Q2 2013 ÂŁ5.00
A Princess is reborn
Wish you were here
This page: Borth y Gest from The Cob. Front cover: Princess basks in the winter sunshine on The Cob. Back cover: A promotional poster from 1910.
Welcome to the Top Left Hand Corner of Wales, where train travel is just a little bit different. With the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways stretching for 40 miles across the Snowdonia National Park, you can experience the magnificent scenery whilst savouring the magic of train travel as it used to be, with gleaming steam engines, comfortable carriages, friendly staff and just a hint of magic. 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the introduction of steam locomotives on our railway. A move that triggered the spread of narrow gauge technology around the world. Itâ€™s an anniversary shared with another great pioneering railway - in London in 1863, the Metropolitan Railway ran the worldâ€™s first underground train. Read on to learn more of the extraordinary synergy
Royal wedding fever isnâ€™t a new phenomenon. 150 years ago,when Princess Alexandra of Denmark married Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, later to become Edward VII, the nation was spellbound.
Princess Alexandra of Denmark and the Prince of Wales in 1863.
At the age of sixteen, Alexandra Caroline Marie Charlotte Louise Julia had been chosen as the future wife of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, the heir apparent of Queen Victoria.
They married eighteen months later in March 1863, the year her father became Christian IX of Denmark and her brother, George, became King of Greece. The Ffestiniog Railway - never one to miss an opportunity for publicity - took the decision to name its first two steam locomotives The Prince and The Princess after the royal couple. Alexandra was Princess of Wales from 1863 to 1901, the longest anyone has ever held that title, and became extremely popular. Her style of dress was avidly watched by thousands of fashion-conscious women throughout the British Empire and America. Although Alexandra was effectively without any political power, she still attempted to sway the opinion of British ministers and her husband's family to favour Greek and Danish interests.
On the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, Albert Edward became king-emperor as Edward VII, with Alexandra as queenempress consort. Alexandra was also a keen amateur photographer and published a Christmas Gift Book of royal pictures to raise money for
From her husbandâ€™s death in 1910 until her own in 1925, she was the queen mother,
The Welsh Connection In 1863 the Ffestiniog Railway began using steam locomotives, built in London by George England, to haul trains of empty slate wagons from the harbour at Porthmadog to the numerous slate quarries of Blaenau Ffestiniog.
introduction of these steam locomotives was a vital first step in the transformation of a horse and gravity mineral railway into a state-of-theart steam traction system worthy of emulation world-wide.
Two were named Prince and Princess, reflecting widespread public interest in the marriage of the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII, to Princess Alexandra of Denmark, another was named Palmerston after the then Prime Minister, who was also an investor in one of the Ffestiniog slate quarries, and a fourth Mountaineer, reflecting the rugged terrain over which the railway operates.
The introduction of steam locomotives on the Ffestiniog Railway demonstrated that the technology of the steam railway that had evolved on the main lines from 1829 onwards could be applied to railways built on a much smaller scale and at much lower cost. As such it paved the way for further innovations on the Ffestiniog itself, including the introduction of passenger traffic in 1865, the use of articulated locomotives from 1869 and the locomotive trials of 1870 which attracted engineers from around the world.
Built barely more than 30 years after Stephenson's Rocket, the George England engines are the oldest surviving narrow gauge locomotives in the world. Remarkably, after 150 The technology developed on the Ffestiniog was years, four of the six built still survive, two of exported around the world and led to the them in regular use. proliferation of narrow gauge railways in other countries where inexpensive and cost-effective The Ffestiniog was the first railway in the world systems were required. to adopt and make regular use of steam locomotives on a very narrow gauge, on a public The narrow gauge railways of France, India, the railway, and over a significant distance. The USA, Hungary, South Africa, Namibia,
While the vast majority of passengers on the Ffestiniog Railway choose to travel in the comfort of our fleet of modern carriages, those with a taste for history prefer to experience the more basic accommodation of our heritage stock. Back in the 1860s, the Ffestiniog introduced the first bogie carriages in the world and, remarkably, some of the originals are still in use today, having been lovingly-restored by craftsmen and women. Travellers will be relieved to learn that despite the lack of a corridor connection, our on-train staff take the opportunity to offer drinks and snacks served through the window whilst the
The Little Princess
Princess at Diffws, Blaenau Ffestiniog, in 1872.
150 years ago, Britain was the undisputed leader in the development of new technology and exporting it around the world. Since the early days of the industrial revolution in the late 18th century, radical new techniques had been researched and developed at an amazing pace.
Every aspect of daily life had changed completely from the agricultural economy that had existed since the time of the Romans dominated by manual labour and a world where an ox cart was state-of-the-art technology.
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 cart drawn by no fewer than ten horses. 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.
The introduction of steam reduced dependence on unreliable energy sources such as waterwheels and windmills and, when put to use on the first railways, set in motion a period of Princess will be on display at Paddington Station rapid industrial growth for the first time in from March 1st – St David's Day – and her sister history. Prince will be pulling trains at London Transport's museum depot in Acton in April, 2013 marks the sesquicentennial anniversary of alongside the Metropolitan Railway carriage two of those early pioneers. 150 years ago, two rebuilt in the same North Wales workshop. Later companies introduced new steam technology for in the Spring, Princess is also due to travel to the first time - in very different sectors. Ireland to appear at Dublin’s Heuston Station.
Look through any window
Unlike most heritage railways, the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland concentrate not on nuts, bolts and rivets, but on a somewhat more intangible asset - the stunning view from the carriage window.
Our aim is to allow visitors to experience one of the most beautiful parts of the world from the comfort of some of the most advanced carriages available. We recognise the importance of our unique heritage in pioneering narrow gauge railways almost two centuries ago, but we’re still at the forefront of the development of tourist railways today.
