12/21, 10:00 - 16:00. The F&WHR looks forward to seeing you then!

 

Harbour station shop opening

The Harbour Station Gift Shop has been closed for stock-taking and an update to the EPOS system, but will opening the doors for four days to give customers a chance to pop in and clear some of the items off their Christmas Present list. So, from Thursday 2/12/21-Sunday 5/12/21 the shop will be open from 10:00-16:00 - come along and see our latest items for sale, toys, gifts, books, DVDs etc. While customers are here they can also visit Spooner's for a tasty treat, a warming lunch, evening meal or a traditional Sunday Carvery lunch. It's a great place to take time out and relax with food and a drink or two.

 

Early school Xmas Holiday? (29/11/21)

Mark Drakeford (WAG First Minister), speaking to LBC on 29/11/21 admitted discussions were underway over further measures to reduce the fourth wave of COVID including the highly infectious Omicron variant which he said would inevitably soon turn up in Wales. As well as a schools' mask mandate, he was considering starting the Xmas holiday early to reduce transmission between children. The Senedd would be discussing other types of action it might take in early December to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed by COVID cases. Some of the measures could potentially affect retail/hospitality/tourist attractions etc. like the F&WHR.

 

Barmouth Bridge closed until 29/12/21

NR has apologised after investigations recently found additional timbers needed replacing in the 154 year old viaduct, currently being refurbished. Train services had been set to resume on 12/12/21 but will not now restart until 29/12/21 at the earliest (assuming no other critical problems are found). A further 3 month closure is intended next Autumn to complete the restoration of the Grade II* listed structure. See Cambrian News story. See NR statement. The Daily Post has images of the extent of the damage.

 

Pork barrel politics in Oswestry by-election 1/12/21

It seems the Tories are running scared of losing the North Shropshire seat in the by-election on 16/12/21 after the bookies showed the Lib Dem candidate running a close second. The by-election was brought about by the resignation of Tory MP Owen Patterson over concerns about his paid lobbying and the issue on the doorstep seems to be Tory sleaze in general. In a campaigning visit to support the Tory candidate, the Rail Minister suggested that an announcement about the electrification of the Wolverhampton-Shrewsbury line with through services to London could appear 'in the New Year'. He further suggested that following the current £50,000 Feasibility Study into reopening the remaindered Oswestry-Gobowen branch, the line could be reopened by 2024! This despite the need for a jacked box tunnel under the A5 to replace the existing level crossing!! The Lib Dem candidate has also given her support to reopening of the Oswestry branch and green transport solutions such as extending electrification of the rail network. See Shropshire Star report.

If the Oswestry project were to go ahead the branch would be operated by a TOC into a reconstituted bay platform at the north end of Oswestry station, keeping its services separate to the Cambrian Heritage Railways operation out of the main platforms. The rail route could possibly be operated as a shuttle from Gobowen bay platform using the new Class 230 Borderlands trains or as an extension of the enhanced Borderlands service with every other operating to Wrexham Central/Oswestry alternatively. Other possibilities include Chester-Oswestry or the new Liverpool-Chester service extended to Oswestry.

It is possible the Oswestry branch might be reopened in two phases with the first being Gobowen to Park Hall Halt where there is an orthopaedic hospital adjacent to the station. The Highways Authority will not allow reinstatement of the existing level crossing of the A5 used until 1988 by stone trains from Blodwel Quarry and this is the reason for the expensive jacked box tunnel under the trunk road. Other works include repairs to an underbridge and a busy level crossing just north Oswestry station into an industrial estate based on the former Cambrian Works and Depot.

A cynical view of the electors' options would be for the Lib Dems to win the by-election then the Tories would have to carry through their pork-barrel promises in order to win the seat back at the next General Election!

 

More Preparations for the Prince July 2003

Following operation of the Royal Train on 30/7/03 (preceded by Caernarfon Castle as shunt loco) there were to be further intensive operation to get the track right for the public service, which was now likely to start on 9/8/03. One area of concern is the bent rails through Salem. However, north of Tros-y-gol and south of Snowdon Ranger the PW train has been noted operating at up to the 25mph line speed proposed for the route.

On 27/7/03 I took the caravan back home and was unaware of any movements by Prince but was back the next day staying at a B&B in Caernarfon. The weather on 28-29/7/03 was very dull and wet! It seemed progress on the tamping over the weekend would allow Prince to reach Rhyd Ddu.

 

This northerly archive view (28/7/03) shows Prince with the full HRH test train at Dinas preparing for its run to Rhyd Ddu. Prince was carrying its royal crest headboard. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (28/7/03) shows Prince with coaches Nos.24/23/10 arriving at Waunfawr in the pouring rain for the run to Rhyd Ddu. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (28/7/03) shows Prince watering at Waunfawr for its run to Rhyd Ddu. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (28/7/03) shows Prince approaching Pont Betws. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (28/7/03) shows Prince approaching Plas-y-nant bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

Mexican Night at Spooners 2/12/21

As the wind whistles in from the North Pole, Spooners is heading across the Atlantic to the warmer country of Mexico for their themed evening this Thursday 2/12/21. Spooners has a tempting selection of food available between 17:00 and 20:00. So come along to Spooner's for some tasty treats with a Central American flavour - accompanied by your choice from a selection of our drinks from the bar. Spooners will have a selection of Mexican dishes and Antipasto available - served Buffet style - for only £9.95 per person. Why not have a drink with your meal for just £11.95..? Drinks offer includes a Pint of Lager/Cider / Ale, a175ml Glass of House Wine or a Soft Drink.

A temporary road closure across The Cob applies until 8/12/21. Customers driving to Spooner's from the Minffordd/Penrhyndeudraeth direction should be aware that the Cob has been closed to road traffic to allow the installation of a new 11kv cable to the Premier Inn site, across the road from Harbour Station. A diversion is in place along the Porthmadog Bypass and back through the centre of town. There are a couple of signs along the High Street stating the road ahead is closed. However, there is still access to our Car Park for Spooner's patrons, so have no worries about driving past them. We're definitely open for business (Mondays excepted) with doors opening from 10:00. Click the link to see details of our Opening Hours - https://bit.ly/SpoonerHours. For those arriving by bus - there will be no bus service through Minffordd for the duration of the road closure. Passengers are advised to walk to the bus stop across the road from the old Bron y Garth Hospital. When returning to Minffordd, you should catch your bus from the stops at Y Parc in the High Street.

 

Will COVID Omicron variant affect WHR Winter services? (30/11/21)

While national rules for England are to start wearing masks again on public transport and in shops etc., Wales makes its own rules and these new restrictions are already in force. There are today 22 cases of Omicron across the UK and its appears to be rising rapidly as a result of the increased ease of transmissibility of this variant. Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has already stated he will make a judgement in early December about any need to tighten restrictions in case of any developments such as a new variant or upsurge in cases. With the F&WHR having committed to Santa trains and Christmas Cwellyn/Glaslyn services and running the cafe/pubs at Caernarfon and Porthmadog, any additional restrictions would be a blow. The Welsh and Scottish Governments are asking Boris Johnson to institute much stronger restrictions on returning foreign travellers to reduce the possibility of fuelling further rapid spread of Omicron in their countries. As expected the Tory Government refused to respond to the concerns of the Welsh and Scottish leaders.

 

Preparations for the Prince July 2003

With the announcement of Prince Charles visit to the WHR on 30/7/03 your webmaster booked a caravan holiday based in Waunfawr Snowdonia Parc campsite from 20-27/7/03. Additional staff were taken on to complete tracklaying, ballasting and tamping and Prince and three heritage coaches were brought over from Boston Lodge. Activity was frantic with early morning and late evening ballast runs from the Cyrnant Ballast pile (intriguingly there is still a small supply of ballast there) just north of Waunfawr before the passenger service started. Here is the story of those several hectic days and the three days that followed.

