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THE RUSSIAN COMMISSIONERS'…

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THE RUSSIAN COMMISSIONERS' VISIT TO WALSS. He&cters of the Times and other metropolitan papers of Mon- day were told thatâ"An interesting and important commis- â¢ioft, consisting of some of the most distinguished Russian engineers, accredited by the Emperor of all the Russias, tirived in London a few days since, charged with the wity of acquiring information as to the working of the Railway system in Great Britain. The deputation is 'accompanied by Count Bobrinsky, Conseiller d'Etat, Count Zamoyski, Count Arexander Berg, son of the General- issimo xsf the Russian Atinyand Viceroy of Poland, andM. liobett Vondesen, Conseiller de la Cour in the Engineer- ing Department of the Russian Empire. Introductions from the Railway Department of the Board of Trade en- abled the commission to seek the opportunity of inspecting ia its entirety the system of the London and North Western Railway, its mode of working, its great engineer- ing achieveme&ts, and its various industrial etitrep6ts. The Duke of Sutherland, who is an hereditary director of this railway., and whose devotion to the science of engineering in all its branches is well known, on learning the errand of the commissioners at once placed the re- sources of 'the company at their disposal, and personally, Volunteered to accompany the commission over the most interesting portions of the north-western territory, and especially of the new route just opened up by this coifc- puny via Shrewsbury into South Wales and the great coal and iroa districts of that principality. The commission, Attended by Mr Baker, engineer-m-chief of the London And orth-Western Railway, -and a large pafty of engineers, several of whom were understood to represent Varies European States, left Euston Station by 'the ten a.m. express on Thursday morning. The magnitude of the' commission will be wnderstood whsn it is explained that the party occupied saloon carriages, the Duke of Sutherland and two or three of iis co-directors accompany- 'ing them. T8ve first stoppage 'was made at Grewe, where the commission were receded by Mr Rafmsbotham, the locomotive superintendent of the railway-, by whom they were conducted over the extttisive shops of the company at this plaoo, includinjrtheir new steel works and their locomo- tive engine factory, &e. Frem Crewe thefparty proceeded to Shrewsbury, where they passed the Tiight, proceeding next <3ay to Poet Maaoc and Festiniog, through the beautiful scenerydfithe Valeof Towy Railway, returning to Brecon for the nigb't. One great object of the com- mission while hi South Wales will'be to examine into the worl-ing of the 2ft. (Jin. gauge mineral lines of railway, Whifch it is apposed will be adapted to large districts in the north of GEtirqpe. The commission are to proceed this week over the Western Galleys Railway to the Crumlin Vtaduet, and thence; over the new South Wales branch of the -London and North-Western Railway to Merthyr Tydfil ecnd Cardiff. Before returning to London the commission will visit Hereford, and thence via Chester, by the new bridge over the Mersey at Runcorn, to Liverpool, where among other great works they are to view the magnificent hotel now in process of erection by the viiilway- company at that port. The commission are expend to be absent a fortnight." Tiie foregoing is, perkaps, in the main, tolerably cor- rect, but UD some of its-details, it is, assuredly, faulty. Our readers, therefore, if they accept the imperial report u to the housing of the commissioners at Shrewsbury, "WjJl not-be far astray, but we invite them rather to trust to-& looal report for the after proceedings. The following isirom 'our own representative,' who joined the party at Welshpool on Friday morning In obedience to yom instructions and a courteous invi- ttationfrom official quarters I joined the party, whose 'roving commission led to an examination of the triumphs of-engineering in the Principality. The Royal trainâfor royaldt was, being composed of royal commissioners from foreign states, and conveyed in the royal saloons of the North-Western Company-arrived at Welshpool soon alter ten o'clook-on Friday morning, in charge eff Mr E. Wood -the district manager of the London and North- Westem Railway. At Welshpool, after a few