Though now firmly established as a tourist attraction in the Dulas Valley running between Corris village and Maespoeth, the Corris Railway is far from complete and several exciting new projects are currently being pursued.
One of the difficulties which the current Corris Railway has faced since it began to bring the line back to life is its track gauge. 2 feet and 3 inches is unusual and now only shared with our Talyllyn neighbours. So when it comes to locomotives and rolling stock we are limited in what we can use or hire in. We have important historical vehicles and have built a new carriage shed at a cost of over £150,000 to keep them under cover. We have also spent £100,000 on steam locomotive number 7 which joined the ongoing story of the Corris in 2005.
Number 7 is an updated replica of the original number 4 and has proved an excellent machine. However as the line expands in length and number of visitors more steam power will be needed, especially as number 7 will fall due for the next statutory “ten year” overhaul in 2024/25.
And so the Corris Railway is going to build another “Falcon” after a modest gap of a century and a quarter. The engine will carry the number 10, simply because it will be the tenth locomotive to work on the Corris since 1878. The timescale for construction will depend very much on funding and for a small Society such as ourselves this will be another major effort and all help will be much appreciated.
For more up to date information on the progress of the Falcon Locomotive and an opportunity to make a donation towards the costs, or even sponsor an individual part, please view The Falcon Locomotive page.
It has always been the intention to rebuild the Corris Railway southwards from Corris, through Maespoeth Junction and down the beautiful Dulas Valley to the Forestry Commission site at Tan-y-Coed. Once completed this will give our passengers a run of over two and three quarter miles in each direction from the new station that will have to be constructed at Tan-Y-Coed, through the surviving original station of Corris at Esgaergeiliog and Maespoeth Junction to an improved station at Corris that will partially recreate the original iconic overall roofed structure.
Since passenger trains resumed running between the present station at Corris and Maespoeth Junction we have been able to offer a pleasant journey and a small experience of why the old Corris was able to make itself so successful with the Victorian and Edwardian tourist trade. But we want to offer more and this is where the Southern Extension Appeal comes into play. Our next obstacle to heading south is the need to construct a deviation at a spot called Pont-y-Goedwig. This is just south of the present railhead at Maespoeth Junction and it has taken many years of work, discussion, negotiation, and at times frustration to get all the necessary permissions into place. These are now in place and practical work on clearance work has begun and continues as the proverbial “work in progress”. Pictures of this as it proceeds should appear in the photo albums on this website. However the work is not at all straightforward or cheap. We have had to consider the flora and fauna of the Dulas Valley as we go and we do not intend to make other living creatures homeless. However the necessary conservation surveys have had to be carried out by specialists and the fees for this aspect of the project have consumed over £20,000 in conjunction with a potential flooding assessment. Fortunately no rare species were found and with no bats roosting the trees alongside a section of the A487 trunk road were felled in 2015 removing potential problems caused by their roots. A dry spell of weather in late September and October 2015 also allowed some trackbed to be prepared using a contractor and some heavy plant.
The reinforced embankment between Pont y Goedwig and Brynllwyd is likely to cost at least £70,000 in materials alone, plus the cost of placing and shaping it. The culvert extension at Pont-y-Goedwig itself will require a specialist contractor as it has to be built to comply with highways requirements (including traffic lights on the A487 for some of the time as earth reinforcement for the embankment is put in), the “up” side being they will take responsibility for the structure afterwards. Having just paid out £5000 for preparation work to put all the paperwork in place for approval during 2015, we have received a request for a further £5,500 to complete the process. This will establish the “ground rules” to enable detail design of the culvert to be progressed (which itself will cost), and then we can go out to tender to establish a (fairly) firm cost.
Similarly although much of the work will be carried out by volunteers other parts of the project will require professionals and specialised kit. We will also have to obtain additional track materials in addition to those already in safe storage away from the site (eventual movement costs too…) and there is also ongoing maintenance to be done, train services to be run and new construction to be carried out. Hopefully when our new steam engine is ready we will have a 1 in 30 incline for it to work on, a sight that should delight lovers of locomotives for years to come.
