Train Services on the Welsh Highland Railway (1922 - 1936)
- 1 Preview
- 2 Background to the timetables
- 3 WHR Timetable 1922
- 4 WHR Timetable 1923
- 5 WHR Timetable 1924
- 6 WHR Timetable 1925
- 7 WHR Timetable 1926
- 8 WHR Timetable 1927
- 9 WHR Timetable 1928
- 10 WHR Timetable 1929
- 11 WHR Timetable 1930
- 12 WHR Timetable 1931
- 13 WHR Timetable 1932
- 14 WHR Timetable 1933
- 15 WHR Timetable 1934
- 16 WHR Timetable 1935
- 17 WHR Timetable 1936
- 18 See also
- 19 Sources
The original Welsh Highland Railway ran for only a short period. Consequently it is possible to consider the timetabled service in some detail. Timetables were often advertised as running "until further notice", but the service at times changed regularly - sometimes at almost monthly intervals, according to demand - which must have made it frustrating for passengers. Even when a specific period was specified, the a new timetable was sometimes issued before the end date.
Background to the timetables
The timetables aptly illustrate the declining fortunes of the railway, notably in the increasing shortness of the season services, the reduction of through trains, the reduction of the daily service, and the increasing delays at Beddgelert (only those of 15 minutes or over are indicated). Quite simply, despite the increasing tourism of the time, the railway could not compete with the motor vehicle.
Problems were sometimes compounded by unreliable locomotives, which at times led to a revised, reduced, timetable, and by the mainline timetable, particularly at Dinas Junction, where WHR departures were obliged to wait for awkward LMS connections.
The Welsh Highland went into receivership in March 1927, and although the Festiniog Railway did not take over the lease until 1st July 1934 (initially a 6 month trial period, then committing to a 42 year lease, despite losses), it was very involved with the Welsh Highland prior to this. From the outset the two railways shared key management figures, such as Colonel Stephens and Henry Joseph Jack, in whose interests it was to promote both railways. Additionally, Sir John Stewart and Evan Davies were also Directors of both railways. Posters for the "Welsh Highland and Festiniog Railways" in 1925 promoted "nearly 50 miles of Narrow Gauge Railway running through beautiful scenery" and timetables from 1926 show the title "Dinas Junction, Portmadoc, Blaenau Festiniog and Duffws" and showed both lines, with through connections at Portmadoc.
Festiniog locomotives and rolling stock were used widely on the Welsh Highland from the outset; indeed there was an acute shortage of such on the new WHR. It was the Festiniog who paid for the 6 Hudson toastrack coaches acquired in 1923. The former NWNGR locomotives Moel Tryfan and Russell were cut down to fit the FR loading gauge as early as 1923 and 1924 respectively - albeit rather unsuccessfully in the case of Russell. However, in later years the line came to operate almost as two separate railways - FR crew and stock operating south of Beddgelert (and often on to Blaenau), with WHR crew and stock operating to the north, out of Dinas. This had the effect of a more fragmented timetable, and an enforced change of trains for through passengers.
Notes to the timetables - The passenger services shown reflect those advertised on the Company's published timetables. The 12 hour clock has been used, as it was on contemporary timetables. Times shown are departure times, except where the train terminates at that station.
Whilst no distinction is made here to stations at Portmadoc (note contemporary spelling), timetables referred variously to :
"UP trains" travelled TO Portmadoc. DOWN trains travelled FROM Portmadoc.
Some intermediate stations and halts have been omitted for simplicity.
"Weekdays" refers to Monday to Friday ; "Sat." means "Saturdays only" ; "Fri." means "Fridays only".
There was no Sunday service.
WHR Timetable 1922
On 31st July 1922, when passenger services resumed on the section between Dinas Junction and South Snowdon, there were up to 3 daily trips in each direction, plus an additional return trip where the outward journey was not advertised (it probably carried workmen working to open the full line).
Russell worked this service, with Moel Tryfan operating in emergencies.
