P48 RW Kidner
Russell at Beddgelert for Dinas with a heavy train, probably shunting.
In this photograph, the train behind Russell comprised the Gladstone, an Ashbury un-glazed "Summer" (No.28), Ashbury "Corridor" No.24, Pickering Brake Composite, apparently, from the lettering, No.9, Ashbury un-glazed "Summer" No.27 and possibly at least one additional coach occulted by the water tower.
Kidner did also photograph a departure from Beddgelert, viewed from the rear of train (see Johnson’s "Illustrated History", first edition, page 120). The train in that case comprised, from the rear, Pickering Brake Composite No.9 (this time clearly identifiable), Ashbury "Corridor" No.24, an Ashbury un-glazed "Summer" and the Gladstone Car. A gangers’ trolley had been attached to the rear of the Pickering.This train make-up seems identical to that seen in P48, but without the carriage(s) beyond the Pickering.
We know from our analysis of Wheeller’s photographs that it was not unusual that carriages were left in the Inspection Siding, perhaps because passenger numbers did not warrant their inclusion in the train and sometimes physically to switch carriages between Dinas-based and Portmadoc-based sets.
Assuming that Kidner took both these photographs on the same occasion (which seems likely) then P48 would indeed be showing a shunting manoeuvre.
'590' & train awaiting departure from Harbour. Shows guard with 'Bell-punch' apparatus. Five Valleys Tour train, (same train as P34).
Whether or not the train seen in this image was 'physically' the 'Five Valleys Tour' is a moot point.
The photograph was clearly taken after the establishment of the FR lease in 1934. Whilst at that time the FR tried to bolster tourist traffic, for example by advertising the Five Valleys Tour, it seems unlikely that WHR stock would at this time have been operating up the Festiniog. If this was an onward Five Valleys movement up the Welsh Highland, more likely this would have been after making connection with an FR working from Blaenau. Clifford also photographed this working, apparently on the same occasion, when the locomotive was at the Harbour water tower (P32) and when the train was stationary at Portmadoc New (North) (P34). This latter shows not only the semi-glazed Ashbury 'Summer' No.26 visible in P40, but the other two carriages in the train - Ashbury 'Corridor' No.25 and Pickering Brake Composite No.9 (? - see comments on P34). Clifford apparently took at least two other photographs of the Baldwin by the Harbour water tower (see Boyd Vol.2 facing page 39 for one of these two photos and British Railway Journal, Issue 72, page 289 for the other), neither of which appear in the 'official' Welsh Highland lists. However, these were not taken on the same occasion as P32 as in these other images the locomotive’s smoke box door had been adorned with the legend 'King Kong'. The film 'King Kong' had been released in the UK at Easter 1933 so it is a moot point just why and when this logo might have been applied to the locomotive. The 'King Kong' photos were taken post-lease as the locomotive is seen to have been turned, but it seems likely that the logo was quickly 'lost' as Welsh Highland equipment was progressively 'smartened up' through 1934.
The British Railway Journal "non-list" Clifford photograph is of particular interest in that the photographer’s angle allows a view past the locomotive and the station’s end wall to show Welsh Highland stock in the main platform road at Harbour.
This rather suggests that the standard practice for the first morning departures was to stable WHR stock overnight at Harbour (road 3) whilst the locomotive stayed at Boston Lodge.It would await departure of the first FR service to Blaenau, draw the WHR stock onto the Cob and set back into the platform road using the now cleared routes through Harbour Station, run around to the water tower and complete preparations for departure when ready, move the locomotive directly onto the stock in the platform road, on departure propel the stock out onto the Cob and then set off directly on to the cross-town link and on to Beddgelert or South Snowdon.
