The Ffestiniog Railway is the world’s oldest narrow gauge railway, with almost 200 years of history, taking a 13½-mile journey from Porthmadog harbour to the slate-quarrying town of Blaenau Ffestiniog.
The railway still operates three original 150 year old locomotives alongside original carriages, offering an unrivalled journey back into the golden age of rail travel.
The historic trains climb over 700 feet from sea level into the mountains, through tranquil pastures and magnificent forests, past lakes and waterfalls, round tight bends and even completing a spiral, clinging to the side of the mountain or tunnelling through it.
Engineers from around the world visit Ffestiniog to see engineering marvels of a bygone age combined with current engineering used to enhance, preserve, and develop the railway for future generations to enjoy.
Today the railway is operated by a company, supported by a society and Charitable Trust.
As part of the Whitehouse Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Charter, we elected to support the Ffestiniog Railway Trust by sending an engineering team to undertake civil engineering works to build the foundations and infrastructure for a new workshop at Minffordd.
In a week of intense activity over Easter 2015, the small Whitehouse team moved 350 tonnes of earth, laid 200 tonnes of stone sub base, poured 91.5m3 of concrete, installed a new Tricel Sewage Treatment tank with 50 metres of drainage, and provided water service & electricity points for the new building. The Whitehouse team will return later this year to lay all internal concrete floors.
Chairman of Whitehouse Brell Ewart, who led the team, said “Delivering the first phase of this project has been extremely satisfying for us, knowing that in due course staff from Ffestiniog Railway will be able to work in a high quality, modern facility to deliver engineering support to this Railway. The new facility will also give scope for training of apprentices and young people, continuing the great work carried out over the last 50 years by the preservationists at the railway. Working alongside the Ffestiniog Railway Engineering team was a very worthwhile experience for our people, seeing how other regimes of safety and operation work”.
Paul Lewin General Manager of the Ffestiniog Railway added “We are supported by volunteers from all over the UK and beyond who tackle all sorts of tasks for us. Our new workshop facility will give opportunities for our volunteers to carry on their work in a modern, safe environment and also to create a place where we can teach our traditional skills to new generations. Creating this new facility however, was rather a challenge for us and we needed specialist help. This project is funded in full by the Ffestiniog Railway Society and after receiving the pledge for that funding, we are under real pressure to deliver effectively. The Whitehouse Construction team came with the professional help we needed, just when we needed it most. Some areas that we saw as big hurdles seemingly melted away when the experienced team brought their knowledge to bare. What impressed most of all was the sheer determination and drive of the team who completed our new foundations in a quarter of the time that we thought it would take. We were also pleased to learn how to best reuse material on site as part of the project avoiding unnecessary purchase and disposal charges”.