16/18 May 2014  

Rail Ale 2014

The tenth Rail Ale Festival was a great success with a large attendance in perfect weather conditions. Around 100 ales and many ciders were on offer in the goods whed and regular entertainment in the marquee. Regular shuttle trains ran between Caernarfon, Dinas and Waunfawr mostly hauled by the visiting locomotive Fiji or by K1. The opening ceremony was performed by the Secretary of State for Wales,  Rt Hon. David Jones MP who arrived by train from Caernaron, having driven the train there himself.
David Jones MP opens the beer festival - Pic: Ff&WHRFiji rriving from Waunfawr with the shuttle   Pic: Laurence Armstrong Fiji rriving from Waunfawr with the shuttle  Pic: Laurence Armstrong The band playing at lunchtime   Pic: Laurence Armstrong
K1 arriving from Waunfawr with the shuttle   Pic: Laurence Armstrong K1 arriving from Caernarfon with the shuttle   Pic: Laurence Armstrong K1 arriving from Caernarfon with the shuttle and exchanging tokens with the service train  Pic: Laurence Armstrong
The atmosphere of the weekend was captured on video by John Wooden:

The event was also well reported by the Caernarfon Daily Post

28th April 2014
A further public consultation on improvements to Caernarfon station is being held at the station on Thursday 08 May 2014 between 1100 and 1900.  For further details see here.
28th April 2014
The Rail Ale weekend has become a popular fixture in the year's programme and takes place on May 16-18. For full details see the Rail Ale microsite
13th April 2014
The "Snowdonian" ran again on 12th April, completing an 80 mile round trip from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog, Caernarfon and back to Porthmadog, carrying a large number of sponsors and raising further funds for developement of the railway.
 John Wooden gives a video account of the trip:

21st December 2013
The new-build coach No 2046 is now complete and is expected to be moved over to Dinas on 2nd January. where it will be ready for use. The building of this coach has been funded by the Welsh Highland Railway Society. Note the new panoramic windows matched to the seat positions, offering an enhanced field of view. Pictures by Norman Bond.
New build coach 2046 - Norman BondNew build coach 2046 - Norman Bond New build coach 2046 - Norman Bond 


29th October 2013
Opening of Lôn Gwyrfai.
A special train ran between Porthmadog and Rhyd Ddu on Tuesday October 29 to carry walkers and cyclists to the opening of the Snowdonia National Park’s new Lôn Gwyrfai Path from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert. The train, formed of vintage stock and headed by Linda and Taliesin, then waited at Beddgelert to return walkers to Porthmadog in the afternoon. The walk combines well with the Railway to provide an attractive circular trip between Rhyd Ddu and Beddgelert. Comprehensive details of this new route are available on the Snowdonia National Park website.
Pictures by Chris Parry
The F&WHR ran a special train from Porthmadog to Rhyd Ddu to carry walkers and their cycles to the opening. (Pic: Chris Parry) Caerwyn Roberts, MBE, OBE, Chairman of the SNPA, with local landowner Peggy Roberts and Elliw and Siwan Owen at the ribbon cutting ceremony at Rhyd Ddu. (Pic: Chris Parry)Snowdonia National Park Authority opened the Lon Gwyrfai multi-use path between Rhyd Ddu and Beddgelert on October 29th 2013. (Pic: Chris Parry)

6-8 September 2013
"Welsh Highland Great and Small"
This popular event featured might Garratts contrasting with little England locos, modern spacious carriage stock contrasting with the diminutive vintage stock, full size locos contrasting with model railways, some of which layouts were of exquisite quality, and to the delight of many,  the return to steam of K1 allowing a pairing with 143 as the first and last of the line.
Morning at the loco shed - David FirthPalmerston and Prince head the vintage train - David Firth Clydach, a superb model layout - David FirthClydach, a superb model layout - David Firth
5th August 2013
Welsh Highland Great and Small - September 6th-8th

This year's "Superpower" event on the WHR will be based at the northern end of the line with Dinas as its focus. Among the many activities will be heavy goods trains (the "Great"), vintage trains and locos, footplate rides, model railway layouts (the "Small"),  and of course displays of all sorts with a real ale bar and cafe. For full details see the Festrail website.

2nd July 2013
75 years ago tomorrow, A4 Pacific Mallard became the holder of the world speed record for steam locomotives, attaining a speed of 126.88 mph. To mark the event, Garratt NG/G16 No. 138 has been fitted with the whistle from Mallard’s 1935 sister locomotive, Silver King, which was taken out of service in 1965.  The whistle – and Gresley’s A4 Pacifics – have a strong link with the F&WHR, as one of the LNER’s best-known drivers, Bill Hoole, drove the class regularly between London and Scotland and moved to Porthmadog to become a driver on the Ffestiniog Railway when he left King’s Cross shed. He was given the engraved chime whistle on his retirement in 1959 and last year it was presented to the F&WHR by Hoole’s grandson, Bill Poacher.

138 with Silver King's whistle - Andrew ThomasSilver King's whistle - Andrew Thomas

28th June 2013
Isaac went on its first testing run on the WHR after restoration at Boston Lodge. In a collaboration with the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, it was accompanied by its sister Bagnall Gelert, the locos hauling a rake of Ffestiniog heritage coaches with invited guests and supporters of the WHHR. Having crossed with the WHR service train 14.30 from Caernarfon at Pont Croesor, the train ran to as far as Hafod y Llyn and back.  At Hafod y Llyn Isaac was found to have an overheated eccentric, so for the return journey Gelert  provided the motive power from the rear, while Isaac at the front provided the braking.  Report and pictures by David Firth
Gelert and Isaac waiting to depart from Pont Croesor - David FirthCrossing the service train at Pont Croesor - David Firth Gelert and Isaac under way - David FirthIsaac leads for the return to Pont Croesor - David Firth

19th May 2013
The 2013 Rail Ale Festival at Dinas was highly successful and broke the previous records. The weather was favourable, the shuttle trains were busy, a large good-humoured crowd enjoyed the entertainment in the goods shed and the wide selection of special ales on offer was so popular that the barrels even ran dry by the end of Saturday night. Early estimates suggest that numbers were 20-25% up on the previous year, with over 2,000 people attending. By all accounts it was the "best ever".
Two beers - Pic by Roger DimmickMusic - Pic by Roger Dimmick  The bar - Pic by Roger Dimmick  You can't miss it! - David TidyOn the platform - Pic by Roger Dimmick

Prince on the shuttle train - Laurence ArmstrongPrince did a sterling job with the shuttle trains - David TidyPic by Roger DimmickPrince on the shuttle train - Laurence Armstrong

 143 on a service train - David TidyThe Garratts maintained the normal service trains - Laurence ArmstrongThe Peckett "Harrogate", unfortunately unable to run owing to the high fire risk after all the dry weather - Laurence ArmstrongHarrogate - Laurence Armstrong63 empty barrels! - David Tidy

 John Wooden's video captures the occasion:

9th May 2013

Rail Ale Festival May 17-19 2013

Real Ale... Steam Trains... Live Music... Stunning Scenery - The ninth annual Rail Ale festival promises to be the best yet.

Past events have delivered over forty real ales on tap in the historic goods shed venue at Dinas with live music, displays from other local groups and even a beer specially brewed for the event by a local microbrewery. This year there will be the usual wide selection of real ales from Wales, Welsh cider and perry, and even a Welsh-brewed lager.

Regular steam-hauled trains will also be running throughout the weekend to take you into Snowdonia’s spectacular countryside - why not take a trip through the Aberglaslyn Pass to Porthmadog?

The hostelries so far confirmed as part of this year’s festival are 'The Black Boy', Caernarfon; the Snowdonia Parc Brewpub, Waunfawr and the Royal Goat Hotel, Beddgelert. (click here for venue map). The greatest selection of ales will be in the Goods Shed at the railway’s station at Dinas, which will be transformed into a bar and music venue. The live entertainment this year will feature local bands 'Y Moniars', The Rough Shunters' and The 'Wee Bag Band'.

For full details download the leaflet here

The Ex-Harrogate Gasworks 0-6-0 Peckett loco "Harrogate" was delivered to Dinas on 8th May  for use on the Rail Ale Festival shuttle trains. This loco has a long association with the Ffestiniog Railway and has previously visited. At the same time Lyd was loaded to be taken to the Lynton and Barnstaple gala this coming weekend. Report and pictures by David Firth
Peckett arrives at Dinas -David FirthPeckett arrives at Dinas -David Firth

3-6 May 2013 "Steam 150"
This event to celebrate the 150th anniversary of  steam power on the Ffestiniog Railway was hugely successful with some 4000 tickets sold and trains packed to capacity.  By its nature it was essentially staged on the Ffestiniog Railway and is reported elsewhere.  However in commemoration of the period when the FfR operated the service on the Welsh Highland Railway, a 1923 vintage train ran from Porthmadog to Beddgelert on the Monday of the event and recreated a scenario familiar from old photographs. The train of three vintage coaches was hauled by Palmerston, which unusually was making an appearance on the WHR. The service proved very popular and tickets were sold out long before the day.
Palmerston waits to depart with a replica 1923 train for Beddgelert as Prince leaves with empty slate wagons. Pic: Andrew ThomasThe vintage train after arrival at Beddgelert - Photo by Chris Parry
Other notable workings affecting the WHR included a reprise of the "Queens of the Hill" with  Linda and Blanche heading a return trip from Porthmadog to Caernarfon passing non-stop through Harbour station on their return journey to Minffordd, an early morning "push-pull" round trip from Porthmadog to Hafod y Llyn with 12 coaches topped and tailed by Prince and Palmerston, and a heavy freight train hauled by Garratt 87 from Dinas to Porthmadog, with the wagons then taken by Linda on a further excursion to Hafod y Llyn.
Queens of the Hill working - Andrew ThomasPrince heads 12 coaches to Hafod y Llyn with Palmerston at the rear - Andrew ThomasFreight train arrives at Porthmadog headed by 87 - Andrew ThomasLinda takes the freight train out again - Andrew Thomas

