Photo: Martin Ellis
|Built by||FR Co. / Bloomfield Steel Construction|
|Length||41 ft 8 in|
Carriage 1111 is a permanent way mess and brake carriage in use on the Ffestiniog Railway.
The Permanent Way Department staff had always complained of being poorly provided for in terms of transport, compared to Boston Lodge. Normally the only way of getting to site by train was Van 51, too small for a decent sized working party, or by requisitioning the next carriage due to be overhauled.
Carriage 1111 is the Permanent Way Department's mess coach. It is a key vehicle in their works train, along with the tool van, a welding van and various wagons. The train is hauled by Harlech Castle, the department's diesel locomotive (normally known as Ina).
It was completed in 1997, to a design by Michael Guerra agreed with Fred Howes, and was the railway's first purpose-built mess van for PW use. 1111 was assembled by Boston Lodge with a welded all-steel body shell by Bloomfield Steel Construction, Tipton. Originally mounted on Polish diamond-frame bogies formerly under Carriage 110, the vehicle is 40 feet long and was financed under the Strategic Development Scheme.
1111 is designed both to be practical and to provide working parties with a modicum of comfort. On the inside, there are 16 plastic seats, 8 small tables, overhead lockers for storing supplies (e.g. hi-vis jackets), hooks for storing clothing, a gas cooker and hob, battery-powered lighting, washing up facilities and a toilet. On the outside there is a 'balcony' to allow easy access to tight sections of the line and a rope, allowing you to hang on to the carriage as you walk alongside. The carriage can also cope with several different couplings, so it can be connected to the FR's wide variety of wagons.
The carriage is also designed to act as the works train's brake vehicle. There are controls at both ends: a handbrake, a vacuum brake handle and a horn for use by a responsible person when the carriage is being propelled at the front of the train. There is also a button that sounds the horn and flashes red lights on the roof of 1111 to warn the loco driver in an emergency. The vacuum brakes on 1111 are seldom used as FR PW department wagons don't have vacuum brakes fitted. In the event of the train running away, the carriage would be stopped with the hand brake.
This vehicle was used to prove the concept of the first series of Welsh Highland vehicles, but unfortunately, the builders of the latter left out the main structural member of the design - the solid steel plate floor, which prevents the vehicle from hogging or sagging. If it rusts through after thirty years, you just put in another. Note too the low step at the side door - you are less likely to bash your head while entering than is the case with many of the passenger carriages.
1111 was refurbished in 2016, with new seats and tables, improved toilet and kitchen, and replacement of the gas heating and cooking facilities. The diamond frame bogies were replaced with pattern 88 ones from the old Carriage 117. It is now painted green.
On a break at Tan y Bwlch with Harlech Castle as motive power