In early October the Saturday variation was removed, giving 3 trips in each direction :
On 1st December more trains were again run, with departures at :
WHR Timetable 1923
Trains ran throughout the winter of 1922-23, and in February 1923 some extra trains were run, providing a surprisingly intensive winter service. Again Russell was the mainstay of the service.
The Welsh Highland Railway opened through to Porthmadog (the new station) in July 1923, with a service which offered 4 through trips in each direction. There were also 2 shorter journeys in each direction, using Beddgelert as a terminus. Russell was now being assisted by the Baldwin and England engines.
From September 15th, 1923, there was a slight variation (reduced service) in the last train of the day in each direction :
From October 1923, after a lot of alterations, the following service offered 3 and 4 through trips daily in each direction, with 1 more on Saturdays :
The departures from Beddgelert at 12.25, followed a lay-over of 15 mins, and at 3.00 followed a lay-over of 20 mins.
November 1923 saw some minor changes to the service, notably an early departure from Portmadoc, with the loss of another train :
Further research has found this to be in error, and a different one has been found
|S.Snowdon (Rhyd Ddu)||Arr||10:46||10:46||17:21||18:22|
|S.Snowdon (Rhyd Ddu)||Dep||10:59||10:59||17:25||18:42|
|S.Snowdon (Rhyd Ddu)||Arr||10:54||12:55||18:35||18:35|
|S.Snowdon (Rhyd Ddu)||Dep||10:56||13:00||18:39||18:39|
December 1923 saw more cuts in the service :
WHR Timetable 1924
By May 1924 there were more trains running again, returning to the previous season's 4 daily through trains in each direction, plus additional trains between Portmadoc and Beddgelert. The Baldwin was largely kept as the spare engine, with Russell mostly handling goods. Moel Tryfan frequently ran from Dinas to Blaenau. Occasionally Fairlies worked right through to Dinas, and other Festiniog engines helped in higher season.
July 1924 saw the following similar service running. The service was an intensive one, with 4 daily through trains from Dinas to Portmadoc, and 5 leaving Portmadoc for Dinas :
|a.m.||p.m.||Thur & Sat only|
|a.m.||p.m.||Thur & Sat only|
The departures from South Snowdon at 1057 and 7.00 followed lay-overs of 17 mins and 32 mins respectively.
The departures from Beddgelert at 12.15 and 4.58 followed lay-overs of 53 mins and 34 mins respectively.
The departures from South Snowdon at 1.00 followed a lay-over of 19 mins.
The departure from Beddgelert at 3.25 followed a lay-over of 18 mins.
By August 1924 there was a minor extension in the service between Beddgelert and Portmadoc. This timetable saw the service at its most intensive, with 5 daily through trains in each direction, plus 2 additional trains between Portmadoc and Beddgelert. This level of intensity was never to be repeated :
|a.m.||p.m.||Thur & Sat only|
|a.m.||p.m.||Thur & Sat only|
By September 1924 the railway was running a very cut-back service of just 2 daily through trains in each direction :
Between 15th December and 30th January, 1924, no service operated, the first time that there had been a seasonal break in service.
WHR Timetable 1925
On 30th January 1925 a minimal service of 2 trains ran between Portmadoc and Beddgelert - and then on Fridays only - for Portmadoc market. In 1925 most passenger trains were hauled by Russell and Moel Tryfan, with some assistance from England engines in higher season.
From 7th March 1925, in addition to the above timetable, two additional trains ran from Dinas to South Snowdon - on Saturdays only - "for Caernarvon market" :
From 1st June 1925, trains once again operated on the whole line between Dinas and Portmadoc, with 3 weekday through trains in each direction :
The summer service, from 13th July to 19th September 1925, saw a fuller service (though reduced from previous years), with a minimum 3 through trains in each direction :
From September 21st to October 2nd, 1925, there was only one through train running in each direction, with additional trains between Portmadoc and Beddgelert :
From October 5th, 1925, the only change from the timetable above was that the last train only ran on Fridays :
Over the winter months of 1925-6, the morning train was also changed to run only on Fridays :
WHR Timetable 1926
The winter train was simply an England engine (often Palmerston or Princess) and a single coach. Russell also worked during the summer. Throughout the summer season, from 24th May to 20th September, the following service offered 2 through trips in each direction, plus an extra train between Portmadoc and Beddgelert :
The departure from Beddgelert at 3.00 followed a lay-over of 35 mins. This was the introduction of the longer lay-over (to reappear 2 years later).
