Festiniog In Colour Ffestiniog Mewn Lliw by Peter Johnson and Michael Whitehouse
Festiniog In Colour Ffestiniog Mewn Lliw by Peter Johnson and Michael Whitehouse
Festiniog In Colour Ffestiniog Mewn Lliw by Peter Johnson and Michael Whitehouse

Festiniog In Colour Ffestiniog Mewn Lliw by Peter Johnson and Michael Whitehouse

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Festiniog In Colour Ffestiniog Mewn Lliw by Peter Johnson and Michael Whitehouse
Festiniog In Colour Ffestiniog Mewn Lliw by Peter Johnson and Michael Whitehouse
Hardcover 64 pages
Copyright 1995
As the Festiniog Railway staggered towards the middle years of the 20th century, becoming more and more decrepit, memories of its glorious past were still retained fondly, mainly by outsiders, enthusiasts and tourists. The decline of this preeminent narrow gauge railway has been said to have followed the death of Charles Easton Spooner in 1889, for none of his successors proved to have the Spooner family's flair for the line, in either directorial, managerial or engineering aspects. In practical terms, however, serious decline set in after a quarrymen's strike in 1913, reducing the FR's revenue and, thus, the amount spent on routine maintenance. World War 1 aggravated the situation and the railway never recovered, closing to passengers in 1939 and completely in 1946,The high regard for the FR held it in good stead, for it was not forgotten and neglected. Vigorous efforts by its admirers saw a team led by Alan Pegler, and supported by the Festiniog Railway Society, gaining control in 1954. The Festiniog revival had begun.
Forty years after Festiniog Railway passenger services recommenced in 1955 it has regained its former pre-eminence, with many great achievements, the 27-year task of restoring the line to Blaenau Ffestiniog not least amongst them. Other achievements vary in scope from the restoration of 19th century locomotives and carriages to the construction of two double Fairlie locomotives and 16 bogie carriages at Boston Lodge, the automation of passing loops and the operation of a centrally-heated push-pull six-car diesel train.
Over the past 40 years the appearance of the Railway has changed considerably, too. From the stations to the carriage fleet, not forgetting, of course, the locomotives, the Railway has developed and improved. The locomotive fleet has been supplemented, both by acquisition and new build, converted from coal to oil-burning, though not without some degree of controversy when first brought in, The engines are now turned out in varied liveries, not all with a historical basis, providing variety from the standard green introduced in 1955. The carriage fleet, likewise, has been augmented, and liveries range from green and cream, 'varnished mahogany', cherry red to the present red and off-white arrangement.
The trains themselves have progressed considerably since the 1950s, when, naturally, only original Festiniog stock was available. Nowadays trains often include wooden, aluminium, or steel-bodied carriages with corridor connections, toilet and buffet facilities, as well as older stock, including the oldest four-wheel and bogie carriages in regular use in the world.
The 19th century stock has recently been turned out in historical liveries, a vital attribute much appreciated by observers and photographers during vintage train operation. Since the first operation of such a train, in 1982, when the formation consisted of three four-wheelers and four bogie cars, great effort has been put into recreating authentic trains of the past, both in appearance and formation. Despite being a service for which no tickets are sold, gravity trains have proved unexpectedly popular with observers; developed from this has been mixed train operation, too. Interest in the vintage trains has culminated in the now annual vintage weekends, when attempts are made to ensure that all modern stock is confined to depot, although no-one has yet been heard to complain about the operation of 1992-built Fairlie David Lloyd George on such occasions!
During the big push to return Festiniog Railway operations to Blaenau Ffestiniog the appearance of both trains and line-side structures became sadly neglected. 1985 saw the start of an initiative to provide the Railway with some attractive gardens; the initiative developed to encompass structures, too. The effect can be seen, throughout the length of the line. Flower beds at Porthmadog, Minffordd and Penrhyn attract much favourable comment, as do the station buildings at Penrhyn, restored externally to 1880s appearance, internally a volunteers' hostel.
The Railway has not always aimed for authenticity in the provision of all its passenger facilities; indeed the most modern are provided at Porthmadog, Tan-y-bwlch and Blaenau Ffestiniog. Harbour station itself has been considerably extended to provide sales and catering -facilities, as well as a museum and both terminal stations have recently acquired canopies. Other installations have also been adapted to meet modern requirements: the exchange yard at Minffordd now providing road/rail interchange as well as becoming the permanent way depot. The famous Boston Lodge Works have been extensively expanded and modernised, too.
The Festiniog Railway has come under the scrutiny of many thousands of photographers since the invention of photography, with the earliest known exposures being dated to the early 1870s. Since the restoration of the line commenced there can be very few trains which have escaped being recorded photographically. In the 1950s and 1960s most exposures would have been in monochrome due to the cost and low speed of colour transparency film; the speed of this material being the reason so many early colour photographs were only taken of static subjects on fine days, giving the impression that it never rained!
One of the small number of photographers using colour in the early years of the Festiniog's revival was the late Pat Whitehouse, some of whose photographs we are pleased to include here; he also collected some of the transparencies taken by other photographers and included here also. Pat Whitehouse came to be known as an author and as the founder of the Birmingham Railway Museum at Tyseley; he was in at the birth of railway preservation, the first secretary of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society before becoming involved with founding the Dart Valley Railway. In 1963 he wrote Festiniog Railway Revival, the first book to cover the Festiniog's rebirth, and published by the publisher of this present work, too. At the time of his death he was a patron of the Festiniog Railway Co.

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