23/24 March 2013
The spring service started this weekend amid wintry snow scenes. Pictures from David Firth show the arrival at Beddgelert of the first train of the season from Porthmadog. the arrival of the second from Caernarfon and in the third picture the departure of the train to Caernarfon on the Sunday morning.
The first train of the 2013 season from Porthmadog - David FirthThe first train of the 2013 season from Caernarfon arrives - David FirthThe train from Porthmadog departs on the second day of spring services 2013 - David Firth

8th March 2013
The visit of Princess to Paddington to commemorate 150 years of steam on the Ffestiniog Railway has provided the opportunity for thousands of rail travellers to be introduced to the Ffestiniog/Welsh Highland Railways.  Princess was delivered from Porthmadog to Paddington overnight arriving on 24th February where a team of volunteers unloaded the loco and built the stand around it.
In a ceremony on 1st March, Lord and Lady Dafydd Elis Thomas unveiled the loco after a speech by Dr John Prideaux, accompanied by a brass band and a good company of onlookers.
Pictures by Andrew Thomas
Princess is unloaded Introduction by Dr John PrideauxUnveiling the locoPrincess on displayAnd the band played onHen party in traditional dressYoung admirers
A video record of the occasion has been produced by John Wooden:

8th March 2013
The Invensys website recently carried this report:
Twenty graduates and apprentices from Invensys Rail have completed a challenging five day training and team building programme, working with the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway (F&WHR) in North Wales. The group was tasked with work on the new signalling system at Porthmadog Harbour station and worked on a range of projects including the fit out of the relay room.
Commenting on the programme, Tim Maynard, a Solutions Architect at Invensys Rail (and volunteer on the Ffestiniog Railway) said: "This is a great opportunity for engineers new to the signalling industry to get together as a team and learn some practical skills.
"During the week away, the group had the opportunity to look behind the scenes of a working railway and also saw a demonstration of the unique 'rail-to-rail' level crossing at Cae Pawb on the Cambrian Coast Line which has been implemented by Network Rail and the F&WHR."
Tim Prent, Signalling and Telecoms Manager for F&WHR said: "This was a great experience for the young graduates and trainees and they certainly rose to the challenge. During the week they worked incredibly hard, learned some valuable skills and had the chance to meet a group of apprentices from Network Rail who were working elsewhere on the railway. It was a pleasure having them here to support the work of the F&WHR and I will be following their careers in the industry with great interest."
The trainees were pictured by Andrew Thomas during their visit in mid February:
Trainees at Harbour station - Andrew Thomas

25th February 2013
A Princess at Paddington
150 years ago, two companies introduced new steam technology for the first time, in very different sectors. In London, the Metropolitan Railway ran the world's first underground train between Paddington and Farringdon, whilst 200 miles away, in a remote corner of North Wales, the world's first narrow gauge steam locomotive on a public railway was arriving at the Ffestiniog Railway in Porthmadog on a horse and cart.
Now that locomotive, Princess, is returning to London for the first time since she was built in 1863 to join in the London Underground's celebrations, along with an original Metropolitan Railway carriage restored by craftsmen at the Ffestiniog Railway’s workshops.
Princess will be on display on Platform Nine at Paddington Station for six weeks from March 1st – St David's Day – and her sister Prince will be pulling trains at London Transport's museum depot in Acton in April, alongside the Metropolitan Railway carriage rebuilt in the same North Wales workshop. Later in the Spring, Princess is also due to travel to Ireland to appear at Dublin’s Heuston Station.
Ffestiniog Railway staff and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions about Princess and her railway following the official unveiling of the locomotive at 1100 on St David's Day by Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, PC, AM.
Princess is truly a pioneering narrow gauge steam locomotive. Built in 1863 - barely more than 30 years after Stephenson's Rocket - at George England's Hatcham Iron Works in East London, it was carried by rail from London to Caernarfon and then brought by road to Porthmadog on Job and Harry Williams’ specially built cart, drawn by ten horses. She became the first locomotive to haul a train on the Ffestiniog Railway on Tuesday 4 August 1863.
The Princess was named after Princess Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925), who had married Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII, 1840- 1910) in March 1863. The engine’s name was shortened to Princess in 1895 and she continued to work on the railway, becoming the last steam locomotive to operate on the line under the old company, working the last train on 1st August 1946.
A few years later when the Ffestiniog began to be reopened by volunteers, Princess was mounted on a plinth in Blaenau Ffestiniog as a statement of intent that the railway would once again run its full length – a goal finally achieved in 1982.
By then, Princess had received a much-needed coat of paint and given an honourable retirement in Spooner’s – the railway's pub at Porthmadog Harbour Station - where she remained on display for more than 30 years before embarking on her celebratory tour of the UK and Ireland in this, the year of her 150th birthday.
Princess 2013- Andrew ThomasPrincess arriving at Paddington - Andrew Thomas

January 24th 2013
New wagons arrive from South Africa
The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway has taken delivery of six more B Wagons. The wagons originated from the Port Shepstone-Harding line in Natal and have been fully refurbished by Sandstone Heritage Trust’s wagon shop. Their purchase has been funded by a specific donation from a supporter through the FR Trust.  The six new wagons will be put to work as soon as F&WHR engineers fit them with standard chopper couplings. The WHR now has the potential to run a Garratt-hauled recreation of a full length train of SAR bogie freight stock, together with the newly-restored SAR brake van – a piece of South African railway history in the mountains of Snowdonia.
For the full story see the Festrail website
B Wagons delivered - Andrew Thomas
January12th 2013
Pen y Mount junction and Signal Box
It is planned to upgrade this junction by installation of  a lever frame and signalling to permit more regular use in future. A lever frame has been delivered from Minffordd yard to Gelert's Farm for refurbishment and possible use at Pen y Mount junction. The frame is planned to control the point motor and signals and will be locked by the tokens of both lines. If the Harbour Station to Pont Croesor section is upgraded to the ElectricTrain Staff system at some stage in the future, an intermediate token machine at this location would facilitate operations significantly. The new ETS system tested recently between Pont Croesor and Beddgelert could accommodate intermediate token machines, and the results of the tests on the system are to be considered shortly.  A signal box is to be erected on the concrete base which has been laid at the junction. The box is a replica of the Cambrian Crossing box which was constructed in 2007 by the Welsh Highland Heritage Group for use at the modern day Cae Pawb crossing. However ongoing difficulties in reaching agreement about siting the box have meant that the box has remained in store ever since, and no resolution of the impasse is in sight. In the intervening period  it has become apparent that the Cae Pawb crossing could be operated remotely from the Control Office at Harbour Station,  thereby making a valuable saving in operating staff time. Such a move, if implemented, would be likely to make any signal box on the crossing redundant. The sponsors of the signal box have therefore taken the pragmatic view that it is better for the box to be used at a location where it can be installed now and can be expected to serve a long term purpose. Accordingly they have agreed for it to be used at the nearby location of Pen y Mount where it will be installed in due course. 
Cambrian crossing box trial erection - David Allan

December 29th 2012
Gelert undertook a  test run in wet weather from Pen y Mount Junction to Beddgelert and back, pulling a rake of  four carriages and a guards van, testing among other things the behaviour of the couplings on the curves at Bryn y Felin. This is the furthest a WHHR train has reached on the restored WHR.  Picture by Andrew Thomas.
Gelert on test run to Beddgelert - Andrew Thomas

John Wooden's video records this notable occasion in some detail:

October 28th 2012
NG/G16 №138's overhaul is complete and the loco worked a double headed special Railtour train on the 22th October 2012. More information on the the 138 page.
138 double heading a special train with 143 - seen at Pont Croesor.
October 7th 2012
Porthmadog, Sunday 7th October 2012. The 1100 Welsh Highland Railway Porthmadog - Caernarfon service carried a genuine Flying Scotsman headboard, on loan from the National Railway Museum in York, in honour of Alan Pegler, the man who rescued both the Ffestiniog Railway and the locomotive Flying Scotsman, currently under restoration at the NRM. His friends and family travelled in the First Class Pullman carriage, Bodysgallen as the train crossed Britannia Bridge in bright sunshine to the sound of bagpipes.
The previous day a memorial service for Pegler, who died earlier this year, had been held at Tan y Bwlch station, one of his favourite locations on the railway. 
Report and pictures by Andrew Thomas
 The man himself. Alan Pegler OBE pictured on the Ffestiniog Railway. The special train taking friends and family to Alan Pegler's memorial service arrives at Tan y Bwlch on Saturday October 6th.Top link loco crew at Porthmadog. Pic: Andrew Thomas.Flying Scotsman headboard - Pic: Andrew ThomasPiped across Britannia Bridge. Pic: Andrew Thomas  

October 2nd 2012
Beer train back on track
Award-winning Purple Moose Brewery has teamed up with the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway to recreate a scene from the past – the delivery of casks of beer from its Porthmadog brewery to Harbour Station by rail.

Steam locomotive Merddin Emrys, built in the FR’s workshops in 1879, pulled a replica beer wagon through the streets of the town on Monday evening carrying barrels of beer ahead of the railways’ Classic Ffestiniog gala over the weekend of October 6-7, when there will be a rare chance to see the longest gravity slate train – over 50 wagons - since the 1930s in action.

The beer being carried was 'Pegler’s Passion', a 4.0% pale bitter, brewed especially for the Classic Ffestiniog weekend and the associated tribute to the late Alan Pegler OBE, the man recognised as having rescued the railway from dereliction in the 1950s, who died earlier this year.

Purple Moose Brewery turned out both of its Ffestiniog Railway volunteers for the delivery – brewer Kevin Pye, a steam driver, and Brewery owner Lawrence Washington, a diesel driver.

The wagon is a replica of an old general freight wagon which became known as the Beer Wagon after an old photograph showing it carrying casks of beer in the 1870s was discovered in 2006. The Ffestiniog Railway Society and Purple Moose put up the funds for the construction of a replica at the FR’s Boston Lodge Works – the oldest railway workshop in the world, which still builds and maintains engines and carriages today.

Purple Moose’s Lawrence Washington says the recreation is an echo of times gone by when the railway provided a vital link between Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog, carrying everything from flour from Snowdon Mill to the bakery at Penrhyndeudraeth, to gunpowder for the quarries and beer from Porthmadog to Blaenau.