The full story can be viewed on the WHR 2003 archive the final filmstrips scans never made it to the website as Samsung Digimax 230 images were being used at the time. I had purchased a new Jessops Centon DF300 SLR to replace the faulty Sigma SA300 as the Samsung digital camera had lower resolution than scanned slide film (a typical problem for cash strapped photographers at the dawn of digital photograph). It was a surprisingly wet end of July and rainy almost every one of the 10 days your webmaster was present, sometimes with torrential rain!.

All the pw stock was transferred from Rhyd Ddu to Betws Garmon on 5/7/03, following the delivery of DZ1423. The ramps at each location will now be removed. This will allow the completion of the points, headshunt and siding at Rhyd Ddu.

The WHR(P) Barclay shunter was delivered on time at 1700 on 5/7/03 complete with 'on loan' labels and Gelert's Farm 'shed code' on its buffer beams! After a little shunting in the platform, it set off with the single DZ wagon for Snowdon Ranger. FR staff have also managed to resurrect Dolgarrog so this will mean two fitting out trains in action on the isolated Castell Cidwm to Rhyd Ddu section.

Harold was at Betws Garmon along with Conwy Castle and Upnor Castle, two ballast wagons and Daffodil the yellow livery ballast plough. The final rail was connected on the evening of 17/7/03 just north of Castell Cidwm, west of LC44 making the WHR complete from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu for the first time since the wartime track lifting.

 

This southerly archive view (24/7/03) shows Conwy Castle venturing over Plas-y-nant bridge allegedly for the first time and Upnor Castle (out of shot to the right) propels and ballast drop up to the bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This southerly archive view (24/7/03) shows Conwy Castle reversing over the bridge with the tool van spreading the ballast that had just been laid north of the bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This southerly archive view (25/7/03?) shows Conwy Castle with tool van and Mess Coach 1001 stabled at Plas-y-nant halt in the poring rain. In the distance beyond the undulating subsiding trackbed can be see Dolgarrog at the end of the siding. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Centon DF300  camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

Excellent progress was made over the several days to Saturday 26/7/03. Work had been held up by track laying at Plas-y-nant but a marathon effort to replace the temporary track over the bridge saw the final link up at 1700 on 24/7/03. An intensive pw operation began with up to three pw runs from the ballast dump just north of Waunfawr both before and after public services. On Sunday 27/7/03 these passed Waunfawr at 0715 and 0815 northbound!

The tamper squeezed through OB71 at Castell Cidwm on 26/7/03 and pw gangs have been working with the 3 small locos south of OB71. One pw team has been laying ballast between OB71 and Snowdon Ranger from a small wagon and getting the cross level right by hand in advance of the tamper. This will speed things up on this section. FR wagon No.92 has been brought over to help.

In preparation for the Royal Visit, Prince arrived at Dinas on 26/7/03 (presumably in steam) and was immediately trialled to Plas-y-nant with two coaches (Nos.10/23) carrying the HMRI l/c inspector from Waunfawr. The loco is due to haul the Royal Train but further tests, including a run to Rhyd Ddu are likely before 30/7/03. The loco ran as far as Ty'n-y-weirglodd cutting where the tamper was in action at LC44. It then propelled back to Plas-y-nant where Conway Castle helped the shunt allowing Prince to lead back to Dinas. Some sections were taken at 5mph.

 

This southerly archive view (26/7/03?) shows Upnor Castle propelling two loaded ballast wagons over Plas-y-nant bridge. It is rumoured that John Sreeves, the WHR's volunteer bridge engineer, stood under the first such passage to assess the deflection of the beams which were to be replaced in Spring 2021! Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This southerly archive view (26/7/03?) shows Upnor Castle propelling two loaded ballast wagons for a ballast drop south of Castell Cidwm bridge. As can be seen from the temporary gates across the line, there was still some obstructive behaviour from the farmer at Caeau Gwynion and it is rumoured that the he received a visit from the Special Branch before Prince Charles visit. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

On 26/7/03 Upnor Castle hauls a ballast train north to collect ballast from the pile just north of Waunfawr at Cyrnant at 0800 and returns south full at 0830. Conway Castle and tamper are at Plas-y-nant and all three small locos at Rhyd Ddu.

Owing to misinformation from the night before and no mobile signal in the Nant-y-Betws Pass, I miss the first visit of Prince to Plas-y-nant and Ty'n-y-weirglodd cutting. Fortunately Ben Fisher was there and gave me these images.

 

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This northerly archive view (26/7/03?) shows Prince with coaches Nos.23 and 10 about to cross Plas-y-nant bridge. Staff were keen to test out the train but your webmaster missed it as he was visiting the Fairbourne by train and the return service was 25 minutes late!! Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on an SLR camera by Ben Fisher (permission was given to copy at the time).

 

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This northerly archive view (26/7/03?) shows Prince with coaches Nos.23 and 10 emerging from Ty'n-y-weirglodd Cutting and finding the Matisa tamper in section. Fortunately Prince was travelling very slowly due to a 5 mph speed limit on Staff were maybe a little too keen to test out Prince but the tamper operator was indicating to the train to stop! Future runs would see F&WHR Control insist all PW trains were safely locked in sidings before Prince was let out to play!! Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on an SLR camera by Ben Fisher (permission was given to copy at the time).

 

Once the rake was propelled back to Plas-y-nant, Conway Castle performed the shunt release so that Prince could lead back to Dinas.

 

WAG revisits Aberystwyth-Carmarthen rail project (24/11/21)

With the Bangor-Afonwen/Aberystwyth-Carmarthen rail link in the Welsh political news again it is interesting that the previous Feasibility Study into the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen reopening originally produced 19/9/18 has been updated very recently on 24/11/21. However, a check of the documents so far does not show any revisions.

 

Christmas Santa Specials booking well 29/11/21

Half of the 12 Santa Specials are already fully booked 2 weeks before the first train runs. Five of the six afternoon trains are now fully booked with only 22/12/21 available. However, in contrast five of the six morning trains are still available to book with only 19/12/21 fully booked. All 12 of the Christmas Glaslyn and 8 Christmas Cwellyn trains are still available to book. The WHR has benefitted from the cancellation of Santa Specials on the Llanberis Lake Railway this year.

 

Free Gwynedd car parking 

Gwynedd Council car parks will be free 11-28/12/21 to encourage local shopping. This means that both Caernarfon and Porthmadog council car parks close to the F&WHR stations will have free parking. Sadly for people booked on Christmas Cwellyn the free period ends just before the four booked train run 29-31/12/21 and 1/1/22.

 

Main Line update 17-28/11/21

The North Wales Coast line seemed to have been forgotten over the weekend by TfW with the advertised service largely abandoned on Sunday 28/11/21 following Storm Arwen leading to more accusations that the organisation is focussed on South Wales.

PW work at the weekend saw the Llandudno Junction-Holyhead service bustituted. Class 70 No.70014 ran training trips Holyhead to Llandudno Junction on 17/11/21 and was followed by 66506 the following day in preparation for the PW work.

