A quarter of a century has now passed since the Corris Railway Society held its first Model Railway Exhibition in the school at Corris itself. In 2020 the venue will be Y Plas in Machynlleth and the exhibition will take place on August Bank Holiday Saturday and Sunday, the 29th and 30th.
Current exhibition organiser Bill Newton, who has held the reins for the last 15 years after taking over from Steve Parr, took up the story.
“As with many events it doesn’t feel like 25 years have gone by since the Corris Railway Society first staged what was then a Model Railway and Toy Exhibition, but time must be going by quickly when we’re enjoying ourselves! The show has been staged in a number of venues down the years but Y Plas is very suitable for a medium sized (12 to 15 layouts plus sales stands is our usual line-up) exhibition and is handily placed with car parking nearby. We have cut back from a 3 day event to 2 in recent years and profits go towards the revival of the Corris Railway itself”.
“Recent MRE’s have featured at least one layout where children can have a try at controlling the trains which may introduce them to the railway modelling hobby. We have also featured smaller sized layouts which can be fitted into modern, less spacious housing. And if there can be quite a lot of narrow gauge layouts, well the Corris Railway is the oldest narrow gauge railway in Mid Wales so that is where our Society’s members interests lie”.
More information about the Exhibition can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Having announced a target of £44,000 to complete the bottom part of its new steam locomotive, so that it can be demonstrated working by means of compressed air in September 2020 during the Open Day at Alan Keef Ltd, the Corris Railway is pleased that funds are now in place to complete the outside motion. This work will cost £8,000 but the next major steps to complete the inside motion and its assembly between the frames of the 0-4-2ST require a further £22,000 so major income is still being sought. Donations can be made online via www.corris.co.uk or cheques payable to Corris Railway, sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, B97 5YS.
Looking at other areas of the project it is estimated that a sum in excess of £30,000 from the final overall bill will be saved by reason of Corris Railway volunteers constructing some parts of No. 10, a 21st century version of one of the “Falcon” locomotives that served the Corris in its independent, GWR and BR days. Following a meeting at Alan Keef’s at the end of November 2019 it has been agreed that a team of volunteers with engineering skills and facilities will construct the brake gear, smokebox, bunker and cab. The cab will have a profile similar to that of the original engines, aided by parts of the original from No. 3, which are on display in the workshops at Maespoeth Junction, that can serve as templates. However the cab will stand somewhat taller to cope with larger 21st century footplate crews. The visit to Keef’s also saw the pony truck complete with trailing wheels delivered to the works following construction and assembly by Corris volunteers. As the Maespoeth workforce are also engaged in carriage and waggon construction plus maintenance work on other locos and rolling stock more hands will be very welcome and they should contact email@example.com as a starting point.
In the carriage shed at Maespoeth Junction a small team of Corris Railway volunteers continue to construct and restore waggons for use in special events, photo charters and demonstration gravity train runs.
Working mainly on Tuesdays the team’s most recent completed job is a 2-plank vehicle at the end of November, which was immediately put to use for storage of presents ahead of the Santa Train operations, while work is continuing on repairing and straightening the bodywork of a metal bodied vehicle before it is ready for reassembly and linking with the wooden chassis.
Plans for 2020 include the recreation of a vehicle that once ran in the Dulas Valley and was characteristic of the Corris, a four wheeled trestle waggon used to move slate in slabs on an arrangement that resembled two easels back to back placed longitudinally on the chassis. Also due to arrive at Maespoeth is the metal body of a former waggon from the Aberllefenni slate quarries which is believed to have worked on the CR. The vehicle, which is to be restored to operating condition, has been kindly loaned to the Corris by its owner. A necessary related project will be construction of covered accommodation for the waggons as although the Maespoeth carriage shed is large it is not in the Tardis class and wooden stock left out in the open in the Dulas Valley tends to fall prey to damp and associated fungi in short order. Agreement on the design of this shelter for the waggons and its construction may have to precede further waggon work and will be another task for the volunteers to tackle.
The “Tuesday Gang” has also been working on progressing the new carriages, numbers 23 and 24 alongside the waggon work and new volunteers with wood and metal working skills will be welcome to help with the continuing revival of the oldest narrow gauge railway in Mid Wales. Potential new volunteers should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
**”waggon” is the correct CR spelling.
The Corris Railway will be running its annual Santa Special Steam Trains on December 7th and 8th and as usual the volunteers will be travelling from near and far to dress up and make the families welcome as they enjoy a steam train ride to meet Santa in his grotto.
The trains will leave Corris station (which can be found in the village by turning off the A487 Machynlleth- Dolgellau road at the Braich Goch Inn) at 11.00, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00 and 15.00. Steam locomotive Number 7 and its train will take the passengers to meet Santa who will be greeting them at Maespoeth Junction and will, of course, have a present ready for all the children. There will also be some seasonal refreshments available for children and adults alike.