Says Washington: "I learned some time ago that a group of volunteers wanted to build a replica and was asked if I would be interested in sponsoring it. Of course with its obvious connections to the brewery trade, through the historic photos which have been discovered, I was more than happy to donate some funds towards the building of the replica wagon – and very fine it looks too, particularly with our casks on board.

"We are already looking into further possibilities of joint marketing for the Ffestiniog Railway and Purple Moose Brewery using the wagon."  Report by Andrew Thomas
Loading the barrels - Andrew ThomasDelivering the barrels -Andrew Thomas Unloading the barrels - Andrew Thomas
September 14/15/16 2012  Quarrypower weekend

This year's Superpower weekend  was renamed Quarrypower with its focus the reunion of the Penrhyn quarry locomotives last seen together in the melancholy scrap line at Penrhyn around 1960.
The picture by Andrew Thomas gives a flavour of the occasion:
The cavalcade - Andrew Thomas
The following press release was published by Andrew Thomas:
Porthmadog, September 17th, 2012: The Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway’s Quarrypower gala, which also involved the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, proved to be extremely popular with both members of the public and the crews of the visiting locos.
Half a century ago, the scrap line at Penrhyn was photographed and the locos which looked so sorry for themselves have now been restored to their former glory. Over the weekend of September 15-16, the scrap line was recreated at Dinas on the WHR with the engines back in steam and lined up as they were 50 years ago. Winifred, newly-repatriated from exile in the US, was placed on a flat wagon as its wheelsets are still the original PQR gauge and would foul pointwork on the F&WHR.
“It was fantastic to meet old friends and to make new ones,” says F&WHR General Manager Paul Lewin. “The crews of the visiting locos had a great time and it was another example of how different heritage railways can work together to put on a truly excellent event.
“We were also delighted at the interest shown by local people in this recreation of a vital part of their history. It was especially good to welcome back ex-Penrhyn driver Gareth Williams, who proved that driving a steam loco is a skill that stays with you for life.
“I’d like to say a big thank you to those who brought their engines, to the staff and volunteers whose hard work made the whole thing possible and especially to the Welsh Highland Railway Society. People are already asking how we can top this next year – the 150th anniversary of the introduction of steam power on the Ffestiniog.”
The locos ran almost the full 25 mile length of the WHR from Porthmadog to Dinas on Friday 14th and featured in a nightglow photographic event before forming the historic lineup on Saturday morning. For many of the locos it was the longest single journey they had ever made.
Eigiau, Stanhope, GP39 (formerly Bronllwyd), Lilla, Winifred and Hugh Napier then set off in convoy for Beddgelert, where they took turns to run up and down the S curves above the station. A trip through the Aberglaslyn Pass took the consist on to Pen y Mount Junction where the locos spent the night.
Additional services on the WHR were handled by Lilla and Britomart, Britomart and Moelwyn, and Hunslet ‘Queens of the Hill’ Linda and Blanche.
On Sunday, a variety of double headed special trains ran non-stop from Pont Croesor to Minffordd on the Ffestiniog."

Highlights of the weekend are shown in the video by John Wooden

On the Friday the  locos were first on display at Harbour station having processed across the Cob. They then moved across Britannia bridge together in an unprecedented scene:
Eigiau waits to lead across the Cob in the early sunEigiau StanhopeGP39, formerly BronllwydWinifred on flat wagon, recently repatriated from the USHugh NapierLearyCrossing Britannia Bridge

The locos steamed over to Dinas where they were on display for the evening with their owners in attendance,  accompanied by music, food and beer.

On the Saturday  Dinas was open for breakfast while the engines steamed up again and, accompanied by the Nantlle Silver Band, the scrap line scene was recreated.  The cavalcade of locos then steamed to Beddgelert with photo opportunities on the S-bends, finally spending the night at the WHHR.  Meanwhile the "Queens of the Hill" Linda and Blanche double headed a service train.
Steaming up at DinasEigiau in steam The erstwhile Bronllwyd steamsLeary steaming upThe crowds gather at Beddgelert for the cavalcadeLinda and Blanche head the service train

Sunday. Britomart and Moelwyn headed a vintage train across from Dinas to Porthmadog. The quarry locos steamed at at the WHHR and made their way in due course to Pont Croesor despite the rain, where the grand finale special was assembled, headed by the quarry locos in tandem across Britannia Bridge.
Moelwyn and Britomart prepare to haul the vintage train at Dinas Moelwyn  The Quarrypower special prepares to leave Pont Croesor

More pictures of the occasion are welcome

August 20th 2012
Gordon Rushton's  magnum opus "Welsh Highland Railway Renaissance" was launched. The picture show Mike Hart congratulating Gordon on his achievement.  The book is available from the railway shops.
Welsh Highland Renaissance by Gordon RushtonMike Hart and Gordon Rushton - picture by AndrewThomas

July 29th 2012
Quarry  Power Book Sale
The WHR Society has been given a quantity of railway books,  mostly in "as new" condition. They will be on sale at Dinas during the Quarrypower weekend with the proceds going to the  Phase 5 appeal.  Some of the books are quite rare and expensive.  Tony Baker has compiled a list of the books with prices.  Books can be reserved in advance of the event by means of a cheque to Tony Baker

July 28th 2012
The WHR maps formerly hosted by Steve Harris have now been transferred to the Cymdeithas Rheilffordd Eryri/Welsh Highland Railway Society website.  They include the large scale Ordnance Survey maps from around 1916, the maps used for the Transport and Works Act application  and the gradient profile.

July 21st 2012
Welsh Highland Heritage Railway members attending the company’s AGM in Porthmadog on Saturday 21st July 2012 had the chance to ride on a special train from the WHHR’s Porthmadog terminus to Hafod y Llyn, joining the rebuilt Welsh Highland Railway at Pen y Mount Junction. This was the first chance members have had to ride on a train of WHHR stock on the 25 mile WHR, which joins Caernarfon and Porthmadog, following preliminary engineering tests in late 2011.
The special ran in an engineering possession arranged by the Festiniog Railway Company, which operates both the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. A possession was required as the WHHR stock – which has a braking system incompatible with that used on F&WHR locomotives and carriages - has yet to be approved for public use on the WHR.
F&WHR Director Mike Hart travelled as a special guest on the train, headed by WHHR stalwart steam loco Gelert, and was pictured congratulating WHHR Chairman Martyn Owen on arrival at Hafod y Llyn. It is anticipated that the spirit of cooperation between the two companies will lead to further specials in the future.

Gelert ready to depart Pont Croesor Station (Photo: Chris Parry).Festiniog Railway Company Director Mike Hart shakes hands with WHHR Chairman Martyn Owen at Hafod y Llyn. (Photo: Chris Parry).WHHR members alight at Hafod y Llyn while the loco runs round. Pic: Andrew Thomas

The locos
Name Location
Lilian Launceston
Eigiau Bredgar 
Stanhope West Lancs
Sgt Murphy Teifi Valley
Bronllwyd Statfold Barn
Hugh Napier Penrhyn Castle
Linda F&WHR
Blanche F&WHR
Lilla F&WHR
Britomart F&WHR

A special Three Day Rover ticket is available, giving access to Gelert’s Farm and Dinas plus travel on the FR, WHR and WHHR. It includes the walks and travel on the bus services but note that places on these must be reserved at the time of booking.
Tickets for individual days are also available. Prices start at £25. For more details, check the microsite at or phone the booking office on 01766 516024.


21st June 2012
Garratts and Kalaharis of the Welsh Highland Railway
by David Payling
This keenly awaited book is now available in hardback from the Festrail Shop, price £25. 

8th  June 2012
Bryngwyn Footpath
Elwyn Jones reports:
A further grant of £30,000 has been received from the Welsh Assembly to Llanwnda Council that will enable the completion of the slate trail footpath on the Bryngwyn branch.   The money will also fund repairs to the unique NWNG pedestrian overbridge at Rhostryfan.   Tryfan Junction is the ideal halt from which to explore this fascinating narrow gauge branch line and the slate quarries that it was built to serve.
Bryngwyn Footpatrh bridge to be restored - David Allan

6th June 2012
Quarry Power September 14th-16th 2012
The following announcement on the Festrail website outlines the  plans  for this year's version of the "Superpower" on the WHR.

Quarry power 2012This September, the Welsh Highland Railway's popular SuperPower weekend will become QuarryPower and restored Penrhyn Scrap line locos will be in action over the 40 miles of the F&WHR. 
There will also be the added attraction of the chance to see the locos in a convoy from Caernarfon to Porthmadog and onto the FR over the course of the weekend.
The sight of a dozen locos crossing Britannia Bridge at sunset should be one to savour. It's also hoped that the locos will also pay a visit to the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway.

Plans are still being drawn up and more locos are likely to be added to the list of visitors over the coming weeks.

The date is set for the 14th – 16th of September when Lilian, Stanhope, Eigiau, Sgt Murphy, Bronllwyd and the newly-retored Hugh Napier will be reunited with the F&WHR's Lilla, Linda, Blanche and Britomart in what promises to be an unforgettable demonstration of Quarry Power.

19/20th May 2012
Rail Ale Festival 2012

This year's festival was a huge success with last year's records being surpassed, more people attended, rode on the trains and of course got through more beer.
The weekend saw the majority of the North Wales Black Hand Gang involved with the 8th Real Ale Festival. Preparatory work had  gone on the previous weekend as well as during the week leading up to the weekend. On Monday, 21st they came back down to earth with the big clear up at Dinas. The Goods Shed and surrounding area now looks as if nothing had happened there.
Report by Dafydd Thomas

8th May 2012
Hugh Napier launch

Hugh Napier steams - Andrew ThomasWork on restoring 108 year-old ex-Penrhyn Quarry steam locomotive Hugh Napier is now complete and on Friday 11th May 2012, the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway will host the relaunch of the historic engine, owned by the National Trust. (see itinerary below)

The loco started work at Penrhyn Quarry in 1904 and after 50 years of hard work was deemed to be worn out and in 1954 – the year food rationing ended, Bill Haley recorded Rock around the Clock and Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four minute mile - it was dumped on a siding awaiting its fate. But somehow the loco escaped the scrapman's torch and was given to Penrhyn Castle Industrial Railway Museum in 1966.

