Penrhyn Quarry Railway

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Penrhyn Quarry Railway
Locale Wales
Dates of operation 1798–1962
Successor Abandoned
Track gauge 1 ft 10 34 in (578 mm)
Previous gauge 2 ft 12 in (622 mm) (until 1879)
Headquarters The Quarry Office, Port Penrhyn, Bangor.

The Penrhyn Quarry Railway first opened in 1798 as the Llandegai Tramway; it became the Penrhyn Railway in 1801 although on a different route. Constructed to transport slate from Lord Penrhyn's slate quarries at Bethesda to Port Penrhyn at Bangor, Wales, the railway was around six miles (9.7 km) long and used a gauge of 1 ft 10 34 in (578 mm). It is one of the oldest narrow gauge railways in the world, and closed in 1962.

In 2012, the first section of the railway was restored by Penrhyn Quarries Ltd. and further sections are planned.


Llandegai Tramway (1798-1831)[edit]

Map of the Llandegai Tramway

The earliest predecessor to the Penrhyn Quarry Railway was the mile long 2 ft 12 in (622 mm) gauge Llandegai tramway which was built in 1798. The tramway was connected to a local flint mill that ground clay and chert into flints. These were transported to Porth Penrhyn on the coast by the tramway, which was one of the earliest overground railways in Britain. It included two balanced gravity inclines one from the floor of the Cegin valley near Llandegai to the hills above Bangor, the other dropping from there to the mill. Both inclines used vertically mounted winding drums.

Penrhyn Railway (1801-1878)[edit]

The success of the Llandegai Tramway encouraged the owners of the Penrhyn quarry to consider a similar tramway from their slate quarry to Porth Penrhyn. The plan subsumed the existing tramway into a longer railroad that connected Bethesda to the sea.

Construction started on 2 September 1800, relaying and extending the Llandegai Tramway, with the first slate train traveling on 25 June 1801. The new railway was also 2 ft 12 in (622 mm) gauge.[discuss] The connection to the Llandegai flint mill continued to be used until 1831. The railroad was operated by horse power along with balanced inclines and gravity.

Penrhyn Quarry Railway (1878-1962)[edit]

By the early 1870s the Penrhyn Quarry Railway was no longer able to keep up with the output of the Penrhyn quarry. By 1874 the decision had been made to replace the railroad with a steam locomotive worked railway. Steam locomotives had already been introduced with great success on the quarry's internal railway system and at the nearby Dinorwic Quarry.

At the end of 1875 the first "mainline" locomotive was delivered to Port Penrhyn and moved to the quarry workshops at Coed y Parc. The railroad was converted into the new railway in five stages from 1877 to 1878.


Penrhyn Quarries Ltd completed the restoration of a section of the original railway at Felin Fawr, Bethesda in 2012 and returned ex- Penrhyn Quarry locomotive George Sholto from Norfolk for a day to commemorate fifty years since the railway closed. The section of restored railway is approximately one-fifth mile (0.3 km) in length and referred to as phase one, between Coed y Parc bridge (Felin Fawr) (grid ref. SH 615662) and St. Anns (grid ref. SH 614661). A second phase of the restoration would add approximately one additional mile (in a northerly direction) to the total length of the restored railway. "Open weekends" with public running have been held annually from 2013.[1]


These are the locomotives that worked trains between the quarry and the port, often known as the "mainline" locomotives.

No. Name Builder Type Date built Disposal Notes
Bronllwyd Valley Foundry 0-4-0VB 1875 Scrapped 1906 Used in the construction of the railway by contractor Richard Parry
3 George Sholto Stephen Lewin 0-4-2WT 1875 Scrapped 1880
Edward Sholto De Winton 0-4-0ST 1876 Scrapped 1907
Hilda De Winton 0-4-0T 1878 Scrapped 1911
Violet De Winton 0-4-0T 1879 Scrapped 1911
Charles Hunslet 0-4-0ST 1882 Preserved at Penrhyn Castle Railway Museum, Bangor Static display. Awaiting restoration.
Linda Hunslet 0-4-0ST 1893 Now owned by the Ffestiniog Railway Rebuilt to 2-4-0ST/T.
Blanche Hunslet 0-4-0ST 1893 Now owned by the Ffestiniog Railway Rebuilt to 2-4-0ST/T.
1 Llandegai Baldwin 2-6-2T 1916 Converted to stationary engine scrapped 1940 ex-War Department Light Railways
2 Felin Hen Baldwin 2-6-2T 1916 Sold 1940 to Australia, now privately owned France ex-War Department Light Railways
3 Tregarth Baldwin 2-6-2T 1916 Scrapped 1940 ex-War Department Light Railways

See also[edit]


  • Boyd, James I.C. (1985). Narrow Gauge Railways in North Caernarvonshire, Volume 2: The Penrhyn Quarry Railways. The Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-312-5. 

External links[edit]