Wind Powered Rail Boat ….. Spooner’s Boat

I found all of this on the web ….. I promise I didn’t make up a word …..

“Sail power has never found much popularity on railways. It is easy to see why – for a start, tacking into an opposing wind is going to be a very difficult business. One could also anticipate problems when a four-masted schooner-rig express engine encounters a tunnel.“


Spooner's re-created sail boat

Spooner’s re-created sail boat

‘Spooner’s Boat’ is a regular feature on the Ffestiniog Railway in Wales. This extraordinary rail-mounted boat is a replica, completed in 2005, of an original vehicle used both as a private vehicle and as an inspection carriage by Charles Easton Spooner, manager and engineer of the Ffestiniog Railway during the mid-19th century.

The date of construction of the original rail-boat is unknown, but is considered to be before 1863. It was destroyed when Mr Spooner left Tanygrisiau in the rail-boat, to travel down the line under gravity, but without carrying the train staff. (a wooden staff that would have given him authority to travel on that section of single line) Predictably, the rail-boat crashed into an up train at the north end of the old Moelwyn tunnel in February 1886. Those on board jumped clear and no-one was killed, but most were injured.

The reconstructed rail-boat is currently fitted with a dipping lug rig, and with this fitted she has reached 20 mph. (17.4 knots)

You can find out a good deal more information from Festipedia, which is like Wikipedia but specialising in the history of the Ffestiniog Railway.“

You can see Spooner’s rail-boat getting up a fair turn of speed here:

Wife Sarah and I are hoping to visit the FFestiniog Railway when we visit Wales on our 25th wedding anniversary trip. Should I take my sailing outfit I ask?

P.S. If you want chapter and verse on sails on rails check out this link.