On a recent short term break to the Isle of Anglesey in North Wales, I stayed in a hotel that had the Snowdonia National Park as back drop when you looked out of the window.
I’ve only every seen the Welsh Snowdonia mountains on TV – where they show survival programmes seen as holiday retreats for the Army’s SAS winter training, where seasoned mountaineers climbing mountains with strange names, or where walkers think the Three Peaks’ 26 miles is a day’s stroll in the park. But, is it a place for normal walkers like myself.
But what’s this got to do with South Leeds – I can hear you say.
We set out from our hotel following a route map booklet, the old fashioned way not a ‘sat nav’. Following a route into the Snowdonia National Park, in search of nice gentle walk, for one moderate walker and one mad fitness freak (that’s me by the way). After a couple of hours driving and short walks we reached Llanberis, the site of the Snowdon Mountain Railway.
The day was a miserable, raining, windswept and cold – it was brilliant – I love days like this. We went into the train station complex, walking on to the train platform – I was looking forward to our train journey of an hour and half up the side of the mountain Snowdon, purported to have one of the highest train stations in the UK at 3,560ft near the summit of mountain.
Snowdon Mountain Tramroad & Hotels Co Ltd was founded in November 1894 by 150 men who built 2 viaducts, carved out a 100m cutting from solid rock, constructed several bridges and laid almost 8km of track up a 1 in 7 gradient to the top of mountain.
But what’s has this got to do with South Leeds !!!!!!!!!
“Sorry mate no trains running today snow on the mountain” – Oh no I don’t ‘believe it‘. As there was no train service today we decided to look around the station, at the rear was a railway yard with engines parked up with some being repaired. A train draws up to the station and parks up.
But what’s this got to do with South Leeds !!!!!!!!
At the side of the train is a name plate HUNSLET – I had to take a second look – why was this train got this name.
The driver walks past me and I couldn’t help but ask him – “Excuse me mate, how’s this train got the name Hunslet”. He tells me it was built by The Hunslet Engine Company, based in a place called Hunslet in Leeds. “No way” I said. Now obviously if you are a train enthusiast then this will be of no surprise to you, but it was to me at the time.
The Hunslet Engine Company was founded in 1864 on Jack Lane, in Hunslet by John Towlerton Leather. The first engine was built in 1865 on a standard gauge 0-6-0 saddle tank and was used in the construction of the Midland Railway. One of Hunslet’s most notable designs, the Quarry Hunslet, (I assumed named after the nearby Quarry Hill estate) in 1870, where narrow gauge steam locomotives was used in the Welsh slate quarries, as they proved essential for the development of this industry. So the narrow gauge locomotive has been working the Welsh slate mines for many years.
To see the Hunslet locomotive in action and the beautiful scenery its goes through click on this link.
This article was written by St Clair Brown using our Community Reporters website