Not all books listed are necessarily in print, but your library may be able to oblige. UK titles in print are likely to be available through FR/WHR/WHRS outlets including mail order, and/or through the WHHR bookshop and mail order service.

Recommended  Reading:

James I.C.BOYD:

  • Narrow Gauge Railways in North Caernarvonshire, vol. 1 (West), Oakwood Press (1981), ISBN 0-85761-273-0. The section on the Nantlle Railway details the early history of the modern WHR's route into Caernarfon.
  • Narrow Gauge Railways in South Caernarvonshire (2nd ed.):
  • Vol. 1, Oakwood Press (1988), ISBN 0-85361-365-6; includes the history of constituent parts of the original WHR and other railway schemes (reprinted 2000)
  • Vol. 2, Oakwood Press (1989), ISBN 0-853631-383-4; the history of the completed original WHR, plus material on the 1964 Company.

Christian CÉNAC

  • K1: 1ère Garratt en Tasmanie/1st Garratt in Tasmania, published by the author (23 rue des Martyrs de la Libération, 31400 Toulouse, France) (1996), ISBN 2-9505403-3-3. A thorough account of the North-East Dundas Tramway and its rolling stock, in particular the pioneer Garratt K1, now being rebuilt for the Welsh Highland. Parallel French and English text, though the reader of French will be at an advantage in many places. Comes with a supplement of 147 detailed A3 drawings to 1:19 scale, of which 49 are devoted to K1. Original watercolours take the place of historical photographs. Expensive but worth it for K1 devotees; available in the UK through Camden Miniature Steam Services, Bath.


  • Welsh Highland Wonderland, Pride Books (1982), ISBN 0-946283-00-1; a good selection of pictures of the old WHR, reproduced in large format if not always top quality.

Ffestiniog Railway Company:

  • Rheilffordd Eryri/Welsh Highland Railway: Traveller's Guide,  This route guide is updated regularly and is available through the Railway's shops. It is reproduced to a high standardand intended to introduce the visitor not just to the railway journey but also to the communities and countryside served by the Railway, and activities complementary to riding on WHR. 

Gordon & Ann HATHERILL:

  • Slate Quarry Album, RCL Publications (2001), ISBN 0-9538763-2-2 (softback), 0-9538763-3-0 (hardback). A fascinating insight into the detail of slate quarries and their internal railways. Deals mostly with two Blaenau Ffestiniog quarries, but the coverage is also relevant to those served by the WHR. The cover features a fine picture looking across Llyn-y-Gadair from its small quarry to Rhyd Ddu Station.

David GWYN

  • Welsh Slate - Archaeology and History of an Industry (2015) ISBN 978-1-871184-51-8 (also a Welsh language edition ISBN 978-1-871184-52-5) A beautifully produced account of the slate industry of Wales in its broadest sense, highly readable and informative as a background to the narrow gauge railways of the area.

Richard L. HILLS:

  • Beyer, Peacock: Locomotive Builders to the World, 3rd impression, Venture Publications (1998), ISBN 1-898432-05-8; the history of the Manchester firm that built the Welsh Highland Garratt locomotives, includes pictures of K1 being built in 1909 and much else.
  • The Origins of the Garratt Locomotive, Plateway Press (2000), ISBN 1-871980-43-7. Learned material about the early development of the Garratt (some texts already seen elsewhere, including in The Snowdon Ranger), plus archive photos of K1 being built (same as in the above volume) and at work in Tasmania (not featured in the BP volume), surrounding a facsimile reprint of H.W. Garratt's booklet The Garratt Patent Locomotive. Recommended despite some odd slips, mainly on the rear cover (K1 is an 0-4-0+0-4-0, not an 0-1-0+0-1-0 - shades of Emett! - and a photo titled as being at Dinas is in fact at Minffordd), all royalties are being donated by the author towards the restoration of K1.


  • Rheilffordd Eryri/The Welsh Highland Railway: 1991 to 2003, 4th edition, December 2003, 388pp. Published by the author, in aid of the funds of the Welsh Highland Railway Society. A very thorough and mainly first-hand account of the purposes, proceedings and outcomes of the Public Inquiries and High Court cases (etc) which have allowed reconstruction of the WHR, including much detail and documentation which may be unfamiliar to those who were not closely involved. Although it concentrates on the administrative side of the revival, this is by far the most thorough published account of how the WHR revival has come about, and the complexities involved, from the first suggestions of reopening during World War Two up until reopening to Rhyd Ddu in August 2003. Please note that only pre-ordered copies of this printing were produced, it was not intended for general sale.


