Tag Archives: Wales

Some Early Lines, Old Railway Companies, Bangor & Caernarfon Railway

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

Bangor & Caernarfon  Railway

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Incorporated on 20 May 1851 to build between the two towns, the junction with the Chester & Holyhead Railway, which was authorised to work the line, was actually a Menai Bridge. It was an 8.5 single line, with a one-mile branch to Port Dinorwic (Y Felinheli), which opened on 1 March 1852 for goods. The line opened throughout for passengers on 1 July and for goods on 10 August. Agreement to lease the line to the Chester & Holyhead Railway for 999 years was made with effect from 1 July 1852, but the Company was instead transferred by an Act on 10 July 1854; dissolution was delayed until 15 July 1867. The line was doubled in 1872, re-singled in 1966, and closed to goods on 4 August 1969, though there was a respite when Caernarfon became a temporary freight terminal during the rebuilding of the Britannia Bridge in 1970-72.

The old Britannia Bridge on a postcard from the private collection of Jochem Hollestelle

The old Britannia Bridge on a postcard from the private collection of Jochem Hollestelle

Andrew Dixon. Location: Britannia Bridge taken from the Nelson memorial on the Menai Strait, Anglesey

Andrew Dixon.
Location: Britannia Bridge taken from the Nelson memorial on the Menai Strait, Anglesey – 2005

Britannia Bridge is a bridge across the Menai Strait between the island of Anglesey and the mainland of Wales. It was originally designed and built by Robert Stephenson as a tubular bridge of wrought iron rectangular box-section spans for carrying rail traffic. Following a fire in 1970 it was rebuilt as a two-tier steel truss arch bridge, carrying both road and rail traffic.

A view looking west from the island platform at Menai Bridge in August 1964. The goods train is standing at the up Afon Wen line platform which was used by passenger services travelling towards Bangor. To the left can be seen the down Afon Wen line platform. The platform that can be seen to the right served trains travelling towards Holyhead. Photo by Bevan Price

A view looking west from the island platform at Menai Bridge in August 1964. The goods train is standing at the up Afon Wen line platform which was used by passenger services travelling towards Bangor. To the left can be seen the down Afon Wen line platform. The platform that can be seen to the right served trains travelling towards Holyhead.
Photo by Bevan Price

JOHN POWELL COLLECTION www.6g.nwrail.org.uk640 × 452Search by image Caernarfon Station, 10th August 1962. Engine No 42487 arrives with a train for Afonwen.

JOHN POWELL COLLECTION
http://www.6g.nwrail.org.uk640 × 452Search by image
Caernarfon Station, 10th August 1962. Engine No 42487 arrives with a train for Afonwen.

Caernarvon railway station was a station on the former Bangor and Carnarvon Railway between Caernarfon, Gwynedd and Menai Suspension Bridge near Bangor. The station was closed to all traffic in January 1972. The station has since been demolished and the site redeveloped.

 

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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.

Route
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
Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0

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 - laluciole.net

South Wales Railway – laluciole.net

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 geograph.org.uk  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 geograph.org.uk License details
Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0

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.

Brecon-mountain-railway

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.

Brecon

Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – The Newtown and Machynlleth Railway

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

The Newtown and Machynlleth Railway

The Newtown and Machynlleth Railway (N&MR) was a short railway created to allow the Oswestry and Newtown Railway and the Mid-Wales Railway access the Mid-Wales market town of Machynlleth, from their communal station at Newtown, Powys. Crossing the River Severn and the Cambrian Mountains, completed in 1863 it became part of the Cambrian Railways system in 1864.

Machynlleth StationMachynlleth station still sports much that is original on 28 May 1988, though as this picture was taken came news that it was for sale. The train shown had arrived late after a breakdown, and, having terminated, was about to return to Euston. (Allan Mott)

History
In July 1864 the line was absorbed into the Cambrian Railways. Cambrian Railways were absorbed by the Great Western Railway on 1 January 1922 as a result of the Railways Act 1921, and became part of British Railways in 1948.
There was an accident in the Talerddig cutting on 18 January 1921, of which several pictures survive. Hence, even since the first track rationalisation of the line during the 1970s, there remains to this day a passing loop on this single track line at the site of Talerddig station, retained in the need to “pin down” the brakes on freight trains over the summit, and now a critical operational node for passing passenger trains.[4]
Talerddig cutting
A significant civil engineering achievement on the line is the Talerddig cutting through solid rock. With a depth of 120 feet (37 m), it was the deepest cutting in the world at the time of its completion in 1862. For safety reasons, the original near-vertical sides have since been trimmed back.