 

Spooner's Festive afternoon tea from 1/12/21

When Afternoon Teas were introduced by the Tea Room at Tan-y-Bwlch Station they were an instant hit. With the Tea Room closed at present, the tea room manager has moved down to Spooner's for the Winter season. The F&WHR is pleased, therefore, to bring visitors the news that she will now be preparing her popular Festive Afternoon Teas for Spooner's customers to enjoy. These will be available Tuesday to Sunday throughout December from 1/12/21. Costing £10.00 per person, they will include sandwiches, mince pies, scones and mini homemade cakes with tea/coffee. Please note - Festive Afternoon Teas cannot be booked on the day, as items are freshly baked/prepared for each reservation. Please book - at least 24 hours in advance - by phoning 01766 516032. Come along and treat yourselves to a relaxing afternoon tea in Spooner's - and get your festive celebrations off to a tasty start!

 

Storm Arwen wreaks havoc 27/11/21

Storm Arwen roared in over North Wales over the night of 26-27/11/21 bringing down trees and power lines. Electricity was cut off in the Porthmadog area until 4pm. There was snow on the Crimea Pass and gritter/snow ploughs were out keeping the mountain passes open. Some North Wales Coast trains were cancelled due to high winds including the 10:34 to Birmingham International and there was bustitution to Holyhead (presumably for planned PW works). The Conwy Valley line was running to an amended timetable. The F&WHR may have received some storm damage.

 

This northerly view (27/11/21) was taken from the san dunes at Black Rock Sands showing overnight snow on the mountains north of Porthmadog. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a mobile phone camera and is copyright Melvyn Hughes.

 

Castell Caernarfon progress 26/11/21

The long sidelined WHR Funkey Castell Caernarfon has now received its new steel cab to replace the previous fibreglass version. Hopefully the much needed loco will be back in service in 2022.

 

This Boston Lodge view (26/11/21) shows Castell Caernarfon with the new completed welded steel cab fitted to the loco. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a digital camera and is copyright Paul Lewin (F&WHR).

 

Adventure Week April 2003

During Adventure week 24-30/5/03 Linda, in lined black livery, was moved by low loader to the F&WHR and hauled trains over several days. The loco coped admirably with her load of five coaches (2 opens, a saloon, the FR's Obs/Brake 3rd- No.11 and WHR No.23) and could be heard chuffing all the way from Dinas to Tryfan Junction! In fact the driver was keen to take 6 coaches!!

Linda was required for driver experience courses on the FR on Saturday 31/5/03 and was withdrawn from WHR service at Dinas at 1230 on Friday after working the first train of the day. This was normally worked by No.138. No.143 took over Linda's diagram for the rest of the day. Linda was soon on the low loader and was safely back on FR metals by the afternoon. The chimney was capped and lagged during transit to prevent the cool air draft stressing the still hot boiler too much. These views are bracketed by slides with known dates from a sunny 26/5/03 and a dull 28/5/03 and so are either late afternoon of 26/5/03 or 27/5/03.

 

This northerly archive view (26-27/5/03) shows Linda on running round at Waunfawr. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (26-27/5/03) shows Linda on running round at Caernarfon with the original container ticket office and Portaloos. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (26-27/5/03) shows Linda ready to depart Caernarfon on a late afternoon working. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (26-27/5/03) shows Linda taking water at Waunfawr. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This southerly archive view (26-27/5/03) shows Linda ready to depart Waunfawr in the late afternoon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This southerly archive view (26-27/5/03) shows Linda passing Hendy crossing with a late afternoon working. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

Caernarfon Christmas Market 27-28/11/21

The Christmas Market in Caernarfon is a two-day event taking place this weekend in the new units on Cei Llechi (the Slate Quay) and in Y Stesion - the Welsh Highland Railway's station building. There's a fantastic range of stalls with a wide variety of products and produce. So come along and support this new venture - and have a look at the striking new development on Caernarfon's waterfront. Of course, 'Caffi de Winton/De Winton Cafe' will be open as usual for you to take a break from your Christmas shopping. Check out the Marchnad Nadolig Cei Llechi Christmas Market' Facebook page for more information. In previous years the F&WHR might have operated special trains in association with special events like this.

 

Garratt update 24/11/21

Paul Lewin (F&WHR General Manager) writes: NGG16 No.138 doesn’t feature in our news very much at present. It was withdrawn for its ten year overhaul a few years ago and the pandemic meant that No.143 leapfrogged No.138 in the overhaul queue as it needs less work. This year with help from Cymdeithas Rheilffordd Eryri/ Welsh Highland Railway Society we have made good progress with both engines. No.138's power units, now heavily overhauled, will see service under No.143 next. The boiler from Puffing Billy No.129 goes to No.143 also. The boiler No.7017 ex No.143 in 2009 will now see service with No.138 and is progressing well at Israel Newton’s. A new Bunker for No.138 is nearing completion at Brunswick Iron Works. The old water tank had rotted through prompting replacement. We expect to paint new bunker for No.138 at BL in the New Year and it will continue to appear in LMS red.

 

This Brunswick Ironworks (Caernarfon) view (24/11/21) shows No.138's new water tank under construction. It will soon be transported to Boston Lodge for painting red in the New Year. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a digital camera and is copyright Paul Lewin (F&WHR).

 

Labour and Plaid agree on West Wales rail link

Nation Cymru report that the price of Plaid supporting Labour in the Senedd will be moving forwards with the Bangor-Carmarthen North-South Wales rail link which uses the old trackbed between Bangor-Afon Wen and between Aberystwyth-Carmarthen. The Bangor-Afonwen proposal is currently part of North Wales Metro plans. For full details see Nation Cymru website.

 

FR Diesel Gala 21/10/01

It's been a while since there was a diesel gala on the F&WHR but back in 2001 the FR put on a good show despite the weather not being as good as SuperPower. Maybe the F&WHR should revisit the event when they have put Castell Caernarfon back together and include the WHR this time?

 

This southerly archive view (21/10/01) shows Mary Ann on a freight in Porthmadog. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This easterly archive view (21/10/01) shows Vale of Ffestiniog in its short lived National Power livery on a train to Porthmadog passing through Minffordd. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This westerly archive view (21/10/01) shows Mary Ann  and Criccieth Castle hauling a passenger train to Tan-y-bwlch. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This westerly archive view (21/10/01) shows Harlech Castle stabled in the Rhiw Goch siding with the PW Mess Car both is a yellow and grey Works Livery.  Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

F&WHR 'Black Friday' deals

The F&WHR webshop is offering free postage on all sales from 26/11/21 to 2/12/21. They are also offering 5% of the price of the book 'Railway to Adventure'.

 

WHR Santa specials booking fast

People wishing to book the WHR Santa Specials are advised to do so early as with the Llanberis Railway cancelling their Santa operation this year, Gwynedd residents only have the WHR Santa Special option or the Porthmadog Santa Grotto. Trains operate at 09:15 and 13:00 with a 3.5 hour return journey from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu on 11-12/12/21, 18-19/12/21 and 22-23/12/21. Although the F&WHR website states that the 'duration is 3.5 hours' it is actually 2.75 hours as 45 minutes is allocated for checking in and collecting hampers before departure. So the 09:15 departs at 10:00 and the 1300 departs at 13:45. This allows about an hour layover at Rhyd Ddu for Santa and the elves to attend to children and the loco to run round and be watered. Already four of the six afternoon trains are sold out on 12th, 18th, 19th and 23/12/21! A Christmas Hamper is provided as part of this festive offering for each family with drinks, mince pies and a Christmas Cracker. Presents are provided for all children 0-15.

All of the Festive Season trains over the New Year period are still available to book with both the Christmas Cwellyn/Glaslyn operating various dates in December and New Year's Day. The Christmas Cwellyn runs two trains a day over four days 29/12/21-1/1/22 at 10:45 and 13:45 Caernarfon-Rhyd Ddu. The Christmas Glaslyn runs two trains a day at 10:50/14:15 from Porthmadog to Beddgelert on 18th, 19th, 22nd, 30th, 31/12/21 and 1/1/22.

