Bala Lake Railway launched its Golden anniversary celebrations in style.
The four-and-half-mile narrow gauge railway that runs along the southern shore of Bala Lake to Bala PenyBont started a three-day celebratory event staged over the Bank Holiday weekend, marking 50 years since it first put down rails on this small section of the former Ruabon to Barmouth Junction mainline route.
Bala Lake Railway Company chairman, Dr David Gwynn, welcomed visitors to the event including guests from neighbouring railways, funders and local politicians. He then acted as fireman on the first service of the day, a special train to Bala PenyBont.
Dr Gwyn told the guests: “We’re looking forward with confidence to what is going to happen during the next 50 years.
“It was on this same Bank Holiday weekend in 1972 that the laying of rails began, and our first trains operated from August that same year.
“We’ve come a long way since those days. It’s wonderful to see so many of the family of our first general manager and founder, the late George Barnes, with us today and, as most people already know, our next ambition is to extend the railway into the town of Bala itself.”
One of the major features of the event was the launch of the book Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid y 50 Mlynedd Cyntaf/ Bala Lake Railway/ The First 50 Years 1972 -2022.
It is packed with pictures illustrating the progress the railway has made since rails were first laid under the guidance of George Barnes.
A specially brewed limited-edition beer and engraved glass was also produced for the occasion.
To represent those pioneering days, Bala Lake Railway Company hired a ‘Wren’ Class locomotive called ‘Joanne’ from the Amerton Railway in Staffordshire to represent one of the same class of locomotives called ‘Dryw Bach’ that ran services in the early years of the company’s operations.
The tiny steam engine had a celebratory headboard and flags attached and headed trains throughout the weekend.
Those who made their way to Llanuwchllyn to join in the celebrations also had more than trains to admire.
Children rode on a specially constructed miniature railway while two traction engines and a Sentinel steam-powered lorry were on display together with a veteran Bentley car in the station car park.
Throughout 2022, the railway will stage other anniversary events. The start of train services on the railway will be marked on 13 August and there will a bumper steam gala from 27-29 August, alongside events during the year.
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