Llanelly and Mynydd Mawr Railway
|Llanelly and Myndd Mawr Railway|
- This article describes the historical railway.
For the current heritage railway see Llanelli and Mynydd Mawr Railway
The Llanelly and Mynydd Mawr Railway (LMMR) was established in 1802 in Carmarthenshire, Wales, as the Carmarthenshire Tramroad by Act of Parliament. It began running trains in 1803, the initial line being a plateway of about 4 foot gauge, with motive power provided by a pair of horses. This distribution line allowed for coal extraction in the hinterland to be connected to the Sandy area and Llanelly Docks and in 1798 the Stradey Iron Works established by Alexander Raby had begun trading and later received coal, ironstone and limestone for its furnaces via the Carmarthenshire line.
Oldest public railway claim
It is claimed that the Llanelly and Mynydd Mawr Railway is the oldest public railway in Britain. A quote from an Oakwood Press publication written by the Reverend Martin Connop Price entitled 'The Llanelly and Mynydd Mawr Railway' seems to back this claim up:
'Construction proceeded apace, and in May 1803, the line was open for traffic from the ironworks at Cwmddyche down to the sea, a distance of one and a half miles. This short length of line thereby can claim to be the first public railway in use in Britain, because the better known Surrey Iron Railway, engineered by William Jessop, was not ready for traffic until July 1803. By that month Barnes (James Barnes, report author) was able to report that the first five miles of the Carmarthenshire, together with certain branches, were already in use.'
By 1844 the company ceased trading and it was to take over 30 years for the line to reopen. At a meeting in Llanelli Town Hall chaired by C.N.Neville Esq. M.P., it was resolved to reopen the line and to extend it to Cross Hands. In 1880 Mr Waddell the contractor stated that he was "pushing ahead with vigour".
The railway reopened in 1883 operated by the newly formed Llanelly and Mynydd Mawr Railway Company (LMMR). The company used the anglicised spelling "Llanelly" rather than the Welsh Llanelli. Mynydd Mawr means "Great Mountain" in English. The track was re-laid using edge rails to standard gauge.
The LMMR company disappeared in 1922 on being absorbed into the Great Western Railway which was in turn absorbed into British Railways in 1947. Throughout the twentieth century the line continued as a main artery for coal distribution from the Gwendraeth valley, until the closure of Cynheidre Colliery in 1989.
Swiss Valley Cycle Route
Following a campaign lasting almost ten years from the Llanelli and District Railway Society (L&DRS) to save the intact, but derelict line the hopes were dashed in the mid-90's when the railway was sold by British Rail property board to the local authorities as part of a scheme to transform the track bed into a cycle way. This path is now labelled as the Swiss Valley Cycle Route, part of National Cycle Route 47, itself a part of the Celtic Trail.
Llanelli and Mynydd Mawr Railway Company Limited
Whilst the L&DRS's efforts were thwarted, a new charitable company was incorporated on the 15 April 1999 as a non-profit making company limited by guarantee (with no remuneration paid to its Directors). The company is named The Llanelli and Mynydd Mawr Railway Company Ltd, therefore reviving the name of the former operator albeit with the later Llanelli spelling. The primary objective of the registered charity is to reinstate a railway on the historic line. A heritage centre will also interpret the history of coal mining in the area and in particular the industry which the railway served.
In the early years the LMMR had a fleet of its own steam locomotives to work the line:
|Builder||Works no.||Built||Wheels||Name||GWR no.||Notes|
|AB||221||1880||0-6-0ST||John Waddell||-||Sold 1908|
|FW||279||1885||0-6-0ST||Seymour Clarke||969||Withdrawn before 1948|
|AB||199||1879||0-4-0ST||No. 104 Inveravon||-||To LMMR 1887
Boiler exploded 1889
|P||464||1888||0-6-0ST||Jeannie Waddell||-||To Great Mountain
|BH||884||1889||0-4-0ST||Burntisland||-||Sold by 1913|
|AE||1448||1902||0-6-0T||Great Mountain||944||Withdrawn before 1948|
|AB||1111||1907||0-6-0T||George Waddell||312||Withdrawn before 1948|
|AB||1157||1908||0-6-0ST||E.J. Robertson Grant||-||Sold 1919|
|HC||930||1911||0-6-0T||Ravelston||803||To British Railways 1948
Withdrawn 1951 
|HC||912||1911||0-6-0ST||John Waddell||-||To Great Mountain
Colliery c. 1919
|HC||1032||1913||0-6-0T||Tarndune||339||Withdrawn before 1948|
|HC||1214||1917||0-6-0ST||Hilda||359||To British Railways 1948
Withdrawn 1954 
|MW||1982||1920||0-6-0T||Victory||704||Withdrawn before 1948|
Following absorption by the Great Western Railway, pannier tanks were in common use on the line. These continued under British Railways until phasing out of steam in the 1960s. In 1965 0-6-0 PT 1607 of Llanelli shed 87F was purchased by the National Coal Board and worked at Cynheidre Colliery until 1969 when it was condemned with a cracked frame, and was subsequently scrapped on site. In the later years of the line Class 37 diesel locos were the staple diet as well as Class 08 diesel shunting locos (up until the closure of the Cynheidre North section).