Welsh Highland Railway – Past, Present and Future: Another Visitor Confirmed!

February 12th 2019

Following on from our hugely successful ‘Hunslet 125’ event last June, when examples of Hunslet locomotives came to North Wales from across the United Kingdom to star alongside our resident fleet, we are once again aiming to make June a special month in the 2019 calendar.

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Baldwin 1058 (WDLR 608) in unrestored state following return to the UK.
From June 21st-23rd we will stage “Welsh Highland Railway – Past, Present and Future”.

This will be a very special weekend celebrating the rich heritage of the Welsh Highland Railway - formed in 1922 and which (in 1923) completed the two-foot gauge rail link between the Ffestiniog Railway in Porthmadog and the former North Wales Narrow Gauge Railway line between Dinas and Rhyd Ddu.

We can now confirm that Baldwin 1058 (WDLR 608) will attend the gala – it’s first public appearance following a meticulous restoration. This locomotive was built in 1917, one of a total of 495 built to the order of the UK Ministry of Munitions, and saw service in France prior to being shipped to India where it initially worked on British Army supply lines. It was then transferred to the North Western Railway of India (where it ran as NWR 45) and finally provided traction at Daurala and Ryam sugar factories.

After repatriation back to the UK, the locomotive was eventually moved to a private workshop in Lancashire where the restoration work took place. We are indebted to Graham Fairhurst for making the loco available to us for this event.

The weekend will feature a varied timetable of historic trains, including locomotives and carriages that worked on the railway prior to its closure in 1937 - most notably, Hunslet 2-6-2T ‘Russell’, the sole surviving locomotive built for the original line. Hunslet 1215 (WDLR 303) will also be utilised in the intensive timetable.

Planning for the event is still at an early stage, but it is intended that heritage trains will be running in the section of line between Minffordd, Porthmadog and Beddgelert, during the intervals between our regular passenger trains - providing an opportunity to experience the development of narrow-gauge railways over the past century. Tickets will be available online early in the new year, and further details (including additional visiting locomotives) will be published as soon as they are finalised.

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The locomotive at Ryam India in 1990 - Photo by Peter Lemmey