minutes' 'delay, a Cambrian engine was attached to the train, which "Was then placed under the care of Mr Geo. Owen, C.E., 'Mr Elias, manager, and Mr Walker, locomotive super- intendent, of the Cambrian Railways. The morning was keen and the Montgomeryshire hills were covered with "â now; The train did not stop between Welshpool and Aberdovey, save for a few minutes at Machynlleth for Water; but at Aberdovey a halt was made for the pur- pose of giving any of the commissioners who chose an opportunity of taking an airing on the engine for the better observation of the engineering difficulties encoun- tered along the coast, and for the freer enjoyment of the rare scenery the county of Merioneth affords. The Duke of Sutherland and Count Bobrinsky availed themselves of the privilege, and were accompanied by Mr G. Owen; but the climate of Wales soon proved too severe for the Russian noble, who succumbed, and left the vantage ground of observation to the English Duke and the Welsh Engineer. Our Welsh mountains never looked to greater pefrection. 'We had left the snow behind us after we crossed over â the summit of Talerddig-the highest ground in Mont- gomeryshireâbut the ringing frost remained, and the tops only of the distant mountains of Merionethshire were tipped with white. As Towyn was passed, CaderIdriø- On a throne of rocks, in a robe of clouds, With a diadem of snow, 'stood out with wonderful clearness.; .but the crowning beauty of the day's trip was the first view of the monarch of Welsh mountains, Snowdon, as seen from 'the Friog cutting between Llwyngwril and Barmouth. The whole mass was clad in white, over which the-sun shed a flood of light. I have seen Snowdon in spring, summer, autumn, and winter, but never saw it under -such a wonderfully attractive combination of circumstarnces before, and had We got nothing for our day's ride but "this one peep at Snowdon, one of the party, at least, would have been amply repaid. But our commission into Wales was not to inspect Scenery, but engineering; so as mudh haste as possible Was made to arrive at Portmadoc. Soon after one o'clock we reached that important outlet for the slate traffic of Merionethshire. The great object of visiting the Festiniog district on the part of the commissioners was to inspect the working of the 2ft. guage system of lines with a view to their adaptability as subsidiary lines abroad; and also to test the powers of Fairlie-'s patent 'double-bogie' engines, one of which, the 'Little Wonder' has for some time been running on the Festiniog railway. These engines are, in themselves, great curiosities. The largest driving wheels among them are but 2ft. 4in in diameter, while the prevailing size is 2ft. These wheels are worked, for the most part, by 8in., cylinders, the pistons having 12in. stroke, and, with 1601b. to ,2001b. steam in the little boilers, they can pull from forty to seventy empty slate trucks, weighing 13cwt. each, together with goods trucks and passenger carriages, up a strong incline at the rate of many miles an hour. Although the party reached Portmadoc before two o'clock a start for Festiniog over the little guage line' was Hot effected until 3.20, by the ordinary train, which had nothingspecial' about it, only the ordinary number of Carriages sand empty trucks'being conveyed. The time of the comiX'issioners was occupied in examining the -Little Wonder' lot the station, and some pieces of machinery pertaining to the line: notably one for bending rails. Over this. an animated discussion as to the virtue of double-healdttd rails took place between Captain Tyler, one -of the Government engineersâwho held that they were only affected by his English brethren, not being used on the Continentâand Mr Spooner, C.E^ of the Festiniog Railway, Mr'George Owen, and other English.engineers who affirmed their superiority. The Duke of Sutherland manifested a thorough acquaintance with the subject by Bundry remarks he let drop during the course of the dis- cussion which remarks, by the way, lost none of their weight by falling from the lips of a duke! Several of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood had congregated -about the station to see the party off, and many were the 'Speculations as to who was who of the strangers. It was ,confidently affirmed that tiheDuke of Argyll was amongst the partyâindeed his grace was pointed out to me