At-seat buffet service, featuring freshly-cooked hot food on many trains, a fully-licenced bar, wheelchair access and on-train toilets all ensure a great day out for all. The fact that our trains are hauled by the world’s most varied collection of motive power is just the icing on the cake. Not only do we own the oldest narrow gauge steam engine in the world, we own the oldest four. We also run the most powerful two-foot gauge locomotives and completed building the world’s newest in 2010.
Oh, and we build our own carriages too, including the magnificent Pullman Observation With 40 miles of glorious scenery gliding by, it’s Car Glaslyn, ridden in and named by Her easy to forget the cares and pressures of 21st Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh Century life and slip back into a less stressful in 2011. age. If you fancy being treated like royalty whilst
Metropolitan Railway Jubilee Carriage 353 stands on the Cob embankment at Porthmadog after a 15-month restoration by Ffestiniog Railway crafts-
Shortly after 1.00 p.m. on 9 January 1863 the inaugural train of the world’s first underground railway pulled out of Paddington station to begin a 3½ mile journey under the capital’s streets and into the history books. The ground-breaking line had been built and financed by a private company, the Metropolitan Railway, to link the mainline stations at Paddington, Euston and King’s Cross with the business district of central London.It was a novelty that thousands of Londoners were eager to experience for themselves and to admire what one newspaper called ‘the most stupendous
Seen arriving at Porthmadog in August 2011, Metropolitan Railway Carriage 353 showed the cumulative effect of 50 years of neglect. Compare the sorry looking vehicle on the left with the
◄ To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Underground in 2013, the London Transport Museum decided to restore Metropolitan Railway Jubilee Carriage No. 353, a four-wheeled First Class carriage built in 1892.
frame of the carriage; and undo the damage caused by many decades of human use and exposure to the elements. Surprisingly, in spite of it being a timber frame, most of the damage was found to have been caused by rust.
The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a grant of £422,000 which, together with a £150,000 contribution from the London Transport Museum Friends enabled the carriage to be refurbished to full working order. Inspired by the history of the vehicle, a programme of exhibitions by community groups will also tour across London.
In the 1890s, the normal way to construct the wooden framework of a railway carriage was to use traditional joints such as mortise and tenon or lap joints. In the absence of effective glues, steel woodscrews were used to keep these joints together. Where further reinforcement was required steel brackets were added, held in place by bolts or coach screws. Over time these steel screws and bolts rusted, and as they rusted they caused considerable damage.
The work was undertaken by the Ffestiniog Railway, a specialist in heritage railway carriage restorations. Completion took place in November 2012 with the first passenger operation of Met 353 scheduled to take place early in 2013. Following the Underground anniversary celebrations the carriage will tour preserved railways in London and the South East. The carriage reconstruction is now complete, with the teak panelling restored and revarnished. The repairs and filling of gaps and holes has been beautifully done, just discernible from close up but not from a distance. It is hard to reconcile the carriage in its present state with the tired body removed from the LT store at the start of the restoration project.
As the screws and bolts corroded, the expanding rust inexorably forced the wood apart, bending and splitting it. In some places, such as the tops of the corner posts, the fixings split and splayed the timber in every possible direction. To repair this sort of damage, the rusty fixings were first carefully removed, the splits stabilised, holes plugged, and finally the surface replaced with a structural veneer of sound material. Now complete, the repairs are unobtrusive and should last for many years.
The carriage was collected from Knapps dairy farm (located just off Shrivenham High Street, Oxfordshire) in August 1974. It had been kept in the corner of the farmyard for over 34 years, and required rescuing due to the planned It can be very difficult to undertake an accurate redevelopment of the farm site. Although and faithful restoration if original components exposed for many years to changing weather are missing, or if the information required to conditions, the carriage remained structurally reproduce them is unknown. One such challenge sound and when inspected was found to be in has been to identify the type of door latches surprisingly good condition for its age. once fitted. On arrival at Ruislip depot the carriage was As none of the originals survived it was most moved undercover and added to London fortuitous to find a complete door from another Transport’s historical relics collection. Various early Metropolitan Railway carriage, Met restoration options were explored over the 212, built by Ashbury in 1881. This was kindly following years including the idea of sectioning loaned to the project team by the Quainton one compartment for public display. Thankfully Railway Society and the detailed information the decision was made to preserve the carriage gained from inspecting this example proved intact and after 37 years in storage it has finally invaluable to the restorers. After some careful been restored to its original splendour and cleaning and dismantling, it quickly became operational use. apparent the lock mechanism was designed by It was always the ambition to celebrate the Edwin Robert Wethered, an inventor once based 150th anniversary of the opening of the first in Woolwich, London. It closely matches his section of the world’s first underground railway patent: 407,268 submitted in 1889. with a steam-hauled commemorative train. The One of the first challenges was to repair the teak last time a steam engine hauled a Metropolitan
Inside the finished carriage. Inset: Boston Lodge craftsman Glenn Williams.
Ffestiniog Railway staff put the finishing touches to the carriage in November 2012.
Railway service from Paddington to Farringdon is thought to be 1905, before the conversion to electric traction on the sub-surface railway. Steam hauled engineers’ trains remained a feature of the Underground until 1971.
the sharp uphill gradient was a revelation. The double track tunnel brickwork is craggy and irregular, punctuated by open sections where we could see the dawn creeping up over West London.
A proving run was held early in the morning of 26 January 2012 to test the feasibility of a steam ►
The Metropolitan Railway, a substantial part of which now forms the Metropolitan Line of the London Underground, once had a fleet of steam locomotives which saw most use on surface lines, although trips underground were part of the daily routine for some engines.
