Jump to content

Tim V

Were you a Deviationist?

Recommended Posts

So did you work on the Festniog's deviation? I did briefly in 1971. Stayed in Tunnel Mess.

 

Looks like Mountaineer leaving on a Down train from the terminus at Dduallt.

post-7177-0-24561200-1352145441_thumb.jpg

 

Turning left and this was the view towards our worksite at Barn Cutting

post-7177-0-46483400-1352145429_thumb.jpg

 

I've paused from filling that skip to take a picture in Barn Cutting.

post-7177-0-18233600-1352145433_thumb.jpg

 

The old line left Dduallt Station through this gate.

post-7177-0-90115600-1352145435_thumb.jpg

 

Behind Tunnel Mess was the old tunnel

post-7177-0-83371900-1352145438_thumb.jpg

  • Like 11

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 

No I wasn't a deviationist - my sole manual contribution to the entire preservation movement being an Easter weekend digging ditches at Tywyn - but at the time the deviation seemed the grandest and most daring thing imaginable. Did it not also include one of the first UK examples of NATM - New Austrian Tunnelling Method? The achievements of those days have to some extent been eclipsed by WHR success - but in the context of the era in which they were realised the deviation was unparalleled.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes I was a (somewhat intermittent) Deviationist in the mid-1970s. Michael Vila, who was one of the four working party leaders, worked for me at Sealink. My "bashes" included a week post-Christmas 1973 when we did a lot of work but still found time to invade Harlech Castle and then the Ynyspandy slate mill on New Year's Eve, and then complete a long circular walk via Rhosydd, Cnicht summit and Tan y Bwlch on New Year's Day. I also managed to travel on a special one-van train between Ddaullt and Tunnel Mess - a very rare bit of track which I am sad to see lies lifted and totally abandoned today. To my mind a real piece of heritage vandalism.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, I never was a devationist.

In 1971 (and only 13) I was only just discovering NG railways, having been inspired by Doreen Andrews Torandor Valley Railway layout. That summers holiday was spent at Corris where I visited all the "Little trains of Wales" except the Snowdon Mountain Railway.

My only experiences of volunteering have been with the W&LLR which I joined in 1972 and have been a member of since.

 

post-6748-0-49238500-1352153169.jpg

Taken in 1972, my first go at volunteering, looking out of the green balloon - ticket collecting was a serious business!

 

post-6748-0-59715100-1352153178.jpg

My first photo taken on the W&L (I'd been painting an ex Chattenden & Upnor coach when the service train arrived).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I was there, started on the deviation in 1970 and have been involved ever since, although not so often hands on these days. Good to see those photos from 1971, remember it like it was yesterday. I made many good freinds there at tunnel mess, some of whom I am in regular touch with today.

Mention of the Welsh Highland project, very much a new deviation as many of the voulenteers from the 70s were also involved in that project, including Paul Bradshaw who led one of the two track laying teams.

Merf.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did my stint on the Deviation in summer 1972, again staying in the Tunnel Mess. Looking back, it's amazing how casual it all was. I think I wore safety boots but can't be sure. Not a hint of any other protection.

 

A treasured memory was gravitating down from Ddualt to Minffordd in a Hudson bogie wagon early on a summer morning before the main service started, sadly to get the train home, as we had connections to meet.

 

The Ffestiniog was a fascinating place to explore then, almost like a time capsule, with loads of unrestored stuff still intact. Wish I'd had a more reliable camera at the time. I took loads of photos but only one or two came out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dr Johnson said "Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been to sea."

 

I'm apt to have the same feeling about the Deviation.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah the Welshpool Llanfair, I also volunteered there early 70s, I think this picture is of Sylfaen Halt before reopening.

post-7177-0-52514200-1352219875_thumb.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Deviation was a very important part of my life from 1965 to 1978, as an active Deviationist, and for many years later, even until now, as so many of my best friends were made through the process of shovelling s**te together - usually in appalling conditions but sometimes in glorious weather amongst some of the best scenery in Britain. One of these friends, Anne Mirtle, became my first wife in 1974. Sadly she died in 1993.

 

I was introduced to the project by a fellow Edinburgh University student, Roger Moore. He was studying civil engineering and had met Gerald Fox, the main visionary, designer and motivator of the Deviation, on a placement at a nuclear power station in Anglesey. We went on our first working party in 1965 or 66, staying at Campbell's Manor, and working on sites 1 and 2, which were cuttings at the North end of Dduallt station, at the beginning of the spiral.

 

We created a student society, the Dduallt and Tan y Grisiau Deviation Society, "Devsov" for short, and gained many members who had a very misleading idea of what we did...

 

The best days were the earliest, when we had no supervision and no machinery other than a compressor, which allowed us to drill holes for Colonel Campbell, who filled them with explosives. He loved a good bang! Most of the work was digging out rock with mattocks and crowbars, shovelling it into rail-mounted skips and tipping the stone to form the embryo embankment. A week's progress would be measured in inches (and barrels of beer emptied).

