The Penrhyn Railway (brief history)



Brief History

The original Penrhyn Railway or tramway was constructed in 1801, designed by Benjamin Wyatt who was the land agent for Lord Penrhyn at that time. This railway incorporated three inclines along the route and consisted of four level sections between them. It is a subject of much debate in historical circles as to whether or not Lord Penrhyn introduced the two foot gauge system to the world.

Up to twenty wagons laden with slate were hauled by sets of horses between the inclines and this system worked efficiently for 75 years until it became apparent that such was the demand for slate, certain improvements would have to be carried out.

The first such modification came in the form of the Tyn Y Clwt Incline deviation, this meant that the incline nearest the quarry and the level crossing on St Anns road could be avoided in the form of a 1 in 34 deviation and the construction of a road bridge over the road. This new mile long section was designed and costructed by the Penrhyn Estate in 1876 and is now part of land secured by the Penrhyn Railway Trust.

The next major development was designed by Spooner of Ffestiniog fame and incorporated a major deviation at the head of Dinas incline with the new route deviating sharply West into the village of Tregarth and gradually veered East before entering Port Penrhyn in a Northerly direction. Spooner also came up with suggestions for locomotives and enclosed coaches all of which were rejected by the Penrhyn Estate.

Early motive power consisted of a trio of unique horizontal boilered DeWinton locomotives supplied in 1876, Edward Sholto(the first), Hilda and Violet. These locomotives although not by any means successful, worked the new railway untill the arival of the first Hunslet Charles in 1882 followed by Blanche and Linda in 1893.

Further articles will include locomotives, permanent way and much more.


Photographs of these early DeWinton locomotives have proved elusive, however, recently we descovered that two images of Hilda existed at Penrhyn Castle Railway Museum but these were removed in the 1960's and they are now in the hands of a group of "enthusiasts" who will remain nameless! We have obtained poor quality copies from a contact of a contact.We would like to stress that these images are the property of the Penrhyn Estate and any attempt made to publish them would attract the appropriate action. With this in mind we earge the group involved to return them to the rightful owners mentioned above.