The trains are not pre-bookable, passengers simply turn-up and pay on the day of travel. Tickets cost £8.50 for children aged 1 to 15, £6 for adults and seniors and £25 for families (2 adults/seniors plus 2 children).
The Santa Trains are always an enjoyable end to the operating season for both the Corris’ volunteer workforce, who take a break from winter work on restoration and maintenance, and for the younger passengers for which it is often their first train ride, enjoying the unique sounds and aromas of a steam engine at close quarters as part of their day out.
With progress continuing on the construction of the new “Falcon” steam locomotive for the Corris Railway at the works of Alan Keef Ltd a financial target of £44,000 has been announced to complete work on the chassis, valve gear and motion. If this can be achieved before September 2020 it will be possible to see the wheels and motion moving by means of compressed air at the Open Day at Keef’s workshops near Ross-on-Wye.
Andy Cooper of the Corris Railway Society commented:
“Progress on number 10, the “Falcon”, has been going well and if we can raise the £44,000 sum we not only have the loco complete as to frames, wheels and motion but will also be getting closer to the point where we can unite this phase of the work with the boiler which we have already had constructed by Israel Newton. Our first target is to raise £8,000 by the end of January to complete the outside motion. The slidebars and mounting brackets for this element are completed, and the next stage is machining of the crosshead castings, gudgeon pins machining to suit, and a set of bronze slippers machining to suit. Finally all components will need assembly onto the cylinders and motion brackets which are already in place. After that work will turn to the inside motion. Many components for this have been manufactured already but even so completion will cost a further £22,000.”
Donations towards the “Falcon” can be made online at www.corris.co.uk or cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, B97 5YS. Peter can also supply details of regular payments by standing order and anyone able to pay £20 or more a month for 30 months will receive a limited edition print of number 10 by Jonathan Clay.
As part of its ongoing work to revive the oldest narrow gauge railway in Mid Wales the Corris Railway is looking to build a new station in the village of Corris itself, in place of the original which was demolished in 1968. Because of present day site restrictions it is not possible to completely recreate the former station as it was but the new structure will include an overall roof, a feature that made its predecessor an iconic part of the British narrow gauge scene.
The next phase will feature two aspects which have to be tackled and completed together. Patrick Jolley who is heading the project explained. “The new station will have a run round loop, including a traverser rather than a headshunt because of space restrictions, and a new platform. The twist in the plot is that we cannot build the run-round loop without changing the shape of the platform from a rather stubby triangle to a longer curve and there is no point in being able to have locomotives heading trains in both directions rather than propelling in one as is currently the case if passengers cannot board them. Loop and platform have to be done together.”
Patrick continued: “The works will cost £48,000 at current prices and thanks to a flow of donations including some very generous individual contributions we now have £20,000 to hand. Once we have the bulk of the funding in place and can commit to the work it will have to be done in a “window” between the end of December and the following Easter. All financial help is of course much appreciated as are offers of practical help with maintaining our existing tracks and future permanent way work.”
Donations towards the Corris Station project can be made online via the website or cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Corris Railway, Station Yard, Corris, Machynlleth, SY20 9SH.
The Corris Railway Society once again held its Annual Model Railway Exhibition at Y Plas in Machynlleth over the August Bank Holiday weekend and despite the hot weather making the beaches of the Mid Wales coast an attractive alternative welcomed 420 visitors over the two days with 78 of the visitors being children. Exhibition organiser Bill Newton always tries to find at least one layout where younger visitors can “try their hand” and perhaps think that they would like to try railway modelling as a hobby. Bill commented:
“We had a record number of visitors in 2018 when the Bank Holiday was sadly a washout for coastal attractions and I did fear the worst when I saw the forecast for a hot and dry couple of days. But once again when all of the invoices are paid there will be a nice sum of money making a very useful contribution towards continuing the history of the Corris Railway and keeping trains running in the Dulas Valley. Thanks go to all the exhibitors and also to those who publicised the event, helped with setting up and breaking it all down, the volunteer caterers, the door staffers, the sellers of goods and raffle tickets and the rest of the exhibition team. Not to mention another team from our all volunteer workforce who were operating trains and staffing the Museum and shop at Corris itself.”
The Corris will be running its trains on Sundays in September and October, plus Saturdays October 19th and 26th.
The Corris Railway Society’s Model Railway Exhibition will take place at Y Plas in Machynlleth on the Saturday and Sunday of August Bank Holiday Weekend, August 24th and 25th with the doors open from 10.00 to 4.30 pm each day. Visitors will find a mixture of model layouts, some inspiring nostalgia for older generations, sales stands and a craft stall.
