Roy Woods Ynys Enlli Gwynedd Council Porth Dinllaen The Moelwyns Roy Woods Roy Woods Betws Garmon
Peter Treloar Our railways have a fascinating history ….. The Ffestiniog Railway, the oldest independent railway in the world, was incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1832. It was opened in 1836 and saw slate traffic, mined in the vast quarry system at Blaenau Ffestiniog, transported down to the sea to the waiting ships in the harbour at Porthmadog. The railway was built by local entrepreneurs to replace the pack mules and barges used to carry the slate originally. The slate was transferred into barges on the Afon Dwyryd, before being transferred once again to ocean- going sailing ships at a quay which now forms part of the Portmeirion Hotel and gardens. The Ffestiniog Railway proved to be highly successful. Transporting goods, workmen, slate and even tourists during the 19th Century. Steam engines, a first for such a narrow gauge, were introduced in the 1860s, but unfortunately the Great War and cheaper imported slate put an end to the quarries. The railway lay dormant from the latter part of the 1930s through the Second World War until the early 1950s. A group of visionary young men convened in a London hotel and decided to follow the lead taken by others in restoring the Talyllyn Railway, by planning to revive the Ffestiniog. With the help of a wealthy businessman, Alan Pegler, they managed to obtain control of the Company and raise capital to start the restoration process. Eventually, in 1955, the first train made its way gingerly across The Cob from Porthmadog to the entrance to Boston Lodge works. Within a couple of years, first Prince, and then a double- Fairlie engine were restored and put back into use. What was usable of the carriage stock was renovated in Boston Lodge to operate busy tourist trains in the 1950s. Unfortunately, it had been decided to construct a reservoir which would result in the flooding of the railway near Tanygrisiau. In 1958 the railway reached Tan y Bwlch, at the same time a group of intrepid people were building a deviation to raise the height of the railway to avoid the newly flooded part of the line. After many years toil, and some exciting adventures, the railway was progressively re- opened to Dduallt, around the reservoir to Tanygrisiau and, eventually, reaching Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1982. A new station was built in Blaenau Ffestiniog as an interchange with buses and the National Rail branch line from Llandudno. Over the last twenty- seven years much work has been done to improve the amenities for our passengers, including converting the old goods shed at Porthmadog into a thriving café and bar, called Spooner's – after the Ffestiniog Railway's pioneering engineer of the 1830s. The café at Tan y Bwlch, in the middle of the National Park, has been revitalised and is a welcome location for walkers and train passengers alike, serving hot meals and refreshments throughout most of the year.