Tag Archives: Cambrian Railway

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 geograph.org.uk; transferred by User:RHaworth using geograph_org2commons. License details
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Some Early Lines – Mawddwy Light Railway

In spite of my spending a fair amount of time around the Mid-Wales area, this is yet another railway branch which I had never heard of!

Mawddwy Railway

Mawddwy Railway
Locale Wales
Dates of operation 1867 & 1911–1908 & 1951
Successor abandoned
Track Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm  Standard Gauge)
Length 6+34 miles (10.9 km)
Headquarters ?

The Mawddwy Railway was a rural line in the Dovey Valley in mid-Wales that connected Cemmaes Road and the Cambrian Railway with Dinas Mawddwy.  Despite being only 6 miles 63 chains (10.9 km) long, there were three intermediate stations at Cemmaes, Aberangell (where it linked to the Hendre-Ddu Tramway) and Mallwyd.

    By 1854, the slate quarries at Dinas Mawddwy were employing a significant number of people.] At the same time, a new Lord of the manor of Dinas Mawddwy was installed, Edmund Buckley. He sponsored the building of a railway to connect the slate quarries at Dinas Mawddwy with the recently opened Cambrian Railways main line, at Cemmaes Road. The construction of the railway was contracted to R.S. Francis, with the contract starting in 1866. The railway opened on 1 October 1867. The first locomotive to work trains was Mawddwy which had previously been owned by Francis and used during construction. This was joined in 1868 by a second Manning Wardle locomotive, named Disraeli. Slate traffic and agricultural produce made up the bulk of the traffic on the railway, but from the earliest days it was clear that the railway company was struggling financially. In 1892 the Maes-y-gamfa slate quarry opened, connected to the Mawddwy Railway’s Aberangell station via the Hendre-Ddu Tramway, bringing the promise of additional revenue. However, by this time, the infrastructure of the railway was considerably worn and there was no financial revival.

    The slate industry continued to decline during the late 1890s and early 1900s, and the Mawddwy Railway continued to run down as revenues did not allow effective maintenance. Passenger services were suspended “pending repairs” around 1900. A single daily freight train continued to run until April 1908, at which point all services were abandoned due to the poor state of the track.]

    The local community, led by David Davies, called a series of meetings with the aim of reviving the railway. A proposal to form a new light railway to take over and operate the Mawddwy Railway. In 1910 a Light Railway Order was granted, permitting the railway company to construct a “new” light railway on the disused trackbed. Reconstruction commenced immediately under the direction of G.C. MacDonald, the Engineer of the Cambrian Railways. The track was relaid in heavy rail and several bridges were rebuilt or strengthened. On 29 July 1911 the railway reopened under the chairmanship of David Davies, with trains operated by Cambrian Railways.

    The advent of the First World War dealt a significant blow to the railway. Several local slate quarries closed and tourist traffic fell considerably, although timber and munitions traffic for the war effort offset this somewhat. After the war ended, the railway continued to struggle. In 1923 the Great Western Railway (GWR) took control of the Mawddwy Railway as part of the grouping of British railways. The GWR introduced buses to the Dyfi valley, many operated by its subsidiary the Corris Railway. These competed with the passenger services of the railway, leading to the end of passenger services at the end of 1930.

    Freight services continued through the Second World War, although the local slate industry continued to decline. The quarries served by the Hendre-Ddu Tramway closed in late 1939, though part of the tramway continued in use to bring timber from the forests west of Aberangell. After the war, the railway became part of British Railways at nationalisation. In September 1950 heavy flooding of the River Dyfi damaged the railway bridge north of Cemmaes Road station. The line was officially closed on 1 July 1952. The track was lifted early in 1952.


    Name Type Builder Works number Date built Cylinder size Wheel diameter Notes
    Mawddwy 0-6-0 ST Manning Wardle 104 1864 12 in x 17 in 3 ft 0 in Delivered in 1865 to contractor R.S. Francis for use on construction of the Potteries, Shrewsbury & North Wales Railway.  Sold to the Mawddwy Railway in late 1865. Rebuilt in 1893 and 1911. Transferred to the Van Railway after 1911, scrapped in 1940.
    Disraeli 0-6-0 ST Manning Wardle 268 1868 13 in x 18 in 3 ft 6 in Slightly larger locomotive than Mawddwy, scrapped in 1911.

    Some Early Lines – Welshpool GWR Some Early Lines – Welshpool – from ’Railways’ Magazine May 1

    Welshpool – from ’Railways’ Magazine May 1951

    GWR No.849 (ex-Cambrian Railway) on an Oswestry bound goods passing up platform with bay platform on right.

    Welshpool is described as the junction for the Shrewsbury line, a reminder of the fact that the old Cambrian main line was Whitchurch/Oswestry to Aberystwyth.  Actually the junction is at the next station East, 2¾ miles away, at Buttington.  Here the old Cambrian line is joined by the former LMSR (ex-LNW) GWR joint line from Shrewsbury.

    The station at Welshpool consists of a through platform for up trains with a bay for connecting trains to either Oswestry or Shrewsbury, and an island platform for down west bound trains.

    GWR 9002 on 3.05pm from Oswestry (going forward on 4.25pm slow to Aberystwyth), and GWR 9025 on 3.10pm Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth with a typical 7-coach train, at the island platform.

    Despite the introduction of the Manors, the Cambrian section is the last stronghold of the Great Western outside-frame locomotives.  The two remaining Dukes are at Oswestry but only work goods now, but the Earls still struggle manfully with many passenger turns which in summer are particularly heavy.

    The Old Station, Welshpool

    This is the old station platform at Welshpool. The railway has been displaced to the left to make way for the Welshpool by-pass and the original station building is now used as a shopping complex. This is another example of where rail passengers have been inconvenienced for the sake of a new road. The old station provided reasonable accommodation for waiting passengers. The new station can only be accessed by means of a long footbridge which provides absolutely no protection from the elements. The station is now very basic and has but one small draughty shelter.Welshpool Sidings with the station in the background.