Friday, 15 June 2018

A Trip to Wales

I had never been to the British Isles with the specific intent to study railways. Last week I was on a four day tour of a small selection of narrow gauge railways in mostly Wales. Me and a few pals travelled in the company of a party from the Swedish Industrial Railway Society.

First stop was at Statfold Barn Railway where a fantastic display of locos were steamed up and running in addition to the static exhibits in the roundhouse shed. While I like small internal combustion locomotives the sheer number and standard of finish of the steam locos didn't fail to impress me.
Two locos waiting in front of the Statfold signalbox. Nearest is 'Lautoka' (Hudswell 1056/1914) and behind her is 'Liassic' (Peckett 1932/1926). Their shiny looks are representative of all Statfold locos.


An Erie type A steam excavator from 1915 in the yard at Statfold Barn. Probably the coolest machine at Statfold Barn. Why hasn't anyone made a kit of a machine like that in 1:35 scale?

Next on the programme was a visit to Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway including a very pleasant ride in a comfortable coach over some of the best track I have ever experienced on a heritage railway. My compliments to the permanent way team on the railway!
A view from the last coach travelling through the lush greenery of the valley.
Loco 823 (Beyer Peacock 3497/1902) taking water at Welshpool Raven Square.

We hadn't time for a trip on the Bala Lake Railway and arrived too late to see the last train for the day arrive at Llanuwchllyn station. We did see 'Holy War' (Hunslet 779/1902) and visiting 'Hugh Napier' (Hunslet 855/1904) from Ffestiniog simmering outside the loco shed.
Having heard horrid stories about Welsh weather I enjoyed four days of sun, clear skies and warm air. Nothing like a rain cloud in sight.

A railfan trip to Wales wouldn't be complete without a visit to Ffestiniog Railway. Our small party was treated to a behind the scenes-tour of the workshops and sheds at Boston Lodge. I was surprised by the amount of clutter and oil spillings in the workshop, but surely the results made there speaks for themselves. A marvellous railway I hope to visit again.
Double Fairlie 'Merddin Emrys' from 1879 rolling slowly through the pointwork outside the Boston Lodge workshops.
Welsh Highland Railway 143 built by Beyer Peacock in 1958 parked right up to the mountain side.

On the Vale of Rheidol Railway we travelled from Devil's Bridge to Aberystwyth. As on all the railways we visited on the tour, we travelled in our own reserved coach, allowing us to shift from side to side to enjoy a particular scenery on one side of the track, an interesting track layout on the other etc. A tour of the 2012 built workshops was included and made a most contrasting experience to the visit at the Boston Lodge works.
Last train of the day has arrived in Aberystwyth. The loco is about to push the train into the shed for safe storage over the night.
Also included in the trip's programme was a visit to the first preserved railway in the world, the Talyllyn Railway and the neighbouring narrow gauge railway museum. Being a 'track guy' I loved the variety of old rail and track at the museum. An aspect too often overlooked in museums. A point I will bring back home to the vintage railway where I spend some of my sparetime.
Plateway wagon on iron rails in the Narrow Gauge Museum at Tywyn Wharf station.

Talyllyn (Fletcher, Jennings & Co 42/1864) taking water at Dolgoch station. I love the weathering on the water tank.
The journey gave good inspiration to future intiatives on the Danish vintage railway where I work as a volunteer and I also picked up a few ideas for modelling projects in the future.





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