As might be expected narrow gauge models feature quite prominently in the line-up ranging from the large scale 16mm (with live steam and battery power) and a Gn15 scale representation of an estate railway serving a dubious cash crop, through to the ever popular 009. One of the rather less common narrow gauge scales, OOn3, is used to depict Crosby station (closed in 1968) on the Isle of Man Railway and Roarkes Landing represents American practice in Hon30.
O, OO and N gauge layouts will also feature. A couple of these layouts demonstrate the opportunities in minimum space in modern housing, being designed to fit on an ironing board and a window cill respectively, and those of a certain age will have memories of catalogues and toy shop windows evoked by Tri-ang TT and Trix Twin layouts. A chance to see those things that youngsters in years past wanted to have but couldn’t get the pocket money to stretch to. On a similar theme there will be a display of tinplate toys.
Trade wise the show will welcome back Nick and Dee Lowe selling railway ephemera and Martin Parry’s huge selection of models both new and second-hand with the majority being OO scale. Kate Packham also returns with her wide selection of jewellery and decorative items made from recycled glass (the organiser’s lady wife usually makes a bee-line for this) and the Corris will have a sales stand and a tombola, plus a fund raiser for the Falcon locomotive selling a range of donated items.
Refreshments and light snacks are sold and there is free parking close by. Admission costs £4.00 for adults, £3.50 for seniors £2 for children and £10 for a family (2 adults and 2 children). Plus trains will be running on the revived section of the Corris Railway, some four miles north of Machynlleth on August 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th.
Work has continued with the construction of the next steam engine for the revival of the Corris Railway, “Falcon” No. 10. Andy Cooper who is acting as the liaison between the Corris Railway Society and Alan Keef’s reports:
“Falcons have a rather odd arrangement whereby the cylinders fit into large slots cut in the front of the frames with headstock angle plates bolted on in front to trap the cylinder. Some of the current work being carried out at Alan Keef Ltd. is to do the necessary machining and creating the fixings to accommodate and secure the cylinders in this way including the fitted bolts needed for the front headstock angle plates. Other jobs being carried out now are machining a “lead” into the front of the cylinder bores, and drilling and tapping the remaining holes needed on the cylinders. The eccentric rods are being worked on and it is planned to fit all of the cylinder studs so that the various covers can be fitted and datums for setting up crossheads and slide bars can be established.”
As always progress with the construction of The Falcon Locomotive depends on the rate of fund raising and more information can be seen here on the Corris web site. Many of the motion parts have been manufactured and are ready for fitting.
Meanwhile the Corris’ volunteer workforce at Maespoeth Junction has continued to work on various projects. More internal fitting out has been carried out on carriage No. 23 for which, in addition, glazing has been prepared and is now being fitted. The other carriage under construction No. 24 has had its welded metal carcase completed and has been mounted on bogies. This allowed it to have its first journey on the running line, a round trip between Maespoeth Junction and Corris with Ruston Hornsby diesel No. 6 supplying the motive power. Work is also underway on reconstruction of a 2 plank waggon for use in gravity train demonstrations, galas and photo charters as required.
Another important job completed by volunteers is the construction of a fuel store at Maespoeth Junction, giving neater and drier accommodation for both coal and wood.
August is the main month for train operations on the Corris Railway with trains running on Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays between Corris station and Maespoeth Junction. It is intended that the trains should be headed by steam locomotive No. 7, although if a problem arises a diesel may have to substitute. Trains leave Corris station at hourly intervals between 11.00 and 16.00. The Museum and sales area at Corris will be open and other refreshments can be purchased in the village café, less than 100 yards from the station.
For the younger family members, especially those who like tales of magical events August 3rd and 4th are days to note as any child dressed as a wizard or a dragon will travel for free on the trains and there will be children’s activities once the train reaches Maespoeth Junction. Some home-made refreshments might also prove tempting.
August Bank Holiday Weekend sees trains operating but in addition there is the Model Railway Exhibition taking place at Y Plas in Machynlleth. As in the past there will be layouts in various scales with some emphasis leaning towards narrow gauge and minimum space operations. For those of an age to remember the model trains they wanted but whose pocket money always fell short of the target there will be layouts featuring the now discontinued Tri-ang TT and Trix Twin ranges. Sales stands will sell model equipment, railwayana, books and DVDs and we should not forget Kate Packham’s stand selling jewellery and ornaments made of recycled and recovered glass. Refreshments are available and there is free parking close by. The doors are open between 10.00 and 16.30 on each day, giving a chance to ride the trains and also visit the exhibition.
Machynlleth offers a wide range of pubs, cafes and takeaways for anyone wishing to enjoy a lunch or afternoon tea.