‘Linda’ arriving over the road bridge into Tan-y-Bwlch AGM Spl. April 1965
Seen from ‘Linda’s cab. I fired on Linda to the General Manager’s engine whenever I fired it. That was in my early visits. But one day I accidentally dropped the water hose on him at Tan-y-Bwlch – it was at full flow – he was soqaked and I was ‘;fired’ as far as being his fireman was concerned. After that I was with Davy Bascombe on ‘Blanche’ or Evan Davies’ on the ‘Earl’. Although I do recall firing to Keith Catchpole on ‘Linda’ after the debacle with Mr. Garraway. –
We had a trainee with us on ‘Linda’ or ‘Blanche’ and I could get this picture on the rocking footplate of firing coal. Note the water guage glass on the right which gave a constant indication of the level of water in the boiler.
Driver Evan Davies in charge with his trademark roll-up dog-
This was ‘Roger Goss’s engine’ when I took this. It was too small for work on he passenger trains and I never saw it used for anything. But videos of the more recent FR show it being used for shunting.
I took this on the Festiniog Railway’s AGM Day. So much for me – a signalman – denigrating working on 2ft guage – the great LNER speed fiend Bill Hoole was a regular driver on the FR and on this engine – a far cry from 100+ on A4 ‘Pacifics’.
I was firing to Davy this day when, coming down the hill from Ddaullt we were waved down by a group of walkers – one of them had had a heart aqttach. He was loaded into the train and at T-y-B the telephone was used to summon an ambulance. The two young lads wee totally ignored by Davy but then…
a handsome young woman turned up to ask how long we were going to stand there.
The ambulance finally arrived – a very difficult drive from Portmadoc. I never heard how the casualty fared but he had had a long wait.
I worked with the Manchester group of ‘Deviasionists’ once a month through the winter 1968-69. Some of those who worked here appeared on TV on 21 May 2013. I did not recognise any of the men or women on the TV. None of us, back in 1969, aged in our 20s ever though we would be 70+ one day! But maybe one or two on that programme are in this picture and I wish them ‘all the best’.
Pnuematic drills were used to bore holes for sticks of dynamite to be inserted. Enough explosive was used to heave the rock forwards and break it up but not for it to go flying about. And then we shovelled up the shattered shale, threw up into the tipper truck, heaved the truck along the track and tipped it onto the growing embankment – although each tipping looked like a teaspoonful! But the embankment up to the bridge over the old line was finally complete
The signal originated on the Liverpool Overhead Railway but it has been taken away now. Shame. The view looks over the penned-up river towards Snowdonia.
end clearly to be seen.
Raising steam in Boston Lodge shed. I was firing and polishing on ‘Blanche’ and ‘Earl of Merioneth’ had Chris Byrne as cleaner and fireman. I think this was the summer of 1968.
Taken without flash, probably 1/4 second at full aperture. Not bad those factors considered. Maybe around 8 a.m on a summer morning in 1968. I was firing ‘Blanche’ Chris Byrne on ‘Earl of Merioneth’. These were the two engines I did most of my work on.
The ‘Earl’ was about to come out of the Works for a trial run. Possibly 1967.
I took this on the return trip of the trial run c.1967. Evan Davies, as usual, driving. I often fired to Evan. This was a lovely engine to fire and ride on. It was a comfortable as a coach and could have run even faster than Evan made it go if we’d have had the quality of track.
The firemen worked a 14 hour day from lighting-up to emptying the smoke box and ashpan in the evning. We had 14 minutes from arriving at Portmadoc to departing with the next train. In that time we cleared the smoke box of cinders, cleared the ash pan, took water and loaed coal. We got our break coming downhill from Tan-y-Bwlch and later from Ddault. It was great fun, a great challenge. I was there almost every week-end!
I was fireman. We had a learner with us. Sometime 1965-70
I was introduced to the Festiniog Railway by a Swindon locomotive fireman, Peter Martin, in March or April 1965. He came into my signal box off a 92 class steam loco, wanting to make some tea. I had been a keen, amateur steam loco fireman and driver since I was 12 in 1953 and by 1965 there were not many steam engines still running on my part of the Western Region and thus few opportunities to indulge in my hobby. I said to my visitor how nice it was to see a steamer and he said ‘Are you starved for steam?’ ‘Yes’ says I. ‘Why not go to the Festiniog there’s all steam there and you could become a fireman and driver. ‘I said I was already well known to that work but I couldn’t see the point on tiny little 2ft gauge engines. ‘Oh!’, says the fireman, ‘I’ve fired the “Kings” during the week and fired “Palmerstone” over the Cob at Portmadoc at week-ends and if that’s good enough for me it’s good enough for a signalman.’ I could only agree with him and he said, ‘I’m off up Portmadoc at the week-end – get yourself to Swindon and I take you there – you’ll be surprised.’ So I went and was put straight on the footplate on account of previous, standard gauge experience and that was the start of 5 years of very regular firing work on the FR. I packed in in 1970 when – for excellent reasons – the railway changed over to oil firing.’
These pictures are the few that I took over that 5 years. I only ever went there to work on the engines, not to take photos so I don’t have a large collection of views. The FR closed for public transport each winter but lots of work went on ‘out of season’ including building a new railway to get past the lake that had flooded the northern part of the route above Ddault – it was part of the Trawsfynydd atomic power station scheme. In 1968 I joined the Manchester or ‘Northern’ Group Deviationists to dig the cutting at Ddault Spiral which raised the railway to a higher level so it could run alongside this lake and so into Blaneau Festinog – its original terminus. I took only two pictures while attending monthly for a week-end of digging.