Cambrian Heritage Railways
|Cambrian Heritage Railways|
|Locale||Llynclys, Shropshire, England|
|Original gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Operated by||Cambrian Heritage Railways|
|Stations||1 (Oswestry section)
2 (Llynclys section)
|Length||62 chains / 0.77 miles / 1.24 km|
|Preserved gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|2004||Restoration and Relaying of track begin|
|2005||First trains run on newly restored (Llynclys section) of track|
|2011||First train service along restored (Oswestry section) of track|
|2012||Penygarreg Lane halt (on Llynclys section) opens to the public, officially|
|Cambrian Heritage Railways|
Formed after the 2009 merger of the Cambrian Railways Society and the Cambrian Railways Trust, it aims to reinstate the infrastructure required to operate trains from Gobowen to Llynclys Junction (for Pant), and to Blodwel.
The Cambrian Railways was formed through the merger of a series of regional railway companies on the England/Wales border. Following LNWR sponsored connection with the LNWR station at Gobowen, it enabled CR and LNWR trains to run from the northwest and North Wales into Mid Wales, and beyond. This enabled the LNWR to have an alternative route to the GWR mainline, enabling it to run trains between the coal and steel industries of South Wales, into the industrialised Midlands and Northwest England.
Merged into the GWR on grouping, it closed its old Oswestry station and ran all services from the former CR/LNWR station. Initially on nationalisation in 1946 it became part of the Western Region of British Railways, but in 1963 moved to the London Midland Region. This brought about a sharp decline in services, with the final DMU powered passenger service running in 1968. Occasional quarry trains ran until 1988 to Blodwel, after which the track was left in place but abandoned by Network Rail.
All operations of the Cambrian Heritage Railways are located within England, albeit close to the Welsh border. However, the historical Cambrian Railways company operated from the Welsh/English border territory into Wales, with more than 95% of its permanent way located in Wales. A number of currently operational Welsh heritage railways were also part of the historical Cambrian Railways, including the Vale of Rheidol Railway, the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway, parts of the Ffestiniog Railway, the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, and the partially preserved Penmaenpool railway station. Cambrian Heritage Railways are widely publicised throughout Wales, and despite their English location, are preserving elements of significant Welsh railway heritage.
In 1972, a group of enthusiasts established the Cambrian Railways Society (CRS), which obtained a lease from BR over the former Oswestry goods yard and Oswestry South Signalbox. The CRS established a museum in the former CR goods shed, and acquired either directly or through members a number of steam and diesel engines, and associated rolling stock. In 1997, BR agreed to allow CRS to run trains under a Light Railway Order to Middleton Road, over a track of 300 metres (980 ft) in length. The CRS then purchased the freehold of Weston Wharf goods yard and shed with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund. After quarry trains finished in 1988, the CRS obtained further agreement from BR to run occasional works/inspection trains (i.e. non-passenger carrying, non-revenue earning) over the line to Blodwel.
In 1998, to secure the trackbed and return trains to the residual CR lines, a wider community group of the CRS, Oswestry Council and local business people formed the Cambrian Railways Trust (CRT), to acquire the railway between Gobowen and Blodwel. Once secured, the CRT would hand over the legal agreement to the CRS to actually run trains. In 1997, the CRT obtained funding to carry out a business study of the plans, and subsequently agreed to purchase the track from Railtrack. By 2001, planning permission had been obtained for the entire project, along with a supporting business plan and funding.
However, after government owned company Network Rail replaced Railtrack, they stopped negotiations and broke off the deal, stating that they would only deal with a local council. As a result, the CRS withdrew from the CRT, and went back to new direct negotiations with Network Rail. After negotiations failed for a second time, the CRS established a third base on part of the Nantmawr branch at Llanddu Junction.
The enthusiasts left in CRT decided to embark on their own project, having been offered the freehold of trackbed between Llynclys and Pant. After obtaining European Union grant aid through Oswestry Borough Council’s tourism initiative, the trackbed was purchased by the council and leased to the CRT. From 2003/4, the CRT began rebuilding the track bed, which allowed trains to run from July 2005. Further grants from DEFRA and the EU allowed this small operation to expand, in both track as well as rolling stock assets. This culminated in the building of Llynclys South station.
In 2005, the council bought the semi-derelict Oswestry railway station, refurbishing it with grant aid to provide both a visitor and small business centre. It established the Oswestry Station Building Trust to manage the building, and provide information on the old CR. Also in 2005 the CRT obtained via match-funding an HLF grant to establish a new business-plan to reinstate the railway between Gobowen, Llynclys and Blodwel.
After completion of the study, the CRT proposed a merger with the CRS and the Oswestry Station Building Trust. This would enable: the assets of all three organisations to be merged; duplication of effort in restoring the railway to be removed; a revenue stream which would enable such efforts to continue; and a resultant organisation capable of obtaining monies to restore the railway at an earlier date. This was agreed to in 2009, resulting in the formation of the new trust company, Cambrian Heritage Railways'.
