Category Archives: Some Early Lines

Posts about lines and branches which ceased operations – some restored, some sadly lost for ever.

Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Van Railway, Wales

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

Van Railway, Wales

Built under a Board of Trade Certificate of 3 June 1870, this 6.5 mile line linked lead mines with the main Cambrian Railway line at Caersws, opening for goods on 14 August 1871, and to passengers on 1 December 1873. The mines closed in the early
1890s, and the railway also, in 1893, but the Cambrian Railway undertook to work it, for the use of the weed-free stone spoil, crushed as ballast. It re-opened 1 August 1896, along with mines, which remained in business until 1920, the line retaining independence until Grouping. Final closure came on 2 November 1940 – a short-lived passenger service had expired in July 1879.

The line ran westwards from Caersws along the Cerist and Trannon river valleys, with halts near Penisafmanledd and Y Fan. An underground railway portal has been restored at the mine site. The route can still be traced through the rural landscape today, where original embankments, cuttings and track bed still remain.

Van Rly trackbedThe former track bed.

Van Railway Track bed, near to Y Fan, Powys, Great Britain. The track bed can be seen alongside the fence. The railway ran from Van to Caersws, its main purpose being to service the lead mine near here. The mine closed in the 1920’s and presumably so did the railway.

OLU – From this image at; transferred by User:RHaworth using geograph_org2commons. License details
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Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Stratford & Moreton Railway – Stratford-upon-Avon Railway

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies


Stratford & Moreton Railway

 800px-Stratford-on-avon_river_15a07Tramway bridge over the River Avon at Stratford-upon-Avon
Photograph of the bridge over the River Avon in Stratford-on-Avon opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
License details
CC-LAYOUT; CC-BY-SA-2.5,2.0,1.0; Released under the GNU Free Documentation License.  Snowmanradio at en.wikipedia

This horse-drawn tramway (16 miles), authorised on 28 May 1821, linked Moreton-in-Marsh with the Stratford Canal and was laid to what appears to be one of the earliest uses of ‘standard’ gauge. It opened on 5 September 1826, and a branch to Shipton-on-Stour was authorised on 10 June 1833, opening on 11 February 1836. The Act incorporating the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway included a clause for permanent lease at £2,537-10s per annum, and it took possession on 1 May 1847, from 1 January 1852 assuming entire management. It upgraded the line, re-opening it on 1 August 1853, but the northern end became redundant when the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway’s Stratford-Honeybourne line opened on 12 July 1859, and was probably little used after the turn of the century. Lifted during the Great War, it was officially abandoned in 1928. The Shipston section, thanks to public opposition to the West Midland Railway which wanted to close it, was retained, horse-drawn until 1882. The GWR obtained powers to upgrade it and use steam on 7 August 1884 – the original Act forbade this. Re-opened on 1 July 1889, passenger traffic was withdrawn on 8 July 1929, though a goods service lasted until 3 May 1960. The line was lifted in July of the following year.

Old Stratford & Moreton Tramway wagon, preserved at Stratford-on-Avon in Bancroft Gardens, near the theatre.  The cast iron edge rail is thought to have been first used at Loughborough in 1789.

Old Stratford & Moreton Tramway wagon, preserved at Stratford-on-Avon in Bancroft Gardens, near the theatre. The cast iron edge rail is thought to have been first used at Loughborough in 1789.

Stratford-upon-Avon Railway

Incorporated on 10 August 1857, this mixed gauge line, nine miles long, ran from Hatton (GWR) to Stratford. Built by the GWR, it opened on 10 October 1860. The Alcester Railway was vested in it, jointly with the GWR, on 22 July 1878, and the Company was itself absorbed by the Major one from 1 July 1883 (Act of 29 August).

gwrhj1932 Hatton - Stratford Warwickshire rlys

Later:  Ex-GWR 2-8-0 No 3515 proceeds past Hatton West signal box with a fitted freight train for Stratford on Avon in 1950. Built by Swindon works to Lot 328 in March 1940 No 3515 remained in service until July 1965 when it was withdrawn from 6C Birkenhead shed. The single line to Stratford on Avon started at this junction until the line was doubled in 1939. The bracket signal on the left is controlling, from left to right, the 55 wagon loop siding opened in 1901, the north junction line opened on 23rd July 1897 and the original branch line to Hatton opened in 1860. The gradient from Stratford on Avon was more severe than on the main line requiring heavy trains to be assisted by banker. The bankers would ease off at this point so that they could use the above crossover to return tender first to Stratford on Avon. –


Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Stourbridge Railway

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

Stourbridge Railway

Stourbridge Junction, 1903.

