Barry Railway Company

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Logo of the Barry Railway Company

The Barry Railway Company was a coal pit owner-developed and owned railway company, formed to provide an alternate route for the sea export of coal mined in the South Wales valleys to the existing monopoly of the Taff Vale Railway and Cardiff Docks. Incorporated from 1884 and built from 1885, by 1910 it had overtaken Cardiff as the largest export point of South Wales coal thanks to its greater efficiency. Like much of the South Wales infrastructure, it quickly declined following the 1926 miners’ strike, and never recovered after World War II, with the docks becoming the home of the most famous site for the scrapping of British Railways steam locomotives in the 1960s onwards. Now a smaller operation than its former rival, what remains of the railway infrastructure has been absorbed into Network Rail, while the docks, now owned by Associated British Ports, are being given a light industrial and residential make-over. Additionally, from 2009, a section of part of the docks, south-western end, along with Network Rail infrastructure, the Barry Tourist Railway was established and includes the former Barry Low Level Goods shed and Barry Motive Power Depôt built in 1886 and a new section of track from the Barry Island Causeway lines to the docks Waterfront.


David Davies of Ocean Collieries was one of the premier business men of the South Wales coal fields, but like many suffered from the capacity and monopoly issues created by two companies:

  • The Taff Vale Railway which provided the dominant rail infrastructure. Capacity issues were particularly dominant after Pontypridd, where down loaded trains and up return empty wagons were restricted to a single double track route, which could not be expanded due to the geographic challenges of the valley
  • Cardiff Docks, which having been developed by Lord Bute, were sufficient to serve his coal-exporting needs, but did not have sufficient capacity to cope with new mine developments

In light of the geographic restrictions of the valley south of Pontypridd, Davies proposed development of a secondary route which terminated at Barry, where a dock infrastructure could be developed without the mud flat or tidal restrictions which gave Cardiff's Tiger Bay its name. This would create a competitive edge to the development, and due to being later developed to a more easily accessible docks, a resultant efficiency advantage over Cardiff.

The Barry Dock and Railway Bill was introduced in the 1883 Parliamentary session but was defeated by opposition, particularly from the Bute Docks and Taff Vale Railway.[1] The Bill was introduced again the following year and the Barry Dock and Railway Company Act was passed on 14 August 1884 for the construction of a dock at Barry Island. The name was changed to the Barry Railway Company by an Act of 5 August 1891.


