Weston Langford 2

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Continuing from Weston Langford.

The Weston Langford Railway Photographic Archive[edit]

Photographs of the Ffestiniog Railway taken in August 1971

  • Context – These photographs illustrate the High Summer Train Service from Portmadoc to Dduallt in 1971. The High Summer service ran for eight weeks during July and August. On Mondays to Thursdays this featured thirteen trains per day (at 45 minute intervals), with two less evening trains on the Friday and eight trains on Saturdays and Sundays.

Motive power that season comprised of Double Fairlie 0-4-4-0T Merddin Emrys, Penrhyn Lady 0-4-0STT ‘Linda’, Alco 2-6-2T ‘Mountaineer’ and in its last season of traffic 0-4-4-0T Earl of Merioneth. The Earl was withdrawn following the Ffestiniog Railway Society Groups Convention later in the year, and following the signing of a letter published in the Ffestiniog Railway Magazine by forty staff and volunteers (which the editor, Norman Gurley, designated the ‘Active Forty’) was stored, pending cosmetic restoration.

  • The following photographs were taken over 5th to 8th August, and reflect the operation of the railway at that very hectic period, captions use contemporary spelling.

The thumbnail photos on this page are a small selection of the total collection, located at Weston' site then you can use the search facility for ‘Festiniog’. You can access the large size original by clicking on the numeric link on this page.

Captions for other photographs in this collection will be found below. All captions by Tim Maynard, one of the Temporary Staff Guards that season.

Thursday 5th August 1971[edit]

111159: Portmadoc, 'Linda' Taken soon after 17:30 after arrival of the return of the 16:15 to Dduallt, frequently a Linda turn. The loco has shunted the C set from the platform into No. 3 road (normally the run round line) with subsequent trains running round using No. 2, something that is rarely seen today. Following the return of the 19:15 train (A Set) the loco off that train would shunt the A set into No. 2 and the C set into the platform ready for the 09:45 (Mondays to Fridays only) the following morning.

111160: Portmadoc, 'Linda' This was probably taken just after photo 111159. Note the aluminium paint on the smokebox. This was used on Linda and Mountaineer as black paint tended to burn off with the intensity of heat due to oil firing. The Blanche team were less than happy and eventually found an alternative high temperature black paint before Blanche returned to traffic after overhaul.

111161: Portmadoc, Down Passenger 'Mountaineer' Following on from photo 111159, this is probably the return of the next train, the 17:00 from Portmadoc. The train is the A set rake of 4 Barns, a bowsider and Welsh Highland 26. The Driver was probably either Dave Walker or Roy Goldstraw and Guard could have been Tim Maynard; I seem to have had this working a lot in 1971.

111162: Portmadoc, 'Linda' Linda is now off to the works. On the left is Edwin Jones, a local recruit to the railway who was summertime signalman at Portmadoc for some years. Note all levers on the ground frame are in used, levers 5 and 6 nearest the camera work the points for sidings into the Goods Shed. These sidings were removed a few years later and levers 5 and 6 painted white. In late 2010, after many years of disuse these levers were connected again to a point that now leads to the Welsh Highland Railway.

111163: Dduallt, 'Linda' running round Linda running round at Dduallt, Driver Garraway of course, can anyone name the firemen? Note progress with the deviation above.

Friday 6th August[edit]

I am not sure if the photos on this date are in true chronological order, so train times are pure guesswork; hopefully the detail is about right.

111164: Tan-y-Bwlch, Up Passenger No 10 'Merddin Emrys' This could be either the 11:00 or 13:15 (see 111180 later) train from Portmadoc with Evan Davis (and fag) driving. The train is the B set with three barns at the back including 100 and 14 (was Alistair Stirling buffet steward on 14 that day?); two bowsiders and Welsh Highland No. 23. Note the ‘Starter’ board on the right and location of the Ground Frame. No sign of a play area, however the mini van might be Station Master John Harrison’s.

