Manchester and Milford Railway
The Manchester and Milford Railway was a Welsh railway company, intended to connect the industrial areas of Northwest England with a deep-water port on Milford Haven, giving an alternative to the Port of Liverpool.
Despite the title it was planned to connect other railways at Llanidloes and Pencader, near Carmarthen, and achieve the object in its name by connections with other lines, most of which were only planned. The M&MR had continuous difficulty in raising capital and also in operating profitably, but thanks to a wealthy supporter it opened from Pencader to Lampeter in 1866. Realising that its originally intended route to Llanidloes would be unprofitable, it diverted the course at the north end to Aberystwyth, which it reached in 1867.
Sunk by financial difficulties, it was eventually absorbed into the Great Western Railway in 1911. Passenger operation ceased in 1964 and milk trains ran to a creamery until final closure in 1973.
- 1 Early schemes
- 2 The Manchester and Milford Railway authorised
- 3 Construction
- 4 Boardroom politics
- 5 Changing the route
- 6 Opening the line
- 7 Financial crisis
- 8 Lease to the GWR
- 9 Operated by the GWR
- 10 Lampeter, Aberayron and New Quay Light Railway
- 11 Takeover by the GWR
- 12 After 1948
- 13 Closure
- 14 Present
- 15 Locomotives
- 16 Topography
- 17 Notes
- 18 References
- 19 External links
In the early years of the nineteenth century, Manchester and the surrounding districts had become dominant in many manufacturing industries, particularly textiles. As the volume of the trade increased, the import of raw materials, and the export and coastal transport of finished goods assumed an ever more important consideration in the industrial process. The port of Liverpool was conveniently located and became the chief west coast port, and as trade with the Americas developed, Liverpool grew in importance.
The cost and time taken for transport to and from Liverpool was nevertheless significant, and the existing water-borne transport routes were expensive and slow. In 1830 the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was opened, immediately becoming a financial and commercial success. Although it was prime, Liverpool was not the only west coast port-- it was rivalled by Bristol--but the thoughts of some business people turned to alternatives, and in 1845 the Manchester and Milford Haven Railway was proposed. This would create a new deep water port on Milford Haven[note 1] in south-west Wales, and build a railway line connecting to Manchester. Milford Haven had the advantage of being located further west than Liverpool, with a corresponding shortening of the sea passage. The route was to start at Crewe, already connected to Manchester by the Manchester and Birmingham Railway, and run by way of Oswestry, Devil's Bridge, Lampeter and Haverfordwest. The line was to be broad gauge although the difficulties of the break of gauge at the northern end were not clearly elucidated.
By planning to build a line to Milford Haven, the company would have been in conflict with the South Wales Railway, which had issued a prospectus the previous year (1844) for a line connecting the Great Western Railway and Fishguard, also with a view to the transatlantic trade although mainly focussed on communication with Ireland. The South Wales Railway was engineered by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Brunel began to have doubts about Fishguard, and he too adopted Neyland, a port on Milford Haven. The South Wales Railway was built, but the Manchester and Milford Haven Railway came to nothing.
The scheme was to cost £2.6 million. The scheme "failed to materialize and lay dormant for several years, during which time other companies had covered the intended route, except for the 51 miles through central Wales from Llanidloes to Pencader.
This was the time of the railway mania, when money was cheap and any number of railway schemes were put forward. The blank area on the map without main line railways, and the west-facing expanse of coast in Cardigan Bay proved alluring to railway promoters. Contemporary with the M&MR scheme was a North and South Wales and Worcester Railway, which proposed construction from Carmarthen to Aberystwyth and Machynlleth; it too failed to progress, and these proposals were followed by a series of schemes for linking the industrial north-west with south-west Wales. The barrier of the Cambrian mountains proved an engineering challenge which in many cases was underestimated at the planning stage.
The Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway was promoted to connect Cardigan to the South Wales Railway and thence the railway network. It was authorised by Parliament in 1854, although only for a line between Carmarthen and Newcastle Emlyn. Extension to Cardigan, and construction of a deep water port there, was to follow later. The Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway was presumed to be a useful ally in what might become a chain of railways, shortening the extent of new construction necessary between Manchester and the port.
