Published: 18th February 2016
The Talyllyn Railway, the pioneer of today’ s preservation movement, has appointed Tracey Parkinson as its new General Manager. She takes up the reins in Tywyn in succession to Chris Price who left the post last September to become managing director of North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Between Chris leaving and Tracey’s appointment David Ventry has undertaken the role of acting TR managing director.
After being introduced to the world of railways by winning a footplate ride, intriguingly but coincidentally, over the North Yorkshire Moors Railway she started volunteering at NYMR, subsequently joining its staff as the line’s marketing officer.
Her railway career continued with jobs as Train Services Manager at the National Railway Museum, UK Operations Manager for the Railway Touring Company and Information Controller at the National Rail Communications Centre and joins the Talyllyn from the post of Customer Relationship Manager for Hull Trains. While at the NRM she became the first lady to hold a main line steam firing certificate and fired on the NRM owned locomotives from York.
The Talyllyn Railway is a 2ft 3in gauge line opened for goods traffic in 1865 and passenger services shortly after. Train have run from Tywyn, on the west coast of Wales, every year since. In 1951 operation of the railway was taken over by the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society, the TR thus becoming the world’s first preserved railway. The seven-mile line to Nant Gwernol is operated primarily by volunteers from all walks of life, with a small paid staff. It is now a major tourist attraction in the mid-Wales area, contributing significantly to the area’s economy.
Network Rail’s Cambrian Coast line station at Tywyn is just a short walk from TR’s Tywyn Wharf HQ, the main line running past the narrow gauge terminus just a few yards from the old wharf edge (which gives the station its name) from which slate used to be transhipped from TR to standard gauge wagons.
Gareth Jones, chairman of the Talyllyn Railway Company, said:
“We are delighted to have appointed Tracey as our new General Manager after a rigorous recruitment process. She brings a wealth of experience from both the heritage and main line railway sectors, which will be of great benefit to us here on the Talyllyn.
Her drive and enthusiasm are infectious, and her practical expertise in many areas will be invaluable. During her time as customer care Manager for Hull Trains they have risen to the highest rated Train Operating Company for customer satisfaction, and we know that Tracey will bring that same commitment and level of excellence to the role of General Manager on the Talyllyn”.
Commenting on her appointment, Tracey Parkinson said:
“I am honoured and delighted to be provided with this opportunity to join the Talyllyn Railway Company. I look forward to meeting the team and the new challenges that lie ahead”.
Throughout 2015 Talyllyn Railway marked its 150th anniversary with a series of special events. The celebrations continue this year by marking further landmark anniversaries.
Over April 30-May 2 TR’s ‘Road to Adventure Gala’ marks the 40th anniversary of opening the Abergynolwyn to Nant Gwernol extension over the former mineral line – a project dubbed ‘The Road to Adventure’ by TR’s first general manager in the preservation era, L T C (Tom) Rolt. The 1970s themed weekend will include re-enactments of key moments during extension construction and a ‘Gwerns’ (the name given to volunteers and staff who worked on the project) reunion.
On May 2 the 25th anniversary of Barclay-based 0-4-2T No. 7 Tom Rolt and 75th anniversary of Ruston Hornsby 4wDM No. 5 Midlander will be celebrated at Abergynolwyn.
TR150 will end with ‘The Grand Finale’ over July 1-3, marking the 150th anniversary of TR’s second locomotive, Fletcher Jennings 0-4-0WT No. 2 Dolgoch which was delivered in the summer of 1866. Following the preservation society taking over operation of the railway, on May 14 1951 Dolgoch hauled the world’s first train to run on a preserved railway. The 150th celebrations started in September 2014 by marking the anniversary of locomotive No. 1 Talyllyn’s completion and will appropriately end with a party to mark No. 2 Dolgoch’s 150th.
The 2015 ‘150th Party’ was the most ambitious gala TR had ever attempted – see http://www.rail.co.uk/rail-news/2015/talyllyn-150-party/. The centrepiece was the unprecedented sight of Ffestiniog Railway’s George England 0-4-0STT Prince and Welsh Highland Heritage Railway’s Hunslet 2-6-2T Russell steaming on temporary 2ft gauge tracks at Wharf station alongside TR’s 2ft 3in gauge line.
The ‘Grand Finale’ will not repeat the sight of 2ft gauge locomotives, but rail.co.uk can confirm that TR is planning a similarly ground-breaking attraction which will without doubt fulfil TR’s billing of the event as featuring sights and sounds never before seen on the Talyllyn – details will be unveiled at www.rail.co.uk as soon as they are confirmed.
Talyllyn Railway’s Kerr Stuart 0-4-2ST No. 4 Edward Thomas will form one of the attractions at Severn Valley Railway’s March 18-20 Spring Gala when it will appear in steam running on a specially laid length of track at Highley station, near SVR’s ‘Engine House’ locomotive exhibition building.
This will be the first time Edward Thomas has been steamed in public outside Wales since it was built in 1921 for the 2ft 3ins gauge Corris Railway. At the Corris the locomotive was simply known as ‘The Tattoo’, after its design class. The Corris line became part of the Great Western Railway in 1930, then British Railways.
It closed in 1948 but two of its locomotives, Falcon No. 3 and ‘The Tattoo’ survived and were purchased for the then newly preserved Talyllyn Railway in 1951, No. 3 being named Sir Haydn and the Kerr Stuart Tattoo class becoming TR No. 4 Edward Thomas, the name of TR’s former general manager in the final years of its pre-preservation ownership.
Links between the Talyllyn and Severn Valley railways have developed over the years. SVR constructed a new boiler for the Talyllyn’s No. 2 Dolgoch during its last overhaul and ex-Corris No .3 Sir Haydn appeared (out of ticket aboard a flat wagon) during SVR’s 2013 gala, subsequently being displayed in ‘The Engine House’ until returning to the Talyllyn in late 2014. Having at one time been owned by Great Western Railway Edward Thomas fits with the GWR theme of this year’s SVR Spring Gala.
The Severn Valley Railway is joined to the national network at Kidderminster where London midland serves the main line station adjacent to the SVR station.