Talyllyn Railway continues its 150th anniversary celebrations with the 1865 – 2015 Gala over the weekend of August 7 – 9.
The celebrations begin on Friday, August 7 with a special family activity day themed around a well-known childhood favourite, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, which is also celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.
Alice first appeared in print in 1865, the same year the Talyllyn Railway Act received its royal assent. To celebrate the railway will be hosting a number of special activities at Abergynolwyn Station on the Friday, including colouring and games such as pinning the smile on the Cheshire Cat.
Meanwhile, at Tywyn Wharf Station over the whole weekend, another children’s author, Christopher Vine, will have a display based on his ‘Peter’s Railway’ series of books. In the evening there will be the opportunity to take ‘The Sunset Special’ train up the line, which will allow passengers to watch the sun go down over Tywyn with a drink in hand.
On the Saturday, the railway is holding an engineering day, offering people the chance to go behind the scenes at the Pendre workshops to see the types of work that goes on there every day to keep the railway running and to maintain the locomotives and rolling stock.
There will be a special shuttle service from Tywyn Wharf Station throughout the day to get people to and from the Works. In addition, at Tywyn Wharf there will be a demonstration of tracklaying, showing the techniques used to keep the track in good repair.
During the day, different types of engineering train will be run along the line, in addition to a regular passenger service. At 5.20pm, there will be a different train departing from Tywyn Wharf. ‘The Breezy Special’ will feature all the railway’s open carriages in one train and will offer passengers the chance to get the wind in their hair as they travel up and down the line.
Later, on Saturday evening, there will also be a 1920s dance at Neuadd Pendre on Brook Street, Tywyn, starting at 7pm with a dance lesson. This will feature the ‘Footloose Dance Band’, which includes some Talyllyn Railway volunteers.
They will also be playing on the platform at Tywyn Wharf Station on the Sunday when the railway will be holding a 1920s day. This will include a ‘Farmers’ Special’ mixed train, departing in the morning at 11.10am, which will deliver and collect different types of goods and produce up and down the line, just as it did in the 1920s.
This train has been recreated using information from the railway’s archives to produce an authentic range of goods which the railway carried. In the afternoon, another 1920s mixed train will run and anyone coming in 1920s costume can ride for free all day on the Sunday.
The gala will formally conclude with the running of the ‘Old and New Special’. This will be hauled by the railway’s oldest and newest steam locomotive, No. 1 Talyllyn and No.7 Tom Rolt, and will include some of the railway’s original carriages as well as some of its modern coaches.
Throughout the weekend the annual Mini-Beer festival will also be taking place at Tywyn Wharf Station. This will feature a wide range of different brews, which will be available every day and into the evenings. The café at the station will also be staying open every evening to provide a range of light meals and snacks.