By 1859 the idea of what was now to be the Manchester and Milford Railway was taking shape; it was to be built from Llanidloes "accessible from the north via either the Great Western Railway or the London and North Western Railway" to Pencader, where it would join the Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway.
The prospectus was enthusiastic:
Railways are now either made or in course of construction from Manchester to Welshpool. Two lines converge at the latter town, one by way of Chester and Oswestry in the Great Western interest, and the other by way of Shrewsbury in the London & North Western interest... From Welshpool railways are either opened or being constructed southward to Llanidloes.
The proposed Manchester & Milford Railway commences at Llanidloes and passes by the Devil's Bridge, through the Lead Mining Country, and through Cardiganshire, by Tregaron and Lampeter to a junction with the Carmarthen & Cardigan Railway at Pencader, near Newcastle Emlyn. From this point the Carmarthen & Cardigan Railway is in course of construction to Carmarthen, there joining the South Wales Railway, which is complete to [Neyland].
The proposed line is 51 1⁄2 miles long, on the narrow gauge, uniting the north and south railways between Manchester and Milford, by the shortest route. To prevent a break of gauge near Carmarthen, it will be necessary to lay down an extra rail on the Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway, a portion of the South Wales Railway, and the Milford [Haven branch] Railway. The first and last of these companies consent, and it is not known or expected that the South Wales Railway will object. The distance between Manchester and Milford would then be about 207 miles.
Llanidloes was on the Llanidloes and Newtown Railway, opened in 1859, and the access to the GWR and LNWR was by no means as clear cut as suggested. The running powers beyond the extremities of the line were not secured. Construction and land acquisition costs were understated and traffic earnings to be expected were overstated, but on 23 July 1860 the Manchester and Milford Railway was authorised by Parliament, with share capital of £555,000. An apparently firm arrangement had already been made with Frederick Beeston to construct the line for £447,000.
David Davies and Thomas Savin were prominent railway contractors in Wales at the time, and offered to take shares in the concern as payment for construction of the northern part of the line. The company appear to have invited Savin to meet Beeston to discuss the sharing of the contract work, but unsurprisingly Beeston declined. Raising subscriptions to fund the construction of the line proved exceedingly difficult, and throughout its life the line was under-capitalised.
The main physical obstacle was the great mass of Plynlimon, separating West Wales from the Severn Valley; it was to be tunnelled as part of the 50 mile section between Llanidloes and Pencader. The Mid-Wales Railway had been authorised in 1859 to build from Llanidloes to Newbridge-on-Wye, and the Manchester and Milford now realised that the other company's authorised alignment was largely over the same terrain as its own for two miles or so from Llanidloes south to a place called Penpontbren. The M&MR's reaction was to persuade Frederick Beeston to build that section at once, so as to pre-empt the intentions of the Mid-Wales, which had not done much in its first year. Beeston agreed to do this for £30,000 and £10,000 in paid-up shares; this was accepted by the M&MR, but the company did not have that amount of cash available, and persuaded Beeston to take the payment in instalments, and in paid-up shares at a 33% discount. All this was contingent on the M&MR acquiring the land, but the MWR was already negotiating with landowners, and the idea of stealing a march on the MWR was impossible. An uninspiring series of disingenuous proposals followed, eventually leading to legal action. At length the solution was arrived at: the Llanidloes and Newtown Railway had been authorised in 1859 to build east from Llanidloes, and was in the process of construction; indeed the M&MR always planned to make an end-on junction with it. If the L&NR were to build the two miles of disputed route (as far south as Penpontbren), and make that part of its line available solely to the M&MR and the MWR, then the problem would be solved. A Parliamentary Bill for the Llanidloes and Newtown Railway was prepared for the 1862 session, and it was authorised in that year. The two companies were to pay it 5% per annum on capital, and there was to be a joint station at Llanidloes; the Manchester and Milford was to pay a third of the running costs of the station and interest on its capital cost.
