The Corris Railway will hold its third Spring Gala Day on Sunday May 27th with a variety of trains in action between Corris station and Maespoeth Junction.
Passenger and van train services will be handled by “Tattoo” 0-4-2ST number 7, Ruston Hornsby diesel number 6, following winter work which included tyre re-profiling and journals being trued at the Vale of Rheidol, and Orenstein and Koppel diesel number 11. The first locomotive to work during the revival of the Corris Simplex number 5 “Alan Meaden” will head some demonstration works trains and Clayton battery electric number 9 “Aberllefenni” is planned to be found in its usual role of carriage shed shunter at Maespoeth Junction. Visitors will be able see components for steam locomotive number 10 (currently under construction at the workshops of Alan Keef as fund raising permits) at Maespoeth Junction. Beyond Maespoeth Junction the extended section of track, the first step on the southern extension of the line, will be in use giving passengers some chances to ride on this part of the Corris.
There will also be demonstration gravity trains but travel in these is limited to members of the Corris Railway Society.
Timetables and loco diagrams will appear on the Railway’s website in due course.
The Railway’s Museum and Shop will be open at Corris station throughout the day and light refreshments will be available. Parking is only available at Corris station.
The Corris Railway Society has been in possession of the former Railway stable block and coach house in the village of Corris for nearly half a century and today it houses a museum, shop and café which opens its doors on days when trains are operating on the revived section of the Railway. It is one of a trio of original C.R. buildings in the care of the volunteer workforce, the others being the locomotive shed at Maespoeth Junction and Esgairgeiliog station (which is awaiting the return of trains to its platform).
The museum building has needed considerable adaptation, renovation and maintenance since the 1970’s and at the end of February this year contractors were arriving on site to carry out repairs to the roof to keep the Victorian era building weather tight well into the 21st century. It is planned to have the shop open in time for the running of the first trains of the season on Good Friday (March 30th) but opening of the museum area will depend on completion of the roof repairs in time and the replacement of the exhibits from storage.
Away from Corris and the Dulas valley progress continues on construction work for the next steam engine to work on the Railway. Two Society members with engineering skills have been manufacturing the trailing pony truck in their workshops and quotations for the manufacture of its wheels and axle are being sought. Sponsorship of the pony truck components can be made via the website www.corris.co.uk
After running its annual Santa Special trains in the snows of mid-December the Corris Railway’s volunteers have continued with maintenance and building work ahead of the resumption of passenger trains over Easter weekend 2018. Ruston Hornsby diesel locomotive number 6 (works number 518493) is having its wheels and transmission worked on. Since arriving at the Corris in 1996 and after re- gauging from 2’ 6” to the Corris’ 2’ 3” it has been a stalwart of the operational fleet, working passenger trains until the arrival of “Tattoo” 0-4-2ST number 7 and deputising for the steam engine on occasion since, as well as heading many works trains. An area of concern is the wheels where it is hoped that there will be enough metal to allow re-profiling by the Vale of Rheidol workshops. Should new tyres be required there is likely to be considerable delay in getting number 6 back into traffic and more reliance will have to be made on diesel number 11.
Construction of two new bogie carriages continues inside the workshops at Maespoeth Jnc. Cedar roof boards have been fitted to number 23 and coated with sealant and the outer panels are completed with beading added. Internally the lower panels under the seats are in place. The bogies for number 23 have been completed and painted. Work is also continuing on clerestory carriage number 24.
Outside in the Dulas Valley tree clearance work has been carried out by contractors on part of the planned Southern Extension route at Pont Evans, adjacent to the A487 trunk road. Track maintenance work days on the existing running line are planned for February 10th and March 10th. More volunteers for this, and all other areas of the revival of the Corris, will be welcome and anyone interested in joining the unpaid workforce is invited to contact Patrick Jolley on 01654 702954.
Away from the Railway construction work on the new steam engine number 10 has been helped by some further components being sponsored via the website and a large individual donation.