Former quarryman Iorwerth Jones and the curatorial team at Penrhyn Castle spent many years gathering together all the missing parts needed to return Hugh Napier to steam. He tried to persuade anyone who would listen that the engine should be restored and was behind several attempts to move things forward - an effort spanning over thirty years. Sadly the extra effort he planned to put in to finish the job when he retired never happened as he died shortly after retiring, but he did leave behind a comprehensive collection of loco parts. But friends and supporters were determined that his work would not be in vain and engineers at the  Ffestiniog  and Welsh Highland Railway's Boston Lodge Works were asked to finish the job started by Iorwerth, the loco being delivered to the works in July 2011. Now, less than a year later, Hugh Napier is back in action and is set to play a key role in the F&WHR's Quarrypower gala in September.

After the re-naming ceremony, the loco will be blessed by the Bishop of Bangor and will then lead a triple-headed train of invited guests from Porthmadog to Beddgelert. Helping the diminutive locomotive up the steep gradients of the Welsh Highland will be ex-Penrhyn main line Hunslets Linda and Blanche, which have worked on the Ffestiniog Railway since the 1960s.  Ex-Penrhyn Quarry drivers, who worked with Hugh Napier in the quarry, will be on hand to see the engine's return to service.

Now F&WHR engineers, led by Andrew Foulds and Jo Clulow, have completed the task of restoring this historic locomotive to steam, it will become a roving ambassador for the National Trust, visiting other locations around the UK including the F&WHR where it will be used for light duties and on special occasions.

Hugh Napier was named after the fourth Lord Penrhyn, Hugh Napier Douglas-Pennant, who was actively involved in the community, as a magistrate and farmer, in politics and Eisteddfods and as a patron of the Penrhyn Male voice choir until his death in 1949.

Hugh Napier is an 0-4-0ST Hunslet quarry tank (works number 855 of 1904) which worked at Penrhyn Quarries, where it was part of the Large Quarry class. It weighs around 7½ tons and was named after the fourth Lord Penrhyn, Hugh Napier Douglas-Pennant, who was actively involved in the community, as a magistrate and farmer, in politics and Eisteddfods and as a patron of the Penrhyn Male voice choir until his death in 1949.

Itinerary for Hugh Napier Event
  Friday 11 May 2012

10.30                     Guests arrive at Harbour Station, Porthmadog.
                              Coffee will be served and guests receive their badges
11.00                     WHR service train departs
11.05                     HN arrives Harbour Station with former Penrhyn driver (Owen) Gareth Williams on board
11.10                     Speeches and naming:
                                John Prideaux – Welcome
                                John Morgan – Response and invite Dr Dewi Roberts to name the locomotive
                                Dr Dewi Roberts – names locomotive
11.30                     Passengers board train
11.40                     Train departs for Beddgelert                    
12.30                     Train arrives Beddgelert, local schoolchildren on platform                          
                                HN is blessed by Bishop of Bangor assisted by Bishop of Lango                           
13.00                     Guests depart Beddgelert Station to Royal Goat for Buffet Lunch
14.20                     Guests return to Beddgelert Station and board train
14.30                     Train departs Beddgelert Station for Porthmadog
15.05                     Train arrives Porthmadog Harbour Station

 (Report by Andrew Thomas)

22nd April 2012
Mike Hart's Simplex put in an appearance on WHR metals en route to the WHHR Gala weekend. It is seen here at Harbour Station in a "little and large" pose beside 143.
Simplex at Harbour station with 143. Picture by David Tidy

20th March 2012
The death was announced recently of Alan Pegler at the age of 91. Among many other achievements, Alan Pegler was instrumental in the early efforts to  preserve the Ffestiniog Railway which in turn has led to the restoration of the Welsh Highland Railway.  Obituaries have been published in the Daily Post, the Times and Daily Telegaph

17th February 2012

The following article appeared in the Caernarfon and Denbigh Herald on 18th February 2012:
A unique partnership between a drug and alcohol rehabilitation agency, a training firm and a narrow gauge railway has paid off for more than 30 people. CAIS Employment Services and Greenlight Training teamed up with the Welsh Highland Railway in October last year to run a training scheme, funded by the EU, aimed at helping people to get back into work.
Since then 54 people have been on the course honing their skills on vital maintenance tasks on the railway, between Caernarfon and Porthmadog.

CAIS chief executive Clive Wolfendale said the trainees, all of whom have had alcohol and substance abuse problems in the past, learned tracklaying skills in an industry with a skills shortage: “More than 30 trainees have found full-time employment in the industry across the UK and beyond,” he said.

Yesterday the Welsh Highland Railway ran a special train from Caernarfon to Waunfawr to celebrate the scheme. Clive said for many trainees it was the first time they’d travelled on the line. “They have been able to put their problems behind them, learn skills and the Welsh Highland Railway have benefited. It’s a win-win situation,” he added.   Some of the successful trainees showed civic dignitaries, including Arfon AM Alun Ffred Jones and Caernarfon Mayor Ioan Thomas, what they had learned.

The pictures by Andrew Thomas show the trainees gathered at  at Waunfawr station where they demonstrated their skills:
CAIS party at Waunfawr - Andrew ThomasDemonstrating tracklaying skills at Waunfawr - Andrew Thomas

11th February 2012

Half term services started today with round trips from Caernarfon and  Porthmadog headed up by 143 and 87, crossing at Rhyd Ddu.
The 1045 leaves Porthmadog with 87 - Andrew ThomasThe 14.30 waits to depart from Caernarfon The 14.30 waits to depart from Caernarfon87 pulls into DinasRounding the curve into Rhyd Ddu in the murk
87 waits to cross at Rhyd Ddu143 approaches Rhyd Ddu143 approaches Rhyd Ddu   Rhyd Ddu comes to life again after the break

10th February 2012

John Sreeves reports:

Yesterday I was delighted to visit the Institution of Civil Engineers to accept a Historic Bridge & Infrastructure Award on behalf of the WHR project. The award, one of six given, was a Special Mention’ and featured alongside other outstanding examples of restoration such as Paddington Station roof span 4.

The judges commented:

‘An outstanding long-term volunteer project which has sympathetically restored extensive historic engineering infrastructure.’

The awards are sponsored by Adept, British Waterways, English Heritage, Network Rail, New Civil Engineer magazine and ICE’s Panel for Historic Engineering Works.
Bryn y Felin BridgeHBIA certificateJohn Sreeves (centre) receives ICE award from Richard Coackley ICE President (left) and Terry Girdler Chair of the HB&I Awards panel (right)

29th January 2012
An FR works train paid a friendly visit to the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway today  to deliver a consignment of telegraph poles which the FR had donated to the WHHR.  Picture by Andrew Thomas
Delivery to WHHR - Andrew Thomas

27th January 2012
The annual Rail Ale Festival/Cwrw ar y Cledrau will be held this year on May 18th to 20th.
Entertainment has been booked as follows:

There is one more performer to be confirmed for Saturday afternoon.

Information about The Wee Bag Band is available on their website -

3rd January 2012
- press release by Andrew Thomas

Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway awards contract for Cob widening project
Porthmadog, January 3rd, 2012: Jones Bros Civil Engineering UK has been awarded the contract for the first phase of the major alterations to the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway's station at Porthmadog.
At present, both Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland trains have to share a single platform at Harbour Station, dating back to January 6th, 1865. This results in inconvenience for passengers and adds operational complications for railway staff and a million pound station improvement plan has been drawn up. The first phase of the plan involves the delivery of some 25,000 tonnes of rock from the nearby Minffordd Quarry to enable the westernmost 260 metres of the 200 year old Cob embankment to be widened to enable the construction of a new platform for use by Welsh Highland trains and to completely rework the station layout.
"We're delighted to be working with Jones Bros again," says F&WHR director Mike Hart. "Our collaboration on the Porthmadog Bypass bridge works under the Ffestiniog at Minffordd and over the Welsh Highland at Pont Bodawen was extremely successful and we look forward to working with them in 2012."
Work will commence in January and is scheduled for completion by early Spring. Local hauliers will transport the rock from Minffordd quarry to a new haul road constructed across the station at Porthmadog. Jones Bros supervisory staff, machine operators and labourers all worked on the Porthmadog Bypass project and live locally.
"It's great to be able to keep our bypass team together as a result of winning this contract," adds Huw Jones, Managing Director of Jones Bros, which has its UK head office in Ruthin, Denbighshire. "Our work on the sea defences at Tywyn demonstrates our capabilities for this kind of challenging work and the good relationship we built up with F&WHR during the bypass construction should ensure a smooth-running project."
In addition to staff working on the Cob, others will be based at Minffordd to select rock and supervise loading the wagons. Road transport for the two mile journey was chosen on environmental grounds and to avoid the double-handling of the rock involved in delivery by rail or sea. After delivery, rocks will be put in place one by one at low tide using specialised plant, resulting in a widened and strengthened sea defence.
"To make sure that we take advantage of the window offered to us by the Ffestiniog Railway, we will be importing the total quantity of 25,000 tonnes at 60 vehicle movements per day," says Hefin Lloyd-Davies, Contracts Manager at Jones Bros. "If we can also utilise Saturday mornings, we will take advantage of this."
After the Cob widening phase of the project is complete, railway engineers and volunteers will begin the process of laying track and building new platforms at the historic station. The project is scheduled for completion in time for the main operating season in 2013.

1st January 2012
Details are available of the Snowdonian 2012, a repeat of last year's popular event which raised £25,000 towards the Phase 5 appeal. The train will traverse the entire route of the WHR/FfR in both directions on 14th April 2012, accompanied by an open top bus for photographers. On the FfR the train will be hauled by the ladies Linda and  Blanche now in matching green, while on the WHR it will be double Fairlies. For full details of the train, accompanying events and booking arrangements,  visit the Phase 5 website
Snowdonian Poster

29th December 2011
Timetables for 2012 have been published. All trains will run through to Harbour Station in 2012. During the peak season there will be additional services in the early morning and late afternoon between Porthmadog and Rhyd Ddu to cater for walkers and visitors to Porthmadog from the Forest campsite or Beddgelert.

