Locomotive Performance

Ffestiniog Railway

It was in the summer of 1954 that I first became aware of the Ffestiniog Railway. Or what was left of it. Schoolfriend and fellow railway enthusiast John Tennent was holidaying with his family at Dyffryn Ardudwy, at the same time that I was on holiday with my family just down the road at Talybont. And together we explored  Minffordd, Tan-y-Bwlch, and Blaenau Ffestiniog. (see pictures near foot of page)

I had a few trips on the railway during North Wales family holidays in the 1970's, but it was not until 1986, when I began visiting Porthmadog frequently, and I became a Ffestiniog member, that I began to ride and time the trains regularly. And my "Railway Journeys Database" tells me that I have now had over two hundred and fifty round trips, although not all of them have been for the full length of the line. 


Earl of Merioneth





In 1986, the Ffestiniog was essentially a "Small Engine" railway. The peak summer timetable required 3 coaching sets and 4 locomotives. It ran at 45/50 minute intervals, the crossing locations being at Rhiw Goch and Dduallt. The operating fleet comprised the 1979 built double Fairlie "Earl of Merioneth", which performed well but looked dreadful. The Alco "Mountaineer", and the Hunslet ladies, "Blanche" and Linda" were the supporting cast. 0-4-0 "Prince" deputized if necessary, but was limited to 6 bogie coaches. Two small diesel locomotives were available to work the "Early Bird" and evening services. Now it is often said that in the mid 1980's, the railway was run down. Well the carriages were certainly less than pristine, but so far as the locomotives were concerned, they were in top form. The running I had on Linda, Blanche, Mountaineer, and Prince, in the years 1986 to 1991, has not been equaled since. I avoided "Earl", though the few runs I had with the loco were satisfactory. 

I have chosen a selection of my best runs for inclusion, mainly covering the uphill journey only. Unsurprisingly, the best runs come from the late 1980's early 1990's period. One of the joys of the Ffestiniog Railway over the years has been the Galas, which usually take place over the May day weekend, and in October. And when you mention Ffestiniog Galas, the mind is immediately focused on the magnificent "Hunslet Hundred Gala" of 1993. Generally accepted as the best of the Ffestiniog Galas, many, myself included, regard it as the finest Gala ever held on a Heritage Railway. So you will also find Logs of the smaller Ffestiniog locomotives, and particularly visiting engines, including those from France that came over for the "French Engines Gala" of 1995. In fact I have found that travelling up from Port to either Minffordd or Rhiw Goch on Alice, Lilla, Dolbadarn, Velinheli, & co to be a most enjoyable experience. And then to travel behind the Ffestiniog "Heritage Diesels", Mary Ann and Moelwyn is interestingly different. So there are logs of these also. I have also included a number of  runs with Ffestiniog locomotives, namely Mountaineer, Blanche, Prince and Linda, on the Welsh Highland line out of Caernarfon, to either Dinas or Waunfawr.

MERDDIN EMRYS: 0-4-4-0T Double Fairlie, built 1879  [view logs]
EARL OF MERIONETH: 0-4-4-0T Double Fairlie, built 1979  [view logs]
DAVID LLOYD GEORGE: 0-4-4-0T Double Fairlie, built 1992  [view logs]
MOUNTAINEER: 2-6-2T Alco, built 1917, arrived FR 1967  [view logs]
LINDA: 2-4-0 Hunslet ex Penrhyn, built 1893, arrived FR 1963  [view logs]
BLANCHE: 2-4-0 Hunslet ex Penrhyn, built 1893, arrived FR 1963 [view logs]
TALIESIN: 0-4-4T Single Fairlie, built 1999, original built 1876  [view logs]
PRINCE: England class 0-4-0, built 1863 [view logs]
PALMERSTON: England class 0-4-0, built 1864, coal fired [view logs]
DOUBLE HEADERS: [view 1990 logs] [view 1995 logs] [view 2001 logs] 
Ffestiniog Locos on the Welsh Highland..1999/2000..BLANCHE & MOUNTAINEER [view logs] 
Ffestiniog Locos on the Welsh Highland..2002/2003..PRINCE & LINDA [view logs]
1988/1990 Visiting Engines: RUSSELL: Hunslet 2-6-2T [view logs]
1993 visiting Engines: DOLBADARN, HOLY WAR, VELINHELI, SGT MURPHY [view logs] 
1995 Visiting Engines from France: ALCO no 9, no 6 BURGONDE, no 3 [view logs] 
1997 Visiting Engines: LILLA, VELINHELI. ALiCE [view logs]
1998/1999 Visiting Engines: COVERTCOAT, BRONLLWYD, CLOISTER [view logs]
2003 Visiting Engines: 2003 LILLA [view logs]


No 6 (Francais)


Conway Castle

Particulars of visiting locomotives are as follows: Russell, West Highland Rly, Porthmadog, is a 1906 built Hunslet 2-6-2T....  Dolbadarn, Holy War, Velinheli, Lilla, Alice, Covertcoat, and Cloister are all Hunslet 0-4-0ST's, build variously between 1886 and 1922, and are based on the Llanberis Lake, Bala Lake, Launceston, and Leighton Buzzard Railways.... Bronllwyd is a 1930 built Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0WT from Bressingham.... Seargant Murphy was built in 1918 by Kerr Stuart as an 0-6-0T, but is now an 0-6-2T, based at the Teifi Valley Railway.
VALE OF FFESTINIOG [view logs] CONWAY CASTLE [view logs]
UPNOR CASTLE [view logs] CRICCIETH CASTLE [view logs] 
MOELWYN [view logs] MARY ANN [view logs]
MOELWYN & MARY ANN double heading [view logs]
Click for full particulars of the Ffestiniog Railway Steam Locomotive fleet.
Click for full particulars of the Ffestiniog Railway Diesel Locomotive fleet.

Old pictures from 1954, taken by John Tennent.  Left..Minffordd yard (note the BR line on the right),  Centre..Tan-y-Bwlch (the building to the left is the present cafe), and Right, the sidings at Blaenau Ffestiniog, in the pouring rain.
There are many excellent Sound Recordings of the Ffestiniog on the Steamsounds website

 Click here for the Ffestiniog Railway website

 Click here for the Locomotive Performance on the Narrow Gauge webpage