And looking ahead the Corris will be holding a Gala Day on May 27th and its annual Model Railway Show at Y Plas, Machynlleth, on August 25th and 26th.
The second day of the 2017 Santa Train operations on the Corris Railway took place in the heavy snowfall that swept across Mid and North Wales on Sunday December 10th. The Saturday trains had been busy, despite the cold weather in the Dulas Valley, but the Sunday brought a snowfall that became intense and left the steam trains finding their way along a pair of rails projecting from a white blanket. Passengers were not plentiful but the Corris volunteers worked through the conditions to make sure that those who did arrive had an enjoyable day out in the Christmas Card surroundings.
However not every volunteer could get through and the event organisers Bill and Christine Newton had to remain at home in Rhyl. Fortunately they had already taken presents and other essentials to Corris ahead of the Santa Season, apart from one ingredient. The Newton family larder was housing some 200 mince pies, which should see them a good way into the New Year before supplies run out. Or Santa may have found more than one beside the glass of sherry on the hearth.
The Corris Railway will be running its annual Santa Special Steam Trains on December 9th and 10th 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 be some seasonal refreshments available also.
The trains are not pre-bookable, passengers simply turn-up and pay on the day of travel. Tickets cost £7.50 for children aged 1 to 15, £5 for adults and seniors and £20 for families (2 adults/seniors plus 2 children).
Organiser Bill Newton commented “The Santa Specials will be the last public train services that we will operate in 2017 and the volunteers look forward to them as a change from the engineering, track work and fund-raising that goes on through the winter months as we continue to revive the oldest narrow gauge railway in Mid Wales. Dressing up as an elf is something different when compared to working on building a new carriage on a January afternoon”.
At the end of its main operating season the Corris Railway was very pleased with the performance of steam locomotive number 7 after the winter work carried out at Statfold Barn. Footplate crews reported that it was noticeably using less water and had a reduced demand for coal whilst working trains in the Dulas Valley. In addition during the Railway’s Gala it showed itself to be now easily able to restart three carriage trains on the steep gradient at the southern end of Maespoeth Junction.
Meanwhile some significant progress is underway with the construction of the next steam locomotive (number 10) for the revival of the Corris. Steel tyres for the driving wheels have arrived from South Africa at the workshops of Alan Keef where construction is proceeding as fund-raising allows and generous donations towards the construction have covered the cost of casting and machining the cylinders and the production of the cylinder covers. Money is also coming in for the manufacture of the connecting and coupling rods as a result of further donations and sales stands work. This brings the “rolling chassis stage” considerably closer. Information about the two steam locomotives can be seen at www.corris.co.uk or a leaflet concerning number 10 can be obtained from 42 Bluebell Close, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 3XQ.
Meanwhile construction of the next two carriages, numbers 23 and 24 is continuing in the carriage shed at Maespoeth Jnc and at the homes of the volunteer carriage builders. Number 23’s roof timbers are now fitted and exterior body work nearly complete with internal fitting out getting underway. Steelwork on number 24 is almost completed and the manufacture of bogies for the pair of coaches is being carried out.
Having reduced its Annual Model Railway Exhibition to a two day event from three previously the Corris Railway was pleased with the numbers attending at Y Plas in Machynlleth on August 26th and 27th, the Saturday and Sunday of the 2017 Summer Bank Holiday weekend.
One risk that the August date can present is the weather. If it is sunny and fine then local residents and visitors to the area tend to think of heading to the beach or enjoying a day at an outdoor attraction rather than an attending an indoor event. So organiser Bill Newton, and the rest of the Corris Railway Society members who organised and ran the event, were pleased to see increased numbers of visitors paying their admissions on both days. Which it may be recalled were both sunny and distinctly warm.Overall figures were down slightly compared with previous three day events but a four figure profit was made by the Exhibition which will go towards furthering the revival of the Corris Railway itself.