Talerddig_cutting_-_geograph.org.uk_-_856895Talerddig cutting
The means by which the Newtown and Machynlleth Railway (which became a constituent of the Cambrian Railways) breached the Cambrian Mountains to head for the coast. Compared with SH9200 : Railway Cutting at the summit of Talerddig bank there’s been some extensive regrowth.
© Copyright Nigel Brown and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Present
Today, after the closure during the Beeching Axe of much of the former-Cambrian system, the entire length of the N&MR remains open as part of Network Rail’s Cambrian Line, operated by the Class 158 DMUs of Arriva Trains Wales.

1024px-Machynlleth_Station_with_eastbound_local_train_geograph-2545274-by-Ben-BrooksbankMachynlleth Station with eastbound local train
View westward, down the Dovey Valley towards Dovey Junction, then Aberystwyth/Barmouth and Pwllheli. The locomotive is one of the first Churchward ‘4500’ 2-6-2T, No. 4501 (built 11/06 as No. 2162).
© Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Newtown StationNewtown: station buildings
The main station buildings on the Up (eastbound) platform at Newtown / Y Drenewydd.  © Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 

Some Foreign Lines – A Hotel on Wheels: Francisco de Goya -The Castles of Britain – Trans-Siberian Railway

 Some Foreign Lines

 

A Hotel on Wheels: Francisco de Goya

3 Pic
Renfe
Route: Paris to Madrid
Duration: 13 hours, 30 minutes
Leave Paris in the evening, enjoy a three-course dinner and the increasingly rural scenery, slumber to the soothing rhythm of the rails, and wake the next day as you arrive in Madrid, rested and ready to tour the third-most-populous city in the European Union. Grand class includes a welcome drink, gourmet dinner, breakfast, and an in-room bathroom with shower.

 Reliving the Age of Chivalry: The Castles of Britain

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BritRail
Route: Inverness, Scotland, to Gwynedd, Wales
Duration: 15 days
Discover the United Kingdom’s historic fortresses on this itinerary combining a two-week BritRail pass with the Great British Heritage pass. You’ll get entry to 580 attractions, as you hop off for local touring. Start in Inverness, Scotland, near Loch Ness, to tour Urquhart Castle. Continue south to Stirling Bridge, where William Wallace triumphed over the English in 1297, and on to Edinburgh Castle. English sights include Dover Castle, with its wartime tunnels. In Gwynedd, Wales, tour Caernarfon Castle, a World Heritage site where the investiture of Prince Charles was held.

The Epic Journey: Trans-Siberian Railway

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Reuters
Route: Moscow to Vladivostok, Russia
Duration: 19 days
This fabled route, an icon of Russian culture, crosses eight time zones to connect the Russian capital with a port on the Pacific Ocean. On board, poor mingle with rich, young with old, foreigners with locals. Social barriers disappear as passengers share a unique rail experience and shots of $3-a-liter vodka. You can book a private car via a tour operator for added comfort; schedule any number of side excursions from trekking and scuba diving to city tours.

Across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct2013_092100182013_092100192013_092100202013_092100222013_09210024
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Across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct , a set on Flickr.

A cruise along the Llangollen Canal organised in conjunction with Wicksons Travel of Walsall Wood, Staffordshire.  An hour in each direction on board the narrowboat ‘Thomas Telford’ crossing the aqueduct each way.

Canal News – Guided nature walk along the Montgomery Canal

Canal News

Guided nature walk along the Montgomery Canal

MONTGOMERY CANAL, NR. PERRY AQUEDUCTMontgomery Canal north of Perry Aqueduct

Between Heath Houses and Frankton Locks the restored Montgomery Canal passes through peaceful countryside well away from any major roads. It was in this vicinity that the 1936 breach occurred that was to close the canal for more than half a century.  © Copyright Stephen McKay and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 Address

Tesco car park
Welshpool
SY21 7AL

 22 Aug 2013
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Join ecologist Stuart Moodie for a twilight walk along the Montgomery Canal.

If you want to find out more about the wildlife that the Montgomery Canal is home to then make your way to Welshpool on 22 August and join a free guided walk led by national ecologist, Stuart Moodie.

The walk from Welshpool to Belan Locks will take in Whitehouse Nature Reserve and cover about 3.5 miles. As well as spotting a wide selection of wildlife, you’ll find out all about the fascinating history of the canal and how it has been restored.

For more information email great.nature@canalrivertrust.org.uk

BridgeCanal Bridge over Montgomery Canal

Carries Rhew Level Lane of unrestored section of Montgomery Canal  © Copyright John Firth and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Some Early Lines – Neath and Brecon Railway

Some Early Lines

Neath and Brecon Railway

Brecon Term colourBrecon Station on 29th August 1962 with No. 3768 on the 6.20pm return working.  (Peter W.Gray

The Neath and Brecon Railway linked the Vale of Neath Railway at Neath with the Brecon and Merthyr Railway at Brecon and also via a connection from Colbren Junction, it linked to the Swansea Vale Railway at Ynysygeinon Junction (sometimes spelt Ynisygeinon).