but 'for all that he was rot present-; and the public were no less confident of the presence of Lord Richard Grosvenor And Lord Alfred Paget. The only excuse for this confi- -dence lies in the fact that the former of these lords did accompany the expedition as far as and the latter inspected the Festiniog line, in company with Mr Moon, of the North Western, a few months ago. The Welshmen "Were utofc behind their neighbours in wishing to do homage to a;real live duke, so his graee of Sutherland was an object.s £ great curiosity and some of the outsiders were evidently disappointed that he did not wear his coronet, but rather chose to be covered by a S 3im crow,' and that by no means a new one r ⢠⢠And hew; let me interpolate a very fair joke made by one of the-directors of the Festiniog Railway. To'take it' your readers must bear in mind that it is a line special- ly cansfcmieted for slate traffic:â"That's his grace of Sutherland is it J" observed the director, "well, we carry I eounteams' and duchesses' every day, but we never carried a. '.fluke before that I know of!" At last the .start was made. The Little Wonder' was attached to half-a-dozen passenger carriages, followed by so many empty slate waggons that the whole measured *quite a quarter of a mile. The Festiniog line has been tnore than oncedescribed in the Oswestry Advertiser. It is one continued up-hill from Portmadoc to Diphwys, and :the curves are so sharp that there, more nearly than any- where else in the old country, can the American feat of a guard in the van in the rear of the train, lighting his pipe by the engine fire in the front, be accomplished Indeed at cne or two points it almost seemed as if, for once, Yankee fables were te become Welsh facts, so close did the two extremities near each other! In one place I noticed the train on four eurves at the same time, where it foimed a double S. The regulation speed over these curves is twelve miles an hour-we went sometimes at thirty, and Mr Spooner would go even faster if the Board of Trade would allow him There has never been any accident, save such as might have occurred on any railway, during the six years it has been working by steam locomotives, and from ordinary accidents it has been remarkably free. The traffic receipts of the little Festiniog line," we are told, realize frem P,30 to £40 per mile per week, and the whole cost, includin" a mile of breakwater in the Glaslyn estuary, haif-a-mile of tunneling, and an almost uninterrupted aeries AJf cutting in syenite rock, and breastwall embank- ments, or, rather rubble stone viaducts, together with stations, workshops, seven locomotives, and more than one tkoasand waggons and carriages, has been about £ 6,000- per mile. It is the pecuniary success of the Fe'stindog line, which pays about thirty per cent, upon its original capital of 236,000, which makes it doubly interest- ing. Upwards 6f P,50,,000 have been expended upon im- provements, and this, taken from revenue has since been capitalised, making a total capital account of, say 286,000, Upon which about 12| per cent, is BOW paid. But it is not alone the guage, nor the curves, nor the safe and profitable working of the line wh ch make it interesting to the engineer. Nor is it even the grand scenery which it com- flaands in the Maentwrog Vale, Festiniog is 700 feet hove Portmadoc, the elevation tyeing accomplished in Ie ss than twelve miles, giving an average grauktent of 1 in 92, and a maximum gradient of 1 in 80. Tfefe line is cut into and embanked upon the steep right hand slope of this valley, furrowed as is this slope vyktil the deep hollows of the mountain watercourses; an the cuttings, tunnels, and embankments are equally striking with the permanent way itself. The width between the nearly vertical sides of the cuttings is but about eight feet, allowing hardly room for driving a cab through them; the two tunnels-one of 60 yards, and the other 730 yards-are scarcely larger in cross-sectional area than the trains themselves; while the embankments, if we may give them that name-the engineer calls them breastwalls'âare almost invariably stone walls eight feet wide at the top, with a batter of 1 in 6 on each side. Some of these breastwalls are fifty feet or more in height, and are sharply curved." The scenery along the line is charming. The vale of Festiniog is famed even for Wales where there is so