The Caffi de Winton will be open before the Christmas Cwellyn departs for passengers to pick up some Xmas fare (no refreshment service on train). The 2½ hour service includes time for a run round at Rhyd Ddu and photos. Spooners will be open before the 2¼ hour Christmas Glaslyn round trip for purchase of Xmas fare (again no refreshment service on board) which allows a few minutes at Beddgelert for the train to run round and photos before a 'leisurely' fuel saving ride back to Porthmadog.

 

WHR Santa special working timetable

Location Time Time
Dinas dep ECS 09:00  
Caernarfon arr ECS 09:15 ex-09:15
Caernarfon dep 10:00 13:45
Rhyd Ddu arr 11:00 14:45
Rhyd Ddu dep 12:00 15:45
Caernarfon arr 13:00 16:45
Caernarfon dep ECS 13:00 17:00
Dinas arr ECS   17:15

 

Christmas Cwellyn working timetable

Location Time Time
Dinas dep ECS 10:05  
Caernarfon arr ECS 10:20 ex-10:50
Caernarfon dep 10:50 14:15
Rhyd Ddu arr 12:00 15:25
Rhyd Ddu dep 12:10 15:35
Caernarfon arr 13:20 16:45
Caernarfon dep ECS 14:15 16:50
Dinas arr ECS   17:00

 

Christmas Glaslyn working timetable

Location Time Time
Boston Lodge dep ECS 10:25  
Porthmadog arr ECS 10:30 ex-10:50
Porthmadog dep 10:50 14:15
Beddgelert arr 11:50 15:15
Beddgelert dep 12:05 15:30
Porthmadog arr 13:05 16:30
Porthmadog dep ECS 14:15 16:50
Boston Lodge arr ECS   17:00

This is a work in progress. Any amendments gratefully received. The train will be COVID cleaned at Caernarfon/Porthmadog between the first return and the second departure on the next service.

 

Spooner's Italian night 25/11/21

Thursday 25/11/21 sees Italian Night at Spooner's with buffet food available from 17:00 until 20:00 priced at £9.95 or £11.95 with a drink.

 

Spooner's Sunday Carvery 21/11/21

Despite the appearance of being a closed building site with scaffolding Spooner's is actually open (Mondays excepted). The popular Sunday Carvery has returned for the Autumn/Winter season from 21/11/21. You can't beat a traditional Sunday Roast dinner, especially when you don't have to cook it yourself! So why not take it easy on a Sunday - come to Spooner's and let the F&WHR look after you! Carvery served between 12:00 and 16:00. Phone the F&WHR on 01766 516032 to reserve a table.

 

Gwili Railway receives Class 43 powercar (20/11/21)

The Gwili Railway, based on the old Carmarthen-Aberystwyth route, will receive an HST powercar, the first to be donated to a Welsh railway. Porterbrook has given HST power car, No.43056 Royal British Legion to the Welsh Railways Trust, which is based at Bronwydd Arms on the Gwili Railway, just north of Carmarthen. After several months cosmetic restoration it will be put on show at Easter 2022. Hopefully this presages a more accepting view towards heritage diesels by the Gwili Railway which rarely makes its Class 03 available for public use.

 

EAG meeting 9/12/21

Stephen Sullivan reports:

'One of the pleasures of the East Anglian Group meetings at the Six Bells, 9 High Street Fulbourn (Cambridge) CB21 5DH, is the opportunity to enjoy a meal together in the restaurant from about 6pm. As it has done in previous years, the Six Bells is offering a special festive menu from 29/11/21, and it may well be that members may wish to order from that menu for our meeting on THURSDAY 9/12/21 (note that as usual, the December meeting is the second Thursday of the month, not the third). To order from the menu you should check the pub website or Telephone: 01223 880244. It would be a good idea to say that you belong to 'the railway group' so that they don't sit us all in different places, and that you will be dining between 6pm (or arrival) and 8pm. The price is given on the Menu, but takes a bit of finding: £17.99 for two courses, £20.99 for three. It is not clear to me, but it is likely, that the normal menu will be available without any special reservation.

The meeting itself is called 'Members Slides', although technology has moved on! You are invited to bring a USB stick with photographs or video of railway interest - and please don't hold back! It may be the festive meal beforehand, but this is one of our meetings that almost always over-runs the 10pm end-time. Please contact Richard Watson if you have any special requirements or questions.'

 

Main line news 20/11/21

No.67010 hauled a special working on Saturday 20/11/21 from Holyhead. It seems the loco is usually on the east end from Holyhead in recent times and on the rear from Chester to Cardiff as it reverse at Chester to use The Marches route via Wrexham. There is often a Saturday stock movement to Crewe for weekly maintenance purposes that is used as a service train rather than operating as an ECS.

The Jolly Slateman railtour ran on 20/11/21 with three green heritage diesel locos (this livery has been absent from BR for over 50 years-its seems to be LSL's policy not to use blue BR locos sadly). D8096 (20096) with D8107 (20107) were nose to nose and D6851 (37667) led into Blaenau Ffestiniog. The Class 37 went on the back on the return and detached at Llandudno Junction to follow light engine as the Llandudno run round is not adequately track circuited for long excursions these days by some accident of NR design. The Class 37 was on the rear from Llandudno Junction back to Derby having followed light engine from Llandudno.

 

This northerly view (20/11/21) shows D8096 and D8107 running round at Blaenau Ffestiniog on the Jolly Slateman tour. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a digital camera and is copyright Mark Hambly..

 

The Rail Head Treatment Train 3S71 was commandeered for rescue duties on 20/11/21 after failing with water jet issues at Rhyl on the westbound run. However, 6M76 on the heavy Margam to Shotton steel coil train had come to a stand on the steep gradient between Pen-y-ffordd and Buckley. The Class 56s (Nos.56078/96) top and tailing the RHTT worked back to Chester, Wrexham and then up the Borderlands Line to assist the failed freight over the Buckley summit.

 

Even more from SuperPower 2001 (23/9/01)

This easterly archive view (23/9/01) shows No.138 returning to Caernarfon passing Tryfan Junction. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840. and is copyright Barrie Hughes

 

This westerly archive view (23/9/01) shows Taliesin, this time on its own, hauling the heritage rake towards Waunfawr approaching Tryfan Junction. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This easterly archive view (23/9/01) shows Taliesin, returning from Waunfawr passing Tryfan Junction. At this time Tryfan Junction was just a shell. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This southerly archive view (23/9/01) shows No.138, in the late afternoon sunshine, arriving at Caernarfon with one of the last trains on the Sunday. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This southerly archive view (23/9/01) shows No.138 running round at Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

Will Welsh COVID passes affect F&WHR 18/11/21?

Mark Drakeford, the Welsh First Minister, announced on 18/11/21 that he was considering extending the use of Welsh COVID passes. The Gwynedd outbreak has been one of the highest in the UK. Currently COVID digital passes on smart phones are required for anyone over 18 attending large public events such as cinemas, theatres, concert halls and night clubs. In early December WAG will decide if it should be extended to pubs and restaurants such as Spooners and the Caffi de Winton (De Winton Cafe) at Y Stesion, Caernarfon. The move is unlikely to affect WHR Santa Special train services and the Christmas Cwellyn/Glaslyn services.

 

Harlech Castle 14-18/11/21

With the line now split for PW work it appears that Harlech Castle was allocated to duties based on Tan-y-bwlch or Glan-y-pwll and outstabled. On the 14/11/21 it was involved in the Drain Train and on the 18/11/21 worked around Dduallt with the cherry picker.

