With the cancellation of many events in 2020 the Talyllyn and Corris Railways are delighted to announce a series of special celebrations in 2021 to mark the centenary of Ex-Corris, and current Talyllyn Railway, locomotive No. 4 ‘Edward Thomas’. The first celebration will be on the Corris Railway over the 8/9th May 2021 Gala Weekend when No. 4 will return to its old haunts to work alongside new build sister, Corris Railway locomotive No. 7. Then at the beginning of June both locomotives will travel to Tywyn and the Talyllyn Railway where a special gala will be held on the weekend of 12/13 June 2021.
Both celebrations will offer special photographic and other opportunities to mark the centenary of locomotive No. 4. During the Corris celebration No. 4 will be seen hauling a rake of recreated Corris carriages and also some vintage waggons, including some double heading with No. 7. It is also hoped that there will be other attractions for visitors to enjoy.
On the Talyllyn Nos. 4 and 7 will be seen alongside the other surviving original Corris locomotive, the Talyllyn’s No. 3 ‘Sir Haydn’. There will also be photographic opportunities to see all three locomotives along with, the then newly back in service, original Corris carriage No. 17. This is currently undergoing restoration work at Stanegate Restorations, and also the original Corris Brake Van now Talyllyn Van No. 6, also currently being restored. This event will also include model ‘Tattoos’ and other attractions.
This will be a second visit to the Talyllyn for Corris No. 7. Its previous visit highlighted the need for improvements to be made to some of its original front end design. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how the locomotive performs on its return visit and when it is able to ‘stretch its wheels’ again.
Built by Kerr Stuart as one of their ‘Tattoo’ class locomotives No. 4 was delivered new to the then independent Corris Railway in early June 1921. It subsequently passed into the hands of the Great Western Railway when it purchased the Corris in 1930. When Nationalisation came it was transferred to British Railways, and it and No. 3 were sold to the then fledgling preserved Talyllyn Railway for £25 each. No. 4 entered service on the Talyllyn in 1952 following a rebuild at Hunslet works in Leeds, and was able to take on most of the train services from the then ailing No. 2 ‘Dolgoch’, thus playing an important role in the early history of Railway preservation.
Corris Railway No. 7 is a 20th Century version of the Kerr Stuart “Tattoo” design and entered CR service in 2005.
2021 also marks the 70th Anniversary on 14 May 1951 of the first train to be operated by a Railway Preservation Society following the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society taking over the operation of the line. The Talyllyn will be marking the anniversary with some special celebrations over the weekend of 14/15/16 May 2021, further details of which will be announced later.
Of course at this time one has to add the caveat that all these celebrations will be subject to the current crisis having passed, but hopefully they will mark the triumphant return to full operations for both Railways.
It was four decades ago that works to improve the A487 Dolgellau – Machynlleth road saw removal of part of the trackbed of the former Corris Railway, closed in 1948, and left a costly problem for the present day revival of the oldest narrow gauge railway in Mid Wales. Although the Corris trackbed is largely intact southwards of Maespoeth Junction there is a need to build a new embankment including a bridge over the Nant Goedwig stream to allow the Southern Extension of the line to regain the original route.
The embankment will be some 440 metres in length and will need to be steeply sided as part of flood protection in the valley of the river Dulas. Many years of work has had to be carried out to obtain various permissions and licences ahead of work commencing and work has been carried out as resources and suitable materials have come to hand. Sections of new embankment have been built but a gap of some 300 metres remains to be filled together with the construction of the bridge over the Goedwig.
A major step forward took place at the end of March when a quantity of suitable material to extend the embankment was located near Dolgellau. Also a local contractor with the required plant and machinery was available and able to work within the current Government restrictions. Construction of the next portion of the Southern Extension has therefore started. It is intended that some of the rock will be used to create gabions (baskets filled with stone) to support the base of the embankment.
Corris Railway Chairman Richard Hamilton-Foyn explained that although this is very welcome progress there is still plenty to do before trains can travel over the new section of line which includes gradients of up to 1 in 30. This will be a good test for the Corris’ steam engines “Tattoo” No. 7 and, when it is complete, “Falcon” No. 10. “We have built up financial reserves for the Southern Extension and thank the many people who have supported us with donations over the years. Although these reserves amount to a six figure sum the present works are costing at least £70,000 and that means that most of our funds will have been spent with more very costly work, including the bridge, still to be done.”
Richard continued “Although this is not the largest proposed extension in the world of heritage railways it is very important for the future revival of the Corris Railway and will take us a good way towards our next target of doubling the length of our operating line. Our ultimate aim is to extend southwards at least as far as the Centre for Alternative Technology. This will provide a splendidly scenic journey along one of the most attractive valleys in Mid Wales with steep gradients and riverside scenery. It will also provide a valuable transport link between the various attractions in the Dulas Valley. We already maintain the former Corris Railway station at Esgairgeiliog and it awaits its first trains since 1948. We now need assistance to get there.”
Donations for the Southern Extension and, if necessary, to help the Railway through the current crisis can be made via the Corris Railway website www.corris.co.uk or cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Corris Railway, Station Yard, Corris, Machynlleth, Powys, SY20 9SH.