Stourbridge Junction, 1903.

This was incorporated on 14 June 1860, and before building began, a 5-mile extension to join the Birmingham, Wolverhampton & Stour Valley Railway at Smethwick had been authorised on 6 August 1861. The line was then extended further to the GWR at Handsworth, giving a direct link with both New Street and Snow Hill stations. The Company was closely related with the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway and was worked by it (or more precisely by the West Midland Railway) from opening, to Cradley Heath on 1 April 1863, Old Hill on 1 January 1866 and Smethwick on 1 April 1867. An Act of 16 July 1866 (29/30 Victoria c221) authorised amalgamation with the GWR five years after completion, but this was amended by 32/33 Victoria c109 (12 July 1869) which implied that union could take place earlier, without specifying when. Some authorities take this to be 1870, but working agreements were made on 31 July 1871, unnecessary if amalgamation had already happened. Perhaps 1872, as intended by the original Act, is the answer.

Stourbridge Junction is one of two railway stations serving the town of Stourbridge, in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley in the West Midlands, England. It lies on the Birmingham to Worcester via Kidderminster Line and is the junction for the Stourbridge Town Branch Line, said to be the shortest operational branch line in Europe. The other station serving Stourbridge is Stourbridge Town at the end of the branch line.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStourbridge Parry People Mover

RichardRothwell – Own work
A Class 139 unit under trial at Stourbridge Junction, 28 January 2009.

Taken at Stourbridge Junction 9:20 am 28th Jan 2009. The train is undergoing trials, and still does not have the steps in place.
License details   : RichardRothwell at en.wikipedia, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publishes it under the following licenses: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Attribution

Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – South Wales Mineral Railway

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

South Wales Mineral Railway

DMU under the old tramway viaduct South Wales Mineral Railway at Tonmawr Colliery - Flickr

DMU under the old tramway viaduct South Wales Mineral Railway at Tonmawr Colliery – Flickr

A broad gauge line authorised on 15 August 1853 and engineered by Brunel, it included a rope-worked incline, a 1,109 yard tunnel at Gyfylchi, and gradients of 1 in 22. It ran from Glyncorrwg down the Afan valley to Briton Ferry, and was costly to build. Completion was delayed until 10 March 1863 by the tunnel, but it opened to that point on 1 September 1861. From 25 May 1855 it had been leased to the Glyncorrwg Coal Company for thirty years, but when that failed the railway did too – T.J.Woods, the Official Receiver, kept the line going from 1878-1880, and it remained in his hands for 29 years. By agreement the Port Talbot Railway worked and managed it from 1 January 1908 until Grouping (1923). A passenger service was introduced on 28 March 1918, and though this ceased on 22 September 1930, mineral traffic continued until 1970 on the Abercreggan Sidings – Cymmer Junction section. The tunnel closed on 13 July 1947 following a landslip.
The railway is closed but it now forms part of the Afan Valley Cycleway in the Afan Forest Park.

S outh Wales Mineral Railway - Flickr

South Wales Mineral Railway – Flickr


Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – South Wales Railway

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

South Wales Railway

South Wales Railway -

South Wales Railway –

Incorporated on 4 August 1845, this was supported by the GWR, which was aiming at Ireland. Its first section (Swansea-Chepstow, 75 miles) opened on 18 June 1850. The building of Brunel’s bridge across the Wye delayed opening east to Gloucester until September 1851 (the Company was authorised in 1847 to lease or buy the Forest of Dean Railway, and western extensions opened to Carmarthen on 11 October 1852, to Haverford West on 2 January 1854 and to Neyland on 15 April 1856. The line was leased to the GWR in 1846 at a guaranteed 5% and amalgamated with effect from 1 August 1863. Broad gauge, however, did not suit the valley lines, for which sharp curves were often necessary, and by 1866 freighters were petitioning for conversion; this had reached Cardiff by 1872.
The line now forms part of the South Wales Main Line and Gloucester to Newport Line.

