Talyllyn Railway

Jaap Stuurman

Spring Outdoor Week 2001

In November 2000 I became a member of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society, which is now in its 51st year, having been the first to save an entire railway from disappearing entirely.

On Saturday, 24 February, I travelled by train from Rotterdam, Netherlands, to Tywyn in Mid-Wales, together with Pete Badcock and Hendrik Jan, another friend. The main purpose of our trip was taking part in replacing about 100 yards of track near the station of Rhydyronen on the Talyllyn Railway. On Sunday following our arrival we could not yet start work due to the steam trains running for the general public.

One of the most important jobs was aligning the new (secondhand Vale of Rheidol) rails to the curves of the Talyllyn main line. The rails had already been put beside the line and had to be bent using a special frame and a hydraulic press. This involves lifting each rail twice by hand, on the trestles for the bending procedure and then off again to free the railway for traffic. This was done in between normal traffic.

On Tuesday we were finally able to start removing the remaining spikes from the rails and draw away the old rails from the track. This was done using the works diesel Alf (no. 9). After lunch I received a message from the Pendre shops that help was needed for some riveting work and because I would work in the shops on Wednesday anyway, I was chosen to give a hand. One of the points of Brynglas station was in the shops and I gave a hand in repairing this. On Thursday we took the point back to the station using the lorry as Brynglas could not be reached by train due to the track being out at Rhydyronen.

During our stay the weather was mostly fine. At night there was a bit of frost and near Brynglas there was a fine view of the coast and the snowy summits of Cader Idris (2928ft).

On Friday we would shift some ballast in the dock at Wharf to enable the ballast train to be loaded. We also wanted to do some shopping at the station shop which stocks a good selection of railway books and narrow gauge modelling kits that can also be ordered by mail.

We had to make an early start however because on Thursday evening one of the ballast wagons had derailed. With the right tools, some muscle power and the immensely powerful diesel loco no.9 we managed to re-rail the offending vehicle soon. Being at Wharf station was a pleasure with all the historic narrow gauge relics and beautifully restored goods stock around.

Later that day we returned to Rhydyronen to align and ballast the track, a job which kept us at work until Saturday morning. After completing the job we returned to Wharf with the empty ballast train, cleaned ourselves up and packed our things for the return journey to London. The trip along the coast and the snowy Welsh mountains was very nice, and after spending the night in London we returned home.

It was a rather tiring week, but it was a pleasure to be there and I immediately made arrangements to join the outdoor week of November - it beats a week's skiing any time…

Talyllyn Railway, Wharf Station, Tywyn, Gwynedd LL36 9EY www.talyllyn.co.uk

More photos