Afon Wen i Fangor Cledrau Coll


Afon Wen i Fangor

Bydd Arfon Haines Davies a Gwyn Briwnant Jones yn cerdded ar hyd hen lwybr rheilffordd Afonwen/Bangor. Arfon and Gwyn walk from Bangor to Afonwen along the old railway line.


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-This week on Cledrau Coll,

-we follow the line from Afonwen...

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-..through Caernarfon

-and on to Bangor.

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-The branch line was built to link

-the towns of Lleyn and Eifionydd...

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-..to the main

-Chester-Holyhead line at Bangor.

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-This branch was familiar to anyone

-who travelled Wales by train.

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-Such names as Bryncir, Chwilog, Ynys

-and Llanwnda remain in the memory.

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-Many look back longingly at

-the old railway stations of Wales...

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-..but for many of us Afonwen

-occupies a special place of its own.

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-The station stood on one of

-the most exposed sites in Wales...

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-..facing the western winds

-that swept in from the sea.

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-It could be cold on a summer's day,

-and it still is!

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-The Rev Iorwerth Jones Owen

-has happy memories of Afonwen.

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-What was your work here?

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-What was your work here?

-

-I was a porter.

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-I remember my first morning...

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-..and an English chap called Jim

-lived in the terrace over there.

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-I remember the booking office

-with its paraffin lamp.

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-Every time I smell paraffin

-it takes me back...

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-..to the booking office

-at Afonwen in 1942.

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-It was busy during the War,

-especially at Afonwen...

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-..because of the Glendower camp

-and all the trailers there.

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-But it became even busier

-in the late 1940s...

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-..when times improved after the War.

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-How do you sum up Afonwen?

-What does it mean to you?

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-The sound of the wind

-through the wires.

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-The bells ringing in the signal box.

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-The noise of the train and

-the trucks being pushed and pulled.

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-The people alighting from the trains

-and walking over the two bridges...

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-..often in the rain

-and strong winds.

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-All of that is somehow contained

-in my picture of Afonwen.

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-Gwyn, this journey will take us from

-Cardigan Bay to the Menai Straits.

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-From the wind at Afonwen!

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-How long is the journey?

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-How long is the journey?

-

-It's about twenty miles.

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-To the north of Afonwen

-the line leaves the coast...

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-..bearing right

-on its way to Bangor.

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-The Cambrian line to Pwllheli

-continues its way, bearing left.

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-The first station after Afonwen

-was at Chwilog...

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-..where the busy traffic is today

-confined to the main road.

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-Ifor Pritchard remembers

-Chwilog station in its heyday.

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-The Navy was there at the

-HMS Glendower camp during the War.

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-I had made friends

-with some from the camp...

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-..who had wandered to the village,

-knowing nothing about the place.

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-They came regularly once every three

-nights after we got to know them...

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-..and one was from Glasgow

-and the other from Liverpool.

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-The day they completed

-their training at the camp...

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-..there was a special train

-to take them from here at 6.30.

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-My mother had made

-food and cakes for them...

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-..and I came to see

-the train pass through at 6.30.

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-The train didn't stop, but

-it slowed down to change staff...

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-..and as it did so they leaned out

-and I handed them the basket.

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-The station has long since

-disappeared...

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-..but evidence remains to show us

-we're walking on the old platform.

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-It's easy to follow

-the old line on a map...

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-..though it wasn't always

-so easy on foot.

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-But from the sky around Llangybi

-the line's route is clearly visible.

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-There are no more trains

-running along here...

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-..but thirty years ago that caravan

-would have been parked dangerously!

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-It's certainly

-a blot on the landscape today.

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-But the path of the old line

-is very clear here.

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-I'm pretty sure we're approaching

-the site of the old Ynys station.

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-Once we're past these weeds.

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-Once we're past these weeds.

-

-The famous Japanese knotweed!

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-There's no shortage of

-impressive views on this line...

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-..with Snowdonia

-as a perfect backdrop.

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-This looks an interesting building.

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-Was it once a ganger's hut?

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-Was it once a ganger's hut?

-

-Yes, it was.

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-It's still in excellent condition.

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-It's still in excellent condition.

-

-It's unusually built in brick.

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-They more often used old sleepers

-with bricks for the chimney stack.

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-It's interesting to look at the

-brickwork on an old hut like this.

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-Every fourth row contains blue

-bricks in a different pattern.

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-They went to the trouble of giving

-this simple hut some decoration.

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-It's had a new roof put on it.

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-I bet the old fireplace

-is still in there too.