One pleasing feature was the number of children who attended, around 20% of the total. The Corris aims to make the Exhibition appeal to a wide range of ages and for younger children there was a chance to drive the trains on a Playmobil layout. There were some vintage exhibits for those who now remember their own childhood and a number of detailed layouts exhibiting the skills of their builders. Thanks go to all who exhibited and worked at the event and to those who came along for a visit.
No-one would confuse the part of the Dulas Valley south of Corris with the Caribbean but on Saturday August 5th and Sunday August 6th there will be piratical deeds afoot less than 6 miles north of Machynlleth.
Passengers will be able to enjoy a steam train round trip on the Corris Railway between the station in Corris village (just off the A487 Dolgellau-Machynlleth at the Braich Goch Inn) and Maespoeth Junction. However there will unusual goings on including the risk of being shanghai’ed by the pirates and walking the plank. Children’s games will be played and quizzes are being staged. The pirates have of course hidden their treasure and there will an opportunity to seek it out while they are distracted. Vittels will be available, including ships biscuits. Children aged under 15 who arrive dressed as pirates will enjoy a free train ride.
The steam trains will leave Corris station at hourly intervals between 11.00 and 4.00 and the Railway’s Museum and Shop will be open at Corris station throughout the day.
There will be something for most members of the family when the Corris Railway Society hold their annual Model Railway Exhibition at Y Plas in Machynlleth on Saturday and Sunday August 26th and 27th. There will be a variety of layouts in a number of different scales and one of the larger ones will feature Playmobil equipment and offer children a chance to drive the trains. Parents and grandparents will have their memories stirred by exhibits featuring Mettoy tinplate trains from the 1950’s and the Tri-ang Big Big range from the 1960’s. More serious railway modelling, showing the skills and artistic abilities of the layout owners will be present and it is always worth trying to see all the small points of detail as well as watching the moving trains. A large scale model featuring working steam engines is bound to catch the eye.
The layouts will be supported by a number of sales stands including a return by Kate Packham’s range of jewellery and other items made from recovered and stained glass. This always seems to tempt customers seeking something a little different. The Corris Railway will have a stand selling its own range of goods and another stand will sell a range of books and models in aid of the building of the next steam locomotive to work on the revived line. Refreshments including light meals will be available and there is free car parking available nearby. Opening times are 10.30 to 17.00 on both days with admission costing £4.00 for adults, £3.50 for seniors, £2.00 for children and a family ticket ( 2 adults and 2 children) will cost £10.00.
In addition trains will be running on the Corris Railway itself giving a round trip along the Dulas Valley between Corris station and Maespoeth Junction.
Work on the construction of Corris Railway steam locomotive number 10 has taken another significant step forward with the casting of the cylinders at Barr and Grosvenor Wolverhampton where proof machining will also take place. Once the work is complete they will be moved to the workshops of Alan Keef Ltd where the locomotive is under construction. At Keef’s work towards completion of a rolling chassis is progressing with crank pins fitted to the driving wheels and the driving wheels mounted on their axles. Delivery of the steel tyres from South Africa is awaited. In addition work on the manufacture of the trailing pony truck for the 0-4-2ST, which will be a 21st century recreation of the original trio of Corris steam engines, continues. The completed boiler and other components already manufactured can be seen at Maespoeth Junction on days when the Corris is operating passenger trains.
The pace of the work to bring a second steam engine to the narrow gauge line in the Dulas Valley north of Machynlleth is dependent on fund raising and there is an opportunity to sponsor some already completed major components in retrospect via the Corris website at www.corris.co.uk where non-specific individual contributions can also be made via PayPal. An interesting fund-raising opportunity has also arisen. An individual has offered to contribute £25,000 to the loco fund if three similar donations or net contributions are received. Should these sums be raised – and an anonymous donor has already contributed £3000 – there will be enough money available to take the locomotive very close to completion and pulling trains in the Dulas Valley. Any donations by cheque can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, Worcs, B97 5YS (cheques payable to Corris Railway).