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September 18th 2014
(Posted in: News)
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100K donation sees new carriage launched on the Ffestiniog Railway

The latest addition to the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways' carriage fleet has entered service thanks to a generous donation from a supporter.

Born in 1945, Margaret Ritchie died in 2013 and had been a regular visitor to the railway over a period of many years. She and her friend David Ward loved the area, the railway and the people of North Wales. She left £100,000 in her will for the carriage and David subsequently launched an appeal which generated a further £30,000, allowing work to start on another new carriage based on the same design.

Built at the F&WHR's workshops at Boston Lodge – the oldest working railway workshop in the world - the new carriage, 119, makes use of the maximum available loading gauge of the narrow and winding Ffestiniog Railway to provide more comfortable and spacious accommodation for passengers and features a laser-etched map of the entire 40 mile railway on each table.

On Thursday September 18th, a special train ran from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog for Margaret's friends and family. On the return trip, the train paused at Dduallt to scatter her ashes and for the dedication of the carriage by the former Bishop of Carlisle, Graham Dow.

On inspecting the completed 119, David Ward commented: "Margaret would have been delighted with her carriage and the superb workmanship that has been put into its design and construction."

Margaret's involvement with railways began when she applied for a junior typist vacancy in the Chief Accountant’s office in Glasgow; in 1974 she moved to the British Railways General Manager’s office at London Euston, later becoming Customer Service Manager for the Special Trains Department of Inter-City. She subsequently took on the role of Secretary to the Steam Locomotive Operator's Association and played a major role in the saving of the Settle and Carlisle Railway.

Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland General Manager Paul Lewin said that Margaret's generosity will help usher in a new generation of carriages for the Ffestiniog Railway.

"While our older FR carriages have served us well for many years, it is clear that an upgrade to the accommodation on offer is required. The levels of comfort afforded by the larger carriages on the Welsh Highland are now becoming available to passengers on the Ffestiniog, with heating and double glazing in every carriage, together with bigger windows, increased space and legroom. Words cannot express the gratitude we feel towards Margaret for her generous contribution towards our railway's future."

David Ward is a retired career railwayman who spent a lifetime working in the operating and commercial areas of the railway. As the director of the Special Trains Unit of BR during the years 1986-94 he had responsibility for all special passenger trains over the national network from the Royal Train to football specials and including all steam locomotive operations. Following his retirement, he has remained active in heritage and steam railway matters, being the Chairman of the Settle and Carlisle Railway Trust, a board member of the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust and a retired Chairman of the Bressingham Steam Museum.



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