111165: Tan-y-Bwlch, Up Passenger No 10 'Merddin Emrys' This could be either the 11:00 or 13:15 (see 111180 later) train from Portmadoc with Driver Evan Davis (and fag) oiling the motion; the Fireman might be Nigel Dant. Merddin Emrys had recently been fitted with a new Hunslet boiler and a few items such as dome covers remain to be finished. The contrast with Earl of Merioneth (photo 111174 is quite stark and is one of the reasons the ‘Active 40’ letter was published in the Festiniog Railway Magazine. This encouraged the Company not to butcher the Earl, paving the way for eventual restoration and housing in the National Railway Museum under its original name of Livingston Thompson.

111166: Tan-y-Bwlch, Up Passenger No 10 'Merddin Emrys' This was probably taken just after photo 111165.

111167: Tan-y-Bwlch, Up Passenger No 10 'Merddin Emrys' This was probably taken just after photo 111166 with Merddin Emrys starting away for Dduallt. Note the ‘Starter’ board on the right; the other side had a green ‘aspect’ giving permission for the train to start. Minffordd and Penrhyn had the same arrangements.

111168: near Tan-y-Bwlch MER Was the ‘white board’ a limit of shunt? If so this would have been used to limit the movement of the Dduallt Shuttle loco running round, there may have been a similar board at the down end of the layout. The contemporary Rule Book is silent on the use of Limits of Shunt here.

111169: Tan-y-Bwlch, Looking towards Portmadoc This confirms that the Dduallt Shuttle was stabled in the bottom siding.

111170: Tan-y-Bwlch, Carriages for Dduallt shuttle This set is from left to right, No. 8 Quarryman’s, new build (on Hudson chassis) No. 37 and Van 2 (now No. 6). No. 2 has been turned since the previous season with the balcony at the up end so the Guard can use the much better hand brake on No. 37, it being the practice to always use the handbrake when the train was not coupled to Moelwyn. The previous season Shuttle featured two Bug Boxes in the place of No.37. Given the wet day it could be that the Shuttle was not used with the main trains having sufficient capacity to service passengers joining trains at Tan-y-Bwlch. A quick wipe with a sponge was the best way to dry the wooden slat seats No. 37.

111171: Tan-y-Bwlch, Cement Wagon This looks like the Top Siding at Tan-y-Bwlch with the Cement waggon being is use for the Deviation. Note the oil drums on the waggon to the left.


111172: Garnedd Tunnel, Down Passenger No 10 'Merddin Emrys'

  • Gone are the days when we could see the valley before the trees got in the way, Merddin Emrys is slowing down for Garnedd Tunnel. At one time trains approaching Tan-y-Bwlch from both directions could clearly see each other.

111173: Garnedd Tunnel, Up Passenger No 3 'Earl of Merioneth' Oh to have this view again.

111174: Garnedd Tunnel, Up Passenger No 3 'Earl of Merioneth' Looks like the C set without Bug Boxes, in which case being a Friday the train would have been the 11:45, 14:00 (always the busiest train of the day) or 16:15, that is unless the General manager was out with Linda on the 14:00 or 16:15. The C-set comprised of 22, a bowsider, 15, 16, 12 and 11.

111175: Garnedd Tunnel, Up Passenger No 3 'Earl of Merioneth' Anyone recognise the cap? This was the trademark headgear of the late Driver Arwyn Morgan.

111176: Garnedd Tunnel, Looking towards Portmadoc A rabbit hole!

111177: Tan-y-Bwlch, Up Passenger 'Mountaineer' This was before Mountaineer was converted to oil firing when the loco had a propensity to try and burn down North Wales. Being a Friday this would have been the 10:20, 12:30, 14:45 or 17:00, if these are photographs are in sequence then probably one of the latter. The train is the A set with 101, 103 (buffet), 105 (loo car) and one other Barn plus a Bowsider and Welsh Highland No. 26.


111178: Garnedd Tunnel, Down Passenger 'Mountaineer'

  • There was a time that the down train could be seen from the up train at about Llechwedd Coed to Whistling Curve, and you could see right through Garnedd Tunnel. There are already signs of the trees in their straight rows.

111179: Garnedd Tunnel, Down Passenger 'Mountaineer' See photo 111178.

111180: Garnedd Tunnel, Up Passenger 'Linda' This looks like the 15:30, Linda having taken over the B set from Merddin Emrys, see photo 111164. This means that the previous photos of Mountaineer were probably on the 14:45 having crossed Linda at Tan-y-Bwlch.

