Old Moelwyn Tunnel
|Old Moelwyn Tunnel|
|Previous Location||Tunnel South Halt|
|Next Location||Moelwyn Halt|
NGR:SH679428 Lat / Long :52.96694 / -3.96789
The Old Moelwyn Tunnel was the longer of the two tunnels on the line for most of the pre-preservation life of the FR, though neither was in use at the opening. Some 730 yards in length, this tunnel was bored through hard cyanite rock with three circular shafts for ventilation. The tunnel measured just 8' wide and 9' 6" high, and as such dictated the maximum loading gauge of the line thereafter.
The tunnel was opened in 1842, i.e. after the initial opening of the line, an event which was marked by the firing of a rock cannon on the hillside above the tunnel.  Before the tunnel was opened, trains crossed the hill by inclines.
Just prior to entering the southern portal of the old Moelwyn tunnel, the formation widened. Following construction of the tunnel, a passing point for traffic was placed here, presumably replacing the facilities in use in the climb over the hill before the tunnel was opened. Horses were changed over here. (See Tunnel South Halt.)
A rare photo of the north tunnel prior to its blocking by the British Electricity Authority. Railway materials are stored for salvage, some of which were loaded on a special works train manned by members of the Imperial College Railway Society on 23rd April 1957. The two photos above have been posted here with the kind permission of the photographer Dr Ray Wills.
In an email to Kim Winter dated 10 January 2005, Ron Fisher writes about the taking of the above photo:
"As it was some 45 years ago, I cannot remember exactly how we came to be exploring the tunnel, but we must have had torches with us which suggests that we went there with that in mind rather than going in on the spur of the moment. I do remember that it was rather damp. Wet, even! However, the wearing of wellies was the norm when on London Area Group Working Parties, so it was clearly not too deep to flood our boots.
Being April, it was probably Easter when we always had a large party. How many of us ventured into the tunnel I cannot remember, but at least two, probably three or four. Which camera I was using at that time I also cannot remember. Possibly my old Ilford Sportsman. The film was Agfacolor CT18 and the flash gun was probably my old Boots Tickyflash. This was in the days of individual use once only flash bulbs, blue ones for colour film. It was all a bit hit and miss, but, on this occasion, it worked.
We often explored the closed bits of the line above T-y-B in those days, so curiosity included the old tunnel.
There was a special working up to Dduallt and the tunnel one evening after the trains had finished for the day. Purely by chance, I happened to be there, and as I never go anywhere without a camera....."
(some pictures from Ron Fisher's Photopic site have been added to this page with his kind permission)
Trains using the Old Tunnel 1955 - 57 - Compiled by Allan Garraway
|31 Jan 1955||Simplex||Glan-y-Pwll||Survey|
|5 Feb 1955||Simplex||LMR station||CEA Meeting|
|5 Mar 1955||Simplex||Duffws||Track clearance|
|23 Jul 1955||Simplex||Tanygrisiau||Reopening celebrations|
|1 Aug 1955||Busta||Blaenau||Press officer|
|31 Aug 1955||Simplex||Blaenau||Collect wagons|
|27 Sep 1955||Simplex||Blaenau||Collect wagons|
|31 Oct 1955||Simplex||Blaenau||Collect wagons|
|15 Mar 1956||Simplex||Blaenau||Collect wagons|
|25 Mar 1956||Simplex||Tanygrisiau||Director's inspection|
|9 Apr 1956||Simplex||Blaenau||Collect poles|
|28 Jul 1956||Simplex||Blaenau||Collect wagons|
|5 Aug 1956||Moelwyn||Blaenau||Collect poles|
|6 Aug 1956||Moelwyn||Blaenau||Collect materials|
|12 Jan 1957||Moelwyn||Lake site||Wagons to CEGB|
Source: "Porthmadog to Blaenau : Forty Years of Festiniog Railway Progress" by Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith. The table above has been reproduced with the kind permission of Vic Mitchell. Moelwyn Tunnel is mentioned in five of Vic's other books, which are all listed on the here.
 Modern Day
|Moelwyn Tunnel Northern Portal|
|A sight not seen for many years! This is the 'top', northern end of the original Festiniog Railway Moelwyn Tunnel. Blocked by an internal 'plug' (see above) when the Tanygrisiau lower reservoir for the pumped storage scheme was built by the C.E.G.B. in the late fifties/early sixties, the cutting was filled with rubble and the tunnel portal was mostly obscured. This has now been excavated by First Hydraulic Power so that they can inspect the plug to check on its condition.|
- Not Just a Pretty Place - Survival in Snowdonia, Huw Jenkins, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2009