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Awdry's Influences

Snowdon Mountain Railway

The Inspiration For The Culdee Fell Railway

In North Wales, the Snowdon Mountain Railway provided yet another source of storytelling for the Rev Awdry to draw upon for his 19th book, Mountain Engines.  


The book's main focus was on engines 4 and 6, respectively, Snowdon and Padarn, formerly, Sir Harmood, but also drew upon the incident on the opening day which saw the demise of No.1 - Ladas.


Opened in April 1896, the Snowdon Mountain Tramway and Hotel Company's original opening ended in an utter disaster involving locomotive number 1, LADAS.  Problems on the track led to the locomotive overturning and injuring the crew, and when a passenger jumped clear, suspecting danger, he hit his head on the rocks and died as a result.  The locomotive was not put back into service following the unfortunate accident, and instead was used for parts for the other locomotives.  There has never been another number one on the Snowdon Mountain Railway following the loss of LADAS.

The following year, the line reopened and has operated with little or no difficulty since the accident on the first day.  Snowdon Mountain Railway is the only Mountain Rack Railway in the British Isles.  It is still run privately as it always has been to ferry tourists up Mount Snowdon.  In more recent years it has taken the modern view of employing Electric Railcars to ferry passengers up to the summit, following the implementation of Diesel traction in the 1980s.  All four of the remaining original locomotives still run (Nos. 2 to 6), whilst two of the three newer motive power from the 1920s (being locos 7 and 8) have been withdrawn due to not being "steam tight" any longer.


Largely, this is NOT a Heritage Railway, but a privately run company built to ferry passengers to the Summit of Mount Snowdon in perfect safety. 


The volume of traffic is usually handled by Diesel locomotives with the occasional steam loco running when weather conditions are suitable and possibly tourist demand is high.  The possible reason why there has been no successor to the book Mountain Engines is very much because of the Railway's safety record and aims and ability to maintain it!

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