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Oakeley quarry closes n The Oakeley Quarry in Blaenau Ffestiniog, once one of the Ffestiniog Railway’s biggest customers, has been closed after cracks were spotted in its surface. Owners Welsh Salte decided to close the quarry, which in the 1980s also formed the Gloddfa Ganol slate tourist attraction, on safety grounds. Up to 30 workers were in danger of losing their jobs but in a historic twist the Ffestiniog Railway has invited redundant workers to apply for posts on the line. New heads at Tywyn n The Talyllyn Railway has appointed Dave Scotson and Martin Turner as respectively its new Chief Executive and Chief Engineer. The two took up their posts on 1st April. Ffestiniog stars in HD n An ITN film crew spent three days filming the Ffestiniog Railway for a one-hour documentary. Filmed in High Definition it is set to be shown on the National Geographic Channel later in the spring. The show, fronted by TV personality Dan Cruickshank, looked at the role the railway has played in pioneering new technology over the years. Pullman to London n A Boston Lodge-built Welsh Highland Pullman carriage starred on the company stand shared with North Wales Tourism at the ‘Best of Britain & Ireland’ show at Olympia in London in March. Visitors to the stand included railway enthusiast and music impresario Pete Waterman who is restoring a Garratt loco for the WHR. Recalling the first at Corris n Members of the Corris Railway marked the 25th anniversary of the line’s first preservation train by staging a re-enactment on 20th April. Diesel loco no 5 ‘Alan Meaden’ provided the motive power as it had done quarter of a century earlier, working skip wagons into Corris. Ready for their names n The Bredgar & Wormshill Light Railway has cast nameplates for its Orenstein & Koppel no 8 and Fowler no 10. The names are ‘Helga’ and ‘Zambesi’ respectively.
George England 0-4-0 ‘Palmerston’ and period stock recently provided a suitable background for the filming of scenes on the Welsh Highland Railway for a new BBC TV series Snowdonia Farmhouse. In the series a modern family lives for a period in exactly the way a rural family would have lived in 1890. The series includes working in a slate quarry, hence the use of the railway. The Welsh Highland followed the Talyllyn, which featured in the initial series of programmes Coal House. This saw men and boys from three South Wales families working down a coal pit as they would in 1927 and the women scratching a living from a shared vegetable patch, plus a few chickens and a pig. The programmes will likely be broadcast on BBC Wales later this year. Photo: courtesy FR/WHR
Mystery over newly-arrived diesels n Two 0-4-0 2ft 6in gauge diesel locomotives arrived on the Welsh Highland Railway at Dinas on 18th February.
No 1 (4wDHF Hunslet 9248 of 1985) and no 2 (4wDHF Hunslet 9262 of 1985) are thought to have worked originally at Shotton Steel, but neither has maker’s plates or identifying marks.
The locos have buckeye couplings while graffiti on them reads ‘Bill’ and ‘Ben’ and ‘Ivor’, ‘Lakeside Marine Railway’, and ‘Drax Power Station’ all written in black marker pen.
The two new arrivals are intended for heavy shunting on the both the WHR/FR networks with one being allocated to Dinas, and the other to Boston Lodge.
Shotton Steelworks (Corus) had a 2ft 6in network until quite recently. In March 2009 the Cold Strip Mill was demolished. This had retained the last narrow gauge line at Shotton since the stockyard railway had ceased working around eight years ago.
The internal system was worked by two Hunslet locos, plus a larger battery loco on a separate short length of track. All three left the site in 2009. Can you identify these locos? If so send any details to the editorial address on page 3.
Groudle banks help from Barclays n A team of volunteers from Barclays Wealth recently braved the weather to tackle various different jobs at the Isle of Man’s 2ft gauge Groudle Glen Railway.
Barclays provided not only 25 volunteers to work on the line but also £1300 for tools and materials. Sadly after a lovely weekend, the weather turned nasty and the team faced heavy rain, strong winds and chilly temperatures in order to complete a number of tasks.
