Slate from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog
On Wednesday 15th January 2003, a clear crisp and cold day, the Ffestiniog Railway was part of an historic recreation of the way that slate was transported from the mountains to the sea. An inscribed piece of slate destined for Cardiff's new Millennium Centre was transported from the quarries at Blaenau by horse and cart to the Ffestiniog Railway's station, then the packaged slate block was loaded into a waiting slate train and hauled out by steam locomotive, the ex-Penrhyn Railway engine Blanche. All photos, copyright FR Co. and taken on Wednesday 15th January 2003
However at Dduallt where the original line is rejoined from the Deviation, the slate train consisting of 27 original slate wagons and intrepid brakes men was converted to a gravity train, (by removing the locomotive and giving a shove!) to recreate this FR feature that transported slate down to the sea before the introduction of steam locomotives in 1863, although gravity trains were still used for many years to come.
The gravity train went as far as the exchange station at Minffordd where with due ceremony the slate block was loaded into the guards van (No 10) of a Vintage train hauled by one of the original FR locos, Palmerston, to complete the journey to Porthmadog with invited guests and local school children.
At Porthmadog the slate was taken across Britannia Bridge to the old slate wharves (which the FR used to be connected with by rail) to be loaded into a boat for the journey from Porthmadog to Cardiff.
The publicity provided excellent media coverage for the FR and showed again how volunteers and staff are willing to put so much effort into an event at relatively short notice but with excellent results.