Nantlle Railway

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Nantlle Railway
Nantlle Tramway wagon.jpg
Horse-drawn slate wagon used on the Tramway, now preserved at the Welsh Slate Museum, Llanberis
Locale Wales
Dates of operation 1828–1865
Successor Carnarvonshire Railway
Track gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) and 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Headquarters Penygroes

The Nantlle Railway (sometimes referred to as the Nantlle Tramway) was a Welsh narrow gauge railway built to carry slate from several slate quarries in the Nantlle Valley to the harbour at Caernarfon for export by sea. The line received its Act of Parliament in 1825 and was constructed by Robert Stephenson, brother of George Stephenson.[1] It opened in 1828 and was operated using horse power. Although built solely for the transport of slate, the line is known to have carried passengers at various times between Caernarfon and Penygroes.

Ownership changes[edit]

The railway was absorbed into the Carnarvonshire Railway in 1865 and later the London and North Western Railway. The main part of its route, from Caernarfon to Penygroes, was rebuilt in 1867, in places on an adjacent alignment, to single track standard gauge main line standards to allow the operation of the Carnarvonshire Railway's steam hauled trains through to Afon Wen. The lower valley section from Penygroes to Talysarn (where transshipment yards were laid out) was converted to standard gauge in 1872. The remainder of the line continued in use as a horse-drawn tramway linking Talysarn with several local quarries, and was operated as such by the LNWR, from 1923 the London Midland and Scottish Railway and from 1948 until 1963 by British Railways as far as the Pen-yr-Orsedd Quarry. It is the last recorded use of horses by BR, and closed only with the closure of the branch line to which it connected. The northern section of the original trackbed, between Dinas Junction and Caernarfon, now forms part of the reopened Welsh Highland Railway.

Rolling stock[edit]

The narrow gauge line was a form of wagonway constructed to a gauge of 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) and equipped with four wheeled wagons fitted with double-flanged wheels,[2][3] which were loose on fixed axles. The wagons were owned by the tramway, rather than the quarries and the many that survived into BR ownership had narrow steel plate bodies, which were mounted between the wheels and bolted to the axles.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Boyd 1990, p. ??.
  2. ^ Hatherill & Hatherill 2009, pp. 7 & 45.
  3. ^ Messenger 2008, pp. 25-9 & 32-5.


  • Boyd, James I.C. (1990) [1972]. Narrow Gauge Railways in North Caernarvonshire, Volume 1: The West. Headington, Oxford: The Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-273-0. 
  • Hatherill, Gordon; Hatherill, Ann (2009). Slate Quarry Album. Garndolbenmaen: RCL Publications. ISBN 9780953876389. 
  • Messenger, Michael (2008). Slate Quarry Railways of Gwynedd. Truro: Twelveheads Press. ISBN 978 0 906294 68 0. 

Further reading[edit]

  • "The Nantlle Railway". The Why and the Wherefore. The Railway Magazine. Vol. 94 no. 573. London: Tothill Press Limited. January–February 1948. p. 68. 
  • Richards, Alun John (2001). The Slate Railways of Wales. Llanrwst: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. ISBN 0-86381-689-4. 

External links[edit]