Monday, June 5, 2017

Monday 5 June - Special Train, Minffordd, Rhiw Coch and Blaenau Ffestiniog

The weather was terrible all day today with rain all day, frequently heavy.  The good news was that our train was to be hauled by Ffestinog Railway No. 2 Prince which is the oldest continuously operating locomotive in the world.
Prince at Minffordd
A Fairlie and a Garratt getting ready for the first two trains of the day at Porthmadog
In spite of the weather we had a great day.  Our first stop was Minffordd yard where we examined the various sheds in process of reconstruction.
The gravity slate wagons at Minffordd showing the cushions used by passengers

Some cars loaded with slate
From there we went on to Rhiw Coch which is a signal box that can be switched into the section between Minffordd and Tan y Bwlch to pass trains at peak times.  There is a small lever frame interlocking although the switches are operated electrically.
Rhiw Coch

Prince at Rhiw Coch

Tablet exchange at Rhiw Coch
We took it in turns to ride the footplate of Prince and my section was between Rhiw Coch and Tan y Bwlch.  The crew were very friendly and it was great.  I put on a few shovelsful of coal in the very small firebox.  The engine was driven hard on almost full regulator and it rode quite lively at times.  I started off standing in the tender but moved to the fireman's position when he wanted to ply his shovel.  A memorable experience.
In the cab of Prince

Paul climbing into Prince at Dduallt
We stopped at Dduallt where the hardy members of the group got out to watch two run pasts around the loop in the heavy rain.  I stayed behind with many others in the warm dry train.

At Blaenau Ffestinog we went up the Dinas branch and looked in a couple of the sheds which are used mainly to house the passenger stock in winter.  The Alco "Mountaineer" was being held in there.
The Rhododendrons are taking over large parts of Blaenau Ffestiniof

Prince taking water at Blaenau Ffestiniog
We came back in the rain with a stop at Tan y Bwlch.  The train was very comfortable with good chairs, drinks service and some heat from a diesel generator.  We had an amazing cream tea at Tan y Bwlch.
Cream tea at Dduallt
In spite of the weather we had a great day.

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