Cuffley Industrial Heritage Society

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Within the quarries there were reputed to be almost 50 miles of narrow gauge tramway. The slate was lowered down the inclines to the workshop area before being shipped out from Port Dinorwig on the Menai Straits.  To get there, the narrow gauge wagons were loaded side by side onto transporter wagons on the 4ft gauge “main line” Padarn Railway.  The trackbed of this line is now used by the narrow gauge Llanberis Lake Railway which uses locos from the quarry system such as “Velinheli”:-

Porthmadog Maritime Museum

During the  19th century Porthmadog was an important slate exporting port. It would be crammed with working sailing ships, many owned and built locally. In particular the beautiful three masted schooners were a speciality of Porthmadog.

This museum tells something of the development of the port, the peoples who sailed from it, and its slate export trade.

 Llechwedd Slate Mines

Llechwedd was just one of a very large number of slate quarries and mines around Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Today it is a visitor centre recreating something of the atmosphere of slate extraction a hundred years ago.  We will ride into the mine and see the Spartan and difficult conditions of a bygone era..

 Festiniog Railway

We will be joined on the ride down the line from Blaenau Ffestiniog by the chairman of the F R Society, Phil Hawkins, who will provide a commentary on the journey.

The buffet car usually offers draught beer as well as hot drinks and snacks.

The station at Blaenau Ffestiniog was created in 1981 as a joint station for BR and FR services, and re-located in the middle of the town.  It is on the site of the original GWR terminus of its branch line from Bala.

Our journey takes us past Tan-y-Grisiau pump storage power station and round the lower lake (Llyn Ystradau) created for it, which blocked the original line of the railway.  This may still be seen as a causeway disappearing under the water.  The deviation around the lake required a spiral to connect old and new levels and we descend this the only spiral in the UK to rejoin the original route at Dduallt.

Boston Lodge Workshops (F.Rly)

These workshops have maintained the railway’s rolling stock ever since its creation.  Initially used as stables for the horses, they evolved into workshops which now build complete locomotives and carriages (although the engine boilers are constructed by specialist suppliers).

They are located on the eastern end of the Cob, and their name derives from W A Madocks’ constituency of Boston Lincolnshire, for which he was MP for 28 years.

We will see examples of locomotives ranging from the original 7.5 ton Prince up to the Fairlie double engines of 24 tons.   All the locos in the primary fleet are oil fired, both because this is more efficient and to eliminate red-hot cinders in the exhaust setting light to the forests alongside several stretches of the route.

Also at Boston Lodge is the first ever Garratt locomotive K1. Built in 1909 for use in Tasmania, it was brought back to the UK in 1947, acquired by the FR  and is now being completely overhauled to work on the Welsh Highland Railway. It weighs approx 33.5 tons in working order

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2003 Page 5 of 7 Study tour case notes

Tremadog  (originally Tré Madoc)

This is a model village built to the instructions of W A Madocks, long before such things were fashionable in our own county, in the hope that the route to Ireland would pass across “The Cob” and use Porth Dinllaen rather than Holyhead.  Started in 1805, it has all the facilities that a visionary town planner might conceive for a small “borough” intending to have both local manufacturing and be the first coaching stop on the route from Ireland.

It is laid out symmetrically around the square, with both a church and a chapel, and a substantial manufactury.  It had its own canal to link it to Portmadoc for conveyance thence of its manufactures to the world.

 Welsh Highland Railway

Dinas Junction were we start our journey is no longer it junction.  It used to be the northern limit of the WHR, where it interchanged both passengers and freight with the standard gauge L&NWR line from Caernarfon to Afon Wen (between Pwllheli and Porthmadog ).  The New WHR starts from Caernarfon, using the old L&NWR route before turning East at Dinas onto its original trackbed.

Here we will see the last Beyer Garratts built in the UK.  Constructed in Manchester in 1958 and weighing 61 tons these are mighty machines for a 2 ft gauge railway.

Menai and Britannia Bridges

We will cross the reconstructed Britannia bridge, and go to a viewing point down by the side of the Menai strait from where we can appreciate both bridges

2004 Study tour case notes

C I H S Study trip notes