The Corris Railway completed its 2018 operating season with its best ever, in terms of numbers of passengers carried, Santa Trains operation. Over the two days December 8th and 9th 308 visitors enjoyed their train journey along the Dulas Valley and visit to Santa in the carriage shed grotto at Maespoeth Junction. Unfortunately the Corris’ steam locomotive Number 7 failed with a valve gear problem on the Saturday and its place was taken by diesel Number 11.
Progress on the CR’s new steam locomotive, “Falcon” Number 10, continues at the workshops of Alan Keef Ltd at Ross-on-Wye. Following the plan to employ the remaining original cab components from Corris Number 3 as patterns for the construction of the cab for the new engine this process was indirectly taken forward with the delivery of driving wheel axlebox springs to Keef’s as once these are fitted final calculations as to the height of the cab can be made. More standing payment orders to help progress with Number 10 have been taken out (details regarding standing orders can be obtained from Peter Guest email@example.com).
As part of the improvements to the Museum at Corris station new display cabinets are being constructed by a volunteer and as regards the building of the new Corris station it is hoped that the existing wall between the station and adjacent footpath will be removed in the Spring and replaced by fencing. Stone from the wall will be used elsewhere on the Railway. The new point required for the new track layout at the station will be ordered and designs are being considered for the traverser which will allow locomotives to run round their trains after arrival at Corris.
On the carriage building front interior fitting out of Number 23 continues with progress on vestibule panels and seating plus the fitting of the wheelchair access door. Four bogies, two for 23 and the other pair for clerestory Number 24, whose internal skeleton is nearly complete, are being worked on. Covered accommodation for the Railway’s waggons, including those used for the demonstration gravity train runs on the first Sundays of each month and during Gala events, is in hand at Maespoeth Junction.
The 2019 Corris operating season begins at Easter.
As the Corris Railway looks to increase its rate of monthly fund-raising for the new build “Falcon” 0-4-2ST Number 10, and with volunteers looking to begin construction of the cab for the locomotive, some parts of its predecessor Number 3 have gone on display at Maespoeth Junction. These are sections of the cab which was removed during the overhaul of Number 3 in 1967 and were apparently buried at Tywyn Pendre. When the earth bank which held the remains was removed the rusted metalwork was exhumed and passed to the Corris for safe keeping.
As is well known the cab which was removed half a century ago was short of headroom and the new cab for Number 10 will also allow for the taller stature of footplate crews in the 21st century compared to their 19th century predecessors. However, the remains of the earlier structure will guide the appearance of the cab for Number 10.
Although volunteers will produce the cab for the new “Falcon” the main work is being carried out at the workshops of Alan Keef Ltd. In order to keep the construction going along continuously the Corris is looking for 200 people to subscribe £10 or £20 a month for a period of 30 months. Those who subscribe £20 will receive a limited edition Jonathan Clay Print on completion of their payments and all subscribers will be invited to Number 10’s first day in traffic in the Dulas Valley although with only 76 seats available in the Corris coaching stock not everyone will be able to travel on the very first train behind the engine. Standing Order forms (with a Gift Aid declaration if subscribers wish to use this) can be obtained from Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, B97 5YS. (s.a.e. appreciated). One off donations towards the work on the motion for Number 10 can be made via the website www.corris.co.uk. The Corris is calling this initiative “Helping the Falcon to Fly”.
Number 10’s construction is also being helped along by another component from its predecessor as Number 3’s former saddle tank – which was lined with fibreglass in the 1960’s — is in use as a collecting box at Maespoeth Junction with the Corris believing that it may be the largest such box in Wales. A pony truck is also amongst the displays in the Museum at Corris station which is currently being refurbished.
The Corris Railway will be running its annual Santa Special Steam Trains on December 8th and 9th 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 Train days will have an additional attraction this year with a signing by author Sam Knappett of his childrens’ books “Daniel’s Branchline”, “Mainline Engines” and a new title “Four Friendly Engines”. This will take place in the Museum building at Corris station.
Organiser Bill Newton commented :- “The two days of Santa Train operations make for an enjoyable end to the operations for the year and we look forward to welcoming back passengers from previous years, including those who travelled on the snowy days in 2017, and new faces enjoying their first Santa trips on the Corris.
During 2019 the Corris Railway will be offering a “Your Railway For The Day” experience, which can be taken up, subject to volunteer availability, on days without timetabled operations in April, May, June and September.
The day will include opportunities to sample all aspects of the Railway’s work including working on the footplates of the Corris’ locomotive fleet (one battery electric, an internal combustion trio and an 0-4-2ST steam locomotive), joining the guard in his or her duties, controlling the yard at Maespoeth Junction from the signalbox and enjoying a ride in a gravity train down the Dulas Valley between Corris Station and Maespoeth Junction. Participants will also see behind the scenes in the workshops of both the original locomotive shed and the modern carriage shed at Maespoeth Junction and will have the opportunity to walk down the planned route of the southern extension of the running line. The emphasis of the day, which will run from 10.00 to 17.00, can be adapted to match the interests of those attending. Drinks will be supplied but not food – however sandwiches etc. can be purchased in the Corris village café which is 100 yards from the station. Participants will also become members of the Corris Railway Society for the year.
Cost will be £450 and the maximum number attending the day will be six (so participants pay £90 each for the half dozen through to £450 for anyone who wishes to have the line to him or herself for the day). This can be reduced to £360 if participants do not wish to include the steam engine. A non-refundable deposit of £100 will be needed at the time of booking and the balance will be due ten days before the experience day.
Participants in the Day must be at least 18 years of age, reasonably fit and must not have consumed alcohol or drugs in the previous 12 hours prior to the start of the Day. For more information and to discuss making a booking contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of the money raised will be contributing towards the construction costs of the next steam locomotive, number 10, which is a 21st Century recreation of the original Corris Railway “Falcon” 0-4-2 saddle tank engines.
With the ending of the main operating season on the Corris Railway for 2018, apart from the two days of Santa Train operation on December 8th and 9th, progress is being made with improvements to the railway’s museum at Corris station. This follows the work carried out last winter to repair the roof and the subsequent replacement of windows in the building which was formerly the hay loft, road coach house and parcels office. New display cases have been ordered and attention is being paid to improving the presentation of the rolling stock and artefacts in the Museum.
The Museum’s new curator is Ioan Rhys Lord, one of the more youthful members of the Corris Railway Society. The Society is mindful of the need to involve younger people in its work and activities and to this end has extended the upper age range for Young Persons Membership to 25 in consideration of the number of those who are in full time education or earning lower wages. The rate will be £17 per annum.
The Santa Trains will have an additional attraction this year with a signing by Sam Knappett of his childrens’ books “Daniel’s Branchline”, “Mainline Engines” and a new title “Four Friendly Engines”.
The steam hauled trains will leave Corris station at hourly intervals between 11.00 a.m. and 3.00 p.m. to take passengers to meet Santa and his helpers who will be ready with presents for the children and seasonal refreshments for the adults in the carriage shed at Maespoeth Junction. Travel on the trains with the visit to Santa is on a pay on the day basis and the Corris is hoping that there will be no repeat of last year when weather related travel problems left some 400 mince pies stranded in Rhyl rather than being ready and waiting at the Railway.
Four Friendly Engines.
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 (email@example.com 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.