The Corris Railway Society once again held its Annual Model Railway Exhibition at Y Plas in Machynlleth over the August Bank Holiday weekend and despite the hot weather making the beaches of the Mid Wales coast an attractive alternative welcomed 420 visitors over the two days with 78 of the visitors being children. Exhibition organiser Bill Newton always tries to find at least one layout where younger visitors can “try their hand” and perhaps think that they would like to try railway modelling as a hobby. Bill commented:
“We had a record number of visitors in 2018 when the Bank Holiday was sadly a washout for coastal attractions and I did fear the worst when I saw the forecast for a hot and dry couple of days. But once again when all of the invoices are paid there will be a nice sum of money making a very useful contribution towards continuing the history of the Corris Railway and keeping trains running in the Dulas Valley. 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. Not to mention another team from our all volunteer workforce who were operating trains and staffing the Museum and shop at Corris itself.”
The Corris will be running its trains on Sundays in September and October, plus Saturdays October 19th and 26th.
The Corris Railway Society’s Model Railway Exhibition will take place at Y Plas in Machynlleth on the Saturday and Sunday of August Bank Holiday Weekend, August 24th and 25th with the doors open from 10.00 to 4.30 pm each day. Visitors will find a mixture of model layouts, some inspiring nostalgia for older generations, sales stands and a craft stall.
As might be expected narrow gauge models feature quite prominently in the line-up ranging from the large scale 16mm (with live steam and battery power) and a Gn15 scale representation of an estate railway serving a dubious cash crop, through to the ever popular 009. One of the rather less common narrow gauge scales, OOn3, is used to depict Crosby station (closed in 1968) on the Isle of Man Railway and Roarkes Landing represents American practice in Hon30.
O, OO and N gauge layouts will also feature. A couple of these layouts demonstrate the opportunities in minimum space in modern housing, being designed to fit on an ironing board and a window cill respectively, and those of a certain age will have memories of catalogues and toy shop windows evoked by Tri-ang TT and Trix Twin layouts. A chance to see those things that youngsters in years past wanted to have but couldn’t get the pocket money to stretch to. On a similar theme there will be a display of tinplate toys.
Trade wise the show will welcome back Nick and Dee Lowe selling railway ephemera and Martin Parry’s huge selection of models both new and second-hand with the majority being OO scale. Kate Packham also returns with her wide selection of jewellery and decorative items made from recycled glass (the organiser’s lady wife usually makes a bee-line for this) and the Corris will have a sales stand and a tombola, plus a fund raiser for the Falcon locomotive selling a range of donated items.
Refreshments and light snacks are sold and there is free parking close by. Admission costs £4.00 for adults, £3.50 for seniors £2 for children and £10 for a family (2 adults and 2 children). Plus trains will be running on the revived section of the Corris Railway, some four miles north of Machynlleth on August 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th.
Work has continued with the construction of the next steam engine for the revival of the Corris Railway, “Falcon” No. 10. Andy Cooper who is acting as the liaison between the Corris Railway Society and Alan Keef’s reports:
“Falcons have a rather odd arrangement whereby the cylinders fit into large slots cut in the front of the frames with headstock angle plates bolted on in front to trap the cylinder. Some of the current work being carried out at Alan Keef Ltd. is to do the necessary machining and creating the fixings to accommodate and secure the cylinders in this way including the fitted bolts needed for the front headstock angle plates. Other jobs being carried out now are machining a “lead” into the front of the cylinder bores, and drilling and tapping the remaining holes needed on the cylinders. The eccentric rods are being worked on and it is planned to fit all of the cylinder studs so that the various covers can be fitted and datums for setting up crossheads and slide bars can be established.”
As always progress with the construction of The Falcon Locomotive depends on the rate of fund raising and more information can be seen here on the Corris web site. Many of the motion parts have been manufactured and are ready for fitting.
