Author: Gordon Rushton
Format: A4 – Portrait
Publisher: Adlestrop Press
Date Published : 02 August 2012Available for SALE (price includes a 70 minute VIDEO)
This is the truly astonishing story of the return from dereliction of the 25 mile long Welsh Highland Railway.
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The story is told here of a railway restoration story that bridges 20 years. When a railway account appears long after the event, those who did the work at the time often get no chance to tell their tale. Already the memories of the restoration of the Welsh Highland Railway (WHR) are fading, to be replaced by myth. So a comprehensive accounts of this contemporary, ‘new’ 25 mile modern railway has been written, and it has taken three years. The restoration of 25 miles of derelict narrow gauge railway at a cost of £28m, of which 50% was given by the public purse, eclipses anything done before by preservationists anywhere else in the world. The last trains of the old era ran on this railway in 1937, and it was lifted in 1940. The first train ran throughout on the restored line 73 years later, and that is quite a gap! Traffic has grown steadily on throughout the restoration until over 100,000 people were carried on the WHR in 2011. Its restoration in a form where it can earn enough to sustain itself is almost miraculous. Better still, the combined 40 mile railway has been calculated by a Bangor University PhD thesis to contribute £14m per year to the local economy – that is a contribution indeed, and its origin is a story worth telling. The book contains the tale of the restoration of the WHR from Caernarfon to Porthmadog from 1991-2011. It includes panels written by the people who took part and did the work; they tell their own story, as it affected them at the time. For those that want to speculate on the nature of the conflict between the Festiniog Railway Company and the 64 Co., you will find an attempt to provide a clear explanation as to what happened and why. The inside story is told of the FR Co. bid for the trackbed, that was called ‘shocking’ by Steam Railway, and of the conflict that arose as a result. You will also find Steam Railway offering significant support to the restoration process later. From the conflict, the restoration of the complete railway emerged, together with its extension to Caernarfon. There is no blame and recrimination in the story, but you will find reconciliation and appreciation of all who took part. The book contains information about the method for fundraising that was so successful, and the grants and flow of funds needed to do the job. It contains a description of the construction process with reference to actual construction GA drawings. Each of the Phases of construction is carefully described, and includes information and pictures from the wonderful Bangor University website, created and maintained by the late Dr Ben Fisher, together with a selection of some of the photographs sent in to him by so many of the people who offered their images to be used to show how the job was done. The book is well illustrated, for as well as those attributed photographs that Ben offered for use on the website: Mike Schumann offered a unique set of construction photos, taken from the unrestored railway trackbed, right through until 2003; Roland Doyle contributed his construction pictures; Peter Johnson’s expert shots are included, plus a large number of pictures that were shot by the author specially for the book. This is a railway book with a difference; it describes the renaissance of 25 miles of new narrow gauge railway – and few of those have been built in UK in recent years. One feature unique to this book is the large number of maps. These colourful and highly detailed additions to the pages were drawn specifically for the volume by the author – and that is why they are unique. Nothing else like them exists elsewhere, and they bring the book to life. It is a big book – 448 pages – and has taken three years to write. Its sale price is high, but that is partly so that a portion may go back to help the completion of the wonderful new railway that inspired it to be written. Although the railway is fully open – it is still not finished.
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