  • 14 August 1884 Barry Dock and Railway Company Act receives Royal Assent
  • Post 1884 Construction of main line from Cadoxton to Pontypridd begins
  • 22 November 1888 First Barry locomotive worked an inspection saloon from Hafod Jct to Barry
  • 20 December 1888 First train runs between Barry Dock and Cogan
  • 8 February 1889 Passenger traffic extended from Barry Dock to Barry
  • 13 May 1889 Goods and mineral traffic between Cadoxton, Tynycaeau Jct and St.Fagans Jct begins
  • 29 June 1889 First water was let into the dock
  • 18 July 1889 Ceremonial opening of Barry Docks
  • 18 July 1889 Mineral traffic between Trehafod, Treforest and Barry begins
  • 26 August 1889 Vale of Glamorgan Railway Company incorporated
  • 5 August 1891 Company name changed by the Barry Railway Company Act
  • 14 August 1893 Passenger service extended from Cogan to the Cardiff Riverside Branch (GWR)
  • 2 April 1894 Passenger service extended from Cardiff Riverside to Cardiff Clarence Road (GWR)
  • 16 March 1896 Passenger service between Barry, Pontypridd (Graig) and Porth begins
  • 3 August 1896 Opening of branch from Barry to Barry Island
  • 7 June 1897 Passenger service between Pontypridd (Graig) and Cardiff via St Fagans begins.
  • 1 December 1897 Vale of Glamorgan Railway opens for traffic between Bridgend (GWR) and Barry
  • 10 January 1898 Vale of Glamorgan Railway closed due to a pier and bank subsidence near the eastern end of the 376-yard (344 m) Porthkerry viaduct so a temporary 'omega'-shaped 2-mile-44-chain (4.1 km) loop line was constructed to the west, leaving short of the east end and rejoining the main line near the Dams, east of Rhoose. While the loop line was being built, passengers were carried between Barry and Rhoose by means of horse-drawn brakes
  • 25 April 1898 Porthkerry loop line completed (It is recorded that the loop line carried passengers as well as goods traffic after its opening)
  • 1898 Barry No.2 Dock opens
  • 27 July 1899 Barry Island branch extended to Barry Pier
  • 8 January 1900 Porthkerry viaduct reopened for goods traffic
  • 9 April 1900 Porthkerry viaduct reopened for passenger traffic.
  • 1 August 1901 Opening of branch from Tynycaeau Junction to Penrhos
  • 1 August 1901 Walnut Tree Viaduct opens
  • 1 August 1901 Walnut Tree 490-yard (450 m) tunnel opens (Through Garth Hill)
  • 15 August 1904 Barry Railway (Steam Vessels) Act receives Royal Assent
  • 2 January 1905 Brecon and Merthyr Extension from Penrhos Lower Junction to Barry Junction (B&M) opens to coal traffic
  • 24 April 1905 First excursion train over the B&M Extension to Barry via Barry Jct, (B&M), latterly known as Duffryn Isaf Junction.
  • 17 February 1922 Last ordinary general meeting of the Barry Railway Company
  • 5 April 1922 Barry Railway Company amalgamated into Great Western Railway
  • 1926 Trehafod engine shed closed
  • 1926 Brecon and Merthyr Extension between Penrhos Lower Junction and Barry Junction (B&M) abandoned
  • 5 May 1929 Massive GWR track & signalling remodelling programme between Barry Island station (west) and Barry Pier, to include another signal box, two more platforms and accommodate more passenger excursion traffic during the summer months. This necessitated part-singling of the double-track line to Barry Pier through the 280-yard (260 m) Pier tunnel
  • 1930 Penrhos & Penyrheol viaducts dismantled
  • 10 July 1930 Treforest (HL) & Pontypridd (Graig) stations close to passengers
  • 1937 De-commissioned Llanbradach viaduct sold for scrap but brick piers remained in untidy heaps across the valley until final removal prior to the innovation of the A469 dual-carriageway Llanbradach bypass between Caerphilly and Maesycwmmer following 1970
  • June 1951 Line between Tonteg and Pwllgwaun closes to goods
  • 4 July 1956 Line between Pwllgwaun and Trehafod closes
  • 10 September 1962 Passenger services between Barry, Cadoxton and Pontypridd via Wenvoe and between Cardiff and Pontypridd via St Fagans and Creigiau withdrawn
  • March 1963 Tynycaeau Junction signal box destroyed by fire
  • 1963 490-yard (450 m) Walnut Tree tunnel closes
  • 1963 Penrhos Branch closed from Tynycaeau Junction to Walnut Tree West (sic) but maintained as a single-line siding to Dolomite works, via Walnut Tree viaduct, Taffs Well, until closure on 19 Jan 1968, Penrhos Junction signal box having been officially taken out of use on that date
  • 1963 1,868-yard (1,708 m) Wenvoe tunnel closes (A few coal trains had run to Barry Docks following the Tynycaeau signal box fire and a couple of diverted Rhymney valley to Cardiff passenger trains had been diverted over the Penrhos Branch to reach Cardiff via St. Fagans Junction before the final closure of the line and it has come to light that the whole line was closed to traffic as a through route from Monday 17 June 1963
  • 1963 to 1965 Track from Cadoxton yard to Treforest gradually lifted
  • 1969 Removal of metal spans, Walnut Tree Viaduct
  • October 1971 Last steamer (Balmoral) calls at Barry Pier
  • 1973 Demolition of all but two main masonry piers of Walnut Tree Viaduct
  • 5 July 1976 Barry Pier station officially closed, single line track through Barry Island tunnel having been lifted by then
  • 1981 Drope & St.Fagans viaducts demolished to make way for new Culverhouse Cross to Motorway M4, Jct 33 link road (A4232)

