WELSH HIGHLAND RAILWAY IN ARCHIVES

Page last updated: 8 July 2012


Recorded history can only be the "story" as we know it from available records and so it's always liable to revision in the light of the emergence of new evidence or "forgotten" records. The "standard works" published about the Welsh Highland Railway (operated 1922 - 1936) contain much diligent research and give an excellent insight into its history and that of its predecessors. Nevertheless, further details do continue to come to light published particularly through the pages of the Welsh Highland Heritage, the quarterly journal of the Welsh Highland Railway Heritage Group, and the Group's occasional publications . It is clear that, even now, much detail remains to be extracted from various archival collections, both to amplify the story and to untangle some of the mysteries that still remain.

Knowing where to start and where to look when researching railway history can sometimes be a little daunting (Peter Johnson's Acknowledgements show the breadth of his searches) so to assist and encourage new researchers, listings have been compiled of material relating specifically to the Welsh Highland and its predecessors which is known to exist - and to await further "mining" - in some of the publicly accessible archives - follow the links below. The Gwynedd and National Library of Wales links open a .pdf file in a separate window in each case.

Gwynedd Archives - principally at Caernarfon Record Office (access details).

National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth (access details).

The National Archives at Kew - it is hoped to publish a listing in due course but meantime use their own catalogue search facility, with Welsh Highland, North Wales Narrow Gauge, Portmadoc Beddgelert & South Snowdon (or any other relevant title in which interested) in the "Word or phrase (mandatory)" box (access details).

University of Glasgow Archive Services houses the Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons archive (use their search facility for McAlpine); this contains nothing specific to their contract to construct the Welsh Highland Railway but does contain general material about the McAlpine firm's activities in that era (access details).

Access to Archives (A2A) provides a facility to search the catalogues of various repositories.


Important documents have either been photographed or transcribed and made available on-line - follow the links below, which open a separate window in each case.

1922 contract for renovating the North Wales Narrow Gauge, for up-grading to passenger standards the Portmadoc, Beddgelert & South Snowdon (the erstwhile Croesor Tramway), and for constructing the long-awaited link between the two.

1923 working instructions for the Welsh Highland and the Portmadoc Junction Railways.

1934 lease by the Festiniog Railway of the Welsh Highland Railway.


= James I C Boyd, Narrow Gauge Railways in South Caernarvonshire, Oakwood Press, 1988/1989 (two volumes), and Peter Johnson, An Illustrated History of the Welsh Highland Railway, Oxford Publishing Co., 2009.

= WHRHG Membership Secretary: Derek Lystor, 14 Teign Village, Bovey Tracey, Newton Abbot, TQ13 9QJ; e-mail: dick.lystor[AT]welshhighlandheritage.co.uk


Richard Maund


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