In 1923, the Welsh Highland Railway running from Dinas through to porthmadog in North Wales, was finally completed. To coincide with the opening (in one of the first instances of considerations for tourist traffic) 6 new ‘Toastrack’ coaches (so named as they have a similar appearance)were commissioned from Robert Hudson Ltd, by Colonel Stephens (then manager of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways) at a cost of £155 each. They were built in less than 8 weeks from order.
Numbered 37-42 in the joint WHR/FR numbering scheme, the vehicles appear to have operated mainly on the WHR between Beddgelert and Porthmadog – thus operating over the highly scenic Aberglaslyn pass.
The vehicle at apedale can trace it’s provenance back to Ffestiniog wagon no.67 – during the preservation era, this served as a weed-killing wagon. When acquired from the FR, the history of the vehicle prior to the weed-killing use was unknown. Following a detailed examination soon after arrival, it became apparent that this was not a stripped down wagon as previously assumed; various details on the chassis proved that it must have been built as a passenger carriage. it was this discovery that saved the vehicle from parts recovery and oblivion, and provided the starting point for the MRT toastrack project.
The chassis mainframe and bogies suffered terribly during their use with weed killing and were subject to major replacement – but many original parts were salvaged and re-used. The rolling chassis was substantially complete by March 2010, and the vehicle was first used in public traffic at the September 2010 Grand Opening of the Apedale Valley Light Railway.
The ultimate fate of carriages 37 & 39-41 is currently unknown – but our former weed-killing wagon no.67 was definitely one of them. Until we know otherwise, this vehicle is thus carrying the identity of Toastrack No.40.