An Illustrated History of the Snowdon Mountain Railway
The Snowdon Mountain Railway is unique amongst Britain's railways, quite literally a Swiss mountain rack and pinion railway translated to the grandeur of Snowdonia to ascend Wales' highest peak, Snowdon.
Built in 1895 by the Snowdon Mountain Tramroad & Hotels Company, it is usually best remembered for the tragic accident that occurred on the first day of public operation in 1896. It overcame that awful event and has established a well-earned place as one of the most popular tourist railways in Wales.
Less than five miles long, with gradients as steep as 1 in 5.5 and climbing from Llanberis, 350 above sea level, to a station 50ft below the 3,560ft summit, the 800mm gauge Snowdon Mountain Railway regularly attracts over 120,000 passengers a year brought by the combination of Swiss steam locomotives, modern diesel locomotives and fantastic scenery. The opening of the Snowdonia National Park Authority's stylish new summit building, Hafod Eryri, in 2009, makes the railway a more popular destination for 21st century visitors.
Unusually amongst Britain's passenger-carrying railways, the Snowdon Mountain Railway was built without Parliamentary authority on private land, a situation that limits the amount of historical information available in public archives. Research carried out by railway historian Peter Johnson has uncovered many new insights into the railway's fascinating history for this latest addition to OPC's popular Illustrated History series.