A MODERN community space which 'looks to the future' is how one railway executive described the new station at Caernarfon. .

Dr John Prideaux, Chairman of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways was addressing the crowd which gathered at the official opening of the Welsh Highland Railway's brand new state of the art building on Friday morning.

Dr Prideaux said: "This station is modern, but it is on an old railway site dating back to 1828, it never was a station site, there was nothing to recreate.

"It deliberately looks to the future, it provides the space needed for those using our trains, we have tried to make sure it is in a form that is useful for other things, it has great acoustics and it has already hosted artists.

"It will bring economic cultural and social benefits, and a great community space to Caernarfon. Enjoy your new station."


Also speaking at the Caernarfon ceremony was Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism , who addressed the crowds in Welsh.

Officially opening the new station was Sir Peter Luff, chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund. The station has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, through the Welsh Government, as part of Caernarfon's £16m Waterfront Development Project, led by Gwynedd County Council.

Sir Peter said: "What has happened here today is very exciting indeed, it is a 21st century gateway to centuries of industrial heritage, a big boost to the economy, jobs and the whole of Caernarfon, its a great day for the whole of north west Wales."

In the afternoon, Lord Dafydd Wigley joined railway executives, including, Dr Prideaux and Mike Schumann, for speeches and a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the railway's new recreated granite and brick station building at Waunfawr.

The day began with a special steam train from Dinas, pulled by the railway's Garratt 138 locomotive, bringing the VIPs, railway staff, volunteers, politicians, business and community members, as well as representatives from other railways and related industries to Caernarfon.

Visitors had a chance to see the new station facilities, which included disabled changing facilities, a new cafe, shop and interpretation space featuring local art work.

Inside the building, Welsh baritone vocalist Robin Griffiths Hughes sang whilst outside the world's only working de Winton quarry loco 'Chaloner' operated up and down the station line.

It was built in 1877 at the Union Works in Caernarfon The former de Winton factory is located across the road from the station.

A de Winton vertical-boilered tank loco ‘Watkin’ was also pride of place inside the station.


The visitors then travelled by train to Waunfawr for the second ceremony.

Lord Wigley, who is from the area, and remembered the original building, said he thanked everyone involved in the project.

"Having facilities like this is another stop in making this one of the gems of the heritage railway scene.

"It is one of the developments in the last two generations which we, in this part of Wales can take immense pride in."

The General Manager of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway Paul Lewin said: "This is a really good day for the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways.

"It is really pleasing because we have opened two wonderful stations, one very modern and one which is in a traditional style, just right for the Welsh Highland Railway, both offering our visitors wonderful customer facilities."

Commenting on the official opening of the WHR Station in Caernarfon, Hywel Williams Arfon's MP said,

"I very much welcome this substantial investment into Caernarfon. It forms an exciting part of the £16 million Waterfront Development Scheme to breathe new life into the Slate Quay area.

"We are extremely fortunate to have the WHR narrow gauge railway on our doorstep here in Caernarfon, bringing visitors from all over the world to our historic town.

"This high-quality development will be a massive boost to the Quay Side, bringing more people into Caernarfon, supporting local businesses and further promoting Caernarfon as a key destination for visitors.

"I hope this exciting development will bring more people to our town, contribute to our local economy and support local jobs.

"It’s an exciting time to be in Caernarfon with so many developments in the pipeline. I wish the Welsh Highland Railway all the best with the new development and congratulate all involved with the project."