The Wonderland of Wales, GWR, FESTINIOG, SNOWDON AND WELSH HIGHLAND RAILWAYS, Timetables, etc., summer 1923 [Booklet]


The Wonderland of Wales, GWR, FESTINIOG, SNOWDON AND WELSH HIGHLAND RAILWAYS, Timetables, etc., summer 1923. Booklet, 7.25”x 4.75”, pp. 16, inc. paper covers.


The Welsh Highland Railway opened in June 1923 and this booklet, sponsored by the GWR, was an attempt to promote the railway, together with the Festiniog and Snowdon lines as day trip destinations from places as far afield as Aberystwyth and Liverpool. The GWR had just taken over the Cambrian Railways, and was anxious to prove to local interests, that it would be vigorously promoting tourism to the area.

Also advertised were circular tours, from Welsh Coast resorts involving the former Cambrian Coast Line, the LMS branches to Afon Wen and Llanberis and the GWR’s own line to Blaenau Festiniog.  Such optimism!   S.E. Tyrwhitt, Festiniog General Manager had a footnote at the bottom of the penultimate page, stating that times quoted for other companies trains “are shown for the convenience of passengers, and are not guaranteed”. He was even more honest about his own timetable saying that the Company “do not undertake that the trains will start or arrive at the time specified”.

In fact anyone taking a trip on the Welsh Highland, with its old rolling stock and elderly or second hand locomotives, relying on a main line connection or one with the Festiniog  should have been advised “Please tell your boarding house landlady that you will almost certainly miss high tea, and quite probably miss supper as well. Make sure that you have a key to the front door, and ask if a plate of sandwiches can be left out for you.”

The 1923 season ended in a storm of complaints and with the WHR on the verge of receivership. As far as I can ascertain, nothing as comprehensive as this booklet was published in subsequent years. Indeed in “Welsh Mountain Railways” (also available on this site) published by the GWR in 1924,  all mention of the LMS is “air brushed out”, as is the Snowdon Mountain (which could only be reached by LMS) while the impression is given that the WHR only ran between Portmadoc and Snowdon Ranger, whence the traveler should return to the safe embrace of the  GWR at Portmadoc. Wisely, no train times are given… This booklet, a reminder of a doomed enterprise is a very rare little item.



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