Work on creating a section of embankment began in 2020 and has proceeded episodically since. Materials for its construction have been obtained from work at Dolgellau and the construction of a new road bridge over the River Dyfi at Machynlleth. This allowed the start of building up from the valley floor to the height of the A487. However work can only be done during dry weather, effectively late spring to early autumn and needs plant and machinery to be on site. Much of this work has to be done by contractors but volunteers are needed too.
Put bluntly we need your help. If you can don old clothes and are able to get to work with spade, scythe or even a mattock we can use your time and muscles at Pont-Y-Goedwig and later on too. (and it’s cheaper than a gym membership). Alternatively if you can make a financial donation we are very grateful for your assistance too. All sums – small, medium, large, Euromillions – are welcome as we aim to triple the length of our revival of a fascinating part of Welsh railway history. Thank you. CAN YOU HELP? Donations can be made via the Southern Extension section of this website.
The Society acquired access to the Stable and Coach House complex at Corris, on 20th August 1969. Access was obtained to the Coach House section in 1974, when new garages were built elsewhere in the village, and quickly replaced the sliding doors with new ones, less the small wicket door which proved such a weakness in the original design. The Museum was moved into after adjusting the uneven slabbed floor and bringing items of rolling stock from temporary storage sites elsewhere in the valley. After a period of great controversy, new internal access doorways were created initially between the Parcels Office and Coach House, and then the Coach House and Harness Room in 1978, utilising Cyril Harris supervising a Job Creation Programme scheme of 6 lads for almost that entire year. We finally re-floored the Harness Room and Hay Loft and were able to open it as an extension to the Museum in 1984, initially on a temporary basis.
The existing access from the car park involved steep, narrow slate steps, so this was re-formed with an access ramp and barriers suitable for access by the disabled, and the doors replaced. The underside of the roof was insulated and lined with plasterboard by volunteers, initially with taped joints, which involved tower scaffolds and work lying on our backs, but it was a vast improvement in ambience. Meanwhile, volunteers refurbished and refitted the windows throughout the building over time.
Finally, the whole of the building was re-arranged to produce the layout we are familiar with today incorporating the Museum and our Sales area which is well stocked with items for the visiting railway lover, children and the holiday maker. We even sell craft jewellery.
Work is now underway to bring the station itself back to life. For many years trains departed from a single open platform with a Y shaped track layout. Locomotives were unable to run around their trains and passenger trains were propelled to Maespoeth Junction. As the whole of the original station area is not available to us – we share it with car parking for the villagers and access to the village school– a plan had to be devised to accommodate a run round loop.
After the 2021 Santa Trains had run work began on remodelling the track layout. The existing platform line and siding were removed together with the point at the station throat. The point will be reused elsewhere as will the materials from the original platform which was also taken up.
Track was relaid between Braich Goch Farm Crossing and the station throat. This section was laid on sleepers made from recycled plastic which is predicted to last for 40 years. Traditional wooden sleepers were used for appearance reasons in the station area. There two lines of track were laid from the new point, one to form the platform road and the other the run round loop.
To make the loop possible in the confined space available a traverser has been used. Manufactured by Statfold Engineering it was first used on the last weekend of March 2022 when number 7 arrived with a train of empty coaching stock and was moved on the traverser. All worked well and the train returned to the Junction.
After that we will look to have a new station constructed which will recreate as far as possible the look and atmosphere of the original including the overall roof, which will be a very valuable feature on wet days in the Valley. An overall roof was a feature of the original station, which was demolished in 1968, and was a very unusual structure for a British narrow gauge railway. However as with all of this the pace of construction will depend on funding and labour.
The most important person on any railway is, or should be, the passenger and a dedicated team of volunteers has been building carrIages over a number of years, with materials being funded by a very generous individual sponsor. Numbers 20, 21, 22 and 23 are in traffic Number 24 is moving towards completion in the workshops at Maespoeth Junction. The carriages replicate the external appearance of Corris originals (2 survive, one in service on the Talyllyn Railway whilst the body of the other is in our Museum) but are built to modern safety standards with metal substructure rather ran wood. This, incidentally, means that the 21st century versions are twice the weight of their predecessors but their interiors look the same as they did to Victorian and Edwardian travellers.
The carriages also allow carriage of passengers in wheelchairs and once complete number 24 will offer First Class accommodation