Simplex loco “Cnicht” (8703 of 1941) enters Porthmadog (WHR) station with the recreated demolition train over the May Bank Holiday weekend. © Mark Herbert/WHR(P)
A demolition train of the type used to dismantle the Welsh Highland Railway in the 1940s has made a dramatic return to the line - this time to help rebuild the track rather than to demolish it.
The Welsh Highland Railway (Porthmadog) recreated the demolition train as part of its 1940s themed gala over the 2006 May Day Bank Holiday weekend.
Simplex loco “Cnicht” pulls the WHR(P) demolition train. © Mark Herbert/WHR(P)
However, rather than being merely for demonstration purposes the former train of destruction was used to take materials onto the WHR(P) extension, where a gang was busy ballasting newly laid track.
The railway is being extended northwards, where it will eventually join up with the northern branch of the WHR, which one day will form a narrow gauge railway link from Porthmadog through the heart of Snowdonia to Carnarvon.
The Welsh Highland Railway welcomes thousands of visitors every year. © Jon Pratty/24 Hour Museum
“Since the Welsh Highland Railway closed in 1937, the only activity in the 1940s would have been lifting the track,” explained James Hewett, Chairman of the WHR(P).
“So when we were organising a 1940s gala, the demolition train seemed an obvious step.”
The WHR(P) also houses a collection of artefacts that relate to its history. © Jon Pratty/24 Hour Museum
The demolition train was recreated using a 28 HP Simplex No 36 “Cnicht” (8703 of 1941), a former Yorkshire Water Authority loco which is based at the WHR(P). It is similar to the 40 HP bow-framed Simplex used to lift the track on the WHR in 1941 and 1942.
A replica WHR coal wagon also entered service for the first time with the demolition train, which even carried some original WHR sleepers. These were discovered during the reconstruction of the railway, and are now in the hands of the WHR(P) for safe keeping.
The railway is being extended northwards, where it will eventually join up with the northern branch of the WHR. © Jon Pratty/24 Hour Museum
“The demolition train did prove its worth over the weekend, not just for transporting loads of ballast, but also for more mundane tasks such as bringing lunch up from the works,” added Mr Hewett.