Easily ignored, there was a freight service to Blaenau for some years after other locations in North Wales lost theirs. Only when taking a closer look at this picture of a Class 24 hauled special stabled in the yard, do other features become apparent.
Saturday 25th June 1977 at Blaenau Ffestiniog. 24073 and 24057 are present, stabled in the yard with empty stock of an M&GNJRS excursion from London Euston, which they had worked from Llandudno Junction. Details of the shunting manoevre necessary to get this train into the yard are given on the Old Station page.
But it's what's in the background that makes the picture fascinating. The whole of the large goods yard at Blaenau is spread out behind the train. Only partially in use by this time, it still shows its unique (?) features required for its once primary purpose - that of transferring slate from narrow gauge wagons to the standard gauge for onward trans-shipment.
Pushing the camera, slide and scanner to their limits, let's try and focus in on these features. Apologies for the photo quality!
The 13 coaches and 2 locos just fit into the yard sidings. If the train had been any longer it would have had to have been split, or stabled on the Trawsfynydd branch.
Right at the edge of the yard were the coal sidings. A number of coal wagons are present. My trusty Triumph Toledo also makes an appearance.
The goods shed stands in the middle of the yard, flanked on either size by wharf sidings. Originally there was one standard gauge track and one narrow gauge track through the building, using the appropriately sized entrances seen here. This building was not in railway use by this time.
Visible at the far end of the yard are the disused stables.
Two wagons sit in the sidings. The flat wagon appears to be carrying a slate block. General freight services including coal were withdrawn in 1984.
Here one of the wharf sidings is seen head on. In most cases the wharves were built up on either side, but in this one the standard gauge track was lowered. Originally, narrow gauge tracks ran on either side. This siding had recently been disconnected, when the underbridge seen in the foreground of the top picture was replaced. Immediately beyond the buffers of this siding was the location of the turntable, on one of the sidings that curved round to the coal yard.
The leading loco is 24073, in noticeably poorer condition than the remainder of the Class 24 fleet. This is because this loco had spent a 18 months in store/withdrawn at Carlisle and had only been reinstated in February 1977. It lasted in service only until November 1977 when it was stored again, but was not withdrawn until September 1978. It was cut up at Doncaster by the end of 1978.
This page is a re-working of a page that first appeared in June 2002 in the "25 years ago" series.