John S Hughes/Interview
The following article appears with the kind permission of the The Railway Magazine. The article was also reproduced in Festiniog Railway Heritage Group Journal No 70 Spring 2002.
The lower-case headings are added here. All but the last (or the last two, counting "See also") are for illustrations.
THE RAILWAY MAGAZINE
ILLUSTRATED INTERVIEWS[edit source]
No. 34.-MR.JOHN SYLVESTER HUGHES
General Manager, Festiniog Railway.
Numerous readers of the RAILWAY MAGAZINE will be glad to learn something of the history of the Festiniog Railway, of which Mr. Hughes, the subject of our illustrated interview this month, is the general manager, secretary and engineer.
The miniature line that runs between Portmadoc and the Festiniog slate district of north Wales, though it has lost its exclusive prominence as an example, and is no longer the Mecca it was, still enjoys 'the' distinction of being, one of the narrowest of narrow gauges. The mere fact of its being the first parent, as it were, of, some, thousands of miles of narrow gauges in other parts of the world, adds to its interest in the eyes of the visitor, who may promise himself much entertainment in seeing what this first parent is actually like. Rather less, than fourteen miles in length, nominally 2ft. wide, but really 1ft. 11 1/2in, the Festiniog Railway was the war cry - and the basis, in fact - of the second of the violent modern controversies known as the "battles of the gauges." The first of these was between the gauges of 7ft. supported by Brunel, and the standard gauge of 4ft. 8 1/2in. The second controversy was begun by the favourable report of a Government inspector on the opening of the Festiniog Railway to passengers in 1865 and accelerated by other reports in respect of the working on the track of a peculiarly-constructed engine, the "Fairlie" demanded by its increasing business in 1869. In the meantime a way of looking at railways from the point of view of their profits, more than for striking feats, had set in they had not made an adequate return to the to the shareholders for the capital expended.:-:and the idea was broached and eagerly caught at, from the new information at hand, that instead of being stingily small, according, to the reproach of Brunel, who advocated 10ft. driving-wheels for locomotives and 11ft. tracks, they were extravagantly large.
Portmadoc is a notably staid and respectable little town, and derives its name from William Madocks, who, early in the present century, redeemed most of the surrounding land by building an embankment a mile long across an estuary of the sea, which formerly ran back nearly to the foot of Snowdon. The Festiniog Railway is several hundred feet higher at one end than the other, and the slate trains come down mainly by gravity by the force of their own impudence, some people call it. The shipping is just sufficient in extent to look impressive, and from the steep hill above the town, the buildings, ships, and quays appear as if they had drifted in together, and were held in an eddy, under a projecting angle of the shore. The first and only level mile of the railroad crosses Madocks' embankment, from which stretches, when the tide is out, a vast expanse of bare sands, with a real charm in its character of simple desolation.
