Product / system manufacture
Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways
Incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1832, Ffestiniog Railway is the oldest independent railway company in the world. It has been voted the top tourist attraction in North Wales and is recognised throughout the world as a leading example of restoring and running a heritage railway.
In 2013, work began on widening an existing platform to allow 14-carriage Welsh Highland Railway trains to stand at the extension. The extensive changes to the tracks required the reconfiguring of the signalling and point controls.
The project required the building of a signal box and relay room to suit the tight dimensions of the site and the requirements of signalling and operating departments. It was very important that the new structure would be in keeping with the heritage of the railway.
Volunteer Project Manager, Alan Norton had discovered that Western Red Cedar was more durable than other species of timber and would produce the best finish for the building. Since the platform edge would be within three metres of the front wall of the signal box, the public would be standing very close to the building. This called for a very high quality, durable finish.
“The site is very exposed, being less than five metres from the sea at high tides. It was apparent that with some maintenance, Western Red Cedar would last a long time even in these conditions.”
Silva Timber helped the client with ways to work within a tight budget – including allowing them to collect the timber themselves. The initial spec was to have a painted finish on the cladding, and Silva Timber suggested using Finger-Jointed Western Red Cedar cladding.
Finger-Jointed Western Red Cedar offers the physical properties of standard board at significantly lower cost. Finger-Jointed boards are especially suited to an opaque coating, which makes it ideal for use with Owatrol Solid Colour Stain. This combination was a cost effective option best suited to the railway's requirements.
It was necessary to find precisely the right Owatrol tone, from over 50 different colours available, so as to match existing historic architecture.
“We were pleasantly surprised to discover the ease of handling Western Red Cedar”, said Alan. Volunteers fixed the cladding, who ranged from skilled DIY-ers, to 14-16 year olds on college work experience. The same volunteers applied the solid colour stain to the timber.
“Both Western Red Cedar cladding and Owatrol Solid Colour Stain were very easy to work with, even considering that some of the teenage volunteers had no previous experience working in this environment.”
The project enabled the railway to properly connect with the local 16+ college.
“It was a major success, not only saving expenditure thanks to volunteers, but also giving the students an opportunity to gain satisfaction from producing something that is in public view and will be seen for many years to come”, continued Alan.
Alan concluded, “The whole experience with Silva Timber was very good. I would be very happy to use Silva Timber again, and would recommend the company to others.”