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-Forward to Bryncir,

-an agricultural centre...

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-..with a prosperous market

-close to the line.

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-The livestock enjoyed better

-facilities than station workers...

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-..who had to man the levers out

-in the open, whatever the weather.

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-The platform on this side

-is lower than on the far side.

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-Yes - this side is older

-than the platform to our left.

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-The water pipe is still in place.

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-That's unusual, because this kind

-of thing most often went for scrap.

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-Well, I'm looking forward to

-the next stretch along Lon Eifion.

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-Just a minute, Arfon. Look at this.

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-Is that a half-mile post?

-Half a mile to where?

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-A quarter of a mile to the

-previous post in one direction...

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-..and in the other, to a post

-marked three-quarters of a mile.

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-Let's go and look for

-the quarter-mile post!

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-This is a well-kept path

-we're walking along now.

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-All this walking

-is making me thirsty, Arfon.

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-A definite hint from Gwyn

-that he could do with a cup of tea.

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-The present occupiers at Pant Glas

-cater for thirsty travellers.

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-Well, Gwyn, a cuppa in Pant Glas!

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-Many before us have stood on

-this platform waiting for a train.

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-And none could enjoy a cup of tea!

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-What's behind us here?

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-What's behind us here?

-

-I think this was a waiting room.

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-Built around

-the time of the war, I'd say.

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-The cat has the platform to herself.

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-Where to next on the line?

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-Where to next on the line?

-

-Penygroes.

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-I've finished my tea.

-Let's see if the cat follows us!

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-I think she's happy where she is.

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-I think she's happy where she is.

-

-Waiting for the next train!

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-Approaching Penygroes on

-the line from Afonwen to Bangor...

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-..it's clear that this section of

-the old line is being transformed.

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-The sight today is quite different

-to the days of steam.

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-We're at Penygroes where we can

-again see where the platform was...

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-..though the station buildings

-and the tracks have gone.

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-Yes, the platform is still there

-for the time being...

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-..but you can see the work

-going on here.

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-In a very short time,

-this site will be transformed.

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-While the tracks have disappeared...

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-..today the path is being looked

-after and adapted for a new use.

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-What is Sustrans, Richard?

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-Sustrans is a charity

-with fifteen years' experience...

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-..in the creation of cycle paths.

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-The aim is to develop safe

-and attractive cycle paths.

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-Recreational routes are popular

-with cyclists and with walkers...

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-..offering impressive and beautiful

-scenery for those who use them.

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-We welcome everyone

-to use these paths.

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-We hope to extend the path

-in the future.

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-As we approach, I'm reminded

-of a famous old photograph...

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-..that shows a crowd standing

-around the platform with the engine.

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-Penygroes is important historically.

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-We're now walking along

-part of the Nantlle railway line.

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-The slate industry was crucial to

-the success of North Wales lines...

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-..as here, for example,

-on the special Llyn Padarn railway.

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-Our next stop is Groeslon.

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-Our next stop is Groeslon.

-

-On we go to Groeslon.

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-One of the characteristic

-features at Groeslon, Gwyn...

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-..is that the station is

-right in the middle of the village.

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-Very convenient too,

-unlike so many other stations...

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-..which can be a fair distance

-from the village.

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-I can see the old railway gate posts

-are still standing...

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-..almost as a memorial

-to the railway.

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-They're solid - the wooden posts

-and the concrete pillars too.

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-Imagine the trains that passed here.

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-They even had the Royal Train

-come through here once.

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-Along our walk, the excellent

-quality of the path is striking...

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-..and makes walking so much easier.

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-On we go towards

-the old Dinas junction...

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-..as the old line threads its way

-between the trees.

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-Though the wide gauge tracks

-disappeared long ago...

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-..new tracks have been laid thanks

-to the Welsh Highland Railway.

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-From the air,

-it looks like a model railway.

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-One former worker on this line

-is Dennis Williams.

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-What are your memories

-of Dinas station?

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-I have a great many memories -

-and very happy memories too.

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-I remember coming here

-as a signalman...

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-..and the lines were very stringent

-in terms of sticking to regulations.

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-The thought of trains today

-passing red signals...

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-..makes me quake in my boots when I

-remember how stringent things were.

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-The same rules applied in Dinas

-as in Manchester or Birmingham.

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-The same rules applied everywhere.

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-I spent a while in Llanwnda, which

-is only a mile or so from Dinas.

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-I worked there as a porter.

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-It was quite something

-to work as a porter in Llanwnda.

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-It's hard to imagine any need

-for a porter in Llanwnda.

