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25th Oct - 1st Nov - a pleasant week in the Nantlle Valley plus ...

Did both Welsh Highlands and the FR (as well as working at gigabash on the FR).  First two are of the train at Pen-y-mount and the track heading off onto the actual WHR.  Russell in the museum - apparently something not right with the airbrake system so taken out of service.

The first walk we did - Wednesday, which was stunning - was out of the door and up into the hills around the quarries.  There are a huge number of remains left in situ there - an industrial archaeologist's delight! Second two: You can a blondin still in there - the tower is quite petite at its base and curved inwards delightfully.  Middle: The incline winding mechanism still in place. Right two: We climbed Moel Tryfan and the views were superb.

We then walked down the old Brygwyn branch of the WHR to Tryfan Junction and caught the WHR train to Caernarfon.  143 (green) was going for a major overhaul so left us at Caernarfon with 87 (blue) taking over. It was a tight squeeze to get the train in the station and the two locos past each other but it just worked.  At Dinas, diesel Vale of Ffestiniog was returning to Porthmadog so double headed our train down.  Left: the last road overbridge before hitting the sharp curve down to the station.  Next two: The beautifully restored station building and site of the old signal box - a replica soon to be built by the heritage group.  We walked over the bridge at caernarfon only to be trapped there as it opened to let a tourist boat in!

One of the reasons I love the FR .. the ever changing view from the cob on a clear day!!  Hudson Hunslet diesel and slate wagon on display at the centre of Blaenau Ffestiniog on a wet day!! 

The rest of the pictures were taken on the Friday as I explored more of the Nantlle Quarries.  The remains are amazing and I would recommend a walk through them but take care as there is still some work being done in them.  To be seen are wagons on weighbridges, tunnels galore, old rusting equipment, an old saw in a mill, winding houses with all but the track remaining - the wood looks almost new and the grooves from winding can clearly be seen.

14th September - Apedale Valley Light Railway

We spent the day her for their 'Tracks to the Trenches' event and what a superb day it was.  A mixture of real and model with re-enactment groups and their road vehicles thrown in.  We also visited the mining exhibition and went down the coal mine.  Well worth the money, all of it.  Hardly touched a drop of Titanic brewery wares either; certainly wouldn't have tasted three of their beers!!

Below is a selection of pictures which will be captioned later.

9th - 23rd August - Scotland (and a bit where I got lost)

Below; (9th) Well lost is probably a mild exageration - just fell off the M6 and ended up on the Cumbrian coast at the Ravenglass and Eskdale - doesn't everybody accidentally divert there on the way to Scotland?  We were hauled by Hercules which was having a holiday from the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.  This loco is rather too big for the turntable so had to be split at Dalegarth (picture 3rd to 5th from left) and Ravenglass.  One man and his dog ....  (10th) We visited the 'Devil's Porridge' museum in Eastriggs, just west of Gretna.  Here was the largest explosives (DP was actually cordite - the propellant for shells) factory in Britain during the first World war. Two very large towns were built from scratch - Gretna and Eastriggs during WW1 - serving the factory between which stretched for 9 miles!  Obviously conventional steam locos were out so this fireless version was one of many used.  The museum hope at some stage to get a short length of track and run it up and down. This one is Sir James, one of fourteen fireless locomotives which worked in areas of the factory where any sparks might cause an explosion. These locomotives were steam powered, and charged at various points in the factory. Sir James was built by Alexander Barclay, Kilmarnock, and was in service at HM Factory Gretna in 1917-18. In 1924 it was sold by the government to the Metropolitan Electric Power Supply Company to work at Brimsdown Power Station in North London, where it was given the name Sir James. In 1975 it was moved to Fleetwood Power Station. In 1982 it joined the collection at the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway and in 2011 came back here and was cosmetically restored.

Below; (18th) A day out in Edinburgh, partly for the literacy festival and Fringe events showed the tram running both by day and night.  Left eastbound and 2nd from left west bound.  The 3rd left picture is actually a bus but made a more dramatic picture!  (19th) The right four are of the Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway.  Here I met an old friend who, amongst several other accomplishments, drives the locos there.  We were invited to the signal box and my daughter met (somewhat ironically) a young friend of hers who usually fires on the Ffestiniog - on a 'busman's' holiday!!

