Tan-y-Bwlch rail station

Tan-y-Bwlch rail station

This station, on a picturesque S bend, is roughly mid-way along the Ffestiniog Railway from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog. It is the main location for trains in opposite directions to pass each other.

The station officially opened in 1873 but was probably in use in 1872. Passenger numbers were growing after horses were replaced by steam locomotives in 1863. Tan-y-Bwlch soon became a popular place for passengers to alight, to stroll in the surrounding woodlands.

Tan means “below”, Bwlch means “pass”.
To hear how to pronounce Tan-y-Bwlch, press play: Or, download mp3 (11KB)

The pass referred to is a little west of the station along the road to Llanfrothen. A Roman road ran through what’s now the station site, and until 1854 there was a level crossing near today’s café building. If you have time to spare, walk down the station approach road and turn right to see the pretty iron bridge which was cast at Boston Lodge works in 1854, for the diverted road.

The railway was engineered to allow laden slate trains to descend from Blaenau Ffestiniog to the sea by gravity. Normally such trains would roll non-stop through Tan-y-Bwlch.

Before the Second World War the station, unusually, was managed by a woman. Bessie Jones dressed in traditional Welsh costume and sold tea and postcards to passengers. The original 1873 station building survives, at the far end of the car park.

The station closed in 1939 and reopened in 1958, when rail enthusiasts made it the temporary terminus for trains from Porthmadog while they restored the next section of track. The wooden footbridge was installed in 2012, a replica of the 19th-century original. Note the unusual replica signal on the edge of the car park. The signal arms protrude from a slot in the upright.

Where is this HiPoint?

Ffestiniog Railway on HistoryPoints.org

Website of the Ffestiniog Railway

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