|Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway|
|Rheilffordd y Trallwng a Llanfair Caereinion|
823 Countess – one of the two original W&LLR engines
|Name||Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway|
|Original gauge||2 ft 6 in (762 mm)|
|Length||8.5 miles (13.7 km)|
|Preserved gauge||2 ft 6 in (762 mm)|
|Closed to passengers||1931|
|1963||Re-opened as a heritage railway|
|1972||Services extended to Sylfaen|
|1981||Opening of extension to Raven Square|
Welshpool & Llanfair
The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR) (Welsh : Rheilffordd y Trallwng a Llanfair Caereinion) is a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge heritage railway in Powys, Wales. The line is around 8.5 miles (13.7 km) long and runs westwards from the town of Welshpool (Welsh : Y Trallwng) via Castle Caereinion to the village of Llanfair Caereinion.
The first proposal to connect Llanfair Caerinion and Welshpool by railway was the Llanfair Railway of 1864; this would have been a narrow gauge line, with a mixed gauge section where it connected to the Cambrian Railways. This proposal was abandoned. The next attempt came in 1876 with the promotion of the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway Bill, which proposed a railway along a similar route to the 1864 effort. This Bill passed through the Houses of Parliament. This attempt failed in 1882 because the promoters were unable to raise sufficient capital. In 1886, another Welshpool and Llanfair Railway Bill appeared for a 3 ft (914 mm) gauge railway on a similar route; this bill expired unused in 1892.
In 1896, the Light Railways Act was passed, and this spurred further attempts at a railway to Llanfair Caereinion. The first of these was the Llanfair & Meifod Valley Light Railway bill of 1896, which proposed a standard-gauge line from Arddleen about 8 miles north of Welshpool, through the Meifod Valley.
In late December 1896, the mayor of Welshpool William Addie proposed a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge railway called the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway. By March 1897, Addie had contracted with noted narrow gauge promoter Everard Calthrop to assist in preparing a case for the inquiry. An application for a Light Railway Order was submitted to the Board of Trade in May 1897. Calthrop proposed the use of transporter wagons, 0-6-0 tank locomotives and a large "Barsi-type" locomotive for heavy market day traffic. At the August 1897 public inquiry Calthrop appeared, along with J.R. Dix manager of the Corris Railway. The enquiry considered by the Llanfair & Meifod Light Railway and the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway proposals. The commissioners took their time deciding. Meanwhile, the promoters of the W&LLR had approached the Cambrian Railways to have them pay for and construct the railway. After much time-consuming negotiations, the Cambrian agreed and on 8th. September 1899, the Light Railway Order was granted to begin construction of the line.
It was opened on 4 April 1903 to aid economic development in a remote area, never making a profit. It was originally operated by the Cambrian Railways, connecting with it at the former Oswestry and Newtown Railway station in the town of Welshpool. The line is built through difficult country, having a great number of curves in order to reach the summit of 600 ft. The original terminus at Welshpool was located alongside the main line station and trains wound their way through the town, using the locomotive bell as a warning.
In the 1923 Grouping of railway companies, Cambrian Railways, including the Welshpool to Llanfair Caereinion line, was absorbed by the Great Western Railway (GWR). On 9 February 1931 the line lost its passenger service, which was replaced by a bus service, and it became a freight-only line. It was temporarily re-opened to passengers between 6 and 11 August 1945 for the Eisteddfod. The GWR itself was nationalised in 1948 and became part of British Railways.
Freight traffic lingered on until 1956, by which time British Railways decided to close the line, with services ceasing on 5 November.
A group of volunteers and enthusiasts took the line over and started raising money to restore it. On 6 April 1963 the western half of the line, from Llanfair Caereinion to Castle Caereinion, was reopened as a tourist railway. In 1972 services were extended to Sylfaen. The line through Welshpool, however, could not be reopened, so the line now has a new terminus station at Raven Square on the western outskirts of the town, opened on 18 July 1981. There are current discussions about reinstating the link through the town to the main line station, following a different route from that originally used.
Because of the 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge, unusual for British narrow gauge railways, locomotives and rolling stock to supplement the originals have had to be obtained from sources around the world including the Zillertalbahn in Austria. A major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund permitted restoration of both original locomotives together with several coaches and original wagons, and provision of new workshop facilities, ready for the line's centenary.
