Steam locomotive Merddin Emrys, built in the FR’s workshops in 1879, pulled a replica beer wagon through the streets of the town on Monday evening carrying barrels of beer ahead of the railways’ Classic Ffestiniog gala over the weekend of October 6-7, when there will be a rare chance to see the longest gravity slate train – over 50 wagons - since the 1930s in action.
The beer being carried was 'Pegler’s Passion', a 4.0% pale bitter, brewed especially for the Classic Ffestiniog weekend and the associated tribute to the late Alan Pegler OBE, the man recognised as having rescued the railway from dereliction in the 1950s, who died earlier this year.
Purple Moose Brewery turned out both of its Ffestiniog Railway volunteers for the delivery – brewer Kevin Pye, a steam driver, and Brewery owner Lawrence Washington, a diesel driver.
The wagon is a replica of an old general freight wagon which became known as the Beer Wagon after an old photograph showing it carrying casks of beer in the 1870s was discovered in 2006. The Ffestiniog Railway Society and Purple Moose put up the funds for the construction of a replica at the FR’s Boston Lodge Works – the oldest railway workshop in the world, which still builds and maintains engines and carriages today.
Purple Moose’s Lawrence Washington says the recreation is an echo of times gone by when the railway provided a vital link between Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog, carrying everything from flour from Snowdon Mill to the bakery at Penrhyndeudraeth, to gunpowder for the quarries and beer from Porthmadog to Blaenau.
Says Washington: "I learned some time ago that a group of volunteers wanted to build a replica and was asked if I would be interested in sponsoring it. Of course with its obvious connections to the brewery trade, through the historic photos which have been discovered, I was more than happy to donate some funds towards the building of the replica wagon – and very fine it looks too, particularly with our casks on board.
"We are already looking into further possibilities of joint marketing for the Ffestiniog Railway and Purple Moose Brewery using the wagon."