NARROW GAUGE NEWS
Railways across the country mark their role in the First World War – 100 years on.
On November 11, several narrow gauge railways joined thousands of organisations around the world to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice that brought the First World War to an end.
At the Ffestiniog Railway, nearly 100 members of the public, along with railway staff and volunteers, attended the dedication of the memorial erected at Tan y Bwlch. A family member of one of those inscribed upon it laid the first wreath.
Most British railway companies erected memorials to employees who were killed during the war, with the majority being created in 1922, when companies were about to lose their independence in the Grouping. Exceptions were the FR and the Rhymney Railway. Since 2013, the Railway Heritage Trust has worked to establish the location and condition of railway memorials, funding repairs and replacements where necessary. The trust provided funding for the FR memorial.
Searches through the FR’s archives, carried out by John Alexander, a volunteer since the 1950s and secretary of the FR & WHR Trust, established that 18 employees joined the colours, and that two of them were killed.
The memorial’s slate plaque was made at the Inigo Jones slate works, in Pen y Groes, near Caernarfon, the aluminium crest was made by Leander Architectural of Doveholes, Derbyshire, and the plinth was constructed by the FR’s infrastructure department.
A special train conveying participants from Porthmadog was hauled by Palmerston and David Lloyd George. At Tan y Bwlch, the FR’s out-of-service Alco 2-6-2PT ‘Mountaineer’ was displayed with a Hudson wagon and Baldwin tractor ‘Moelwyn’, all having First World War credentials.
Further south, the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway ran trains from either end of the line to meet at Castle Caereinion, where a brief service was held. The trains were met by a piper, and the Last Post and Reveille were sounded. Wearers of earned medals and family members of those recorded on the war memorials at Llanfair Caereinion, Castle Caereinion and Welshpool travelled for free while other members of the public paid £5.
In Staffordshire, the Apedale Valley Light Railway steamed three locomotives with First World War credentials: its Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0WT No. 9, Kerr Stuart ‘Joffre’ 0-6-0T Works No. 3014 and the War Office Locomotive Trust’s ROD Hunslet 4-6-0T No. 303; all carried smokebox poppy wreaths.
In Bedfordshire, the Leighton Buzzard Railway rostered its War Department Light Railways Baldwin 4-6-0PT No. 778 for the day, attaching a poppy wreath to its smokebox. A memorial to those killed and who had worked in the local sand industry has been erected at Stonehenge works, which was built by prisoners of war.
the fr’s war memorial at tan y bwlch.