 

Later we stayed at Tunnel Mess and came under the dubious control of Bunny Lewis. He was an ex-marine sergeant major, and two more different cultures than the marines and university students could hardly be imagined. However, we eventually developed a mutual respect and came to love Bunny - a really unforgettable character. He eventually moved on to be a publican and barge-master and died far too young.

 

It was a great privilege to be on the first down train from Tan y Grisiau in 1978 but we missed the up train because my car broke down on the way from Edinburgh.

 

My highest honour was to be made Hon President of Edinburgh University Deviation Society but it's not the sort of thing one can put on a C.V.

 

I'd love to hear more memories. If you've read this far you will have realised that the Deviation years were the best years of my life!

 

Ian

 

P.S. I do have some photos of Devsoc in action but have no idea where they are!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With 'deviationists' all over the TV news, I expected the worse!

 

A pal of mine, an RMweb member, was. It seems like another Century ago now, as does Crosville buses picking up passengers at the Tanygrisiau terminus. The Festiniog Railway is a pretty slick operation but loads of thanks deservedly go to the weekend volunteers who braved the elements and worked in pretty grim conditions on the deviation in order to bring the little railway back to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah the Welshpool Llanfair, I also volunteered there early 70s, I think this picture is of Sylfaen Halt before reopening.

 

 

That looks like Sylfaen farm in the background. One of my photos from a similar viewpoint taken 19/2/1984.

post-6748-0-00432000-1352237143.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Amazing - I instantly recognised Merfyn Jones. You certainly wouldn't recognise me these days eevn if you remembered me!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Phil

This was an amazing project given the serious lack of other than manual equipment to do the job. We lived in Coventry in the 1960s but my dad was a Fessy nut and visited the line several times in the 1960s. I got the chance to go up with him and Ron Cadman in the late 1960s and stayed overnight in Portmadoc. In 1971 we moved to Wales and the GLTW became very popular places to visit. Although we lived in Corris and had our own heritage on our doorstep, i cycled up to the Festiniog railway several times in my teens. Although I didn't have a camera, my mental images do help, and I recall going up on the shuttle to (was it) Gelliwiog. The coach at that time was only semi glazed, and was bare inside with wooden seats and red primer steelwork, but it was a fantastic project in the preservation world.

 

Lookiong back thirty odd years later, it is very easy to forget about all those man hours put in by volunteers shifting hundreds, or even thousands of tons of rock with the aid of just an air compressor, crowbars and a skip wagon.

 

Rerally pleased this thread has been created and I'd love to see and hear more.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Going back to the OP, yes, very briefly in the mid 70s, a younger friend wanted to go and I had a car so we spent the weekend there... All I can remember is that it was wetter in the tunnel than outside, we were clearing out the waste after the shotcreting... Sorry to say it was rather a miserable weekend and I didn't go back...

Edited by Hobby

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes I was a (somewhat intermittent) Deviationist in the mid-1970s. Michael Vila, who was one of the four working party leaders, worked for me at Sealink. My "bashes" included a week post-Christmas 1973 when we did a lot of work but still found time to invade Harlech Castle and then the Ynyspandy slate mill on New Year's Eve, and then complete a long circular walk via Rhosydd, Cnicht summit and Tan y Bwlch on New Year's Day. I also managed to travel on a special one-van train between Ddaullt and Tunnel Mess - a very rare bit of track which I am sad to see lies lifted and totally abandoned today. To my mind a real piece of heritage vandalism.

Apparently the old track bed was swapped for the new with the landowner at no cost hence the old track bed is rapidly disappearing. The northern end of the old tunnel is still visible with the low embankment diving into the lake. I have sat on a slate wagon pulled by a Simplex over the half mile down to Ddualt.

I stayed at Tunnel Mess three times 72-74 for two weeks each time. Basic was the word and the three tier bunks left a lot to be desired.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wasn't a deviationist because I was too busy volunteering on the running section of the Ffestiniog Railway.  However, I did spend an afternoon helping Jack Owen wire up the Tunnel Mess.  Does that count?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The old line left Dduallt Station through this gate.

dduallt3.jpg

 

Is that Colonel Campbell's private loco? Edited by Talltim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is that Colonel Campbell's private loco?

 

I think so - Jane, after his wonderfully eccentric, standard British army colonial corps, wife.

 

Ian

 

P.S. Still haven't found those photos but I really don't need them - it's all still firmly stored up here (taps forehead). Unforgettable!

 

Edited by clecklewyke

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But the rest of us would like to see them Ian!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I think so - Jane, after his wonderfully eccentric, standard British army colonial corps, wife.

 

Ian

 

P.S. Still haven't found those photos but I really don't need them - it's all still firmly stored up here (taps forehead). Unforgettable!

 

The loco in the photo is Jane, named after the late Bunny Lewis' wife.  If I remember rightly Andrew Campbell's loco was called The Colonel. I remember driving both and they were very similar.

Merf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The loco in the photo is Jane, named after the late Bunny Lewis' wife.  If I remember rightly Andrew Campbell's loco was called The Colonel. I remember driving both and they were very similar.

Merf

A yes,. I remember it well. Tricky little things, memories!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A yes,. I remember it well. Tricky little things, memories!

40 years ago is a long time, happy days.

Merf.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.