|The Ffestiniog Railway.|
Before the penultimate station on the line, Tanygrisiau, the train ran along the parched bank of theTanygrisiau Reservoir. Not low because of summer drought alone, but because the reservoir is the lower body of the Ffestiniog pumped water storage scheme which sees approximately 2 million cubic metres of water transferred between Tanygrisiau and the upper Llyn Stwlan reservoir, generating up to 360MW of electricity.
Although this hydro-power scheme was the first major pumped storage power facility in the UK (built in 1963), the area has an even longer history of producing electricity using the power of its abundant streams and rivers. Dol Wen hydro power station was built in 1899, and in 1902 Blaenau Ffestiniog became the first town in Britain to have its streets lit with electricity created using hydropower.
Unfortunately there is little written about this early hydro venture on the internet, and I haven't come across any articles or books on the regions hydro history during my research (if you know of any, please let me know). For readers interested in learning more about the history of hydropower in the UK, see Emma Wood's book The Hydro Boys: Pioneers of Renewable Energy which documents the development of water power in the Highlands of Scotland.
|Tanygrisiau Reservoir from the platform at the train station.|
So...all that is left to be said, is that if you ever get the chance to visit the area, make sure you visit both the Llyn Peninsula and the coastal flank of Snowdonia National Park. And if like us, you need to shelter from the slate grey rain in the slate mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog I highly recommend the cafe at the towns cultural hub Cellb.