Signalling schemes

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Particularly after the passing of the 1889 Regulation of Railways Act, there were several signalling schemes proposed for use on the line; perhaps we should be glad that none of these came to fruition as the 'traditional' Festiniog signalling survived at least in part until 1926. Ultimately, this page will be split into several sections - the signalling proposals dating from before the granting of the Light Railway Order in 1922, and those after the Order came into force. The majority of the early schemes date from circa 1890, and as such follow 'conventional' contemporary practice. The later schemes are very interesting, as in many ways the modern 'low-impact' crossing loops with train operated points are a direct copy of what had been proposed for (say) Tanygrisiau eighty years beforehand.

Signalling Schemes prior to 1922[edit]

1879/1880 Proposals; Portmadoc Harbour[edit]

Main article: Porthmadog Signalling Schemes

As part of the rebuilding of Harbour Station in 1879/1880 contracts were sought for a fully interlocked signalbox. At the Directors meeting of 19/8/1879 an offer from Mr. Breese for the site of the new signalbox at a rent of 10/ per year was considered, and the Directors resolved to meet with Mr. Breese to discuss renting the land from the Tremadoc Estate at 10/ per annum. At least two separate signalling schemes were produced and are now in the Archives, though in practice the 1864 signalling scheme was adapted with more indicator discs. This had gone by 1926 and was replaced by a groundframe (Boyd 1975 pages 393). Boyd does not specify if the signal box contained a lever frame; if either of the schemes had been adopted then there would have been a frame in the signal box, but "Spooner Pragmatism" prevailed and the existing bothy was adapted. The lever frame (such as it was) was outside the bothy [more details in Portmadoc Signalling page, to be written.].

December 1879 Scheme Plan from Gloster Wagon Company
January 1880 Scheme Plan from McKenzie and Holland

1890 Proposals; Tanybwlch[edit]

Like Portmadoc, two separate schemes survive in the Archives. Both of them share the same mistake! Each layout is drawn with the assumption that there would have been left-hand running through the loop; both layouts also have a suggested use of Economic FPLs. The McK&H scheme as planned seems to have suggested the use of fixed semaphore Distants although it is possible (as happened at Portmadoc) that the existing Discs could have been repositioned and fixed at Danger. The source document sent out to each company for the quotation seems to have been a copy of the drawing made in 1871/2 for the opening of Tanybwlch, as most notably the station building is shewn as a simple rectangle, rather than the 'L' shape that still exists today.

Dutton and Company scheme[edit]

February 1890 plan from Dutton and Co.

This version still has the diamond crossing in situ, but makes no provision for the crossing to be worked. As is now known, the diamond was not fixed. The suggestion of a self-acting point and bar in conjunction with the top end loop points is most peculiar and it is difficult to imagine how this would have worked in practice. Three possible numbering schemes are appended.

Dutton Proposal, version 1
Dutton Proposal, version 2
Dutton Proposal, version 3

McKenzie and Holland scheme[edit]

February 1890 Scheme Plan from McKenzie and Holland

This scheme is far more ambitious, and makes you wonder if anyone had actually made a site visit! The diamond crossing and middle road were to have been removed, and one of the lines would have been diverted to run *outside* (i.e. on the valley side) the station building! Aside from that consideration, this is perhaps the more plausible scheme, although it does seem very unusual that the distants were uncoloured on the plan, suggesting that they were to be fixed.

McK&H proposal, 1890, suggested numbering.

1899 proposals; Minffordd and Penrhyn[edit]

McKenzie and Holland wrote to John Silvester Hughes on 23/12/1899 with two sketches and two sets of quotes; the schemes were for Minffordd (Top End) only and the level crossing at Penrhyn. Both plans are unusual as they have the frame at 90° to the main line and looking up the valley towards Blaenau. The first pair of quotes (with all new equipment) were Minffordd: £138.17s.11d, Penrhyn: £83.4s.7d. However, the second pair of quotes were for 'if the existing apparatus at Dinas was altered, repaired and rearranged to suit these places instead of the new apparatus' (XD97/19846 wording) the quotes were reduced to Minffordd: £133.10s.5d, Penrhyn £80.5s.4d. To modern eyes the savings seem minimal with Minffordd being £5.7s.6d cheaper and Penrhyn only saving £2 19/! However, it must be remembered that the frame from Old Dinas Junction as it was cam and soldier would not have been as easy to alter as a more modern tappet frame.