of my LMS Career
by Ifor Williams
interest in steam probably arose because my childhood
home in Penygroes, was only yards away from the Caernarfon
to Afonwen line. At that time the station at Penygroes
was very busy. A branch line operated between the
station at Penygroes to Nantlle, a two coach push
and pull service, which covered a distance of less
than three miles. The main purpose of this line was
to transport slate from the local quarries. In addition
to this branch line the sidings were used by a local
coal merchant. A coal merchant had a store on the
sidings and a cattle and sheep dock was also in existence,
to serve the local market.
services to Nantlle ceased in the early 1930s but
the line was kept open for mineral traffic.
A loading bay was built next to the former Nantlle
Bay and slates were brought down by road to
be loaded onto the low-sided trucks which were then
moved out on the daily goods train.
Nantlle Bay was also used once a year by a travelling
fair. Some of their equipment was brought
down from Criccieth. Their arrival at Penygroes saw
the fair's steam locomotive pulling these
vans off the low loaders and taking them to the next
village for their annual fair. As school children
we were highly delighted to see these being towed
left Penygroes after my parents died. My new home
was with my sister and her husband who
was a porter signalman at Bethesda. He later moved
on to Aber, then Bangor No1 Box as signalman.
He ended his career on the railways as Station Foreman
at Colwyn Bay.
was inevitable, I suppose, that my working life should
start on the railways. In 1935 I was sent as a very
junior porter to Treborth which is between Menai
Bridge and Port Dinorwic. There I found
myself as the only member of staff other than the
Station Master. His name was Hughes and he had
a wooden leg, presumably a result of an accident.
Very few trains stopped at this isolated station
No passengers got off and the only exception to this
very quiet routine was when the owner of Treborth
Hall, Sir William Vincent, wanted to travel to London.
On these occasions one of the Hall staff
came to the station requesting that the Welshman
to London Euston would pick him up. I
believe this concession was permitted because the
line went through his land. My job was to make a
call to Caernarfon
requesting this special stop. The rest of the time
at this station was rather soul-destroying for
a 15 year old. I cleaned windows on the station buildings
and swept non-existent rubbish off the
platforms to relieve the boredom.
spell of duties at Bangor was much more lively. A
spell in the telegraph office was very rewarding.
After a Royal Tour of Wales I had to collect a telegram
from the Royal train, and send it
on to the Constable of Caernarfon Castle, David Lloyd
George. Other duties included changing destination
boards, sticking reserved labels on coaches and generally
keeping out of the way of the very
strict station master! Relief duties at Menai Bridge
and Caernarfon followed. Menai Bridge being
the junction to Caernarfon and Holyhead, the routine
was very hectic with two trains to look after.
Some of the duties included taking the evening papers
to a newsagent on the other side of Menai
Bridge. This task was particularly difficult in the
winter gales! To say the least I was a little scared
with the sea crashing below and the wind howling
around my head! Other duties included changing
lamps on distant signals which frequently went out.
The one by the Tubular
Bridge afforded panoramic views over the Menai Straits.
Another lamp was sited near
the entrance to Belmont Tunnel leading to Bangor.
favourite station was Caernarfon, situated on the
outskirts of the town and overlooking the Straits.
This "posting" lasted only a few weeks,
much to my regret. One advantage though was that
get to see some of my old school chums from Penygroes
passing through, some I had not seen for years.
had a spell of Saturday evening duties at Felinhen,
a halt on the Bangor-Bethesda line. I sold tickets
for the evening trips to Rhyl for 16d and Llandudno
for a shilling. These trips were very popular,
giving local people the opportunity of an evening
by the seaside.
with the exception of Bangor, these branch lines
have long since gone, and the buildings with
them. Bangor has also lost its loco shed, goods yard,
No l signal box and possibly more by now.
passing years have not diminished my interest in
steam and I have great pleasure in watching
my collection of videos. It is pleasing to read that
the W.H.R. are opening up the Dinas to Caernarfon
line. I have a very fond memory of being taken for
a trip along the whole of that route I
am sure its reopening would be well received.
1939 I changed my black L.M.S. uniform for an R.A.F.
one and did not return to the railway.
But these memories remain with me and always will.
to Mr Ifor Williams of Tutbury, Staffordshire,
kindness in sharing
his experiences of living and working in Dyffryn
Nantlle, as well as his railway memorabilia, with nantlle.com.