Santa Special Steam Trains On The Corris Railway

2018 Santa Train featured image

After a Covid-enforced break in 2020 the Corris Railway will be running its annual weekend of Santa Special trains on Saturday and Sunday December 11th and 12th.

On the two days trains, which should be headed by steam engine No. 7, will leave Corris Station for a short winter’s day journey along part of the beautiful Dulas Valley to Maespoeth Junction where Santa will be making his annual visit to the line and will have presents for the children. The children will also receive a soft drink and some sweets whilst the adults will be served mince pies and mulled juice.

The Railway’s Museum and sales area at Corris Station will be open on both days between 11.00 and 16.00 giving a chance to purchase some railway related items including the 2022 calendar and, if needed, last minute Christmas cards.

In a change from previous years the Santa Trains must be pre-booked online from www.corris.co.uk Trains running on Sunday 12th are nearly full but seats remain on the Saturday services.

Passengers may also like to visit the Corris Craft Centre with its café or the Slaters Arms which is a very short walk from Corris Station.

Components Large And Small As Work Continues On “Falcon” No. 10 For The Corris Railway

After the trial fitting of the boiler to the new build Falcon 0-4-2ST being constructed for the revival of the Corris Railway, work has continued on the construction and erection of the locomotive in the workshops of Alan Keef Ltd.

One of the largest individual and most visible of the sections being worked on is the cab, a taller version of that carried by the original trio of Corris locos. After an initial trial assembly in the Nottingham workshop of a Corris Railway Society volunteer the sections were taken to Keef’s and were placed on the frames for the first time. As expected this showed some minor adjustment work would be required but overall this part of the project has gone well.

Meanwhile a Derby based CRS volunteer has been active in his workshop and is working together with the staff at Keef’s to produce components for the brake gear. More volunteer produced items in the form of the buffers have been sent from the Railway’s workshops at Maespoeth Junction to be eventually united with the rest of the new construction.

Footplate sections are in place with some pipe runs that will fit beneath them in situ and drawhook blanks have been delivered ready for machining. The regulator quadrant has been produced.

A deadline of the end of February has been set for the Corris to supply various components to Keef’s with a view to meeting the September 2022 completion date target.

These include:

  • The remaining brake parts the Corris Railway is responsible for.
  • Salter spring balances, boiler fittings, springs for the trailing truck and draw hooks, cab windows, CAD design and laser cutting files for the saddle tank. Some of the individual boiler fittings can be sponsored via www.corris.co.uk
  • In addition there are the air brake valve and mechanical lubricator and, in liaison with the Talyllyn Railway, the air pump, and injectors.

Many of the above are well on the way already but there is a lot still to do to get them over the line. This includes the absolutely crucial matter of raising the necessary finance to get No. 10 into traffic in the Dulas Valley. Apart from the specific boiler components listed at www.corris.co.uk Individual online donations can be made there or cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, Worcestershire, B97 5YS. Peter can also supply forms for anyone who might wish to take out a short term regular standing order to help the locomotive towards completion.

Sir Gareth And Lady Maureen Edwards Drive A Corris Railway Steam Locomotive In New BBC Wales TV Series

The first episode of a new BBC Wales TV series will feature Sir Gareth and Lady Maureen Edwards at the controls of a steam engine on the narrow gauge Corris Railway in Mid Wales.

Titled “Gareth Edwards Great Welsh Adventure” the programme will appear at 8.30 p.m. on Tuesday October 26th and in addition to the footage taken at the Corris the great former Welsh Rugby Union International and British Lion can also be seen travelling at higher speeds in a rally car and having a close up meeting with birds of prey. The programme may be screened more widely on the national BBC network in the New Year.

Any viewer who would like to emulate Sir Gareth and Lady Maureen and drive a Corris locomotive can do so via the Your Railway For The Day package in which groups of up to six people can drive steam, diesel and battery electric locomotives and try their hand at signalling or working as a guard. More information can be seen at www.corris.co.uk or obtained by sending an s.a.e. to Corris Railway, 42 Bluebell Close, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 3XQ.

Progress At The Corris Railway – October 2021

6th October 2021. Sleepers are loaded and awaiting a locomotive to bring them down to outside the engine shed.

With only a few weeks left of the 2021 Operating Season remaining, apart from a planned weekend of Santa Trains in December, Corris Railway Society volunteers are continuing to work on the revival of the Mid Wales narrow gauge line and looking forward to a major winter project.