◄ special, with the NRM’s Beattie well tank 30587 (built in 1874) marshalled with ‘Sarah Siddons’ and a coal and water waggon, nursemaided by two battery locos. When the restored locomotive Met No.1, Met coach 353 and the Ashbury set of teak coaches finally re-enacted that 1863 run to Farringdon, the effect a steam engine would have on the modern underground had been satisfactorily tested and the train proven to be reliable. Formed up at Lillie Bridge, the train picked up stakeholders and potential major donors at Earl’s Court at 1.30am and then ran round the extension of 1868 to Edgware Road where we joined the original section of the Metropolitan Railway to Baker Street, opened to traffic on 10 January 1863.
At Baker Street we paused for 30 minutes to test the effects of the engine blowing off steam which billowed around the brick arched roof, before our train continued eastwards and then pulled back on the westbound road. We were then joined at Baker Street by the latest ‘S’ stock train to test for any adverse effects of the steam on the modern infrastructure and which also provided a neat contrast between the old and the new. Later we pulled back to Edgware Road and then back to Earls Court and Lillie Bridge. The run went off without a hitch thanks to the meticulous preparations and the programme for 2013 was drawn up. The experimental run gave a sense of the atmosphere of the steam-hauled era. The smell of steam and coal smoke underground - and the deafening noise of the safety valves blowing off demonstrated just why coke rather than coal was used to reduce the smoke and why condensing apparatus was fitted to absorb the spent steam.
No. 1 is the only survivor of a class of seven engines designed by the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Met, Mr T. F. Clark, for use on the Baker Street to Verney Junction service. (Verney Junction was the Metropolitan Railway's furthest outpost, where it joined the LNWR Oxford to Bletchley line). No. 1, built in 1898, was the last locomotive constructed at Neasden Works. Two identical locomotives, Nos. 77 and 78 were also built at Neasden, with a further four built by R & W Hawthorn Leslie of Newcastle in 19001. It seems likely that the class, designated "E", was to have been larger, as a gap was left in the list of numbers, the next number used being 90. No. 1 and its classmates proved very successful and were more than capable of the work asked of them. On 4th July 1904, gaily decorated with flags and bunting, it headed the first passenger train on the opening of the Uxbridge Branch from Harrow on the Hill. The completion of the Metropolitan Railway’s electrification programme made more engines of the same type unnecessary and also led to the removal of the condensing apparatus which had been fitted for working underground. For over twenty years these locomotives were the mainstay of the Metropolitan services to Aylesbury, and still appeared after the introduction of larger engines, such as the "H" class tanks, in the 1920s. From about this time the class was gradually used for less strenuous work on branch lines and freight and engineering workings, although all survived to be taken into London Transport stock when the Metropolitan was taken over by the London Passenger Transport Board on 13th April 1933.
The view from the cab of the twists and curves as we ran up from Earl’s Court, as well as seeing Met No. 1 became London Transport L.44, and
Princess at Porthmadog around 1871.
Princess and crew at Minffordd Yard in the 1920s.
England’s Glory George England ran a factory in East London where some of the world's first narrow gauge steam locomotives were built. The first batch of four were delivered to the Ffestiniog in 1863 and early 1864, making it the first public narrow gauge railway in the world to introduce steam engines. This was despite warnings from railway luminaries such as Robert Stephenson, that steam power could never work successfully on a two foot (570mm) gauge railway.
us as static exhibits and it would be rash to rule out a return to steam for these great little survivors. Number 1 Princess The Princess is truly a pioneering narrow gauge steam locomotive. Built in 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.
But the FR proved the ‘experts’ wrong and, perhaps most remarkably, 150 years later, four of the original engines survive, two of them in regular use.
She became the first locomotive to haul a train on the Ffestiniog Railway on Tuesday 4 August 1863.
The first four engines were named The Princess, Mountaineer, The Prince and Palmerston and cost £1,000 each. They were followed in 1867 by Welsh Pony and Little Giant, two slightly larger versions of the same design costing £3/10/4d more than their smaller siblings.
Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925), who had married Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII, 1840-1910) in March 1863.
Four great little survivors 150 years later we find Prince and Palmerston in full working order on the railway for which they were built – another unique claim for the remarkable Ffestiniog Railway.
Mountaineer was worn out by 1879 and was scrapped, Little Giant suffered the same fate in 1932, parts finding their way to other engines. In 2013, Princess and Welsh Pony are still with
The Princess was named after Princess
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
I will survive Princess at Boston Lodge in 1887
From its inception the Ffestiniog Railway considered using steam engines. They later consulted with the famous Engineer Robert Stephenson, who advised them that it was not feasible on such a small gauge. By 1860 the Railway remained an isolated horse-drawn tramway, far from any main lines but gradually replacing pack ponies and boats on the Dwyryd as the means of transport for Blaenau slate. At this time the FR company board feared competition from standard gauge railways would threaten their market. Therefore they instructed their Secretary and Engineer Charles Spooner to work with a young engineer (Charles Menzies Holland) who had designed locomotives he believed would be suitable for working the steep gradients and tight curves.
Holland’s uncle, Samuel Holland, had been a prominent local sIate quarry owner and early customer of the Railway. In these designs they worried about getting a large enough engine with a low centre of gravity on such a narrow gauge. After many weird and wonderful concepts, they arrived at a feasible design and
in 1863 engaged a London manufacturer, George England, to construct them. England’s engineering experience coupled with Holland’s youthful foresight led to an advanced design for so narrow a gauge, which would endure for 150 years. The first locomotives were delivered in July 1863 with a third being kept back in case changes were needed. When tested, only one change was required – the boiler needed a dome to avoid priming (water being drawn off with the steam and damaging the cylinders). The two locomotives delivered had to be altered at the FR (no mean feat in 1863) and the third locomotive was modified in London. Probably as a sop to George England a fourth locomotive was ordered as well. The first two (The Princess & Mountaineer) started work in October 1863. A third engine was delivered in January 1864 and the last in March 1864. They looked different from today because of their small side tanks and lack of a cab (1860s drivers were tough). The design proved rugged
and reliable, England had given the locomotive a large boiler for its size and although meant to pull 25 tons at 8mph uphill they could manage double that. ► ◄ However, additional faults appeared as loads increased – not enough water capacity and limited adhesion (they only weighed around 8 tons). They also ‘hunted’ from side to side as they pulled uphill and earned themselves the nickname of ‘boxers’.
from each of the quarry feeders and at Porthmadog one was needed to shunt the wharves. A use could therefore be found for two or three of them and Spooner was also discussing providing a similar railway at the nearby Penrhyn Quarries.
