The Dolgarrog Railway
East of Surf Snowdonia is a reconstructed part of the industrial railway for the Dolgarrog aluminium factory, which stood where the surfing centre is now sited.
Water transport was used in the early years after the factory opened in 1908. A short canal and a narrow-gauge railway connected the factory to the river. The Aluminium Corporation Ltd bought barges to carry the aluminium down the Conwy river to Conwy town, where an old Russian whaling ship was moored as a warehouse. Later the barges tied up by a railway siding on Conwy Cob, near the eastern abutment of the Tubular Bridge.
Plans to build a light railway along the Conwy Valley’s western side fell through, but the barge system was exposed as inadequate when demand for aluminium increased in wartime. In 1916 a short branch line was opened from the Conwy Valley railway, east of the river. It made a sharp turn through almost 180 degrees to cross the river and run along the valley to the factory. From the entrance gate, sidings fanned out into seven areas of the factory.
Aluminium could then be loaded onto railway wagons for long-distance transport, without the double or triple handling of the barge system. Inbound materials also arrived by train.
The corporation bought two old railway coaches to convey workers from Dolgarrog station to the factory in the morning and back in the evening. Passengers alighted at a platform close to the short platform you can see here today. Engine driver Richard Jones, known as “Dic Loco”, would depart bang on time and sometimes leave behind any clerical staff who were a little late leaving work!
Road transport took over after the Second World War, and the railway was dismantled. In recent years a platform and track have been installed by volunteers from the Dolgarrog Railway Society, which has also collected and restored appropriate rolling stock in its quest to recreate the atmosphere of a small industrial railway.
Source: ‘Dolgarrog: An Industrial History’ by Eric Jones and David Gwyn
Postcode: LL32 8QE View Location Map
Other RAILWAY HiPoints in this area:
Former upland railways near Dolgarrog – built for quarries, later used for reservoir construction
Betws-y-coed rail station - home since the 1960s to a South Eastern & Chatham Railway Pullman coach