Through a ballot at an Extraordinary General Meeting held at Oswestry railway station on 20 November 2009, members of both the CRS and CRT agreed that:
- Every member of the CRS & CRT automatically becomes a member of the recently formed Cambrian Heritage Railways (CHR) Ltd
- The CRT & CRS work towards transferring assets from the CRT to CHR Ltd.; and
- To combine various functions of both groups to avoid duplication of costs and efforts.
The CHR currently operates trains on the former CRT Llynclys South to Pant line. The CHR has moved the museum collections of the CRS into Oswestry station, while retaining the former goods shed as an engine and rolling stock restoration point. CRH is also restoring the railside infrastructure of Oswestry station to operational condition, and since 2006 has restored the former Oswestry South Signal Box, thanks to a £22,000 grant from the Oswestry Visitor Facilities Infrastructure fund.
The CHR is extending and repairing track northwards from Llynclys South towards Oswestry, to enable trains to run back into the former CR headquarters. Through a continual programme of clearance work, rail materials have been gathered in preparation. The line between Llynclys Junction and the A483 level crossing at Weston on the Oswestry bypass is now largely clear; and was visited and recommendations made by HM Railways Inspectorate in September 2009.
Additional working-party activities have concentrated on the eastern edge of Dolgoch housing estate (between Porth-y-waen & Llynclys) and the A483 road bridge at Llynclys. Efforts are soon expected to be directed from the Dolgoch housing estate, west towards Blodwell, which will link up with that already cleared at Porth-y-waen.
Stations of the Cambrian Heritage Railway(s)
- Future interchange with commuter services on the National Network in the future.
- Park Hall Halt
- Headquarters of Society section.
- Weston Wharf
- Llynclys North (Proposed; both located at site of Junction and temporary replacement station site to the former Llynclys station site. As well as the future Junction station towards Blodwel)
- Llynclys (Former site)
- Llynclys South (Current Northern Terminus)
- Headquarters of Trust Section
- Penygarreg Lane Halt (Current Southern Terminus)
- Pant, (closed; future main terminus, potentially will be reopened)
The locomotive fleet currently based on the line is listed below.
- Steam Locomotives
- Peckett 0-4-0ST "Oliver Veltom" (2131 of 1951). Under overhaul at Oswestry.
- Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST 0-6-0ST "Norma" (3770 of 1952). Overhaul started at Oswestry but suspended pending fundraising.
- Peckett 0-4-0ST "Adam" (1430 of 1916). Stored partially stripped Oswestry.
- Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. 0-6-0ST (885 of 1900). Stored awaiting restoration at Oswestry.
- Diesel Locomotives
- BR 0-6-0 Class 08 no. D3019. Undergoing overhaul at Llynclys.
- Ruston and Hornsby 0-4-0DE, works number 458641 of 1963. Operational at Llynclys, 165 hp engine.
- English Electric 0-6-0DH (D1230 of 1969). Known as 'Kimberley' by previous owners but no plates carried. Shunter & PW loco at Llynclys.
- Vulcan 0-4-0 "Telemon" (295 of 1955). Used for passenger & shunting duties at Oswestry.
- Ruston & Hornsby 0-4-0DM "Scottie" (412427 of 1957). Available for passenger & shunting duties at Oswestry.
- Planet 0-4-0 Diesel hydraulic "Alpha" (3953 of 1962). Yard shunter at Oswestry.
- Hudswell 0-4-0DM (D893 of 1951). Displayed in the Cambrian Railways Museum. Overhaul undertaken at Oswestry as time allows.
- Diesel Multiple Units
- BR Class 101 units 51205+54055 and 51187+51512. 51205 is undergoing overhaul, 54055 is undergoing restoration, 51187 and 51512 are both in regular service at Llynclys.
Passenger carriages are based on site at Llynclys for storage or future restoration to be carried out. Most of the British Rail Mark 1 variety had already seen service in preservation prior to being brought on site, as these vehicles were originally based at the Great Central Railway in Loughborough.
- BR Mk 1 CK 16025. Stored awaiting overhaul.
- GWR Brake Corridor Third 2370. Stored awaiting restoration.
- GWR Toplight Corridor Third 2447. Stored awaiting restoration.
- BR Mk 1 FO 3095. Undergoing overhaul, roof repaired and repainted, exterior and interior being finished.
- BR Mk 1 SO 4362. Stored awaiting restoration.
- BR Mk 1 TSO 4610. Undergoing overhaul with the bodywork receiving attention.
- BR Mk 1 CK 15632. Undergoing overhaul, bodywork receiving minor repairs and roof being repainted.
- BR Mk 1 BSK 35334. Undergoing overhaul. Work currently (early 2010) concentrated on brake end interior.
- BR Mk 1 BSK 35316. In restored condition but not used.
- BR Mk 1 RMB 1850. Non-Operational and used as a station shop and cafe.
- BR Mk 1 TSO 4965. Stored awaiting overhaul.
- "Preservation". Cambrian Heritage Railways. Retrieved 6 February 2012.