This is the new track layout and station platform at Corris. A traverser is being constructed by Statfold Engineering which, together with a new point being installed to complete a loop, means that locomotives will be able to run around their trains at both Corris and Maespoeth Junction. Refurbishment of the ground frame is in progress in the Maespoeth Junction workshops and new sleepers have been delivered, as well as track fittings. The modified layout will require the building of a new platform as part of a larger scale and longer term intention to build a new Corris station including an overall roof. Such a roof was a feature of the original station in the village.

Work on the new track layout will begin after the two days of Santa Trains operation which will take place on December 11th and 12th. Santa train tickets can be purchased online from www.corris.co.uk

The dry and warm weather through most of September allowed more construction work on the embankment which will replace a lost section of the original trackbed south of Maespoeth Junction and eventually allow trains to run further southwards along the Dulas Valley. Material continues to arrive from Dolgellau. Important work completed also included connecting the drainage layer below the embankment base with a drain to the Dulas, clearing the flood plain of debris from earlier site work and levelling of the topsoil in front of the stone filled gabions at the base of the embankment. Work has also been done by a flail tackling the vegetation which had grown strongly on the steep sided slope of the valley.

New build carriage number 24, which will offer First Class accommodation and an observation section, is being worked on in the carriage shed at Maespoeth Junction with the flooring complete and hardwood sections being fitted to the outside of the vehicle.

Donations to assist with the work at Corris station and/or the Southern Extension embankment can be made online via www.corris.co.uk or cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Corris Railway, Station Yard, Corris, Machynlleth, SY20 9SH. Please indicate for which work a cheque donation is intended.

Book Sale Aids Falcon Locomotive Funding

Falcon Loco - 190821

Established in 1950 the Historical Model Railway Society has accumulated a large archive of drawings, photographs, other documents and books which are housed in its dedicated building at the Midland Railway Centre in Derbyshire. This is an invaluable resource for both modellers and railway and social history purposes and available to Society Members.

Many of the books housed in the library have been donated to the HMRS by its members or left in legacies and this continues to the present day. However this means that there is a duplication, or greater multiple, of titles that are offered and already held and the Society looks to find good homes for these rather than seeing them go from cherished possessions to being pulped for recycling.

The HMRS Librarian is Ian Cross from Derby who amongst other interests is an engineering volunteer with the Corris Railway which is restoring the narrow gauge line in the Dulas Valley, north of Machynlleth, in Mid Wales.

Ian has produced, and helped to produce, some components for a new steam locomotive which should enter service on the Corris in the autumn of 2022. It is a small tank engine, based on a design dating from 1878, and the completion date depends to a great extent on the rate of fundraising. Although the new Corris Falcon would comfortably fit in the tender of Tornado or Flying Scotsman it is not a cheap project and will finally cost in the region of three hundred thousand pounds.

To help matters along Ian had a sales stand at the Corris’ Gala Weekend, September 4th and 5th, selling some of the duplicated titles. This followed on from previous successful selling efforts on behalf of the Midland Railway Centre and the Bishops Castle Railway Society. His stock was further helped by some large donations from Hudson’s Transport Bookshop in Matlock.

As a result of the generosity of supporters, the HMRS and Hudson’s the funding for the new Falcon benefitted to the tune of four hundred and eighty eight pounds which a supporter of the project rounded up to five hundred pounds.

Information about the Falcon locomotive project can be seen at www.corris.co.uk

Family Connections At The Corris Railway Gala Weekend September 4th and 5th 2021

Campbell Thomas and ancestors

The Corris Railway’s Gala over the weekend of September 4th and 5th was notable for the brief return of the former Corris Railway steam locomotive No. 4, now based on the neighbouring Talyllyn Railway and named Edward Thomas. Until this short stay in its original haunts the centenarian, a Tattoo class locomotive built by Kerr Stuart in Stoke on Trent in 1921, had not headed a passenger train from Corris station since 1930. The visit was to mark the locomotive’s centenary and it carried a suitable birthday headboard.

The visit of the locomotive also brought some welcome visitors whose parents and grandparents had worked on the Corris before its closure in 1948. Selwyn Humphreys is the son of Humphrey Humphreys who was the last regular driver – and fireman, as he did both jobs amongst others – on the line, working from the locomotive shed at Maespoeth Junction where No. 4 was housed during its return. Elizabeth Humphreys, Humphrey’s sister, was the final station mistress at Corris.