The L&NR pressed ahead with construction, and the section to Penpontbren and the joint Llanidloes station were completed in February 1864, and the L&NR transferred its own trains to the joint station, demoting its own terminus to a goods station. The Mid-Wales Railway too was building its line, and opened this part of it in September 1864, from which date it started using the "shared" route section and the joint station. Meanwhile the M&MR set about building west from Penpontbren; it managed three miles as far as the village of Llangurig, which was completed in 1864, construction then being halted. The section was laid with double track; only one goods is train is known to have reached Llangurig. Soon after leaving the village, there was a long tunnel (on which construction actually began); then another, and before reaching the coastal plain of West Wales it would have crossed a viaduct 280ft high. Hopes of one day completing the line remained, and meetings were held in 1872 proposing that, but it was a lost cause.
Relations with Frederick Beeston, the M&MR's contractor, were difficult, and it is obvious that the M&MR, having little money in the capital account, had been unable to secure the land necessary for Beeston to make much progress. Notwithstanding the contract with Beeston (part of which was transferred by agreement to his son, Frederick Beeston junior in 1861), the company now negotiated with Savin over taking on much of the construction. Savin was prepared to finance the work himself, taking shares in payment as well as £100,000 in cash at some later date. Beeston immediately sent a letter threatening a lawsuit if his pre-existing contract were interfered with, and for the time being matters stalled.
The M&MR route as authorised was to run more or less direct from Lampeter through Tregaron and Devil's Bridge to Pant Mawr and Llanidloes. The intermediate terrain was thinly populated and had limited industrial activity, the objective being to connect Manchester and the port in south-west Wales as directly as possible. The M&MR now began to reconsider the wisdom of this, and decided to build to Aberystwyth from Devil's Bridge. Ignoring its great difficulty in raising capital, the M&MR obtained an Act in July 1861 for this extension, with additional capital authorised of £110,000, and in November 1861 the company proposed a further branch, known as the Rhayader branch, and in the Parliamentary session of 1863 a harbour branch and other connections at Aberystwyth were being proposed. Now the route was to run along the east side of the River Teifi valley from Pencader via Llanybydder, Lampeter, Tregaron, Pontrhydfendigaid, Ysbyty Ystwyth and Pontrhydygroes to Devil’s Bridge. There, a junction station would be constructed, with the main line proceeding to Llanidloes, and a branch line to Aberystwyth.
The Company had never succeeded in generating share subscriptions to carry out its construction. There were two strong personalities on the Board, William Chambers and John Barrow, and it was their personal money and sureties that allowed any expenditure at all. At a shareholders' meeting in February 1863 all other directors were voted off, and friends and relatives of John Barrow were elected as Directors. However there had not been a quorum at the meeting, and the decision was therefore supposedly in vain. Now the question arose of reimbursement of cash put forward by the two principals in the interests of the company, and allegations of financial impropriety were laid. By August 1863 the whole business was settled, with William Chambers leaving the Board and John Barrow and his friends took over. The accounts for the period prior to this episode were clouded with controversy, but more pressing were two facts: that expenditure greatly exceeded income; and all the calls on the issued shares had been made. Moreover the next section of construction was to be the most challenging in engineering terms, involving two tunnels together 1 1⁄2 miles, and an exceptionally large viaduct.
The money to build this section was not available: at the end of 1863 only £7,593 had been received in subscriptions from shareholders out of authorised capital of £666,000. Moreover £41,760 worth of shares had been issued to the contractors in lieu of cash payment, and £9,563 had been obtained in loans.
Changing the route
The financial situation encouraged an alteration to the intended route. By now the Company had completed the line to Llangurig and the Llanidloes and Newton Railway had connected to that. A more southerly alignment to get to Llangurig was proposed, forming a triangular junction with the authorised Aberystwyth branch where it intersected, at Ystrad Meurig. The new alignment involved 3 1⁄2 miles of 1 in 30 and five miles of 1 in 45; these gradients were on what was intended to be a trunk railway line. At the southern end the line was still to end abruptly at Pencader, where there was no mention of onward running powers over the Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway.
