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Vintage stock rolled out as Bygones festival features passenger, gravity, slate and freight trains

01 Oct 2023 3 minute read
James Spooner II first fire. Picture by Chris Parry from the Festrail media gallery

Heritage train fans can enjoy a three-day festival of vintage stock, as significant eras of railway history are showcased next weekend at Ffestiniog Railway.

Passenger, gravity, slate and freight trains from the heritage collection will feature as part of the railway’s hugely popular ‘s Bygones Weekend.

Making a debut appearance at the event will be new-build Double Fairlie James Spooner which can be seen in Harbour Station for much of the weekend.

The James Spooner is the seventh locomotive to be built by the Festiniog Railway Company in its workshops at Boston Lodge, and the seventh FR Double Fairlie. The building of the new locomotive was announced in 2016 and will be a replacement for Earl of Merioneth.

This locomotive takes its name from an earlier FR engine which was named after the company’s first manager.

Although it will not be hauling passenger stock, it is hoped to see it in action on a goods train. In addition, it will form part of a Fairlie locomotive line up on Friday evening and a Saturday evening photo charter.

Another event favourite – Spooner’s ‘Boat’ – will be out and about on Saturday and Sunday.

Spooner’s Boat is a ‘curious vehicle’ and, according to Robert Gwynne, Associate Curator at National Railway Museum, is a replica of a sail powered vehicle which was said to be used to cross the Cob at Porthmadog.

It was destroyed in 1886 when it had a head-on collision with a train while being piloted by Charles Easton Spooner, the line’s engineer, and son of James.


The Ffestiniog Railway Heritage Group will have a new exhibition in Minffordd Gweithdy over the weekend – featuring a fresh selection of fascinating artefacts, along with the popular 16mm live steam layout.

Organisers say there will be a number of stands and stalls set up during the event, including Bachmann, Wales on Rails and the Network Rail/Cambrian Railway Partnership.

The stalls will include second-hand books, local photographs and a local author, along with the ‘ALCO’ team with updates on progress and selling ‘1265’ branded merchandise.

The weekend also features some tours of the ‘Boston Lodge – NLHF Project’. These take place on Saturday, with participants departing on the 10:15 and 14:00 services from Porthmadog.

There will be no charge for these tours, but an event ticket is required. Spaces on the tours are strictly limited, so pre-booking is required.

Full details of locomotives, rolling stock, timings etc. will be included in the ‘Bygones Weekend’ Guide, which can be ordered online at the same time as tickets.

Three day timetable is downloadable here and tickets can be booked here.

Rover tickets will be available, allowing you to ‘hop-on / hop-off’ Bygones Weekend passenger trains (not valid on regular F&WHR services).

  • Three-Day Rovers:Adults £100 / Child £50
  • Day Rover tickets: Adults £45 / Child £22.50

There will be a 20% discount for FRS, CRhE/WHRS, TRPS Members – plus holders of a Rail Staff or HRA Pass.

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago

Guess where we are off for lunch today…

FR Porthmadog…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Had a lovely lunch, such a friendly place…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago

If you want to see a master class in how to run a successful Railway and Restaurant there is no better example than the FR Porthmadog…

9 months ago

For a moment I thought that was a picture of TfW’s new engine units !

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