The Corris Railway’s mechanical engineer in the 1920s when No. 4 was delivered was Albert Hulme who performed or arranged work on the locomotive to ensure that it worked reliably after initial problems. Not to mention a mishap when the original chimney was damaged in a collision with an overhanging branch or structure. Clearly a first class engineer he was also responsible for amalgamating components of the original trio of Loughborough steam engines built in 1878 into one locomotive which, numbered 3, worked with No. 4 until the Corris line was closed by British Railways. Sadly he seems to have lost his job when the Great Western took over the Corris in 1930 and returned to his native Manchester.

Albert’s grandsons David and Stephen came to the event where they met Mrs Jackie Jeffery whose grandfather Thomas Squire worked with Mr Hulme on the Corris in 1926, when he lived in Esgairgeiliog, served by the next station down the line from Maespoeth Junction.

After the Corris closed in 1948 it would have been logical for the two steam locomotives to have been quickly reduced to scrap metal but the station master at Machynlleth, Mr Campbell Thomas, hoped that they might have a future life and kept Nos. 3 and 4 sheeted over in the goods yard at his station, away from prying eyes. Had it not been for the actions of Mr Thomas it is unlikely that No.4 would have survived to the age of thirty, let alone seen its centenary. After three years under his care, they were purchased by the Talyllyn Railway in 1951, where they have served ever since, helping to establish the Talyllyn as the world’s first heritage railway. Without the two Corris locomotives it is unlikely that the Talyllyn preservation project would have succeeded, and the history of railway preservation might have been very different.

To recognise his role in the birth of railway preservation No. 4 was temporarily renamed Campbell Thomas and this was done in the presence of Chris Magner whose book The Saviours of British Railways Narrow Gauge Railways tells the tale of how Mr Thomas and other BR officials helped to conserve and preserve locomotives and infrastructure of Mid Wales narrow gauge lines including the Welshpool and Llanfair and the Vale of Rheidol.

After the Gala Weekend No. 4 was to return to the Talyllyn for a Gala Weekend on September 11th and 12th which will further mark its centenary and the 70th anniversary of the Talyllyn’s revival. It will be accompanied by Corris No. 7, a 2005-built version of the same Kerr Stuart Tattoo class.

Volunteer Work Input As Work Continues On “Falcon” No. 10 For The Corris Railway

Trial fit of boiler

Following on from the first operation of the wheels and motion of Corris new-build 0-4-2ST No. 10 at Alan Keef’s, courtesy of compressed air, on June 25th work has continued both by Keef’s and Corris Railway Society volunteers.

After running on air, the next job was to fully fit the volunteer-built trailing truck to the loco, involving making up the pivoting slide block that transfers some of the loco’s weight to the truck, fitting the pivot stretcher and side control spring brackets to the frame plates.

After that one of the next jobs was to trial fit the boiler for the first time and this has also been done now so really two major milestones have been achieved in quick succession.

The boiler fitted its space correctly which was expected, given the calibre of the people who have carried out the work this far. (The boiler was drawn up by Graham Morris and built at Israel Newton’s as one of the first main parts to be made in 2012). There was a minor problem of clearance on a couple of inside motion links but this was soon sorted with Corris volunteer Jack Evans providing the photos and measurements that Patrick Keef needed from Loco No. 3 at the Talyllyn Railway. Thanks go to the TR for their ongoing help.

Up-to-date photographs can be viewed on the Corris Railway website in the photos section and the loco running on air in the videos section, or they can found on the Google photo page where Keefs upload progress photos at https://www.corris.co.uk/keef

Another area of the build currently being tackled is the brake system. So far the parts have been made by volunteers but will now become a joint effort with Keef’s fitting the parts already made. Ian Cross is taking the lead and doing most of the machining, Bob Hughes and Chris Kirkham have machined the three cross shafts and Ade Britchford has welded up all of the components so far. The first batch are parts of the linkage from the handbrake in the cab, which along with the previously cast brake stand mean that after the necessary footplating has been made, these parts can be fitted to the loco and then work will progress in a forward direction.