Meanwhile the Corris’ volunteer workforce at Maespoeth Junction has continued to work on various projects. More internal fitting out has been carried out on carriage No. 23 for which, in addition, glazing has been prepared and is now being fitted. The other carriage under construction No. 24 has had its welded metal carcase completed and has been mounted on bogies. This allowed it to have its first journey on the running line, a round trip between Maespoeth Junction and Corris with Ruston Hornsby diesel No. 6 supplying the motive power. Work is also underway on reconstruction of a 2 plank waggon for use in gravity train demonstrations, galas and photo charters as required.
Another important job completed by volunteers is the construction of a fuel store at Maespoeth Junction, giving neater and drier accommodation for both coal and wood.
August is the main month for train operations on the Corris Railway with trains running on Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays between Corris station and Maespoeth Junction. It is intended that the trains should be headed by steam locomotive No. 7, although if a problem arises a diesel may have to substitute. Trains leave Corris station at hourly intervals between 11.00 and 16.00. The Museum and sales area at Corris will be open and other refreshments can be purchased in the village café, less than 100 yards from the station.
For the younger family members, especially those who like tales of magical events August 3rd and 4th are days to note as any child dressed as a wizard or a dragon will travel for free on the trains and there will be children’s activities once the train reaches Maespoeth Junction. Some home-made refreshments might also prove tempting.
August Bank Holiday Weekend sees trains operating but in addition there is the Model Railway Exhibition taking place at Y Plas in Machynlleth. As in the past there will be layouts in various scales with some emphasis leaning towards narrow gauge and minimum space operations. For those of an age to remember the model trains they wanted but whose pocket money always fell short of the target there will be layouts featuring the now discontinued Tri-ang TT and Trix Twin ranges. Sales stands will sell model equipment, railwayana, books and DVDs and we should not forget Kate Packham’s stand selling jewellery and ornaments made of recycled and recovered glass. Refreshments are available and there is free parking close by. The doors are open between 10.00 and 16.30 on each day, giving a chance to ride the trains and also visit the exhibition.
Machynlleth offers a wide range of pubs, cafes and takeaways for anyone wishing to enjoy a lunch or afternoon tea.
The Corris Railway is not the best known “heritage railway” in Britain by any stretch of the imagination as it goes about the revival of the oldest narrow gauge line in Mid Wales. It was therefore something of a surprise for the volunteer workforce to learn that it had featured in the “The Times of India”, a leading English language newspaper in the sub-continent.
The newspaper contacted the Corris Railway Society because of another planned heritage railway scheme, this one being based in the state of Kerala. The state government is working with Tata Corporation to revive the Kundale Valley Light Railway which was constructed in 1910 to move tea in chests out of the valley and on to the markets. The motive power used a century ago was a Kerr Stuart “Tattoo” class narrow gauge steam engine and via the internet the Indian revivalists discovered that the Corris had had a new version of the original design constructed at the start of the 21st Century. They got in touch and obtained information about the construction and subsequent history of CR No. 7 from CRS member Richard Shipman. Information about the Corris’ “Tattoo” locomotive can be found on the website at www.corris.co.uk and its story up to starting work on the Corris can be found in the booklet “The Tale of a “Tattoo”” by Peter Guest which can be purchased from the website online shop and at the Railway’s museum when train are running.
No. 7 is in turn a recreation of part of Corris Railway history. The inspiration for its building was the original CR No. 4 which arrived in the Dulas Valley from Kerr Stuart’s Stoke-on-Trent workshops in 1921 and having worked until the original line up the Dulas Valley closed in 1948 is now a valuable member of the locomotive fleet on the Talyllyn Railway, named “Edward Thomas”.
The Corris welcomed some South Asian visitors during its May Gala Day and hopes that its mention in “The Times of India” may generate some more interest and visits. Meanwhile work continues with the next steam engine for the revival:- “Falcon” No. 10 will recreate a design dating back to 1878.
Editors notes: The article in The Times Of India can be viewed here: Times Of India article – June 23rd 2019.
The Corris Railway Society’s Model Railway Exhibition will take place at Y Plas in Machynlleth on the Saturday and Sunday of August Bank Holiday Weekend, August 24th and 25th.