Merddin Emrys[edit source]
"MERDDIN EMRYS." A Fairlie Double Boiler Bogie Locomotive
The Festiniog Railway may be said to have been founded, in 1832, by a Mr. Spooner, who some years previously, while shooting rabbits over the ground where the town and docks of Portmadoc now stand, chanced upon the ordnance surveyors, - was pleased with the business, became an engineer, and later on returned to assist William Madocks, in his project of redeeming the land. The slate quarries in the mountains were then being tediously and expensively served by boats down the river Dwyryd, and Spooner secured the laying of a horse tram-road to them, a company having been formed for the purpose. The iron rails forming the wheel-tracks were 1 1/2 in. wide by 2 1/2in. deep, and laid upon cross-sleepers, or supports, of stone. The wagons in, which the slate, was conveyed, and which held from two to three tons, had small wheels with flanges that overhung the inner edge of the rail, and by that means they were kept in a regular course. There was brilliancy in these improvements at that time that caused the inhabitants of the district, to congratulate themselves on their progress, and look forward to extraordinary things. One horse on the rails could do the work, of twenty. Spooner advanced the idea of steam on his track, but was unable to realise it, on account of the difficulty in finding locomotives that could be guaranteed for the peculiar conditions of narrowness, curvature, and gradient. However, in 1863, his son, to whom he had left the idea as a legacy, succeeded in carrying-out the bold conception by putting on two small tank engines, the Mountaineer and Little Giant, weighing less than ten tons, and the shoulder easily overtops them as they stand on the track. Except to replace the original sixteen with thirty-pound rails and wood sleepers for stone, no change had been made in the track-a 2-foot gauge it had been, winding around all the convolutions of the hills-and a 2ft. gauge it remained. After a couple of years more development of trade and population in the district, there was a crying demand that the railway should carry passengers, so the Government inspector came up, saw what it could do, made his report, and the permit was secured, but with a restriction of speed to twelve miles an hour. Then, as business grew, continually increasing loads were piled on carriages, and capacities were developed that had not been dreamed of, and in 1870 traffic, had so outgrown the limited provision, that it seemed necessary to double the track. As a possible alternative, experiments were first tried with the "Fairlie" locomotive, which proved such a satisfactory increase of power that the doubling idea was abandoned, - and has never since been renewed. So the "Little Giant's" prestige was blotted out by a 20 ton Little Wonder.
The next step in this gradual progress upward was a demand for a stronger support for the new crushing weights, and, the weight of the rails was made nearly forty-nine pounds to the yard and have, since been replaced with steel of fifty. The restriction as to speed was withdrawn, the company's servants were smartly uniformed, and the whole line became and remains as like an ordinary British railway as it is possible for a miniature to be. All the steps of the historical development of - the Festiniog Railway are recorded in the 'varied patterns of its rolling stock. The earliest is the quarrymen's car, a mere rude box, 8ft. by 6ft. by 4 1/2ft., painted dark red, and provided with two openings for doors. The next period is typified by a car for six persons with the usual door and windows in each side. Then comes a car with two compartments; then a variety with longitudinal seats; then an open car, with stout leather aprons for protection from the weather; and the latest is a handsomely-finished bogie carriage to carry fifty passengers - being the first of this type to run in this country. For the sake of stability, all the floors are as near the ground as possible, so that the passenger cars - whose wheels run just inside, and for oiling are reached from doors in the seats - are but a single step above the track, a feature which allows platforms to be dispensed with at the stations.
The transportation rates are decidedly reasonable, all things considered. As the slate wagons go up empty and come down with so little effort, the trains are often of great length. They are frequently a thousand feet, sometimes a full quarter of a mile, an interminable line of small units, as flexible as a trailing chain, moving along the curved route, at from twelve to fifteen miles an hour, and more often than not on three or four curves at once. The "Fairlie" engine has an odd, aggressive-looking build, for it is really two locomotives framed together. With its double boilers, its two smoke-stacks, and its pairs of cylinders, ready to start either way, one end is as much the front as the other, and its easy, gliding motion and freedom from oscillation are due to its bearing light on the track, all its wheels being driving-wheels, and the weight distributed equally on them. Its rolling-gear is a bogie or pivoted truck at each end, and its difference from two locomotives coupled to work together is in this, that in turning a curve, the stiff frame acts as the chord of the arc, so that the leading bogie is securely held to the track by the other.
Bogie coach[edit source]
MODERN BOGIE PASSENGER CARRIAGE, FESTINIOG RAILWAY
It is only away from the noise and bustle or its business at the principal stations that the Festiniog Railway really assumes its essential character. The road - the whole way is carefully drained by depressions under the track, at regular intervals - is scarped into the hill-sides, following every revolution of them like a bridle path so that there are places where a train moves to all points or the compass at once. Though this winding plan, besides saving cuttings, results in easy gradients, still there are obstacles which the most circumlocutory or narrow gauges cannot dodge. If they be ravines it crosses them on dry stone masonry embankments, one such being 60ft. high, and from its slenderness it is only l0ft. wide at the top - seeming a great deal more. If they be spurs of the mountain, it has, of course, to cut through them, but it cuts so narrowly that one must be careful to keep one's head within the car for fear of a collision, the margin being but a few inches. Entering the narrow-tunnels-is-like-plunge-into a cellar-door. The sharpest of the interminable curves, where the track turns a headland known as Tylers Cutting, is of but 116 ft. radius, and to dash round this at full speed with the train careering over on account of the super-elevation of 3in. in the outer rail, is a decidedly spirited experience.
