Template:Featured article/February 2009
Special quarrymen's carriages first appeared on the FR in 1867. Their primary use was in special trains that carried men to work in the quarries around Blaenau Ffestiniog. Though many quarrymen lived in the various communities along the FR others came from further afield, having walked from home to join the train. Initially the trains ran only on Monday mornings and Saturday afternoons as most men stayed at the quarry barracks during the week. The Saturday train was usually added to the midday Down departure from Blaenau, with spectacular results. During the period when only a weekly service operated the carriages were stabled in an open, lean-to, carriage shed at Duffws during the week. A regular, daily, service was introduced in 1881.
Over the years, a number of different designs of carriage were used. The earliest were little better than low-sided, unsprung, wooden wagons with planks for seats; photographs appear to show that these overhung the sides and some passengers' legs hung outside! There was no protection from the elements. In order to simplify the story this type has long been designated Type 1a.
The first improvements to quarrymen's carriages involved the erection of a crude, shed-like, covers with zinc roofs, but lacking both doors and windows, over Type 1 vehicles. These have been designated Type 1b.
Type 2 carriages appear very similar to Type 1b, but were built as covered vehicles from new. In later years they acquired doors with small windows. Their running gear was not improved, however, and they remained unsprung.
Closed carriages with glazed windows and springs, Type 3, were not introduced until 1885. (more...)