S.Wales BridgeAnother Brunel Relic, this time the bridge across the River Wye at Chepstow, opened by the South Wales Railway in 1851. An up train crosses during rebuilding in 1962 (Rev W.Awdrey)

Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Brecon & Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

Brecon & Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway

An Act of 1 August 1959 authorised the Talybont-Brecon section only, but the rest was sanctioned on 15 May 1860 and 28 July 1862. The line opened from Brecon to Talybont on 23 April 1863, to Merthyr on 1 August 1868 and to Dowlais on 23 June 1869 – the Merthyr-Dowlais section was authorised jointly with the LNWR. Amalgamation with the Hereford Hay & Brecon Railway under an Act dated 5 July 1865 was ruled illegal as improperly processed, and was never re-made. On 28 July 1863 the Company acquired the Rumney Railway in an effort to reach Newport, a link being finally made on 1 September 1868. The Company became a GWR subsidiary in 1922. Beacon, or Summit, tunnel was once the highest in the UK at 1312 ft, with a 7 mile climb at 1 in 38 to the northern portal.

EPSON scanner imageBrecon Free Street station. View westward, towards Neath in 1962
Brecon Station. View westward, towards Neath; ex-GWR Neath & Brecon section. A scene just six months before the whole station and all lines were closed on 31/12/62. For more details, see SO0428 : Brecon Station: activity at the east end.
Ben Brooksbank – From  License details
Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0

The line closed to passengers on 31 December 1962 and to goods on 4 May 1964, but it is not dead, for the Pant-Torpantau section now carries the Brecon Mountain Railway – the Pant-Pontsticill section opened 8 June 1980.

EPSON scanner imageEast end of Brecon Free Street in 1949
Brecon Station: activity at the east end. Viewed from the east end of Brecon station, an ex-L&Y 0-6-0, far from its origins ‘Up North’ but now employed on the ex-Midland trains from Hereford, is prominent, while on the left a stopping train leaves for Hereford (hauled by an ex-Midland 0-6-0). However, Brecon station was in the ex-GWR ambit, being the terminus from this (eastward) direction of the ex-Brecon & Merthyr trains from Newport via Torpantau Summit and of the ex-Cambrian Rly Mid-Wales Line trains from Moat Lane Junction, as well as the Hereford trains. Westwards from Brecon ran the ex-Neath & Brecon trains down to Neath. All these lines were closed in 1962 and on 31/12/62 this local metropolis had lost all railway facilities. See SO0428 : Brecon Station for primary picture of Brecon Station, taken on 15/6/62.
Ben Brooksbank – From License details
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The end of the Brecon and Merthyr

The line was amalgamated with the Great Western Railway following the Grouping. The ex-B&M system survived nationalisation into British Railways, but most were eventually closed during the 1960s, with all passenger services ending in December 1962. By 1980 only one short section of 10.5 miles (16.9 km) survived, serving coal traffic to Bedwas Navigation Colliery. With the demise of the coal industry in Britain the section between Bedwas and Machen was closed in 1985. The section between Machen and Bassaleg Junction (with the GWR Ebbw Valley line) remains to serve Hanson’s limestone quarry.

The line today

Partial resurrection of the Brecon and Merthyr
In 1980 a private company, the Brecon Mountain Railway, began to build a narrow-gauge steam-hauled tourist line on the existing 5.5-mile (8.9 km) trackbed from Pant through Pontsticill to Dol-y-gaer. The initial section of 1.75 miles (2.82 km) from Pant to Pontsticill opened in June 1980. Passenger services extended to Torpantau in 2014.

Only one B&MR coach has survived into the present day; coach No.111 stands in a private residence.  Only one goods wagon is known to still exist today; privately owned No.197 is currently at the Severn Valley Railway.

No locomotives are known to be preserved to the present day.