Barry Railway[edit]

Following 1 July 1885, the company constructed 5 14 miles (8.4 km) of track from Cadoxton to Cogan, and by 1888 had completed its main line from Barry via Cadoxton to Trehafod,[2] a distance of 18 12 miles (29.8 km) although the several branches brought this to 26 miles (42 km) (41.6 km) in length covering an area from the docks to the Rhondda Valley. Additionally, access was created via junctions with the existing and authorised railways, to all the other great mineral-producing districts of South Wales. The original line had connected with the Taff Vale Railway at Trehafod, and connections were added with the GWR at Peterston and Bridgend (1900) and the Brecon and Merthyr Railway east of Llanbradach (1903).[3] Eventually the Company had a total of 68 miles (109 km) route miles,[2] but with an additional 140 miles (230 km) of sidings, 100 miles (160 km) of which were around the docks. The head office of the railway was at Barry. Apart from owning the docks themselves—which consisted of three docks entered by locks—the main portions of the rail network were:

The Barry Railway was one of the most successful of the South Wales railways, and benefited from controlling its own port.[5]


The 1,867-yard (1,707 m) Wenvoe tunnel is one of the longest railway tunnels in South Wales. Traffic ceased through the tunnel on 31 March 1963 due to a fire at Tynycaeau Junction signal box.[6]

Vale of Glamorgan Railway[edit]

Vale of Glamorgan Railway
B&MJR to Ystrad Mynach
Barry Junction
(later Duffryn Isaf Junction)
B&MJR to Newport
TVR to Trehafod
RVR to Ystrad Mynach
Hafod Junction
Llanbradach Viaduct
Energlyn South Junction
Energlyn North Junction
Pontypridd Graig
RVR to Senghenydd
Aber Junction
Treforest Tunnel
1373 yd
1255 m
RVR to Caerphilly
Treforest High Level
Penyrheol Viaduct
Treforest Low Level
Penrhos Viaduct
GWR/TVR to Llantrisant
GWR/TVR to Caerphilly
TVR to Taffs Well
RVR to Caerphilly
Penrhos Upper Junction
Penrhos Lower Junction
Treforest Llantwit Road
RVR to Taffs Well
Tonteg Junction
TVR to Pontypridd
Tonteg Halt
TVR to Cardiff
Walnut Tree Viaduct
TVR to Llantrisant
Dolomite Quarry
Efail Isaf
TVR to Common Branch Jn
Walnut Tree Tunnel
490 yd
448 m
TVR to Waterhall Junction
Tynycaeau Junction
St Fagans Junction
St Fagans
SWR to Cardiff
Drope Junction
Vale Line to Cardiff
Wenvoe Tunnel
1867 yd
1707 m
Dinas Powys
Biglis Junction
TVR to Penarth
SWR to Swansea
Barry Docks
Barry Shed
Carriage Works
Barry Island viaduct
153 yd
140 m
No.1 Tunnel
543 yd
497 m
Barry Island
Porthkerry Viaduct
376 yd
344 m
Barry Island Tunnel
280 yd
256 m
No.2 Tunnel
73 yd
67 m
Barry Pier
for P and A Campbell
Porthkerry Lime
& Cement Works
Rhoose Cement Works
Aberthaw High Level
Aberthaw Low Level
Aberthaw Power Station
Aberthaw Cement Works
Lafarge Tarmac
to TVR Cowbridge
St Athan Halt
R.A.F St. Athan West
Llantwit Major
Llandow (Wick Road) Halt
Llandow Halt
Southerndown Road
Southerndown Road
Lime Works
Lancaster Quarry
Duchy Quarry
Ewenny Quarry
Ford Waterston Branch
SWR to Cardiff
Cowbridge Road Junction
Bridgend & Coity
Maesteg Line to Tondu
Coity Junction
SWR to Swansea