They were eventually coming round to the idea and approached him to buy a locomotive in early 1876. At the same time he was the The locomotives became victims of their own consulting engineer for another local railway success. The slate traffic grew and something being built (the North Wales Narrow Gauge more was needed. Two improved locomotives Railway – now part of the WHR). He negotiated were ordered from England (Welsh Pony & Little for Palmerston to be loaned to the NWNGR Giant) which became known as ‘Large Englands’. contractor and so a fourth engine escaped being He claimed he would struggle to improve on the sold. design, but this was bluster. England made a By 1879 the first standard gauge line had couple of simple alterations that made the arrived in Blaenau Ffestiniog and the FR lost its locomotives more effective. monopoly on the slate traffic. Costs had to be Early worries about a high centre of gravity had pared and so the first locomotive Mountaineer proven groundless, so he used a larger, higher was withdrawn and cannibalised for parts - the pressure boiler and a saddle tank over the top to need for economy meant getting more out of the increase both the weight (to 10 tons) and water remaining engines. capacity. The wheelbase was lengthened slightly The remaining three small engines were to make the ride better and lessen the damage upgraded by adding a two ton cast iron weight to the track. This became the ultimate design, on the top of the tanks (made to look like a having the water capacity and range to pull 50 saddle tank) and it was in this modified form tons up the line at twelve miles per hour. that they survived into their third decade. Growth However, in the end it is the boiler that dictates The slate trade continued to grow so that even the life of a locomotive. After nearly 30 years of more power was needed and the railway turned hard work (over 300,000 miles of running) the in 1869 to the articulated designs of Robert locomotives were pretty much worn out. They Fairlie to take the heaviest trains. The original were saved again by an even greater need for engines were outclassed and as early as 1870 economy on the FR following the arrival of a Charles Spooner was talking about selling a second standard gauge railway in Blaenau. couple of them. So how did they survive? Luck The FR Company Board carried out a review of and timing! work practices and, amongst other changes, With the increase in slate traffic, shunting made the decision not to buy new locomotives engines were needed to marshal the wagons Princess at Boston Lodge in 2013
The only known photograph of
without shareholder approval. This left the railway in a quandary. They had five old locomotives that would all be needed if the traffic improved. The route to buying new engines was blocked by lack of money and the shareholder veto. Therefore they decided to do a major upgrade, in-house, of all five Englands. This was done at the Ffestiniog’s Boston Lodge Works as the lowest cost option, engine by engine as money became available. ►
◄For the older locomotives this meant new frames, a new boiler (the same size as the large Englands) a new saddle tank and an all-over cab, making them the equivalent of the large Englands. Luck was with the engines again, as the slate trade improved during the 1890s and all three engines were tackled. The first to be altered was Palmerston in 1888 followed by The Prince in 1892 and The Princess in 1895.
coal which corroded the boilers and tubes faster. Little Giant and Palmerston had to be re -boilered in 1904 and 1910 respectively. With the decline in traffic an engine could be spared and Palmerston was lent to the Vale of Rheidol Railway in Aberystwyth during the summers of 1912, 1913 and 1914.
Palmerston was sent south with one of the FR’s real characters - Driver David Davies. It is said the first thing he asked on arriving at Aberystwyth was where was the nearest pub!
The two larger locomotives were reboilered with new frames, tanks and a cab in 1889 (Little Giant) and 1891 (Welsh Pony). So in the space of only seven years all five surviving England engines were given a new lease of life. The names of The Prince and The Princess were Palmerston was relegated to use as a stationary shortened at this time to just Prince and Princess. The elapsed time between a boiler failing and being replaced grew to three years with Welsh Peak Pony (returned to service in 1915) and five The slate trade reached its final peak in 1897 years with Prince (returned to service in 1920). and a steady decline then took place which It was badly needed and was rushed into would last until World War 1. Confidence in service only to be involved in an accident at slate as a commodity declined, with strikes for Blaenau. Due to an unfortunate pay in the quarries, culminating in the Great misunderstanding in fog, points were changed Strike at the neighbouring Penrhyn Quarry, under the wagons it was pushing and Prince which lasted three years. In addition, cheap ended up on its side. roofing tiles became readily available. Fortunately, being only a small engine, a group As a result, the railway started to use cheaper
of locals gathered round and put it back upright before the breakdown gang arrived! The railway entered the 1920s with hopes of a revival. The Welsh Highland Railway was completed to Porthmadog in 1923 and Palmerston was once again lent to help build it.
Princess received a new boiler in 1923 and new petrol shunters were bought which could have seen off the steam locomotives. The 1920s also marked the start of rival motor bus services in North Wales and with the slate trade continuing its inexorable decline and with real competition for traffic, the railway went into â–ş â—„ a downward spiral of reduced wages, fewer employees and minimal maintenance. The petrol shunters were probably less well treated and prone to faults. The Englands proved useful on the short trains needed for the struggling WHR. So the rugged old steam engines were still needed.
through the winter. In an era of make do and mend the railway somehow managed to keep the remaining Englands going until 1936.
Prince by this time was again in need of major boiler work as was Palmerston by March 1937. Princess was outshopped in April 1937 - the last locomotive rebuild to be carried out by the original Festiniog Company.