8th December 2011
The Welsh Highland Railway has received the Heritage Alliance Hero Award 2011 for the reconstruction of the Welsh Highland Railway. The awards are made to celebrate the contribution made by volunteers in support of community heritage. The citation for the WHR acknowledges the enormous contribution made by the volunteer workforce in all weathers and the potential benefit to the tourist industry in the region. The award was presented by Loyd Grossman at a ceremony on 8th December 2011 attended by Andy Savage, Stuart McNair and Pete Gray on behalf of the railway.
On receiving the award Andy Savage said:
“We’re really delighted to receive this Award in recognition of two decades of hard work from a vast group of volunteers. Their effort has preserved the railway for all to enjoy, and means it can again make a major contribution to the economy of North Wales.” 
The full press release is available here.
Andy Savage, Loyd Grossman, Stuart McNair and Andy Gray at the awards ceremony

24th October 2011
Two more awards for the railway

Following the successful completion of the rebuilt Welsh Highland Railway from Caernarfon to Porthmadog, the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway has received one of the most prestigious accolades in the heritage railway industry, the Peter Manisty Award. Presented by the Heritage Railway Association, the award is only given to projects of the highest quality and, as such, is presented when merited rather than on an annual basis. Previous winners include London and Continental Railways for their superb adaptation and restoration of St Pancras Station and the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust for the construction of the steam locomotive Tornado.

The railway was also honoured with the Railway of the Year award, presented at The Oldie magazine's Travel Awards ceremony in London. Nominated by respected railway writer Christian Wolmar, the magazine's editorial board praised not only the completion of the WHR, but the heritage ambiance of the world's oldest independent railway, the Ffestiniog.

"To receive two such prestigious awards within a few days is a great honour," says F&WHR General Manager Paul Lewin, "And reflects the determination and sheer hard work involved by permanent staff and volunteers alike. "With traffic on the Welsh Highland up by more than 50% on last year, it's clear that visitors to North Wales are also enthused and that all our hard work is paying off."  Report and pictures by Andrew Thomas

The Oldie AwardPont Croesor Station Mistress Belinda Gammon and F&WHR Volunteer Coordinator Tricia Doyle with the HRA Award - Andrew Thomas

14th/16th October 2011
The Vintage Weekend was primarily focused on the Ffestiniog Railway  but it included some interesting re-creations of vintage trains passing on to Welsh Highland metals as in times past. The photos by Dave Waldren,  Andrew Thomas and Chris Parry show slate wagons hauled by Palmerston and the Simplex crossing Britannia Bridge.

Simplex crossing Britannia Bridge with slate train - photo by Andrew ThomasSimplex with slate wagons on Britannia Bridge - Dave WaldrenPalmerston hauls slate wagons across Britannia Bridge - photo by Chris ParryPalmerston with slate wagons on Britannia bridge - Dave WaldrenPalmerston returns slate wagons on Britannia bridge - Dave WaldrenThe last wagon - Dave Waldren

September  2011
For reports of the Superpower weekend see the Superpower 2011 page

17th August 2011

Further details of the Superpower weekend,  September 9th-11th, have been announced :
• Triple-headed Garratts

• Double-headed Double Fairlies

• Double-headed Penrhyn Ladies

• Double-header with Mallet + B Class

• Triple-header with Mallet + B Class + Lilla

• Triple-header with Garratt + Mallet + B Class

• Both WHR Passenger sets and one FR Passenger set required

• 1920s FR Vintage set

• Mixed trains

• Complete DHR train

• All Caernarfon departures running right through to Porthmadog

• Special train which includes Non-stop running Pont Croesor to Minffordd and vice-versa

Looks to be a VERY good event...

Links to outline timetables and ticket information/booking form available at

(Information by courtesy of Roger Dimmick)

6th August 2011

Porthmadog, Saturday August 6th, 2011: Vertical boilered deWinton Chaloner made the short trip from the WHHR to Porthmadog Harbour Station this morning – the first time a ‘coffee pot’ loco has travelled over the cross-town link. Chaloner will remain on the Ffestiniog for two weeks. Report and picture by Andrew Thomas
Chaloner at Harbour station - Andrew Thomas

1st August 2011

Our Heritage Journey: Heritage Lottery Fund Bid - A Message from Alan Norton

The long term project is to share the heritage of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways with visitors and local people, at various sites along the length of the railways.

In this stage we develop the proposal and apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a significant amount of money to enable us to achieve our objectives.

The project is being run by the Ffestiniog Railway Heritage Ltd, and the team involved (so far) are Stephen Murfitt (FRHL Chairman) and Adrian Gray and Andrew Scott (both FRHL directors) and Alan Norton, who has volunteered to be project coordinator for this stage.

As part of the ongoing bid, Stage 2 is to develop the project idea and costs, and then apply for funding. We are being assisted and guided on this by a team of experienced people from Querceus Design, funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Whilst there is an overall aim to the project and many ideas have been developed, there is still a huge chance to influence how the project will work and what is incorporated. The next few months are all about all the dedicated, hard-working people with an opinion having chance to put their views across. This includes staff, volunteers, local people, historians, members, supporters…

A schedule for the necessary work has been developed and the following are the significant milestones:
    Right now we are issuing an invitation for comments from all supporters. See below for links. There will be paper copies available on the railway for those people that prefer hard copy rather than digital communication.
    During August, our various heritage specialists (you!) will be invited to share your thoughts with the consulting team.
    During early September, the consultants will liase with operational staff to discuss the implications of their ideas.
    At Superpower Weekend (10/11th September), the “story so far” will be displayed and written comments invited on the Saturday. On Sunday, there will be a session from 10.00 until 12.00 for people to put their ideas / thoughts / comments in person.
    A similar exercise will be repeated at Vintage Weekend (14-16th October).
    It is hoped to complete the development of the project during November, and we will share this with interested people.

We expect to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund during December, and a response could take up to six months, depending how we fit into their cycle.
Alongside this, the latest news, hot off the press, is that Cadw have, on July 19th, indicated that they would accept an application from us for funding towards a heritage centre at Boston Lodge, from their Heritage Tourism Fund, specifically the pot titled “Wales – the first industrial nation”. We now have to work out how to put together a funding bid, and how to integrate it with the funding application to HLF.

So, please do take just a few moments to share your views… you are the experts whose views are essential if this bid is to be successful.

The ‘Journey into our Heritage’ / ‘Taith i’n Treftadaeth’ questionnaire is available in both Welsh and English (on the same document).   To download the document (in Word format)  click here

Alan Norton

July 19th 2011

Chaloner returns
An historic steam locomotive is returning to the Caernarfon factory where it was built 134 years ago, before undertaking the toughest journey of its life.

On Saturday July 23rd, diminutive De Winton locomotive Chaloner will travel from Dinas on the Welsh Highland Railway to Caernarfon, where it will pose for photographers outside what was the the erecting shop of De Winton and Co, where three of the original buildings still survive.

The Mayor of Caernarfon will be in attendance to flag off the little loco as she then heads south from Caernarfon bound for Porthmadog 25 miles away - by far the longest journey she has made in her life, but owner David Fisher has no qualms about her abilities. Since thorough rebuilding at the Ffestiniog Railway's Boston Lodge Works in 1987, she has been fine-tuned and is now in as good mechanical condition as when built, despite bearing the scars of a long hard life.

Saturday July 23rd Timetable
1300 depart Dinas
1320 arrive Caernarfon
1345 depart Caernarfon
1400 arrive Dinas
1530 Dep Dinas
1615 arr Waunfawr
1640 dep Waunfawr
1715 Rhyd Ddu
1755 Beddgelert
1830 Pont Croesor
1900 arr Penymount for access to WHHR

On arrival at Porthmadog, Chaloner will stay at the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway for two weeks before moving over the Cross Town Link and Britannia Bridge to the Ffestiniog Railway on Saturday August 6th.    (Report by Andrew Thomas)

July  16th 2011

The longest train ever thought to have passed through Beddgelert  was observed today. The photos show 87 pulling the train which was formed following the failure of 143. The 15.00 ex Caernarfon using the “F” set was combined with the Special using the “B “set, 13 coaches in total. The first photo is at Cwm Cloch and the second in the Aberglaslyn Pass. Report and pictures by David Firth.

Longest train at Cwm Cloch - David Firth Longest train in Aberglaslyn - David Firth

July 14th 2011

Super Power Weekend  10-11 September  2011

A reminder that this event is not far away.

This year's Super Power, the first since the opening of the completed Welsh Highland Railway, will feature a host of visiting locomotives, special trains, and many other attractions.

Welsh Highland Railway Superpower weekends are always worth a visit, but this year's event over the weekend of September 10-11 promises to be the best yet.

Not only will there be the chance to see three Beyer Garratt NG/G16s in steam for the first time, there's also the opportunity to see triple-headed Garratt superpower across Britannia Bridge and through the Aberglaslyn Pass.

And superpower of an older, but still impressive, variety comes in the shape of the Ffestiniog Railway's Hunslet sisters Blanche and Linda - both newly painted in matching green livery - double heading a full Welsh Highland service train between Porthmadog and Caernarfon.

Visiting locos include Adrian Shooter's Darjeeling B Class and Statfold Barn's Jung Mallet making a return visit to the WHR.

But the highlight of the weekend has to be the King of the Hill trials as Garratts, Fairlies and Mallets battle it out on the toughest stretch of railway in the UK - the 1 in 40 climb through the forest between Beddgelert and Rhyd Ddu.

June 29th 2011

Enhanced Summer timetable announced

Due to the popularity of services covering the new section of the Welsh Highland Railway opened in April, the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway has evaluated options for enhancing the Summer timetable to offer more opportunities for return journeys over the whole line from both Caernarfon and Porthmadog.

"It is highly unusual to contemplate significant changes to the timetable once the season is underway," says General Manager Paul Lewin, "But traffic figures show a clear preference for the services which cover the whole railway rather than those terminating at Pont Croesor.

"We are continually working to improve the experience offered to our customers and the addition of extra through services gives passengers more choice and offers more opportunities to savour the unique experience of watching two major heritage railways operating an intensive service from the same station at Porthmadog."

