Llangollen Railway

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Llangollen Railway
Rheilffordd Llangollen
Llangollen railway station.jpg
Llangollen railway station from across the River Dee
Locale Wales Wales, UK
Terminus Eastern: Llangollen
Western: Carrog
Coordinates 52°58′12″N 3°11′31″W / 52.970°N 3.192°W / 52.970; -3.192Coordinates: 52°58′12″N 3°11′31″W / 52.970°N 3.192°W / 52.970; -3.192
Commercial operations
Name Llangollen Railway
Original gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Preserved operations
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 12 in)
1862 Opened
1877 Absorbed by Great Western Railway
1964 Closed
Preservation history
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
Headquarters Llangollen
Llangollen Railway
Ruabon to Barmouth Line
Llangollen
Llangollen Loco Shed
Pentrefelin Yard
Dee Bridge
Berwyn
Berwyn Viaduct
Berwyn Tunnel
689 yd 
630 m 
Deeside Halt
not in
public use
Glyndyfrdwy
Carrog
Bonwm Halt
Corwen
 new site
(under construction)
Corwen(original)
Ruabon to Barmouth Line

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,[citation needed] 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,[1] which will bring the railways total operating length to 10 miles (16 km).[citation needed]

History[edit]

Commercial Service: 1865–1962[edit]

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.[2]

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.[3]

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.[3]

Closure[edit]

Designated for closure under the Beeching cuts, the railway closed to passenger services on Monday 18 January 1965.[4] 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.[4]

Preservation[edit]

Reopening: 1972–1975[edit]

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.[5] 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.[1]

Rebuilding and Resurrection: 1975–1996[edit]

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.[1] 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[edit]

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.[6]

Locomotives and rolling stock[edit]

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).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Green, Les (2006), A Visitor's Guide to the Llangollen Railway and the Dee Valley, Steam at Llangollen 
  2. ^ Clinker, C.R., (1979) GWR Register of Halts & Platforms, Avon Anglia ISBN 0-905466-29-2
  3. ^ a b History of the Line, retrieved 2008-08-27 
  4. ^ a b Butt (1995), page 146
  5. ^ Dyserth—Prestatyn Railway, retrieved 2008-08-27 
  6. ^ http://corwenstation-new.co.uk/

External links[edit]