(19th cont) Having left Bo'ness and visited a couple of castles we stopped off at the foot of the forth railway bridge.  As we waited EWS 67007 passed over with a short 5 coach train which may have been some kind of special train.  (23rd) on the way home we got lost again, this time via Melrose Abbey and the Waverley Route Heritage Association at Whitrope.  This is only a small run - about 200 yards - with a museum.  The group have not been going long but it's worth a visit.  The final three on the right; first the the supports fro the 3rd (2nd road) crossing of the forth at this point - will make a total of 5 bridges across the forth - should be four really as at present but I suppose four road bridges works as well!  The right two are of the new Queen Elisabeth aircraft carrier being fitted out at Rosyth yard.  These were taken from the battlements of Blackness Castle!


2nd August - Ffestiniog Railway Kid's Week drop off!!

Russell has just been restored to full working order and looks splendid on the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway.  Meanwhile, Fiji was giving footplate rides at harbour Station to raise money for Welsh Pony's restoration.  Late in the day, the Kid's Week special returns to harbour where platform 1 was organised for Sunday's first train so comes in the platform 2 instead!  Jolly good fun to be able to play like this!

26th July - Shotton (or Hawarden Bridge)

Having dropped my daughter off at Shotton low level station for the North Wales Coast (left picture), I walked over to the river along the footpath there to picture the bridge - no longer functioning but at one time the swing bridge with the largest span Britain.  I then photographed the trains (they only stop in the morning and evening for workers at Shotton works) passing through Hawarden Bridge station.  The picture, second from right shows the Wrexham bound train stopped at Shotton High Level Station.  The bridge is currently under extensive repair.  There is a foot / cycle way attached to the south side of the bridge.  Third from left the train passes Dee Marsh Junction signal box.  No junction any more but the line from here went to Chester Northgate station, the first home of Chester Model Railway Club!

22nd July - Welsh highland Heritage Railway

31st May - Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway

26th May - Stokesay, Shropshire

On a very non-railway weekend away to the Hay Festival and visiting Stokesay castle on the way home, I just happened to wander over to get a better view of the castle from near the railway line (as you do) ....  66120 travelling north towards Shrewsbury whilst 175116 heads south.

27th April - Hadlow Road Station, Wirral Way

30th March - Ffestiniog / Welsh Highland

Having worked on part of the station at Porthmadog it was good to return to see it in operation.  It was with mixed feelings that we saw the open aspects and views appearing above Tan-y-Bwlch in particular - great because you can see so much better now, but sad given the circumstances - Ash dieback disease and the destructive power of a storm causing the trees to be felled!

15th and 16th March - Ffestiniog Railway Terrabash

Please note that several pictures here were taken atop the water tower where we were working to clear rust, clean and paint it.  There is no public access to it.  There wasn't even any access to it until we'd fitted the ladder back!  Click here for pictures.  Pic 1   Pic2

8th March  - Keithley and Worth Valley Gala


1st November  Ffestiniog Gigabash and half term


19th - 26th October

Above left: train in a landscape.  Approaching Rhyd Ddu station on the Welsh Highland Railway in North Wales. Initially from a distance, the with the engine facing one way and the carriage the other - at the other end of the curve, finally in close up almost model like.  Centre: panorama overlooking Rhyd Ddu and Snowdon (sadly in cloud).  Right; from the top of the lower Prince of Wales Quarry incline at the head of the Pennant valley.  The left picture looks down towards the Gorseddau Tramway - a superb walk.  We were staying at an old farm cottage near Bryncir woollen mill and decided to catch the 9:35 train from Porthmadog up to Rhyd Ddu station and walk back over the hills and along the tramway to Ynys Pandy slate mill.

Lower left: early arrival at Porthmadog showing new station coming on well.  In view to the left is the the new relay room and signal box. Right two: Dolbadarn in an unfortunate shade of green being watered. Diesel Topsy/Coed Gorau hauling the frames of Thomas Bach.  In the shed, brand new cylinders have been purchased and work is well underway in getting him back to steam.  Elidir quietly watches over it all.

22nd September - Liverpool

Liverpool pier head, Overhead Railway car and 'Lion' in the new Liverpool Museum.

14th / 15th September - Birkenhead Transport Festival

Veteran Prince (150 years old - well 149 shhh) running passenger trains in strange places!  In between some lovely model boats.  The video below is courtesy of Ffestrail (the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways).

Prince at Birkenhead Transport Festival

10th August - Princess in her castle (Penrhyn that is)

A Princess in her castle.  Charles is Linda and Blanche's brother - given the excellent job that the Ffestiniog has done on the National Trust's Hugh Napier, will the time come when Charles is restored to steam?  To the right, 3ft gauge Kettering Furnaces No. 3 and wider still, 4ft gauge Fire Queen from the Padarn Railway.