In his Nottingham workshop another CRS volunteer, Andy Cooper, has made a start on assembling the cab which is going well, again because of the quality of the work so far. Graham Morris designed the cab earlier in the project as a compromise between the original Corris style features but taller than original to accommodate 21st century footplate crews. Graham French took this forward with his own surveying of the built frames and details taken from the existing remnants of No. 3’s 1930’s cab to produce the current C.A.D. drawings of the loco from which working drawings of the cab can be lifted. The end result is that Andy took delivery of a set of steel plates, laser cut to shape with a combination of square holes where needed and round pilot holes elsewhere for the front, rear and sides of the cab. So far all appears to be spot on so that he had what he regards as the relatively simple job of supplying some angle and flat section steel which are cut, shaped and in a few cases welded and then drilled as appropriate to bolt the panels together.

The most demanding part of cab construction so far has been to create the opening fireman’s side panel to make access for coaling up at Maespoeth Junction easier. Not wanting to weld a couple of big ugly hinges to the outside, the aim is to make the hinge part as unobtrusive as possible from the outside so it has been made from scratch.

Eventually most of the parts will be riveted together but for now bolted is more practical. When all of the sub-assemblies have been made the intention is to take everything to Keef’s to be trial fitted, modified as necessary and details worked out for the bunkers, which apart from coal space will be used to accommodate the air brake system and communication system parts.

As always the date of the entry of No. 10 into traffic in the Dulas Valley and on the extended section of running line depends on the rate of fund raising. Online donations can be made via www.corris.co.uk or cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, Worcestershire, B97 5YS.

Photograph courtesy of Alan Keef Limited.

Corris Railway Gala Weekend – September 4th and 5th 2021

No.s 7 and 4 at Maespoeth Junction Engine Sheds 250821 - Side View

Owing to the events of 2020 and the early part of 2021 the Corris Railway’s Annual Gala Weekend is later this year and will not follow the usual mixture of trains and differing steam and diesel locomotives in action.

However there is an undoubted highlight of the plans and that is a chance to ride behind a steam engine that last worked passenger trains on the Corris in 1930. It is also marking its own centenary.

The locomotive is Corris Railway No. 4, built in Stoke on Trent in 1921. It worked on the line from Machynlleth to Corris and Aberllefenni until it was closed by British Railways in August 1948 and seemed destined for scrapping. However it was kept sheeted over and protected from prying eyes by the Machynlleth stationmaster Mr Campbell Thomas and was eventually purchased by the volunteers who had taken over the Talyllyn Railway and began the heritage railways movement.

Since the early 1950’s No. 4 has been a mainstay of Talyllyn services and has been named Edward Thomas – although it also appears as Peter Sam, the character in the railway books for small children, created by the Reverend Awdry. It has returned to the revived section of the Corris, between the station in Corris itself and Maespoeth Junction, once before but the Corris Railway was not then passed for passenger services and No. 4 headed demonstration freight trains.

In 2005 construction work was completed on a new steam engine for the Corris which is a 21st century version of No. 4.

These two steam engines will be heading passenger trains over the two days which will leave Corris station at 11.00, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00, 15.00 and 16.00. Tickets can be purchased at the station on the day of travel. Passengers will travel in carriages built by volunteers to the original Edwardian layout of those hauled by No. 4 in the 1920’s. The original passenger services ceased in 1930.

The Museum and sales area at Corris station will be open and if enough Corris Railway Society volunteers are available there will be visits to the carriage shed at Maespoeth Junction. There may also be an opportunity to see the work on the southern extension of the line.

Another new steam engine is being built for the Corris, based on a trio constructed for the Corris Railway in Loughborough in 1878. It should enter service in autumn 2022 but this is dependent on fund raising. To help things along there will be a sale of railway books, priced two pounds each. Stock has been donated by supporters of the Corris revival and is augmented by donations of duplicated items from the library of the Historical Model Railway Society.

Progress At The Corris Railway – August 2021

As the year moved from July into August the Corris Railway was able to take further deliveries of stone and material for the construction of the embankment, necessary for the extension of the revived section of the narrow gauge railway southwards from Maespoeth Junction in the Dulas Valley.

An additional source of this is the work which is getting underway to build a new road bridge over the River Dyfi at Machynlleth. Although the stone is not required as part of the bridge works it does accrue costs including transport when acquired and used by the Corris.

