I hadn’t realised until I arrived at Penrhyn Castle that there was a railway museum on site – it’s based in what were the stables where 36 of the estate’s horses used to call home. If you’ve been around for a while you’ll know that my dad is very much a train enthusiast and I have been dragged to all manner of train related sites throughout the country from a very young age so I was especially keen to photograph everything I could to show him.
When Richard Pennant became the first Baron Penrhyn his ambitious plans included the 1790 building of Port Penrhyn near Bangor; the Penrhyn Quarry Railway, one of the earliest industrial railways in the world, was a narrow gauge railway that served the Penryn Quarry near Bethesda, taking the slate it produced to Port Penrhyn. Most of the trains and equipment displayed in the museum are from this time. The first locomotive donated to the museum was Charles, below, which worked on the Penrhyn Quarry Railway and was built in 1882.
The oldest train is the Fire Queen which was built in 1848 and operated on a private railway from the Dinorwic Slate quarries at Llanberis to the port at Y Felinheli.
Other vehicles on display include this rail cycle that was used by the chief engineer of the Dinorwic quarries to travel from his home to work and for inspecting the track.
And this lovely railway saloon coach that was built in 1896. The owners of the Dinorwic slate quarry used it to visit the quarry, along with their rich friends. It was also used to take the quarrymen’s wages to the office under armed guard. It sits eight people in comfortable swivel armchairs. In contrast coaches of the same size which were intended for the quarry workers held 60 people.
It’s a nice little museum and worth a look around – as part of the castle site there’s no extra fee for entry. You can find more photos here.