The most significant enhancement is an improved service on Fridays and Sundays in July and August, when two Porthmadog - Pont Croesor shuttle services will connect with Caernarfon trains, offering a choice of three full-line return trips a day from both Porthmadog and Caernarfon.

And from July 19 until September 8, an additional shuttle service will operate from Pont Croesor to Porthmadog on most weekdays, allowing passengers a choice of two return times from Caernarfon.

The existing bus links between Pont Croesor, Porthmadog and Caernarfon will continue to operate as advertised.

Check the website for details of the changes or ring the booking office on 01766 516024.

June 26th 2011

First WHHR test train runs on completed Welsh Highland Railway

The first Welsh Highland Heritage Railway train has run on the challenging gradients of the Welsh Highland Railway. The five carriage test train, double headed by WHHR locos Gelert and Gertrude, was run in conjunction with Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland engineers to test braking systems. The WHHR operates air-braked stock, while F&WHR trains are exclusively vacuum-braked.

The train left WHHR metals at around 1800 and headed for the foot of Nantmor Bank - the start of the almost continuous 1 in 40 six mile climb to the summit of the line at Rhyd Ddu which makes the WHR the toughest railway in the UK.

After the satisfactory completion of brake tests from speeds of up to 20mph to measure stopping distances on the level, Gelert proceeded light engine through the Aberglaslyn Pass and tunnels to Beddgelert to take water, before returning to Hafod y Llyn to test braking performance down Nantmor Bank before rejoining Gertrude and the train for the run back to Porthmadog, arriving back at around 2230.

This is the first time a WHHR train has travelled beyond the site of Traeth Mawr Loop - the end of the section of the railway laid by WHHR volunteers as their contribution to the rebuilding of the whole 25 miles of the Welsh Highland. The location is now marked by one of the 'Tin Tunnel' accommodation bridges built for farm access.

"This is an historic moment for both railways," says WHHR Chairman Martyn Owen. "At times it seemed that it would never happen, but the wait has definitely been worthwhile."

Further tests are planned over the coming months and the next movement from Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland to WHHR metals is likely to be the visit of historic de Winton vertical boiler locomotive Chaloner on its way from Caernarfon to Porthmadog in July.

"We're very pleased to be working with our colleagues at the WHHR," adds F&WHR General Manager Paul Lewin. "The new spirit of cooperation can only bring benefits to both our organisations and to tourism in the area."

A video of the occasion is available through You Tube:

April 20th 2011

The final section of the Welsh Highland Railway was officially opened in Porthmadog today by Pete Waterman. The opening took place on the 175th anniversay of the opening of the Ffestiniog Railway which was celebrated at the same time .A commemorative milestone was unveiled and has been placed where the two railways meet.  Llechwedd slate quarries in Blaenau Ffestiniog supplied the milestone and  it was transported to Porthmadog on the Ffestiniog Railway. 

At Pont Croesor, at  the other end of the final section of the line, a second ceremony took place where Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Presiding Officer of the Welsh National Assembly, welcomed the rebirth of the Welsh Highland Railway. Guests then continued to Beddgelert on the special train for lunch  There is a report on the BBC website .  To mark the occasion Radio Cymru broadcast a series of three half hour programmes leading up to the opening day, consisting of recorded reflections and reminiscences both from local individuals and from railway personnel.  The day marks the start of ten days of special activities on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways.

Photos by Andrew Thomas and Chris Parry:

The slate plaque, supplied by Llechwedd Slate Quarries, is pictured with Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland General Manager Paul Lewin, Llechwedd engraver Eirian Jones, Driver Vince Bashford and fireman Kevin Lee. Photo by Andrew ThomasDr John Prideaux, Chairman of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways and Pete Waterman pose with the plaque marking the opening of the Welsh Highland Railway. Pic: Andrew ThomasWhile the guests travelled to Beddgelert for lunch, the plaque was set into its permanent home at the end of Spooner's Bar. Pic: Andrew ThomasPete Waterman, Dr John Prideaux, Chairman of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways and Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas pose at Pont Croesor with the banner marking the opening of the Welsh Highland Railway. Pic: Chris Parry

John Wooden recorded the occasion on You Tube:

April 8th 2011

The visiting Mallet from the Statfold Barn Railway arrives at Dinas -  see its new dedicated page.

Making its first noves on the WHR. (Photo: A. Thomas/FR)

April 2nd 2011

"The Snowdonian"

This remarkable special was arranged to raise funds for the "Phase 5" appeal.  It ran firstly from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog, then to Caernarfon, passing non-stop through Porthmadog,  finally returning to Porthmadog at the end of the day.  For the WHR section the train was double-headed with double Fairlies. Photos by Tony Baker and Richard Watson

Earl of Merioneth and Taliesin approaching their train on the Cob - Richard WatsonThe Snowdonian headboard adorns the chimney of Taliesin at Porthmadog Harbour - Richard WatsonSnowdonian in Aberglasyn - Tony BakerSnowdonian at Beddgelert - Tony BakerMerddin Emrys at rest at Beddgelert on the outward journey - Richard WatsonTwo Fairlies at Beddgelert - Richard WatsonMerddin Emrys and David Loyd George rounding Ffridd Isaf curve on the outward journey to Caernarfon - Richard Watson

Snowdonian near Castell Cidwm - Tony BakerThe two Fairlies queueing for the water tower at Caernarfon - Richard WatsonDavid Lloyd George leads Merddin Emrys during the photographic runpast at Ffridd Isaf curve - Richard WatsonThe Fairlies begin the runpast near Rhos Clogwyn - Richard WatsonRounding the curves just before Rhyd Ddu station - Richard WatsonRounding the curves just before Rhyd Ddu station - Richard Watson

March 1st 2011

Photo charters were once again in action on the WHR. The following photo from Alasdair Stewart shown Merddin Emrys returning across Britannia Bridge at the end of the day.

Merddin Emrys and Blanche at Dinas on the Down train from Porthmadog. (Photo: Alasdair Stewart)

February 21st 2011

The first weekday service over the whole of the Welsh Highland Railway was Monday 21st February. The train below is that of the service train from Porthmadog where it is seen at Dinas and later again at Dinas heading back to Porthmadog.

Merddin Emrys and Blanche at Dinas on the Down train from Porthmadog. (Photo: Alasdair Stewart)Merddin Emrys and Blanche at Dinas on the Up train to Porthmadog. (Photo: Alasdair Stewart)Merddin Emrys and Blanche at Dinas on the Up train to Porthmadog. (Photo: Alasdair Stewart)

The Snowdonian

We are advised that there are now only 100 seats left for The Snowdonian Special on 2nd April 2011. This is a public special train being run from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog and then to Caernarfon, and return to Porthmadog - 08.45 ex Harbour, 19.00 return.

There will be a Breakfast of bacon butties, lunch at Beddgelert and afternoon tea on the way back.  A run past will be done at Fridd Isaf and an open top bus with be tracking the train from Minffordd to Caernarfon and back to Port.

Full details of the train are on the Phase 5 web site,, where both snail mail and electronic application methods will be found.

February 19th 2011

The inaugural public trains ran today between Caernarfon and Porthmadog. For the first time public trains have run on the entire line between the two towns . The train from Caernarfon was hauled by K1 and 138,  while the train from Porthmadog was hauled by Blanche and Merddin Emrys. The trains departed simultaneously from Porthmadog and Caernarfon at 1045am and passed each other at Rhyd Ddu. 

John Wooden's video charts the progress of the train from Caernarfon to Porthmadog:

The two pictures below courtesy of Andrew Thomas/FR shows the 10:45 leaving Porthmadog and the 10:45 ex Caernarfon arriving at Porthmadog later in the day..

Blanche & Merddin Emrys leaving Porthmadog with the first public train to Caernarfon. (Photo: Andrew Thomas/FR)K1 and 138 arriving with the first public train from Caernarfon. (Photo: Andrew Thomas/FR)

February 12th 2011

The Sherry and Mince Pie winter train service to Hafod y Llyn peaked with an exceptionally long train being run on Saturday 12th February. The train of 11 carriages was topped and tailed with Vale of Ffestiniog at the Porthmadog end and Taliesin at the Hafod y Llyn end.  The first two photos are taken from up on Garth Terrace.

Taliesin and Vale of Ffestiniog leaving Harbour Station and out onto the Cob prior to heading out to Hafod y Llyn. (Photo: Alasdair Stewart)Taliesin (with the Vale of Ffestiniog at the rear) leaving Harbour Station and out across Britannia Bridge on the outward journey. (Photo: Alasdair Stewart)Taliesin and Vale of Ffestiniog at Ynysfor. (Photo: Alasdair Stewart)Taliesin and Vale of Ffestiniog at Ynysfor. (Photo: Alasdair Stewart)

January 20th 2011

The winter service trains have continued to run out of Porthmadog and onto the Welsh Highland as far as Hafod y Llyn. These trains serve the coach operators tour requirements and are being run on the WHR whilst the Ffestiniog is severed at Minffordd for the by-pass bridge to be installed. Taliesin has been the provider of motive power for theses trains, but operated by WHR crews, and is seen here leaving Harbour Station on the 20th January 2011.

Taliesin leaving Harbour Station and out across Britannia Bridge on the outward journey. (Photo: Andrew Thomas/FR)Taliesin crossing Britannia Bridge on the outward journey. (Photo: Andrew Thomas/FR)Taliesin crossing Britannia Bridge on the outward journey. (Photo: Andrew Thomas/FR)Taliesin crossing Britannia Bridge on the outward journey. (Photo: Andrew Thomas/FR)Taliesin crossing Britannia Bridge on the outward journey. (Photo: Andrew Thomas/FR)
Taliesin crossing Britannia Bridge on the outward journey. (Photo: Andrew Thomas/FR)

January 17th 2011


A Very Special Train on Friday 25th March 2011

The first opportunity to travel 80 miles on Narrow Gauge in one Day !

The London Area Group is organising the train.

Depart Harbour station Porthmadog about 09.30
Travel to Blaenau Ffestiniog behind a Double Fairlie
Return to Harbour, traverse theCross Town Link and over the Cambrian line
Passing the Welsh Highland Heritage Line, up the New Welsh Highland line
Hauled by the oldest Garratt Locomotive K1 To Caernarfon
Return to Harbour Station by 18.00.

