Although Corris Railway train services, except for October 20th and the Santa Special Trains on December 8th and 9th, have finished for this year the volunteer workforce will continue to progress various projects that make for the revival of the oldest narrow gauge railway in Mid Wales (2019 will mark the 160th anniversary of the line’s origin as the Corris, Machynlleth and River Dovey Tramroad).
One area of the work is the construction of the 21st century recreations of the line’s 19th century carriages and the next of the regular work parties will take place on November 24th and 25th in the carriage shed at Maespoeth Junction. New recruits to the volunteer team would be welcome and although those with wood and metal working skills would contribute to the rate of progress there is also plenty of less skilled work that needs to be done. Anyone interested should contact Andy Cooper (firstname.lastname@example.org or 07976 059293). Away from Maespoeth Junction some of the carriage building team create components in their home workshops which are then fitted during the working parties. After that comes finishing work.
The carriages, three of which are already in traffic, recreate the appearance of the originals externally but differ in having a metal rather than a wooden framing construction to meet modern safety requirements. Two of the originals still exist. One can be seen in the Museum (number 7, GWR 6217) at Corris when trains are running and the other (number 8 GWR 4992) is part of the working fleet at the Talyllyn Railway where it is currently being overhauled. The modern Corris passenger stock takes up its numbering from where the old Corris left off and the two vehicles currently under construction are numbers 23 and 24.
As well as carriage construction the Corris is recreating some of the original waggons that ran on the line. These can see use in works trains as required but are also attractive for charter trains operated for photographic groups.
Away from Corris and Maespoeth the Corris Railway Society membership numbering has reached the 2000th mark since it was formed in 1966, although the actual current membership stands around the 500 mark.
The Corris Railway Society held its Annual Model Railway Exhibition at Y Plas in Machynlleth over the August Bank Holiday weekend and was pleased to see a 33% increase in visitor numbers over the 2017 figure. The 520 members of the public who came to the exhibition meant that this was the largest attendance since 2014 (when it was a three day event). Encouragingly, in light of concerns that the age demographic of railway modellers is high and getting higher, 129 of the visitors were children. This may reflect the fact that the Corris event usually features one or two layouts aimed at appealing to younger visitors and sometimes give them an opportunity “to drive the trains”. Another established and popular feature is the stand selling hand crafted ornaments and jewellery made from recycled glass.
Organiser Bill Newton commented:- “It was great to see the increased number of visitors coming through the doors of Y Plas and having an enjoyable time at the exhibition. Once all of the invoices are paid the proceeds from the two days will make a good contribution towards the revival of the railway. 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. We are a small society – more volunteers are always welcome – and trains were running between Corris station and Maespoeth Junction while the exhibition was on.”
The train services from Corris were also busy over the Bank Holiday period, making it a very satisfactory weekend for the Railway.
The Corris Railway is auctioning a seat to travel on the first train to be headed by its next steam locomotive when it eventually leaves Corris station for a journey along the Dulas Valley in Mid Wales. The winning bid will also receive an invitation to the rest of the celebrations on the day and an opportunity to join Corris Railway Society visitors to the annual open days at Alan Keef’s workshops where the engine is under construction in Herefordshire.
Sealed bids should be made by Monday October 22nd. On that date the person offering the highest bid will be notified of their success and the other bidders informed with thanks. A minimum bid of £50 is required. Bids should be sent to Corris Railway, 42 Bluebell Close, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 3XQ. The second and third highest bidders will be invited to the first day of number 10’s entering service but may not be guaranteed seats on the first train. Names of bidders will not be publicised unless the bidder requests otherwise.
The auction is part of the fund-raising for steam locomotive number 10, a 21st century recreation of the original locomotives on the line which were delivered from the Falcon Works factory of Henry Hughes Locomotive and Tramway Works in Loughborough in November 1878. The present day Corris already has one steam locomotive at work. This is number 7, a recreation of a Kerr Stuart “Tattoo” class locomotive which arrived on the original line in 1921. The Corris Railway Society is targeting having number 10 running alongside number 7 by 2021 if not before but progress is dependent upon the rate of fund-raising. Currently number 10 is approaching the rolling chassis stage with cylinders cast and at the works ready to be fitted and the boiler and other components have been manufactured and are ready to fit once connecting rods, valves and motion parts are manufactured and in place.
Progress continues on several fronts with the revival of the Corris Railway. During the August holidays the opportunity was taken to move the wall of the village school in Corris as the first stage of developing the station area. This will be followed by moving the boundary of the station site as a prelude to creating a run round facility, which with the limitations of the station site area will incorporate a traverser. This will allow locomotives to head all trains rather than propelling in one direction as is current practice. The use of the traverser is necessary because the station site is shared with the village car park.
Following the roof work carried out on the former stable block building at Corris, which currently houses the railway museum and shop, windows have now been replaced. Some of those replaced have proved salvageable and will be put to use in the future. Meanwhile inside the carriage workshop at Maespoeth Junction more panels for carriage number 23 have been delivered from members’ home workshops and are being fitted as part of the ongoing construction work. A heritage waggon has been stripped down for restoration and a van has been refurbished. Station fencing at Maespoeth Junction is being repaired and repainted, an ongoing task in the Mid Wales climate.
Construction of the new steam locomotive, “Falcon” number 10, has taken another step forward with machining of the pony truck wheels and manufacture of the axle. As a guide to the costs of loco building these 12 inch diameter solid wheels are costing £350 each, the axle £540 and four bearings £52 each. The pony truck has already been manufactured in the workshops of two volunteers but main construction work is being carried out at Lea, just outside Ross on Wye approx. 23 km SE of Hereford, in the workshops of Alan Keef Ltd. Alan Keef Ltd. will be holding an “Open Day” on Saturday 22nd September 2018 where progress of all projects, including the Corris Railway Falcon locomotive, can be seen and viewed at close quarters. The “Open Day” will run from 11:00am to 4:30pm with all proceeds going to a local charity. More information can be seen here.