Bala Lake Railway

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Bala Lake Railway
Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid
Bala Lake Railway - 2004-07-18.jpg
Alice at Llanuwchllyn, 18 July 2004
Locale Wales
Terminus Llanuwchllyn
Preserved operations
Length 4.5 miles (7.2 km)
Preserved gauge 2 ft (610 mm)
Commercial history
Closed 1965
Preservation history
A Bala Lake Railway trip
Bala Lake Railway
Ruabon to Barmouth Line
Bala (Penybont) previously Bala Lake Halt
Bryn Hynod Halt (closed 2011)
Glan Llyn Halt (very limited use)
Pentrepiod Halt
Ruabon to Barmouth Line
Maid Marian waiting with a train at Bala station in the rain.
Holy War heading for Llanwchlyn (the locomotive is now painted blue).

The Bala Lake Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid) is a preserved railway at Bala Lake, in Gwynedd, north Wales, which runs for a distance of 4 12 miles (7.2 km) using 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge rolling stock.

It was built on a section of the former Ruabon - Barmouth GWR route which was closed in 1965. This section runs along the south-eastern shore of Bala Lake. Another section of the former trackbed is today used by the Llangollen Railway. The Bala Lake Railway is a member of the Great Little Trains of Wales.

Stations and route[edit]

Following closure of the standard gauge line in 1965, the Bala Lake Railway opened on 13 August 1972, operating over 1.5 miles of track from Llanuwchllyn to Pentrepiod. Although Pentrepiod station is now a small request-stop halt, it was the eastern passenger terminus for the first operating season. Extension work continued throughout this period, and by the start of 1973 the line had been extended to Llangower. Extension works continued and in 1975 the line reached a new temporary station at Pant-yr-hen-felin.[1] The following year, 1976, the line reached Bala (Llyn Tegid), now known as Bala (Penybont). It was intended to continue the expansion into the town centre of Bala, opening this last stage in 1981, but these plans were abandoned early in that year.[2]

The railway's stations are:

  • Llanuwchllyn is the railway's headquarters, and includes the main railway buildings, workshops and offices.
  • Pentrepiod Halt is an operational request stop.
  • Glan Llyn Halt is a limited-use station, open only during the Halloween and Santa Special train services.
  • Llangower is the principal intermediate station. All trains stop here, and trains pass in the passing loop during a two-train service.
  • Bryn Hynod Halt was a request stop. It closed in 2011, and the platform was demolished in February 2012.
  • Bala (Penybont) is the line's other terminus, and is located near the town of Bala. There have been various plans to extend the railway into Bala itself, but none have been realised.


Most trains on the line as steam-hauled, using one of three locomotives currently in service. Steam locomotives currently in use or stored on the line are Maid Marian, works number 822 (in use), Holy War, works number 779 (in use), Alice, works number 780 (in use) and George B, works number 680. George B is currently undergoing a lengthy rebuild. In April 2012, the slightly larger locomotive Winifred, works number 364, was repatriated to the UK from a warehouse at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the USA, to be permanently located on the Bala Lake Railway. At present the loco is being restored to working condition.[3] All the locos were built by the Hunslet Engine Company, for the Dinorwic Quarry and Penrhyn Quarry. The current steam locomotives (and two of the former engines) are all Hunslet Engine Company slate quarry locomotives,[4] leading the railway to advertise itself as the home of the Hunslet brand. One locomotive, Maid Marian, has twice undergone full overhauls at the expense of a special supporters' society for railfans with a particular concern for this engine.[5]

Until late 2011, Peckett 0-6-0st Triassic was stored on the Bala Lake Railway, but has since been relocated to the Statfold Barn Railway due to storage space issues.[6]

There are four main diesel locomotives in service on the railway.[7] These include Meirionydd, a Bo-Bo diesel-hydrostatic locomotive built by Severn Lamb, of Stratford-upon-Avon in 1973, and based on a Western class standard gauge locomotive outline design; Trigger (Bob Davies), a Baguley Drewery, works no. 780, which is the railway's main standby diesel, used to haul out of season trains, for yard shunting and goods or works train haulage, which was built as 2 ft 6in gauge for the Royal Navy at Fishguard, purchased by Pete Briddon's Yorkshire Engine Company, regauged to 2 ft, and named 'Bob Davies' in honour of a remarkable railway man; Chilmark, Ruston & Hornsby, works no. 194771, the oldest of the railway's diesels (a 40DL diesel mechanical 3-speed built in 1939 for the Air Ministry), used by the Royal Air Force for hauling explosives and ammunition at RAF Chilmark, Wiltshire; and Lady Madcap, a Ruston & Hornsby 20DL, which sees only occasional use for light shunting and ballast ploughing.

