Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway
A 16 mile return journey by narrow gauge steam train through beautiful Mid Wales countryside.

rcNews Archive 2009 to 2012

News Archive 2009 to 2012

Archive News from the Line

2009 to 2012

 

2012

 

 

2011

 

2010

 

2009

 

For other news stories please follow the follow links:

Latest News

Archive News 2013 to 2014

Archive News 2002 to 2008

 


Release date 24th December 2012

Major Investments Continue............

Over half a mile of life-expired track between Cyfronydd and Hydan Fawr has been removed, allowing renewal with new materials to commence after the Christmas break.

Considerable attention to drainage is taking place including, at one location, the removal of the embankment to allow insertion of a large cross drain prior to backfilling. Drainage is a vital part of the renewal work and failure to deal with such issues can lead to catastrophic failings.  It would appear that some areas have not received attention since British Railways days.

Llanfair station is currently bursting with 820 new Karri hardwood sleepers which, after pre-drilling, will be transported to site for use with Polish S30 rail in 18m lengths and Chinese baseplates and screws. By the time 1,000 tonnes of Criggion (Welshpool) granite ballast is added, the project is likely to cost more than £100,000.

These investments are vital for the future wellbeing of the W&L. The heavy rail and hardwood sleepers will minimise maintenance for many years to come. Since the turn of the century, over 5.5 of the 8 miles have seen renewal at a cost approaching £1,000,000.

Automation of Castle Caereinion level crossing is set to be another major investment for the W&L. An ‘Automatic Barrier Crossing Locally Monitored’ (ABCL) fitted with half-barriers and flashing lights will be provided. The application for a Level Crossing Order has been made to the Secretary of State and our Project Manager, Roland Doyle of High-rail Systems Ltd, hopes for completion during the Spring. Roland has experience of dealing with many similar crossings during the construction of the Welsh Highland Railway.

Countess with new sleepers.  23 December 2012.  Photo Del Curtis

'Countess' on her final duty of the season - the Santa Specials, pauses alongside some of the new hardwood sleepers which are in the process of being prepared for transport to Cyfronydd in the New Year.

23 December 2012.  Photo: Del Curtis

 

Photo  Kevin Heywood

Looking ahead from the end of a short section of line re-laid in the winter of 2010 / 2011, a few rails of this winter's programme have been re-laid, but beyond the trackbed is empty and awaiting the attention of the trackgang.

24 December 2012.  Photo: Kevin Heywood

 

Photo  Kevin Heywood

You wouldn't know from this angle that part of the embankment ahead has been

removed to allow a new drainage pipe to be inserted.

24 December 2012.  Photo: Kevin Heywood

 

Photo  Kevin Heywood

And it is needed!  More work at this site (and others) will hopefully

prevent this drain being damaged and blocked in the future.

24 December 2012.  Photo: Kevin Heywood

 

 

 

....... and in the workshop.

After last winter's locomotive and carriage rebuilding programme the workshop staff are turning their attention to some of the smaller, yet essential tasks.  An example of such a task that will go largely un-noticed is the complete replacement of The Earl's springs.  The weakest point of the two Beyer Peacock engines, now 110 years old, has been their tendency to break road springs.  At some considerable expense two sets of new springs having solid forged top leaf eyes have been ordered and are already fitted to 'The Earl', whilst 'The Countess' will follow at a later date.

 

Photo Bruce Webber

The old design of spring with rolled top leaf eyes.  Photo: Bruce Webber

 

Photo Bruce Webber

 Manufacturing the new buckle bottom plate which includes the spigot that bears on the axlebox - Llanfair workshop.  Photo:  Bruce Webber

 

Photo Bruce Webber

A partially complete new buckle ready to be sent to the spring manufacturer.  Photo: Bruce Webber

 

Photo Bruce Webber

A complete new spring with forged top leaf eyes.  Photo:  Bruce Webber

 

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 6th August 2012

No.19 shines once more

No. 19

HERE SHE COMES!  No.19 has emerged from the paint shop in her final coat of Improved Black, lined out in white.  (Her previous livery wasn't quite black enough!)  The attention to detail and standard of finish completes the love and care that has gone into the overhaul and we hope that visitors will enjoy the finished result.