Welsh Pony continued to operate until 1939, leaving Princess as the sole operating England locomotive as the railway entered the 1940s. The Railway ceased passenger traffic with the outbreak of World War II and was in a parlous state financially. The company had looked at getting Prince and Palmerston's boilers repaired in 1938 but they were too far gone. They dithered about the cost of a new boiler but by 1943, with the state of Princess becoming critical, they had to act. They ordered a new boiler for Prince. Palmerston found a novel way to escape being scrapped.
Part of Boston Lodge Works was taken over by the Glaslyn Foundry for war work and this Despite this Little Giant ran out of luck with its locomotive was connected up as a stationary boiler in 1929 and was dismantled. This was the boiler in order to drive a steam hammer. start of the depression and there was no money for a new one. At the end of the war, the new boiler finally arrived for Prince, but by this time the railway The railway had adopted a policy of trying to was in terminal decline. There was no money to attract tourists in the summer months but was reinstate the passenger service and not enough having to rely on the slate trade to get it slate traffic to make a profit. Princess hauled Welsh Pony at Porthmadog in
Palmerston at Porthmadog in the inevitable last train in August 1946.
couple of weeks and hauled every train until September 1956 when a Double Fairlie came into service.
The end came so quickly that the engines were left with water in the tanks and coal in the bunkers – a recipe for corrosion. The railway Prince continued to be a mainstay of the service needed money to pay off its debts but could not until 1961 when new cylinders and some boiler find a buyer for either the new boiler or its repairs were required. locomotives, so the Englands survived yet again. In 1962, an engine from the Penrhyn Quarry By good fortune, because the Ffestiniog Railway railway, Linda, arrived to help solve the had been incorporated by an Act of Parliament, locomotive crisis. On Prince’s return to traffic it it could not be scrapped without further was very soon its 100th birthday, which was legislation. So, although moribund, the celebrated in some style with TV coverage in locomotives and railway remained effectively 1963. intact while a solution was sought. Linda had a lucky escape when paired with The era after the Second World War brought new Prince - she derailed in the woods and only the ideas and new mobility for holidaymakers. The couplings prevented her disappearing down the neighbouring Talyllyn Railway was taken over in 1950, running solely for tourists. It was this trade that would ultimately save the FR. ► ◄ In 1954 the Ffestiniog Railway was taken over by a group of enthusiasts and volunteers, but how could they run trains with the run down carriages and locomotives from 1946? The answer lay in the partly overhauled Prince and its new boiler. The chassis had been worked on bit by bit from 1937 onwards and so was in a good state. Some parts were gleaned from both Welsh Pony and Palmerston and although it was not complete at the re-opening of the line in July 1955, Prince came into service within a
Princess shortly before leaving her pub in late
embankment! This and other tales appeared in one of the Reverend Awdry’s Thomas the Tank Engine books and Prince found new fame as Duke in those popular stories.
However with the arrival of larger locomotives like Linda (and a year later a sister engine Blanche), the writing was on the wall for Prince. The success of the railway meant the trains were too heavy for an England engine. When Prince’s boiler ticket expired in 1968, the locomotive was set aside. So what of the other Englands? Princess was always talked about for rebuild and was cosmetically restored in 1963 for the centenary. Welsh Pony too, was considered, but they both had the same haulage limitations as Prince. Palmerston seemed beyond repair and there was even discussion about scrapping it. In 1969 Princess was placed on a plinth at Blaenau to show commitment to the line reopening to that station and stayed on that duty until 1981. ► ◄ Then, out of the blue, in 1974, a consortium bought Palmerston and an old tender for
Palmerston and Prince at Penrhyn crossing in
restoration and it was moved to Derbyshire with the proviso that it would never run on the FR again! In the same year, a group of volunteers decided to take on the task of restoring Prince to make it strong enough to haul the trains of the day. It came back into service in 1980 superheated and oil fired - just as Princess entered the museum at Harbour Station in 1981. In 1985 Welsh Pony was rescued from storage, cosmetically restored and put on a plinth outside Porthmadog Station as an eye-catching advertisment for the railway. Prince was repainted in a historic red livery in 1986 and, in 1988, celebrated its 125th birthday in style. By 1987 Palmerston’s restoration was advanced enough to bring the engine back for finishing off at Boston Lodge. So when Palmerston re-entered service in 1993, there were two operational England engines for the first time in over 50 years. Smaller trains were created for their use and so they continued to operate into a new millennium. A large input of volunteer effort supports their
When, in 1982, the Ffestiniog Railway reopened fully between Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog.
This involved building the only railway spiral in the UK and driving a new 287 yard tunnel through some of the hardest rock in the world.
This pioneering volunteer effort was unique in the history of railway restoration.
On its completion in 1978, the Deviation, as it was known, allowed trains to run above and alongside the reservoir, thanks almost entirely to volunteers.
For the first time, volunteers werenâ€™t simply rebuilding a closed railway; they were building an entirely new one. When the original route of the Ffestiniog was flooded by the construction of a new reservoir, an alternative route was devised.
So while youâ€™re enjoying the fruits of their labours, please spare a thought for the dedicated men and women who gave their time and efforts so freely.
By appointment Ask most people to describe their idea of what a typical narrow gauge railway carriage looks like and they’ll probably come up with something that looks like a cross between a chicken shed and a cattle truck. After all, these were little railways built with scant regard for creature comforts. But as in so many other ways, the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways are just that little bit different. On the left we see First Class Pullman Observation car Glaslyn, built at our own workshops with comfort very much in mind. Costing a cool £200,000, Glaslyn features comfortable armchairs and a unique panoramic curved glass end section.
Along with our Pullman saloon, Bodysgallen, these carriages offer levels of comfort that commuters can only dream of and are without doubt two of the most luxurious narrow gauge carriages in the world. Completed in 2009, Glaslyn received the ultimate accolade in 2010 when the carriage was named by Her Majesty The Queen after travelling in it with the Duke of Edinburgh. But as you can see opposite, our standard class carriages set standards to which other heritage railways can only aspire. Double glazed, heated, with full corridor connections and provision for wheelchairs, they ensure that whatever your budget, a trip on our railways won’t be a test of endurance, but simply the most relaxing - and best - way to experience the beauty of the Snowdonia National Park.
