North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways

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In its time also known unofficially as the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railway, which however in this wiki denotes something else.

This was a precursor to the Welsh Highland Railway.


Formed to build a major network of narrow gauge railways throughout the North Wales mountains, the NWNGR built only the line from Dinas Junction to the quarries above Bryngwyn, with a branch to Rhyd Ddu (the original name for the station later known as Snowdon or South Snowdon). After delays, the lines opened, in stages over 4 years from 1877. Originally the Bryngwyn line was the main line. However, within a short space of time the roles of the lines were reversed, and the line to Rhyd Ddu became the main line.

Rolling stock[edit]

See Locomotives used on the original WHR or its constituents, WHR Carriages (Pre Preservation) and WHR Wagons. Some of the rolling stock was leased from the Moel Tryfan Rolling Stock Co. Ltd. because the company could not afford both to purchase it and build the line.


Due to financial difficulties, a receiver was appointed nearly as soon as it opened. The Bryngwyn line closed to passengers in 1913, and was eventually followed by the closure of the rest to passengers in 1916; goods traffic was carried on an 'as required' basis until 1922.

Planned extensions[edit]

Various extensions were planned. The line from Dinas Junction to Rhyd Ddu was built and operated, but this was just a small part of the grand scheme for a network of narrow-gauge railways spanning much of north Wales. A further part of the scheme was the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways (General Undertaking) which planned a route from Porthmadog to Beddgelert, where it would meet the Rhyd Ddu-Beddgelert extension. From there the line would travel via Capel Curig to Betws-y-Coed. A further branch would have extended the line from Betws-y-Coed to Cerrig-y-Drudion, where the railway would meet the planned Ruthin and Cerrig-y-Drudion Railway, and to Corwen. A short, separate line from Pwllheli (adjacent to the Cambrian Railways' terminus of that period) to Porthdinllaen was also proposed. An Act of Parliament in 1885 authorised an extension northwards to Caernarfon and a Light Railway Order of 1900 authorised an extension southwards to Beddgelert.

The first were in 1885 when an extension to Caernarfon and a zig-zag line to replace the Bryngwyn incline were proposed. Neither was built but the Caernarfon part was resurrected again between 1904 & 1908 and again in 1922, as part of the new WHR. However, not until 1997 did the narrow gauge reach Caernarfon.

In 1897 approval was given for an extension to Beddgelert. This was eventually started around 1904, but probably by then as part of the Portmadoc, Beddgelert and South Snowdon Railway with changes on the approach to Beddgelert.

The General Undertaking was authorised by Act of Parliament in 1872 but officially abandoned in 1876. The section from Porthmadog to Beddgelert was eventually completed by the Welsh Highland Railway as part of its construction, and utilised parts of the Croesor Tramway and the aborted Portmadoc, Beddgelert and South Snowdon Railway (PBSSR) works.

Takeover by Henry Joseph Jack and the Aluminium Corporation[edit]

With the company being in the hands of the receiver for much of its existence, and the loss of much trade that it had, it became prey for the Dolgarrog People, and the company was taken over in April 1920.


No complete list of officials exists; those known are recorded here.

  • Jeffrey de Winton (member of the NWNGR Provisional Committee)[1]
  • Sir Llewelyn Turner, Chairman of the NWNGR company from 1872 until at least 1887.[2][3]
  • Abraham Fitz-Gibbon, C.E. Deputy Chairman 1876
  • Sir R.L.M.Williams Bulkeley Director 1876 (Resigned December 1876 due to ill health)
  • Chaloner William Chute Director 1876
  • Henry Hill Director 1876
  • Henry Watts, Secretary of the NWNGR company from 1872 until at least 1876.[4]
  • R H Livesey General Manager around mid 1887 at least[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fisher D, Fisher A and Jones G P (2011) De Winton of Caernarfon: Engineers of excellence, RCL Publications, Cambrian Forge, Garndollbenmaen, Gwynedd, LL51 9RX p 66.
  2. ^ North Wales Chronicle, 29th. May 1875.
  3. ^ North Wales Chronicle, 1st. October 1887
  4. ^ North Wales Chronicle, 15th. April 1876
  5. ^ Welsh Highland Heritage, Issue 046, page(s): 004
  • Also National Archives document MT 54/160, MT 54/435, MT 54/455, MT6/1367/11, MT 6/972/8
  • Further information can be found on Barrie Hughes's site [1].