  • Portrait of the Welsh Highland Railway, Ian Allan Publishing Ltd. (1999), ISBN 0-7110-2658-0; an account of the old WHR, its predecessors, and the modern revival(s). Includes several historical photos not widely seen in print before, in addition to better reproductions than usual of many of the familiar ones, and fresh research on aspects including the enigmatic PB&SSR. Updated 2nd edition published 2000.
  • An Illustrated History of the Welsh Highland Railway, Oxford Publishing Company (2002), ISBN 0-8609-3565-5. The most comprehensive single volume yet published on the WHR, its predecessors and revival. Fresh research from primary sources amplifies and effectively rewrites much of the corporate and legal history in considerably better and clearer detail than publications previously regarded as "standard". Historical pictures are a mix of familiar views and a good variety of others little or never seen in print before, from NWNGR and "old" WHR periods. The book includes clear, brand new maps from this site's map maker John Sreeves, comparing various proposed, historical and future routes. While less detailed in some areas (e.g. rolling stock, history and operations of WHR [Porthmadog]), this is essential reading for the Welsh Highland enthusiast.
  • An Illustrated History of the Welsh Highland Railway, Oxford Publishing Company (2009), ISBN 0-8609-3565-5. The Second Edition of Peter Johnson's comprehensive treatise of the Welsh Highland Railway. Much of the illustrative content of this edition is new, including many in colour. For those that have the first edition this 2nd edition should be considered a compliment rather than a replacement. 
  • The 40 Mile Railway. Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways (2013)  ISBN-13: 978-0901848130. An account of the 40 miles of WHR and FfR railways with accounts of the history, engineering and lineside features.  Well illustrated and engaging.

Gwynfor Pierce JONES and Alun John RICHARDS:

  • Cwm Gwyrfai: The Quarries of the North Wales Narrow Gauge and the Welsh Highland Railways, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch (2004), ISBN 0-8638-1897-8, 368 pages. A meticulous labour of love which makes the varied and complex histories of the slate quarries served by the NWNGR and WHR much clearer than ever before; covers quarries physically connected to the "main line" and Bryngwyn Branch, plus nearby quarries which were not. Concentrates on slate with some passing references to the metal mines. Best read in conjunction with large scale O.S. maps; while the book includes a modest selection of maps and pictures (some unfamiliar) it concentrates on text. Exceptional value for money.

John KEYLOCK (compiler):

  • The Welsh Highland Railway, An Historical Guide. Part One: Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu, Welsh Highland Railway Heritage Group (2005). A valuable parallel to the "modern" guide book, presented in a similar format but using archive photos mostly taken between the 1890s and 1940s. Includes some not believed to have been published before, and particularly good reproductions of more familiar ones (notably an uncropped version of the 1893 Dinas "wardrobe photo"). The text is clear and detailed and conveys the very different atmosphere of the former WHR. Includes a new version of Lewis Esposito's Heritage Trail map as the centrespread.
  • The Welsh Highland Railway, An Historical Guide. Part Two: Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog Welsh Highland Railway Heritage Group (2012) A similar volume covering the second half of the route. Both volumes available from the Welsh Highland Railway Heritage Group


Michael J.T. LEWIS & John H. DENTON:

  • Rhosydd Slate Quarry, 3rd ed., Adit Publications (1994), ISBN 0-9522979-0-6. The story of one of the slate quarries that fed the old WHR via the Croesor Tramway, its industrial archaeology, and an insight into a vanished way of life. The book that set the standard for all studies of slate quarries published since its first edition in the 1970s.


  • Branch Lines around Portmadoc (1923-46), Middleton Press (1993), ISBN 1-873793-13-8; a photograph-based account of the WHR and Festiniog Railway in the given period. Includes the much-debated "Picture 84", showing what may well be an ex-NWNGR carriage unrecorded by previous histories.


  • Tasmania's Hagans: The North-East Dundas Tramway Articulated "J" Class, published by the author (Queensland, Australia) (1998), ISBN 0-646-33442-5; available in the UK through Camden Miniature Steam Services, Bath. Primarily about the remarkable semi-articulated Hagans 2-6-4-0T J1, which preceded our Garratt K1 in Tasmania, but also rich in details and photographs of K1's original home. Into the bargain, the author presents a practical and well-argued defence of the reputation of the much-maligned J1. 

Andrew NEALE:

  • "Russell": The Story of an Historic Narrow Gauge Steam Locomotive, WHR Ltd. (1996), ISBN 0950-1178-3-8. The story of the WHR's most famous locomotive, and its restoration.

