There’s going to be a ‘Big Bang’ as Talyllyn Railway goes back to the 1970s for its ‘Road to Adventure Gala’ over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, April 30 to May 2.
The event focuses on the 40th anniversary of the start of passenger services over the former mineral extension to Nant Gwernol in May, 1976, with events and activities that reflect the ‘70s.
As part of the celebrations, there will be a re-enactment of the first dynamite blast, which took place in 1970 and marked the start of the work to make the former goods line suitable for passenger services.
Originally this was performed by Tom Rolt, one of the pioneers who helped save Talyllyn Railway in 1951, making it the world’s first preserved railway. Mr Rolt christened the possible extension ‘The Road to Adventure’, a name which stuck and forms the title for the gala weekend.
On this occasion, it will be Tom’s son, Tim, who will be doing the honours on Saturday, April 30 at Abergynolwyn Station at around 12.40pm. This time, however, dynamite will not be involved. Also in attendance will be a number of the original ‘Gwerns’, which was the name given to those involved in the work on the extension.
On the Saturday as well, the railway will be operating a special intensive train service based on the 1975 peak service timetable from before the line opened to Nant Gwernol. Most trains will run between Tywyn and Abergynolwyn, with a special shuttle service operating between Abergynolwyn and Nant Gwernol.
Then, on the Sunday, they will be running the 1976 peak service timetable with most trains running through from Tywyn Wharf to Nant Gwernol. The first through train will be carrying the original opening headboard from 1976 and there will be a short ceremony at Abergynolwyn Station to mark the 40th anniversary of the opening.
Throughout the weekend there will be displays of ‘70s memorabilia, including, it is hoped, a number of classic vehicles from the period. There will also be a range of children’s activities featuring toys and games from the decade.
On the Bank Holiday Monday, the railway will feature two other significant anniversaries. The first is the 75th anniversary of its diesel locomotive No.5 Midlander. To mark the occasion, the locomotive, which normally hauls engineering trains, will be in charge of the railway’s vintage carriages for a special train.
The other locomotive with a significant anniversary is the railway’s newest steam locomotive, No.7 Tom Rolt, which entered service 25 years ago this year. Both locomotives will be at Abergynolwyn Station for a special ceremony to commemorate these milestone events on the Monday lunchtime.
A spokesperson for the railway said: “Throughout our 150th anniversary celebrations we have been moving through the decades, from Victorian times through the 1920s and ‘50s until we have now reached the ‘70s. We know this weekend will be a lot of fun, bringing back many memories for people, so why not dig out those flares and platform shoes and come along?”
The final gala of the railway’s 150th anniversary celebrations is scheduled to be held over the weekend of July 1-3. Called ‘The Grand Finale’, it will feature a unique line-up of all the surviving UK based locomotives constructed by the locomotive building Fletcher, Jennings & Co. This will include the Talyllyn Railway’s own original locomotives No.1 Talyllyn and No.2 Dolgoch.