The Great Little Trains of Wales


composed by Ben Heneghan and Ian Lawson














The first movement Snowdon was premiered in June 1988 by the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra conducted by Louis Fremaux. The same movement has also been preformed by the Hallé conducted by Owain Arwel Hughes.


If you are interested in performing this movement, or giving the first performance of the complete work we would be very pleased to hear from you. Perusal scores and demo CD available on request.



The Great Little Trains of Wales is based on themes written for a 1984 Welsh-language television series called Crwydro'r Cledrau (Wandering the Rails). Far from being a mere succession of disconnected tunes, however, it is a coherent, but abundantly melodic, symphonic structure that owes much of its inspiration to our own feelings about the landscapes through which the little trains travel.


Nostalgia and the present play equal parts in the forming of this unashamedly romantic piece. Thus Snowdon re-visits a slightly idealised North Wales, but also evokes some of the mood of the South Wales Valleys. Cable Car Waltz conjures up the opulent Victorian promenades of both Llandudno (home of the "Great Orme" cable car) and Aberystwyth. Devil's Bridge takes one of the gentlest journeys (along the Mid-Wales Rheidol Valley) as the starting point for a general depiction of all the lush, green corners of Wales, in contrast to its mountains. And Ffestiniog, partly through a chance similarity to words like 'festive' and 'festal', is simply a celebration of embarking on the best holiday you might ever have had, on a train that is never late, never breaks down, and at a certain point leaves the care-worn earth far behind, chasing the east wind westward.




Although the technology used to make these 'mock-ups' has improved enormously since we produced this recording in 1989, Cable Car Waltz was, never-the-less, broadcast on Radio 3. We hope that these recordings will give a reasonable impression of the real thing.





1. Snowdon

2. Cable Car Waltz

3. Devil's Bridge

4. Ffestiniog

Duration: 25 mins

3 flutes (3 doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon.

4 horns, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba.

Timpani, 3 percussion players, piano/celesta, harp