Steam to Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1998 and 1999.
All photos by Mike Williams, additional information supplied by Merfyn Jones.
The last B.R. steam locomotive recorded at Blaenau Ffestiniog was Class 5 4-6-0 No.44944 on 29th March 1967. However in recent years there have been three steam specials on the Conwy Valley line to Blaenau Festiniog, with varying degrees of success! The first was on May the 2nd 1998 when BR 4MT 2-6-4 tank No. 80079 attempted to take 6 coaches up the branch. This attempt ended near milepost 19 approaching Pont y Pant where the train stalled and the water supply started to run low. The train was rescued by a class 47 which returned the ensemble to Llandudno Jct. The following day, hauling only four vehicles, was a success and 80079 became the first standard gauge steam loco in Blaenau for 31 years.
12 months later on May 1st 1999, 45407 hauled four vehicles to Blaenau, where they were put in the loop, it then returned to Llandudno Junction for four more. Subsequently the eight coaches were coupled up and returned back to Llandudno Junction.
The third run was on October 17th 1999. On this occasion two 4MT's were used, both with four coach trains. The first trip involved 80079 which slipped to a stand, again near Pont y Pant. Assistance was obtained from 80098 which was at Llanrwst with the second portion of the train. 80098 was uncoupled and it then banked the first portion from Pont y Pant to Blaenau. The pair then returned to Llanrwst for the other 4 coaches which they double headed to Blaenau. The train was again reformed and the combined service returned to Llandudno Junction in the dark.
Since these events steam trains have reached Blaenau in 2009 and 2010.
80079 with 4 Mark 1's waits to leave Llandudno Junction, May 3rd 1998.
80079 after arrival at Blaenau Ffestiniog
80079 at Blaenau with the slate tips of Dyffws Casson quarry in the background.
80079 runs around the stock before the return to Llandudno Junction.
45407 at Llandudno Junction on May 1st 1999.
45407 storms up the 1 in 47 near Pont y Pant, 1st May 1999.
80098 is seen at Llandudno Junction on October 17th 1999.
80098 with four coaches on the second portion of the train.
The second portion arrives at Blaenau with 80079 and 98.
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