|WLLR No.||Name||Image||Builder||Works No.||Date built||Date arrived||Wheels||Type||Status||Notes|
|1||The Earl||Beyer Peacock||3496||1902||1902||0-6-0 T||Steam||Overhaul off site||Original W&LLR locomotive. Last worked in 2018. Being overhauled at the Vale of Rheidol Railway.|
|2||Countess||Beyer Peacock||3497||1902||1902||0-6-0 T||Steam||Operational||Original W&LLR locomotive|
|6||Monarch||W. G. Bagnall||3024||1953||1966||0-4-4-0 T||Steam||On display at Welshpool Raven Square station||Previously from Sittingbourne. Sold to Ffestiniog Railway but re-purchased by W&LLR.|
|7||Chattenden *||Drewry Car Co.||2263||1947||1968||0-6-0 DM||Diesel||Operational||ex Chattenden and Upnor Railway (also known as the Lodge Hill & Upnor Railway), previously from Admiralty Depots, rebuilt at Llanfair in 1980. Has recently been rebuilt at Llanfair and is now fitted with both air and vacuum braking.|
|8||Dougal *||Andrew Barclay||2207||1946||1968||0-4-0 T||Steam||On display at Welshpool Raven Square station||Originally operated at Provan Gasworks, Glasgow. Currently awaiting boiler repairs|
|10||Sir Drefaldwyn *||Franco-Belge||2855||1944||1969||0-8-0 T||Steam||Undergoing overhaul||Originally operated by German Army & in Austria at the Salzkammergut-Lokalbahn Number 19, then sold to the Steiermärkische Landesbahn Number "699.01" . An HF 160 D-type locomotive.|
|11||Ferret *||Hunslet Engine Company||2251||1940||1971||0-4-0 DM||Diesel||Operational||Previously from Admiralty Depots. Returned to service in 2015 and is used primarily as a works shunter at Llanfair.|
|12||Joan||Kerr Stuart||4404||1929||1971||0-6-2 T||Steam||On display||Originally operated in Antigua. Returned to service in 2011 with a new boiler. Out of service from 2020 following expiry of 10 year boiler ticket.|
|14||-||Hunslet Engine Company||3815||1954||1975||2-6-2 T||Steam||On display||Originally operated by Sierra Leone Government Railway.|
|16||Scooby *||Hunslet Engine Company||1941||1992||0-4-0 DM||Diesel||Stored||Previously from Admiralty Depots. Rebuilt by W&LLR|
|17||TSC 175||Diema||1979||2004||6w DH||Diesel||Operational||Originally operated by Taiwan Sugar Company|
* = Name added by WLLR
|No.||Name||Image||Builder||Works No.||Date built||Date arrived||Wheels||Type||Status||Notes|
|2||Zillertal||Lokomotivfabrik Krauss & Co.||4506||1900||2019||0-6-2 T||Steam||Operational||U Class, one of two locomotives built for the opening of the Zillertalbahn. Arrived in August 2019 on hire from the Zillertalbahn for approximately two years.|
|WLLR No.||Name||Image||Builder||Works No.||Date built||Date arrived||Wheels||Type||Status||Notes|
|3||Raven *||Ruston & Hornsby||1934||4w DM||Diesel||N/A||Sold — now in private ownership.|
|4||Upnor Castle *||F. C. Hibberd||3687||1954||4w DM||Diesel||N/A||Sold to Ffestiniog Railway|
|5||Nutty||Sentinel||7701||1929||1964||4w VBT||Steam||N/A||Previously from Fletton Brickworks. Owned by and returned to care of Narrow Gauge Railway Museum, now at Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway.|
|9||Wynnstay *||J. Fowler||1951||0-6-0 DM||Diesel||N/A||Built for a failed groundnuts scheme in Africa, sold to British Portland Cement Co.'s works at Lower Penarth, Glamorgan. Arrived at Llanfair in 1968, Sold to the Great Whipsnade Railway in 1972 as Victor.|
|15||Orion *||Tubize||2369||1948||1983||2-6-2 T||Steam||N/A||Previously from Finland. Returned to Jokioinen Museum Railway in Finland in 2006.|
|18||764.423||Reșița works||1957||2004||0-8-0 T||Steam||N/A||Originally operated in Romania. Sold in May 2016 to an Austrian buyer as a spare parts donor for #19|
|19||764.425||Reșița works||1957||2007||0-8-0 T||Steam||N/A||Originally operated in Romania. Sold in May 2016 to an Austrian buyer|
* = Name added by WLLR
Cambrian Railways owned 230 miles (370 km) of track over a large area of mid-Wales. The system was an amalgamation of a number of railways that were incorporated in 1864, 1865 and 1904. The Cambrian connected with two of the larger railways to give connections to the North West of England, via the London and North Western Railway; and with the Great Western Railway for connections between London and North Wales. The Cambrian Railways amalgamated with the Great Western Railway on 1 January 1922 as a result of the Railways Act 1921. The name is continued today in the route known as the Cambrian Line.
Welshpool railway station on the Cambrian Line in Powys, mid-Wales, serves the town of Welshpool.
There were more than a thousand British narrow-gauge railways ranging from large, historically significant common carriers to small, short-lived industrial railways. Many notable events in British railway history happened on narrow-gauge railways including the first use of steam locomotives, the first public railway and the first preserved railway.