 

This westerly view 14/11/21 shows Harlech Castle on the Drain Train. The train also picked up laundry from Coed-y-bleiddiau which is part of the rental agreement along with ferrying people to and from the cottage via this one coach platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a digital camera and is copyright Glenn Williams (F&WHR).

 

Coast Line problems 10-15/11/21

It appears that WalesRail (aka TfW) is having Class 67 loco availability problems as several recent loco hauled Holyhead-Cardiff trains have been substituted by DMUs or turned back mid journey. This maybe because so few locos have been adapted to work with the Mark 4 coach sets and the remedy might lie in  TfW converting additional Class 67s? All 6 trains ran normally on 9/11/21 but on 10/11/21 the loco hauled 05:33 from Holyhead was terminated at Chester and went ECS to Crewe, presumably for attention. On Friday 12/11/21 train 1W96, the 17:16 from Cardiff, was loco hauled to Shrewsbury (the previous legs of the diagram having been worked by DMUs) where it swapped sets with a DMU on 1V98 in order to get back to Cardiff. All the other loco hauled trains that day were DMU substitutions. Again on 15/11/21, only one loco hauled set was in traffic. This rather spoiled the gentle introduction of the restaurant service on these loco hauled sets.

 

Spooner's reopens for cooked food 18/11/21

The F&WHR is really pleased to announce that Spooner's kitchen is open once more for Bar Meals from 18/11/21. A new menu has been introduced for the change of season and this will be available on Friday evenings (17:00-20:00) and from midday on Saturdays (12:00-20:00). Come along and enjoy a great time at Spooner's - the staff are looking forward to seeing you here..! The first of this Autumn's themed evenings brings the warming tastes and smells of curry and spice back to Spooner's. Come along and enjoy an Indian Buffet, accompanied by your choice from a selection of drinks from the bar. The bar has a variety of curries available from 17:00 to 20:00 - served Buffet style with rice and sundries, for only £9.95 per person. Why not have a drink with your curry for just £2 extra at £11.95? The drinks offer includes a pint of Lager / Cider / Ale, a 175ml Glass of House Wine or a Soft Drink.

 

Steam back at Llangollen 14/11/21

Steam was back in action at Llangollen on 14/11/21 in the form of No.3802, back from tyre turning at WCR Carnforth, for the end of the Autumn season. On Remembrance Sunday the loco carried The Remembrance headboard and a wreath. The 13:15 departure to Carrog was formed of 4 suburban coaches and retimed to accommodate the Remembrance service in Llangollen. Some supporters are wondering when the Mk1 TSO coach sets will appear again. The train was blessed with sunshine and autumn colours as the leaves turned orange. Winter Service trains resume with Santa Specials from 4/12/21 and Mince Pie specials 27-28/12/21 and 3-4/1/22. See new Llangollen website for full details.

 

More from SuperPower 2001 (23/9/01)

This northerly archive view (23/9/01) shows Lilla on cab ride duties the following day. The siding is closed off with a large wooden buffer in case of overruns! Also visible in Castell Caernarfon on freight wagons in the bay platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This easterly archive view (23/9/01) shows No.138 on a regular service from Waunfawr to Caernarfon passing Cae Moel. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This westerly archive view (23/9/01) shows Prince and Taliesin on a heritage service from Caernarfon to Waunfawr passing Cae Moel. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This easterly archive view (23/9/01) shows Prince and Taliesin on a heritage service from Waunfawr to Caernarfon departing Waunfawr. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This westerly archive view (23/9/01) shows No.138 on a heritage service from Caernarfon to Waunfawr passing Tryfan Junction road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

SuperPower 2001 (22/9/01)

SuperPower 2001 took place quite late in September over the weekend of 21-23/9/21. Prince was present and ran short Heritage trains, sometimes paired with Taliesin which also hauled Heritage trains on its own too. The Heritage Train operation presaged the two train Eryri Express/Heritage trains of the peak 2002 timetable which also ran unadvertised in the Spring Bank Holiday period. Lilla ran footplate rides in Dinas Yard on the Sunday. No.138, in its short lived apple green livery, was the Garratt on duty.

 

This southerly archive view (22/9/01) shows Taliesin with Prince watering in the since removed water siding. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This easterly archive view (22/9/01) shows Taliesin with Prince shunting out of water siding. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (22/9/01) shows Prince with Taliesin hauling the short heritage rake southbound at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This southerly archive view (22/9/01) shows No.138 on the standard WHR rake passing Prince with Taliesin hauling the heritage rake southbound at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (22/9/01) shows Taliesin with Lilla shunting in North Yard at Dinas with an RRM in the foreground. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (22/9/01) shows Taliesin with Lilla shunting two coaches in the bay platform at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

Wylfa B under discussion again

The BBC reported 1/10/21 that the Prime Minister has set in motion discussions to choose a new contractor to build Wylfa B Nuclear Power station and reduce dependence of the UK on coal for continuous baseload electric supply. The previous Japanese contractor pulled out earlier this year but a new funding proposal has attracted two serious bidders. The power station proposed by Bechtel will be much more powerful than Wylfa A and require a duplicate Super Grid connection. An alternative is to use SMRs (see story below) and a wind farm that will obviously employ a lot less people. If Wylfa B does get built it will mean reactivation of the Valley Nuclear Electric siding and GBRf's North Wales freight again. The move is probably partly to protect the future of the Tory MP for Anglesey. See BBC story.

 

Carriage Works update 13/11/21

NWNGR replica No.24 has come into the Carriage Works for a repaint and attention to wood rot in the end gutters. The vehicle was scrubbed down to remove grease and grime before sanding down. Observation Car No.150 in also in receiving attention with the curved glass end removed to be used as a template for a new one. There is also some rot to be dealt with in the end next to the emergency door. Boston Lodge shunter Moel-y-gest is in the paint shop after receiving mechanical attention. No.143's cab is also slowly being prepared for a repaint. Meanwhile the new FR Super Saloon No.808 is making good progress and looks to be structurally complete. The number 808 is supposed to look like BoB to celebrate the donor Bob Bloodworth who left a legacy allowing its construction.

 

This Boston Lodge view 13/11/21 shows NWNGR replica coach No.24 receiving a wash down before rubbing down and repainting. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a digital camera and is copyright Glenn Williams (F&WHR).

 

Caernarfon station still open

Even though trains are not running at present, Caernarfon station is open every day until 23/12/21 - and from 29/12/01 until 1/1/02 for the Christmas Cwellyn trains which run twice a day to Rhyd Ddu. The Gift Shop and Caffi De Winton will be open every day (09:00-15:00) when trains aren't running.

Y Stesion will also be part of the Cei Llechi Christmas Market on 27-28/11/21. On days when 'Santa Trains' and 'Christmas Cwellyn' trains are running - and during the Christmas Market - the Gift Shop and Caffi De Winton will be open 09:00-17:00. Stesion is just a short stroll from the Castle - so why not come along and check out our latest gift ideas and relax with a warming drink and a tasty treat!

Now available from the web shop. A Year in the Life of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways - 2021. Five hours and Twenty minutes spread over five DVDs or one Blu-Ray. Both formats have the same programmes and cost £25 plus p and p. Everything that happened in 2021 on the best railway in the world that is worth remembering.

 

Click on the YouTube link to watch this short 4 mins 52 secs taster for A Year in the Life of the F&WHR 2021. This video was published on 8/11/21 and is best viewed at 1080p in Chrome. This video was produced by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K Betamax camcorder.