Work done, which the regular Groudle volunteers are immensely grateful for included repainting the Sea Lion Rocks Station building and tea rooms, adding ornamental railings around the picnic lawn and the re-erection of the flagpole (a distinctive feature in many old postcards) along with a full repaint of the Lime Kiln Halt shelters and the picket fencing.
The line has also formally launched its Sea Lion Rocks Improvement Fund which requires £30,000 to provide an extension to the toilet block, a new power supply and patio area.
On Easter Sunday, three generations of the Broadbent family launched the appeal with a generous donation presented by Holly Broadbent and Samson Cooil, the great great great grandchildren of Richard Maltby Broadbent, the railway’s founder.
No 69 – NARROW GAUGE WORLD PHOTOS are welcome, either digital images on CD-ROM or as low-res thumbnail samples by e-mail, prints or transparencies.
Miniature Expo boosts museum plan n The aim of the Miniature Railway Museum Trust to establish a permanent museum devoted to the narrower gauges has taken a major step forward with the announcement of an exhibition on Seaside Miniature Railways.
Based in a professionally-curated 1000sq ft exhibition space beside the historic Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway in Lincolnshire, the exhibition is due to open by early June. It will tell the story of miniature passenger railways around the coast of Britain, with the history of the seaside holiday as its backdrop.
Locos, stock and exhibits of 71/4in and 101/4in gauge representing several unusual and interesting lines will be on display from launch; with a rotation of more through the following 18 months.
This will be the first devoted exhibition on these leisure railways that have carried literally millions of day-tripping passengers through the past 100 years.
Corporate sponsorship for the exhibition has been secured along with key exhibits for display – details of these will be announced during May. An audiovisual area, interactive features, exhibits large and small, ephemera and detailed histories of various railways will form the exhibition.
The seaside-themed exhibition marks the first major public project for the Trust since 2008, as it continues towards its aim of establishing a major accredited permanent museum of miniature railway history on the adjacent site.
However, the Curatorial Group of the Trust urgently needs to hear from anybody who would like to discuss potential secure short-term loans of
seaside miniature railway-related ephemera; from posters to postcards, tickets to uniforms and operating hardware – in order to complete the display. The Group is also appealing to loco/stock owners of out-of-service items, which might be loaned for display at a future date.
David Humphreys, chairman of the MRMT commented: “This is an exhibition not just for railway enthusiasts but for anyone who likes to be beside the seaside. Through the generosity of our sponsors, exhibit owners and the work of our dedicated volunteer railway museum curators, fundraisers and skilled professionals, we are proud to bring this brand new attraction to the classic British seaside resort of Cleethorpes. There’s no better place for it and we hope that this marks the start of bigger, long-term plans.”
John, Llanfair member number 13, steps down n The Welshpool & Llanfair Railway waved a fond farewell to one of its longest-serving members in February, as John Hurdley stepped down from active volunteering.
John, who is approaching his 70th birthday, attended the formulative meeting of preservationists in Birmingham and became member no 13 – he believes 1-12 were reserved for the original Board members.
Home at the W&LLR was his camper van that made regular trips from his home in Harborne, Birmingham.
Known for his dry humour, quick wit and occasional acerbic comment, John announced his retirement in typical fashion: “My camper van is clapped out and so am I
– but I shall be back to check that you are doing it right!”
During his W&LLR career John worked as a Guard, Booking Clerk, Blockman and Controller during the running season and was part of the track gang involved with major renewals in the winter months.
On Friday 5th February, his final day, he worked on the track renewal on Sylfaen Bank. To mark the occasion, a cake was produced and John put in charge (photo right) so that the gang could benefit from his wisdom one last time.
W&LLR General Manager Terry Turner commented: “I understand an early assessment suggested he should not be let loose on the public!
“We wish him well and are most grateful for his loyalty, commitment and effort. We face the continual challenge of finding younger replacements if the W&LLR is to continue to improve and prosper.”
NARROW GAUGE WORLD – No 69