Bogie luggage brake van[edit source]
BOGIE LUGGAGE BRAKE VAN
The stone station at Minffordd, the junction with the Cambrian line, is looked upon as quite a palatial structure, and it is here that the neat transhipment arrangements claim attention, and the disparity of sizes in the locomotives is glaringly forced into notice. The driving-wheels of the Cambrian giant are not far short of the top of the smoke-stack of the Festiniog dwarf, while a goods truck of the former is three times the length and twice the height of that of the latter. The two are brought side by side to a level by the smaller trucks being run upon a platform. Blaenau Festiniog and Duffws, the upper terminus of the line is a place of about fifteen thousand inhabitants, while Festiniog itself is four miles further off, but is reached by a branch line which follows the hills on the other side of the valley. Most of the other stations are, except upon special occasions, so lonely in their situation, so queerly desolate, as to forcibly suggest the one described by Bret Harte in The Stationmaster of Lone Prairie.
A wide view opens from Penrhyn. Backward it reaches to the famous Castle of Harlech, flanking the stretch of Cardigan Bay; forward it embraces the valley whose windings the railway follows at a great height for most of its length; but there is no brilliancy about, the slate, the sober treasure of the region, though it keeps times tolerably good and the population well at home with sufficient employment. Many of the people one meets in this long-time Principality of England do not understand the English-language, and it is one of the surprises of a visit to find in vogue the ancient Cymric speech, substantially what was before the Roman Conquest. It is a speech that presents the greatest difficulty to strangers, especially to the English.
Slate wagon[edit source]
SLATE WAGON FESTINIOG RAILWAY
The heart of the slate country is treeless and desolate, like the top of an Alpine pass, and the quarries are vast abysses, gloomy as the pictures in Dante's Inferno." Slate is everywhere. It strews the slopes with debris, turning the light with slight bluish reflections. It is set into the tops of walls instead of broken glass, and it stands in irregular slabs, like tomb stones, for fences around outlying houses. There are inclined planes striped on the slopes, rising to successive levels, and at the top of each, is a small "drum-house" containing the drum by means of which, with its wire rope, the full slate wagons are lowered and the 'empty ones pulled up. The temporary homes of many of the quarrymen are in barrack structures on the heights. They are little given to revelry, and there is little in the villages to attract them down if they were, so when tired with the labours of the day in the shafts, or in the sheds where the slates are split, they sit around the fire, telling stories or enjoying by song and chorus their well-known taste for music, and thus await the coming of the welcome Saturday afternoon to return to their wives and families below.
Regarding the actual "facts and figures," Mr. Hughes' has been good enough to supply the following important information:-
The line runs between Portmadoc and Festiniog in a mountainous district of. North Wales, as shown on the map above. It was constructed in 1834; under an Act of Parliament passed in 1832, on the exceptional gauge of lft.11 1/2in. In 1871 an interchange junction was opened with the Cambrian Railway, in 1881 with the London, and North Western, and in 1883 with the Great Western Railway.
Little Giant[edit source]
THE "LITTLE GIANT," 4-wheel Locomotive with tender.
Its length is 13 1/4 miles: with two branches of one mile in length. It was worked by horses until 1863, when locomotives were introduced. In 1865 it was inspected by the Board of Trade and passed for passenger traffic.
The line runs through a very rough, rocky, and wild district, and crosses ravines, and cuts through spurs of the hill, and in most places is scarped out of the steep slide of the mountain. By the use of sharp curves the earthwork to formation level has been made comparatively light.
