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North Wales railways’ project funding on local contractors tops £3m

L-R: Paul Lewin (General Manager), Edwina Bell (Project Manager), James Kindred (Project Management Trainee), Staff from OBR Construction

TWENTY contractors and sub-contractors from across Gwynedd and North Wales have received more than £3 million in project funding awarded to a Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways (FfWHR).

Then money was given to the railways’ Interpretation and Boston Lodge Project by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF), Ffestiniog Railway Society and Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway Trust.

During the last 18 months, the railway has used the skills and craftsmanship of local businesses.

Dr Edwina Bell, FfWHR heritage project manager, said: “It has been really important to reinvest this money back into the community here as we restored old buildings and built new ones, transforming the site to make it fit for the future and enable us to offer guided tours to showcase the heritage skills that keep the railway running.

“We have a wealth of construction skills locally and I was determined to use them.”

OBR of Llangefni is the main contractor leading on 12 of the buildings and G. H. James Cyf Groundworks of Trawsfynydd was brought in to work on the small loco shed, along with J, Lloyd Steelwork of Corwen.

OBR has used a wide range of local subcontractors including Snowdonia Lime of Glan Conwy, JRS Mechanical and Electrical Service from Abergele, Lance Williams Roofing of Porthaethwy, North Wales Liquid Screed of Caernarfon, Colin Jones Rock Engineering of Porthmadog and R. G. Jones of Pwllheli.

Paul Lewin, FfWHR general manager, said: “The Interpretation and Boston Lodge Project is all about working in partnership with the local community.

“I am immensely proud of the work that has taken place with the help of the NLHF and match funding by the Ffestiniog Railway Society and the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways Trust.

“They have helped to make our busy Boston Lodge works a place where the community and visitors can step into a real working site, understand the area’s pioneering spirit and give locals with a railway family history an opportunity to see where their ancestors worked.

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“We now have a state of the art classroom and facilities to enable us to do that.When you visit, you will see the project has allowed us to rescue historic buildings at Boston Lodge, bringing them back into use, as well as creating some new buildings, thanks to the skills and endeavour of our contractors.

“I can’t wait to invite the community onto the site this year.”

In addition to the building works, the project includes a wide range of work experience and skills development activities and new interpretation across the railway.

Young people particularly can learn practical skills that are focused on the needs of the railway, including infrastructure, works, marketing, interpretation and administration.

Dr Bell added“It has been an absolute pleasure to see young faces light up during a work experience week. We get them working on real projects and you can see the pride spread across their faces as they realise they have learned a new skill and constructed a small piece of Boston Lodge.”

Boston Lodge is due to open for tours later this year.