muth attraction, and on Friday the absence of foliage on the trees so enabled passengers to look down into the yawning gulfs ver which they passed, that a soupijon of danger helped to tickle the imagination. Tanybwlch (where beds had been ordered for the night) lookted so close 'below us, tlown in the depths, that it seemed as if a run -off the line &t that point would have landed the party at their quar- ters at a pace Mr Spooner and Mr Fairlie never dreamed of However, fortunately for the enlightenment of Russia and for the persons of Russians representatives, no such speedy transit was effected, and the party reached Diphwys in safety. Here we were landed ami&t a wilderness of slate, and net by any means at the 'Back of the North Wind Nobody wished to stay long in so sharp an atmosphere, and the downward jotttney was soon com- menced; at a rattling pace we reached Hafod-y-Llyn station, where the bulk of the party alighted en route for the Oakley Arms Hotel and dinner. In addition to the names I have already incidentally mentioned, the follw/ing gentlemen were of the party Sir William BakeTMembèr of the Council for Indiet), Count Zamoysky, 'Count Berg, Count Breitler, Professor Saloff, M. JulanS Danvers (Government Director of 'the Indian Railways), Mr J. L. Thornton (Under Secretary of State for Indial), Mons. Pihl'(Engineer to the Norwegian Governments Mr Robert Fairlie, Mr George Crawley, Mr Frederick Power, C.E., Mr E. S. Dallas (of the Times), Mr James Samuel, C.E., Mr Julian H. Tohnd, C.E., Mr A. S. Hammond, C.E., Mr Patchett (of the N«n>fch Western), MrSandberg, C.E., Mr Johnson, Mr Thompson, Mr A. S. Hobson (Secretary Railway Working Association), Mr Carghill (of the Engineer), Mr Preston, Mr Thomas Preston, &c. It was understood that the expedition, as 'far as the Festiniog line was concerned, arose from an invitation on the part of the 'Railway Working Association,' some of the engineers whose names I have mentioned being di- rectors of that company. The experiments with Fairlie's engine were conlanued on Saturday, and were highly satisfactory, and on Monday the Comniissioners pro- ceeded to Brecon, via Machynlleth and lllanidloes, on the Cambrian Railways. Your own 'Commissioner' did not accompany them, but the following was the official pro- gramme issued by the Mid-Wales and Brecon and Merthyr Companies, by Mr Broughton and Mr Henshaw, the respected managers of these lines :â" The train will be run specially from Llanidloes to Brecon, where the party n- will proceed to_ the Wellington Hotel, which has been en- gaged for their reception and accommodation. About three p.m. they will leave by a special train to Three Cocks, where Mr Fairlie's patent engine will be in wait- ing with a load, waggons of coal, &c. It will at once start for Builth, accompanied by the party, to enable them to witness its power over this portion of the line. They will then return by special train to Brecon. On Tuesday morning they will leave Brecon by special train, at 10'20 a.m., for Talyllyn, where Mr Fairlie's engine will be waiting with a load of waggons of iron ore, &c. It will start at once, accompanied by the party, to enable them to test its ability up the steep gradients of the Brecon and Merthyr line, from Talybont to Dowlais, ar- riving there about 12'30. The party will then visit the extensive works of the Dowlais Iron Company, to ex- amine the process of iron and steel manufacture there. They will leave Dowlais by special train at 2'15 p.m. by 'way of Cefn to Merthyr Tydfil, whence they will travel via Taff Vale Railway to Cardiff." The Fairlie's engine mentioned in this programme is one of the ordinary narrow (4ft. lOin.) gauge. Since I wrote the foregoing very unauthorized report for your columns, I see by the Pall Mall Gazette that the party was to leave Shrewsbury on Friday morning, and arrive at Brecon the same night via the Vale of Towy Railway, visiting Festiniog by the way! Why, they could not have performed the feat if they had been drawn by the Flying Island of Laputa or any other equally swift mode of conveyance! Fairlie's engine, even, could not have done within miles of the journey! But no doubt the report was written at Crewe before the terra incognita of Wales was invaded, so no wonder there was a hazy notion of geography in the mind of the writer.

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