Can you see the light?
Train travel these days can be anodyne; even boring. Shut away in hermetically-sealed boxes, you canâ€™t even open the windows.
Imagine then, a railway where you can experience the sights, sounds and smells of the countryside with the added spice of a hint of steam.
one of our open carriages. On the Welsh Highland, the experience of travelling through the stygian darkness of the long tunnel before bursting into the daylight of the Aberglaslyn Pass should be on everyoneâ€™s list of things to do before they die.
And should the weather prove too inclement, On both our railways, we offer the more you can simply move into the adjacent heated adventurous the chance to get back to nature in carriages.
Engine Driver “I first visited the Ffestiniog as part of a family holiday in 1966. My father must have been feeling flush as we travelled in the observation car, which served as a splendid introduction to the railway.
driver. Over 650 trips as a fireman were followed by a further 40 trips of driver training; freight trains hauling ballast, diesel turns and so on. I was finally passed out to drive in 1982.
A further family holiday in 1969 saw my first actual volunteering stint, filling wicker baskets with coal, and coaling and watering locomotives during their turn-rounds at Porthmadog. My subsequent filthy state when collected by my parents at the end of the day resulted in my having to be smuggled in via the rear exit of our hotel.
My service to the railway has been unbroken since 1970 and I try to achieve a visit, on average, every six weeks during the season, most years managing about 1,000 miles.
By now my addiction to the railway was becoming apparent to my parents and it was suggested that I write to Mr Garraway, the General Manager, to see how I could get involved with the locomotives, which had become my wish. I spent July and August 1970 as a cleaner, trainee and finally a fireman. Lots of shovelling and chopping up old sleepers for firewood. I travelled by bus to Wales from Victoria Coach Station in London, and lodged in the Copper Kettle Café in Chapel Street. In six weeks I learnt a lot about the railway and life itself, discovering girls, drinking, smoking and swearing in no particular order. My mother commented on my return that I had grown up. Towards the end of my stay I was approached and asked if I intended to return next year as it was felt I could be useful, and could become part of the temporary staff for the 1971 season. How could I refuse? 70 hours a week for four shillings (20p) an hour! I fired over 200 trains that year.
I have been asked which locomotive is my favourite. All of them. They are all different, all can be a challenge. All can be hugely rewarding. Each trip is different; load, weather, coal, a different mate. That’s what makes it so interesting. It’s very much a team game. Whatever the conditions or the fireman’s ability, the success of your day or its failure is a joint responsibility. You need to make the best of what you have in order to achieve, that’s where the experience and knowledge comes in. Whilst as the driver you are the boss, it’s important not to dominate or be dominated by each other. Both routes are different. The classic Ffestiniog, the birth of the narrow gauge, almost overengineered for its original purpose as a horse tramway. The Welsh Highland is what the narrow gauge transcended into around the world: light, almost mean, civil engineering works.
Both railways are superb in their own way, but with completely different personalities. The Ffestiniog is mainly uphill in one direction and downhill in the other. The Welsh Highland, however, is a driver’s railway with flat bits, steep bits, reverse curves and downhill bits - all The following year the pay had risen to by six in both directions. Throw in a couple of uphill pence (2.5p) an hour. That was the visit on starts with loaded trains on 1 in 40 gradients which I met the girl who would later become my and you begin to understand what it’s really all wife, who was spending a week on the railway about. doing her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. One memory I have, which is very special, was Finally came the opportunity to train as a enabling a blind lad to drive Prince all the way
Youâ€™re in safe hands Paul Ingham has been volunteering on the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway since 1969, qualifying as a driver in 1982. While not driving ten coach trains between Caernarfon and Porthmadog, Paul works as a college lecturer, but still finds time to visit the railway regularly, driving over 1,000 miles a year.
Someone who would be celebrating his 150th birthday in 2013 is David Lloyd George, Britain’s only Welsh Prime Minister, who held office from 1916-1922. He served as an MP for 55 years until his death in 1945.
The carriage concerned, number 16, is still in use today and forms a part of the Ffestiniog’s heritage fleet, giving visitors the chance to ride in the private compartment of the man who became known as The Welsh Wizard.
The Liberal politician and lawyer was raised in the village of Llanystumdwy, a few miles from Porthmadog and was a regular traveller on the Ffestiniog Railway as he journeyed to his law practice in Blaenau Ffestiniog.
When the railway’s newest Double Fairlie locomotive was completed at Boston Lodge Works in 1992, it was named David Lloyd George in the great man’s honour.
The railway even provided him with his own compartment enabling him and his secretary to work undisturbed.
Here we see David Lloyd George passing the workshop where it was made, heading the special train carrying VIPs, schoolchildren and the London 2012 Olympic Torch.
Looking for the middle of nowhere? Then Dduallt, a few miles above Tan y Bwlch on the Ffestiniog Railway could almost be the perfect dictionary definition of the phrase. With no road access, the only way to reach this beautiful and peaceful spot is by train or on foot. The deserted Rhoslyn Cottage, once home to the stationmaster, stands alongside a tranquil lake as the railway circles round the UKâ€™s only railway spiral to gain height before plunging into the darkness of Moelwyn Tunnel. Fifty years ago Dduallt rang to the sounds of picks, shovels and explosives as volunteers built an entirely new railway to bypass the original route which had been flooded by a reservoir. Today, peace and quiet has returned, making the station one of the most popular destinations on the railway for those wanting to get away from it all.
