Former Diffwys station building, Blaenau Ffestiniog

Former Diffwys station building, Blaenau Ffestiniog

This was originally the station building of the Ffestiniog Railway’s Diffwys terminus. It has hosted public toilets for longer than it was a railway building!

Old photo of Diffwys railway station
Diffwys railway station c.1870, courtesy of the RCAHMW and its Coflein website

The narrow-gauge passenger trains initially terminated at Dinas but soon continued to Diffwys, from 1866. The station was generally known as Duffws. Diffwys denotes a steep slope or precipice. For more about Blaenau Ffestiniog’s various railway stations, see our page about the current station.

The photo, courtesy of the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Wales, shows a train at the station c.1870. On the left are The Princess and Palmerston, two of the railway’s first batch of four engines – the world’s first narrow-gauge steam locomotives. As you stand outside the former station building, use the terraced housing in the middle distance for orientation.

The building’s patterned slate roof is best viewed from Ynys Terrace (climb the steps behind the building). A canopy, resting on iron columns, originally covered the space in front of the building (between the projecting sections each end).

Above the ladies’ and gents’ doorways you can see the three-feathers emblem carved in slate, attributed to Robert Roberts. He was also a poet, known as Bardd Du (‘Black Bard’). He won prizes at eisteddfodau. He died, aged about 60 years, in 1900.

In July 1895, an explosion at the station woke neighbours. A gas leak was detected in the stationmaster’s room, and the chosen method to find the source was to strike a match! The resulting explosion blew out doors and windows and damaged the roof. There were no significant injuries.

The station closed in 1931. The building became public toilets a few years later. A wall was built between the building and the remaining pair of Ffestiniog Railway tracks, which served the quarries to the east via inclines. Quarry companies used the tracks after the Ffestiniog Railway closed in 1946. The tracks were removed in the late 1960s, enabling the car park to expand.

Postcode: LL41 3BP    View Location Map

Copies of the old photo and other images are available from the RCAHMW. Contact: nmr.wales@rcahmw.gov.uk

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