No 2 Dolgoch taking water at Ty Dwr in the 1940s. Photo: The Holcombe Family.
"For it is a relic, this railway. A bit of ornamental scrollwork, lifted from the pattern of yesterday, and kept; as a memento": so wrote Carson Davidson in the closing lines of the wonderful film Railway with a Heart of Gold. Much has changed since the far-off days of 1953 when Davidson came to Tywyn for filming, but one outstanding restoration project has always been there: the watering point at Ty Dwr .
Dolgoch at Ty Dwr in the 1940s, note the constructional differences between the columns. Photo: EK Stretch.
Ty Dwr nestles in the woods high above Abergynolwyn; it was the site of the first locomotive shed for the railway built in 1865. The steam locomotives needed a water supply nearby.
Ty Dwr (Water House) was built where the new railway crossed over an upland stream rushing down the hillside of Foel Fach to meet the Gwernol just below Hendre barn on the outskirts of Abergynolwyn. For the McConnels (builders of the Talyllyn Railway) this was an ideal source of free water that never dried up even in the driest of summers. After the main works at Pendre were opened during 1867, the watering point continued in use for nearly 90 years, until the columns of the launder were demolished and reused in early 1955 to repair a landslip at Dolgoch.
Ty Dwr in the 1940s; photo JJ Davies
The launder is of considerable historical interest and has always been on the nice to restore list well, now its time has come. This appeal is for the restoration as near as possible to its 1940s condition with slate columns and an elm (or otherwise suitable timber) launder. Photographs of the columns tell a story of their own. The southern column (right hand in the photograph above) is much broader and has a more craftsmanlike construction than the northern column, suggesting that originally the launder was shorter to allow engines to pass and stable in the erstwhile shed.
A rare shot in colour, c.1953. Photo John Adams, NGRM collection.
Coupled with the forthcoming UNESCO World Heritage bid for the Welsh Slate Industry, this is an ideal time to restore the watering point using as far as possible local materials and traditional construction methods would you like to see this microcosm of the Welsh slate industry restored? This ornamental scrollwork as Carson Davidson so aptly put?
Initially, the appeal will be for £4000, to allow for site investigation and reconstruction in as close a manner to the original as modern constraints will allow. The running line has moved slightly compared to the 1865 alignment, it is now slightly more southerly and lower than before.
Concept sketch by Mark Freeman of the suggested restoration.
The launder and columns will be restored to working condition, allowing engines to take water at Ty Dwr once more after a gap of more than 60 years, there will need to be some small alterations due to changes in the local topography.
The site of the former shed looking towards the Village Incline, taken from approximately where the launder would have been sited; note how the running line is now lower. Photo: David Mitchell.
Taken during the reconstruction phase, this is the head of steel looking towards Forestry Crossing and Abergynolwyn station, the depth of modern excavation is clear, together with the movement of the track away from the northern boundary . Photo: David Mitchell.
Careful and thorough site investigations will take place to locate the new launder and columns as accurately as possible. Locally sourced material will be used as far as possible for the reconstruction to be made in a traditional style. If you would like, please follow the Appeal Page on Facebook: Ty Dwr Appeal Thank you!
If you lovely people are so generous that this appeal is oversubscribed any surplus funds will be allocated to the General Fund to be used for the preservation of the Talyllyn Railway, likewise if this appeal does not reach its target then the money raised will also be added into the General Fund to ensure the ongoing preservation and operation of the Talyllyn Railway.