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Festiniog Railway (ePub)

From Slate Railway to Heritage Operation 1921 - 2014

Transport > Trains & Railways World History > UK & Ireland > Wales

By Peter Johnson
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
File Size: 29.7 MB (.epub)
Pages: 353
ISBN: 9781473896277
Published: 3rd October 2017


£16.00 Print price £40.00

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Railway and Canal Historical Society

Runner-up for the Transport History Book of the Year award 2018.

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Opened in 1836 as a horse tramway using gravity to carry slate from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog, by the 1920s the Festiniog Railway had left its years of technical innovation and high profits long behind. After the First World War, the railway’s path led inexorably to closure, to passengers in 1939 and goods in 1946.

After years of abandonment, visionary enthusiasts found a way to take control of the railway and starting its restoration in 1955. Not only did they have to fight the undergrowth, they also had to fight a state-owned utility which had appropriated a part of the route. All problems were eventually overcome and a 2½ mile deviation saw services restored to Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1982.

Along the way, the railway found its old entrepreneurial magic, building new steam locomotives and carriages, and rebuilding the Welsh highland Railway, to become a leading 21st century tourist attraction.

Historian Peter Johnson, well known for his books on Welsh railways, has delved into the archives and previously untapped sources to produce this new history, a must-read for enthusiasts and visitors alike.

The Festiniog Railway’s pre-1921 history is covered in Peter Johnson’s book, Festiniog Railway the Spooner era and after 1830-1920, also published by Pen & Sword Transport.

Although each of these volumes is complete in itself, they are such obvious companion volumes that it is appropriate to consider them together. If the reader is enthused and engaged by one, that is compelling reason to read the second.
Two exceptional books that must become the standard works of reference on the Festiniog Railway for many years to come.

Friends of the National Railway Museum

Whilst the story of the Ffestiniog Railway is already well known, the author has dug even deeper into the archives and has also located previously untapped sources of information. The result is very readable and brings the story almost up to date with a warts-and-all account which covers the highs and lows which have led to the FR, together with the Welsh Highland Railway becoming one of the leading 21st Century tourist attractions.

Llanfair Railway Journal No.226

The work imposes when you have it in your hands . A curious and interesting book for lovers of the history of the Railroad.

Read the complete Spanish review here.

José Manuél Rico Cortés (Mister JM) - Miniaturas JM

As with volume 1, this book should be essential reading for ever FR supporter.

Ffestiniog Railway Magazine

This book must have a place on the shelves of anyone with any interest in the history of our favourite little railway.

Festiniog Railway Heritage Group

Brilliantly traces the early history of what is now a popular narrow-gauge passenger railway.

Evergreen, Winter 2017

It wouldn't be an overstatement to describe it as the definitive work on the line, as it goes into such depth that no stone is left unturned in its research.

Thoroughly recommended.

Steam Railway, November/December 2017

One of the world's best-known narrow gauge lines now has a definitive history it deserves, and this book is recommended to all serious narrow gauge enthusiasts.

Narrow Gauge World, November-December 2017

Keenly anticipated and speedily following on the heels of the initial volume, this sequel takes up the narrative where the first book finished.
As in the previous volume, the photographs and illustrations are a tour de force; the period monochrome shots are powerfully evocative.

The two books should be seen as one and together they are a truly commendable effort.

Railway and Canal Historical Society

In precis this volume is of the ‘Company history’ genre. This reviewer found it to be well-researched, well-written, eminently readable and interesting. While not ‘perfect’ it is an excellent introduction to the Festiniog. When combined with its previously-mentioned sister volume, it forms a valuable resource on its subject.

Unsurprisingly, this volume will inevitably appeal to the ‘Festiniog enthusiast’ members of the railway fraternity. However, it is also likely to have a wider appeal, especially amongst holiday-makers seeking a souvenir of their visit to the railway. Railway historians and railway enthusiasts of a more ‘generalist’ nature may find it of interest. The volume’s photographs could also be useful to railway modellers interested in the Festiniog specifically, and Welsh narrow gauge railways in general.

NZ Crown Mines
 Peter Johnson

About Peter Johnson

Best known for his books on narrow gauge and Welsh railways, Peter Johnson first wrote about travelling post offices in 1985 and added the Post Office (London) Railway to his portfolio in 1995. Living in Leicester, he was employed in local authority fire service communications for 29 years. 

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