Nearly all the cuttings are in rock; the width is 8ft. and the slope ¼ to 1; the deepest cutting is 27ft.
Are chiefly built in solid , dry masonry , 10ft. wide at the formation level, with a slope of 1 in 6 on each side; some have retaining walls on both sides with soil filling.
The deepest embankment is 60ft. On sideland ground, which forms a large portion of the line, it is partly cutting and partly filling.
There are two tunnels on the line, one 60 yards and the other 730 yards in length; the first is in shaly, loose rock, and had to be partly lined; the other is through hard, syenite rock with three circular shafts for ventilation. The tunnels are 8ft. wide and 9ft. 6in. high.
The mountainous nature of the district and its nearness to the sea causes a large rainfall, and the drainage has to be carefully looked after. No special provision has, however, been found necessary, with the exception of having ample waterways and the side drains kept clear, especially in the cuttings.
Portmadoc Station[edit source]
PORTMADOC STATION The Lower Terminus of the Festiniog Railway.
CULVERTS, BRIDGES, ETC.[edit source]
The culverts for small streams have the side walls built in dry masonry, and stone slabs put on as covers under the permanent-way. Some of these are only one span, varying from 1ft. to 3ft. Larger culverts have stone arches from 8ft. to 15ft. span
There are numerous foot-bridges over the line, chiefly made of wrought-iron, and some of wood.
The roads over bridges are in all cases made with wrought-iron outside girders and cast-iron inside girders, with small brick arches between, and the surface covered with stone metalling.
Underbridges are stone arches, and the abutments in masonry span 10ft. to 15ft. There is one cast-iron arch bridge under the line over a public road. The width in the clear between abutments where the line is single is 10ft., and for double line 17ft. The height from rail to underside of girder is 9ft. in each case.
The fencing nearly along the whole length of line is dry stone walls, having a coping of stones set on edge, with wire fence on top. The standards are of iron fixed in stone blocks, and sloping outwards over edge of wall to keep the sheep from getting a foothold. There are generally two wires, in other places three or four wires; for some short distances there are wood posts and five wires, and in places six wires.
SOUTH END THE LONG TUNNEL, FESTINIOG RAILWAY
There is a total rise of 700ft. in the 13 1/4 miles. The line for about half a mile from Portmadoc has only a gradient of 1 in 1,343, along a stone embankment across an estuary of the sea. It then has gradients varying from 1 in 85, 1 in 100, 1 in 90, 1 in 82, 1 in 79, 1 in 131, 1 in 87, 1 in 92, 1 in 85, 1 in 116, 1 in 186, 1 in 143, 1 in 94, being a continuous ascent throughout. The gradient of 1 in 82 is for about two miles, 1 in 79 for 2 1/2, miles and 1 in 85 for 2 1/2 miles, several of the others being for, about one mile in length.
The steepest gradient is 1 in 60, worked by passenger traffic, the average gradient being 1 in 92.. There is a gradient of 1 in 25 with a curve of 2 chains radius worked by the locomotives on a short branch line.
The line for half a mile from Portmadoc Station is straight, and there are other short lengths at different parts, but the line is nearly throughout a succession of curves - in many cases with hardly any straight length between reverse curves. The curves are parabolic, and thus ease off more gradually and easily from the straight or reverse curve. The sharpest curve is 1 3/4 chains; or 115ft. radius on a gradient of 1 in 59 - other curves of 3, 4, 5, and 6 chains.
The super elevation in the outer rail is 3 1/in. in the sharpest curve.
PERMANENT WAY[edit source]
The rails are double head, weighing 50lbs per lineal yard, and in lengths of 8 yards, with proportionate number of shorter lengths to suit the curves. The line is laid throughout with steel rails, instead of the iron rails which had been laid in 1870, and had been down for twenty-five years.
The chairs are cast-iron, weighing 18 ½ lb. each, fastened with two spikes of wrought-iron, weighing 6ozs. each. They are tightened by wood keys. The joints of the rails are fastened by clip fish-plates, first used on this line, and now in use on all the large lines in the country.
