Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway
Rheilffordd y Trallwng a Llanfair Caereinion
|823 COUNTESS - one of the two original W&LLR engines|
|Name||Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway|
|Original gauge||2 ft 6 in (762 mm)|
|Length||8.5 miles (13.7 km)|
|Preserved gauge||2 ft 6 in (762 mm)|
|Closed to passengers||1931|
|1963||Re-opened as a heritage railway|
|1981||Opening of extension to Raven Square|
|Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR)|
The Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR) (Welsh: Rheilffordd y Trallwng a Llanfair Caereinion) is a narrow gauge heritage railway in Powys, Wales. The line is around 8.5 miles (13.7 km) long and runs westwards from the town of Welshpool (Welsh: Y Trallwng) via Castle Caereinion to the village of Llanfair Caereinion. The track gauge is 2 ft 6 in (762 mm).
The W&LLR was one of the few narrow gauge branch lines to be built under the provisions of the 1896 Light Railways Act. Noted narrow gauge promoter Everard Calthrop appeared at the Light Railway Inquiry, and proposed the use of transporter wagons. However the line ended up being built by the Cambrian Railways engineer, with consequent conservative 4-wheel wagon and other provisions.
It was opened on 4 April 1903 to aid economic development in a remote area, never making a profit. It was originally operated by the Cambrian Railways, connecting with it at the former Oswestry and Newtown Railway station in the town of Welshpool. The line is built through difficult country, having a great number of curves in order to reach the summit of 600 ft. The original terminus at Welshpool was located alongside the main line station and trains wound their way through the town, using the locomotive bell as a warning.
In the 1923 Grouping of railway companies, Cambrian Railways, including the Welshpool to Llanfair Caereinion line, was absorbed by the Great Western Railway (GWR). On 9 February 1931 the line lost its passenger service, which was replaced by a bus service, and it became a freight-only line. It was temporarily re-opened to passengers between 6 and 11 August 1945 for the Eisteddfod. The GWR itself was nationalised in 1948 and became part of British Railways.
A group of volunteers and enthusiasts took the line over and started raising money to restore it. On 6 April 1963 the western half of the line, from Llanfair Caereinion to Castle Caereinion, was re-opened as a tourist railway. The line through Welshpool however could not be reopened, so the line now has a new terminus station at Raven Square on the western outskirts of the town, originally opened on 18 July 1981. There are discussions proceeding to consider reinstating the link through the town to the main line station following a different route to that originally used.
Because of the gauge, unusual for the British Isles, locomotives and rolling stock to supplement the originals have had to be obtained from a cosmopolitan variety of sources including the Zillertalbahn in Austria. A major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund permitted restoration of both original locomotives together with several coaches and original wagons, and provision of new workshop facilities, ready for the line's centenary.
Locomotives of the preserved railway
|WLLR No.||Name||Image||Builder||Works No.||Date built||Date arrived||Wheels||Type||Status||Notes|
|1||The Earl||Beyer Peacock||3496||1902||1902||0-6-0T||Steam||In service||Original W&LLR locomotive|
|2||Countess||Beyer Peacock||3497||1902||1902||0-6-0T||Steam||In service||Original W&LLR locomotive|
|3||Raven *||Ruston & Hornsby||1934||4wDM||Diesel||N/A||Sold — now in private ownership.|
|4||Upnor Castle *||F. C. Hibberd||3687||1954||4wDM||Diesel||N/A||Sold to Ffestiniog Railway|
|5||Nutty||Sentinel||7701||1929||1964||4wVBT||Steam||N/A||Previously from Fletton Brickworks. Owned by & returned to care of Narrow Gauge Railway Museum|
|6||Monarch||W. G. Bagnall||3024||1953||1966||0-4-4-0T||Steam||Static Exhibit at Welshpool Raven Square station||Previously from Sittingbourne. Sold to Ffestiniog Railway but re-purchased by W&LLR and undergoing cosmetic restoration.|
|7||Chattenden *||Drewry Car Co.||2263||1947||1968||0-6-0DM||Diesel||In service||ex Chattenden and Upnor Railway (also known as the Lodge Hill & Upnor Railway), previously from Admiralty Depots, rebuilt at Llanfair in 1980. Has recently been rebuilt at Llanfair and is now fitted with both air and vacuum braking.|
|8||Dougal *||Andrew Barclay||2207||1946||1968||0-4-0T||Steam||In service||Originally operated at Provan Gasworks, Glasgow|
|9||Wynnstay *||J. Fowler||1951||0-6-0DM||Diesel||N/A||Built for a failed groundnuts scheme in Africa, sold to British Portland Cement Co.'s works at Lower Penarth, Glamorgan. Arrived at Llanfair in 1968, Sold to the Great Whipsnade Railway in 1972 as Victor.|
|10||Sir Drefaldwyn *||Franco-Belge||2855||1944||1969||0-8-0T||Steam||Awaiting overhaul||Originally operated by German Army & in Austria at the Zillertalbahn. An HF 160 D-type locomotive.|
|11||Ferret *||Hunslet Engine Company||2251||1940||1971||0-4-0DM||Diesel||In service||Previously from Admiralty Depots.|
|12||Joan||Kerr Stuart||4404||1929||1971||0-6-2T||Steam||In service||Originally operated in Antigua|
|14||-||Hunslet Engine Company||3815||1954||1975||2-6-2T||Steam||On display at Shildon, awaiting funding and engineering resources for major overhaul including boiler renewal||Originally operated by Sierra Leone Government Railway|
|15||Orion *||Tubize||2369||1948||1983||2-6-2T||Steam||N/A||Previously from Finland. Returned to Jokioinen Museum Railway in Finland|
|16||Scooby *||Hunslet Engine Company||1941||1992||0-4-0DM||Diesel||Out of service||Previously from Admiralty Depots. Rebuilt by W&LLR|
|17||TSC 175||Diema||1979||2004||6wDH||Diesel||In service||Originally operated by Taiwan Sugar Company|
|18||764.423||Reșița||1957||2008||0-8-0T||Steam||Spare parts donor for #19||Originally operated in Romania|
|19||764.425||Reșița||1957||2007||0-8-0T||Steam||In service||Originally operated in Romania|
* = Name added by WLLR
- "Railway Magazine" November 1956
- WLLR is the longest of only 6 railways of this gauge in the British Isles which total less than 30 miles of track in total List of Rail Gauges#Narrow gauge railways, by gauge and country
- Cartwright, Ralph I. (2002). The Welshpool and Llanfair. RailRomances. ISBN 1-900622-06-8
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway|
- The Weshpool and Llanfair Railway's website
- The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway - an online photo album