In the shadow of Cader Idris lies Tyrau Mawr, a rocky outcrop and source of basalt. Quarries there were served by a fictional 2’ 3” line, the Grogennen Railway (GR) that included a branch to Llynau Cregennen. Winding East down the valley, the line passes by Ty’n y Ceunant, plunging through the woods to Abergwynant, Penmaenuchaf and Dolgellau Marian Station passing Bont Wnion mineral exchange sidings. The line then follows the Afon Wnion, past the town slaughter-house and Old Cambrian Brewery sidings, ultimately serving the farms out to Dolserau.
The scene is set 50 years ago in the1960s. On the North slope of Cader, Ty’n y Ceunant is an isolated farming hamlet and the junction of the tourist and quarry branches of the old GR. Idris Mining mineral trains run each way daily. Early Baldwin locos with Hudson and ex-Glyn Valley Tramway mineral stock have recently been replaced with diesel-hauled trains of 20 ton bogie hopper wagons.
The GR Preservation Society still provides an early morning “milk run”, a steam-hauled summer passenger service and mixed goods for Llaethdy Meirion dairy and John Victor, a Dolgellau butcher. Ivor Jenkins, a nurseryman and Hughes, the local coal merchants, also still operate goods wagons.
Ty’n y Ceunant junction (left) is close to the start of the Pony Path (Llwybr Pilin Pwn) up Cader Idris which appeals to hill walkers throughout the year.
The Cader Idris layout represents a "preservation era" Welsh narrow gauge line, the Grogennen Railway, that might have served the Islaw Dref area of Merionethshire West of Dolgellau. It is modelled in 009 scale following typical local railway practice.
Rolling stock and accessories are based as far as possible on known subjects of local origin. All the rolling stock is arranged in sets linked with a unique centre buffer-and-chain coupling system. This coupling system precludes shunting and marshalling; most operations are “through” trains.
In various areas of the layout, fine copper support tubes are discretely let into the baseboard to accommodate figures; half a dozen on the platform, eight in the goods yard and five closer to the junction.
Each of the layout figures, human and animal - there are about sixty to choose from - is supported by a fine brass stem extending about 4mm below one or more feet that fits loosely into any one of the copper support tubes.
With moveable figures and a mix of road vehicles, it is possible to set up a variety of cameos around the layout. Examples include the St Athan Mountain Rescue Team making preparations in the goods yard, schoolgirls on the platform or a track gang installing a telegraph pole.
This approach allows variety at exhibitions or in photographs, giving the younger visitors something to "find" when viewing but most of all, brings the layout to life with scenes and events that viewers may recognise from real life.
Above: A summer hill-walking party about to set off from the yard to climb Cader Idris via the Pony Path.
Brigadelok "Sir Eric Geddes" steams away in the background