News from April 2003

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Full steam ahead for Talyllyn Railway

Tourism in North Wales has received a significant boost this week as lottery
funding is announced for the improvement and redevelopment of museum
facilities at the Talyllyn narrow gauge railway, which famously inspired the
Rev W Awdry’s Thomas the Tank Engine stories and the 1953 Ealing comedy, The
Titfield Thunderbolt.

The Talyllyn Railway runs between the seaside town of Tywyn and the village
of Abergynolwyn, in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park. It is run by
the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society, which will use a Heritage Lottery
Fund grant of £682,500 towards a project to redevelop Tywyn Wharf Station.

The project will substantially improve facilities for the 49,000 passengers
and 5,000 museum visitors who visit the railway each year, by demolishing
the existing museum and several other unsightly buildings and constructing a
purpose built museum as an extension of the original station building.

The new museum will provide better exhibition conditions for the railway’s
extensive collection of memorabilia, locomotives and rolling stock. Also,
for the first time, the contents of Rev W Awdry’s office and original
drawings for his stories will be on display to visitors.

Currently, the museum stands apart from the main station building and train
ticket office. Once the project is completed and access to the museum is
made easier by joining it with the station building, it is expected that
train passengers will also tour the museum, increasing visitor numbers
significantly.

Professor Tom Pritchard, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund Committee for
Wales, said: “Tourism plays a major role in the North Wales economy and the
redevelopment of the museum at Tywyn Wharf Station will not only ensure the
future of the railway’s valuable collection and make it more accessible to
visitors, preservation society members and railway enthusiasts, it will
secure jobs for the people who live and work along the railway who depend on
tourism.

“By supporting this exciting project, the Heritage Lottery Fund is able to
reinvest Lotto players’ money into this important part of our railway
heritage, which in turn supports local jobs and the tourism which is so
important to the prosperity of many communities in the area.”

The Talyllyn Railway was the world’s first narrow gauge railway to be built
expressly for steam engines. It was constructed from 1865 to carry slate
from the Bryneglwys quarry to the mainline railway at Tywyn and is an unique
survivor of an early Victorian narrow gauge railway.

In 1950, when the railway was no longer used for slate, the Talyllyn Railway
Preservation Society was formed and took control of the railway, becoming
the first volunteer run railway in the world and provided the inspiration
for similar preservation schemes throughout the UK and beyond.

For further information, please phone John Smallwood or Peter Austin at the
Talyllyn Railway on 01654 710472. Anyone interested in applying for a grant
from the Heritage Lottery Fund should call the HLF information team on 020
7591 6042/ 43/ 45.

Posted by Peter Bowyer on 5 April 2003

Bala Lake Railway News

The Bala Lake Railway starts the 2003 season on Saturday 12 April. Over the closed season new coal wagons have been built and the steam loco’s have been repainted. Holy War has had a new coat of blue whilst Maid Marian has returned to her Dinorwic Quarry red livery. This is in preparation for her 100th birthday celebrations over the weekend of 12 and 13 July.Timetable details from the web site
www.bala-lake-railway.co.uk.

Posted by Bob Shell on 6 April 2003

Talyllyn announces "Have-A-Go" Gala [18th-21st July 2003]

As part of the Talyllyn Railway’s Golden Jubilee activities in 2001 the suggestion of a ‘hands-on’ gala was made. The idea was two fold, first to offer people an opportunity to gain behind the scenes access of a real working railway and secondly to give them the chance to do all, or most, of the tasks involved in railway operation. For some people the stuff that dreams are made of.

However, owing to the sheer quantity of events, both for members of the public and the Society’s membership during 2000 and 2001, it was decided to put the idea on hold until a later date.

Early 2003 saw the railway re-evaluating its Guest Driver Programme, and the intention is to run these courses more often during the year and at greater value for money. The change in positioning for the Driver Experience, re-ignited the initial ideas about the ‘hands on’ event, and very soon this four day gala event was born.

It is intended to offer a wide variety of experiences that until now have never before been available on the Talyllyn, indeed anywhere on 2’3”!

