Ffestiniog Railway

Originally built to carry slate from the quarries at Blaenau Ffestiniog to the harbour at Porthmadog, the Ffestiniog Railway was 150 years old on 20th April 1986.  It used horses to pull empty wagons uphill and loaded trains ran by gravity over a superbly surveyed route high on the side of the Dwyryd Valley.

In 1863 steam locomotives were introduced.  The railway began its first legal passenger service in 1865, becoming the world's first narrow-gauge public railway.  In 1869 it introduced the Fairlie articulated steam locomotive and in a series of trials held in 1869/70 attracted worldwide attention, having an influence on the course of railway development in many countries.  The first integral metal-framed bogie passenger coaches were introduced in 1872, these being the first bogie coaches in regular service in Britain, and together with the Fairlie locomotive, were the ancestors of the modern railway train. 

From its peak in the 1880's the Ffestiniog Railway declined, with the local slate industry, and finally closed in August 1946.  The line lay derelict for eight years until control of the Ffestiniog Railway company passed to its present enthusiastic owners.  Restoration, using volunteer labour, began in 1954.  The first passenger trains ran over a mile of track in 1955, but it took twenty-eight hard years before the service was finally restored over the full fourteen miles to Blaenau Ffestiniog.  In that time, the railway and its army of volunteer helpers had to build 2 miles of new railway to bypass a reservoir, which included boring a 300-metre tunnel, besides restoring and operating the remainder of the old line.

More of the history of the Ffestiniog Railway together with timetables and prices can be found at www.ffestiniograilway.org.uk

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