When Thomas Curtis started volunteering on the Talyllyn Railway last summer he continued in a fine family tradition of involvement with the railway, which stretches back over 100 years
Thomas’ great-great-grandfather was Dafydd Jones, who started on the railway as a platelayer in 1900, becoming foreman of the permanent way gang in 1902. It was then that he moved into the railway’s cottage at Rhydyronen, Plas Goch, which was to be the family home for many years.
Dafydd worked for the railway until 1935 by which time his son, Hugh Ellis Jones, was working on the locomotives for the railway, becoming the fitter and driver in the late 1930s. He in turn was assisted on the railway both by his younger son, Herbert and his older son, David or ‘Dai’, Thomas’ grandfather.
Hugh, Dai and Herbert continued to serve when it became the world’s first preserved railway in 1951. Sadly, Dai Jones died in 2008, but by then his son David, Thomas’ father, was employed in the railway’s engineering department.
Now Thomas has joined his father on the footplate as a volunteer cleaner, maintaining the family tradition.
The story of the Jones family is contained in a fascinating new history about the men who served on Talyllyn Railway in the years between 1864 to 1951. Written by award-winning Tywyn based author, Sara Eade, The Talyllyn Railwaymen tells the story of these men, their families and descendants.
It covers both those who financed and built the railway, as well as those who kept the trains running. They give a fascinating new insight on the working of the railway through the years. The book will be launched on Sunday, May 3 as part of The Quarryman Experience Gala over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend on the railway.
This weekend highlights the early years of the railway and among those attending will be some of the descendents of the McConnel family who were responsible for building the line back in 1864. They will be riding a special train on the Saturday.
During the gala there will also demonstrations of slate-splitting, of the wagon weighbridge and turntable. In addition, special guests, Matthew Ward, who appeared in the BBC TV Series Horrible Histories and Gill Fraser-Lee, will be giving youngsters a taste of Victorian schooling and other aspects of Victorian life.
There will also be the opportunity to play Victorian children’s games and to sample cream teas on the Saturday and Sunday.