Portmadoc New (1923)

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Portmadoc New (1923)
Type Station
Status Closed
Location
Grid reference SH570390
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Portmadoc New (1923) is a former station on the Welsh Highland Railway.

This station, opened in 1923, the year that the WHR as a whole was opened, was effectively an exchange station for the WHR, FR Co. & GWR. It was sited immediately to the south of the GWR Cambrian Coast line, diagonally opposite the later Gelert's Farm Works of the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway and north of the Y Cyt drainage channel. Although technically on the WHR it was in fact an FR Co. station, being managed from Portmadoc Old (Harbour Station), and staffed from there.

The station building was an inexpensive corrugated iron structure containing booking office and waiting room, situated in the field to the west of, and below, the railway embankment. Access from building to platform was by a set of wooden steps with a wooden handrail that matched the post & rail fencing at the rear of the station platform. There was a passing loop with a 150 foot long platform on both sides. There was also a wooden hut used as a refreshment room, owned by the Snowdon Mountain Railway.

The land on which the station was built was purchased by the FR Co. as part of H.J. Jack's grandiose scheme to relocate Boston Lodge Works to a position more convenient to the requirements of the combined FR & WHR railways. Two layouts were drawn up in August 1922 by Sir Douglas Fox & Partners of Dolgarrog, the first plan showing the whole works located on a field to the east of the WHR line, with buildings on an east-west alignment. The second plan located the workshops and carriage repairs to the west of the line, with all other buildings to the east of the line, on an NE-SW alignment. Both plans included a loco shed to accommodate nine locomotives, a substantial four-road carriage shed, workshops, paint shop and a large goods shed. There was also a plan for a footbridge over the GWR line to an auxiliary platform and waiting room beside the WHR line north of the crossing. Either plan would have involved very substantial earthworks to raise the level of the ground and the cost of these, combined with the cost of the new buildings and relocation of machinery probably prevented it getting any further than the drawings stage, though the auxiliary platform was later provided, but without the footbridge, see Portmadoc New (1929).

For a period after opening, Festiniog trains by-passed Harbour Station to terminate at Portmadoc New. Following the proposed transfer of Boston Lodge facilities to the site, Harbour was expected to close, and in the short term a coaling stage - wagon - and a water tank were established by the Goods Shed. However, in 1925, complaints from residents of the neighbouring Britannia Terrace saw a change in this arrangement, and locomotives were coaled on the quay.

The grand plans for this station to replace Portmadoc Old as the FR's terminus never worked out.

The station proved very much to be a frontier point between the two railways. Management of the WHR was based at Dinas Junction, miles away from Portmadoc, and to all intents and purposes they were worlds apart. The respective staffs had little to do with each other, indeed barely knew each other.

A major disadvantage of the site from the WHR's point of view was the requirement of trains to cross the GWR Cambrian Coast line at a significant cost. This came about because although the Croesor Tramway was there before the Aberystwyth & Welsh Coast Railway (later Cambrian Railways and GWR), which arrived in 1867, this had not been sufficiently acknowledged at the time of the Parliamentary authorisation of the standard gauge line. As a result, the Croesor's precedence was ignored at the time of the establishment of the WHR, although the GWR's position was subsequently disputed by the WHR. From 1929 WHR passenger trade was moved to a new station site on the northern side of the GWR line (see Portmadoc New (1929)) and passengers had to cross the GWR on foot.

The unused land was leased for grazing purposes and remained in FR Co. hands until well into the preservation era. It was sold during the 1980s at a time when a future possible need associated with the revival of the WHR was not contemplated on the part of the FR Co. Of course the actual trackbed, as part of the WHR, remained in the hands of the Official Receiver, and British Rail.

In the The Dismantling of the Welsh Highland Railway in 1941 and 1942, all corrugated iron buildings at other stations were removed. This station building, however, survived, due to the fact that the GWR crossing had been removed as early as 1938, and the dismantling train could not cross, but also because it was FR property, not part of the WHR. Although this section of track was later removed in May 1949, the buildings remained. They were subsequently largely burned down in 1970.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Boyd, James I.C. (1988). Narrow Gauge Railways in South Caernarvonshire, Vol. 1. Blandford: The Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-365-6.

and others