The Irish Connection
The tax on the shipping of slate introduced in the late 18th century was responsible for Welsh slate finding a market in Ireland, where the tax was not levied; in 1793, 47 per cent of North Wales’ slate went to Ireland. It was the tax’s repeal in 1831 that eased the way for Irish capital to be invested in railway projects. The Festiniog Railway’s first office was in Dame Street, Dublin. Its 1832 Act of Parliament made it the second railway funded by Irish capital to obtain powers (after the Dublin & Kingstown Railway). Proposals to make a railway to carry slate from the Ffestiniog slate quarries arose following completion of the harbour at Port Madock (now Porthmadog) in 1824, but nothing came of them. Irish participation in the development of what became the FR was started well before the tax was repealed, however. It began when Henry Archer met Ffestiniog quarry owner Samuel Holland in a pub in Penygroes, about six miles from Caernarfon, in 1829. When Archer said that he was considering taking a lease on the 3ft 6in gauge Nantlle Railway, which passed through Penygroes, Holland advised him to investigate the Festiniog proposal, saying that it was a much better prospect.
George Studdart, a magistrate and sherriff’s peer and two barristers, one of them a KC. Archer was the only director nominated by the Act. Railway construction started on 26th February 1833, when Archer presented the Tan y Bwlch landowner, W. G. Oakeley, with an engraved trowel (pictured opposite) in return for laying the first block. The trowel bears a Dublin hallmark. In April 1834 the contractor was dismissed, having underestimated the cost of the work, and Archer and Spooner disagreed over the construction of the proposed tunnel, the former preferring to avoid it by building a pair of inclines more cheaply. Spooner knew that this was a false economy but Archer, supported by a report obtained from Robert Stephenson, son of the famous engineer, in favour of the inclines, won the day. The railway was opened on 20th April 1836, just a few weeks before the four-year limit imposed by the Act. Initially, only Holland made use of it despite the much cheaper rates being offered.
In his determination to complete the railway, Archer managed to upset several landowners, as well as Spooner. When the shareholders Born in 1799, Archer belonged to a wellappointed more directors in 1835 he started to connected Dublin family. His father, William fall out with them too. They were unhappy with Henry Archer, had been Lord Mayor in 1811-12 his involvement in the promotion of the and another relative, Charles Palmer Archer, standard gauge North Wales Railway to held that position in 1832-3. He had trained as Porthdinllaen and started to ease him out. He a barrister but spent his time in Wales. was later accused of having mismanaged the company. He offered £4,000 of his shares for Visiting Holland in December 1829, Archer soon sale in 1839 and soon retained only a token took up the Ffestiniog cause, employing, on holding. Holland’s recommendation, James Spooner to survey the route. Apart from Holland, there was In operation, the railway was found to need little interest in the proposed railway, the other improvements to its alignment and the width of quarry owners, landowners and others affected cuttings. The original long tunnel was being too concerned to maintain the status quo. completed in 1842 at a cost of £7,200. Renewal of rail was started at the same time. The shorter Undeterred, and armed with Spooner’s survey tunnel at Garnedd, roughly one mile from Tan y for a route that maintained an even gradient Bwlch, was built in 1851. between the quarries on the 600ft contour and the harbour, including use of Madocks’ By this time Archer had long-since terminated embankment across the Glaslyn, Archer raised his contact with the railway. That was not the the £24,000 capital in Dublin, subscribing end of the Irish connection, however, and £8,000 himself. The Act of Parliament was company meetings were held at various obtained on the third attempt. locations in Dublin until 1840. One of the 1835 directors was Dublin solicitor Livingston The promoters included Richard Smyth, who Thompson. Becoming the company’s largest was briefly appointed Lord Mayor of Dublin in shareholder, he remained on the board until his 1831, Arthur Perrin, Lord Mayor in 1834-35, death in 1873. solicitor George Archer, Town Clerk in 1831,
The Tower of Babel The men who worked in the slate quarries of North Wales in its boom years of the 19th century were nearly all recruited locally, from the farming areas of Gwynedd and Anglesey. English was - and is - a foreign language in the quarries. Irishmen were also few and far between in the industry, but we know that they were employed from time to time on major contract work, such as the removal of unproductive rock. One such contract took place in 1842. Viscount Palmerston, whose company worked one of the largest Ffestiniog quarries, engaged the mathematical genius George Parker Bidder, the friend of Robert Stephenson, to work out how much rock needed to be moved to reach the deposits of good slate. Bidder not only did so but also found a contractor to carry out the work; this was James Leishman (1800-1884), a canal and railway engineer, who worked on the Londonderry and Enniskillen Railway. Leishman made his home in a comfortable farmhouse near the Ffestiniog Railway’s terminus, but the Irishmen probably had to fend for themselves, since there was no town at Blaenau Ffestiniog in those days, only a few cottages along what were still country lanes. An upland area to the north of Palmerston’s quarry is known to this day as Iwerddon (Ireland), and this may have been where the Irishmen set up their camps. Some of the Irishmen spoke English, some spoke Irish, so with a few Welshmen to help them, there were three languages spoken in this part of the quarry. The huge pile of rubble they created from the top of the workings came to be known as Twr Babel - The Tower of Babel - for this reason. We do not know how long the Irishmen stayed, and we do not know how many came over. We know that there was friction between Leishman and some of the local Welshmen, who were bound over to keep the peace.
Some of the Irishmen spoke English, some spoke Irish, so with a few Welshmen to help them, there were three languages spoken in the quarry. The huge pile of rubble they created from the top of the workings thus came to be known as Twr Babel - the Tower of Babel.
