steam power Wales

Family Fun on the Snowdon Mountain Railway

While enjoying a family holiday on Anglesey we decided it would be a great day out if we all went on the Snowdon Mountain Railway, something that none of us had ever done before. The idea was that we would all go up to the summit of Snowdon on the railway and our children with their spouses would walk back down. Jude and I with Arabella would make the descent by train.

We had a brilliant family day out! We began at the train station at the bottom of the mountain railway track, booked our tickets and waited for the off. It was a busy little station painted brightly in yellow and green, decorated with carved wooden detailing. It loked so cheerful on this sunny day. We had time for refreshment in the station buffet as we waited for the arrival of our train. Excitement rose as it pulled in to the station. Our engine was called Padarn. The huge smile on Arabella’s face reflected our excitement.

There is something so special about riding a steam train but the thought of this little engine pulling us up a mountain added extra frisson.


The slow ascent accompanied by the sounds and smells of the steam engine, took us through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. We all felt so lucky. Everyone smiled for the whole journey and excitedly commentated to their friends or family. Passengers who began the ascent as strangers were soon talking and chatting like old friends – the power of steam nostalgia.


At the summit we had a short time to appreciate the engine and the view, enjoy a coffee and watch Jamie, Sam, Jo and Rob set off walking down the mountain, the tallest mountain in England and Wales.


We have waited ages to get around to making the journey of the steam railway to the summit of Mount Snowdon and back, but it was most certainly worth the wait. I don’t think it will be long before we return to do it all over again.





architecture countryside landscapes photography steam power Wales

A Birthday Excursion to The Welshpool and Llanfair Railway

We usually go out somewhere on both of our birthdays so today being my birthday, Jude, The Undergardener, decided to take me on a nostalgic trip on an old steam railway line. We often pass the stations and see the track. At times while journeying down the River Banwy valley the track runs quite close to the road out into mid-Wales and towards some of our favourite stretches of coastline.

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We drove in to the car park of the Welshpool Raven Square Station, parked up and bought our tickets, which were just like the ones we could remember as children, little card ones which the Guardsman clipped while we sat on the train waiting to leave.

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The station building looked so small as we wandered up the path once inside we discovered that a booking office and waiting room were squeezed into it. When we went through the station and onto the platform the building showed its true dimensions.

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Interesting old signs caught our attention wherever we went. In the waiting room artifacts from the railway’s previous life added authentication.

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We didn’t have to wait long before we heard the hoot of the little steam engine approaching the platform.

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The little engine proudly displayed its name, Countess, on the side of its boilers.

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Once steam was up and the Guard waved his green flag the little train moved very slowly away from the station and we travelled along the beautiful valley of the River Banwy.

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After enjoying so much beautiful countryside we arrived at the end of the little narrow guage line at the station at Llanfair Caereinion. Here we refreshed ourselves with coffee and cake while the engine topped up with water and coal in readiness for the return to Welshpool.

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We found more authentic old items from the days of steam at this station too mixed up with little patches of colourful gardens.

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Before climbing back on board and sitting on the hard wooden benches that were our seats, we took a few moments enjoying looking close up at our engine “Countess”. She positively sparkled as every surface had been rigorously polished, buffed, oiled or greased.


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The journey back along the valley gave us the chance to enjoy different views of the surrounding landscape.

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As soon as all the passengers had disembarked the little old locomotive squeaked its way a little further down the rail track to the water tower and drank thirstily.

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After this delightful day of memories and nostalgia we promised ourselves a day on the old barges on the canal at Llangollen and of course there are all those other narrow guage railways scattered throughout Wales to indulge ourselves with!


Shrewsbury Shropshire steam power steam traction engines

Shropshire Steam – Part 2 – horse power and steam power on parade

I hinted at the end of part one that we would be looking at horse power and steam power for the second part. So this I shall endeavour to do but doubtless I shall have a diversion along the way.

After being enthralled by all those vintage tractors and their associated sundries I  featured in the first Shropshire Steam post, we found a couple of seats just behind the rope that marked the display ring.