It seems likely that P40 was taken at the culmination of this process - as the locomotive and train were drawing forward onto the cross-town link. The Guard presumably would have boarded the train as the Pickering passed him, hopefully slowly! The photograph appears to have been taken at about 4:00 in the afternoon (the 1934 timetable showed a 4:00 departure which, unlike the earlier 1:40 departure, made contact at Beddgelert with an onward service to Dinas). The 2:10 FR service from Blaenau would have arrived at Harbour at 3:10 and set off back to Blaenau at 3:20. The Welsh Highland train due to depart Harbour at 4:00 would have arrived from Beddgelert at 3:00 - demanding the essentials of the sequence of events noted above to clear both FR and WHR arrivals and departures."Five Valleys" travellers would thus have left Blaenau at 2:10 to arrive at Dinas at 6:05.
The Guard with the bell-punch would appear to have been Mr Marks, prominent, for example, in the Topical Press photographs also taken in 1934.
P39 1923 Clifford
'Prince'(?) & two carriages at Portmadoc New .
The photograph shows Prince with two carriages visible, one Festiniog and one Welsh Highland. The Festiniog vehicle was one of their "cheap" Ashbury carriages (No.21 and 22) acquired in 1897-8, four years after the Welsh Highland acquired the last of their Ashburys. Behind the FR Ashbury we see one of the Welsh Highland ex-NWNGR Pickering Brake Composites. This carriage had not yet been cut down when the photograph was taken.
Prince was specially configured for operation over the WHR in its early days, specifically by the fitting of chopper couplings the better to couple with Welsh Highland stock. However, the ex-NWNGR vehicles operated by the WHR were air-braked until vacuum brake modifications were carried out, typically in 1924. Before this conversion, the majority of WHR carriages could only be operated by WHR locomotives. To enable the use of Festiniog locomotives, four Welsh Highland vehicles were dual-braked, i.e. were fitted with both air and vacuum brakes, for use in the very early days of WHR operation. These vehicles were:
Pickering Brake Composite No.8 (ex-NWNGR No.4)
Metropolitan "Tourist" Car (the Gladstone Car)
Ashbury "Corridor" No.23 (ex-NWNGR No.10)Brake Van No.4 - converted from FR Type 3 Quarrymen’s Carriage.
Pickering No.8 had its roof lowered in March 1924 (ref. WHH Issue 10) and as P39 appears to have been taken on a pleasant summer’s evening, it would seem that the photograph was most probably taken in 1923. Although there are no positive identifying features, we can readily deduce from this timing that the Pickering in P39 must therefore have been No.8, the dual-braked vehicle.
P37 1924 Unknown
Merddin Emrys is seen with a train of Welsh Highland stock about to enter the cross-town link at Portmadoc Harbour. The train comprised: Ashbury semi-glazed "Summer" No.26 (? - the image is not entirely clear); Ashbury "Corridor" No.25; one of the Pickering Brake Composite carriages. There appears to have been another carriage behind the Pickering, but the image does not allow this to be properly identified.
No.25 had its roof lowered in April 1924 according to the tables in WHH Issue 10. However, as the carriages are being pulled by a Festiniog loco it is apparent that they had also been converted to, or had had fitted in parallel, vacuum brakes. WHH Issue 10 suggests that this modification was made to No.25 in May 1924. Additionally, No.26 had had its roof lowered (April 1924) and had had vacuum brakes fitted (May 1924) and the Pickering had had its roof lowered also. No.8 was so treated in March 1924 and No.9 in May 1924. No.8 was one of three carriages dual-braked from the earliest Welsh Highland days. No.25 had "WELSH HIGHLAND RAILWAY" painted on its sides in April 1924 and this wording is clearly visible in the photograph. However, it is not clear whether No.26 had had its lettering applied (July 1924) or whether the Pickering had been so treated (August 1924). All dates are ref. WHH Issue 10. Unless the lettering is not visible because of the poor quality of the image, this suggests a date window of between May and July of 1924.
We know from articles in Welsh Highland Heritage Issues 20 and 24 that double-engines were rostered over the Welsh Highland in 1923 and 1924, but in all probability were rare visitors to the railway after that. If so, the view in P.37 should not have been too unusual in the summer of 1924. Additionally, the Moelwyn Tunnel Accident of August 1924 (WHH Issue 30) confirms that Welsh Highland passenger stock ran all the way to Blaenau in that year.