From 20th September, 1926, and throughout the winter, just one through train a day ran in each direction :
WHR Timetable 1927
Most of the trains in 1927 were hauled by Russell, aided by Princess and Palmerston.
In March of 1927 the Company went into receivership.
The spring service, from 1st March, 1927 saw an additional service between Portmadoc and Beddgelert. The timetable also noted that on a Friday, the Portmadoc departure ran 30 minutes later :
The summer service, from 1st June, 1927, had two daily through trips in each diriection, plus the Portmadoc to Beddgelert service. Timings were very similar to the previous year's :
From 11th July, 1927, there were more trains, and South Snowdon became an additional starting/terminating point. There were, however, only 2 through trains daily in each direction :
From 26th September, 1927, a cut down winter service saw no through trains at all. At the northern end, one train ran daily from Dinas to Beddgelert :
- From December, 1927, this train service only ran on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
- At the southern end, one train ran - on a Friday only - from Portmadoc to Croesor Junction
WHR Timetable 1928
In June 1928 only one daily through train was operating. Russell was the mainstay of the service.
The departure south from Beddgelert at 3.00 followed a lay-over of 34 mins, whilst the northbound departure at 3.00 followed a lay-over of 55 mins.
On the 11th June, 1928, a further service was added between Portmadoc and Beddgelert :
The following timetable ran in July, 1928, up to July 21st, with just one through train a day in each direction :
The southbound departure from Beddgelert at 2.01 and 1.52 followed lay-overs of 39 mins and 30 mins respectively, whilst the northbound from Beddgelert at 3.05 followed lay-overs of 31 mins or 20 mins.
July 23rd, 1928, onwards saw a slightly improved service between Portmadoc and South Snowdon, in addition to the 2 daily through trains in each direction (only 1 on Saturdays). In places the timetable proved to be slightly different by several minutes from the one earlier published as scheduled to be operating from this date :
The 2.50 pm train from Portmadoc ran 10 minutes later on Saturdays. The 12.00 departure from Dinas carried a fully licensed buffet car as far as Beddgelert, this returning on the 3.05.
There was a slight change to the service in August 1928 whereby the 12.00 from Dinas spent a few minutes longer at Beddgelert, arriving at Portmadoc at 2.51, and a couple of other departures from Portmadoc were later by a few minutes.
From September 2nd, 1928, only the two afternoon daily through trains were retained :
From 24th September, 1928 the service was reduced to just one daily through train in each direction :
In October 1928 this was reduced further to one train from Dinas to Beddgelert, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only
WHR Timetable 1929
From 20th May, 1929, a through train ran the whole route again, but still only on three days a week, namely Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays :
|Portmadoc||2.37 - 2.40|
During the summer of 1929 (July 8th to September 21st) a single weekday service (i.e. Saturdays excepted) ran in each direction :
|Portmadoc||2.28 - 2.38|
In October, 1929, the three day service resumed (i.e. Monday, Wednesday & Friday).
WHR Timetable 1930
With the railway in serious decline, the summer timetable from 7th July to 20th September 1930 showed only one daily train in each direction. This was, however, only a three day service (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and only between Dinas and Beddgelert - though running on to Portmadoc "if required". Moel Tryfan reappeared as the main locomotive due to Russell being out of action.
On September 22nd the service stopped for the winter.
WHR Timetable 1931
Services did not resume in 1931 until as late as 20th July, with one through train daily in each direction. With both Russell and the Baldwin laid up, Moel Tryfan did most of the work.
The departure from Beddgelert at 4.45 followed a lay-over of 1 h 16 mins.
Services ceased for the season on 12th October, 1931, earlier than advertised (on the 31st).