 

F&WHR on TV 14/11/21

S4C are broadcasting Episode 4 of 'Eryri - Pobl y parc' (Snowdonia-People of the Park) to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Snowdonia National Park. This Welsh language programme has English subtitles. It will be repeated at 22:30 on Sunday, 14/11/21. The programme will also be available on BBC iPlayer for several weeks following the first broadcast.

 

FR trackwork 12/11/21

By the end of the first week 200m of track have been lifted from Boston Lodge Halt to Rhiw Plas lay-by. 70m of formation has been excavated and the old ballast removed from site.

 

Minffordd Gweithdy Xmas Market

A new exciting Christmas event is confirmed as seventeen local artisan makers and businesses unite to offer a range of distinctive products to solve your seasonal dilemmas. From Christmas wreaths to wooden gifts, ceramics and jewellery to organic cotton baby clothes, handmade baskets, paintings and felted art, along with delicious chocolates, jams and preserves, oil cloth gifts, soaps, colourful towels and biscuit moulds, yarn and creative knits. There will be refreshments available. ‘Ffair Nadolig y Gweithdy’ will be held in the recently refurbished and award-winning (National Rail Heritage Awards 2020 for a Volunteer Restoration project) workshop building, located in the car park of the Ffestiniog Railway's station at Minffordd - LL48 6HF. • There is a beautiful, conserved mural of the Urdd logo inside the Gweithdy. In the past, the building was used by the local Aelwyd (Youth Community Club) - part of the Urdd, the Welsh national youth organisation - and members had hand-painted a large version of the logo on the Gweithdy wall. This has been carefully retained and framed during the restoration of the building.

Opening dates and times: Friday 26/11/21 - Sunday 28/11/21, 10am - 4pm Friday 3/12/21 - Sunday 5/12/21, 10am - 4pm

Instagram - gweithdy_christmas_craft_fair

Facebook - @gweithdymarket

Stall Holders: Sarah Malone Ceramics * Taldraeth * Ruby Gingham * Helyg Lleu * Babi Indigo * Pazaar * Rebecca Kitchin, Artist and Illustrator * Bethan Jarvis Jewellery * Two Black Sheep *Ian Marsh Ceramics * Celf Andi Chell * Coed y Ddraig * Tegid Toys * Celtig Cofiadwy * Terrence J Bunce Ceramics * Crochendy Teigl Pottery * Fern Enamels

 

WMWP 2021-2022

The Winter Major Works Programme has now been decided. Some additional works have had to be accommodated as although the WHR route is open again at Plas-y-nant, following the end of season flooding, it will require remedial works before passenger trains can run.

The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways Infrastructure Department have introduced a progressive Autumn & Winter maintenance plan. The plan is in response to both the Pandemic restrictions assigned to the railway and its need to run services in order to create a robust revenue stream. Both of the railways have been operating very well, however, it has been noted that an extensive maintenance plan is essential to maintain routine work and also to catch up on improvements prevented by the pandemic. The essential maintenance plan will see the laying of new track, signals and telegraph works as well as improvement work to buildings.

The most arduous part of the maintenance work will be the re-railing and re-sleepering of stretches of track between Tan-y-bwlch which is the Ffestiniog’s halfway station, and Rhiw Goch, which features an essential passing loop. The same procedures will also be required between Rhiwplas Bridge where the main road between Porthmadog and Dolgellau, the A487, crosses the railway, and Boston Lodge.

The sleepers being used are sustainably made from plastic which has been recycled from plastic milk bottles and have a much longer life span than regular wooden sleepers. The environmentally friendly sleepers save valuable hardwoods being used and also look very similar to their traditional wooden counterpart. They can also be recycled when they reach end of life.

 

This easterly view at Rhiwplas Bridge 3/11/21 shows a visit of technicians from the Centre for Advanced Transport Engineering & Research who have undertaken B Scan ultrasonic testing of the area to be relaid this month. Analysis of the data collected by them will help the F&WHR decide whether these 1942 vintage rails need replacement. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a digital camera and is copyright Alex Spring (F&WHR).

 

The Signals and Telegraph (S&T) Department will be working at Tan y Bwlch to make the “run round” safer. This work will see improvements carried out at the Porthmadog end of the station and will mean that the token will no longer be needed to complete the “run round”, with other work including the installation of a wrong line departure signal and improvements to track circuiting. Further work being undertaken by the S&T Department will see work at Rhiw Goch installing a mains electrical cable from Rhiw Goch Farm Crossing and will improve the power supply along with a fibre optic cable which will upgrade the signal box’s IT capability.

The Buildings Department will carry out work in the Harbour station dealing with water leaks and scaffolding will need to be put in place whilst the work is carried out. Harbour station will also undergo general maintenance to keep up the high standards of the facilities. Following the Company Board’s decision on how next years' train service will operate, improvements will be made to the facilities at Beddgelert and Tan y Bwlch. However, in the longer term Beddgelert really needs a proper station building on the foundation constructed during Phase 4.

Due to prolific vegetation growth, lineside maintenance is a continual issue causing scratch damage to rolling stock and creating unnecessary work for the Carriage Department. When the Welsh Highland trains have stopped running in January, considerable efforts will be prioritised (weather permitting) on the section between Caernarfon and Dinas and once complete will move onto the section between Dinas and Waunfawr. Meanwhile, work on the vegetation management on the Festiniog will see the protection of the pole route and the opening up of viewing windows through woodland.

The FR is now closed since the daily service has finished and it will not re-open until March 2022 to allow this work to be carried out. However, there will be train services on the WHR from Caernarfon and Porthmadog, including Santa Trains and the post-Xmas Christmas Cwellyn trains.

 

Tan-y-bwlch tent 10/11/21

The gazebo style waiting room at the east end of Tan-y-bwlch station was taken down on 10/11/21 as train services have now stopped. The tent was erected in the Spring as both the Mountain Prince and Woodland Wanderer trains had an hour layover at Tan-y-bwlch built into their schedules for passengers to use the facilities. It was demolished by a storm shortly after building but was re-erected a few days later and survived the occasional gale since then. The tent was given seats and tables to allow a further seated area for passengers awaiting their return service.

 

Trawsfynydd nuclear power station?

Rolls Royce has won government backing along with private risk capital to develop SMR technology. These small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) are only 480MW and can be mass produced making them cheaper than large reactors 10 times their output. Each can run continuously unlike wind turbines, which many say despoil the rural environment. Some 16 sites are envisaged including sites such as Trawsfynydd with good existing national grid connections. Each can replace 150 onshore wind turbines. Components could be delivered by road and rail and the nuclear waste removed by rail as previously from Trawsfynydd (requiring restoration of the Blaenau Ffestiniog-Trawsfynydd branch). See BBC news story.

 

Spooner's Revised Opening 8/11/21

Spooner's Cafe and Bar is revising its opening hours.

SPOONER'S CAFÉ (from 811/21):

• Monday - Closed

• Tuesday to Sunday - Open from 10:00-15:00.

SPOONER'S BAR (from 8/11/21):

• Monday - Closed

• Tuesday to Thursday - Open 15:00-22:00

• Friday - Open 15:00-23:00

• Saturday - Open 12:00-23:00

• Sunday - Open 12:00-18:00

BAR MEALS (from 18/11/21):

• THURSDAY* and Friday - Served 17:00-20:00

• Saturday - Served 12:00-20:00

• SUNDAY** - Served 12:00-16:00

• Monday to Wednesday - Kitchen Closed

* Thursdays will be themed evenings - featuring Indian, Italian, Mexican or French menus.

** Sunday Lunch will see the return of our popular Carvery...

The F&WHR looks forward to seeing you here, where a warm welcome awaits you as winter closes in..!