Packed lunch included, souvenir timetable and some special little extra
A not to be missed day
Tickets £65.00 From Kim Winter 223 Camp Road, St Albans Herts AL1 5NE
Cheques payable to ;- London Area Group of the Ffestiniog Railway Society

Download an application form here

(The following weekend is “Megabash” in which you could help).


January 8th 2011

First public train from Porthmadog

On 8th January 2011 the first public train ran out of Porthmadog Harbour Station and onto the Welsh Highland Railway. The train was the 1130 sherry and mince pie service to Hafod y Llyn and back and headed by Taliesin. It was followed by a later trip, the 1335. The train was using a seven car set of FR carriages. The sun even came out to celebrate the occasion and Vale of Ffestiniog was used as station pilot at Porthmadog.

Taliesin crossing Britannia Bridge on the outward journey. (Photo: Andrew Thomas/FR)Taliesin at Hafod y Llyn. (Photo: Andrew Thomas/FR)Taliesin at Hafod y Llyn. (Photo: Andrew Thomas/FR)Taliesin at Hafod y Llyn. (Photo: Andrew Thomas/FR)Taliesin returnibg across Britannia Bridge. (Photo: Andrew Thomas/FR)Taliesin returning to Harbour Station. (Photo: Andrew Thomas/FR)

January 4th 2011

The Snowdonian Special - 2nd April 2011

On 2nd April a public special train is being run from Port to BFf, back to Caernarfon, and return to Port - 08.45 ex Harbour, 19.00 return.

There will be a Breakfast of bacon butties, lunch at Beddgelert and afternoon tea on the way back.  A run past will be done at Fridd Isaf and an open top bus with be tracking the train from Minffordd to Caernarfon and back to Port.

Full details of the train are on the Phase 5 web site,, where both snail mail and electronic application methods will be found.

December 13th 2010

The Phase 5 Appeal.  "Let's finish the job"

Details of the appeal appeared in  Steam Railway and have been circulated to current sponsors.  There is a dedicated website for the appeal which gives full details.

Phase 5 is designed to deliver the items we need to finish the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. We are making a major effort to raise the funds to do this, by appeals to the public, to sponsors, and for government grants.  When you give, we hope it will act as match funding, pound for pound.  The funds we raise will be spent in key areas, such as:
  1. Harbour Station: to have two trains in the station together,  allowing transfer between FfR and WHR trains, another platform is needed.  We have all the plans and permissions to do this work.  Harbour Station will then really be the narrow gauge Grand Central!
  2.  We will soon have more locomotives and more carriages than we have room to store. New locomotive facilities are urgently needed at Dinas and Boston Lodge, and the carriage sheds there do not house the current fleet.  When the fleet gets bigger, we will need  bigger sheds, or have to leave even more of our precious carriages outside.
  3. We need two, more powerful, modern diesels to run services not economic for steam, and to act as general purpose and rescue machines.
  4. It would be unwise, having built the WHR, not to be able to offer the level of service and the number of seats we want with purpose built carriages.  The initial need is for ten new FfR width carriages,  all to be built at Boston Lodge. This will allow these vehicles to be used on both railways.  More carriages will follow as demand rises.
  5.  Upgraded terminal stations at Caernarfon and Blaenau Ffestiniog are essential and we also wish to improve intermediate stations.     

This appeal has been structured to encourage our sponsors to join the Ffestiniog Family.  Our experience from Phase 4 has shown how much this is appreciated.  Should you be kind enough to support the Phase 5 Appeal, we shall welcome you to membership of the FfR or WHR Society and to the annual tour of inspection, as well as offering other ways in which you can join in.

The Company have added the following note to the appeal literature:

The FR Co board would like to clarify the position with regard to the phase 5 appeal.

Reflecting the Board's overall responsibilities, this appeal seeks to raise funds that benefit both the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. We were offered an opportunity to present the appeal in this edition of steam railway magazine. Space in this edition is highly coveted as it is read over the all important Christmas and New Year holiday period. We had to respond very quickly to this opportunity.
This appeal, which is equally relevant, and open to, supporters of both railways, includes the share for life offer for larger donors. It gives the opportunity for donors to opt for membership of either society as part of the package. The project lists published to date are preliminary and will be developed and prioritised in consultation with the Ffestiniog Railway Society and the Welsh Highland Railway Society.

December 9th 2010

Castell Caernarfon was in Porthmadog today to take a seven car set back from Boston Lodge to Dinas, giving a rare opportunity to see both Funkeys together on FR metals.
Earlier  the WHR set had been split for gauging trials in the station area.
Note that the Harbour groundframe now has its permanent labelling attached.
Photos by Andrew Thomas
WHR rolling stock at Harbour station for gauging trials - Andrew ThomasNewly labelled blockshelf and frame - Andrew ThomaaCastell Caernarfon on Britannia Bridge - Andrew ThomasCastell Caernarfon and Vale of Ffestiniog together - Andrew ThomasCastell Caernarfon and coaching stock on the Cob - Andrew ThomasCastel Caernarfon and its train depart over Britannia Bridge - Andrew Thomas

November 29th 2010

F&WHR set to test Fairlies, Garratts and Mallets in head to head contest

Porthmadog, November 29, 2010: The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways will have an outstanding - and eclectic - selection of locomotives in action during 2011. Not only is Manning Wardle replica 2-6-2 Lyd due to appear in authentic Southern livery for the first time, but NG/G16 number 143 will return from major overhaul in its new green livery, popular Hunslet 2-4-0 Linda will steam again and visiting locos already confirmed include Adrian Shooter's Darjeeling Himalayan 19B, Chaloner, a vertical-boilered DeWinton and, for the first time, a two-foot gauge Mallet.
"2011 looks set to be a golden year for the Welsh Highland Railway," says F&WHR General Manager Paul Lewin. "Not only will the full 25 mile line be officially opened on April 20, but we are eager to bring a wide variety of locos to be put through their paces on the UK's most demanding railway.
"For the first time, visitors will be able to see three different types of articulated locomotives working together - The FR's Double Fairlies; K1, the world's first Garratt; NG/G16 143, the last Garratt to be built by Beyer Peacock in Manchester; and Statfold Barn's Jung Mallet, No. 9. For the first time, these different loco designs can be seen competing in against each other to see who really is King of the Hill."
Statfold Barn's Mallet 0-4-4-0T, Jung works No. 4878, was delivered to H. E. Oving of Rotterdam, Netherlands in April 1930 for use on the Jatibarang Brebes Sugar Mill Railway in Indonesia , where it carried No. 9. The Sugar Mill was built in 1842 by the government of the Dutch East Indies colony.
The loco is now approaching completion and is scheduled to undergo test runs before Christmas. The first time the public will be able to see her in action will be March 19th, after which the loco will move to Porthmadog.
Says Statfold Barn spokesperson Henry Noon: "Graham Lee and the team at Statfold Barn Railway are all very excited at the prospect of our latest rebuild project visiting North Wales. It will be an ideal opportunity to see just how the loco will perform on what is undoubtedly a challenging line.
"We believe this is the first time a Mallet has run in Britain on a public passenger carrying railway and it is apt that it should be on the F&WHR where articulated power is the norm!"
The loco weighs 17 tonnes and is expected to offer performance approaching that of a Double Fairlie, although the loco will undergo exhaustive testing during its stay in North Wales to see exactly what it can do. In Indonesia, the loco burnt sugar cane for fuel, but will be coal fired in the UK.
"The Mallet has been overhauled to Statfold's usual high standard in close cooperation with Ffestiniog engineers," adds Lewin. "Wheelsets have been gauged and profiled to meet FR specifications and the loco has been fitted with vacuum brakes and chopper couplers to make it suitable for passenger use."
The Mallet design has a rigid main frame that supports the rear end of the boiler. At the front of the main frames are the high-pressure cylinders. A sub-frame, carrying a second set of driving wheels powered by low-pressure cylinders, is positioned ahead of and pivoted to the main frames. Exhaust steam from the high-pressure cylinders is carried to the low-pressure cylinders through flexible steam pipes, as is the exhaust steam from the low-pressure cylinders to the blast pipe in the smoke box. The overall result is a compact but powerful locomotive able to negotiate tight curves.

November 24th 2010

New WHR service vehicle announced

 The Company has made the following announcement:

Following detailed discussions between departments, it has been decided to convert the original semi-open carriage 2020 into a second service vehicle for the WHR, rather than to carry out further alterations to 2090. There are several advantages to this – 2020 is due for a major refurbishment anyway and it is easier to start with a fairly blank canvas and we get to keep 2090 as a spare brake with toilet and disabled space. Yes, we lose a few seats but open carriages are not at all popular on a wet day and retaining the 21 warm seats in 2090 is a lot better. The costs are very similar and both sets will still contain a semi-open carriage.  Norman Bond has already started work on 2020 and we hope to have it complete for the start of daily services next year.

October 30th 2010

The first train runs over the whole route from Caernarfon to Porthmadog

This was a historic day for the project, the culmination of many years of hard work and preparation. The first train to complete the entire journey was the Gold/Silver Supporters' train, hauled by No 138.  It left Caernarfon just after 0900 on a damp morning,  and passing through all four phases of the project, arived at Porthmadog Harbour station around 1230 to an enthusiastic welcome from supporters who had gathered in and around the station. High points were the Network Rail crossing at Cae Pawb,  where the train had had stand and await a path owing to some earlier delays,  and the street running across Britannia Bridge with crowds either side of the line to witness the event.

The video by John Wooden shows the highlights of the occasion:

More reports are to be found on the BBC website,  with a rather longer clip on the Welsh site:

An interesting view from the observation Pullman at the rear of the train as the first train pulls off Britannia Bridge. It clearly shows the huge crowds there.

The view from the Obs of the first train as it crosses Britannia Bridge. (Photo: A Stewart)

In the first photograph below the first train is seen leaving Harbour Station after being pulled out of the platform road and onto the Cob by Lyd. It's then seen crossing Britannia Bridge in the second view.