The Sierra Leone Government Railway operated in Sierra Leone from 1897 to 1974. It was unusual in that it formed a national railway system constructed solely to a 2 ft 6 in narrow gauge, whereas in other countries gauge of such a narrow width was usually confined to feeder railways.
The former Victorian Railways, the state railway authority in Victoria, Australia, built a number of experimental 2 ft 6 in narrow-gauge lines around the beginning of the 20th century. Although all were closed by the early 1960s, parts of two have been reopened as heritage railways.
Everard Richard Calthrop was a British railway engineer and inventor. Calthrop was a notable promoter and builder of narrow-gauge railways, especially of 2 ft 6 in narrow gauge, and was especially prominent in India. His most notable achievement was the Barsi Light Railway, but he is best known in his home country for the Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway. Calthrop has been described as a "railway genius". Later in life he took an interest in aviation, patenting some early designs for parachutes.
Barsi Light Railway (BLR) was a 202-mile (325 km) long, 2 ft 6 in narrow-gauge railway between Miraj and Latur in the state of Maharashtra in India. It was the brainchild of British engineer Everard Calthrop, and regarded as having revolutionised narrow-gauge railway construction in India.
Welshpool Raven Square railway station, located in Welshpool, in Wales, is the eastern terminus of the narrow gauge Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR).
Sylfaen Halt railway station, located in the tiny hamlet of Sylfaen on the A548, is an unstaffed request halt on the narrow gauge Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway 2 3⁄4 miles (4.4 km) from the Welshpool Raven Square terminus. It has a short platform and waiting shelter.
Castle Caereinion railway station is a railway station on the 2 ft 6 in narrow gauge Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway in Mid Wales. It serves the nearby village of Castle Caereinion and lies 3 3⁄4 miles (6.0 km) from the Welshpool Raven Square terminus. The station was opened on 6 April 1903.
Heniarth Halt railway station is an unstaffed halt on the narrow gauge Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway serving the hamlet of Heniarth. This station is a request halt and lies 6 3⁄4 miles (10.9 km) from Welshpool's Raven Square terminus. Alighting passengers are required to step down onto the grass as there is no platform. The railway crosses the River Banwy Bridge 200 yards to the east of the halt.
Cyfronydd railway station lies 5 3/4 miles or 9.2 km (5.7 mi) from Welshpool's Raven Square station on the narrow gauge Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway in Mid Wales. This is where trains pass each other when a two train service is operating. Passengers are able to alight and join trains here. The station serves the hamlet of Cyfronydd on the main Dolgellau to Welshpool road as well as Cyfronydd Hall.
Llanfair Caereinion railway station located in Llanfair Caereinion is the Western terminus of the 2 ft 6 in narrow gauge Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway. The locomotive running shed and workshops are located here, along with a tea room and gift shop. The original corrugated iron booking office and waiting room survive and have been restored for use as the registered office of the company.
Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR) steam locomotive number 19 was built in 1954 by Uzinele de Fier și Domeniile din Reșița S.A. based in Reșița (Romania). It was imported to the UK in 2007 having been restored to working condition at Remarul 16 Februarie Locomotive Works in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Prior to restoration the locomotive had been stored at Crișcior.
Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway No. 1 The Earl and No. 2 Countess are narrow gauge steam locomotives. They were built by Beyer Peacock & Co. Ltd. at the Gorton Foundry, Manchester in 1902. They were delivered new to the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway in 1902, as No.1 The Earl and No.2 The Countess, where they continue to run today.
Golfa Bank is a particularly steep bank on the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway. The bank is nearly a mile at 1 in 29, which in its day, was the steepest section of the Cambrian Railways worked by passenger trains and is still a challenging climb. The line travelling up the slope is curvy, to make the climb easier. Golfa summit is 630 ft above sea level, meaning the locomotives have to travel from about 350 ft above sea level at the bottom of golfa bank, meaning they climb 280 ft in 1.5 miles.The locomotives had to be built specifically to manage the bank, due to its steepness.
Monarch is a narrow gauge steam locomotive, built by W.G. Bagnall Ltd., Stafford in 1953. It is currently on public display at the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway. It is the last industrial narrow gauge locomotive to be built for commercial use in the UK and is constructed to a modified Meyer articulated design. It is the last of seven locomotives built to a similar design, the other six being built to 2 ft gauge and delivered to sugar estates in South Africa.
Dougal is a 2 ft 6 in narrow gauge T steam locomotive, built by Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. Ltd., Kilmarnock in 1946. It is currently running on the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway.
Welshpool Seven Stars Halt railway station was located in the streets of Welshpool on the corner of Union Street. Seven Stars was an unstaffed request halt on the narrow gauge Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway. It had a single ground level platform on the single track line, a name board, a sign warning passengers not to board until the train had stopped and a lean to waiting shelter with a fence.
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