Day Log/1864-10-27

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On this date, Captain Henry W. Tyler reported on his findings on the suitability of the FR Co.'line for the carriage of passengers. He reported from the Oakeley Arms at Tan y Bwlch that:

  • The average gradient between Dinas and Boston Lodge was 1 in 92 for the 12 1/4miles and that the steepest gradient on the portion now proposed to be used for passengers between Dinas and Portmadoc was 1 in 79.82.
  • The maximum speed was 10mph and not more than 6mph on the sharpest curves. He had ridden at speeds of more than 30mph and had assessed the riding qualities of locomotives, tenders, passenger carriages, brake vans and slate trucks.
  • The permanent way was laid with 30lb rails in 16ft and 21 ft lengths; cast-iron chairs weighed 6lb except at joints where they weighed 13lb. Sleepers were larch, 4ft 6in long, averaging 9 x 4 1/2in in section, laid at 2ft intervals and under joints they were 10 x 5in in section and laid at 18in intervals. Wooden keys secured the rails to the chairs and wrought-iron spikes the chairs to the sleepers. Some spikes were missing and the drainage and packing was poor.
  • The space between the carriage windows and bridge abutments was only 9in and that there was insufficient space between the sides of the carriages and the 'stone walls or other works at the side of the railway over the greater part of it': he recommended barring the carriage windows, 'which is in progress', and keeping the doors locked on both sides of the carriages while the trains were in motion.
  • Trains were hauled up by locomotives but 'are allowed to descend by the force of gravity for 12 1/4 miles to within three quarters of a mile of Portmadoc'. It was proposed, by the railway, to allow the loaded slate trains to descend in front of the carriages with the locomotive following behind and to attach the carriages behind the empty slate or good wagons for the uphill journey.
  • Most of the line was enclosed by stone walls, with timber and wire fencing either erected or being erected in other places where needed. When the fencing was completed, gates that had been placed across the railway to control animal movements would be removed.
  • Bridges and culverts were constructed of masonry, timber, cast iron or slate beams; the largest span was 19ft, while the largest span using slate beams was 8ft.
  • The long tunnel was in want of improved drainage.
  • The long tunnel should be operated by a telegraph, the existing bells being subject to misunderstanding as well as not being reliable.
  • There were three crossings of public roads, two of them parish roads and one a turnpike road. He pointed out that according to the act, turnpike roads could not be crossed on the level but that the latter had only become a turnpike road in the previous year. Full gates were required at one, unspecified, crossing.
  • The branch line to Duffws was 61 chains long, its steepest gradient was 1 in 68 and the sharpest curve three chains. It crossed the parish road on the level. The company did not propose to open it for passenger traffic at the same time as the rest of the railway, although it was making improvements with that objective in mind. The junction should be signalled.
  • The engines and tenders were in need of safety guards to clear obstructions from the line. Stability would be improved if the engines had trailing wheels to support the weight overhanging at the rear. Because the carriages were intended to run separately from the locomotives they should also be equipped with safety guards.
  • Although the carriages ran easily and steadily around the curves, the company might benefit, as trains became heavier, by adopting 'longer carriages on eight wheels with what are called 'bogie frames', similar but on a smaller scale to those which are in use in America and on lines with sharp curves in parts of Germany and Switzerland'.
  • The Cwmorthin quarry incline ran down directly towards the railway and to within a short distance of it and there would be substantial danger to the trains if wagons or trucks were permitted to be worked on this incline while trains were passing. There was no space for placing any obstruction between the incline and the railway that would be adequate for protection against runaway trucks and he recommended that a telegraph be established between the top and the bottom of the quarry incline, with distant signals on the railway. An FR signalman would thus be able to prevent trains from passing when the quarry incline was being worked.
  • The adoption of locomotives upon 'this little line' was very important. The cheapness with which such a line could be constructed, the quantity of work that could be economically performed upon it, and the safety with which the trains ran over it made it an example that would be followed elsewhere in Britain, India, and in the Colonies, where it was desirable to form cheap lines for small traffic, or as a commencement in developing the resources of a new country.
  • Passengers had already been carried upon it without payment for some months, and considering the slow speed at which the traffic was worked, he did not think it necessary that all the improvements that he suggested should be completed before sanction was given for opening for passengers with payment, but he thought that the following improvements should be completed before that sanction was given:
• 1 Better approaches to and accommodation for passengers at the stations
• 2 The tunnel telegraph
• 3 The means of protection above referred to at the Cwmorthin quarry incline
• 4 Safety guards for the engines, tenders and brake vans
• 5 Stop blocks at the lower end of the different sidings
• 6 The level crossing gates to close across the rails
• 7 All signals not seen by the signalman working there to be provided with return signals.
• 8 All missing spikes to be inserted in the permanent way
  • Pending the completion of these requirements it was his duty to report (under the terms of the act) that the line could not, by reason of the incompleteness of the works, be opened without danger to the public using it.
  • He had recommended that the train staff and ticket system be adopted for securing the safety of the traffic on the single line, and had made suggestions for improvements to the company's printed book of rules which had been handed to him.

Only a general comment was made in regards of the stations, and that was they should be "improved"[1]


  1. ^ Johnson, Peter (2007). An Illustrated History of the Festiniog Railway. Hersham: Oxford Publishing Co. ISBN 0-860936-03-1. OCLC 180463433.

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