9th August - Shrewsbury flower festival

1st - 3rd August - North Wales

On yet another weekend collecting children from working on the Ffestiniog Railway we stayed at the very pleasant Aberdunant Hotel in Prenteg.  The rooms were very good and the food excellent, though book in advance, don't just turn up.  The wildlife (apologies for the 'sex' picture but I was really pleased with it) were taken at Bodnant garden as were the lilies.

On the Friday we went for a trip on the Welsh Highland up to Rhyd Ddu and back to Porthmadog.  The weather was good, as can be seen.  This journey really is one everyone should have on their to do list!

he weather

Our last day involved collecting daughter from Minffordd hostel and having a trip on the Ffestiniog Railway after catching the WHR 9:35 from Porthmadog at Pont Croesor.  The FR was test running Palmerston piloting Prince up the line ahead of their 150th birthday outing on the Sunday.  The heavy train slipped  somewhat on leaving Tan-y-bwlch and came to a stand just before Moelwyn tunnel, the locos having to 'blow up' more steam.  The righthand picture was therefore not a dangerous one to take as we were stationary at the time!

27th July - North Wales (again) - taking children to work on the FR's Kid's Training week!

Gertrude of the Welsh Highland Herritage Railway and brake vans in Minffordd yard.

20th July - North Wales - Hugh Napier at Tan-y-Bwlch with a special outing for brake van 51 before refurbishment.

7th April - Liverpool, Lime Street

29th March  -  Didcot

A small selection of the pictures I took whilst at Didcot.  There were three locos in steam, two tanks 3650 and 3738 and 2-6-0 5322.  There was quite a bit going on but being charged 6.20 for the massive car park (empty apart from about 10 cars) smarted a bit - local council and extortion spring to mind!  The last picture is from the bridge to the car park towards the centre - a variety of rolling stock both heritage and modern on show!

16th / 17th March   FR Megabash

The above were taken whilst working on the new signal box at Porthmadog Harbour Station, apart from the one on the right of Stwlan dam.  Please note that I was working on the railway at the time, wearing full protective gear and that the pictures were sanctioned by those in authority!


19th Feb Best view from a train anywhere?

View from the cob at Porthmadog, Boston Lodge end, last train of the day.


August in Ireland

I spent two and a half weeks in Ireland this summer during which time there was plenty of opportunity for a spot of gricing (and sightseeing - there was a lot of that too).  What the pictures don't show is the time spent hunting out the Donegal Railway trackbed in various places and a visit to The RPSI (Railway Preservation Society of Ireland) at Whitehead.  Here I was given a fantastic tour around the centre which is a marvel of Victorian and more modern engineering.  I wish every bit of luck to them and their endeavours as I do with all those trying to recreate something of Ireland's railway heritage.  Left three; Taken at Cultra just south of Belfast.  To the left is Cavan & Leitrim 4-4-0 2L Kathleen. Centre is a PortStewart tramway locomotive. Right, the top of Blanche.  See Cultra page for pictures of past visits there.  Right five; Dromad Station exhibits.  It isn't easy to describe Micheal Kennedy's eclectic collection of artifacts at Dromad.  Trains, planes and automobiles partly covers it, with a few field guns, buses, fire engines and other bits thrown in.  What he seems to have done is try to grab together equipment that would otherwise be scrapped or lost in the hope of being able to preserve it for posterity.  To the left is modified Tralee and Dingle coach 47C (ex 6T) see pic p137 WC book for sister 46C.  The C stands for Clare (West Clare) where it spent its years latterly.  Next two show a 'real' Tralee & Dingle coach, 44C (ex 10T).  This is just the body on the wrong bogies though Micheal has three original T&D bogies lying around his yard. To the right is Dromod awaiting a new boiler certificate so stuck in the original loco shed. Far right shows some of the 2ft collection of diesel locos - all in working order.

Below left; Donegal Heritage Centre and restored coach no. 28.  Middle 4; Fintown railway and railcar no. 18 - from the road alongside Lough Finn, at Fintown station, the cab of railcar 18, through the front window in rain!!  Right two;  The Bushmills and Giant's Causeway Railway. The tram approaches Bushmills station - at Giant's Causeway depot, the main station and storage depot on the line.  Sadly the steam loco has failed for this year and the electric tram (more prototypical) is running.  The front vehicle is the powered vehicle, the train effectively shunting its way to Bushmills a couple of miles away the driving back.