At this stage two other railways, the Mid Wales Railway and the Swansea and Aberystwyth Junction Railway, were planning lines in the area. After considerable jockeying for position, in October 1864 there was agreement to work jointly and present Parliamentary Bills that did not conflict. This meant that the M&MR only required to build to Aberystwyth with a short stub to Yspytty Ystwyth, and could rely on the Mid Wales to build the connection to Llangurig (already reached by the M&MR) as well as the Mid Wales' own eastward route. All three companies got their authorising Acts in 1865, (the M&MR on 5 July), but the Swansea and Aberystwyth Junction almost immediately gave up for want of subscriptions. The M&MR was able to reduce its intended capital by £175,000 while the Mid Wales took on an additional £380,000, way beyond any realistic possibility of raising the sum. This time the Act compelled the Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway to lay a third rail to enable the passage of M&MR narrow (standard) gauge trains, and grant running powers to do so to Carmarthen from Pencader.
The section of line from Llangurig to Penpontbren, about three miles, was completed in 1863, including track and signals, but was never opened as a railway. It was finally dismantled about 1923.
Opening the line
The 1865 Act unlocked some loan capital but it must be presumed that John Barrow funded much of the construction with personal money;[note 2] the line was completed and opened from Pencader to Lampeter, opening on 1 January 1866.[note 3] the C&CR, itself lacking money, had not laid the necessary third rail for through running, and the M&MR instructed its own contractor to lay the rail, as authorised in the 1865 Act.
M&MR goods trains were extended over the C&CR to Carmarthen on 1 November 1866 and passenger trains on 1 November 1867.
Onwards to Ystrad Meurig, the line was opened for goods trains by the end of August 1866. Ystrad Meurig was retitled Strata Florida, after a local ruined abbey. The third rail to Carmarthen was ready at the end of August as well.
The entire route of 41 miles was ready to be opened throughout, and this was done for passenger and goods trains on 12 August 1867. The construction and ancillary expenditure amounted to £700,000, of which £75,000 was on the Llangurig section, now abandoned. The train service consisted of three trains each way Monday to Friday. At first the service was operated by the contractors, using three Sharp, Stewart locomotives.
Considering itself to be a trunk line, the M&MR publicity quoted connections from Liverpool and Manchester to Milford. Before the 1867 opening this took two full days, and was a little shortened after that. At first the M&MR trains could not run south of Pencader, of course. The M&MR cultivated the Pembroke and Tenby Railway as an ally, and quoted journeys from Tenby northwards that involved travelling west to Pembroke and crossing to Neyland GWR station, as the P&TR had not opened to Whitland yet.
The train service on the M&MR remained pitifully slow, and onward connections were not easily made so that the Manchester to Milford Journey in mixed trains attaching wagons at wayside stations, was not pleasant for passengers.
The Mid Wales Railway should have been extending westwards to Yspytty Ystwyth to connect with the authorised M&MR section to that place; but as there was no sign of that happening, the M&MR did not waste money on its own section of the route. Instead it decided to build a branch to Devil's Bridge; not yet a tourist attraction, it had mineral deposits in the vicinity. The M&MR got Parliamentary authority for this in 1873. £40,000 of capital was allowed to build the 7 mile line from Trawscoed. There proved to be no possibility of raising the money for this line and in 1880 powers for abandonment were obtained.
At Aberystwyth the M&MR was using the Aberystwyth and Welsh Coast Railway's station by agreement, and was due to pay a charge for the usage, laid down in the A&WCR Act of 1863. Similarly it had undertaken to pay a charge for its use of the Llanidloes station built by the Llanidloes and Newtown Railway. The M&MR had agreed to the arrangement when Llanidloes was to be on its main line, although that had long been abandoned. The Cambrian Railways, as successor to both the other railways, managed to get the Llanidloes joint line and station declared "open" to traffic (a necessary stage in charging for its use) on 1 August 1872. When the bills came in six months later the M&MR failed to pay and the Cambrian sued, and won. By July 1875 the M&MR owed £1,700 and the Cambrian arranged to have powers to seize the M&MR rolling stock. The M&MR was obliged to pay immediately.
These issues were only part of the financial problem that the line faced, having almost no conventional share capital other than that funded directly by John Barrow, and having taken out extremely large loans, on which unpaid interest was accruing at £8,000 a year over and above ordinary profit and loss. In mid-1875 £62,500 in arrears of interest were owing, and the company went into administration.
The Manchester and Milford tried to claim against the Mid Wales Railway, which, it contended, should have built the connecting line from Llangurig to Strata Florida, which would have enabled the M&MR to use the expensively acquired rights at Llanidloes, but the attempt was rejected in the House of Lords.
