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
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
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
“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.