Mixing food and steam trains
Although the home of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway is usually well over a hundred miles away in the mountains of North Wales, one of its engines-Princess – sits like an exhibit between platforms 8 and 9 at Paddington. Usually this narrow-gauged engine would be trundling up the hillside but not at the moment.
Bcause the railway company is celebrating 150 years of operation it has come to London to remind Londoners and commuters what a “proper” train as my uncle used to call them is like. But the steam gods from Festiniog have gone one one step better. They have brought food with them so that those of you unfortunate not to be Welsh can sample such delights as Welsh cakes, cockles, laverbread, Jones Crisps, Halen Mon salt, Yr Ardd Fadarch mushrooms, Purple Moose beers and South Caernarfon Creameries Old Shire cheese. St David’s Day may be past but it seems the celebrations have been combined!
Princess deserves mention on her own. This – the the first narrow gauge steam locomotive in the world – not just the oldest but the very first, used to haul trains of empty slate wagons from the harbour at Porthmadog to the quarries of Blaenau Ffestiniog along with another engine called Prince. It will also travel to London next month to give rides at the London Transport Museum Acton open day – a major feature in the Underground 150 celebrations.
Now it is eager and enthusiastic sightseers that the two engines haul from the sea to the mountains. And it is eager and enthusiastic steam affecionados and children who will haul themselves to Paddington on Saturday for photograph-taking and a picnic.