Fintown Railway

July and beginning of August - North Wales

Left three; (04/08/12)Tan-y-Bwlch station on the Ffestiniog and Merddin Emrys appears under the almost finished new 'heritage' footbridge with the 10:50.  Middle;  (020812) Lyd at Tanygrisiau with the 12:40 from Blaenau Ffestiniog. From Tanygrisiau I walked up into the hills above Llyn Ystradau and explored some of the quarries and their surface remains, taking the three pictures on the right; Merddin leaving Tanygrisiau (13:40 from Blaenau), then heading towards Moelwyn tunnel and a while later, Lyd enters the sunlight from the Stygian gloom of the tunnel (14:25 from Porthmadog).

Left two; At Portmeirion the recent dramatic change to the river Dwyryd's course has scoured away the burial ground of some forsaken vessel. The left hand picture was taken at the end of July, the right hand one back in March - the course of the river has moved a good 4 to 5 metres north in just that time.  You see the scouring effect most clearly in the background of the left hand picture. I hope someone is able to preserve the remains before they disappear.  Centre left; Another walk took me above Boston Lodge works and enabled this photo of Lyd leaving Porthmadog with the 13:35.  Middle; (010812) Our 25th wedding anniversary was spent, in part, on the new 16:45 Welsh Highland service - out and back to Rhyd Ddu.  This is a much under patronised service which I hope will pick up as the views from the third class observation carriage (123) are spectacular on the way up and only marginally obscured by the engine on the way down - try it!!!  Right three; another trip (040812 - yes the same day as the rainy pictures taken at TyB above) up the Welsh Highland line (15:50 from Porthmadog) gave spectacular views of Snowdon, Cnicht and the Moelwyns in bright sunshine on the way up - first two pictures - the first approaching the long tunnel - the light mixing with the steam.  We changed trains at Rhyd Ddu and although we remained in sun the clouds began to encircle the hills very menacingly.  Whilst waiting to reverse into harbour station the Cambrian coast service to Harlech seems to be reaching the foot of the rainbow - I hope the passengers all got their pot of gold!!

April showers - 4th April

From sun at Portmeirion, where I was fortunate to be staying, to a bit of a change up towards Rhyd Ddu - ridiculous weather!!  From left;  no snow in the Aberglaslyn; A blizzard at Rhyd Ddu;  it was ruining the camera taking shots on the way to Rhyd Ddu, the right hand picture, with the snow on my back, was taken on the way back - just before Caslell Cidwm bridge!

Statfold Barn visit - 31st March

Recently I joined the Merseyside Railway History Group  and it was through member Jon Penn that on the 31st March I was able to visit Statfold Barn Railway in Staffordshire.   It is a superb set up and it was a pleasure to see so many and such a variety of engines in steam.

From left to right;  Pakis Baru No 5 (2'6" gauge) (left) and Bronllwyd (2' gauge); another picture of 2' 6" gauge Pakis Baru, an Orenstein & Koppel loco of 1905; Bronllwyd in its earlier guise (as built) for Surrey CC to help build Guildford by-pass (a road I've travelled many a time) a  Hudswell Clarke of 1930 (Robert doing a little dance 'cos he's excited) - note the strange bar at the back which is the standard flexible coupler for the railway as it copes with coupling 2' and 2' 6" stock together; Pakis Baru No 1 (2' 6" gauge), Orenstein & Koppel of 1900; the next two are the latest productions from the Hunslet Engine Co., Statfold and Jack Lane of 2005 vintage - both 2' gauge; Robert - more relaxed now - enjoying a laugh with the driver of Sragi No 14 ('Max'), a 2' gauge  Orenstein & Koppel of 1923.

From left to right; Oops No 1.  Jatibarang No 9 has fallen from grace as she enters the sharp mixed gauge point approaching the station - she was supposed to be on the right hand track!  Perhaps she prefers the free running of the Welsh highland Railway?;  the loco that started it all for Graham Lee, Trangkil No 4, a 2' gauge Hunslet of 1971;  Saccharine, a 2' gauge Fowler loco from 1912; Harrowgate, one of two surviving Harrowgate gas works locos, this one a 2' gauge 1944 Peckett.  It had spent some time on the FR awaiting restoration but was not wanted so sold to the Bredgar and Wormshill railway who restored it; some work to go here on 2' gauge Hunslet No 921 of 1906 'Sybil Mary'.  The German equivalent of the mass produced WWI Balwin locos, a 1917 2' gauge Henschel; Bronllwyd returning along the field line with train.