The Vale of Glamorgan Railway was incorporated by an Act of Parliament on 26 August 1889 but the Barry Railway was cautious about competition from the line, this being resolved by an agreement for the Barry Railway to operate the line for 60% of the gross receipts.[3] Despite this, the company experienced difficulty in raising the necessary capital, and a subsequent Barry Railway act of 1893 saw the Vale of Glamorgan become effectively a subsidiary of the Barry Railway in return for a guaranteed 4% dividend.[3] The Vale of Glamorgan officially opened in 1897, still a nominally independent railway with its own directors.[7] This situation remained until the grouping in 1923 when it became part of the GWR.

The Vale of Glamorgan Railway ran from a junction with the Barry Railway just west of Barry station, to a junction with the GWR Bridgend-Tondu line at Coity, with a 33 chain link to the GWR station at Bridgend itself.[3] There were 5 passenger stations when the line opened, at Southerndown Road, Llantwit Major, Gileston, Aberthaw, and Rhoose.[3] In addition, Llandow Halt was opened on 1 May 1915, St. Athan Halt on 1 September 1939 and Llandow (Wick Road) Halt on 19 April 1943. Passenger services were withdrawn on 15 June 1964.[3]

At first passenger services on the Barry were only run on the Cogan branch, but soon further services were run, including those for passengers using the steamers in the docks. There were 150 coaching vehicles owned in 1912; and 138 locomotives.


Being quite a small concern, the Barry Railway used private locomotive works to supply its motive power, particularly Sharp Stewart and Company[8] and in common with many similar railways in South Wales, preferred locos with six- or eight-coupled (i.e. driving) wheels. Its complement of locomotives totalled 148 by 1914 and due to the amalgamation of former Welsh railways into the Great Western Railway at the 1922/23 grouping, all were renumbered. In September 1947, under nationalisation, only 84 engines were noted as located at Barry, just a few of the original Barry Railway GW rebuilds still being operational. Barry shed was coded 88C under British Railways motive power depôt identification and reorganisation.

Rolling stock[edit]

Coaching stock was painted in an overall Dark Lake (a dark red colour) with 'Straw' lining, With the carriage's lettering in Gill Sans, this was in gold, and shaded to the right and below in red, and to the left and lower left in dark grey, to imitate the reflection of the paint work on an embossed letter.

There are very few of these coaches left, and none are in service. Coach No.163 is undergoing restoration at Hampton Loade railway station on the Severn Valley Railway.[7][9]

Wagons were painted in red oxide, generally identified by 24-inch (610 mm) high letters BR in white. Wagon numbers were shown on the lower left of the vehicles, while load and tare details were on the lower right.[7]

Barry Docks[edit]

By 1871 the population of Barry was over 100 people and there were 21 buildings, the new estate-owning Romilly family being involved in the build up of the village but it remained a largely agricultural community.[10][11]

Barry Docks

Developed by Welsh industrialist David Davies solely as a coal port, work commenced on Barry Docks in 1884 and the first dock basin was opened in 1889 to be followed by two other docks and extensive port installations. The company developed extensive dock offices to cope with the administration of both the docks and the railway. Trade grew from one million tons in the first year, to over nine million tons by 1903, and as early as 1892 it was handling a third more coal than Cardiff Docks.[12] The port was crowded with ships and had flourishing ship repair yards, cold stores, flour mills and an ice factory. By 1913 Barry was the largest coal exporting port in the world handling 4000 ships and 11 million tons of coal,[2] but during its industrial peak a number of ships sank off the Barry coast. Behind the docks rose the terraced houses of Barry which, with Cadoxton, soon formed a sizeable town.

