The Fairbourne Railway
In 1895 flour magnate Arthur McDougall funded construction of a tramway from Penrhyn Point for transport of building materials for the new village of Fairbourne. Tourists were soon able to ride in horse-drawn trams on the 61cm-gauge track.
During the First World War the tramway was taken over by Narrow Gauge Railways Ltd, which had operated miniature steam trains at fun parks and exhibitions until war intervened. The Fairbourne tramway provided an ideal new home for the company’s trains, once the old rails were replaced by tracks of 38cm gauge (15 inches). When the company got into trouble in 1924, the Fairbourne Estate and Development Co took over, leasing the 4km-long railway at one stage to the operator of the ferryboat between Barmouth and Penrhyn Point.
Military activities during the Second World War damaged the track, but the Fairbourne Railway reopened in 1947 and enjoyed good years until British seaside tourism declined in the 1970s and 1980s. The track gauge shrank again, to just 31cm, in 1986 after another change of ownership. The old trains were replaced with new ones, including four steam engines which are half-size replicas of narrow-gauge locomotives from Wales, England and India.
In 1990 the railway closed and decayed until it was bought in 1995 by Prof and Mrs Atkinson and Dr and Mrs Melton, who worked for no remuneration to preserve this unique slice of Welsh history and allow visitors to enjoy the ride again. Since 2009 the railway has been in the hands of a charitable body devoted to securing its long-term future.
Postcode: LL38 2EX