WHR Timetable 1932
On July 18th 1932, the summer service saw one daily through train in each direction, largely similar to the service of the previous year. Russell workd the service with the Baldwin.
The departure from Beddgelert at 4.45 followed a lay-over of 1 h 16 mins.
The service ceased for the winter on 9th September, 1932.
WHR Timetable 1933
The service ran from 17th July to 18th September, 1933. The timetable was similar to that of 1932, with one through train daily in each direction, but a later departure from Portmadoc saw the lay-over at Beddgelert reduced from 76 mins to 51 mins.
WHR Timetable 1934
The railway closed completely in January 1934, to be subsequently run under lease by the Festiniog Railway (at the nominal rent of £1 for the first 6 months, and thereafter for a percentage of traffic receipts.
On 1st July, 1934 in an improved service saw 3 through trains daily in each direction (this number not seen since 1928), though still with some long delays at Beddgelert. The Railway tried to attract customers with special excursion fares on both the Welsh Highland and the Festiniog Railway, and an image rebranding saw the dark green carriages painted in a variety of colours - green, blue, pink, red and grey. The locomotives did not escape either - Russell was painted green, and the Baldwin a reddish-brown. By now Moel Tryfan was based at Boston Lodge, and operating the southern section.
From 9th July to 29th September 1934, the following service ran :
The departure from Beddgelert at 4.55 followed a lay-over of 50 mins. The last train of the day only ran between Beddgelert and Dinas on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The departures from Beddgelert at 1.15, 4.50 and 8.00 followed lay-overs of 1 hr 55 mins, 15 mins, and 1 hr 5 mins respectively. Passengers on the 1.40 from Portmadoc would have a wait of 2 hrs 35 mins if wishing to travel on to Dinas, which was an advertised connection.
WHR Timetable 1935
The service started on July 8th 1935, and was similar to the previous year, although the 3rd train of the day only ran in August, and there was additionally an afternoon train between Beddgelert and Portmadoc. By now, Russell and the Baldwin were operating north of Beddgelert, with Moel Tryfan and an England engine to the south.
The departure from Beddgelert at 4.55 followed a lay-over of 50 mins. The last train of the day ran from August 5th to 31st, and then only on a Wednesday - although between Portmadoc and Beddgelert it ran every day. Similar to the previous year, the departures from Beddgelert at 1.15, 4.50 and 8.00 followed lay-overs of 1 hr 55 mins, 15 mins, and 1 hr 5 mins respectively. Passengers on the 1.45 from Portmadoc would have a wait of 2 hrs 30 mins if wishing to travel on to Dinas, which was an advertised connection.
From September 16th to September 28th, 1935, a reduced timetable ran, with only one daily through train in each direction :
The second train of the day did NOT run on a Friday or Saturday between Portmadoc and Beddgelert. On other days of the week, the departure from Beddgelert at 4.50 followed a lay-overs of 15 minutes. However, passengers on the 1.45 from Portmadoc once again had a wait of 2 hrs 30 mins if wishing to travel on to Dinas, which was an advertised connection.
WHR Timetable 1936
The summer service started on 6th July, 1936, and featured 3 daily through trains in each direction :
The departures from Beddgelert at 3.15 and 4.50 followed lay-overs of 40 mins and 20 mins respectively.
The final service ran fom 13th September to 26th September, 1936, and featured the previous first departure from Dinas, with the early afternoon departure from Portmadoc.
The last passenger train ran on the Welsh Highland Railway on 26th September, 1936.
A little sporadic goods traffic followed, and the line was officially closed in 1937. From 1941 this was followed by The Dismantling of the Welsh Highland Railway.
- Historical Index, WHR
- Portmadoc New (1923)
- Portmadoc New (1929)
- Locomotives Used On The Original WHR Or Its Constituents
- The Dismantling of the Welsh Highland Railway
- WHR Miscellaneous
- More About The Welsh Highland Railway by Charles E. Lee, David & Charles Ltd., 1965, revised 1972.
- Narrow Gauge Railways in South Caernarfonshire, Vol. 2 by J.I.C. Boyd, revised 1989.