North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways

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North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways
NWNGR Map.png
Map of the NWNGRs
Locale Wales
Dates of operation 1877–1916
Successor Welsh Highland Railway
Track gauge 1 ft 11 12 in (597 mm)
Length 12 12 miles (20.1 km)

The North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways (Moel Tryfan Undertaking) (to give it its full name) was a 1 ft 11 12 in (597 mm) narrow-gauge railway running from Dinas to Bryngwyn, Wales, which was authorised by Act of Parliament 1872. The same act authorised a branch from Tryfan Junction to South Snowdon. Subsequently the railway chose to regard the line from Tryfan Junction to Bryngwyn as the branch.

Route built[edit]

Although, as originally planned (1872), the line to Bryngwyn was the nominated main line, very early on a decision was made for the South Snowdon line to become the main line. By the time commercial operations started, it had been reclassified a branch

Main line: Dinas–Tryfan Junction–Waunfawr–Bettws Garmon–Snowdon RangerSouth Snowdon/Rhyd Ddu (approx. 9 miles).

Branch line: Tryfan Junction–Rhostryfan–Bryngwyn (approx. 2 miles). From Bryngwyn, an incline (owned by the railway company) led (via quarry owned lines) to a number of slate quarries around Moel Tryfan mountain.

Routes planned[edit]

The line from Dinas to Rhyd Ddu was built and operated, but this was just a small part of the grand scheme for a network of narrow-gauge railways spanning much of north Wales. An Act of Parliament in 1885 authorised an extension northwards to Caernarfon and a Light Railway Order of 1900 authorised an extension southwards to Beddgelert.

A further part of the scheme was the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways (General Undertaking) which planned a route from Porthmadog to Beddgelert, where it would meet the Rhyd Ddu-Beddgelert extension. From there the line would travel via Capel Curig to Betws-y-Coed. A further branch would have extended the line from Betws y Coed to Cerrig-y-Drudion where the railway would meet the planned Ruthin and Cerrig-y-Drudion Railway.

The General Undertaking was authorised by Act of Parliament in 1872 but officially abandoned in 1876. The section from Porthmadog to Beddgelert was eventually completed by the Welsh Highland Railway as part of its construction, and utilised parts of the Croesor Tramway and the aborted Portmadoc, Beddgelert and South Snowdon Railway (PBSSR) works.

South Snowdon[edit]

There are two locations which have been called South Snowdon. One is Rhyd Ddu and the other is the South Snowdon Quarry in the Nant Gwynant Pass and this was the original intended destination of the Portmadoc, Beddgelert and South Snowdon Railway. That company later applied for and received a light railway order to build from Beddgelert to Rhyd Ddu and commenced construction on that section around 1906.


The first of the railways built opened in 1877, running from Dinas to Tryfan Junction and on to Bryngwyn. In 1878, a branch was built from Tryfan Junction to Snowdon Ranger and this was extended to South Snowdon (later renamed Rhyd Ddu) in 1881.

In 1914, a combined committee of several local authorities applied for a Light Railway Order to combine the NWNGRs with the Portmadoc, Beddgelert & South Snowdon Railway which owned the Croesor Tramway. The accelerating conflict of the First World War stopped this effort. The NWNGRs shut down their passenger services in 1916, and from then on ran a shoestring goods service. In 1918, the application was revived by the owners of the Aluminium Corporation of Dolgarrog which had acquired the Portmadoc, Beddgelert & South Snowdon Railway and was seeking to acquire the NWNGRs. This effort eventually led to the acquisition of the NWNGRs by the Aluminium Corporation and its incorporation into the Welsh Highland Railway in 1922.[1]


Name Builder Type Date Works number Notes
Snowdon Ranger Vulcan Foundry 0-6-4T 1875 739
Snowdon Ranger at Dinas.png
Single Fairlie locomotive. Scrapped by 1914; major components used to repair Moel Tryfan[2]
Moel Tryfan Vulcan Foundry 0-6-4T 1875 738
Moel Tryfan works photo.jpg
Single Fairlie locomotive. Transferred to the Welsh Highland Railway in 1922; scrapped by the Ffestiniog Railway in 1954
Beddgelert Hunslet 0-6-4ST 1878 206
Beddgelert works photo.jpg

Mainly worked the Bryngwyn branch. Scrapped 1906

Russell Hunslet 2-6-2T 1906 901
Ordered by the Portmadoc, Beddgelert and South Snowdon Railway, paid for by the North Wales Power & Traction Co Ltd, for the NWNGR and became part of the Welsh Highland Railway stock
Gowrie Hunslet 0-6-4T 1908 979
Gowrie works photo.jpg
Single Fairlie locomotive; sold in 1918 to the Government,[3] most likely the Ministry of Munitions.[4] Sold later in 1918 to railway contractor J.F. Wake, where Gowrie was rebuilt. Supplied with spare parts in 1924, and scrapped after 1928
Palmerston George England 0-4-0ST 1867 unknown
Palmerston - Vale of Rheidol Railway.jpg
Loaned by the Ffestiniog Railway between May 1876 and July 1877 to assist in the construction of the NWNGR.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Johnson, Peter (2017). Festiniog Railway: The Spooner Era and After 1830 - 1920. Pen & Sword Books Limited. 
  2. ^ John Keylock; Michael Bishop (December 2009). "Two into One will go". Welsh Highland Heritage (46). 
  3. ^ "North Wales Narrow Gauge Railway". Locomotive News and Railway Notes. 24 May 1919. 
  4. ^ "The life of "Gowrie"". Welsh Highland Heritage Journal. 38. December 2007. 
  5. ^ Quine, Dan (2013). The George England locomotives of the Ffestiniog Railway. London: Flexiscale. 

Further reading[edit]

Boyd, James I.C. (1988) [1972]. Narrow Gauge Railways in South Caernarvonshire – Volume 1. Headington: The Oakwood Press. ISBN 978-0-85361-365-7. OCLC 20417464.