Since its formation in 1984, the Heritage Group has instigated or helped support numerous projects across all areas of the Festiniog Railway. Some were in our original plan, many have been suggested since, several we would never have thought possible.
This page lists our current projects. See our completed projects here.
Slate waggons and other iron goods waggons – the Festiniog Railway is the home of the unique gravity train recreating the trains that brought slate down from Blaenau Ffestiniog for onwards transhipment on ships and via the Cambrian Railways. The waggons that make up the gravity train are in constant need of maintenance and in addition there is a long line of waggons awaiting restoration.
Wooden waggons – run by the Wooden Waggon Federation, the restoration and recreation of the wide variety of wooden good waggons on the Festiniog Railway not only has ensured the survival of many waggons, but has also enabled the continued teaching of traditional wood working skills to a wide range of volunteers. The group is currently concentrating on the 4-wheel coal waggons.
Ker Stuart 4415 – this pioneer diesel locomotive was trialled on the Festiniog Railway and the fledgling Welsh Highland Railway before being sold for use abroad. Returned to the UK, it is now under restoration by a heritage diesels team that have also been involved in the maintenance of Moelwyn the Baldwin tractor, and Harold the Hudson Hunslet works shunter.
Double arm signals – the double arm signals were an integral part of the early signalling on the Festiniog Railway. Long since replaced with more conventional signalling (semaphore and colour light signals), the restoration of the signalling on the Festiniog Railway continues with the re-installation of several disc signals having been completed and this project to recreate the double arm signals that were to be seen at the passing loops.
Heritage fencing – this may seem a mundane project, but the fencing on the Festiniog Railway was distinct, consisting of a low stone wall with iron fence posts mounted on the cap, with wire strung between the fence posts. This fencing was there to mark the boundary of railway property and also to try to stop wild and not so wild life (sheep and goats) getting onto the track. This project aims to rebuild the fencing along the railway. A sample of the fencing can be seen in the bottom right corner of this picture.
Brine tank waggon – this waggon was constructed to convey sea water from Portmadoc to a lineside slate tank above Plas Tan-y-Bwlch, the home of the Oakeley family. The water was piped down to the house for saltwater baths as these were considered a health tonic in Victorian times. The tank and main frame from the waggon was later used on top of a stone tower as a water tower at Pont Croesor. The remains were recovered and restoration of this waggon is underway with a new tank to be procured.
Carriage truck – this is being funded by a generous individual and will be a recreation of the 1884 built carriage truck. More details of the truck here.
Rat Tails – one aspect of the running of gravity trains on the Festiniog Railway which is long gone is the rat-tails. These consisted of gantries over the railway before the top-end of limited clearance structures, such as the tunnels. Strung from the gantries were lengths of rope which would then provide early warning to any brakesman standing on the slate waggons that they needed to sit down. Many years ago, an individual started to put their loose change into a fund for a recreation of the rat-tails whenever they attended a Heritage Group meeting. It has now been agreed to progress this project.
Boston Lodge redevelopment & interpretation project – this National Lottery Heritage Fund project to redevelop Boston Lodge and recreate its historical past will involve all aspects of the Festiniog Railway family, ourselves included. Volunteers are currently fitting out the Blacksmith’s shop which is being purposed as a heritage workshop for the rebuilding and maintenance of the historic waggon fleet, as the blacksmith’s shop was originally used for, in addition to its role providing all smithy products, including shoeing horses. More details on all the aspects of this amazing project can be found here.
The Cleminson waggon roof – the iron 6-wheeled Cleminson waggon was at one time used to transport flour from Snowdon Mill in Portmadoc to the bakery at Penrhyn. For this, it was fitted with a corrugated iron roof to convert it to a covered van. It is a long term aim of the Heritage Group to recreate this roof and the scene of the flour van. Here is a photo of it in this condition.
If there’s a particular aspect of FR Heritage you feel is currently being neglected and deserving of our support, just drop a note to one of the committee in the first instance. We can’t promise we’ll be able to support every idea, although it’s amazing what can be achieved with enthusiasm, a little crowd funding and some volunteer labour!
In the meantime, we still have one outstanding item left to deliver from our original 1984 list – a proper museum…