Dduallt rail station and spiral

Link to French translationDduallt rail station and spiral

Y Dduallt means 'the black (or shaded) hill'. Y = the, du = black, allt = hill or slope. The definite article was dropped in colloquial usage, hence Dduallt. See below for more about this name.

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The station in this remote location opened c.1880. Before then there was only a water tank on a stone plinth for replenishing the initial steam locomotives (the world’s first narrow-gauge steam locos) on the long climb from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Clough Williams-Ellis, the architect who built Portmeirion village, landscaped the station area in the 1930s.

Photo of Ffestiniog Railway steam train at DdualltAccording to legend, if you sleep a whole night in Dduallt you’ll wake up as a poet or a lunatic. Poet William Thomas Edwards (1863-1940) was stationmaster here after a single voyage put him off his intended maritime career. His bardic name was Gwilym Deudraeth.

The station closed in 1939 and reopened in 1968. It remained the terminus of the run from Porthmadog for 10 years, while volunteers blasted a new tunnel and built embankments to take the railway through to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The track originally went straight ahead at Dduallt to Moelwyn Tunnel, but the trackbed beyond the tunnel was submerged when the Ffestiniog hydro-electric power station opened in 1957. The rebuilt track has to pass the lake at a higher level, and to gain sufficient height a spiral was built at Dduallt which takes the narrow-gauge track over itself (as shown in the photo on the right).

More about the name:

Allt is feminine, and the definite article before a feminine noun results in a mutation – hence Y Dduallt, Coed y Dduallt and Fferm y Dduallt. It's unusual in Welsh for the adjective to precede the noun but several allt place-names have the adjective first with resultant mutation, such as Dduallt here and in nearby Aberglasyn, Y Gamallt in Meirionnydd and Cardigan, Y Wenallt in Nant Gwynant and Y Geuallt on Aran. In all these instances, the stress falls on the first syllable.

With thanks to Prof Hywel Wyn Owen, of the Welsh Place-Name Society

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