The first train leaves Harbour Station. (Photo: A Stewart)The first train crossing Britannia Bridge. (Photo: A Stewart)

Later in the day a second train ran for a further group of sponsors,  this time hauled by No 87:

Arriving at Caernarfon (Laurence Armstrong)At Rhy Ddu after taking water - both loco and crew! (Photo: K Holland)Crossing with the first train at Pont Croesor (Laurence Armstrong) Spectators on Britannia Bridge (Laurence Armstrong)Spectators on Britannia Bridge (Laurence Armstrong)Standing in Harbour Station (Laurence Armstrong)Standing in Harbour Station with Lyd along side. (Photo: K Holland)Leaving Harbour Station and onto Britannia Bridge. (Photo: A Stewart)

The following day, October 31st,  a Platelayers Special ran from Porthmadog to Rhyd Ddu carrying trackworkers who had contributed to the reconstruction. The train was double-headed by Lyd and Taliesin:

At Rhyd Ddu (Simon Melhuish)A proud crew at Rhyd Ddu (Photo: K Holland)Passing Pen y Mount (Simon Melhuish)On the Traeth (Simon Melhuish) Taking water at Rhyd Ddu on the return (Photo: C Briscoe)Taking water at Rhyd Ddu on the return (Photo: C Briscoe)It looks like a very satisfied crew to me! (Photo: C Briscoe)

October 15th 2010

Be one of the first to travel on the completed WHR
Saturday 19th February 2011 has been chosen as the date for the first public train service between Porthmadog and Caernarfon - the first time that members of the public will be able to buy a ticket to do the complete journey.

As you would expect, demand will be high and premium fares will apply. Half the proceeds from these trains will go towards the rebuild of 2090 to enable both WHR sets to have a proper guards van and catering facilities. The WHRS has also offered money for this project which should begin to show results in early 2011.

Staff and society members are reminded that there will be a further eight days when the full route service will run and that paying customers should be given preference on the inaugural day. Both Caernarfon and Porthmadog booking offices have a long list of people who are waiting for this opportunity and they will be offered tickets first.

Third class return tickets are priced at £50.00 and First Class at £100.00 - including morning coffee & biscuits on the outward journey and a cream tea on the return. All travellers will receive a special commemorative ticket to celebrate the occasion. Trains depart from Caernarfon at 1100 and 1430 and from Porthmadog at 1045 and 1415.

Platelayers' Special
As a thank you to the track gangs who worked on the rebuilding of the Welsh Highland, a special train will run on Sunday October 31. The train departs Porthmadog at 1000 running to Rhyd Ddu, returning at 1145 and arriving back at Port at 1300. Motive power is expected to be Lyd and refreshments will be available on board. Members of the Black Hand, Rest of the World and Tuesday Gangs should contact or phone the booking office on 01766 516024 to confirm attendance and whether a partner will be accompanying them.

Spooner's will be open for breakfast before departure and anyone requiring Sunday Lunch on their return is asked to pre-book with the café by Monday October 25.

July 21st 2010 - Race the Train. The annual Race the Train event took place on the evening of 21st July. The race, now believed to be in its 13th year had around 300 runners participating. This compares with approximately 60 in its first year. The runners were seen off by the mayor of Caernarfon and the race started after a minute's silence in memory of Bob Anderson who had worked incredibly hard to promote Caernarfon and local businesses including support for the WHR in the early days. The runners started at Dinas and ran to Caernarfon and this year raced a train hauled by No. 87

The Runners in Dinas North yard for the start. (Photo:A.Stewart)The Runners on their way with 87 hauling the train. (Photo:A.Stewart)

June 20th 2010

The Pont Croesor temporary station buildings are in place. The three Portacabin style builds that form the temporary station are in place, painted in a dull green to help them blend in with the surrounding vegetation. This is not exactly new-news, but is included here to show the visual impact of these buildings, compared to that of the Osprey Centre in the final picture.
Pont Croesor buildings from carpark - Bob SmithPont Croesor buildings from platform - Bob SmithPont Croesor name board - Bob SmithPont Croesor Osprey Cnetre - Bob Smith

19th June, a glorious Saturday and the Black Hand Gang are hard at work at Pont Croesor fettling the alignment at the Northern end of the platform road. Halts in their work were imposed by the regular train service.

Pont Croesor 2010 06 19 - Black Hand gang fettling alignment - Bob SmithPont Croesor 2010 06 19 - Black Hand gang fettling alignment - Bob SmithPont Croesor 2010 06 19 - Black Hand gang fettling alignment - Bob SmithPont Croesor 2010 06 19 - Black Hand gang fettling alignment - Bob Smith

On the same day as the above photos were taken a group of engineers, project and commercial managers, with their partners were visiting some of the North Wales railways. This group either work for, or have worked for various companies in the North West of England and Germany that now come under the Alstom banner. One was heard to comment about what a magnificent railway we have, in terms of the scenery, the quality of the locomotives and coaching stock, and the friendliness of the staff (although this may have been assisted by the presence of Philip Quayle in the party). The following photographs give an impression of the day.

Views of North bound run from Pont Croesor - 2010 06 19 - Bob SmithViews of North bound run from Pont Croesor - 2010 06 19 - Bob SmithViews of North bound run from Pont Croesor - 2010 06 19 - Bob SmithViews of North bound run from Pont Croesor - 2010 06 19 - Bob Smith87 running round at Pont Croesor - 2010 06 19 - Bob Smith87 departing Pont Croesor 2010 06 19 - Bob Smith87 departing Pont Croesor 2010 06 19 - Bob Smith

June 4th 2010

Completion of Phase 4

Paul Bradshaw writes:  In the past few days the decision has been made by the FR and WHRCL to complete the works needed to obtain HMRI approval of the remaining section of the new WHR.  By mid-September we need to have the section from Pont Croesor to Harbour Station brought up to the standard required for a passenger service.  It is expected that with HMRI approval granted it will be possible to run occasional trains from Harbour Station over the WHR later this year and, it is hoped, a timetabled service over the winter.

For our track volunteers this means we need a lot of your help over the next 15 weeks.  There is much to do.  Tom's team have already started on the hugely important job of tamping this section.  They need maximum support from the volunteer track gangs.  The volunteer work programme has been adjusted so that we can make this all happen. For full details of volunteering for the track gang see here.

May 30th 2010

The new buffet store at Dinas is now in place. Buffet crew can now load supplies from the release road instead of needing the train to be in the platform,.  Empty coaching stock can therefore depart for Caernarfon direct from the release road, thus speeding up train preparation in the mornings. This development links in with the plan to serve a wider range of food from the service car, including hot snacks, to cater for the longer journey times on the extended railway.
The pictures below show the new buffet stores.  K1 stands in the bay platform awaiting parts for further repair work before returning to service.  Pictures by Laurence Armstrong

K1 and Dinas buffet storeDinas buffet storeDinas buffet store

May 26th 2010  -   Official opening to Pont Croesor & Nantmor Halt opening

Whilst the section from Hafod y Llyn to Pont Croesor had been in use since 22nd May had its formal opening on May 26th by Dr Dewi Roberts accompanied by the FR company Chairman Dr John Prideaux.. Full details and many more photographs of the opening can be found on the Pont Croesor re-opening page.

Recording inthe open coach - Dave WaldrenPont Croesor arrival - Andrew Thomas

John Prideaux and Dewi Roberts with the newly unveiled board - Dave Waldren Speeches - Andrew ThomasPaul Lewin with RSPB reps - Andrew Thomas

Having opened Pont Croesor the party boarded the return train and proceeded to Nantmor where the new Halt was also opened this time the opening ceremony was performed by Dr Dafydd Gwyn who dedicated the station in Ben Fisher's memory. 
Nantmor opening - AndrewThomasPlaque to Ben Fisher at Nantmor - Andrew Thomas

The final ceremony of the day was at Beddgelert station where two National Railway Heritage Awards  won by the railway in 2009 were unveiled. Again more details are on the Pont Croesor re-opening page

Heritage Awards - Dave Waldren

May 20th 2010 - The Railway announces the opening of the next section of track to Pont Croesor. 

The FR Company press release:

Welsh Highland Railway to open another two stations
Heritage Railway of the Year now in sight of final goal

 Porthmadog, May 20th 2010: The Welsh Highland Railway is to open the penultimate section of its 25 mile route to passengers on Wednesday May 26th. An additional three miles of track from the present Hafod y Llyn terminus at the end of the Aberglaslyn Pass – voted the UK’s most beautiful spot by members of the National Trust – will take passengers out across the wide flatlands reclaimed from the sea in 1811. 

A new station at Pont Croesor will form the new southern terminus of the line until the final stretch linking up with the Ffestiniog Railway opens in 2011. The new station is alongside the RSPB's popular Glaslyn Osprey Project viewing centre. Local residents and schoolchildren have been invited to the opening ceremony at Pont Croesor at 1200 on Wednesday 26th and to travel on the inaugural trains. 

In addition to the new station at Pont Croesor, the village of Nantmor will also get its own halt on the 26th. The halt will be dedicated to the memory of the late Dr Ben Fisher of Bangor University, who played a key role in the rebuilding of the Welsh Highland. 

The new section of the UK’s most exciting heritage railway project – current holder of the Heritage Railway of the Year accolade - will offer passengers a magnificent panorama, the railway being surrounded on three sides by the mountains of Snowdonia and the ancient sea cliffs of the Glaslyn estuary. 

Added to the magnificent views of Snowdon and delightful villages such as Beddgelert, the WHR now runs from beneath the castle walls in historic Caernarfon across the full width of the Snowdonia National Park using the most comfortable narrow gauge carriages in the UK. 

In addition to this fleet of impressive carriages, trains also include both heritage and luxurious first class Pullman carriages - including the magnificent observation car built in the company’s own workshops in 2009 which was named Glaslyn by Her Majesty the Queen during a visit to the railway in April.

News from earlier years is archived on separate pages:-
[2009] [2008] [2007] [2006] [2005] [2004] [2003] [2002] [2001] [2000] [1999] [1998] [1997] [1996] [1995] [1993-4]
(while latest news is at the top of this page, the archive pages read chronologically from top to bottom)

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Authored by Ben Fisher; last updated 23rd May 2014 by David Tidy