Lou RAE:

  • A History of Railways and Tramways on Tasmania's West  Coast, An historical account of Tasmania's railways that covers the North East Dundas Tramway, the original home of K1. Currently out of print but frequently seen on the second hand market.

William G. REAR:

  • Caernarvon and the Lines from Afonwen and Llanberis, Scenes from the Past series no. 28, Foxline Publishing (1996), ISBN 1-870119-42-8. One of WHRS member Bill Rear's numerous books about railways and transport in North Wales; this volume features Caernarfon-Dinas in standard gauge days, plus much else of interest.


  • A Gazetteer of the Welsh Slate Industry, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch (1991, out of print), ISBN 0-86381-196-5. Summary history and physical decription of every known slate quarry in Wales, from the largest concerns down to the smallest trial workings, including cross-referencing of differing names for individual sites.
  • The Slate Railways of Wales, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch (2001), ISBN 0-86381-689-4. Inexpensive but thorough and readable introduction to railways (narrow and standard gauges) serving the slate industry, plus useful guides to physical remains of those which no longer exist.
  • See Alun John Richards's site, which among other things, includes useful amendments to his books.


  • Welsh Highland Railway Renaissance.  Adlestrop Press (2012) ISBN 978-09571456-0-3.  Arguably the definitive account of the rebuilding of the Welsh Highland Railway, drawing heavily on the material from Ben Fisher's project website. Generously illustrated, weighty and comprehensive.


  • Walks from the Welsh Highland Railway. Part 1: Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu, Walks with History series, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch (2003), ISBN 0-86381-816-1. A pocket-sized guide to a set of imaginative and well researched walks around WHR(C), commendable for not ignoring the areas served by the lower stretches of the line, and offering a good mix of easier and more demanding routes. Includes historical and modern photos in mono, including some not seen in print for some time (e.g. Beddgelert posed solo with a passenger train).


  • The Welsh Highland Railway: Caernarfon to Porthmadog - A Phoenix Rising, Silver Link Publishing Ltd. (1999), ISBN 1-85895-142-9; a good presentation of the past, present and future of the Welsh Highland, with a thorough set of illustrations including some unfamiliar (and thus welcome!) historical photographs. Includes pieces by David Allan and John Keylock (The "64 Company"), Colin Hill (K1: The World's First Garratt) and the late Handel Kardas (The Future).
  • The Welsh Highland Railway: Volume 2: Halfway to Paradise, The Nostalgia Collection series, Past & Present Publishing Ltd (2004), ISBN 1-85895-233-6. This second mainly pictorial volume takes the story on from Dinas to Rhyd Ddu, and also looks ahead at rebuilding the remainder of the WHR. Numerous historical views are also included, some previously unpublished or not in print for some time. A worthwhile addition to the bookshelf despite a few detail errors in the captions. Includes texts by Dave Kent (The Continuing Story), John Keylock (Heritage) and David Allan (The '64 Company: an Update).
  • The Welsh Highland Railway:Volume 3: Ain't No Stopping Us Now. The Nostalgia Collection series, Pant & Present Publishing Ltd (2009), ISBN 1-85895-259-8  John Stretton continues the story comparing the old railway in operation and in dereliction with the newly restored section from Rhyd Ddu, through Beddgelert and the Aberglaslyn Pass. 128 pages, paperback. 


  • Quarry Hunslets of North Wales: The Great (Little) Survivors, Oakwood Press (2001 - updated reprint Autumn 2004), ISBN 0-85361-575-6. Although not directly about the WHR, an absorbing book which features the few Quarry Hunslets that worked in quarries that fed the old WHR (including a works photo of Glanrafon Quarry's unusual and elusive Silurian), plus the various survivors which have visited WHR(P) and WHR(C), and the project to recreate Lady Madcap at WHR(P).


  • The Welsh Highland Railway: a History, 4th edition, Stenlake Publishing (2003), ISBN 1-84033-263-8. A further revised version of this familiar concise, well illustrated and competitively priced history of the old WHR. Unfortunately there are a few wrong picture captions - some spectacularly wrong, others more subtly so - which may trap the unwary. Pictorial coverage includes a number of interesting "recent finds" not widely seen elsewhere, notably a fine picture of the NWNGR General Manager at Snowdon Ranger with an inspection trolley. The text of the second edition (1990) is on the Web.