 

Moving Pictures No.57 8/11/21

Click on the YouTube link to watch 25 minutes 37 seconds of video covering recent developments at Boston Lodge. This video was published on 8/11/21 and is best viewed at 1080p in Chrome or on YouTube. This video was produced by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K Betamax camcorder.

 

Blast from the past 21-25/8/01

This northerly archive view (21/8/01) shows Upnor Castle with the two ex-SAR ballast wagons Nos.4021/2 in Dinas North Yard. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF28 and is copyright Barrie Hughes4.

 

This northerly archive view (24/8/01) shows No.138 in its short-lived apple green livery at Waunfawr. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284. and is copyright Barrie Hughes

 

This westerly archive view (25/8/01) shows Vale of Ffestiniog in its short-lived National Power livery departing Porthmadog. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

Final day of photoshoot 6/11/21

It was a rest and recuperation day for those on the full charter, but there was an option for participants on 6/11/21 for a return journey along the WHR with a meal at Waunfawr.

 

All change on Funkey transmissions

Following the failure of the Vale of Ffestiniog's transmission earlier this year, the identical transmission from Castell Caernarfon was swopped in to keep one heavy duty diesel loco running as the WHR's Funkey is under long term overall. The FR Funkey's transmission was being fitted during the Autumn and the WHR Funkey's removed and sent away for the same treatment so that Castell Caernarfon will work perfectly when reassembled next year. It is intended that Vale of Ffestiniog will be used for Winter Works Programme trains and standby loco for the Winter service trains. Castell Caernarfon's stainless steel cab has been formed and the sheets tack welded together but little progress can be seen compared to earlier updates. The existing control cubicles will be refitted soon.

 

Photoshoot 5/11/21

Click on the YouTube link to watch 14 minutes 01 seconds of video covering the photoshoot on 5/11/21. This video was published on 8/11/21 and is best viewed at 1080p in Chrome or on YouTube. This video was produced by Lee Davies on a camcorder.

 

The photocharter participants slowly made their way from Port to Rhyd Ddu with Merddin Emrys stopping off at Nantmor, Bryn-y-Felin and a further stop north of Beddgelert. Then they had the K1 and No.87 on a combined freight at Rhyd Ddu, before the goods split and run pasts with the K1 and Merddin Emrys at the old sea wall (north of Ynysfor l/c).

 

FR Winter closures

Now that the Autumn train services have finished there have been some changes to the opening arrangements for our main Booking Office and Gift Shop at Porthmadog. The Booking Office will be open on weekdays (from 09:30-16:30) for enquiries and assistance with ticket purchases, but will be closed on Saturdays and Sundays. The shop is now closed, to allow for stock-taking and an upgrade to the EPOS system. However, the shop will open for those dates in December where trains are running. Of course, the web shop remains available - so make sure to visit festrail.co.uk/shop for a range of gifts, souvenirs, books, DVDs and modelling supplies.

Tan-y-Bwlch cafe is also now closed.

 

Steaming into Christmas

The F&WHR's Xmas offering can be seen here in full detail.

 

WHR photoshoot 4-5/11/21

It seems attention shifted to the WHR on Thursday with trains arriving back in Porthmadog in the late afternoon. Welsh Pony and David Lloyd George headed to Rhyd Ddu with passenger stock and various trains were run from Glan-yr-afon to Rhyd Ddu including a double header with  K1 and Garratt No.87 hauling a freight or singly. The double headed freight made it to Porthmadog. for images of Thursday's WHR photoshoot see Friends of the F&WHR Facebook page.

Merddin Emrys was steamed for the photographers special on 5/11/21 and ran round the rake in the WHR platform to couple up at 08:24 as photographers started to arrive. The train departed towards Beddgelert at 08:44.

 

This easterly Porthmadog view (5/11/21) shows Merddin Emrys arriving at 08:24 to couple up to the photocharter rake for the trip up the WHR. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image is courtesy F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

At Minffordd, work was underway on the NR station with the access closed off by Heras fencing and several NR transits in the Maenofferen Yard area. The Cambrian Coast is bustituted until 13/12/21 for the £30 million Barmouth Bridge Upgrade. A further 3 month closure will finish the job next Autumn.

 

This westerly Minffordd view (5/11/21) shows Heras fencing erected blocking access as work is underway on NR's Minffordd station. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image is courtesy F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

The photographers' train came back at 16:00 led by K1 and its short freight with Merddin Emrys and the 4 coaches for photographers attached to the rear. K1 pulled forwards and shunted the wagons into the WHR loop while the Fairlie uncoupled, leaving its coaches in the WHR for tomorrow and shunted forward. Once K1 had uncoupled the two light engines coupled up and ran to Boston Lodge at about 16:15 bringing an end to the day's activities.

 

This easterly Porthmadog view (5/11/21) shows K1 pulling into the WHR platform hauling the photographers special with freight on the front. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image is courtesy F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

This easterly Porthmadog view (5/11/21) shows Merddin Emrys detaching leaving coaches in the WHR platform whilst K1 shunts the detached wagons that formed the front half of the train into the WHR loop. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image is courtesy F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

Blast from the Past 29/5/01

This southerly archive view (29/5/01) shows No.143 running round at Waunfawr in the late afternoon. The footbridge was making slow but steady progress. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This southerly archive view (29/5/01) shows No.143 departing Waunfawr in the late afternoon. Your webmaster had been for a ride to Caernarfon and back on the 13:30. Other locos noted at Dinas were Conwy Castle on the depot with Mountaineer, Upnor Castle and Castell Caernarfon in the North Yard and No.138 in the Carriage Shed, Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

FR photoshoot 3/11/21

It was a rainy morning at Porthmadog but the weather was forecast to be sunny in the afternoon. It seemed that photoshoot activity was focussed on the FR again. All three webcams were back in action today.

Harlech Castle was on lineside PW duties and was held in a rather wet Tan-y-bwlch loop while David Lloyd George arrived from Porthmadog at 11:15 with a long simulated passenger train. That train left towards Dduallt at 11:23. Harlech Castle had left by midday with the Mess Car and PW wagons.

 

This westerly Tan-y-bwlch view (3/11/21) shows David Lloyd George arriving at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:15 with photocharter charter stock probably going for storage in the newly accessible Glan-y-pwll shed. The Fairlie came back light engine later. In the foreground is Harlech Castle on the PW train with the FR Mess Car. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image is courtesy F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

Merddin Emrys arrived back into the WHR platform at Porthmadog at 16:37 with the photographers. An England engine was on the rear. The two locos worked to the WHR loop where they coupled up at 16:39 and worked back to Boston Lodge light engine a few minutes later leaving the rake in the WHR platform.

 

This easterly Harbour station view (3/11/21) shows Merddin Emrys arriving at 16:36 with the photocharter with some happy looking photographers dispersing after a sunny afternoon. Steam visible at the rear was an England engine. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image is courtesy F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

Blast from the past 29/4/01

This southerly archive view (29/4/01) shows Mountaineer running round at Waunfawr in the afternoon. Rails had recently been delivered to the former coal yard. for Phase 3, However work beyond Betws Garmon could not begin until the avalanche retention wall work in the Aberglaslyn Pass was completed in the Spring, was completed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (29/4/01) shows a small group of volunteers working on Sunday afternoon to lay track at Llwyn-y-bed alongside the A4085 just north of Betws Garmon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This southerly archive view (29/4/01) shows late season snow cladding Snowdon as viewed from Castell Cidwm bridge. The trackbed of the former temporary terminus south of the bridge had not been disturbed but the snowfall which had reached down to Rhyd Ddu the day before was already retreating. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

North Wales Coast main line 3/11/21

On 3/11/21 DMBSO No.9708 top and tailed with No.37612 went westbound through Abergele at 1017 to Bangor on the Q train.