111181: Garnedd Tunnel, Up Passenger 'Linda' See photo 111181.


111182: Campbell's Platform, Up Passenger

  • This time the C set has Merddin Emrys on the front; did Alan Garraway spend Fridays in the office going about his General Managerial duties? The carriages in the foreground are 16 and 15, with 16 only just restored to traffic following a major overhaul by Ron Jarvis. The siding was used by Col. Campbell for his private locomotive as his house, Dduallt Manor’ did not at that time have road access. The deviationists who had a hostel in part of the Manor complex also used the siding.

111183: Campbell's Platform. Looking towards Dduallt Peace and tranquillity return, but the train will soon be back and another will follow. When the shuttle ran there would have been four trains past Campbell’s platform every 45 minutes.

111184: Campbell's Platform, Down Passenger No 10 'Merddin Emrys' The train in photo 111182 has been to Dduallt and is now on Dduallt Tank Curve, just below Campbell’s Platform. The fireman on Merddin Emrys may be Phil Girdlestone?

111185: Campbell's Platform, Down Passenger No 10 'Merddin Emrys' The cherry red livery on the carriages looks so much better that the varnished ‘teak’ of a couple of years before.

111186: Campbell's Platform looking towards Tan-y-Bwlch This is still one of the best known photographic locations on the railway. The boggy ground below the railway is not suitable for growing trees so this scene should remain as seen here.

111187: Campbell's Platform, Up Passenger 'Mountaineer' This is quite possibly the 12:30 to Dduallt. The last train of the day on a on a Friday was the 17:00. Except that is when volunteer Booking Clerk Peter Manisty forgot there was no 17:45 service and managed to book a party of Scouts. The train ran; we don’t like to let good business go!

111188: Campbell's Platform, Up Passenger 'Mountaineer' Somewhere someone has a photo of Mountaineer newly fitted with the spark arrestor on the chimney but before the cowl plating was fitted. Some wag in the works (or was it someone from the Traffic Department?) added a colourful array of flowers. I think I know who the culprit was, and he is still active on the FR.

111189: Tan-y-Bwlch, Down Passenger 'Mountaineer' Mountaineer has arrived back at Tan-y-Bwlch and is waiting to cross an up train. Yes that is coal in the bunker, designed to set Wales alight and produce a modicum of steam in the boiler. On the platform you will see two round discs on a post with finger destination boards. The discs gave the time of the next train, something else for Station Master Harrison to do. John worked out that on a High Summer day he would walk about eight miles up and down the platform and to the point ground frames.

111190: Tan-y-Bwlch, Down Passenger 'Mountaineer' I think photos 111191 and 111192 should come before this photo in the sequence. For today’s Guards, note the Louvre windows, a nightmare to clean.

111191: Tan-y-Bwlch, Up Passenger 'Linda' Mr. Garraway on the Linda again with the B set.


111192: Tan-y-Bwlch, Down Passenger 'Mountaineer' and Up Passenger 'Linda'

  • This is a good picture for FR personalities. As well as Alan Garraway sitting ‘side saddle’ on the Linda, we have Roy Goldstraw, the driver of Mountaineer, in the lighter overalls, Chris Byrne (will someone please try to confirm?) chin in hand and Station Master John Harrison by the front corner of the arriving train. Anyone care to guess names of the other firemen or the guard up by the departure clocks? Note the car park is full. This was when Tan-y-Bwlch was the top of the line for road access. The station was sufficiently busy for a Booking Clark to be on duty for the High Summer service for a number of years, a separate Booking Office being located in the Café, i.e. the old Goods Shed.

111193: Tan-y-Bwlch, Down Passenger 'Linda' A better view of one of Linda’s fireman, a name would be welcome. Note the fireman in question has the Dduallt to Tan-y-Bwlch single line token in hand ready to pass to John Harrison. There was an occasion a few years later when the same token was carried through to Minffordd one weekend in contravention of the rules.

111194: Tan-y-Bwlch, Observation Car No 11 on Up Passenger This Observation Saloon No. 11, often regarded by train crew as the best riding brake van on the railway, normally coupled to buffet car No. 12 as part of the C set. In the 1970s it was the practice to only take as many carriages as required for the passenger loading and it certainly wasn’t unheard of for the C set to go up the line with just 11 and 12, particularly on the 09:45 first train of the day which was normally hauled by Upnor Castle.

