Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways

September 8th 2011

Slate returns to the streets of Porthmadog

Taking advantage of the newly-commissioned Britannia Bridge crossing on the Welsh Highland Railway, the event will recreate the days when the living, breathing heart of Porthmadog was the export of slate and the Ffestiniog Railway was one of the most successful in the UK.

Most of the slate used to bypass the railway’s terminus at Harbour Station and rumble across the bridge to the wharves – a sight which is now almost beyond living memory… until October, when wagons will once again cross the road and head off to other parts of town. It is even thought that flour traffic could make an appearance on its way to Snowdon Mill.

To complete the interpretation of the slate’s journey, the FR’s gravity train will operate the largest number of wagons since before World War II, as the railway continues to aspire to grow this unique feature to provide an idea of what this looked like at the slate industry’s zenith. This new, long train will feature newly-restored LNWR and GWR-type slate wagons for the very first time in preservation.

Other highlights include the unique mixed trains, the railway’s ‘flying bench’, Spooner’s Boat operating under both gravity and sail, weather permitting, restored WHR inspection bench ‘Busta’ and trains representing a wide range of eras from the railways past including all the splendour of the Victorian carriages.

As ever, authentic people complete the scene and the FR’s events are always a great chance to get some period photographs or to simply soak up the atmosphere.

The Ffestiniog Railway, at the height of its powers, was very influential in the locality, connecting two busy industrial towns and playing a major role in the creation of their wealth. A trip to the Vintage Weekend should let you experience the industry at the heart of the community… whether or not your interest lies in the railway itself.

Vintage Weekend begins on Friday 14th October at Porthmadog’s Harbour Station with a chance to sample Spooner’s Bar and its ales whilst watching the preparations and shunts for the weekend that are being made outside. A recreation of the 1920s Colonel Stephens WHR Test Train will make several runs, together with extra service trains.

Saturday features gravity trains, slate traffic across Britannia Bridge into Porthmadog, mixed trains in operation and lots of vintage trains to accompany your paned and bara brith (or cuppa and fruit loaf to those of you who live a little further away)

Sunday’s main feature is the longest gravity train to run since the 1940s, all the way from the line’s current summit near Tanygrisiau, recreations of trains from different eras and some of the railways more unusual quirks and curiosities.

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