As ever with the new embankment, made necessary by part of the original railway trackbed having been lost during improvements to the A487, the pace of works depends upon the weather in the Dulas Valley being favourable for construction and financial contributions towards the project. Payments for The Southern Extension can be made online via www.corris.co.uk or cheques, payable to Corris Railway, can be sent to The Corris Railway, Dept SE, Station Yard, Corris, Machynlleth, SY20 9SH.

The volunteer workforce of the Corris have done further work on the next new build carriage, the clerestory roofed number 24, which is being constructed in the carriage shed at Maespoeth Junction with an initial fitting of the wooden lower side panels. The volunteers are also continuing with restoration and construction of vintage waggons and the next to be built will be a recreation of one of the distinctive trestle waggons which once moved slabs of slate from the quarries for transhipment to mainline trains at Machynlleth. Another job being undertaken in the workshops is the making of brake gear components for new build steam locomotive number 10, which is planned to enter traffic towards the end of 2022.

Volunteer work is also underway with work on the ground frame which will control points as part of the new station trackwork at Corris. The work to produce the new track layout, which will include a traverser to allow locomotives to run round their trains, and a new station platform, is planned for the first quarter of 2022.

Corris Railway Steam Locomotive Will Take Passengers From Corris Station For The First Time In Eight Decades

Corris Nos. 7 and 4 on Talyllyn - 23-10-2011

Subject, as all events in 2021 must be, to possible pandemic enforced changes, Saturday August 28th will mark another landmark in the revival of the Corris Railway. At 11.00 steam locomotive No. 4 will head its first passenger train from Corris station since 1930. Further trains headed by No. 4 will leave Corris station at 13.00 and 15.00. Tickets must be pre-booked via www.corris.co.uk/tickets

This historic moment is part of the celebrations of the engine’s centenary year. By 1921 the Corris Railway’s original trio of steam locomotives had been working for four decades in the Dulas Valley north of Machynlleth and were becoming time expired. To deal with the problem a new engine was ordered from Kerr Stuart Limited in Stoke-on-Trent whilst the best parts of the original trio were combined by Albert Hulme, the CR’s engineer, to produce a single locomotive. This retained No. 3 and the new engine became No. 4. The remains of Nos. 1 and 2 were scrapped whilst Nos. 3 and 4 worked passenger, slate and general goods traffic between Machynlleth and Aberllefenni. No. 4 was a Modified Tattoo class locomotive, a design dating from 1904.

In 1930 the Great Western Railway took over the Corris and at the end of the year passenger traffic ceased to run. Freight continued, although services were eventually reduced to three days a week, and the narrow gauge line became part of British Railways in 1948. In August of that year the railway was closed as the River Dyfi was threatening to breach the trackbed near Machynlleth.

The Corris was built to the unusual gauge of 2 feet 3 inches and the pair of engines looked destined to be cut up in short order. However Mr. Campbell Thomas, the Machynlleth Stationmaster, hoped that they might be found new life on the neighbouring Talyllyn Railway which shared the gauge. To this end the locomotives were kept sheeted over and as far as possible out of sight.

In 1948 the Talyllyn was being kept alive by its owner Sir Henry Haydn Jones and he felt unable to purchase either. However after Sir Henry’s death the TR was taken in hand by enthusiasts and became the world’s first heritage railway in 1951. With only one working engine of their own the pioneers were, after negotiations with British Railways in Swindon, able to purchase the Corris locomotives for a new life at Tywyn.

After overhaul by the Hunslet Company in Leeds No. 4 entered Talyllyn service in 1952 and has been a major part of train operations there since.

It has returned to Corris once before, in 1996. At that point the revival of the Corris had not reached a point where it could carry passengers but No. 4 worked demonstration freight trains which lifted the CR’s profile and was part of the launch of an appeal to build a new locomotive based on the Tattoo design. That appeal was successful and No. 7 began to work in the Dulas Valley in 2005.

After its first trains on the Corris on August 28th No. 4 will work alongside No. 7 during a Gala Event that will see them operating passenger trains between Corris and Maespoeth Junction on September 4th and 5th. Details of this and booking arrangements will appear at www.corris.co.uk

During the following weekend September 11th and 12th both No. 4 and No. 7 will be in action on the Talyllyn Railway.

FOR COMMENT ON THIS RELEASE PLEASE CONTACT;-
Richard Hamilton-Foyn, Corris Railway Society Chairman, via 07740 828334.

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