Scrapping of British Railways steam locomotives[edit]

Following the rise of diesel and electric power on the UK's railways, the marshalling yards at Barry Docks became the largest repository of steam engines awaiting scrapping in the UK. Operated by Dai Woodham as part of his family scrapyard business Woodham Brothers, during the 1960s nearly 300 withdrawn British Railways steam locomotives were sent there. Although many were vandalised or looted by souvenir hunters, eventually a significant proportion of the engines were saved by rail preservation organisations.

Associated British Ports[edit]

In 1962, the British Transport Docks Board was formed as a government-owned body to manage various ports throughout Great Britain formerly owned by the rail industry, including Barry. In 1981, the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher implemented the Transport Act 1981, which provided for the BTDB's privatisation. In 1983 the British Government allowed the company to become a public limited company quoted on the London Stock Exchange known as Associated British Ports, which still owns and runs the docks infrastructure today.

Barry and Bristol Channel Steamship Company[edit]

Barry Dock Offices - June 2007

The railway which had played a major part in the development of the dock, did a great deal to make Barry Island a popular resort.

From the 1890s, the company persuaded P & A Campbell to run steamers across the Bristol Channel from a pier built alongside the dock, but in 1905 they started to build their own fleet of four ships. But as a railway company, parliamentary powers were required to operate steamships and the powers granted generally included provisions which limited operations to routes genuinely associated with the mother company's principal business (i.e. railway connections to non-accessible locations). The powers were also granted to take account of the legitimate interests of existing operators.

The company were limited to calls on the southern bank of the Channel between Weston super Mare and Ilfracombe, with additional summer excursion destinations allowed so long as the cruises started and finished at Barry. To circumvent these restrictions, the company resorted to the ploy of registering their vessels in the names of its directors and set up an operating company, the Barry and Bristol Channel Steamship Company. P & A Campbell resorted to successful legal action which ensured that by July 1907, the Barry Railway Company was required to abide by the terms of the original legislation.

Services were maintained despite deteriorating financial fortunes, but as a cost-saving measure, PS Gwalia was sold to the Furness Railway on 7 May 1910. Five days later the remaining three steamers were sold to Bristol Channel Passenger Boats Ltd. The latter company struggled to make the business pay and after two seasons, sold out to P & A Campbell.

Paddle Steamers owned[edit]

Ship Launched Tonnage (GRT) Notes
Barry 1907[13] 497[14] To Bristol Channel Passenger Boats Ltd in 1910, then P & A Campbell in 1911. Requisitioned during the First World War. Returned to P & A Campbell in 1920. Renamed Waverley in 1936. Requisitioned by the Royal Navy in the Second World War as HMS Snaefell. Bombed on 5 July 1941 off Sunderland.[13]
Devonia 1905[13] 520[15] To Bristol Channel Passenger Boats Ltd in 1910, then P & A Campbell in 1911. Requisitioned during the First World War and used as a minesweeper. Returned to Campbell's in 1923. Laid up in 1939 then converted to a minesweeper. Abandoned on 31 May 1940 at Dunkirk, France.[13]
Gwalia 1905[13] 562[16] Sold in 1910 to the Furness Railway for £22,750 and renamed Lady Moyra. Requisitioned during the First World War and subsequently returned to the FR. Sold in 1933 to P & A Campbell and renamed Brighton Queen. Bombed on 1 June 1940 and sunk at Dunkirk.[16]
Westonia 1889[13] 393[17] Built for Galloway Saloon Steam Packet Co as Tantallon Castle. Renamed Sussex Belle in 1901. To Sussex Steam Packet Co in 1902, then Colwyn Bay & Liverpool Steamship Co later that year, renamed Rhos Colwyn. Bought by BR in 1905 and renamed Westonia. To Bristol Channel Passenger Boats Ltd in 1910, then P & A Campbell in 1911. Rebuilt and renamed Tintern. Sold in 1912 to Portugal,[13] renamed Alentejo. Scrapped in 1924.[17]

After 1923 - post grouping[edit]

Barry Waterfront, Vale of Glamorgan- July 2007

The whole of the Barry Railway, including the docks, became a constituent part of the Great Western Railway in 1923, post railway grouping.[18] Local traffic on the line included that from the limestone quarries and the cement works Aberthaw, and Rhoose cement works at the eastern end of the line. Wartime traffic was created from Tremains and Brackla Hill at Bridgend and the RAF base at St. Athan.

