Daily Archives: December 16, 2011

Some Early Lines – Carmarthen, Lampeter and Aberystwyth Line

Carmarthen, Lampeter and Aberystwyth Line

 Lampeter railway station, which was situated on the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth Line in Wales, was built to serve the town of Lampeterr. It opened in 1866, six years after the line, which reached Aberystwyth in August 1867.

Services at the time were limited, with only three trains running every day except Sundays. However, even this service enabled Lampeter to become an important station, although the cost of building the railway was slowly bankrupting the company. A steam Locomotive, No7 “Carmarthen”, exploded at Maesycreigiau in 1890, and the Cambrian Railway took the M&M to court over unpaid bills. The railway was originally owned by the Manchester and Milford Railway Company, but owing to great financial difficulties, it was sold to the Great Western Railway in 1906.

In 1911, a branch line was constructed between Lampeter and Aberaeron, known as the Lampeter, Aberayron and New Quay Railway.

During the Second World War, specifically on Saturday 8 July 1944, Lampeter railway station received a contingent of 330 evacuee children from London who were then distributed to homes in and around the local area (including the village of Cribyn. That same day Aberystwyth railway station likewise received 400 evacuee children.

After the nationalisation of the railways, the passenger service to Aberayron ceased in 1951. Passenger trains on the main line to Carmarthen and Aberystwyth continued until January 1965, when they ceased due to flooding, never to resume. Milk continued to be conveyed by railway until 1973, when the traffic was transferred to road, and the tracks were lifted shortly afterwards [2]. The former existence of the presence of a railway in Lampeter is still obvious; the large station and goods yard are now part of the University and the Cattle Market. Station Terrace has retained its name, and the railway bridge over the river Teifi near the Co-operative Supermarket still stands. A bridge once carried the railway over the A482, but this has since been dismantled, although the track bed still remains in both directions. Local residents have been campaigning for the return of the railway to Lampeter.

The Carmarthen to Aberystwyth Line was a 4 ft 8½ in standard gauge branch line of the Great Western Railway in Wales which connected Carmarthen with Aberystwyth.

At Carmarthen, the line connected with the GWR mainline from London, Paddington to Fishguard. At Aberystwyth, the line connected with the Cambrian Line. The line also had connecting branches to Aberaeron, Llandeilo and Newcastle Emlyn.

As a result of floods and the Beeching Axe, the line closed throughout to passengers from 1965 and to freight from Pont Llanio creamery near Tregaron to Aberaeron Junction near Lampeter in 1970 and from both Aberaeron Junction and the Newcastle Emlyn branch to Carmarthen in September 1973.

The original station was built in the 1860s by the Aberystwyrh and Welsh Coast Railway to serve trains arriving on the now-closed route from Carmarthen to Aberystwyth via Lampeter and the route to Machynlleth which remains today. The original railway station was greatly extended in 1925 with the original station building on one side of the platforms being replaced by a grand terminus building. This was built by the Great Western Railway, to show the locals their power and to reassure them that the GWR had a vested interest in maintaining the railway service in West Wales – something that had been called into question at the grouping when the Cambrian Railway which owned the station and all the lines into it had been absorbed by the larger, rather more faceless GWR, that had its headquarters far away in London.

The station at this time had five platforms: platform 1 at the south end of the station and 2 island platforms. Platforms 1 and 2 were essentially bay platforms, with the same amount of indent. They were used for the Carmarthen services (though platform 2 would occasionally be used for mainline purposes). With the closure of the line to Carmarthen in 1968, platforms 1 and 2 were given to the Vale of Rheidol line; however, their trains unload at ground level, so a new ramp and island platform has been constructed in the space between the 2 original platforms. Platform 3 is on the other side of platform 2; it is the only platform still in use for mainline rail and has been redesignated as Platform 1 in recent years. Platforms 3 and 4 served the Cambrian mainline. Platform 4 is now taken up by the “Craft” ‘freecycling’ shop. The running around line between these two, for locomotive hauled trains, still exists. Platform 5 was an emergency platform on the other side of platform 4; little trace remains. This area is now an oil storage area and the marshalling yard is the Rheidol Retail Park.