From right to left; 'Tom' a 2' 6" Hudswell diesel loco of 1981.  This loco worked at Shotton Steel mills, just north of Chester along with its two sisters who are also at Statfold Barn; Statfold again; on holiday for repair work to be done, a 3' gauge Hunslet diesel from the Waterford and Suir Valley Railway in Ireland.  ;  I suppose you can out rail wheels under anything! The Landrover .... should it be Railrover?; Isibutu a 2' gauge Bagnall of 1945; Edward Sholto a 2' gauge Penrhyn Hunslet of 1909; Minas de Aller No 2, a 2' 6" gauge Corpet Lovet (Paris) of 1884 - the oldest loco at Statfold.  It is hoped to restore it to as near original condition as possible - interesting as it has the rocker arm drive, similar to the Snowdon Mountain railway locos - the picture to the right shows the drive gear on No 6 'Padarn' at Snowdon Summit.

From right to left; 'Jack Lane'; Harrowgate; Oops No 2 (middle 4 pics) - this time Sragi No 1 comes off at the same set of points, again attempting to gain the right hand road as you look at the picture - but it's all hands to the jacks, sleepers and crow bars and within 10 minutes the loco is back on the track and navigates the points perfectly!  In between, the offending, highly complex, set of mixed gauge (2' and 2' 6") points;  Harrowgate enters the return loop; Sragi No 14, a 2' gauge Orenstein & Koppel of 1923 outside the sheds.

Ffestiniog Railway Megabash - March 24th & 25th

Whilst up a ladder doing various jobs at Porthmadog on the Saturday (24th), I took the opportunity to take a couple of pictures of the first trains of the season departing up the WHR line.  From left; Garratt 87 arrives for the 11am departure - the widened cob is clearly visible behind the signal cabin; the 11am departure; 143 with the 14:15 for Caernarfon.


Some pictures I took of the FR/WHR's 'Spring Thing' -  28th April 2011

These were taken from Bryn Du just south of Beddgelert.  Above from left; There really is a train visible there, leaving Pont Croesor on the 12:35 to Caernarfon:  It now approaches Hafod y Llyn, the terminus a couple of years back: Approaching the bridge over the Garreg road which once had written on it 'Wot, no railway':  Out of the long tunnel and into the Aberglaslyn pass:  Right four: A small train in some big scenery: a close up of Garratt 138: Heading towards Beddgelert: About to cross Bryn y Felin Bridge (behind the trees).

Below; Lyd with a short vintage train, having left Beddgelert at 13:05, heads towards Pont Croesor. It's hard to believe that middle picture is not a model!


Above far left; Lyd heads down towards Hafod y Llyn; Left two; modelling inspiration - it looks as though one of those Welsh giants have thrown the tree at the house in anger! Centre and right; Garratt No 87 hauls the late running 1405 service train southwards down the Aberglasly pass towards Pont Croesor.

Below left two;  Our walk ended with a march back to the Cwm Bychan National Trust car park down the fisherman's path in the pass itself - absolutely stunning!  Middle three; Mallet No9 on tour from the Statfold Barn railway had come to play last week but sadly after a few days running beautifully, it ran a hot box and was taken out of service. At around 15:45 it arrived at Porthmadog Harbour Station ready for its 'slow' journey to Dinas where it was to be loaded up and taken home.  Right two; Our day ended with a trip on the 16:00 FR service hauled by Merddin Emrys.  At Minffordd (16:10) we crossed the Earl of Merioneth on a down train.  Right; Crossing Cae Mawr on the return journey at the end of an excellent day.

Birkenhead Transport Festival 2011 - 19th September

A selection of pictures - not a huge variety as I was helping out with the FR/WHR stand all weekend.

Left three courtesy of Laurence Wheeler; the main gates of Birkenhead Park; some of the track laid by club member (and others of the Dee & Mersey group of the FR) Rob Griffiths; yours truly and daughter - guards / station masters for the weekend!

Traction engine run past and double spitfires.

Some taken by Chris Parry on his flickr site



First train from Caernarfon to Porthmadog - 30th October

A few pics of that momentous occasion when the first passenger train ran from Caernarfon the Harbour Station!  The top seven show the arrival of the train hauled by Garratt 138 across Britannia bridge, with Lyd getting ready to pull the coaches back onto the Cob.

The lower set show the Garratt moving to the siding whilst Lyd head to the front to pull the train back onto the Cob.  138 then moves to the front of the train and head its off to Caernarfon again!

Gallery link