Bill Faulkner driving N°4 Edward Thomas

My Father Bill on the footplate of N°4
Bill Faulkner on "his engine" N°4 Edward Thomas. (Photo Ian Faulkner).

This site is dedicated to Bill Faulkner and his beloved Talyllyn Railway

My earliest childhood memories are of the Talyllyn Railway, my father Bill Faulkner was one of the original members of the Talyllyn Preservation Society, almost all our weekends and school holidays were spent on or about the railway.
 His life revolved around the "T.R." from the very first pioneer days up until his death in 1982.

My father lived and breathed for the Talyllyn; I would like to share with you the reader, memories and photos of this unique line.

The photos and articles for this site come from my fathers collection, where possible I have credited the authors. If I have made any omissions or errors, or if you object to any of these photos being used please inform me by using the Contact Form.

Thirty year love affair with the Talyllyn Railway

Article reproduced with permission from "Steam Railway" magazine, March 1981.

To leave one's work behind for the weekend and set off for the "other job” as a volunteer on one of Britain's private railways is something
many of us are accustomed to.

To think that we might want to,or be able to do that 30 years on has probably not occurred to most, but a few people have been doing just that.
One such person is Mr W.H.D. Faulkner, now the hon. managing director of theTalyllyn Railway.
Not only has he been a regular weekend volunteer, but for over half of his 30 years with the TR he has been a full-time volunteer, living in Aberdyfi since 1964, five miles from the railway he is much a part of. Quiet and unassuming, he has always put the railway first and since the earliest days of the preservation society he has seen the TR through many ups and downs.
It is a clear measure of the respect with which he is held that he is known, without nicknames, simply as “Bill”.
He is a character in his own right, a very solid traditional railwayman,
although he's not from a railway background.There are few TR volunteers who don't know that they should look first at the loco cab of an approaching train: if they see a pipe emerging from the doorway,


then Bill is driving and everyone should be on his toes!
The refreshment staff of Abergynolwyn listen extra carefully for the two-tone sounds of No.4's twin whistles as she comes up the valley: they know then that they must have Bill's own special mug of tea ready. On Thursdays, the permanent staff also listen out for the two-tone whistles all along the line: that's Bill, playing Chancellor of the Exchequer and bringing not a budget but their wages in his battered old case. Everything seems so settled and routine today compared with things all those years ago. As Bill says, when he thinks back: "During the early days, one of the major problems was to keep the locos and rolling stock on the rails, when a train departed from Wharf, it was always a relief to see it return through the bridge. We had no lifting gear or jacks in those days, and it was a question of using sleepers and rail to lift the rolling stock back on to the track ."One working party weekend we had been working on the track near Dolgoch. No.4 had been sitting happily all day, but at 4 o'clock, as we packed up, I only moved the engine a yard and she fell between the rails! There was nothing we could do but leave her there to be dealt with next day and we all had to walk the five miles back to Tywyn.”
No.4, Edward Thomas, named after the old company's general manager, is regarded as Bill's engine. He has known her intimately since she entered service on the Talyllyn in 1952. Bought from British Railways for the princely sum of £25, she came from the nearby Corris Railway, of the same rare 2ft 3ins gauge. In 1951 Bill was involved in persuading the Hunslet Engine Co., No.4's builders, to carry out a major overhaul. At the time the regular TR driver preferred the ageing No.2 Dolgoch, and so, whenever he was there, Bill was left to drive No.4. Her tendency to slip, particularly on the greasy and very rough track of the 1950's, was managed by Bill's gentle handling and she has always been a reliable loco, a stalwart among the Talyllyn fleet.
ln 1981, No.4 celebrates her 60th birthday as the society celebrates its 30th.
Before he moved to Aberdyfi, Bill was a director of a transfer printing firm, and his house is adorned with innumerable original railway transfers, all beautifully mounted and displayed, which he has collected over the years, his other hobby. He designed the present TR crest which is based on originals found on some of the old company's literature. The actual garter used by his firm in the making of these crests was the same as that used on LNWR postal vans’ Royal Arms and the Prince of Wales feathers were taken from the Royal Appointment  crests used by a well-known biscuit manufacturer! Bill's first visit to the railway was in 1946 when he travelled from Towyn (as it was then spelt) to Abergynolwyn and back. He went back as a volunteer at Easter 1951



   when he organised a track gang to lift redundant rails from an incline for use in the main line, then so desperately in need of total re-laying. ln the same year he became secretary of the Engineering Committee and quickly became the railway’s semi-official “scrounger”!
Money was so short and so much was needed, and he visited companies asking for help. He remembers particularly the great response from firms in the West Midlands. Supplied at little or no cost were items such as firebars. buffers, boiler fittings, brake blocks, timber, paint and numerous other much-needed materials.
He always had complete faith in the society and its success, but looking back now, he says he is not so sure that the job of restoration would have been taken on if members had realised the problems to be encountered and adds quite definitely that ignorance was bliss. ln the early days he could usually spend three weekends out of four in Tywyn, rising to four or five days per week in the summer operating season. Bill has repeatedly been voted on to the society council since 1951, holding the position of Vice Chairman during the late 1950s at the same time as the late Lord Northesk was chairman, another great railway volunteer whose name is linked with the Talyllyn.
Alongside society work, he has been a director of the Talyllyn Railway Company since 1952 and became Managing Director in 1964. His only regret during all this time is that the volunteers have not been able to maintain an effective track gang; something which he specialised in while at Tywyn in those first few years. The railway now relies more and more on permanent staff organising and carrying this work.
Few volunteers can have worked as hard as Bill Faulkner since 1951. He has always been active, never wanting to be an armchair volunteer or pure boardroom director. Even today he drives regularly, working turn and turn about with drivers younger than himself, still an arduous task, standing on footpate of a small, bouncing locomotive, running over track much better than that of 1951 but still far from HST standards.
He shows his appreciafion of a good fireman in his quiet way by grinning acrosss the cab as the loco pounds up one of the steeper sections of line and if neither he nor his mate is having to work to maintain the engine's speed or pressure, his remark will probably be “Easy, isn't it"? Looking towards retirement in due course, Bill is happy that the TR has a good future having the secure knowledge that its operation is built on firm base. Whatever the future, it is certain that Bill Faulkner has earned himself a place in Talyllyn history.

The early days of the Talyllyn Railway
Early days on the Talyllyn Railway

 Ian Faulkner
 1 Chemin de Larrondoa
 64210 ARBONNE
 Téléphone 0033 63224782


The Early Days of The Talyllyn Railway 1950's on the Talyllyn Railway 1960's on The Talyllyn Railway 1970's on the Talyllyn Railway 1980 to 1982 on the Talyllyn Railway   Contact