There followed a long period of unedifying Board disagreements with the receiver, and improbably schemes that supposedly would resolve the company's financial ailments. The very thin trains service in this period was three mixed trains a day over the line, still with connections shown from Manchester and Liverpool but indicating a very exhausting and uncertain journey. In 1880 an initiative was taken to run the trains to time, which appears to have been successfully implemented.
Income slightly improved in this time, and some work was done on relaying the track with recovered materials from the disused Llangurig spur line. In 1888 there was a surplus on operating account of £5,750, but all of the "profit" was eaten up immediately by backlogs of rent and interest charges; the backlog continued to increase. However in 1889 the Regulation of Railways Act was passed, requiring the installation of block signalling interlocking of points and signals, and continuous brakes on passenger trains; all of this would cost money that the M&MR did not have.
Lease to the GWR
It had long been obvious that there was no self-created escape from the M&MR's financial difficulty. In 1896 negotiations with the GWR took place, but the M&MR's anticipated price was way too high. The discussions were resumed in 1903 with a similar outcome. Much of the problem was the prior debt owed to the Cambrian Railways, which any purchaser would have to factor into their calculations. Conversely it was obvious that the rolled up debt was never going to be paid by the M&MR, so that the Cambrian as creditor was also in a weak position. In October 1903 the Great Western Railway and the Cambrian Railways discussed what progress might be made in one of them taking over the M&MR. At first the discussions were cordial, but the M&MR played them off. In thee 1904 session of Parliament a Bill was passed which had the effect of eliminating the M&MR debt to the Cambrian, as a first step towards an agreed transfer, but the M&MR then finalised a deal with the Great Western, to start on 1 July 1905. As well as resolving the historic debt issues, the GWR would pay 19% of gross receipts. The M&MR had to get the sanction of the Court of Chancery, and this was withheld until the Cambrian had had a chance to comment; they were offering 25% of receipts.
The matter was not quickly resolved, but the Cambrian was regarded locally as an inefficient monopoly, and it had not paid a dividend for some time. Its 25% was thought to be shaky compared with the solid 19% of the GWR. With the Cambrian accepting £11,000 in settlement of past and future liabilities on the Llanidloes line, progress was at last possible and in May 1906 an amended Bill sanctioning the transfer (actually a 999 year lease) to the GWR was passed, to be effective from 1 July 1906.
At this time the company's fleet consisted of eight engines, fourteen carriages and 117 goods vehicles. 
Operated by the GWR
While the baseline traffic on the line was difficult to augment, the Great Western Railway fostered an increase in tourist traffic, especially from South Wales, on the line. In addition useful road motor connections were operated by the GWR to Aberayron and Newquay. A slip coach working was inaugurated:
"Slip" coaches are by no means a modern introduction, to railway workers but until recently they were un-known in South Wales. The acquisition of the Manchester and Milford Railway, and the opening of the Fishguard route to Ireland, enabled the Great Western Railway to give an improved service to Aberystwyth by means of a "slip" off the down morning boat express. The "slip" which is detached at Carmarthen Junction, is the first seen in South Wales, and the "slipping" is daily watched by a large number of local railwayacs, who are much interested in the novelty.
Lampeter, Aberayron and New Quay Light Railway
Aberayron had long been considered to merit a railway branch line; the Vale of Rheidol Railway had intended to connect the town without success. In 1903 the idea for a light railway took shape, and in April 1911 the Lampeter, Aberayron and New Quay Light Railway was opened to traffic. It was worked from the outset by the Great Western Railway and the station facilities at Lampeter, which became the junction station, were considerer already to be adequate to handle the traffic. The geographical junction, named Aberayron Junction, was 1 1⁄2 miles north of the station. Notwithstanding the reference to New Quay in the company's title, no extension to that place was built.
Takeover by the GWR
The GWR spent £57,000 on bringing the M&MR line up to a workable standard in the initial years of the lease. Discussions about a full takeover took place, as the M&MR Company was now only a financial shell. Unpaid debenture interest and loans amounted to £400,000 and the operating profit on the line did not leave enough surplus to pay current liabilities.