With the decline of railway usage and of tourism within the United Kingdom, the facilities were far too large for its purpose. The railway yard was lifted in the 1980s and the row of shops in front, known as Western Parade, was demolished in the 1990s to allow construction of a new retail park and bus station. The 1925 station building has seen several uses, including as a local museum but was eventually sold off and converted into a Wetherspoons pub. This conversion maintained the architecture and won awards. Other parts of the building have become an Indian restaurant, office space and accommodation for a local furniture-recycling scheme.

Aberystwyth Motive Power Depot was notable as being the last steam locomotive depot on the British Rail network; all steam services ceased in 1968 with the sole exception of the Vale of Rheidol line, which was steam operated until privatisation in 1989 and remains so today. Accordingly, it was an often requested posting for staff.


The Lampeter, Aberaeron and Newquay Light RailwayAberayron, the terminus of the branch from Lampeter. (Originally the Lampeter, Aberayron and Newquay Light Railway) 7407 is about to leave to pick up milk tanks at Felin Fach on July 31, 1959 – R.O.Tuck

The Lampeter, Aberaeron and New Quay Light Railway was a branch of the Carmarthen – Aberystwyth Line in west Wales. It ran between the seaside town of Aberaeron and Lampeter.  Stations and halts included:

  • Aberaeron,
  • Llanerch-Ayron Halt (now spelled Llanerchaeron),
  • Crossways Halt,
  • Cilau Aeron Halt,
  • Felinfach,
  • Talsarn Halt,
  • Blaenplwyf Halt,
  • Silian Halt, and
  • Lampeter.

It was opened in 1911 between Aberaeron Junction which was located several miles north of Lampeter on the Carmarthen – Aberystwyth Line and the town of Aberaeron and was closed to passengers by 1951. The route was originally intended to terminate at Aberaeron Harbour, but due to lack of agreement with the harbour’s owners, it was terminated short at the Aberaeron to Lampeter main road (now the A482). In addition, the proposed line to New Quay which was intended to build after the Aberaeron line was operational was never built.

There were many halts on the route with only intermediate passing loop located at the principal station on the line which was located at Felinfach.

Passenger trains were operated as a branch line meeting main-line trains at Lampeter. Trains were operated by the GWR from the outset, typically using GWR 0-6-0PT and GWR6400 Class Pannier Tanks or GWR 1400 Class locomotives with a GWR Autocoach.

Freight trains generally also used GWR 0-6-0PT and GWR 6400 Class Pannier Tanks or GWR 1400 Class locomotives with occasional visits from GWR 2251 Class locomotives on larger trains. An engine shed which was a sub-shed of Aberystwyth Engine shed was provided to house the branch locomotives.

After the end of passenger trains, freight trains continued to provide freight service to all stations. A huge boost to freight traffic occurred in 1950 with the building of a large new Milk Creamery alongside the line at Green Grove which was 2 miles west of Felinfach. This Milk Creamery provided much extra traffic during its construction, plus after its opening it provided large quantities of milk traffic using six-wheel milk tankers which was taken firstly to Lampeter, then combined with milk traffic from Pont Llanio milk creamery near Tregaron on the Carmarthen – Aberystwyth Line to the freight yards in Carmarthen where they would be combined with other milk tankers from Whitland and other West Wales milk creameries and then on to London.

In 1963 general freight traffic from the line was discontinued and the line was truncated to the Milk Creamery at Green Grove. Several special passenger trains ran on the line before this closure including the one and only diesel multiple unit to travel the whole length of the line which was a British Rail Class 120 unit in early British Railways green livery.

The Milk Tanker Traffic from the Milk Creamery at Green Grove near Felinfach was the only traffic using the line. This traffic continued using diesel locomotives such as British Rail Class 35 into the late 1960s and British Rail Class 37 until the final end of the Milk tanker traffic in 1973. Again, several special passenger trains ran on the route in including British Rail Class 120 and British Rail Class 119 diesel multiple units.

The track was left in situ for a further 18 months before being lifted during the summer of 1975.