Ffestiniog Railway at King's Cross

The iconic setting under the large concourse roof at King’s Cross station was once again a setting for the famous Ffestiniog railway. Two of its locomotives plus the replica Ashbury carriage, built at Boston Lodge Works, formed the centrepiece of the exhibition just a month ago. The locomotives were Velinheli and Hugh Napier, both classic Dinorwig quarry locomotives.

Velinheli at King’s Cross
The pics of the FR display were on 12 February 2018, following this I did the Euston HS2 pictures.

There have been quite a few of these visits to London in recent years. On the previous in February 2017, it was Palmerston. Prior to that it was Princess, and two carriages.  Princess had also been exhibited at Paddington station in March 2013, whilst the next event in 2015 saw the railway’s new carriage and Spooner’s boat exhibited for the line’s 150th centenary year. During the 2013 event the line’s other single Fairlie, Prince, was exhibited at the London Transport Museum’s Acton works. All we need now is a Double Fairlie!

On the footplate of Velinheli
Velinheli spent many years dismantled in the quarry sheds at Gifach Ddu, Llanberis. Many parts were used to repair other quarry locomotives. The locomotive’s restoration was a considerable task, resulting in an almost brand new locomotive.

The classic FR (with Welsh Highland) headboard on Velinheli
Velinheli gets its name from the old one used for Port Dinorwic. Its the Welsh name for Saltwater Mill, an old tidal mill that once stood in the vicinity. Today Port Dinorwic/Velinheli is spelt as Y Felinheli. The reason is the ‘V’ is anglicised (much like the letter ‘J’) its not part of the Welsh alphabet. Most publicity prior to the 20th Century described the Llanberis quarries by both names. Eventually Dinorwic (anglicised of course) became the sole name in use for the quarries.

Velinheli at Porthmadog harbour during a special event (pic from this year’s exhibition at King’s Cross)
Though most of the 1ft 11in gauge locomotives worked at the Dinorwig quarries, a few worked on the detached section of 1ft 11in gauge line at the port itself. Unlike the nearby Penhryn Railway which was 1ft 11 3/4 gauge throughout from the quarries to the port near Bangor, the Dinorwig lines were very unusual in the main transit section consisting of the four foot gauge Padarn railway. This line transported the 1ft 113/4 wagons to a location high above Port Dinorwic. From here the Penscoins incline lowered narrow gauge wagons down into the port itself. I cant find out whether Velinheli ever worked with its brethren at the port so it seems it stayed at Llanberis throughout its life. In the final years the port itself was worked by narrow gauge diesel locomotives.

Hugh Napier at King’s Cross
The name of the locomotive is English however this was the name of the 4th Welsh Baron Penrhyn. The locomotive usually resides at Penrhyn Castle where the Baron himself lived. The castle is famous for its selection of exhibits related to the Welsh narrow gauge.

The Ashbury carriage was a feature of this year’s (2018) exhibition. However it came last year too when it joined Palmerston for the stint at King’s Cross station.

A study of the valves on the locomotive Hugh Napier

Crouching low in front of these Hunslet locomotives produces a sort of Thomas the  Tank look!
This blog started in 2012 and there were attempts to cover the previous Ffestiniog visits. Although this one is somewhat late it has been published! The never-done posts are rectified by the added bonus of pictures from past Ffestiniog events at both King’s Cross and Paddington 🙂

Palmerston at King’s Cross in February 2017

Palmerston close-up

The Ashburys coach at King’s Cross 2017
As has been mentioned Paddington station has also been host to the FR. Princess visited in 2013 whilst Spooner’s Boat was exhbitied in 2015. The FR’s new shiny pullman coach was built at its Boston Lodge works specially for the railway’s 150th anniversary and joined Spooner’s Boat at Paddington.

Princess at Paddington in 2013

The FR’s new pullman coach at Paddington in 2015 as part of the FR’s 150th anniversary

Inside the FR’s luxury pullman coach

Spooner’s Boat made a very rare outing from the FR with the new pullman coach. This is the first and only time I have ever seen this replica. Its much part of the railway’s former history as are the celebrated gravity slate trains. The Spooners were of course the family who made the Ffestiniog and gave us much of the railway’s well loved character.

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