Photo:  Kevin Heywood

 

No. 19

Photo:  Kevin Heywood

 

No. 19

No. 19

Photos:  Kevin Heywood

 

 

 

No. 19

Photo:  Kevin Heywood

 

No. 19

At Castle Caereinion.  Photo Bruce Webber

 

No. 19

At Cyfronydd.  Photo Bruce Webber

 

No. 19

Photo:  Kevin Heywood

 

No. 19

Photo: Bruce Webber

Ends

Back to Top of Page


Release date 3rd August 2012

C569 enters final stage of restoration

Historic Salzkammergut Lokalbahn (SKGLB) carriage C569 has emerged from its slumbers and following a thorough overhaul has been moved from the carriage workshop at Tanllan to the main workshop for final adjustments and testing. The beautifully finished carriage will make a fine addition to the fleet when it enters service.  Keep an eye out for future news.

C569

The familiar sight of a "Balloon", but in this case a carriage that has not operated on this railway.  Regular visitors will be familiar with sister vehicle B25 (also ex SKGLB) which has been in service for many years.

 

 

C569

Unlike our other 4-wheeled Austrian carriages which are all currently painted in the brown livery representing that worn by the Zillertalbahn, this carriage has been painted in SKGLB Moss Green (Moosgrun), with Gold-yellow (Goldgelb) lettering.

Both photographs:  Kevin Heywood

Ends

Back to Top of Page


Release date 29th July 2012

Double the fun for half the price with Welshpool’s top tourist attractions

Powis Castle

Powis Castle and Garden and the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway are happy to announce their half-price partnership this Summer! Anyone purchasing a ticket from one of us will be offered a half-price equivalent ticket at the second venue if presented within seven days.

This offer is only available until 31st August, and is not available in conjunction with any other offers.

Powis Castle and Garden is open every day from 11am until 5.30pm. You can find up to date news and information at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/powis or on Facebook or Twitter at @NTPowisCastle

The Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway runs daily through August. You can find further dates and timetables and events on this website or on Twitter at @Llanfairline

 

Promotion Poster

 

Powis Facts:

  • Powis Castle began life as the medieval fortress of the Welsh princes of Powys, who held onto their kingdom despite the threats of their more powerful neighbours in Gwynedd and England.

  • In 1587, Powis was sold to Sir Edward Herbert who created the romantic long gallery which is richly decorated with the coats of arms of his ancestors.

  • The first Marquess of Powis was forced into exile in 1668 due to his loyalty to the deposed King James II.

  • In 1784, the marriage of Lady Henrietta Herbert and Edward Clive, son of Robert Clive, the conqueror of India, combined the Powis and Clive estates.

  • In the early 20th Century, the 4th Earl of Powis and his wife, Lady Violet, redecorated much of the castle and brought the garden back to life, introducing new varieties from all over the world.

  • The National Trust was founded in 1895 to care for places of historic interest or natural beauty. In Wales it cares for over 45,000 hectares of countryside, 140 miles of coastline as well as some of the finest castles and gardens. The Trust is the largest conservation organisation in Europe, supported by 4 million members, 100,000 of whom live in Wales. As a charity it relies on membership subscriptions, gifts and other voluntary support to meet its £148 m annual conservation and maintenance costs. The Trust’s properties have unique legal protection “inalienability” – they cannot ever be sold or mortgaged without permission of Parliament.

 

 

Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway Facts:

  • The railway was opened in 1903 principally to carry farmers’ produce from surrounding villages to market in Welshpool.

  • The line was closed by British Rail in 1956 but reopened by preservationists in 1963, initially running from Llanfair Caereinion to Castle Caereinion. Trains returned to the full eight-mile route to Welshpool in 1982 after a new station was built on Powis Estates land.

