|Llangollen railway station from across the River Dee|
|Original gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
|Operated by||Llangollen Railway Trust|
|Stations||4, and 1 halt|
|Length||9.5 miles (15.3 km)|
|Preserved gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
|1877||Absorbed by Great Western Railway|
|1975||Llangollen railway station taken over by the Preservation Society & full restoration work and reconstrution begins|
|1980||Llangollen Railway, Granted Light Railway Order|
|1981||Pentrefelin reached as Line extended first time (but re-opened)|
|1986||Re-opening of extension to and Berwyn Re-opens|
|1990||Deeside Halt opens, line extended|
|1993||Glyndyfrdwy Reopens, line extended|
|1996||Opening of extension to and Carrog Re-opens|
|2011||Work starts on extension to Corwen|
|2013||Extension work reaches Bonwm Halt|
|2014||Extension work reaches Corwen|
The Llangollen Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd Llangollen) is a volunteer-run preserved steam railway in Denbighshire, Wales, which currently operates between Llangollen and a point to the west of the site of Bonwm halt.
At 9.5 miles (15.3 km) long, it is currently the longest preserved standard gauge steam railway in Wales. It operates daily in summer as well as weekends throughout the winter months, using a variety of mainly ex-GWR steam locomotives. A minority of timetabled trains are diesel-hauled.
Work is in the later stages of being carried out on 2.5 miles (4.0 km) of extension from the current terminus at Carrog to a new station on the outskirts of Corwen, which will bring the railways total operating length to 10 miles (16 km).
Commercial Service: 1865–1962
Llangollen was already a popular place for Victorian era tourists by the 1840s. Travel up to this point had been by horse-drawn carriage, but by the 1840s the Shrewsbury to Chester line had been completed, allowing passengers to alight at Llangollen Road (later known as Whitehurst Halt), and then take a coach towards Holyhead.
However, the commercial development of the local mining industry meant that the development of a railway became essential to the regions economic development. A number of schemes were proposed, including one by the LNWR, but it not until 1 August 1859 that scheme engineered by Henry Robertson received Royal Assent. The 5.25 miles (8.45 km) Vale of Llangollen Railway left the Shrewsbury to Chester main line .5 miles (0.80 km) south of Ruabon, and built as a single track line on a double track route proceeded via Acrefair to the new station at Llangollen. The line opened to freight on 1 December 1861, and to passengers on 2 June 1862 at a temporary terminus on the towns eastern outskirts.
The extension to Corwen was undertaken by the associated but separate Llangollen and Corwen Railway company, and involved constructing a long tunnel under the local Berwyn Mountains. It, together with the new centrally positioned and larger station in Llangollen, opened for service on 1 May 1865.
Designated for closure under the Beeching cuts, the railway closed to passenger services on Monday 18 January 1965. The section between Ruabon and Llangollen Goods Yard remained opened for freight traffic until April 1968, but immediately after the cessation of operations the track was removed from the whole line between Ruabon and Barmouth.
After the Beeching Axe, the Flint and Deeside Railway Preservation Society was founded in 1972 with the aim of preserving one of the "axed" railways. Originally the society was interested in preserving the Dyserth to Prestatyn line; however that line was deemed unsuitable because a small amount of freight traffic was still using it. The society refocused its attention on the Llangollen to Corwen section of the Ruabon to Barmouth line. The local council granted a lease of the Llangollen railway station building, as well as 3 miles (4.8 km) of track to the society, with the hope that the railway would improve the local economy and bring more tourists to Llangollen. The station reopened on 13 September 1975, with just 60 feet (18.3 m) of track.
Rebuilding and Resurrection: 1975–1996
Early progress was slow due to a lack of funding, though in 1977 Shell Oil donated a mile of unused track. Volunteers started laying the track with an aim of reaching Pentrefelin, 0.75 miles (1.21 km) from Llangollen. Work finished in July 1981 with the remaining quarter mile of track used to lay sidings at the old Llangollen Goods Junction to form a home for the railway's growing fleet of rolling stock.
The working railway attracted the interest of many private companies, as well as the local council who renewed the lease of the land to the railway for a further 21 years. The Llangollen Railway Trust was gifted significant amounts of track allowing for the next extension of the line to Berwyn. This involved a £30,000 refurbishment of the Dee Bridge by the local council, which had fallen into disrepair during the period following the commercial closure of the line. The first trains operated over the newly extended 1.75 mile (2.82 km) line to Berwyn in March 1986. As rebuilding work progressed train services were later extended (via the 689yd long Berwyn Tunnel) to Deeside Halt (in 1990), Glyndyfrdwy (in 1993) and finally into Carrog on 2 May 1996.
Extension to Corwen
In 2011, work (and re-construction work) finally started on the 2.5 miles (4.0 km) section of track from Bonwm Halt to Corwen. As the former Corwen station site has been in private use as an Ifor Williams Trailers showroom since 1990, and the track bed in between also sub-divided, a new station is planned to be built on the eastern side of the town.
The first stage of the project has involved the extension of the line to a temporary station on the eastern outskirts of Corwen, which was completed in the late spring of 2014. As a final stage, the extension will be completed to a new station facility, to be constructed next to the town's main car park. The new station will feature a single platform with station buildings (accessed from the town car park), a headshunt and run-round loop, and a small siding on the same alignment as, and accessed from, the run-round loop. Although construction of the new station has not begun, there are hopes that it may be possible to open it formally on 14 December 2014, 50 years to the day since Corwen last saw passenger trains in 1964.
Locomotives and rolling stock
Most trains are steam-hauled. The railway's workshops are currently the national focus of three major independent projects to rebuild steam locomotive types rendered extinct by scrapping in the 1960s - an ex-GWR 'Grange' Class 4-6-0, (represented by 'the 81st Grange' - No.6880 Betton Grange, being constructed from a combination of both new and existing locomotive parts), an ex-LMS Fowler 'Patriot' 4-6-0 (represented by a new-build engine, No.45551 The Unknown Warrior) and an ex-GWR '4700' Class 2-8-0 'Night Owl'(the mainly new-build No.4709).
- Green, Les (2006), A Visitor's Guide to the Llangollen Railway and the Dee Valley, Steam at Llangollen
- Clinker, C.R., (1979) GWR Register of Halts & Platforms, Avon Anglia ISBN 0-905466-29-2
- History of the Line, retrieved 2008-08-27
- Butt (1995), page 146
- Dyserth—Prestatyn Railway, retrieved 2008-08-27
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Llangollen Railway.|
- Official website
- Llangollen Diesel Group
- 6880 project
- New website for Corwen Town and the extension
- LMS Patriot Project - The Unknown Warrior
- Ruabon to Barmouth inc Llangollen Railway (British Railways in the 1960's Sectional Appendix Extract) (via The Internet Archive)