|Harbour Station in 2007|
|Previous Station||Pont Croesor|
|Previous Location||Cae Pawb|
|Previous Location||Portmadoc New (1923)|
|Previous Location||Britannia Bridge|
|Status||Main Terminus & Head Office|
|Next Location||Pen Cob Halt|
|Next Location||Boston Lodge|
|Next Station||Boston Lodge Halt|
NGR:SH571383 Lat / Long :52.92391 / -4.12697
|Stamp - old company Parcels|
|Issue No.||old company Parcels|
For details on the remodelling of Harbour Station in connection with the Welsh Highland Railway, please click here.
Portmadoc (as was then known), Harbour Station was opened for passenger service on 6th January 1865. The original buildings lasted until 1879 when they were replaced with the stone buildings that exist today. Parts of the original buildings were used in the construction of Penrhyn Station. It lies approximately 17ft (5.25m) above sea level). All distance measurements on here are measured from the Water Tower, near the buffer stops.
Under the original 1865 arrangement the goods shed was at the quay end of the site and the station buildings were on the site of the later goods shed (1880), now Spooners, in the Y of the junction between the station sidings and the line that led to the wharves behind the station, the Britannia bridge and the wharves on the far side of the harbour. The tanks from which locos took water were immediately behind the station, beside this line. (See the 1871 picture here)
The new (1879) station building, which included provision for the Company's offices on an upper floor, and the separate goods shed remained virtually unaltered for over 70 years. With the arrival of the WHR in 1923 it became known as 'Portmadoc Old', to distinguish it from the 'Portmadoc New' station, established beside the crossing over the Cambrian Coast line at the other end of town. The suffix 'Old' was replaced in Bradshaw's Guide by 'Harbour' from the July 1930 edition, by which date it had been brought back into use as the main narrow gauge passenger station. The station was closed to passengers on 15th September 1939 but continued in use as the principal offices of the Festiniog Railway Company occupied only by the Manager (Mr Robert Evans) throughout the years of its closure. (See below)
Boyd, in 1949, wrote "Here are the headquarters of the Festiniog Railway and also those of its late offspring, the Welsh Highland Railway. The offices of the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways were also here, likewise those of Messrs. Spooner & Co."
Harbour Station was reopened to passengers on 23rd July 1955 in a ceremony performed by the then Welsh Tourist Queen, Miss Janet Jones. Part of the upper floor of the 1879 office building was converted to serve as a flat for the Manager, Allan Garraway and the ground floor was progressively altered to suit the requirements of the developing restored railway (see hostels for part of the story, also FRMxxx et seq for accounts written by those involved in the works. By 1975 the growing business required more and better accommodation, particularly for the all-important souvenir shop and café. A Leeds based architect and volunteer, Eddie Jones (who also ran the Railway's lorries) designed a structure to link the offices with the former goods shed. The latter had served as a carriage workshop/paintshop and stores for the shop since 1955 but was now converted to house part of the catering facilities and, eventually, an enlarged museum.
Initial planning for the platform awning began in 1985, with most of the erection work taking place in 1987. The valance, which was specially commissioned, was added in 1988. It was made at BR's Taunton Concrete Works and is similar to the standard GW timber valance.
A fence marked the edge of the platform from the end of the goods shed, whilst the Cleminson Waggon was exhibited at the end of the goods shed on a section of track. This was removed in the early 1990s, and the platform area extended. This extended area provides additional seating area for Spooner's.
Changes to the layout.
In the 1920's the layout at Porthmadog was still dominated by sidings to serve the slate wharves. Harbour station was just a small part of the overall scheme. Three roads went past the station building, terminated by a three way stub point to the headshunt. Off the seaward line a spur led through the turreted gate onto the extensive private sidings and turntables of The New Wharf, later known as South Snowdon Wharf. There was one additional siding laid to the seaward side.
By the late 1930's this area had fallen into disuse and the connection removed. [Confirmation needed].
In 1872 the station staff were as follows:-
Thomas Prichard, Chief Station Master
John William Wheeler, Station Master
Robert Williams, Clerk
W.R. Owen, Telegraph Clerk
John Lewis, Demurrage Clerk
John Davies, Wagon Inspector
William Roberts, Porter
William Parry, Porter
Robert Griffiths Oilman
William Roberts, ?
Owen Owen, ?
Howell Williams, ?
Robert Williams, Carriage Cleaner
David Prichard, Painter
Edward Evans, Shunting Driver
Evan Williams, Shunting Stoker
John Owen, Shunting Guard
Griffith Roberts, Road Cleaner
Evan Griffiths, Repairing tarpaulins
By 1920 the number of staff had been greatly reduced and were:-
Henry Ellis Parry-Jones, Station Master
Owen Davies, Clerk
Ellis J. Griffith, Porter
Robert Jones, Parcel Porter
John Ivor Jones, Coalman
W.O. Williams, Porter
When the new administration took over they inherited the four road layout going past the station building. All the trackwork was laid in bullhead, or double head rail in chairs. The platform line had considerable cant ( or super elevation) on it. During the war all these lines were used to store many different sorts of rolling stock, all of which suffered due to the exposed location. There was a raised bank with spiked railings on the seaward side.
