Glaslyn Foundry

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group

Glaslyn Foundry was one of several in Porthmadog. When the FR was revived there were two still operating, Glaslyn Foundry and Britannia Foundry. Glaslyn Foundry was on the east side of the road junction between High Street and Madoc Street on the far side of Britannia Bridge from Harbour Station.

The foundry was set up in about 1835 for the chairs for the track of the FR were cast there by Thomas Jones a Caernarfon ironfounder.[1] Later the business was continued by his son.

In 1927 Col. Stephens sent an order for a new foundation ring for Livingston Thompson to the Glaslyn Foundry but this was never followed up and so was not made.[2] Glaslyn Foundry offered to weld repair the old one but then found it too difficult and so the work went to Avonside.[3] Welsh Pony's boiler was repaired by Glaslyn Foundry in 1927. In 1928 Glaslyn Foundry had a role in cutting down the cab of diesel KS 4415. The loco's bell crank that operates first gear fractured and Glaslyn Foundry forged a replacement which was described as a beautiful job. In the run down of the capabilities of Boston Lodge which started with the C. D. Phillips report in 1909 and continued until 1946 there were growing opportunities for outside businesses to meet the FR's engineering needs.

By the Second World War Glaslyn Foundry was home to the business of Charles H Williams. They had a contract to manufacture certain tank parts between June 1942 and March 1944. Palmerston was loaned to them for this work as a stationary boiler to power the steam hammer at Boston Lodge. They also employed Morris Jones (1892) part time and he worked for them and the FR. Having no men of their own the FR borrowed some of William's' men (at weekends if necessary) to work under Morris Jones on repairs to locos. and wagons to keep the trains running.[4]

In Autumn 1965 the Glaslyn Foundry closed its iron foundry and then problems were experienced by the FR in obtaining fire bars for its steam locomotives as good as those that Glaslyn Foundry had supplied.[5]

In 2022 Bob Harris wrote:

"By the road was a stone wall, behind was an overgrown yard that was part of the Glaslyn Foundry. In the bushes, brambles and grass was a collection of old machinery of various origins. Slate industry, maritime, agricultural, railway and assorted scrap. Before the foundry closed the FR used to get brake blocks and fire bars made there, in the 50’and 60’s. The fire bars were the absolute best. Jackie Jones,(Catherine Baskcomb’s brother) was the moulder and foundry man. He had his own metal mix for fire bars, which consisted of a high proportion of steel scrap mixed in with the cast iron. To make the bars more durable he added Nickel Shot and Chrome to the ladle. These bars lasted very well!
After the Glaslyn closed the railway tried the new foundry at Pen y Groes, called Austin Hopkinson. Their product looked beautiful but melted out very quickly. Days of changing fire bars between trains, Allan Garraway was quite adept at this process! It took a while to find another foundry to make good fire bars and eventually Morris’ at Whalley Bridge got it right. Of course this was just before oil firing took over in the early 70’s!"

Bob's observation that there were maritime bits and pieces in the Glaslyn Foundry yard in the 1960s is a reminder that there were many metal components on the wooden sailing vessels built and repaired at Porthmadog. Once there was a regular steam coaster service (The Rebecca) from 1864 taking goods to Liverpool, iron parts destined for ships were sent there to be galvanised and were then returned to Porthmadog. Before that they would have travelled to Liverpool and back by sailing ship.

These pictures above need to be looked at with the Zoom facility on iBase Ffestiniog to see some of the features described here. In the top right picture which is taken from Ynys Tywyn in about 1900 the rear of Glaslyn Foundry can be seen. The shed in this view is shown on maps over a wide time period marked as a smithy, very possibly part of Glaslyn Foundry. As you might expect for a smithy it has three metal chimneys through the edge of the roof. The older foundry buildings are to be seen to the left and beyond the shed. Consistent with their age a good deal of ivy is growing on them. There is a considerable amount of what look like iron items stacked against the wall to the left of the smithy shed.

In the bottom picture in the background the words in large letters "Glaslyn Foundry" can be seen with an arrow pointing to the left.

Here are the remains that can be seen today. A portion of wall/gable end that is retained as part of Wilko’s building as can be noticed, on the right, when entering from the Shell Station side. Also, the stone building, that is now owned by Snowdonia Tourist Services, called Ynys Towyn. This was offices and a pattern store and is now also used in part as a holiday rental.[6]


  1. ^ Johnson, Peter (2017). Festiniog Railway: The Spooner Era and After 1830 - 1920. Barnsley: Pen & Sword. ISBN 978-1-47382-728-8. OCLC 1003267038.
  2. ^ Jones and Dennis (2018) Little Giants, Lightmoor Press, Lydney, Gloucestershire, GL15 4EJ, p 401.
  3. ^ Jones and Dennis (2018) Little Giants, Lightmoor Press, Lydney, Gloucestershire, GL15 4EJ, p 408.
  4. ^ Boyd, James I.C. (1975) [1959]. The Festiniog Railway 1800 - 1974; Vol. 1 - History and Route. Blandford: The Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-8536-1167-X. OCLC 2074549. p247
  5. ^ "Boston Lodge", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 34, page(s): 7
  6. ^ Harris R (2022) Facebook DM to M. Temple on 27/1/22.