Recommended viewing

  • Return to Dinas, VHS video, Jon Marsh Ciné Film and Video Services vol.9, 1997; 90 minutes of competent amateur footage showing numerous aspects of the construction and operation of Phase 1 of WHR (Caernarfon). Also features WHR (Porthmadog) in 1995. Proceeds from the tape go to WHR appeals including the restoration of Garratt K1.
  • Welsh Highland to Waunfawr, VHS video, Jon Marsh Ciné Film and Video Services vol.12, 2000; 2 hours. More of the same very thorough approach; Jon features WHR (Caernarfon) operations and special events after the opening to Dinas, but concentrates on the preparation and execution of Phase 2 to Waunfawr, with commentary on regular visits to the site as it was transformed from dereliction to a railway once more, showing a series of trackbed walks, plus lineside and on-board sequences with work trains. Includes a short sequence showing work on K1's power units at Boston Lodge. Concludes in August 2000 with diesel and steam test trains and the first public trains
  • Welsh Highland Railway re-opening to Rhyd Ddu, DVD-R or VHS, Jon Marsh Ciné Film and Video Services, 2003; 1 hour 45 minutes. Thorough coverage of Phase 3, digitally mastered and edited, from footage of the untouched trackbed to the opening day, via regular site visits during construction, including lineside and on board footage of works trains (including the delivery of the Betws Garmon river bridge), test trains (including the first steam arrival at Rhyd Ddu) and the Royal visit.
  • Welsh Highland Railway Building Back to Beddgelert, DVD, Jon Marsh Ciné Film and Video Services, 1 hour 29 minutes.  This DVD covers the rebuilding of the line from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert. Starting with scenes showing the undisturbed route, progress is followed through to the running of special trains in 2007. Included is some coverage of work between Pen-y-Mount and Pont Croesor. In addition we experience trips on construction works trains and the sponsor special train. 
  • Welsh Highland Railway Construction Beddgelert to Porthmadog, DVD, Jon Marsh Ciné Film and Video Services, 1 hour 30 minutes.  This DVD covers the second part of Phase 4, the rebuilding of the line from Beddgelert to Porthmadog. Starting with scenes showing the undisturbed route, progress is followed through construction to the Golden Spike and special trains in 2008 and 2009. In addition we experience trips on sponsor special trains. 
  • For the Love of Steam: Re-instating the Welsh Highland Railway, Beca Video/S4C/Ffestiniog Railway, 1998, c.65 minutes. Extended English-language version of S4C's memorable documentary Codi Stêm: Stori Ail-sefydlu Rheilffordd Eryri, including extensive footage of Garratt 138 (and others) in South Africa and Wales, the construction and opening of Phase 1 of WHR (Caernarfon).
  • For the Love of Steam II: Re-instating the Welsh Highland Railway, Dinas - Waunfawr, S4C/Beca, 2000, c.38 minutes. Complementary to the above title, an extended version in English of the second Beca WHR programme, Ail Godi Stêm, which was transmitted on S4C in December 2000. Although shorter than the first feature it is packed with interest, covering Phase 2 of the project from Dinas to Waunfawr, including the official opening, the September 2000 Gala with RussellTaliesin, and double-headed Garratts, plus an introduction to the task of reinstatement onwards to Porthmadog (anyone puzzled by the twisting route above Beddgelert will find their questions answered by a graphic neatly overlaid on an aerial shot). Features interviews with many people involved with the railway, and with local people - not all of them pro-railway. Also has brief footage of winter services taken after the S4C version was broadcast. Picture aspect ratios are "stretched" vertically on a standard TV (where they were stretched horizontally in the S4C version), but production values are otherwise high.
  • Welsh Highland Railway: "Lein Bach", Logan Video Services, 2nd edition 2000, c.60 minutes. An accurate and well-told history of the WHR, concentrating on the original railway and its predecessors and using accounts from locals who remember the old line, and historians. Also features Palmerston and Russell at WHR (Porthmadog) in 1998, and a footplate ride from Dinas to Caernarfon on Beyer-Garratt 138. Despite the odd liberty in the choice of illustrations, and an abrupt historical leap from 1937 to 1997, has plenty to offer for newcomers and WHR afficionados alike. The updated second edition adds some 22 minutes to the original programme, covering the tasks involved in the extension to Waunfawr plus test trains, and the September 2000 opening and Gala. The style changes in this extra part, with clear explanations by the people involved rather than presentation by a single narrator, but is none the worse for it. Logan intend to produce expanded and updated versions of the programme as WHR rebuilding progresses, and offer the opportunity for purchasers of earlier versions to trade them in (see their site).
