Vale of Glamorgan Railway

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The Vale of Glamorgan Railway Company was a Welsh railway preservation society, previously based on the private line that runs alongside the main line linking Barry Town and Barry Island stations, and which officiallly ceased to exist in early 2011.

History[edit]

Butetown Historic Railway Society[edit]

Sir Gomer and single coach, working short rides along the platform at Bute Road station

In 1979, the Butetown Historic Railway Society was formed at Bute Road station in the docklands area of Cardiff. The aim was to restore the then derelict Taff Vale Railway station, and establish a steam hauled passenger service to Cardiff Queen Street station. By 1994, a short section of track existed, and the steam locomotive Sir Gomer hauled short passenger trains.[1]

By 1997, the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation was in charge of the redevelopment of Butetown, and dismissed the idea of a rejuvenated steam railway as part of their plans.

Barry Island railway[edit]

Having moved to Barry Island with a supporting grant from the Vale of Glamorgan Council, the society began to renew the site and the infrastructure.

But VoGC began to develop new needs for tourism under a new generic plan, with a stated aim to create a centre of transport preservation excellence. While the society had been informed by the Council that this plan included them, VoGC had been working with consultants on a far wider review of potential uses and development of the Barry Island Railway.

In December 2007, VoGC under financial pressure of the developing Global Credit Crunch terminated the £65,000 of annual funding of the Barry Island Railway. In June 2008, VoGC put the railway site out to tender under a long term lease. There were three bids submitted:[2]

  • Vale of Glamorgan Railway Company (VGR)
  • NEWCO: Graham Lee owner of the LH Plant, Hunslet Engine Company and the Statfold Barn Railway,[3] and Mike Thomson, owner of Arrowvale who make black boxes for the rail industry. NEWCO had spoken to the VGR in advance to agree a method of working together, and had this bid been successful, the VGR would have continued operating at Barry.
  • Cambrian Transport: VoGC's railway adviser and contractor[4]

The winning bid was from Cambrian Transport, who offered a package of proven commercial railway expertise and a knowledge of the site and the council's requirements. Further, they included an educational development package, using the site and the project to train local young people into formal railway professionals, and offered the lowest cost to VoGC priced bid.

VGR started legal correspondence with VoGC to assure their rights on certain leased assets, the core of which was use of offices at Barry Island railway station, which came to a head after VoGC had to enforce entry and threaten to legally evict VGR. In hindsight, this probably did not assist what became unsuccessful negotiations to assure a working arrangement with Cambrian Transport.

Future[edit]

Following the breakdown of negotiations with Cambrian Transport, the society was forced to leave the Barry Island line at the end of December 2008, resulting in the sale of and disposal of various assets.

Following its eviction from the Barry site, a number of its volunteers decided to support the Garw Valley Railway which is working to re-establish the 4 12 miles (7.2 km) of old mineral line in place north of Bridgend as a tourist attraction.

Rolling stock[edit]

All of this was either sold, leased to other lines with ownership being passed to the GVR, or transferred directly to the GVR.

References[edit]