Aberystwyth and Welsh Coast Railway

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     Aberystwith and Welsh Coast Railway
Locale Wales
Dates of operation 1 July 1863 – 5 August 1866
Successor Cambrian Railways
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Length 86 miles (138 km)
Headquarters Aberystwyth
Pwllheli
Pwllheli Goods
Abererch
Penychain
Carnarvonshire Railway
Afon Wen
Criccieth
Black Rock Halt
Wern Goods
Porthmadog
Croesor Tramway
Porthmadog Harbour(FR)
Afon Glaslyn
Boston Lodge(FR)
Minffordd
Ffestiniog Railway
Penrhyndeudraeth
Afon Dwyryd
Llandecwyn
Talsarnau
Tygwyn
Harlech
Llandanwg
Pensarn
Llanbedr
Dyffryn Ardudwy
Talybont
Llanaber
Barmouth
Barmouth Bridge: Afon Mawddach
Morfa Mawddach
Arthog
Penmaenpool
Dolgellau
Bala and Dolgelly Railway
Fairbourne
Llwyngwril
Llangelynin
Tonfanau
Tywyn
Tywyn Wharf Talyllyn Railway
Aberdovey
Penhelig
Abertafol
Gogarth
Corris Railway
Newtown and Machynlleth Railway
Machynlleth
Afon Dyfi
Dovey Junction
Glandyfi
Ynyslas
Borth
Llandre
Bow Street
Aberystwyth(Joint)
Aberystwyth(VoR) Vale of Rheidol Railway
Manchester and Milford Railway

The Aberystwith and Welsh Coast Railway was a standard gauge railway built in 1863 connecting major towns on the Welsh coast.

Barmouth Bridge in 2007
The twisting alignment along the north shore of the Afon Dyfi

History[edit]

Authorised in 1861, the railway was intended to run between the Cardigan Bay towns of Aberystwyth and Porthdinllaen near Nefyn on the Lleyn Peninsula. The plan also included a link with the Newtown and Machynlleth Railway by means of a line from Machynlleth to Ynyslas on the southern shore of the Dyfi estuary opposite Aberdyfi, the Dyfi itself to be bridged at this point.

Work began at Machynlleth, and the line was opened through to Aberystwyth in 1864. However, the planned Dyfi bridge at Ynyslas proved impracticable, requiring the divergence between the Aberystwyth and Coast lines to be moved 6 miles east to Dyfi Junction. This added 12 miles to the journey north from Aberystwyth, but the twisting line – just a few feet above high tide level - between Dyfi Junction and Aberdyfi remains one of the most scenic sections of railway in Britain.

Also abandoned at an early date was the idea of crossing the Lleyn Peninsula in the north, and the last 5 miles beyond Pwllheli were never built.

For a time before completion, southbound passengers detrained at Aberdyfi and were carried over to Ynyslas by ferry, for which a short temporary branch was built for use at low tide.

Major works on the line included the bridge south of Barmouth and the cliff top line at Friog. This latter location was the site of two almost identical accidents, in 1883 and 1933, in which the locomotive plunged to the foot of the cliff leaving the bulk of the train remaining on the track. The locomotive crews were killed in both instances. The topography at this point is demanding, as the existing coast road at a higher level had to be accommodated, as well as a working mine.

The line was extended from Barmouth to Pwllheli via Porthmadog (then Portmadoc) in 1867, the year after it was absorbed into the Cambrian Railways.[1] The company's correct name - as in the five Acts of Parliament it obtained during its life - was spelled Aberystwith: widespread erroneous use (including even the above cited reference) of the modern Aberystwyth spelling stems from mis-transcription in official records, now online. The newer spelling started to come into use in the mid-19th century: Bradshaw's railway timetable commenced using it from c. 1868 but the Cambrian Railways did not adopt the new spelling until April 1892; the older version is still to be found in press references in the early years of the 20th century.

Current operations[edit]

The majority of the line is currently open except the line between Morfa Mawddach and Dolgellau which closed on 18 January 1965.

A ten mile (16 km) section between Barmouth Junction and Dolgellau is also used as the Llwybr Mawddach (or "Mawddach Trail"), a cycle route and bridleway. Conversion of the trackbed to a path was incidentally assisted in 1976 when heavy floods washed away most of the remaining ballast. This section of the line featured in the BBC's Railway Walks series with Julia Bradbury.[2]

Connections to other lines[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Christiansen, Rex & Miller, R.W. The Cambrian Railways, Vol. 1 David & Charles (1967); p 65
  2. ^ http://www.juliabradbury.com/railways.html

External links[edit]