Blaenau Ffestiniog rail station
There have been seven rail stations in Blaenau Ffestiniog, reflecting the scale of the slate industry here. Blaenau Ffestiniog means “uplands of Ffestiniog”. Ffestiniog denotes the territory of someone called Ffestin, unknown to us today. It was written as Festinioc in 1292-93.
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The first station to open here, in 1865, belonged to the narrow-gauge Ffestiniog Railway. It was at Dinas, north west of the town, and lasted only five years. The second, from 1866 to 1930, was the FR’s Duffws station. The station building is now a toilet block near the present station.
The London & North Western Railway (standard gauge) extended its Conwy Valley line from Betws-y-Coed into Blaenau Ffestiniog to tap the slate trade, and the FR opened a station alongside the LNWR’s in 1881. This was known to locals as “Y stesion fain” – the narrow station. The Great Western Railway (standard gauge) arrived in town with a new railway from Bala, and the FR opened a station alongside the GWR’s in 1883.
During the Second World War, paintings evacuated from the National Gallery in London arrived by train in Blaenau Ffestiniog for bomb-proof storage in a nearby slate quarry. After the war, most of Blaenau Ffestiniog’s sprawling rail infrastructure closed.
In 1963 the town’s two standard-gauge lines were connected for the first time, for trains to carry nuclear flasks from Trawsfynydd power station to Llandudno Junction. Passenger trains to Llandudno continued to use the LNWR station until 1982, when a combined new British Rail and FR station opened at the site of the old GWR-FR interchange. This was the culmination of a big effort, through volunteer labour and fundraising, to rebuild the upper section of the FR.
The proximity of the platforms at Blaenau Ffestiniog enables visitors to ride the scenic Conwy Valley and FR lines with one simple change of trains.
With thanks to Prof Hywel Wyn Owen, of the Welsh Place-Name Society
Postcode: LL41 3ES View Location Map