Historic Landscape Characterisation

Bala and Llyn Tegid - Area 17 Bala lake railway (PRN 24717)

 

 

Historic background

The standard gauge railway between Bala and Dolgellau was built by the Bala & Dolgelley Railway Company (which used the English spelling for the latter place), and opened in 1868.

Glanllyn Flag station was first opened in 1868 as a private halt for Sir W W Wynne, and not made available to the public until 1931 (Horton, 1989). It was re-named Glan Llyn Halt in 1950. The Flag reference is to the fact that when its original owner, Sir W W Wynne arrived by train, a flag was hoisted and a boat sent across from his residence opposite to collect him. Llangower Halt was opened, with minimal facilities in 1929. In 1934, a halt was opened on the site of the old Bala station and known as Bala Lake Halt (now demolished).

Although originally earmarked for dieselisation by the Western Region of British Railways in the early 1960s, the Ruabon to Bala/Barmouth line was eventually included in the infamous Beeching Report in 1963, and threafter the line was gradually run down. Goods traffic finally ceased running on 1st January 1968, when the Pontcysyllte branch was closed.

However, rebirth came in 1971 as the railway was opened as a narrow gauge. A local engineer, George Barnes, saw the potential of the lakeside section for both local and tourist traffic. With the help of the late Tom Jones CBE, then Chairman of Merioneth County Council's Finance Committee, Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid Ltd (Bala Lake Railway Ltd) became the first company to be registered in the Welsh language and they started to rebuild it as a 2-ft-gauge line, aiming to make use of the mass of equipment that had become available from numerous slate quarries in north Wales that had abandoned steam and railway operations in favour of machines and road transport.



Key historic landscape characteristics

Narrow gauge railway, associated infrastructure

The narrow-gauge steam railway runs for 4½ miles between Llanuwchllyn and Y Bala along the southern side of Llyn Tegid, on the trackbed of the former Great Western Ruabon – Barmouth Railway line, which closed in 1965. Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid became fully operational in 1976.

Bala junction station has been obliterated and the line now terminates at the site of the former Bala Lake Halt. It was unusual in that (like Dyfi Junction) it was inaccessible by road and merely served as an interchange station for the Bala-Blaenau Ffestiniog line.

Llanuwchllyn station (Horton, 1989 – see photograph) is a typical GWR station with a signal box and semaphore signals, the latter of Lancashire and Yorkshire origin. The station buildings still survive, the buffet being the former waiting room and the seating section was once a waiting room at Morfa Mawddach (Barmouth Junction). The main building has been extended on the site of the old toilets to provide a booking office and store room. The canopy supports were built for the Cambrian Railways station at Pwllheli, but were taken down when the station was moved in 1907. They were then used at Aberdyfi until 1979 when they were moved to Llanuwchllyn. The former cattle dock is now the picnic area, the stone goods shed a woodwork shop, and the waiting room on platform two an office. The ex-GWR euipment survives intact with its original lever frame. Every effort is made to ensure visitors are made welcome, and where possible visitors are allowed to visit the signal box and locomotive shed/workshop.


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