The tale of two awkward tradesmen, a remote station, and a light railway king

By Geoff Courtney

A previously untold Welsh Highland Railway story of nearly 100 years ago involving two awkward tradesmen, unused land at a remote station, and an intervention by light railway king Colonel Holman F Stephens, has been unearthed by WHR Heritage Group archivist Dick Lystor.

At the double: A double-header of double Fairlie 0-4-4-0T locomotives enters Nantmor station on April 14, 2012, at the head of ‘The Snowdonian’. The lead engine is Merddin Emrys, built by the Ffestiniog Railway in 1879 and named after a sixth century Welsh poet, and behind is Earl of Merioneth, built exactly 100 years later by the revived Ffestiniog Railway. Inset: The restored Nantmor station. ROB ROSSINGTON/IAN McLOUGHLIN

The 1ft 11½in gauge railway opened between Portmadoc and Dinas in June 1923, and six months later Robert Roberts, a coal merchant living in the hamlet of Nantmor near the southern end of the line, expressed a wish to build a coal yard at his local station.

Six days before Christmas Roberts held a meeting with permanent way inspector G Lewis Griffith to discuss his plan, and within two days Griffith produced a report for WHR superintendent John May detailing Roberts’ requirements, which included a request that the area for his yard, close to the station’s siding, be concreted.

Roberts said he expected to sell about 16 tons of coal per month, and he even went so far as expressing a wish for further land on the station site on which he planned to build a refreshment room. His proposal indicated that he would erect the building himself and be prepared to sign a lease for 10 years.

Read more in issue 228 of HR – on sale now!

 

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