The merger was inevitable[note 5] and on 1 July 1911 the absorption of the Company by the Great Western took legal effect (by Act of 2 June 1911).[note 6] There were some trailing issued of financial clearing up for the residual M&MR but the GWR took on responsibility for resolving the issues surrounding the uncompleted Llangurig extension.
In the 1930s the passenger traffic on the line was further developed with five trains daily over the line, and additional services on summer Saturdays. During World War II the passenger service was reduced, but there was heavy munitions traffic running southbound.
At the beginning of 1948 the main line railways of Great Britain were taken into public ownership, under British Railways. The transfer brought relatively little change to the line, although some more modern engine power was brought in.
A holiday camp opened at Penychain, near Pwlleli, in 1947; it was known as Butlin's Pwllheli, and it generated considerable seasonal passenger traffic. On summer Saturdays in the later 1950s and early 1960s through trains from Swansea or Carmarthen ran over the M&MR to and from Pwllheli. For example the Summer 1960 public timetable for the Western Region of British Railways shows this train running on high summer Saturdays only at 10.10 am from Swansea to Pwllheli, calling at Carmarthen, Pencader, Lampeter and Aberystwyth; it reversed at Aberystwyth and again at Dovey Junction and arrived at Penychain (for the holiday camp) at 4.56 pm and Pwllheli at 5.5 pm. The southbound train ran from Penychain (10.18 am) to Carmarthen (3.55 pm) only, following the same route.
The low baseline traffic levels on the line led to long-standing doubts about its future, and when the Beeching Report, The Reshaping of British Railways, was issued in 1963 it proposed that the line should close to traffic throughout. Attention was drawn to the social implications, in an area in need of commercial development, but the huge losses incurred by the line were dominant. During December 1963 the goods facilities at many station were withdrawn, followed by more closures on 14 March 1964.
On 14 December 1964 severe flooding of the River Ystwyth took place at Llanilar, severing the line there, and resulting in the immediate closure of the line north of Strata Florida. Formal closure of the passenger traffic on the whole line followed on 22 February 1965. Goods trains worked only as far as Pont Llanio where there was a creamery at Felin Fach, and Lampeter station became the railhead for general goods traffic. The Pont Llanio milk workings continued until the middle of 1970, and in October 1970 closure of that section took place. Green Grove on the Aberayron branch continued to generate milk traffic until the end of September 1973, when the entire system closed.
Seven locomotives were acquired by the GWR in 1911, with the M&MR by now operating only 10 locomotives:
- 1 London & North Western Railway 0-6-0 built at Crewe in August 1880 as L&NWR 2387. Given GW No 1338 and lasted until December 1915.
- 2 Plynlimmon, Sharp Stewart 2-4-2T Wks No 3710. Given GW No 1304 and lasted until July 1916.
- 3 Lady Elizabeth, Sharp Stewart 2-4-0 Wks No 1756, delivered in July 1866. Allocated GW No 1305, it was sold immediately.
- 4 Aberystwyth, Manning Wardle 0-6-0 Wks No 255, delivered in July 1868. Given GW No 1339, withdrawn December 1906.
- 5 Sharp Stewart 0-6-0 Wks No 2036 in July 1870. Allocated 1340 but withdrawn in August 1906.
- 6 Cader Idris, Sharp Stewart 2-4-2T Wks No 4128. Given GW No 1306 and lasted until April 1919.
- 7 London & North Western Railway 0-6-0 built at Crewe in November 1889 as L&NWR 1095. Given GW No 1341 and lasted until November 1906.
- 8 Great Western Railway 2301 Class (Deans Goods) 0-6-0 (ex GW 2301) on loan from summer 1905.
- 9 Great Western Railway 2301 Class (Deans Goods) 0-6-0 (ex GW 2351) on loan from summer 1905.
- 10 Great Western Railway 2301 Class (Deans Goods) 0-6-0 (ex GW 2532) on loan from summer 1905.
Diesel locomotive operation on the line was introduced in 1963.
Closure of passenger stations: except where shown, all passenger stations between New Quay Road and Alltddu Halt closed on 22 February 1965 and all passenger stations between Strata Florida and Llanrhystyd Road closed on 14 December 1964.