The sleepers formerly used were half-round native larch, 4ft. 6in. long, 9in. wide, and 4 1/2in. deep, and laid with the round side down. They last about eight years. Creosoted sleepers 4ft. 6in. by 9ft. 4 1/2in. are now being used.
There are nine sleepers to each rail, being 2ft. 9in. apart from centre to centre, except at the joints, where they are 2ft.
The points and crossings are the usual kind made from steel rails. The lever boxes are of the usual pattern. The ballast is 6ft. wide and 1ft. deep, being 6in. under the sleepers, and composed of gravel brought in vessels to Portmadoc, there being no material suitable for the purpose on the line.
The line is single, except for about a length of half a mile below Duffus, [sic] where it is a double line:-one line for passenger and the other for mineral traffic. There is a good deal of shunting on this part, as it is at the junction with the London and North Western and Great Western terminal stations.
The distance between the lines where double is 6ft. There are double lines and sidings at all the stations.
There are turn-tables situated near the lower and upper terminus of sufficient size to turn an engine and tender.
VIEW OF THE Festiniog Railway, Enclosed by a high Stone Embankment above Penrhyn Station.
The stations have complete arrangements of inter-locking of the signals and points worked by rods from Signal cabin. There is a telegraph wire with speaking instruments at all the stations. There is a complete telephone installation at work in connection, with the railway and quarries. The block system is at work, on two portions of the line - the lower and upper terminus - where there are junctions with the large railways and where there is a great deal of shunting done, by which no more than one train can, be on the same section of the Line at the same time. The traffic is worked on the train-staff system.
The continuous automatic vacuum brake is in use for the engines, carriages, and vans.
The goods wagons are supplied with wrought-iron strap brakes or cast-iron blocks with a lever, and about one-sixth of the slate wagons are supplied with brakes of this kind.
These have been found quite sufficient for safety of working.
There are eight stations on the line, varying from a quarter to four miles apart.
The station buildings were originally built of wood, but have been rebuilt in stone or brick of a commodious size. With the exception of the lower terminus station at Portmadoc, they are all situated on gradients. There are no raised platforms, these being level with the rail, which is a great cause of safety. They are from 100ft. to 500ft. in length.
ROLLING STOCK[edit source]
The engines and rolling stock are constructed at the Company's, workshops, which are situated on the railway, half a mile from Portmadoc Station.
The rolling-stock consists of three double-boiler bogie locomotives; one single boiler bogie locomotive; five four-wheel tank locomotives, with tenders; four tenders to carry coal; eight passenger carriages on two bogies, with four wheels each bogie; fifty passenger carriages on four wheels, of which four are open carriages for tourists; five bogie vans; two bogie ballast, goods and coal trucks; one hundred and twenty goods wagons; twenty goods trucks, covered cattle trucks; stone trucks, etc; nineteen timber trucks (pairs); and one thousand and ninety-five slate wagons.
Engine Shed[edit source]
PORTMADOC ENGINE SHEDS, Festiniog Railway
There are three-double-boiler bogie engines on two bogies, each four wheels coupled. One has cylinders 8 1/2in. diameter by 14in. stroke, wheels 2ft. 8in. diameter, total wheel base 18ft. 8in., wheel base of bogies 4ft. 8in. Tanks 672 gallons, working pressure 140lbs., weight in steam 21 tons. The others have cylinders 9in. by l4in., wheels 2ft. 9 1/4in. diameter, wheel base 20ft., wheel base of bogies 4ft. 8in., capacity of tanks 670 gallons, working pressure 150lb., weight in steam 24 tons.
The single double-boiler bogie engine has cylinders 9in. by 14in., driving-wheels 2ft. 9in. diameter, and trailing wheels 1t. 7in., wheel base 13ft. 11n. wheel base of bogie 5ft. Tanks 430 gallons, working- pressure 150lb., weight n steam 17 tons.