So you can try your hand on the regulator, and drive a weighted freight train for 2 trips from Wharf to Brynglas for only £100, or 4 trips for £175. There’s another chance to drive, though on a much shorter experience, which is the fiendish ‘Pendre Shunt’. This takes only an hour and, after a short safety briefing, you can see if you can complete the shunting challenge and all for just £30. If diesels are your thing, for only a fiver, you can drive one of ours from Abergynolwyn to Nant Gwernol.

But it’s not only driving, there’s also the challenge of the shovel. Firing opportunities include ‘Firing the Falcon’ (No.3 “Sir Haydn” built in 1878 at the Hughes’ Falcon Works, Loughborough), ‘Old Lady Vintage’ (No.2 “Dolgoch” on a Vintage Train), No.7 “Tom Rolt” on ‘The Quarryman’; our premier train. There is even a chance to join our top female crew on the “Ladies Special”. All these experiences run on the basis that you see how it’s done on the first trip and then after the master class you can have a go yourself on the second trip and all for just £75.

More over, if you fancy seeing what goes on before the engine starts its day’s work, there is the chance to help prepare the engines on shed. The smell of the coal, the gentle hiss of steam, as the pressure gauge needle gradually rises lb by lb, and the friendly atmosphere of a real steam running shed. You can experience all this for £25. If you’d prefer inspecting the line before the first train of the day, just £10 gets you a trip up the line on our permanent way trolley.

Of course there is more to running a railway than footplate work – believe it or not! If you ever fancied being a passenger train Guard, you can for £50 a day. If a Signalman is more your choice you can experience working the box at Abergynolwyn, with its extensive frame and colour light signals being used for regular crossings each day as well as the diesel shuttles. You can also work at Pendre box, the engineering headquarters of the railway, which will be busy all day with the shunting and engines, and trains, coming and going. Both these experiences can be yours for £50.

For the photographers amongst you on Saturday and Sunday morning and Saturday evening we will be offering a variety of photo charters with the Talyllyn Vintage train (the oldest complete Victorian train still running), a Corris Railway mixed train, and possibly a double headed vintage mixed train. Priced at £15 each, £27 for two and £35 for all three.

If you plan to come and travel, we have a variety of attractions for you too. There is the “Gala Rover” – £25 which entitles you to travel on all trains on all 4 days. The first 139 tickets, representing the number of continuous years the Railway Company has been in operation, will be put into a draw for a footplate trip on the Sunday or Monday.”

There is also the “Nightrover” ticket valid for all trains Saturday and Sunday – £15. These are intended for use during our all night running on Saturday night. Both “Gala Rover” and “Nightrover” tickets are available in advance from the website or from Wharf Station, Tywyn, Gwynedd, LL36 9EY, (please include an SAE).

A local Jazz Band, “West Coast Blue”, will be playing on the Saturday night 7.30pm at Abergynolwyn Station; entry is by donation. There is also intended to be a display on the live steam model railway to be found in the garden of our volunteer hostel ‘Llechfan’ during the weekend.

The gala will end with a spectacular finale of all available steam locomotives hauling the last train on the Monday night between Wharf and Pendre, which will then continue double-headed from Pendre to Nant Gwernol and return to Wharf by both our original locomotives “Talyllyn” and “Dolgoch”.

Posted by Peter Bowyer on 11 April 2003

Corris Railway June Steam Gala

The Corris Railway?s Grand Re-Opening on Saturday June 7th 2003 will be celebrated by the return of the railway?s original steam locomotive ? courtesy of the neighbouring Talyllyn Railway.

To mark the formal re-opening of the railway, and the 125th birthday of the railway?s original steam locomotive, a complete Corris Heritage Train is being loaned to the railway from the Talyllyn, where the equipment was preserved after the Corris closed in 1948. Along with the locomotive, Corris No.3 (which has carried the same number in the rosters of the Corris Railway, Great Western Railway, British Railways and the Talyllyn Railway), the train is made up of a passenger carriage, a coal waggon, and a brake van.