We were soon joined by this little chap who was sat on his master’s knee on the seat next to us. He eyed up our lunch and made us feel guilty eating it in front of him.

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Working horses in all their show finery strolled around the ring under the scrupulous eyes of the judges.

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We stayed longer than we had planned as a collection of vintage trucks in every colour and shape possible entered the ring.These in their original lives had carried all sorts of goods around the countryside. Some brought back memories but many were around  before us.

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And a collection of old buses came next. We were enjoying ourselves more and more and sharing memories of bus travel.

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And a couple of old fire engines added a little glamour.

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But I did promise some steam vehicles, so here they are in all their glory and finery. They not only looked majestic and magical, they also smelled wonderful too. Steam, hot metal, oil and coal smoke.

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Sometimes the beauty is in the detail.

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We enjoyed this little cameo, a set up showing road works from decades ago. Jude was specially interested as when we followed our family history research we discovered that one of her ancestors was a roadman. He may have used materials and machines just like these.

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We always take a special interest and pride in seeing the old steam lorries as many of them were manufactured in Shrewsbury at the Sentinel Works. So these four photos are a good way to finish this second visit to the Shropshire Steam Rally.



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colours countryside Shropshire

Shropshire Steam Rally Part 1- steam power and tractors

Jude and I had not visited the Shropshire Steam Rally for over 20 years so once we decided to attend this year’s show we were looking forward to seeing how things have changed.

The first change was the length of the traffic jam full of people waiting to get in. Once parked up the queue of people was also extremely long but once we got in the rich aroma of hot oil, steam and coal smoke reminded us that not everything had changed.

We were soon greeted by a strange array of characters.

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We decided to pass through the trade stands, of which there were many, on our way to the displays of old tractors, working horses and then the steam vehicles themselves. But there were so many trade stands we took an age to find out way back out. It was worth all the searching though.

Before being enthralled by watching the mobile sawmill powered by a sturdy steam traction engine we were entertained by this steam organ. None of the operators wore safety gloves and the machinery had no guards, so there was definitely no health and safety executive watching their every move. How refreshing! But we did count how many fingers they all had. All present and correct!

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The next vehicle to catch our attention was powering a road stone crushing and grading machine. The owners of this old conglomeration of machines and artifacts and their friends who had come along to put on the working display were in a “bit of a flap” as it had ground to a halt. Busily each man searched for the breakage or cause of the break down, heads down, eyes peeled and brains working hard. Visitors watched on, willing them on and hoping to see and hear the cogwheels grinding once more.

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And the next pair were powering threshing machinery. One of these was also proving to be temperamental throwing the bails of hay out in random bunches with a “cat’s cradle” of string wrapped around instead of neatly tied cuboid-shaped bails. The other slowly trundled along more successfully.

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Next it was off to wander the lines of old tractors – I have to admit I have a soft spot for old tractors particularly the red Massey Fergussons and the Fordsons in their livery of contrasting deep blue and rich orange. But there was a fascinating line-up of tractors of all ages and from all over the world. It was great to see some working with their varying engine sounds and exhaust notes.

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A few bits and pieces of agricultural paraphenalia added an air of nostalgia.

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I loved getting in close to the vintage farm machinery and picking out detailing of colours, patterns and textures.

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Fergie Foraging – when we hunt for mushrooms and toadstools in autumn woodlands and fields we call it Fungi Foraging or Fungi Foray so as we went seeking out Massey Fergusson tractors in the forest of vintage tractors I thought we should call it Fergie Foraging or going on a Fergie Foray. Whatever we call it it was most successful.

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But there were plenty of others which although not Fergies were just as interesting to the eye and to the memory.

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As we left the tractor display area we came across this old craftsmen who certainly looked the part. He was a “bodger” which although is now often a derogatory term for a poor worker, in reality it was a skilled job, making the staves for the back of chairs, turning wood on a foot pedaled machine. He was skilled both as a craftsman and as a communicator. He kept the children amused while educating them at the same time. Great to watch and listen to!

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To finish with here is just a small hint of what we can look forward to in part two.

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