Published 19th June 2013
One for guests and the other for trains!
The Talyllyn Railway issued all locomotive drivers with an orange on May 5, a day when nationally famed husband and wife actors Timothy West and Prunella Scales visited preservation’s pioneering line to open a building named ‘The Guest House’.
Jokes there may have been, but while the building most certainly forms accommodation this is for railway stock rather than people and is no potential Fawlty Towers to be ruled by Ms. Scales playing the Sybil Fawlty character which made her a household name.
Phil Guest was one of the much loved characters who so enrich the Talyllyn Railway. Driven by a passion for railways, with the end of main line steam Phil became involved with the TR in 1969. A long-standing driver and locomotive inspector, Phil also served as a board director and for a period served as joint managing director with David Mitchell. Described as a true gentleman and remembered for a sense of humour and fun which made every day spent working with him enjoyable he has been sorely missed since his death on January 30 2008.
His legacy to the TR was more than his personality, for he left a very sizeable bequest. A part of this, some £40,000, has been used to finance the building constructed between September 2011 and the beginning of this year at Quarry Siding. In naming it in his honour, it was right that a degree of humour should be involved. All present on May 5 felt certain he would have approved!
Guests travelled to the Guest House aboard a special train behind Fletcher Jennings 0-4-0WT No. 2 Dolgoch (carrying a ‘1944-2008 Phil Guest’ headboard), special operating conditions being in place for the day to allow passengers to alight and later board trains at the location adjacent to Quarry Siding block post.
TRPS President, Richard Hope, opened proceedings by outlining how ‘The Guest House’ would enable the TR to finally achieve its long term aim of keeping all its carriages under cover. He also pointed out it had provided welcome shelter from the worst of the Welsh winter weather for the line’s Outdoor Gang during the TR’s recent major re-sleepering programme.
Timothy West, a member of the TRPS since 1985, brought much levity in his address by referring to his delight at this latest addition to the Railway’s property portfolio and his expectations that ‘The Guest House’ will become a bustling centre of commerce as the age of world travel declines in favour of holidaying in Wales! Timothy and his wife, Prunella Scales, unveiled the name of the building, in the form of a locomotive nameplate.
And so we came to the oranges left on the TR’s locomotives that morning. TRPS Chairman, Lis Mann, explained that a lasting memory of Phil was that on the last down journey of the day he would always peel open and eat an orange, discarding the pips into the hedgerow of Cynfal bank.
In addition to encouraging the day’s loco crews to do the same as a tribute to Phil’s memory, a Philadelphus tree (often called a ‘mock-orange’ in view of their flowers, which in wild species look and smell similar to those of oranges) was planted on the bank close to ‘The Guest House’. The planting was performed by David Miles, a friend of Phil since school days.
The formal proceedings were concluded by the Bishop of Menevia, Tom Burns (also a long-time friend of Phil’s) who in blessing the building observed that as a Naval Chaplain he had blessed many ships in his time, but never a shed!
Part of the George III hotel (The Lodge), was formerly a station with the former Cambrian/GWR line now used as a footpath and beyond the signalbox is Dollgellau, Bala and Llangollen! – all home to preserved railways.
The Settle & Carlisle Railway Trust has completed a huge renovation project at Ribblehead station where they have turned the former Stationmaster’s house into holiday accommodation. This includes external restoration to its original as-built condition and internally, fitting it out as high quality holiday accommodation. A similar holiday let is also available from the Trust at Kirkby Stephen station.
Work has been completed ready for the main 2013 season and completion of this project marks another key point in the Trust’s activities since formation in 1990. Ribblehead station buildings have been turned into a very informative visitor centre and a centre for hill-walkers.
The station is served by seven trains a day in each direction, running between Leeds and Carlisle operated by Northern Rail. Many charter trains operate over the line (but do not call at Ribblehead) and the full list is in the rail.co.uk charter train section updated every month.
Book the Ribblehead Station Master’s house before the end of June and qualify for a 20% discount. It’s a great location in summer or winter, when the wind can howl!