  • Rheilffordd Eryri/Welsh Highland Railway : Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu - A Driver's-Eye View, double DVD set, Ffestiniog Railway, 2005, 130 minutes in total. Filmed on the first return journey of the 2005 Super Power weekend and released the following day! The title is a slight misnomer, as part of the driver's view on Garratt no. 138 Mileniwm/Millennium is taken up by the loco's tanks. In this case the camera is mounted on the leading end of the loco and gives a clear view straight ahead (no panning left or right), non-stop from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu on Disk 1, and crossing no. 143 and Prince at Waunfawr and Dinas on the return journey on Disk 2. The weather is a mix of sun and cloud (down to about 2000 ft over the mountains). No commentary or other technical features apart from chapter structure. Simple, brilliant, essential. A similar set is also available covering the FR.
  • Welsh Highland Railway Cab Ride Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert, DVD, Jon Marsh Ciné Film and Video Services, 69 minutes.  Filmed from the footplate of James Evans' quarry Hunslet "Velinheli" on 26th April 2007, the occasion of the first steam loco into Beddgelert station since Russel in 1937. It is complemented with additional lineside shpts taken by the then Cymdeithas Rheilffordd Eryri Chairman, Dave Kent. It includes a number of clips from Rhyd Ddu as well as the entire return journey back from Beddgelert. This film was produced with the co-operation of Welsh Highland Railway Construction Limited to allow footplate crews and supporters the opportunity to view the first part of the new line now under construction. The DVD also makes use of, courtesy J Sreeves and L Armstrong, the Phase 4 Construction Maps to be found on this website. No narration. 
  • The Steam Machines: a magical journey on the Welsh Highland Railway steam trains from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu, DVD or VHS, Click Productions Ltd, 2003, 30 minutes. A travelogue with narration covering the journey from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu soon after reopening, plus footage of the July 2003 Royal visit. Please note that this is not the English version of the S4CRhuthro i Rhyd Ddu programme, but an entirely separate production.
  • The Welsh Highland Railway, DVD or VHS, GWP Video, 2004, 61 minutes. Broadcast-quality material covering highlights of the WHR Project from the early 1990s to 2004, with commentary by Gordon Rushton.
  • Welsh Highland Railway Phase 3: Amateur Videocamera Footage of the Construction and Opening 2000-2004, DVD+R or VHS, Barrie Hughes, 2005, 110 minutes. An extensive collection of mainly short extracts showing an excellent range of scenes of reconstruction from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu, special events, and the reopened line in operation. Mastered on VHS from Hi8 camcorder footage. A very good accompaniment to Barrie's well-known website A re-mastered version of Barrie's Phase 2 footage is also available, which also includes good footage of services in the snow in December 2000 not advertised on the sleeve..
  • Song of the Rails: The Story of the Sandstone Narrow Gauge Railway, Easter Free State, South Africa, DVD, Sandstone Estates/Frameline Television, 2004, 80 minutes. The story of our partner railway in South Africa, its purpose, building and extension, and the Sandstone Heritage Trust's inventive special events. Locos featured in action include industrials, an NGG16 and NG15, but the star is the ex-Beira Railway 4-4-0. Broadcast quality.
  • The Apple Express: South Africa's Avontuur Railway, Sandstone Estates/Frameline Television 2001, 64 minutes. Features the history and present situation of the Avontuur system, with Apple Express Society passenger trains hauled by classes NGG16 or NG15, and Class 91 diesels on freight workings. Includes a brief introduction to the Port Elizabeth cement works line from which the WHR and FR Funkey diesels were purchased. Also features the Sandstone Steam Railroad, and NGG13 Garratt no. 60 at work in Switzerland.

Drawings for Modellers

We get quite a few queries about drawings of WHR rolling stock. Drawings for the Winson/Keef carriages and the Pullman are available, courtesy of Boston Lodge, through the service offered on behalf of FR Heritage Group Sales. Enquiries should be directed to Adrian Gray, 25 The Pound, Syresham, Brackley, Northants NN13 5HG (SAE required for postal enquiries) or an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it... Drawings are available in 4mm and 7mm scales. They show side and end elevations, a seating/internal plan and an underframe layout of the carriages as built. They are outline only, not General Arrangements.

  • WHC/01 WHR Pullman Saloon "Bodysgallen" (2115)
  • WHC/02 WHR 3rd class, 12m open carriage (2020-2)
  • WHC/03 WHR 3rd class, 12m closed saloon (2040-2)
  • WHC/04 WHR 3rd class, 12m closed saloon with guard and wheelchair compartments (2090)
  • WHC/05 WHR 3rd class, 13m closed saloon (2043-5)