Dyserth branch line

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Dyserth Branch Line
Type Heavy Rail
Locale Prestatyn
Denbighshire, Wales
Termini Prestatyn
Stations 7
Opened 1 September 1869[2]
Closed 7 September 1973[1]
Owner British Railways
Previously LNWR then LMSR
Character Rural
Line length 2 miles 74 chains (4.7 km)
Number of tracks 1
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Minimum radius 11 chains (220 m)
Operating speed 25 miles per hour (40 km/h)
Maximum incline 1 in 45
Dyserth Branch Line
North Wales Coast Line
Gas works
Left arrowPenrhwylfa Brickworks
Chapel Street
Bryn Rhosyn LC
Woodland Park
St. Melyd Golf Links
Meliden Works Siding
Talargoch Lead Mine
Castle Limestone Siding
Castle Quarry
Mr W L Hobbs' Siding
Stone Loading Siding
Dyserth Quarry
Marian Mill

The standard gauge, single track Dyserth branch line climbed 2 miles 70 chains (4.6 km)[3] from a junction with the Chester to Holyhead North Wales Coast Line near Prestatyn[4] southwards to Dyserth in Flintshire, now Denbighshire, Wales.[5][6][7][8]


The branch was opened by the LNWR in 1869 to tap limestone quarries and a lead mine.[9] Earthworks for an extension beyond Dyserth were constructed, but no track was ever laid.[10] A passenger, parcels and goods service was introduced in 1905 serving local needs and the North Wales coast's booming holiday industry. The company designed and built a single carriage, steam-powered Motor Train for such lines, with the Dyserth Branch using the first example.[11][12] The passenger service was a success before the First World War,[13] with services having to be doubled and an additional unit provided for the motor trains. After the war the motor trains were replaced by locomotive-propelled push-pull trains.[14] Road competition and the 1926 General Strike ate into profits, leading the LMSR to withdraw the passenger service in 1930.[11]

The line remained open for minerals, parcels and general goods until the end of November 1951, when parcels and general goods traffic ended, leaving just coal to Dyserth and limestone products from a quarry in that village. Coal traffic ended in May 1964, but lime and limestone traffic continued until the line closed completely on 7 September 1973,[15][16] though at least two special trains took stone away in 1974. The tracks were lifted in 1980.[17]

Two enthusiasts' special trains traversed the line, the "North Wales Rail Tour" where a tank locomotive propelled three coaches to Dyserth on 2 October 1955 and "The Welshman" formed of a six car DMU on 11 October 1969.[18][19]

Apart from short level sections through Meliden and Dyserth stations the line climbed southwards on a significant gradient, with the steepest stretch at 1 in 45. As a result, all locomotive-hauled trains had to propel their loads uphill from the main line and all goods trains had to run downhill with brakes pinned down. British railway convention was to designate directions on all lines as "Up" or "Down", when applied to the Dyserth branch this resulted in uphill being Down and downhill being Up. There were many curves, the sharpest having a radius of 11 chains (220 m).[20] These factors combined to necessitate ruling speed limits of 20 mph for trains climbing to Dyserth and 25 mph back to the main line. These limits were lowered to 15 mph over level crossings and 10 mph approaching the junction with the main line. In practice the heavy loads, curves, visibility and gradients confined speeds to around 10 mph throughout.[21]


Much of the old line is now used as a footpath, which retains many historical railway points of interest. There are two pieces of track at Chapel Street, the Woodland Park Bridge, Meliden Goods Shed and Loading Gauge and an original crane from the Dyserth Railway at the end of the walk.[22]

Railway Bridge looking in the Prestatyn direction.jpg
Opposite direction


  1. ^ Goodall 1986, p. 76.
  2. ^ Goodall 1986, p. 11.
  3. ^ "The station and line". Railway Codes. 
  4. ^ Anderson & Fox 1984, Plates 84 & 86.
  5. ^ Jowett 1989, Map 56.
  6. ^ "The line and its stations". Rail Map Online. 
  7. ^ "The line on old OS maps with modern overlays". National Library of Scotland. 
  8. ^ "The whole line and closed stations on 1940s OS maps". npe Maps. 
  9. ^ Johnson 1995, p. 77.
  10. ^ Green 1996, p. 55.
  11. ^ a b Rear 2003, p. 51.
  12. ^ Goodall 2003, pp. 60-64.
  13. ^ Christiansen 1976, p. 110.
  14. ^ Rear 2003, p. 47.
  15. ^ Mitchell & Smith 2011, Plate 120.
  16. ^ "Visit Prestatyn – Railway Line History". Visit Prestatyn. 
  17. ^ Rear 2003, p. 48.
  18. ^ Clemens 2014, 42 mins from start.
  19. ^ Thompson 1978, pp. 37 & 9.
  20. ^ Goodall 2003, p. 22.
  21. ^ Thompson 1985, Plate 11.
  22. ^ "Dyserth Railway". Dyserth. 


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