No.66559 passed Bangor at 1301 on late running Holyhead to Basford Hall road learner probably in association with the reopening of Penmaenmawr Quarry terminal or Llandudno Junction Yard for slate fines traffic.

 

Heritage loco coal allowed

The Government has confirmed its Environment Bill will not affect Heritage Steam operations. Lord Faulkner the President of the HRA had earlier sought reassurances in a Lords debate.

 

FR photoshoot continues 1-2/11/21

On 1/11/21 Welsh Pony hauled goods trains north of Dduallt in heavy rain while David Lloyd George and Blanche played with simulated passenger trains at Tan-y-bwlch. In the late afternoon the Fairlie caught the sunset at Boston Lodge with a goods train. Two passenger trains went up the FR on 2/11/21 coupled together with the England engine in the middle of the train first thing in the morning.

 

Blast from the Past (15-16/4/01)

Your webmaster has been scanning slide images from 20 years ago, Easter 2001. On Easter Sunday 15/4/01 I took a ride behind Mountaineer and Castell Caernarfon from Caernarfon to Waunfawr and return. It seems that Mountaineer was not quite up to the full load and so had diesel support over the Bank Holiday as on 16/4/01 it was also noted with Conwy Castle at Waunfawr. At Waunfawr, Conwy Castle was left on the rear for ease of shunting at Dinas on the last train of the day. Earlier on Bank Holiday Monday I had taken a ride from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog and return behind Vale of Ffestiniog on the 12:45, passing Blanche in black livery at Tan-y-bwlch.

 

This northerly archive view (15/4/01) shows Castell Caernarfon shunting the rake into the Carriage Shed at Dinas at the end of the day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (16/4/01) shows Mountaineer running round at Waunfawr on the final train of the day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (16/4/01) shows Mountaineer departing Waunfawr on the final train of the day as seen from the A4085 bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

This northerly archive view (16/4/01) shows Conwy Castle surprisingly left attached to the rear of the final train of the day departing Waunfawr from the A4085 bridge. This loco would then be inn position to assist with the shunt at Dinas when the stock was disposed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera on Fujichrome 200ASA slide film and scanned with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF284 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

Santas appear!

With just six weeks to go before the first WHR Santa trains 17/12/21 (see story below) Santa and Xmas Specials have finally appeared on the F&WHR FareHarbor booking page. There will be 09:15 and 13:00 Santa Trains from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu on 11-12/12/21, 18-19/12/21 and 22-23/12/21. The   standard fare is £22.50 for adults and children (babies less than 1 year old £3). The fare includes a hamper and presents for the children and babies from Santa. Gold fares for the Pullman or Observation car are £32.50 (babies £3) and the journey takes 3.5 hours for the round trip.

The FR is having a Santa's Grotto at Porthmadog on 18-19, 22/12/21. Children £4/5 according to age. It is possible Santa may be shunted around the station as in previous years. The webpage allows you to book a timeslot.

 

Xmas trains 18/12/21-1/1/22

The Xmas Glaslyn is a 2¼ hour trip Porthmadog to Beddgelert and is offered on 18-19, 21, 30-31/12/21 and 1/1/22 departing twice a day at 10:50 and 13:00 (18/12/21 pm train is currently shown as 14:15). Compartment stock is used with the same COVID compliant arrangements £60 for a compartment for 2 and £30 additional adults up to maximum 6 per compartment. Gold travel is £100/£50 with children £25 and Observation car travel is £110/£50/£25.

The Xmas Cwellyn is a 2½ hour round trip to Rhyd Ddu and back from Caernarfon running 29-31/12/21 and 1/1/22 twice a day departing at 10:45 and 13:45 with compartment stock as above. Fares are the same as the Xmas Glaslyn.

The F&WHR has produced an Xmas website covering all its Xmas activities including shop and cafe opening times. In these times of global warming snow cannot be guaranteed but Snowdon and the other peaks usually have a covering when these trains are booked to run!

 

Photo charter week 1/11/21

Sunday 31/10/21 was the last day of our Autumn train services, but there are still some trains to be seen on the railway. This week the F&WHR is hosting a series of photo-charters - so, if a train on the webcams it will be one of the special trains the F&WHR is running. The timetable depends on the photographers wishes and the influence of the weather conditions. Only the Tan-y-bwlch webcam was active on 1/11/21 due to faults on the others presumably after the heavy rain recently. The first couple of days seemed to be focussed on the FR.

 

This westerly view 1/11/21 shows Palmerston hauling a demonstration freight at a wet Tan-y-grisiau station. Click on the image to enlarge and click again for full size. This image is copyright Phil Brown (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera..

 

Activities seem to have centred on the FR on the last two days. Click on the YouTube link to watch 5 minutes 39 seconds of video showing Lilla shunting skips in the Dduallt area while simulated passenger trains pass.

 

Scanning restarts

As Autumn turns into Winter your webmaster's thoughts turn to scanning again. There are still 25 film strips to scan from 2001-2002, some slides from Prince Charles visit and then the awkward sorting of Samsung Digimax images 2002-2004 from CF cards. The problem with Samsung camera was that without an internal battery the camera image numbers do not advance but restart every time at 0001! Furthermore I was often careless about the date stamp so there is a lot of matching to do against the dated published construction images in this period to get the photos into the right order. As a taster of what will be published in the coming weeks here is an image from February 2001.

 

This southerly view 18/2/01 shows Mountaineer running round at Waunfawr with WHRS chairman Dave Kent busy constructing the footbridge. This Half Term holiday train took your webmaster on a ride down to Caernarfon and back. Click on the image to enlarge and click again for full size. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Jessop's Centon DF300 SLR camera Slide scanned and post processed by a DiMAGE Scan Dual III AF2840 and is copyright Barrie Hughes.

 

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.

 

Special Events and Service Trains 2021

1/1/21

Final Mince Pie special CANCELLED

13-21/2/21

Half Term Blue timetable Caernarfon-Porthmadog CANCELLED

26/2/21-26/3/21

MTFX Orange timetable Porthmadog-Hafod-y-llyn twice a day CANCELLED

Easter 21 Easter Service CANCELLED
April 21 Rail Ale DEFERRED TO 2022

27/4/21

Main Season Spring service starts delayed by COVID

24/7/21 Summer Season starts

24-25/7/21

The Snowdonian-WHR 24/7/21 and FR leg to Dduallt 25/7/21

17-19/9/21 Small SuperPower event on WHR with K1
8-10/10/21 FR Bygones event with some specials working onto the WHR
31/10/21 Final trains of the season (subject to a late decision)
11/12/21-1/1/22 Santa Specials-Twice a day Caernarfon-Rhyd Ddu on 11-12/12/21, 18-19/12/21 and 22-23/12/21
29-31/12 and 1/1/22 Christmas Cwellyn-Twice a day Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu 29-31/12/21 and 1/1/22
18/12/21-1/1/22 Christmas Glaslyn-Twice a day Porthmadog to Beddgelert on 18, 19, 22, 30-31/12/21 and 1/1/22

 

Trackwork Volunteering 2021

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 2021 is fortnightly for the North Wales Track Gang in RED but details are still awaited for the ROWG in BLACK:

January          
February          
March          
April   10-11/4/21      
May   8-9/5/21   22-23/5/21  
June 5-6/6/21   19-20/6/21    
July 3-4/7/21   17-18/6/21    

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@ffwhr.com

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.

 

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.

 

[Sign My Guestbook] [View My Guestbook] Powered by E-Guestbooks Server.

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

 

V4.4128 updated 7/12/21