- (Pencader; Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway station)
- Pencader Junction; opened 1 January 1866; closed May 1880
- Cross Inn Llanfihangel; opened August 1869; renamed New Quay Road 1874; renamed Bryn Teify 1916
- Maesycrugiau; opened 1 January 1866
- Llanybyther; opened 1 January 1866
- Pencarreg Halt; opened 9 June 1930
- Lampeter; opened 1 January 1866
- Aberayron Junction; junction for the Aberayron line 1911 to 1973
- Bettws; opened 1 September 1866; renamed Derry Ormond 1874
- Llangybi; opened August 1869, at first for market days only
- Olmarch Halt; opened 7 December 1929; closed 22 February 1965
- Pont Llanio; opened 1 September 1866; closed 22 February 1965
- Tregaron; opened 1 September 1866
- Alltddu Halt; opened 23 September 1935
- Strata Florida; opened 1 January 1866
- Caradog Falls Halt; opened 5 September 1932
- Trawscoed; opened 12 August 1867
- Felin Dyffryn; opened 10 June 1935
- Llanilar; opened 12 August 1867
- Llanrhystyd Road; opened 12 August 1867
- Aberystwyth; originally Cambrian Railways station; still open
There was a short branch at Aberystwyth serving St David's Quay there.
There were steep gradients throughout the line, and generally the steepest were between 1 in 50 and 1 in 75. The line climbed from Pencader Junction to New Quay Road and then fell steeply for two miles. From there it continued undulating, generally rising northwards as far as Strata Florida where a one-mile climb at 1 in 46 took place. At the summit (at Corporation Siding) the line fell steeply at up to 1 in 41 for 4 1⁄2 miles, and then more gently, with another, shorter steep descent at Llanrhystyd Road.
Aberystwyth station was extensively modernised and remodelled in 1925. The work required the removal of the engine turntable, and a triangle was formed at the divergence of the former Cambrian and M&MR lines for engine turning purposes; the third side of the triangle was not a running line, and it was never used as a through avoiding line for Aberystwyth station.
- Milford Haven the body of water, not the railway station.
- MacDermot says, page 438, "the money must have come from somewhere".
- Baughan says that Colonel Yolland of the Board of Trade inspected the line in December 1865 and refused sanction to open; that the line nonetheless opened on 1 January 1866; and that Yolland visited again on 24 January, noting the unauthorised opening; and merely referred to an undertaking to lengthen Pencader station platforms "within a fortnight".
- According to Holden on page 41 this took place in mid-1873.
- It is difficult to see what advantage the GWR derived from all this, other than preventing dominance at Aberystwyth by the Cambrian Railways and their ally the London and North Western Railway.
- Baughan says, page 231, 18 August 1911.
- Holden, page 10
- E F Carter, An Historical Geography of the Railways of the British Isles, Cassell, London, 1959
- Peter E Baughan, A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain, volume XI, North and Mid Wales, David St John Thomas Publisher, Nairn, second edition 1991, ISBN 0 946537 59 3
- Herbert Williams, Railways in Wales, Christopher Davies (Publishers) Ltd, Swansea, 1981, ISBN 0 7154 0497 0
- J S Holden, The Manchester and Milford Railway, Oakwood Press, Usk, 1979, ISBN 0 85361 244 7
- Statement of Facts in documents submitted to Parliament by the promoters in 1860, quoted in MacDermot, volume II
- Christopher Awdry, Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies, Patrick Stephens Limited, Wellingborough, 1990, ISBN 1 85260 049 7
- E T MacDermot, History of the Great Western Railway: volume II: 1863 - 1921, published by the Great Western Railway, London, 1931
- Rex Christiansen, Forgotten Railways: North and Mid Wales, David St John Thomas, Nairn, second edition 1984, ISBN 0-946537-05-4
- Railway Magazine, March 1907
- British Railways Western Region, Passenger Services Timetable, 13 June to 11 September 1960
- James Page, Forgotten Railways: South Wales, David & CHarles (Publishers) Limited, Newton Abbopt, 1979, ISBN 0 7153 7734 5
- "Ystwyth Trail". Ceredigion.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-02-09.