Lord Hendy has unveiled a new heritage plaque at Barmouth Viaduct and named a locomotive after Talyllyn Railway.

The plaque was unveiled on the walkway next to Barmouth Viaduct, and a class 97 locomotive was named after Rheilffordd Talyllyn Railway.

Lord Hendy, chair of Network Rail, joined Ken Skates MS, Mayor of Barmouth Owain Pritchard and members of the Network Rail project team to unveil the plaque.

This follows completion of the £30m restoration of Barmouth Viaduct in December 2023 following a four-year programme of work to restore the 156-year-old Grade II listed structure to its former glory and protect it for generations to come.

The Railway Heritage Trust was instrumental in funding the new handrails on the viaduct, and they provided the plaque on the walkway next to this iconic structure.

After unveiling the plaque, Lord Hendy took the Class 97 locomotive from Barmouth to Tywyn where that locomotive was officially named by him.

The nameplates in the style of the Talyllyn Railway logo were revealed on the loco. Two mounted replicas cast were presented to David Ventry, Talyllyn Railway chair, and general managers, Liz Porrett and Lorraine Simkiss.

Ken Skates, Liz Porrett, David Ventry, Lorraine Simkiss and Lord Peter Hendy. Photo: Network Rail
Ken Skates, Liz Porrett, David Ventry, Lorraine Simkiss and Lord Peter Hendy. Photo: Network Rail (Network Rail)

Lord Hendy said: “I’m delighted to have unveiled the new plaque in Barmouth following four years of painstaking work by the project team to restore this iconic viaduct.

“I’m very fond of this railway and our Cambrian lines, and it always seemed to me a great shame that the dedicated locomotives on the Cambrian didn’t bear the names of railways with whom we have a very close connection.

“It’s taken time and quite a lot of effort to get to the stage where we could name this Class 97 after the Talyllyn Railway, but having taken so long it seems particularly appropriate that it is on the cusp of the Talyllyn’s 75th anniversary as the first preserved railway in the world.

“And, unlike the previous locomotive named after the railway, this one will actually get to Tywyn!”

Tim Hedley-Jones, Director of the Railway Heritage Trust, said: “We were very pleased to work with Network Rail on the restoration of Grade II* listed Barmouth Viaduct. By reinstating handrails more in keeping with the architecture of the bridge we hope that those crossing it will better appreciate this marvel of Victorian engineering.”

The Cabinet Secretary for North Wales and Transport, Ken Skates said: “The restoration of the iconic Barmouth Bridge, the longest viaduct in Wales and a vital part of the Cambrian railway line, will provide a huge boost to our rail infrastructure, linking communities and encouraging more tourists to see this beautiful part of Wales, supporting the local economy.”

David Ventry, Talyllyn Railway chair, said: “We are grateful to Network Rail not only for Barmouth Bridge but donations of sleepers and assistance with relocating our standard gauge wagon. Life for heritage railways is becoming more difficult, as it is with bigger railways. But we are grateful for the support Network Rail gives us and the Heritage Railway Association which is much appreciated.”