5.5mm Association

The Malcolm Savage Archive

Glyn Valley Tramway

by Malcolm Savage

Photographs by the author.

Railway Modeller - May 1986

Reproduced courtesy of Railway Modeller

Glyn Valley passenger train. The second coach shows a slightly later livery.

The Glyn Valley Tramway started life as a horse drawn tramway in 1873. Increasing traffic as a result of the expansion of the local quarries brought about a change to steam traction in 1888. This change also produced a change in gauge from 2' 4¼" to 2' 4½". Two tram locos were supplied by Beyer-Peacock Limited for the reopening, named Dennis and Sir Theodore, to be followed a few years later by a third named Glyn. Built as 0-4-2's but designed to run cab first, the wheel arrangement could perhaps be more correctly described as 2-4-0. Cab first running was required by the tramway regulations which also called for total enclosure of all moving parts, a governor to apply to brakes at 10 mph and the provision of a bell which was mounted on the cab roof. The third locomotive was similar to the others but was provided with a longer cab which was totally enclosed, unlike the earlier locomotives which had large cutouts in the front cab sheets. All three of these locomotives survived until the closure in 1935. They were joined after the first world war by an ex-WD Baldwin that was rebuilt for the tramway by Beyer-Peacock. This also survived to the end.

"Dennis" shunting Glyn Valley Tramway stock. Picture shows brake van, goods van, 4-ton granite wagons and a 2-ton slate wagon.

The coaches, totalling 14 in all, were basically of two types only; open and closed and all third class. There was also one 1st class coach and three oddities (two saloons and an open coach). All the coaches were built by the Midland Carriage and Wagon Co. Ltd. Two of the closed carriages have survived and can be seen running on the Talyllyn Railway. Livery was green and cream with elaborate gilt lining.

The goods stock consisted of about 250 vehicles, 180 of which were 4 ton granite wagons. The remainder were 2 ton opens, 2 ton slate, tar wagons, bolster wagons, 2 covered vans and 2 brakevans. Most trains were mixed and a brakevan was always found at the end of the train. Tickets from intermediate stations were sold from this van in a similar manner to the Talyllyn Railway. All the goods wagons apart from the vans were painted red oxide with black ironwork and white lettering. The vans were painted the same green as the coaches.

The Models
Of all the steam locomotives that I have built Dennis is the simplest mechanically. It is simple because the skirts that conceal everything below the footplate enabled me to fit a non-prototypical mechanism. It would have been possible to fit a standard TT gauge six-coupled mechanism but I decided to stick to the correct wheel arrangement. However all is not what it seems, for although it is an 0-4-2, it has been built as a single Fairlie, the four-coupled mechanism being a standard K's TT motor bogie. The body is pivoted over the centre of the motor bogie and the rear is supported by the single trailing axle rigidly mounted to the body. The entire body, which separates from the chassis at footplate level, is constructed from Plasticard, only the funnel, safety valves, and a few control rods having been made from metal. The hardest part to construct was the curved corners to the side sheeting. These were done by simply rolling the plastic round a pencil. The beading on the top was cut to the correct radius and this helps hold the corners in shape. This is now the oldest unrebuilt model on the layout and is showing signs of decay. If ever rebuilt a lot more metal will probably go into its construction as making all the rounded corners was rather frustrating.

"Dennis" outside the loco shed on the author's 5½mm scale layout.

Front view of "Dennis".

The varied rolling stock of the Glyn Valley Tramway is represented by six coaches, including the three odd vehicles, six granite wagons, three slate wagons, a goods van and a brake van. One of the granite wagons is finished in the livery of the Ceiriog Granite Co. - brown with black ironwork and white lettering. Construction of all of these vehicles was fairly straightforward and requires no comment. Having recently read John Milner's book on the Glyn Valley Tramway I have been checking the dimensions of the model wagons and have found that most of them are incorrect. I am therefore contemplating rebuilding them, probably with resin cast chassis and Roy Link curved spoke wheels. The coaches will probably receive new chassis at the same time.

Short train showing two of the odd carriages owned by the GVT.

"Dennis" and train climbing up through the undergrowth from the tunnel.