Since the 1860s, there have been a number of schemes for narrow gauge railway connections to Dolgellau from Corris or Talyllyn. Although none came to fruition in reality, we developed a line linking the town with a possible basalt quarry at Tyrau Mawr to the West of Cader Idris and the farming community East at Dolserau. A map recce on a 1:50,000 OS map confirmed that a route via Dolgun, Penmaenpool, Kings and Islaw Dref would be viable with a ruling gradient of 1 in 70 – the model scenario would work.
Having given the project a viable background, it made sense to put some detail onto the model. We both know the area fairly well and decided on a layout based on a junction near Ty’n y Ceunant farm, approximately 2 miles West of Dolgellau at the bottom of the Pony Path on Cader Idris. A trip out with the camera one spring day in 2008 confirmed the backdrop and the layout was started. Setting a scene for the 1960s allowed us to recall childhood and family knowledge of local life at that time as well as drawing from historical opportunities presented by slightly re-writing Welsh railway history.
The Grogennen Railway (GR) therefore evolved as a late 19th century working mineral/farming line with branches from the quarries at Tyrau Mawr (top left) and Llynau Cregennan (upper centre) in the West, passing near Zachariah Evans's farm at Ty'n y Ceunant (lower centre), Dolgellau and onward to Dolserau Farm and Ty’r Stint mine in the East. Initially the Grogennen Railway Company Ltd served both mining, agricultural and tourist traffic. Basalt quarried at Tyrau Mawr was shipped as crushed aggregate to the Cambrian Railway Bont Wnion exchange siding near Glyn Malden. Passengers and goods traffic were carried throughout.
In the mid-1950s, the mineral operation and most of the associated infrastructure was and taken over by Idris Mining Ltd. The volunteer Grogennen Railway Society was also set up to maintain the remaining branches to Llynau Cregennan and Dolserau and the Society operates a goods and passenger service over the whole line by agreement with Idris Mining. Hence two liveries are to be seen on the line; Idris Mining`s dark blue and the Midland Red/Doncaster Green combination of GR Company Ltd.
History is reflected in a variety of ways. Observers will have recognised locomotives from a variety of sources including Glyn Valley Tramway, Camber Railway (Falkland Islands) and Penrhyn Quarry amongst others. Private owner wagons and road vehicles reflect local traders of the day and cameos give a glimpse of local life, activity and events. Where possible, vehicles have been based on preserved originals or known period items. The research involved has attracted considerable interest at shows, including a lady who mistakenly recalled travelling on the GR. However, others were very familiar with the era and recognised the scenario.
Bottom Left: The view from Ty'n Y Ceunant North across Islaw Dref towards Kings and Abergwynant.
This is a montage of photographs taken on the Pony Path just above Ty Nant and used as the backdrop scene for the layout.