Locomotive No.3 was built at the Falcon Works in Loughborough in 1878 by the Hughes?s Locomotive & Tramway Engine Works Ltd, as one of a trio of saddle tank locomotives constructed for the Corris Railway. With the scrapping of the other two in 1930, it is the sole survivor of the class. After seventy years of service at Corris, it has since spent fifty-two years on the Talyllyn after being purchased to help solve that railway?s motive power problems when the preservationists took over in 1951.

The bogie carriage, No.17 in the Talyllyn?s stock list but probably originally Corris No.8, was built by the Metropolitan Railway Car & Wagon Company Ltd in 1898, and is one of only two remaining from the Corris? original eight vehicles. The other survivor is a static exhibit in the Corris Railway Museum. The Talyllyn Railway rebuilt No.17 in the late 1950s after it had served for twenty-eight years as a greenhouse and garden shed.

The coal waggon is an example of two large iron bodied waggons with end doors that ran on the Corris and were sold to the Talyllyn in 1951.

The brake van was built by the Falcon works for the Corris in 1878, and originally carried the number 12 in the Corris fleet. It became Talyllyn No.6 in 1951.

An intensive service of trains, using the heritage train in rotation with the railway?s regular diesel service, will run every Saturday and Sunday during the month of June. Apart from the Grand Re-Opening Day, other themed events are being planned for each weekend, and further details will be released when available.

This will be the first time that steam-hauled public passenger trains have been run on the Corris since 1930. However, the trains are not just a taste of the past, but also a foretaste of the future, as the Corris Railway?s new steam locomotive is steadily taking shape and will be available to run services in the not-too-distant future.

Please note ? the visit of the Heritage Train is subject to satisfactory completion of legal and insurance requirements.

Posted by Chris Rogers on 15 April 2003

History made at Woody Bay

Dear all

Just to inform you that at about 16.30 today 18th April 2003 a Simplex Locomotive named “Tich” made history by becoming the first locomotive to run alongside the platform at Woody Bay Station (Lynton & Barnstaple Railway) since 1935!

Credit must be given to all the L&B volunteers who turned out to lay in the new turnouts and the track necessary to accomplish this.

As we have a habit of saying at the L&B – “The impossible we achieve with ease – however the miracles do take us a lot longer – but we’re working at it!”

Fred Scholes

Posted by Chris Rogers on 18 April 2003

East Hayling Light Railway Update

The East Hayling Light Railway was unable to open for traffic at Easter, due to various reasons. However, we now expect the line to open at the end of May 2003. Subject to the granting of Level Crossing Orders and all the outstanding work being completed in time.But we were able to run a test train to Eastoke Corner at Easter as a flag waving effort! The item below is extracted from our next newsletter.

On Good Friday April 18th 2003 at about 4:30.P.M., a train consisting of ‘Alan B’, coaches 5,4 and,7, was formed up at Beachlands station on the East Hayling Light Railway. Various engineering members then distributed themselves in the coaches, with instuctions about safety and how to observe the quality of the ride.

The ride of the vehicles as a train was a little lively but not unpleasent and, remind me of the old Waterloo & City line 1940 stock. As we processed down the beach, it was interesting to observe the reactions of other beach users, there was no protests but a great many waves and smiles. Cars where seen to slow down and even stop in order to get a better view of our train. Some even sounding their horns as we passed! After leaving Hornby Halt ‘Alan B’ made short work of the climb up to the Coastguard Station, the occupants of which where noted observing inland towards the railway and not to sea, I wonder why?

Soon we arrived at Eaststoke much to the surprize of a group of Drinkers sat enjoying the Sunshine outside the ‘Lifeboat’. The E.H.L.R. had run it’s first passenger style train and had made history, but in doing so we also recreated history. As the run round loop was not complete at Eaststoke, we had to hand shunt the train, this was achieved by pushing the coaches into the platform after the loco had been detached and run into a short siding. The same method used on the Tal-y-Llyn railway when it first reopened over fifty years ago.

The trains arrival and presents at Eaststoke caused a great many favourable comments, and left Bob Haddock the lines owner elated.

Posted by Chris Rogers on 28 April 2003

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