As might be expected narrow gauge models feature quite prominently in the line-up ranging from 16mm (with live steam and battery power) and a Gn15 scale representation of an estate railway serving a dubious cash crop, through to the ever popular 009. One of the rather less common narrow gauge scales, OOn3, is used to depict Crosby station (closed in 1968) on the Isle of Man and Roarkes Landing represents American practice in Hon30.
O, OO and N gauge layouts will also feature. A couple of these layouts demonstrate the opportunities in minimum space, being designed to fit on an ironing board and a window cill respectively, and those of us of a certain age will have memories of catalogues and toy shop windows evoked by Tri-ang TT and Trix Twin layouts. A chance to see those things you wanted to have but couldn’t get the pocket money to stretch to. On a similar theme there will be a display of tinplate toys.
Trade wise the show will welcome back Nick and Dee Lowe selling railway ephemera and Martin Parry’s huge selection of models both new and second-hand with the majority being OO scale. Kate Packham returns with her wide selection of jewellery and decorative items made from recycled glass (the organiser’s lady wife usually makes a bee-line for this) and the Corris will have a sales stand and a tombola, plus a fund raiser for the Falcon locomotive selling a range of donated items.
Refreshments and light snacks are sold and there is free parking close by with the doors open between 10.00 and 16.30. Admission costs £4.00 for adults, £3.50 for seniors £2 for children and £10 for a family (2 adults and 2 children). Plus trains will be running on the revived section of the Corris Railway, some four miles north of Machynlleth on those days and on Monday & Tuesday, 26th & 27th August.
Sunday May 26th began unpromisingly for the Corris Railway on its annual Gala Day but turned into a date to remember in the revival of the narrow gauge line in the Dulas Valley.
The day began with steady fine rain falling and when the first train departed Corris station for Maespoeth Junction with a single passenger aboard, an enthusiast visiting the Corris and Fairbourne Railway Galas, hopes were not high amongst the volunteer workforce. However by the time another hour had passed the weather was improving steadily and things had got considerably busier. The trains around the lunchtime period were leaving Corris with every seat occupied and passengers were waiting patiently for the next departure, many looking around the Railway’s Museum whilst others visited the village café. Car parking capacity was virtually full and thanks go to Corris School, which is adjacent to the Railway, for making their car park available. By the time of next year’s Gala construction of another carriage should have been completed by the volunteer workforce at Maespoeth Junction and visitors were able to see progress on this vehicle (No. 23) and the steelwork of a further example (No. 24). More hands to work on these and to help with operating the Corris Railway would be most welcome.
The number of passengers who wished to travel meant that the planned timetable had to be changed and two scheduled demonstration freight trains were cancelled in favour of running more passenger services. Things did ease off in the afternoon but passengers still arrived to travel on the last two trains of the day along what was now a sunlit valley.
The Gala featured the Corris’ steam engine “Tattoo” No. 7 and the diesel locos Nos. 6 and 11 working the trains whilst battery electric No. 9, once used in the slate industry at Aberllefenni, was the shunter at Maespoeth Junction. There was time to fit in a demonstration gravity worked train down the gradients to the Junction and at the end of the day the volunteers returned to their homes or accommodation (some had travelled considerable distances to help out) tired but pleased with the results of the day.
The Corris Railway will be holding its annual Gala Day on Sunday May 26th and the volunteer workforce are looking forward to welcoming enthusiasts and the wider public to the line along the beautiful Dulas Valley, between the station at Corris and Maespoeth Junction.
As per usual on Gala Day the service of passenger trains will be interspersed with demonstration freight trains, and harking back to the Railway’s origins, gravity trains. The locomotive worked trains will be headed by steam locomotive number 7 and the line’s diesel fleet (including number 11 with its Transylvanian links). Also in action will be battery electric locomotive number 9 which has strong local connections, having worked in the slate industry at Aberllefenni. Visitors can see behind the scenes at Maespoeth Junction including progress on the construction of new carriages for the line and learn about progress with construction of the next steam engine for the continuing revival of the oldest of the Mid Wales narrow gauge railways.
