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the FR Heritage Group wiki.
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From this month's featured article

A contemporary engraving of a horse hauled train of waggons on the Cob together with a gravity train at Rhiw Plas.

Horse operation was a feature of the FR from its opening until the introduction of steam locomotives.

James Spooner’s elegant survey for the Festiniog Railway described a line of railway falling at a fairly steady gradient from the upper terminus near Blaenau Ffestiniog (700ft) to Boston Lodge, at the eastern end of the Cob (Sea Level) and was designed to allow loaded waggons to run down the line under gravity with empties being hauled back up by horses.

For a period after the opening of the railway, in 1836, the smooth line of James Spooner’s survey was interrupted by a pair of inclines that took the line over a shoulder of the Moelwyn mountains. Spooner had planned for a tunnel but had been overruled by Henry Archer on the grounds of cost. After a couple of years, and as traffic developed, the inclines became such a hindrance that Spooner prevailed and, in 1839, work began to drive the tunnel. It was opened in 1842 and from then on the FR was able to operate as it had been designed; loaded waggons exploiting the free power of gravity and being taken back up to the quarries by horses.

Each horse could haul 7 or 8 slate waggons and, though they are usually referred to as ‘empties’ they were, in fact, frequently loaded with a lucrative back traffic of goods for the growing community at Blaenau Ffestiniog. Each train included one extra wagon, known as a Dandy. These were high-sided open wagons with a door at one end, designed to carry the horse on the downward journey, permitting them to rest between duties. The earliest examples were wooden, as were the contemporary slate waggons. Later, iron dandies were built at Boston Lodge. (more...)

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Festipedia is dedicated to recording the history of the Festiniog Railway from the 19th Century to the present day. There is a user friendly index to help you find your way around the main categories. You will also find much detail on the Welsh Highland Railway

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This month's featured picture

Presentation to Robert Evans

Robert Evans was born in 1879 in Morfa Nevin and joined the FR in around 1893 straight from school. He became Acting General Manager in January 1933 and Manager in May 1935. He held this position until his retirement on 1st June 1955. He was the only employee to work for the old company and the preservation period reformed company continuously, for a total of 62 years.

The photo was taken on 6th November 1954 when the directors of the Company and Society presented him with a clock to mark 61 years service to the railway. Evans and his wife are sitting fourth and second from left. The presentation clock can be seen far right. Back row: Messrs. Garraway, Gilbert, W. Smith, Davies, Broadbent, Smallman, Nicholson, Routly, Williams, Bellamy. Seated: Mrs Williams, Mrs Evans, Messrs. Heath-Humphrys, Evans, Bailey, L. Smith, Pegler.

Photo credit: Middleton Press

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