Great Railway Eras Festiniog 50 years of enterprise by Vic Mitchell Number 11
Great Railway Eras Festiniog 50 years of enterprise by Vic Mitchell Number 11
Great Railway Eras Festiniog 50 years of enterprise by Vic Mitchell Number 11
Great Railway Eras Festiniog 50 years of enterprise by Vic Mitchell Number 11

Great Railway Eras Festiniog 50 years of enterprise by Vic Mitchell Number 11

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Great Railway Eras Festiniog 50 years of enterprise by Vic Mitchell Number 11
Great Railway Eras Festiniog 50 years of enterprise by Vic Mitchell Number 11
Hard cover
Copyright 2002
96 pages
This album contains a multitude of photographs to illustrate the transition of the railway from total dereliction to a top tourist attraction. The emphasis is on the imagination and enterprise of the countless individuals involved.
106Blaenau Ffestiniog
94Llyn Ystradau
28Boston Lodge Works
25The Cob
87The Deviation Enterprise
122The Travel Enterprise

Those intent on reviving the railway were motivated by its historical significance in world railway history. However, anyone passing by in the closure period would have simply regarded it as a linear nature reserve and/or scrap yard, as shown in some of the illustrations herein.
The success of steam on such a narrow gauge had confounded the critics, such as the widely respected Robert Stephenson (of Rocket fame) but in 1870 the Imperial Russian Commission arrived on the line to witness the astonishing performance of a double engine, built to Robert Fairlie's patented design. Delegations from other parts of the world followed and the Festiniog principle spread internationally.
Not only was the FR a pioneer with narrow gauge steam traction, but it used the first bogie coach built for service in Great Britain. It also instigated extensive technical innovation in many other fields.
The initiative and enterprise shown by a large number of persistent individuals in the early 1950s is outlined in the diagram opposite. It was drawn in 1979 by Dan Wilson, but has since been found to contain a few minor flaws. However, it does convey the extent of the effort made by so many to restore this badly tarnished jewel in the crown of railway history, which forms part of the industrial heritage of the United Kingdom.
Once announced, the Society grew at a very healthy rate and local groups were formed in Birmingham and London in 1955. Others soon followed and in 2001 they comprised Bristol, Dee & Mersey, East Anglian, East Midlands, Gloucestershire, Hants & Sussex, Lancashire & Cheshire, London, Midland, Milton Keynes, North Staffs, Northumbria, Sheffield & District, Upper Thames and White Rose. In addition, there was the all important Heritage Group, to care for matters historical. Within these organisations there are deep wells of enterprise to be drawn upon for the continuing benefit of the FR.
The prolonged legal battle to obtain compensation for the cost of reinstatement of the line submerged under a lake forming the lower part of a pumped storage hydro-electric the country's only spiral line. Known as The Deviation, this major civil engineering project attracted a new brand of volunteer and much of the work was undertaken in the traditional laborious manner. Again, the FR was involved with an enterprise unparalleled in world railway history.
Fresh initiatives were made to complete the remainder of the route and to create a new terminus jointly with BR at Blaenau Ffestiniog. The outstanding success of the FR revival had earlier inspired a group of French railway enthusiasts to emulate it and the equally scenic Chemin de Fer du Vivarais was saved from extinction. It is twinned with the FR.
This album generally features the practical illustrations of enterprise, but there have been (and hopefully will continue to be) many examples of successful administrative initiatives. These range from the establishment of a worldwide travel business to major fund raising galas and other enthusiast events, together with the publication of guide books, films, magazines and so on.
There have inevitably been differences of opinion between managers and the managed. One of the former once reminded staff that the projects were all "Jolly Good Fun". Works rolling stock numbers were soon prefixed with JGF and subsequently this annotation unwittingly appeared in a railway stock book.
I hope that those who have left the railway recently for various reasons will be encouraged by the photographs that follow to realise that it is a continued healthy future for the FR that is our prime concern. Hopefully this volume might inspire them to return with their own brand of enterprise.
I include a number of photographs of the closure period to illustrate the starting point. Significantly the revival took place aptly in an uphill direction, as it has been an uphill struggle!

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