Two of the four-wheel tank engines with tenders have cylinders 8 1/4in. by 12 in., wheels with steel tyres 2ft. diameter, wheel base 4ft. 6in. Tanks 237 gallons, working pressure 140lb., weight in steam 8 ½ tons.
Three of the four-wheel tank engines with tenders have cylinders 8 1/2in. by, 12in., wheels with steel tyres 2ft. 3in. diameter, wheel base 5ft. Tanks 373 gallons, working pressure 150lb., and weight in steam 11 tons.
The bogie carriages are. 29ft. 11in. and 32ft. 11in. long, 6ft. lin. and 6ft. 4in. wide, and 5ft. l0in. to 6ft. high respectively, containing from six to seven compartments. On eight steel wheels 1ft. 7in. diameter wheel base 36ft. 6in. and 31ft. 3in., wheel base of bogie 4ft. 6in. Maximum weight 6t tons, to carry forty-four and fifty passengers respectively.
Four-wheel carriages, with seats back to back, are, 10ft; 3in. long by 6ft.8in. wide, and 5ft. 8in. high, wheels 1ft. 6in. diameter, wheel base 5ft., weight 1 1/2 tons, to carry twelve passengers.
Four-wheel workmen's carriages 11ft. 2in. by 5ft. 2in. wide, 5ft. high, wheels 1ft. 6in., wheel base 5ft. 6in., weight 1 1/4 tons, to carry sixteen passengers.
The bogie vans are l8ft. 10in. and 22ft. 10in. long, 6ft. 10in. wide, and 5ft. 10in high, on eight steel wheels. Total wheel base 15ft. 6in. and 19ft. 6in., wheel base of bogies 3ft. 6in., weight 4 1/4 tons. Bogie trucks are 21ft. 3in. long, 4ft. 9in. wide, and 2ft. 6in. high, on eight wheels. Total wheel base 18ft. 6in., wheel base of bogies 3ft. 6in., weight 4 tons 2 cwts.; to carry twelve tons.
Four-wheel goods wagons, some of iron and some wood; these vary from 7ft. 4in. to 8ft; 9in. in length, and 3ft. 5in. to 4ft. 9in. wide, and 2ft. 10in. to 3ft. 6in. high, wheel base from-4ft. to 5ft. 6in., weight from 17 cwt. to 1 ton 9 cwt. to carry from 2 to 5 tons. Timber trucks, to carry from 2 to 2 1/2 tons, 6ft. 3in. long, 4ft. wide, and 1ft. 10in. high, with swivel centre-piece, wheel base 3ft., weight 13 cwt., to carry 5 tons on a pair.
Slate wagons 5ft. 3in. long, 2ft. 7in. wide, 1ft. 6in. high; 6ft. long, 3ft. wide, 1ft. 6in. high; 7ft. long 3ft. 9in. wide; 1ft. 6in. high; wheel base 3ft. 2in. to, 4ft., weight 10 cwt. 2 quarters to l ton 1 cwt. 3 quarters, to carry from 2 tons to 3 tons 15 cwt.
The locomotives and rolling stock are fitted with central spring buffers, some having a combined buffer and draw bar.
Open Carriages[edit source]
OPEN Festiniog Railway CARRIAGES One showing the Leather Apron.
The chief traffic consists of roofing slates, as Festiniog has about the most extensive slate quarries in the world. The slates are brought down to Portmadoc and shipped to all parts. The other traffic consists of coal, lime, timber, and general goods, which are chiefly taken up the line to Festiniog.
The passenger traffic consists of local passengers, and in summer, tourist traffic, as the line runs through beautiful scenery. There are also a large number of quarrymen, who go up in the morning and come down in the evening. There is strong competition for the traffic, as the London and North Western and Great Western Railways (the two most powerful companies in the country) have both a terminus at Festiniog.
The heaviest traffic in one year has been 216,209 passengers, 138,958 tons of slates, and 35,344 tons of coal and goods.