In 1801, when the first census was taken, nearly one million people lived in London. By 1901, the year of Queen Victoria's death, the population had risen to 4.5 million. This increase was due in great part to the development of an efficient and ground-breaking transport system. The advent of the new railway termini in the 1850s, along with the development of cheaper, horse-drawn public transport, enabled more people to travel into the Capital than ever before. However increasing competition to bring passengers and goods into the City resulted in chronic traffic congestion that was to become a serious problem. During the late 19th century it could take 1½ hours to travel five miles from Paddington to Bank by horse-drawn omnibus. The practical solution was to build shallow underground railway lines that would connect the railway termini with the City. Charles Pearson, a Solicitor to the City of London and one of the most vocal advocates for a solution to London’s traffic problems, saw both social and economic advantages in building a railway that linked the mainline railway termini together. He argued that this would allow slum dwellers to relocate into the new suburbs, with cheap rail travel allowing them to commute into work. This vision came into being when, on its first day of public service on 10th January 1863, the world’s first underground railway carried almost 40,000 passengers between Paddington and Farringdon. This first section of the Metropolitan line was followed shortly
afterwards by sections of the District and Circle lines.
The new underground network formed a circuit around the centre of the capital and extended out into the suburbs, but it did not cross the city. By the 1880s, congestion on London’s streets had worsened as many more people, who had moved into the surrounding suburbs, travelled into London each day to work. The shallow ‘cut-and-cover’ method of construction was now too expensive and disruptive to be considered as a solution. The alternative was to build lines deeper underground to allow commuters to travel beneath the very centre of the capital. Such deep tubes would require a method of carrying passengers down to the trains, a reliable tunnelling method and an alternative to steam power for the trains, due to lack of ventilation. By 1890 the world's first deep-level underground electric railway, the City and South London Railway, opened between Stockwell and King William Street in the City. Tunnelling took less than four years to complete, and electrification only two.
Since that time the Underground has expanded exponentially underneath London, carrying millions of passengers efficiently throughout the city daily. From car designs to ticket barriers, taking the Tube has seen many improvements. But while travelling on the Underground has changed over the past hundred years, posters
Check out the London Transport Museum’s Covent Garden and online shop for specially commissioned 150th anniversary gifts. Look out for the limited edition Blueprint ceramics range based on the unique and iconic design heritage of the Underground. Other highlights include exclusive Metropolitan glassware. www.ltmuseumshop.co.uk
Throughout 2013 London Transport Museum is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the world’s oldest Underground railway with a range of events that will include special exhibitions and displays, steam train runs, Friday Lates, talks, debates and special gift ranges. The inaugural journey on the world’s oldest Underground railway was made just after 1.00pm on 9 January 1863. The train made the 3½ mile journey from Paddington Station to Farringdon and began 150 years of remarkable history. The LT museum highlights the key events and characters that helped transform London through the development of the Underground railway and look at the vital role transport continues to play. Visitors can see the world’s first Underground steam and electric trains as well as the original artwork for the iconic London Tube map.
artist Man Ray’s ‘Keep London Going’, will appear alongside lesser-known gems.
There will also be a chance to see posters from the late nineteenth century. Visitors will be able to choose their favourite in the Siemens Poster Vote. Vehicles on the Move Enjoy the nostalgia of the golden age of steam through Museum events at different locations in and around London during 2013. There will be opportunities to enjoy the newly restored Metropolitan Steam Locomotive No. 1, which was built in 1898, and ride in the luxurious Metropolitan Jubilee Carriage No. 353, as well as the 1938 Art Deco Tube train and to see the 1920s electric locomotive Sarah Siddons.
And there’s more… Special behind-the-scenes events at the Museum’s Depot at Acton in West London, Poster Art 150 – London Underground’s Greatest Secret London events at the disused Aldwych Designs: 15 February to 27 October 2013 Underground station, Friday Late openings, debates, tours, Family Fun and mini Poster Focusing on the iconic poster art that has long Parade displays. been a feature of the London Underground, this exhibition showcases 150 of the best designs, To make sure you don’t miss out visit selected by an independent panel of experts. www.ltmuseum.co.uk to find out more and subscribe to the Museum’s eWell-known posters, including the surrealist newsletter.
Remain in light
Blink and you’ll miss it. Every inch of your journey on the Welsh Highland brings something new. From the stygian darkness of the tunnels; to shaded tree-lined cuttings; to the sunshine and big skies of the mountains, the view is ever-changing. As one of the massive Beyer-Garratt locomotives heads southward, it emerges from the three mile, tree-lined climb from Caernarfon to Dinas and into the sunlit meadows beyond. The railway shares this part of its route with the long-distance Lôn Eifion cycle track which, like the UK’s longest heritage railway, crosses the Llŷn Peninsula from coast to coast.
On July 13, 1960, the Ffestiniog Railway made its first appearance on television when the BBC broadcast a show live from the railway. A camera was mounted on a flat wagon ahead of Prince and the bulky equipment was carried in a wagon behind the loco, together with a generator and an aerial that had to be pointed towards a receiver at Harbour Station, which then bounced the signals to another mobile unit located on the summit of Snowdon. More recently, scarcely a week goes by without a request from a TV company to use the railway for filming. In the last couple of years, we have provided the scenic and historic background for networked shows including Coast, Countryfile, Michael Portillo’s Great Railway Journeys and
Dan Cruickshank’s Great Railway Adventures. Overseas crews from Japan, South Korea, Germany, France, Spain and the USA have also paid us visits. We also make regular appearances on both Welsh and English language TV stations in ads, documentaries, soap operas and children’s TV. Thankfully, today’s equipment is rather more portable than it was back in 1960.
Tan y Bwlch station mistress Bessie Jones appears live on TV in 1960. Inset top: A promotional shoot for the Ryder Cup. Inset bottom: Filming for the BBCâ€™s Snowdonia 1890. Michael Portillo chats to driver Paul Davis 50 years later.
TLC3 Design & Edit: Andrew Thomas. Pictures: FR Archive, Roger Dimmick, Cﾄフﾄネin Munteanu, Chris Parry, Andrew Thomas, Dave Thurlow Published March 2013 by Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway, Harbour Station, Porthmadog, Gwynedd LL49 9NF 01766 516024. www.festrail.co.uk ISSN 2047-024X
01766 516024 www.festrail.co.uk