111195: Portmadoc, Down Passenger No 3 'Earl of Merioneth' Again the fireman has token in hand to give to the Portmadoc signalman, possibly Edwin Jones. The A set this time has Bug Boxes and Midland Group No. 1 van at the rear. It was unusual for the A set to be more than the standard six carriages, however if the other train sets were adequate for the expected numbers of passengers the Bugs and No. 1 would have been available to tack onto the A set. If this photo and 111196 are in order, then this would have been the return of the 17:00 to Dduallt.


111196: Portmadoc, Shunter 'Upnor Castle' This is a typical Friday evening in Harbour Station. Before the days of the carriage shed at Glan-y-Mor, carriage inspections required use of the pit in the platform road. This would often be carried out by Arthur Brookes or John Halsall with others. Meanwhile one of the guards would be grovelling in the ballast adding oil to plain bearing axle boxes.
111197: Portmadoc, Original Passenger Carriages Nos. 3 & 4 Following on from photo 111196, the Bug Boxes required oiling twice a week due to the small capacity of the axle boxes. Note the Britannia Foundry in the background.

Sunday 8th August[edit]


111217: Boston Lodge, Three-way stub turnout The bogie wagon on the right is No. 63, often seen out and about at the top of passenger trains delivering materials up the line, particularly for the deviation. No. 63 was, and still is, fitted with a through vacuum pipe in order to run in passenger trains, Vale of Rheidol/Welshpool and Llanfair van No. 59 was similarly fitted. A favourite of the Signals and Telegraphs Department, any excuse was found to use No. 63 on a gravity run down from Tan-y-Bwlch after the last passenger train of the day, S&T being organised to ensure someone was ready to open the gates at Penrhyn to ensure a non stop run as far as possible. The start was known to start above Garnedd Tunnel, with John Harrison using the Tan-y-Bwlch station pilot locomotive Alistair to pull the wagon up the line and give a push start as some of the curves below Tan-y-Bwlch could hinder the action of gravity.
111218: Boston Lodge, No 3 ‘Palmerston’ This is not Welsh Pony as captioned by the Weston Langford Railway site, see photo 111221. Parked out of the way out at the back of Boston Lodge works, Palmerston awaited its fate; in 1971 nobody would have guessed that such dereliction would return to steam again. Note the double engine firebox behind, probably from Merddin Emrys which by this time had its new Hunslet boiler.

111219: Boston Lodge, No 3 ‘Palmerston' As in photo 111218, this is not Welsh Pony as captioned by the Weston Langford Railway site, see photo 111221.

111220: Boston Lodge, ex Tasmanian Government Railways K1 Under tarpaulin After a year or so stored in the open at Harbour Station, Tasmanian Garratt K1 was taken over to Boston Lodge and covered with a protective tarpaulin. Just in shot on the left is No. 10 van propped up on a waggon or two. Again awaiting its fate, No. 10 is now part of the Co. Stephens vintage train.

111221: Boston Lodge ex Tasmanian Government Railways K1 under Tarpaulin K1 again stored alongside No. 5 Welsh Pony, with Pony being better condition than Palmerston. Maybe in a few years we shall see Welsh Pony on the front of a train again.

111222: Boston Lodge, 'Moelwyn' Maybe the silver paint was left over from Linda. Moelwyn was at this time an important part of the passenger fleet, heading the Dduallt Shuttle service illustrated earlier. More details of the Dduallt Shuttle were provided in an article in FR Heritage Group Journal No. 99 by Alan Skellern. Observation carriage No. 100 must have developed a fault found during the inspection illustrated in photo 111196 that required attention in the Boston Lodge Erecting Shop.

111223: Portmadoc, 1115 Up Passenger No 10 'Merddin Emrys' Was this the original ‘Square’?

111224: Portmadoc, 1115 Up Passenger No 10 Merddin Emrys' The reverse hinges on the smokebox door just don’t look right. The idea was to keep the door away from the vacuum pipe.

All the above comments are from memory, if anyone has corrections or additions, please shout. This is all about recording our past, and I hope this might bring back a few memories.

Tim Maynard