Railway History Map of Britain - Wales

Resource Type: Image | Posted on 14th November 2011 by Liam Physick

This map shows the railways of Wales. A number of famous railways can be seen here: the Ffestiniog Railway (spelled “Festiniog”, the official name of the railway company, on the map), the Snowdon Mountain Railway, the Talyllyn Railway and the Vale of Reidhol Railway. The Ffestiniog Railway is a narrow-gauge heritage railway in Gwynedd, located mainly in the Snowdonia National Park. It is the oldest surviving railway company in the world, having been founded in 1832. Like most narrow-gauge railways it avoided the merger of 1923 and nationalisation in 1948: in the former case due to political influence, in the latter case (despite lobbying from locals for it to be included) because it was then closed for traffic. It uses horses until 1863, when it began to use steam locomotives. Its function was to haul slate to Porthmadog, but as slate traffic declined this function ceased in 1946: in 1954-5 it was restored and the line reopened as a tourist attraction, and since 2010 has connected with another heritage line, the Welsh Highland Railway. The illustration shows a double-headed Fairlie locomotive. Fairlie locomotives had their driving wheels on bogies (power trucks): not all were double-headed, but the double-headed concept, as well as the idea of having wheels on bogies, has been adopted by most diesel and electric locomotives. They were patented by Robert Francis Fairlie in 1864, for whom the design carried the advantages of dispensing with a tender (the fuel and water was carried aboard the Fairlie locomotive, the water in tanks either side of each boiler, and the fuel in bunkers above them) that did not contribute to the adhesive weight of the locomotive, and of allowing the engine to change direction at the terminus without the need for a turntable. The driver and fireman worked on different sides, separated by the two fireboxes. One of Fairlie’s locomotives, the Little Wonder, was used on the Ffestiniog Railway, and proved so sucessful that Fairlie gave the Railway a perpetual licence to use his patent. Six in total were used on the Railway: three double Fairlies and one single Fairlie are still used today, while another is in the National Railway Museum. However, the absence of a tender limited the capacity for fuel and water (unlike in a tank locomotive, where the bunker can be placed behind the cabin), though this was less of a problem if fuel oil were used instead of a coal, as has been the case on the Ffestiniog more recently. The separation of the driver and fireman meant that the locomotive would be either left- or right-hand drive, depending on direction, hindering visibility The Snowdon Mountain Railway, also in Gwynedd is a narrow-gauge rack and pinion railway (a line with a toothed rack rail, meshed with cog wheels or pinions on the trains, to allow the traffic to use steep gradients): the only publicly-owned such railway in Britain. It runs to the summit of Snowdon, the highest peak in England and Wales, and was opened in 1896. It is the inspiration for the Culdee Fell Railway in The Railway Series. The Vale of Reidhol Railway, also a narrow-gauge heritage line, was opened in 1902, primarily to transport minerals from lead mines: however, lead mining was already in decline, and tourist traffic quickly became the main source of income. In 1923, it was absorbed by the Great Western Railway, which turned it solely into a tourist service. Nationalised in 1948, until privatised in 1989 it was the last remaining railway on British Rail to continue using steam locomotives, because of its tourism function. It was bought in 1989 by Brecon Mountain Railway, and in 1996 sold again, this time to the Phyllis Rampton Trust

Railway History Map of Britain - Wales

Tagged under: steam locomotives, railway workers, british rail, diesel locomotives, tank locomotives, railway history, drivers, firemen, railway history map of britain, electric locomotives

Categorised under: Landmarks, Landscapes & Locomotives

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