Nantlle Railway

Gauge: 3ft 6in (1.06m)

 

Collection Objects

Number Railway Object Type Description Image
TYWRM:NAN002 Nantlle Railway rail chair 2 cast iron carrying chairs for T-section rail file TEMP035.jpg
TYWRM:NAN003 Nantlle Railway sleepers 3 slate sleeper blocks for carrying chairs file NAN003.jpg
TYWRM:NAN004.1 Nantlle Railway wagon 4-wheeled wagon; steel; inside bearings; double flanged wheels. Marked 'Glaslyn foundry' file NAN004-1.jpg
TYWRM:NAN004.2 Nantlle Railway wagon plate builder's plate from 4-wheeled wagon. Marked 'Glaslyn foundry' file NAN004-2.jpg
TYWRM:NAN004.3 Nantlle Railway wagon plate Drawbar pin from Nantle Wagon NAN004 file NAN004-3.jpg
TYWRM:NAN005.1 Nantlle Railway rails 2 lengths of fish-bellied rail file NAN005-1.jpg
TYWRM:NAN005.2 Nantlle Railway rail chair 6 chairs file NAN005-2.jpg
TYWRM:NAN005.3 Nantlle Railway sleepers six stone sleepers file NAN005-3.jpg
TYWRM:NAN006 Nantlle Railway rail chair Cast iron point chair file NAN006.jpg
TYWRM:NAN007 Nantlle Railway rail chair cast iron point chair file NAN007.jpg
TYWRM:NAN008 Nantlle Railway rail Piece of fish-bellied rail file NAN008.jpg
TYWRM:NAN009 Nantlle Railway rail Piece of fish-bellied rail with cast iron chair file NAN009.jpg
TYWRM:NAN011 Nantlle Railway rail chair 3 cast iron carrying chairs file NAN011.jpg
TYWRM:NAN012 Nantlle Railway rails 2 lengths fish-bellied rail file NAN012.jpg

Built on a collective basis by the owners of the quarries in the Nantlle valley, the Nantlle Railway was completed between 1828 and 1830. It connected the quarries with the port of Caernarfon and was the first public railway in North Wales.

Just over 9 miles long it had a gauge of 3ft 6in and was horse drawn. The unusual gauge may have been chosen by George and Robert Stephenson who were the contractors. The tramroad served most of the quarries on the north side of the Nantlle valley by short branches or inclines. The final terminus at Pen-yr-Orsedd was reached in 1860. Rails were originally fish-bellied and of wrought iron, made to Birkenshaw’s 1829 patent. Eventually however they sagged and had to be replaced with flat-bottomed rail.

The Nantlle Railway operated as a “rail turnpike”, users providing their own wagons and paying a toll, initially 6d per ton/mile. Even on top of haulage costs this was still less than half the cost of carting by road to Caernarfon. Passengers were carried between 1856 and 1865.

Parts of the railway were converted to standard gauge for steam locomotives in 1870 and 1882, but the section between Nantlle Station and Pen-yr-Orsedd Quarry remained at 3ft 6in and horse drawn until it closed in 1963. Eventually the railway had become owned by the LMS and consequently, in due course, it was a unique part of British Railways.

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