Due to the increased number of services, variations of locomotives in use during the day and differing train formations a special timetable for May 26th is shown below.
|Gala Day (May 26th) - Corris Departures|| || || || ||
|2||11||21,20|| ||10:00||No 11 Diesel Passenger
|4||6||21,20|| ||10:45||No 6 Diesel Passenger
|6||7||22||204||11:25||No 7 Steam Passenger
|8||11||21,20|| ||12:10||No 11 Diesel Passenger
|10||6|| ||204||12:45||Van Train
|12||7||21,20|| ||13:40||No 7 Steam Passenger
|12a|| || ||gravity||13:52||Gravity Train
|14||11||21,20|| ||14:45||No 11 Diesel Passenger
|16||7|| ||gravity,204||15:15||Goods Run
|18||6||21,20|| ||15:55||No 6 Diesel Passenger
|20||11||22||204||16:30||No 11 Diesel Passenger
|22||7||21,20|| ||17:15||No 7 Steam Passenger
The Museum and sales area at Corris will be open (last year it had to remain closed due to maintenance work) with exhibits large and small from the history of the Corris and the communities it served.
Passengers cannot join trains at Maespoeth Junction and must do so at Corris. 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.
The Corris Railway once again took a small part in the annual Machynlleth Comedy Festival on Saturday May 4th when before normal train services began from Corris Station a special steam train operated to Maespoeth Junction where the passengers were entertained by performances in the carriage shed.
Away from the morning of laughter the carriage shed has seen continued progress with carriage and waggon work. New coach 23 is steadily being taken towards completion and its entry into passenger carrying service. It has received its first coat of the dark brown Corris carriage livery as internal fitting out continues. The other carriage under construction, number 24, has taken many hours of patient steel erection and welding of the carcase that will carry the wooden bodywork and internal seating and fittings.
Volunteers have also constructed a new wooden underframe for an iron bodied waggon which will be available for use in demonstration gravity trains, photographic charters and in recreated goods trains. The restored waggon will feature on May 26th when the Corris Railway hosts its annual Gala Day. The Gala features trains headed by steam and diesel locomotives plus a chance to see the battery electric engine which once worked in the slate industry at Aberllefenni in operation. Visitors can also visit the workshops and the Museum and shop at Corris station will be open.
Fund raising continues towards the construction of the new station at Corris which will eventually feature an overall roof to evoke the atmosphere of the original building, demolished half a century ago. The next stage of the work, which will not commence until the winter months when the small band of volunteers is less involved in train operations will involve the start of the new track layout which will include a traverser and loop to allow locomotives to run round their trains instead of propelling them to Maespoeth Junction as is currently the case.
As has been previously reported the record breaking Santa Train operations on the Corris Railway in December last year were marred by a mechanical failure which put the Corris Ralway’s “Tattoo” steam locomotive No. 7 out of action. The valve gear failure occurred when the locomotive was climbing from Maespoeth Junction to Corris with empty coaching stock, and was on the driver’s side of the engine.
Once the Santa weekend was over (trains were worked by diesel No. 11 after No. 7 failed) a damage assessment showed that greater engineering capacity than that available in the Maespoeth Junction workshops would be necessary to carry out the repairs. The initial fault which caused the failure was traced to a lubrication problem.
Contact was made with the Vale of Rheidol at Aberystwyth and over the first three months of 2019 the V of R engineers worked with the Corris team who normally look after and maintain No. 7 so that it would be ready to work a David Williams photo charter and a “Your Railway for the Day” experience ahead of the Easter Weekend services which were the Corris’ first passenger operations of 2019. The target was reached and the “Tattoo” passed its fitness to run tests with less than 24 hours to go.
Corris Chairman Richard Foyn commented “We approached the Vale of Rheidol and fortunately their Management was highly supportive. We have really appreciated the help and advice that they have given us notwithstanding their busy winter schedule which this year has been affected by the work to completely remodel their Aberystwyth Station. Llyr and his team, together with our own workers led by Trefor Davies have done a tremendous job to make sure we have not had to disappoint our customers. This has not been a cheap project and we will have to look to our resources but a working steam engine, or two as we are working towards having, is a key part of what we offer to bring in fares and other revenue”.
No. 7 will also feature with the Corris’ diesel and battery electric locomotives on this year’s Gala Day, Sunday May 26th.