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 email@example.com
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 (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.
There will be a touch of the Old West of the USA in the Dulas Valley when the Corris Railway stages a themed two day family event on Saturday August 4th and Sunday August 5th.
On those two dates young persons aged under 15 who arrive at Corris station in cowboy, cowgirl or American Indian garb will enjoy a free train ride to and from Maespoeth Junction. At the Junction there will be a variety of children’s activities to take part in including story-telling, quoits, splat the rat, and cactus hoop-la. There will also be crafts activity to be tried and home-made refreshments featuring cowboy biscuits (whilst stocks last).
Trains will leave Corris station every hour, on the hour, between 11.00 and 16.00. The station is in the middle of the village and can be reached by leaving the A487 Machynlleth-Dolgellau road at the Braich Goch Inn. Trains will also run, but without Wild West events on Monday and Tuesday August 6th and 7th.
In the latest edition of the Corris Railway Society’s magazine “The Corris-Pondent”, Chairman Richard Hamilton-Foyn set out information about the current position regarding the planned extension of the operating railway.
Currently, the main running line terminates just south of Maespoeth Junction on a stiffly graded section of the original trackbed. Beyond this however, the next section of the former route has been lost beneath the A487 Machynlleth-Dolgellau road and the Corris is faced with the task of building a tall section of embankment and a bridge over the River Goedwig. To further complicate matters, flood prevention requirements in the Dulas Valley mean that the embankment will need to have steeper sides than would otherwise be the case. Although the Corris would love to recreate the spirit of the “deviationist” era of the Ffestiniog, much of the civil engineering will have to involve the work of contractors.
Before any work can begin, various permissions and agreements from a number of national and local authorities need to be secured, be in place and valid simultaneously. Much of the hard work is being carried out to achieve this and the Corris is aware that once this stage is reached construction will have to begin quickly. Richard describes this as a “tipping point”, both figuratively and literally, for the future of the line and makes it clear that, thanks to very generous support to date, there is a six figure sum in a dedicated fund for the Extension. Much more will need to be raised and spent to double the current length of the running line. Current political and financial matters make the seeking of grants towards the work an uncertain process but the Corris remains committed to continuing the revival of the oldest narrow gauge railway in Mid-Wales.
Appropriately enough the Corris Railway Society’s Model Railway Exhibition will feature narrow gauge layouts when it takes place at Y Plas in Machynlleth on August 25th and 26th. Representing the most popular narrow gauge 009 scale will be “World’s End” and “Hensbarrow Road”, whilst the light-hearted “Bumf Mine” is built to 7 mm standards. “Walmer Bridge” flies the flag for the 16 mm scale and demonstrates that smaller area layouts are possible in this “garden scale”.
0 gauge features on four layouts. “The Depot” and “Clough Street Sidings” portray the dieselised railway of today whilst nostalgia for days and toys gone by will be stirred by a visiting selection of Hornby clockwork and electric trains and a layout featuring the 1960’s Tri-ang “Big – Big Train” range.
More Tri-ang nostalgia from half a century ago will be represented by a TT gauge layout and there will be a trio of layouts in N, depicting a North German scene and two with a Welsh theme, “Taste of Amlwch” and “Dora Slate Incline”.
The most popular 4mm scale is represented by three very contrasting exhibits. “Westgate MPD” is based on the one time locoshed at Chester Northgate. An “Underground Ernie” layout features trains from the television series and children are invited to “drive” them. And there will a layout designed to fit into minimum space – in this case a window cill.
Sales stands include a return of the jewellery and decorative items from “Kate’s Glass”, railwayana, new and pre-owned model railway equipment, and of course fund raisers for the revival of the Corris Railway including the construction of the new “Falcon” steam locomotive and a Corris Railway Sales Stand.
Trains will be running from Corris station on the re-opened section of the Railway on Saturday 25th, Sunday 26th, Monday 27th and Tuesday 28th August.
The Corris Railway held its now traditional Gala Day on Sunday May 27th and the volunteers were pleased to welcome a good mixture of families and other holiday makers looking for a day out amidst the regular heavy downpours in the Dulas Valley, and railway enthusiasts visiting to see the Railway in action. There were also opportunities to learn of how the revival of the line is progressing and of plans for the future.
Unfortunately the ongoing maintenance work in the museum at Corris meant that this was not open to the public but the ticket office and sales counter were busy as was the Signal and Telegraph Office at Maespoeth Junction which had been pressed into service for the sale of home-made cakes and other refreshments. Those proved very popular. The locomotives in action included steam engine number 7, diesel number 11 which has Transylvanian connections and the battery powered number 9 which once shunted at slate works in Aberllefenni. Another diesel locomotive, number 6, was back in action after a heavy overhaul.
The Corris Railway will be running trains on Sundays in June including Father’s Day on the 17th when any dad accompanied by a child aged under 15 will enjoy a free ride and receive a small gift.