The Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways have been shortlisted for two prestigious awards at the upcoming HRA (Heritage Railway Association) 2024 Annual Awards.

New double Fairlie, James Spooner has been shortlisted for the Coiley Award for Steam Locomotive Engineering and Marketing Lead, Osian Hughes has been shortlisted for the HRA Award for Rising Stars.

The Coiley Award for Steam Locomotive Engineering is awarded to a HRA member organisation who has completed an outstanding engineering project in the overhaul, restoration, or preservation of a steam locomotive or self-propelled vehicle.

Osian Hughes
Osian Hughes, has also been shortlisted in the Rising Star category. (Chris Parry)

The Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway’s newest double Fairlie, ‘James Spooner’ is the 5th new build loco built by Boston Lodge works since 1979. It was officially launched on the 20th of October 2023 in a ceremony staged at Blaenau Ffestiniog station.

Since it was first announced in early 2016 that work to build a new double Fairlie would commence, the outstanding efforts of both staff and volunteers at Boston Lodge workshops along with significant financial contributions from supporters has resulted in what is one of the most significant engineering achievements in the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway’s recent history.

The newest locomotive pays homage to the original James Spooner of 1872 and several Victorian-era features have been incorporated in the design – including the iconic boiler-mounted bells, stovepipe chimneys, square sand boxes and an open cab – featured on the early double Fairlies.

The Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway’s Marketing Lead, Osian Hughes, has also been shortlisted in the Rising Star category.

Since joining the company in 2020, it was clear Osian was going to make a significant contribution with his positive attitude and problem solving ability which has greatly aided the railway over the past three years as it has changed its business model. He has worked hard to learn about the company and the world of railways taking an active role in Great Little Trains of Wales and with the Wales on Rails project which connects GLTW with the community rail partnerships in Wales to encourage leisure rail travel into and around the country.

A fluent Welsh speaker, he has worked with the Welsh Language Commission to create a Welsh Language Development Plan for the Company so that our improvement in this area can be monitored. He recently organised an exhibit of loco and carriages at the National Eisteddfod, manned largely by Welsh speaking staff and volunteers to highlight the importance of the Welsh language to the company.

The winners will be announced at the 2024 HRA Awards in Brighton on the evening of Saturday, 10 February.