National Cycle Network

Some sections of the route have become part of the National Cycle Network. These routes are NCN 4 (Celtic Trail) between Machen and Trethomas, NCN 469 between Bargoed and Fochriw and NCN 8 (Taff Trail) between Torpantau and Talybont Reservoir. The section between Bedwas and Maesycwmmer is being considered to become part of NCN 468.


Welcome to The Brecon Mountain Railway.

The line runs from Pant, near Merthyr Tydfil. Travel in one of our all-weather Observation Carriages, behind a vintage steam locomotive, into the Brecon Beacons National Park to see stunning views of the peaks of the Beacons across the Taf Fechan reservoir.
At Pontsticill you can alight from the train and visit our lakeside cafe, see our new steam museum, admire the view or go for a ramble alongside the reservoir. There is also a children’s play area here. On your return to Pant you can visit the workshop where our steam locomotives are repaired and new ones are built. Our licensed restaurant is open for refreshment, gifts and souvenirs are available from our shop or you may wish to visit our new Traditional sweet shop.


Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Rumney Tramroad

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

Rumney Tramroad

Incorporated on 20 May 1825, this 21¾ mile plateway built by George Overton to a gauge of 4ft 2in ran from the Rhymney Ironworks to the Monmouthshire Railway at what later became Bassaleg Junction. Like the Sirhowy and the Monmouthshire Railways it delayed the change to proper railwayhood too long; re-incorporated on August 1st 1861, with working agreement with the West Midland Railway, it began conversion in 1863. It was, however, too great a task for the company’s finances, and it sold out on 28 July 1863 to the Brecon & Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway, which used it to continue its own drive towards Newport. This section was taken over by the GWR with effect from 1 July 1922 and closed to passengers on 31 December 1962.

Rumney RailwayRelic of the Rumney Railway, Bedwas
The girder in the bridge carrying Rectory Road over the trackbed of a dismantled railway line to Bedwas Navigation Colliery has Rumney Railway 1855 stamped on its side. The Rumney Railway was originally an industrial tramway, built from 1826. It was later converted to a standard gauge railway.
© Copyright Jaggery and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
EPSON scanner imageSite of Aberbargoed Station
View westward across Rhymney Valley. Station was in foreground, on ex-Great Western (Rhymney Rly.) ‘Old Rumney’ line, (Newport) – Bassaleg Junction – Risca – New Tredegar – Rhymney. The station was closed completely along with the line on 31/12/62 (in 1930 beyond New Tredegar).
© Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Rhymney Railway

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

Rhymney Railway

Rhymney Seal

The Company was incorporated on 24 July 1854 to build a 9.5 mile line from Rhymney Ironworks to a junction with the Newport, Abergavenny & Hereford Railway at Hengoed. Powers to extend to the Taff Vale Railway at Taff’s Well were obtained in 1855, and a line from Crockherbstown to Bute E. Dock. Lack of capital and escalating costs made early years difficult – the Dock line opened in September 1857, but was not linked with the main line, which opened on 25 February 1858 (goods), 31 March (passengers). Trouble flared with the Taff’s Vale Railway over the shared Crockherbstown line, and on 25 July 1864 the Company obtained powers for a direct Cardiff – Caerphilly route and granted running powers to the London & North Western Railway – it opened officially on 5 September 1871, and to the public on 2 October. The 9-mile Taff – Bargoed line, built jointly with the Great Western Railway, opened for goods on 20 December 1875, and to passengers on 2 February 1876. The Company went to the GWR as a constituent in 1922, and the former loco works at Caerphilly was  the home of the Caerphilly Railway Society. The Society is now based at the Gwili Railway in Carmarthen, having moved due to continuing vandalism.