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-There was a stationmaster there

-as well - Mr Sullivan.

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-The Queen came here on

-the Royal Train in 1963, I think.

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-Mr Sullivan was due to retire

-on the Thursday...

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-..and the Queen was coming

-on the Friday.

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-He received a phonecall

-from the management in Chester.

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-"John, the Queen's coming on Friday.

-Are you willing to stay on?"

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-"Oh, good God, no. I'm retiring.

-I'm off!" he replied!

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-"You'll be losing an honour,"

-they said...

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-..but John said, "It's the Queen

-that's losing the honour!"

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-It's good to know that this familiar

-sight towards Caernarfon Castle...

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-..can once more be viewed

-from a train.

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-Don't these coaches look wonderful?

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-When the line ran from Afonwen...

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-..the track ran beneath the Maes

-and along the shoreline.

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-The tunnel has today been adapted

-for use by motor vehicles.

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-Carrying all kinds of freight

-and hundreds of passengers...

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-..Caernarfon station was very busy

-in its day, before closing in 1972.

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-The Sunday School trip

-was the annual highlight.

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-The Sunday School trip was always

-held on a Thursday, not a Saturday.

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-The town clerk was asked to consider

-making the day a bank holiday...

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-..to allow shops and schools

-to close.

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-So there was this pilgrimage

-from here to Rhyl.

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-We'd return home

-after a long and busy day.

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-The mothers waited to collect the

-children outside the station here.

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-Everyone used to say

-they'd never do it again...

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-..but when next year came around,

-everyone got on the train!

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-Why was this line closed making

-Caernarfon effectively isolated?

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-The line from Bangor to Afonwen

-was a lifeline from north to west...

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-..and I can't understand why

-nobody realised that at the time.

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-It had local importance as

-local people made great use of it.

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-Much use was made as a link between

-North Wales and Butlin's, Pwllheli.

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-But the great loss

-was the missed opportunity...

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-..to create a railway line

-for Wales.

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-A line to travel from Anglesey

-to Carmarthen, for example...

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-..without going through England.

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-We leave Caernarfon for Griffiths

-Crossing and then Port Dinorwic...

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-..and these stones here have

-some significance, don't they?

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-Yes, they mark the Old Allotments.

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-Many railway workers

-were given small plots of land...

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-..where they grew vegetables

-close to the line.

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-They were competitive too.

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-There's a story about the

-stationmaster at Dovey Junction...

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-..who grew potatoes in Merioneth,

-carrots in Cardiganshire...

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-..and other veg in Montgomeryshire.

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-He won prizes with

-his potatoes, Sharp Express...

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-..but the stationmaster at Afonwen

-was tired of hearing about all this.

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-He said, "Only the potatoes

-arrive on time at Dovey Junction!"

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-On towards the old station at Port

-Dinorwic which closed in the '60s.

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-The line now practically runs along

-the banks of the Menai Straits.

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-From the air, it's easy

-to see the development...

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-..around the old station

-at Port Dinorwic.

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-The trees and litter have reclaimed

-the old railway tracks.

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-Through the Faenol tunnel

-and out into the daylight...

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-..passing Robert Stevenson's famous

-bridge, seen here as it once was.

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-Here we met a former train driver.

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-At the Bangor loop, we had

-to heat the four coaches...

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-..and wait for the Holyhead

-train for London to arrive.

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-Once it pulled in,

-we coupled the coaches to it.

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-That gave us time

-to cook bacon and eggs...

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-..and the smell of cooking

-filled the platform.

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-That was great fun!

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-If you opened the regulators...

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-..you risked losing your

-bacon and eggs in the blast!

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-We'd have great fun on the line!

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-Bangor station

-is where our journey ends.

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-I have memories of this place

-as an extremely busy station.

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-There are still four tracks here,

-but it's changed so much.

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-You're right,

-it was very busy here once.

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-Local trains running to Llanberis,

-Bethesda, Anglesey, Afonwen...

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-..not to mention the express trains

-running from Holyhead to Euston.

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-It was particularly busy

-on Saturdays.

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-I remember the old sheds

-with hundreds of steam trains...

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-..at least it seemed to be hundreds.

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-Today, you're lucky to see a

-solitary diesel engine run through.

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-S4C subtitles by Testun Cyf

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Bydd Arfon Haines Davies a Gwyn Briwnant Jones yn cerdded ar hyd hen lwybr rheilffordd Afonwen/Bangor. Arfon and Gwyn walk from Bangor to Afonwen along the old railway line.


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