An interesting journey: Blaenau Ffestiniog-Bala, 1959

Trawling the worldwide web regarding Trawsfynydd and the Branch to Bala, has revealed some interesting snippets of information. One of which is this below that I found HERE!

Written by an Eddie Bellass, regarding a rather interesting journey from Blaenau to Bala, in September 1959.

EPSON scanner image

My 7 months pregnant wife and I were waiting to catch the day’s last, one coach train down to Bala Junction. There we’d change into a train from Barmouth to Chester, where a further change would get us home to Earlestown on a North Wales-Manchester express.

While being run round and temporarily stabled to allow for some freight stock shunting, the single ex-GW non-corridor brake coach was derailed on some dodgy pointwork. No amount of old fishplates and sleeper packing would persuade it back on the rails. The last LMR train from Blaenau Ffestiniog North station to Llandudno Jn. had gone and no taxi could be found.

We and one other passenger were invited up with the crew of the ex Great Western 0-6-0 Pannier Tank locomotive and off we chugged, five in the cab, with my wife turning her ‘bump’ through 90 deg. whenever the fireman needed to put on a round of coal — not very often due to running downhill almost all the way.

The other passenger alighted at Trawsfynnydd but two more joined, one with a bike! This was put up on the flat top of the tanks. With six up, the name of the game was to avoid the rise and fall of the rear driving wheel springs which protruded into the cab on either side of the firebox. The extra two people and one bike disembarked at Arenig and we remained at four up into Bala Junction, where the connecting train had been held for us.

On a remote railway branch like that one, operations were conducted very much in a ‘family’ manner, with no questions asked as long as the job got done.

Photo © Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Published by Tom Foster

Musician and Modeller of 4mm

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  1. I met Eddie Bellass on the Isle of Man in, I think, 1999. I hope he is still with us though I believe he was unwell a few years ago. He hails from the Newton-le-Willows area and was involved with the LCGB North-West branch for many years. I recall that he made a WR camping coach from an old Tri-ang clerestory, describing the process in the Constructor in the early 60s

    1. @chris – You may never see this comment as this article is many years old now and I just happened upon it whilst googling my grandad… Eddie Bellass.

      He is indeed still with us albeit offline at the moment due to ill health, but that will just be temporary. So nice to see him being remembered fondly – and to read this story!

  2. Was this the line where there was a film abut moving an out of gauge load in the 1960s? Moving something to a power station, but maybe the pump storage opne rather than thenuclear one? Sorry for being so vague – I thought your message title might have been about this!

  3. 26power, the film is called “Measured for Transport” and was made in 1962. It is available on the BFI DVD “Points and Aspects” which is volume 8 of the British Transport Films collection. I dare say someone has put it on YouTube. It featured the LMS line from Llandudno Junction to Blaenau Ffestiniog which was not connected to the line Tom is modelling until after the latter closed. The transformer had to be designed to fit through the tunnel just outside Blaenau Ffestiniog which has very restricted clearance. I can’t tell you whether the transformer was destined for the nuclear power station or pumped storage plant until I’ve watched the film again so thank you for the excuse to do so!

    1. I watched the film. The transformer was for the pumped storage plant and was taken from BF North to Tan-y-grisiau by Pickfords. It’s a fascinating film but I always did like British Transport Films

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