The largest number of passengers carried in one train has been 804. The rate for passengers, first-class, is 2.36d., second class 1.86d., third-class 1.43d., and Parliamentary ld. per mile; workmen 0.17d. per mile. Slates 0.7ld., coals 2.08d., goods 2.59d. to 4.66d., per ton per mile.
The trains are chiefly mixed trains. The up trains consisting of one double bogie engine, six loaded goods wagons, a four-wheel passenger carriage, two bogie passenger carriages, bogie van, and sixty to hundred empty slate wagons, weighing in all, exclusive of engine, from, 65 to 95 tons. The heaviest up train has- been 190 tons. The longest train taken was 440 yards. The down trains run down by gravity. The full slate trains, comprising very often 100 wagons, are controlled by two brakesmen, there being about one brake wagon to every six wagons in the train.
Blaenau Festiniog Station[edit source]
BLAENAU FESTINIOG STATION, Showing Festiniog Railway Trains.
The down passenger trains have the engine in front for starting and stopping at stations, and, braking the train on the gradients. In the summer passenger trains run, as well as mixed trains. There are also workmen's trains run up and down, comprising thirty-five four-wheel carriages and carrying 560 passengers.
The summer tourist traffic is for three months in the year, when nine up and ten down trains are run each day. There are then at work two engines and trains running, which pass each other half way at Tan-y-Bwlch, and also extra or special trains. There will then be three locomotives with main-line trains and two shunting engines, one at each terminus. For the remaining nine months, there is only one locomotive working the main line traffic and two shunting engines, one at each terminus. Total annual train mileage 116,000. The trains stop at all stations.
The speed run between stations is fifteen to seventeen miles per hour, but double this speed has been done and can be run with safety.
At the junction with the standard gauge lines there are transhipment sidings for minerals and goods. These have worked satisfactorily without delay or charge for damage. The cost of transshipment is 3/4d. per ton for minerals, such as coal, lime, etc. (by means of a tipping apparatus designed by Mr. Hughes), and the goods 1 1/2d. to 3d. per ton.
"TALIESIN" A Single Boiler Bogie Locomotive
The number of men employed in the different departments are as follows:- Permanent-way and buildings, thirteen; locomotive carriage and wagon department, forty-seven; traffic department, sixty-four; total, one hundred and twenty-four.
The Festiniog Railway has been in work now for thirty-five years as a passenger railway. It has been an unqualified success in every way. There has not been a single passenger accident, though subject to fogs, snow, and heavy storms. It has dealt with every kind of traffic handed over to it, and could easily convey a much larger traffic if required. It is being carried on successfully and satisfactorily, though having to compete with the most powerful railways in the country, and there has been no intention to increase the gauge at any time.
Duffus Station[edit source]
DUFFUS [sic] STATION The Upper Terminus of the Festiniog Railway.
Having thus described the Festiniog Railway, readers of the RAILWAY MAGAZINE will wish to learn to some thing of the gentleman who has, for so many years successfully managed this unique railway undertaking. We have, therefore, pleasure in stating that Mr. John Sylvester Hughes, general manager of the Festiniog Railway, is a native of the Principality. He was trained up as a civil engineer, having early shown much interest in studies pertaining to that profession. He is a Member of the Institute of Civil Engineers, and a Fellow of the Geological Society.
In the course of his career he has been connected with the carrying out of extensive engineering works in this country, as well as with important projects abroad. He has often been consulted by the by the authorities commissioners, and foreign governments in regard to narrow-gauge railways.
He has taken much interest in "Mountain Railways," and some sixteen years ago designed lines to the top of Snowdon, Skiddaw, Ben Lomond, and Snaefell (Isle of Man), the best-known mountains in the United Kingdom.
He has travelled extensively in his professional and private capacity. He has taken much interest in local matters, and especially in the Volunteer movement. He held a commission in the 2nd and 3rd Volunteer Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers for twenty-three years, and has received the volunteer officer's decoration, retiring with the honorary rank of lieutenant-colonel.