A new addition to the fleet is a track maintenance trolley in the style of a standard gauge Wickham trolley.

Summary of locomotives[edit]

Locomotive Name Locomotive Type Year Built Builder Works Number Notes
Current Steam Locomotives
Winifred 0-4-0 ST 1885 Hunslet Engine Co 364 Relaunched 13th April 2015, by Pete Waterman.
George B 0-4-0 ST 1898 Hunslet Engine Co 680 Undergoing long-term restoration.
Holy War 0-4-0 ST 1902 Hunslet Engine Co 779 In regular service.
Alice 0-4-0 ST 1902 Hunslet Engine Co 780 In regular service.
Maid Marian 0-4-0 ST 1903 Hunslet Engine Co 822 In regular service.
Former Steam Locomotives
Lilla 0-4-0 ST 1891 Hunslet Engine Co 554 Sold to Ffestiniog Railway in 1997.
Jonathan 0-4-0 ST 1898 Hunslet Engine Co 678 Left BLR in 1986.
Dryw Bach or Ashover 0-4-0 ST 1918 Kerr Stuart 3114 Now in the Phyllis Rampton Narrow Gauge Railway Trust collection.
Triassic 0-6-0 ST 1911 Peckett 1270 At Bala from 1992. In service from 2008. Left Bala Lake 2011.
Helen Kathryn 0-4-0 ST 1948 Kassel, Germany 28035 At BLR from first opening until 1975. Moved to Llanberis Lake Railway and now on South Tynedale Railway in Cumbria.
Current Diesel Locomotives
Chilmark 4W DM 1939 Ruston & Hornsby 194771 Built as an RAF ammunition locomotive. At BLR since 1976.
Lady Madcap 4W DM Ruston & Hornsby Light duties.
Bob Davies 4W DM Baguley Drewery 780 Built for the Royal Navy. Passenger & engineers' locomotive.
Merionnydd Bo-Bo 1973 Severn-Lamb 22 Diesel hydrostatic double-cabbed locomotive. Passenger locomotive. Built for the BLR.
Wickham trolley 4W trolley A track inspection trolley in the style of a Wickham trolley.
Former Diesel Locomotives
Goofy 4W DM 1930 Hudson 38384
"No 2" 4W DM 1936 Ruston & Hornsby 182137
4W DM 1938 Ruston & Hornsby 189972
Indian Runner "No 3" 4W DM 1940 Ruston & Hornsby 200744 Built for gravel works. Moved to BLR in 1977. Left BLR in 2004. (Named Invicta until 1981.)
Cernyw "No 11" 4W DM 1940 Ruston & Hornsby 200748
Flaxen 4W DM 1942 Ruston & Hornsby 209430
4W DM 1949 Ruston & Hornsby 283512
4W DM 1934 Motor Rail 5821
4W DM 1939 Hunslet Engine Co 1974
4W DM 1942 Hibberd 2544
4W DM 1949 Lister-Blackstone 34025 Left BLR in 2001 (to Devon Railway Centre).
Alister "No 2" 4W DM 1958 Lister-Blackstone 44052

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Steam '82 directory, edited by Roger Crombleholme and Terry Kirtland, published 1981 by Allen & Unwin (London), ISBN 0-04-385091-X, entry 304.
  2. ^ Statement of G H Barnes (General Manager) in Steam '81 directory, edited by Roger Crombleholme and Terry Kirtland, published 1981 by Allen & Unwin (London), ISBN 978-0-04-385082-4, entry 304.
  3. ^ "Welcome to the Bala Lake Railway". Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  4. ^ See the full list at this supporters' society webpage.
  5. ^ See that society's own website.
  6. ^ "Triassic moves to Statfold". Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  7. ^ See data and illustrations at the official webpage.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°52′48″N 3°37′34″W / 52.88000°N 3.62611°W / 52.88000; -3.62611