In late 1956 some of these lines were relayed due to frequent derailments, it appears that some of the cant on the curve was also removed at the same time. On the landward side there was also a siding into the goods shed, and the remains of the line to connect to the Welsh Highland and the wharves crossing the west side of Britannia Bridge was still usable in 1957, but was lifted at the end of 1958.
This layout remained, after clearance, re-sleepering, and a general tidy up until the three way stub point was removed in 1964, first being moved to Boston Lodge, and is now in situ at Minffordd Yard, serving roads adjacent to the Maenofferen Shed. It was replaced by normal turnouts, and the end of southern siding had been raised to allow coal wagons to unload onto the coaling stage.
The general environs of the station site were to change dramatically with the development of two storey dwellings on the rest of South Snowdon Wharf by Bourne developments. There was some dispute over access to the site, eventually a link span was erected to take the access road past the headshunt. The boundaries were now well defined, and rather closed in at this end of the site.
Negotiations took place with the owners of the site of the station, Tremadoc Estates, by 1974 these were concluded and the railway was able to expand seaward, resulting in a new yard layout. By 1975 space was available for six roads, and with oil firing dominant the coaling facilities had been removed. Initially one line was laid to the seaward side, leaving a considerable space between that road and the previous four roads.
In the winter of 1984-5 the throat layout was rebuilt with turnouts constructed from 75lb flat bottom rail. No 3 road became the main run round road, and the new FB point at the throat was changed from a R.H one to a L.H one. The removal of the connection that used to go across the bridge, and the line into the goods shed being done at the same time. This allowed for a new platform surface to be made.
Six roads now ran in front of the station building, No 3 road also had a locomotive servicing pit built under it, replacing the one on the platform road, this being later used for part of the toilet disposal system.
This layout remained for over twenty years until the arrival of the new ( temporary) Welsh Highland connection, being made in approximately the same position as the line to the goods shed and the old Welsh Highland beyond.
The station is about 39.7 km (24 miles 54 chains) from the Caernarfon datum. Further alterations to the junction and platform, specifically in the view of this picture, are scheduled, which would move the junction further east along the Cob (see Harbour Station Remodelling). A plan of the signalling system, as of 2011, is available on the CTRL page.
The point on the main running line was installed in March 2008, the connection being celebrated at the ‘Golden bolts’ ceremony in February 2009.
- The Festiniog Railway Company is the oldest independent railway company in the World - being founded by an Act of Parliament in 1832, a statment the company is rightly proud of. The company has never ceased to trade or exist. It has been in continual operation since the Act was enabled on the 23rd May 1832. On 15th September 1939, it had to suspend passenger operation, (in part, due to wartime conditions) and on the 1st August 1946, it ceased operation of the goods side of the business. It still had a commercial side, which included residential property and leases, and this operation continued alone until 1954. Thus, this period is now referred to as the closure period. It then took another 28 years to re-establish full passenger operations with the return to Blaenau Ffestiniog. There is now no commercial goods traffic, although demonstration runs are performed from time to time.
In 2007 Harbour Station was temporarily, (for a day), renamed "Rockferry" when pictures and video for Duffy's album and its title track were shot on and around the station.
 Car Park
As befitting any main station, there is a limited car park area. Public car parks are available within a short walk. Over the years the area has been transformed from a mud and slate wasteland area, to a modern tarmacked, and lined car park. In about 19??, with its life as a mobile exhibition centre at an end, a caravan was provided for the use of the parking attendant. In 2010 this was replaced by a new "designed for purpose", wooden hut.
For general details see here
Our main station is adjacent to the A487 at the southern end of the town. We have a small tarmac car park which usually has an attendant. There are three allocated “Disabled” spaces close to the main entrance as well as a dedicated “dropping off” point.
Our main entrance has a ramp direct into the Booking Hall. From here there is level access through the building to the Shop, Café and Bar. There is level access onto the platform. The toilets are situated at the far right hand end of the platform when leaving the building. There is a small step into the Ladies’ and the Gentlemen’s toilets. The accessible toilet has level access and also contains nappy changing facilities.
The Booking Office counter is 1040mm / 41” in height – if this presents any difficulty to you, please ask and someone will come and assist you.
The Shop counter is 940mm / 37” in height. Shelving is both on the walls and free standing. If you need any help with your shopping, our staff will be happy to help.
The Café counter is 890mm / 35” in height and the bar is 1010mm / 40” in height. Food and beverages can be brought to your table if requested.
- Wikipedia entry
- Boyd, The Festiniog Railway Vol 1, 1965, map between P 42 and 43.
- Boyd, The Festiniog Railway Vol 2, 1962, P351
- Johnson, Immortal Rails, Vol 1, 2004, Picture P93 , P 111
- Festiniog Railway Magazine, No 107, P11.
- Festiniog Railway Magazine, No 108, P12.
- Dr Ben Fisher's website
- Rockferry music, for more detail see here