Llanbradach Footbridge Plate, Rhymney Railway

Llanbradach Footbridge Plate, Rhymney Railway

On display in the Chasewater Railway Museum

Llanbradach Station

Llanbradach Station

Looking north along platform 2 at Llanbradach railway station
This view suggests that there is only one platform at Llanbradach station.
This is not so – the opposite platform is located beyond the connecting footbridge Link about 100 metres away.
© Copyright Jaggery and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Teign Valley Line

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

Christow, Teign Valley Railway

Christow, Teign Valley Railway

Teign Valley Railway

This line, authorised on 13 July 1863 in broad gauge between Bovey Tracey and Doddiscombesleigh, needed nine Acts before it finally opened on 9 October 1882, standard gauge between Heathfield (South Devon & Moretonhampstead Railway) and Ashton. An extension to Teign House, Christow was opened later. The line was built under GWR protection (the L&SWR had expressed interest), and the GWR worked it, despite its isolation, until the conversion of the SD&MR to standard gauge (23 May 1892). Ashton station had a timber platform and a raised causeway for access when the River Teign flooded, and the site of Chudleigh station is now beneath the A38 trunk road. The Exeter Railway gave the line a link to Exeter in 1903. The last passenger train ran on 7 August 1958, the last goods to Christow on 1 May 1961, the line closing completely on 4 December 1967.

Heathfield Junction,Devon. 1970

Heathfield Junction,Devon. 1970

Rosser1954 Devon, England. Licensing:  I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide.

Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Furness Railway and Furness & Midland Joint Railway

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

Furness Railway and Furness & Midland Joint Railway

RavenglassThe Furness Railway had a more attractive furniture motif than many lines. Its squirrel lives on in this seat from Millom, now at the Ravenglass terminus of the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway. (P.van Zeller)

Furness Railway

Seen as a link between Barrow and mines at Lindal, the company was incorporated on 23 May 1844. There was also a 3ft 2¼in gauge line to a slate quarry at Kirkby. Despite poetic fury from Wordsworth, the line progressed well, to be in use by 3 June 1846 and officially opened on 12 August. An extension from Kirkby to Broughton was opened in late February 1848. The discovery of enormous deposits of haematite at Park, north of Barrow, in 1850 made the company one of the most prosperous of its time. A national slump after 1870 prompted thoughts of sale to the Midland Railway in 1875, but a change of emphasis from goods to tourists kept the company successful until the outbreak of the First World War. Absorption of smaller companies extended its system, until by 1918 it owned 428¾ track miles, including sidings. The company remained independent until the Grouping.

Borwick Furness & Mid JtBorwick, on the Furness & Midland Joint Railway. The station (right distance) was built before the railway: when the line arrives, it passed 50 yards to the south-east, and a second station (foreground) had to be built. (Andrew C.Ingram)

Furness & Midland Joint Railway

A link between Wennington (Midland Railway) and Carnforth (Furness Railway) was suggested by the Midland Railway which wanted a share in the rich iron ore traffic from Furness, and offered boat-train traffic to Barrow in exchange. The London & North Western Railway, which had hitherto controlled the FR at both ends, opposed, but a company was incorporated on 22 June 1863, running powers over the FR making life easier for the LNWR. The 9¾ mile line, financed jointly by the two companies and managed by a Joint Committee, opened for goods on 10 April 1867, and to passengers on 6 June. It crossed the LNWR north of Carnforth to a station on the west, a curve leading into the northern side of the LNWR station. The company remained independent until the Grouping.

Furness railway No.20

Furness Railway No.20

The Furness Railway Trust

The Furness Railway Trust – with assets like 1863-built Furness Railway Number 20 and the ex Furness and North London Railway coach – is also working to keep the memory of the Furness Railway alive.

The FRT owns Britain’s oldest working standard gauge steam locomotive, Furness Railway Number 20, GWR duo 0-6-2T 5643 and 4979 “Wootton Hall”, Austerity “Cumbria” and our vintage train.
We are based in the North West of England but our locomotives and carriages are found at heritage railway sites nationwide.
Our fund-raising and your support keeps us going. Why not Gift Aid a donation?!

1663 FR Axle boxFurness Railway Axle Box – in the Chasewater Railway Museum Collection

05069 FR,M&CR,GER, Paddy Train at Pool Pits Junction 24-2-1951Carriages from the Great Eastern Railway, the Maryport & Carlisle Railway and Furness Railway making up the Cannock & Rugeley Colliery ‘Paddy’ train, taken at Pool Pits Junction, Hednesford 24-2-1951