The southern section from Onllwyn to Neath is still open to goods traffic, although passenger services ceased from October 1962 and the northern section lifted under the Beeching Axe as the coal industry wound down.

EPSON scanner imageBrecon 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.   © Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 Route

The railway was authorised by an Act of Parliament on 29 July 1862 as the Dulais Valley Mineral Railway to transport coal from the Dulais Valley to Neath. It was promoted and constructed by the contractor John Dickson. After being authorised to extend the railway to Brecon, it changed its name to the Neath and Brecon Railway. The railway linked itself to the Swansea Vale Railway by promoting the Swansea Vale and Neath and Brecon Junction Railway. This line had a long gestation period due to Dickson’s bankruptcy but eventually when it was opened it gave the Neath and Brecon access to Swansea via running rights. In return, the Neath and Brecon gave full running rights over its system to the Swansea Vale Railway. The Neath and Brecon started operating a passenger service between Brecon and Swansea using these running rights.

An early and unsuccessful purchaser of the new Fairlie locomotive, when in 1863 the railway reached Crynant, coal mining quickly expanded. At Crynant several new mines were opened including the Crynant colliery, Brynteg colliery in 1904, Llwynon colliery in 1905, Dillwyn colliery, and Cefn Coed colliery 1930. These mines led to the expansion of the village.

EPSON scanner imageBrecon 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.   © Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 Brecon

When the railway reached Brecon in 1867, it provided access to the Brecon and Merthyr, the Mid Wales, and the Hereford, Hay and Brecon Railways which were all completed about this time. The initial B&M station at Brecon was at the Watton and the Mid Wales Railway had a station at Mount Street. The Hereford, Hay and Brecon, after belonging to the empire of Savin (originally a draper from Oswestry who became a railway contractor, promoter and operator), was leased and then taken over by the Midland Railway who, by using running powers over the Mid Wales from Three Cocks Junction, gained access to Brecon.

The Midland then leased the Swansea Vale Company’s line from around 1874 and in so doing obtained the use of the SVR’s running powers over the N&B. This enabled them start running trains from Brecon to Swansea. At around the same time the N&B abandoned its Brecon – Swansea service and decided to lease its main line north of Colbren to the Midland in return for an annual fee. This situation remained in force until around 1930 when the LMS (the 1923 successor to the Midland) decided to abandon its through Swansea Brecon services when the N&B line (then part of the Great Western Railway) was taken back by its owners and rather than being a through route, reverted to being something of a backwater.

The three companies providing services to Brecon consolidated their stations at a newly rebuilt Free Street Joint Station from 1871.

Neath StnNeath Riverside station

In the years before closure, just one daily train departed from Neath Riverside to Brecon. The South Wales main line passes over the bridge top right. The signalbox remains to this day, controlling freight trains from Onllwyn in the Dulais valley.  © Copyright Flying Stag and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 

Gradual winding down

In October 1962, all passenger services were withdrawn from Neath to Brecon, leaving only freight services. The line north of Craig y Nos/Penwyllt station closed to Brecon on closure of Brecon station, and remained open south until 1977 to serve the adjacent quarry. The line remains open to Onllwyn, with Celtic Energy using the coal washing plant there through partnership with English, Welsh and Scottish Railway. Some of the old Celtic Energy wagons are now housed at the Foxfield Light Railway.

CradocTaken from the window of the 4.10pm Neath Riverside to Brecon headed by 0-6-0 pannier tank No. 3768, this photograph shows Cradoc station  on 20th August 1962.  By its appearance, Cradoc was then an unstaffed halt and sadly neglected at that, with paintwork peeling and a grass-grown platform.  However, Great Western cast iron letters are still solidly screwed onto the station nameboard.  Once part of the Neath and Brecon Railway, Cradoc passed into Great Western ownership at the 1923 grouping of railways, when one considerable point of interest was its method of working.  In Neath and Brecon days, arrangements had been made from the 1880s for the Midland Railway (who controlled the nearby Swansea Valley Railway) to work all services and this was continued by its successor the LMS until the end of 1930.  In the good or bad old Victorian days, access to the black diamonds of the Welsh Valleys was eagerly sought and the Midland, via Hereford and Brecon, held on tight.  It is reasonable to assume that after 1930 the LMS thought twice for, like its near neighbour the Abergavenny Myrthyr line of the erstwhile LNWR, the Neath and Brecon’s passenger services outlived their freight, closing as from 15th October 1962  (Peter W.Gray.