July 20, 2024

Fancy having a go at driving a Welsh steam locomotive?

Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways (FfWHR) is offering a chance to follow in the footsteps of generations of North Wales people by driving a quarry steam locomotive.

The FfWHR is home to several steams locos including Britomart, a Pen yr Orsedd (Dyffryn Nantlle) quarry engine, Hugh Napier from Penrhyn Quarry, Lilla who worked Cilgwyn, Dyffryn Nantlle and Penrhyn, along with sister machines, Linda and Blanche, also from Penrhyn.

The FfWHR is now offering ‘How Steam Locomotives Work’ workshops where visitors can have a go at driving a quarry Hunslet locomotive and find out just how it works.

The workshops, run by the FfWHR’s experienced staff and volunteer loco crew, are held at the historic Boston Lodge Works in Porthmadog, where engines have been built and maintained for more than 160 years.

Organiser, Iain Wilkinson said: “For some people, this is a chance to try first-hand what their taid (granddad) did as a job. The workshops are a good opportunity to learn and have an enjoyable time.

“Visitors will get to help prepare a steam loco, see it in action behind the scenes, find out more about how it works and then have a go at firing and driving in the yard! It’s all very friendly and relaxed.

“They may even find the railway is in your blood and join us as a volunteer.”

This workshop makes an ideal gift for anyone interested in stream locomotives, heritage, engineering or simply the challenge of driving an unusual vehicle. A great idea for Father’s Day on Sunday, June 16?

Father and son David and Philip Mercer recently took part in the ‘How Steam Locomotives Work’ session. They had both visited the FfWHR many times over the years, David having been introduced by his father, a volunteer, in the 1960s.

In turn, David took his family to the railway in the 1980s but hadn’t before had the opportunity to see behind the scenes at the Boston Lodge Works.

Philip said: “It was really good fun taking part. A real treat for dad, too, to be able to fulfil a childhood dream of getting behind the controls on the footplate.”

For more information about the workshops and new guided tours of the Boston Lodge, visit: https://www.festrail.co.uk/boston-lodge-tours-and-workshops/

There will be other opportunities to learn more heritage skills over the coming months. National Heritage Lottery Funding has been allocated to run taster session for the community in the carriage works, laying heritage track, signwriting and hot riveting!

To find out more about the heritage skills ‘have a go’ sessions, contact [email protected] .