The docks were separated from the railway administration from 1961 as part of the British Docks Board. Traffic since has included the opening of Aberthaw power station in February 1966, and the Ford engine plant at Bridgend in January 1980.


The Barry-Bridgend passenger service finished on 13 June 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts, but the line continued to be used by through passenger trains between Cardiff and Bridgend when the main line via St. Fagans was closed. By the late 1990s, a daily train runs between Ford's plants at Dagenham and Bridgend and merry-go-round coal trains run between Onllwyn and Cwmgwrach (to the west), Tower Colliery, Newport Docks and Avonmouth (to the east), to Aberthaw power station averaging some 10 trains a day.

As a result of pressure from local groups, the Vale of Glamorgan council and increasing traffic from Cardiff International Airport, from 1999 various studies and business plans eventually resulted in a reopening of the line by Welsh Assembly government minister Andrew Davies on 10 June 2005 with the first fare paying passengers carried on Sunday 12 June 2005 with 143606/624 working the 0840 Cardiff-Bridgend and 0945 return.

A selection of original Barry Railway coaches survive today. Coach No.15 is undergoing restoration at the Severn Valley Railway.[19] No.45 is in storage with the National Museum of Wales. No.71 resides in Blakemere. Nos. 97, 211 and an unidentified full third coach, all stand in private residence. Another unidentified full third coach, originally thought belonging to the Taff Vale Railway also exists in a private location.

Only two Barry Railway wagons, two iron mink goods vans, are known to still exist today. No.1151 resides at the Kent and East Sussex Railway.[20] No.1388 is at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.[21]

No Barry Railway locomotives still exist this day into preservation.


  1. ^ Watson, Richard. "The Birth of Barry – When Coal was King 2". Legacies - South East Wales. BBC. Retrieved 2009-01-12. 
  2. ^ a b c Watson, Richard. "The Birth of Barry – When Coal was King 3". Legacies - South East Wales. BBC. Retrieved 2009-01-12. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Morgan, D.J. "The Barry Railway". Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-22. 
  4. ^ Cardiffrail Penrhos branch
  5. ^ "The Barry Pages". GWR Modelling. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Wenvoe Tunnel". 31 March 1963. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  7. ^ a b c Smith, Mike. "Barry Railway". Goods & Not So Goods: An overview of railway freight operations for modellers. International Good Guys. Retrieved 2009-01-21. 
  8. ^ Beattie, Ian (November 1986). "Barry Railway Class H 0-8-2T". Railway Modeller. Vol. 38 no. 433. Beer: Peco Publications & Publicity Ltd. p. 476. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Population Statistics for Barry". Genuki (UK & Ireland Genealogy). Retrieved 2007-05-22. 
  11. ^ Moore, Donald (1984). Barry; The Centenary Book. The Barry Centenary Book Committee Limited. ISBN 0-9509738-0-7. 
  12. ^ (click GWR on left menu)
  13. ^ a b c d e f g "Barry Railway Fleet List". Simplon Postcards. Retrieved 15 December 2009. 
  14. ^ "1123180". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 15 December 2009. (Subscription required (help)). 
  15. ^ "1119970". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 15 December 2009. (Subscription required (help)). 
  16. ^ a b "1119968". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 15 December 2009. (Subscription required (help)). 
  17. ^ a b "1109595". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 15 December 2009. (Subscription required (help)). 
  18. ^ [1] Archived 20 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^


  • The Railway Year Book for 1912 (Railway Publishing Co Ltd)

External links[edit]