  • The railway still has its two original steam locomotives, ‘The Earl’ and ‘Countess’ named after The Earl and Countess of Powis and dating from 1902. It also has locomotives previously used in Austria, Antigua, Sierra Leone, Taiwan, Romania and Glasgow gasworks!

  • The carriages come from Austria and Hungary and have continental-style end balconies that passengers can stand on for a close-up view of the engine at work. 

  • The Earl of Powis, former owner of Powis Castle, has been President of the preservation company since its formation in the early 1960s.

Powis Castle

Ends

Back to Top of Page


Release date 29th July 2012

Resita Back in Steam

Resita locomotive No.19 has been returned to steam this month and following a successful boiler examination has been undertaking test operations prior to returning to passenger service.  The locomotive is currently in the paint shop for her final coats of paint and varnishing.

No.19 outside Llanfair Workshop.  Photo Mervyn Pritchard

No.19 raises steam for the first time this season.  13 July 2012

 

No.19 at Castle Caereinion.  Photo Mervyn Pritchard

No.19 at Castle Caereinion station undertaking one of her 'running-in' trains.  21 July 2012

 

No.19 and No.1 at Castle Caereinion.  Photo Mervyn Pritchard

Resita No.19 and No.1 'The Earl' at Castle Caereinion during one of the former locomotive's trial journeys following a recent overhaul. 21 July 2012

 

All photographs:  Mervyn Pritchard

Ends

Back to Top of Page


Release date 22nd May 2012

Vintage trains and an Olympic day out

The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway will be offering a special welcome to vintage enthusiasts and fans of the Olympics over the next week.  This weekend, 26th-27th May, visitors to the line can take an even more evocative trip back in time, aboard the line’s Vintage Train.  Then on Wednesday 30th May, families coming to Welshpool to watch the Olympic torch pass through the town can make a day of it with a trip on the railway.

The Vintage Train comprises one of the line’s original 1902 tank locomotives, hauling three beautifully-constructed replicas of the railway’s Pickering carriages – recreating the 1902-built originals that were scrapped in the 1930s. Travelling on the train gives passengers a real taste of the line in its earliest days, and for the 2012 season the Vintage Train timetable has been expanded to comprise two return trips. This will enable passengers to complete a return journey whether they start their journey from Llanfair Caereinion or Welshpool.  The train runs alongside the line’s regular services on both Saturday and Sunday departing Llanfair at 11.30am and 2.30pm, and Welshpool at 12.45pm and 3.40pm – the last a one-way working only.

Then on Wednesday 30th May, the Olympic Torch is scheduled to pass through Welshpool at around 11am (see Olympic Torch Relay Route) – leaving plenty of time for visitors to have a bit of lunch then top their day out with a trip on the 2.15pm return train from Welshpool Raven Square.

Should you miss the Vintage train this weekend, you will be able to catch it on 23/24 June, 21/22 July and 11/12 August. For more details check the timetable page.

Ends

Back to Top of Page


Release date 19th May 2012

Locomotives on Display at Welshpool

No.10 & No.6 at Welshpool.  Photo Kevin Heywood

The opportunity was taken to stage a ''What If'?' scenario at Welshpool during shunting operations on 18 May 2012.  Locomotives No. 10 'Sir Drefaldwyn' (on the left outside the carriage shed) and No. 6 'Monarch' (on the right, simulating an arrival from Llanfair Caereinion) are both stored out of use and on display at Welshpool.  No.10 last operated during 2000, and No.6 as long ago as 1978, before the line was re-opened all the way to Welshpool.

W&L No.10 was built as a tender engine in 1944 by the Société Franco-Belge at Raismes, France, for the German Military Railways.  Following the cessation of hostilites, the locomotive found its way to the Salzkammergut Lokalbahn in Austria and, as their No.19, worked for several years on the picturesque Salzburg-Bad Ischl line.  Subsequently the Styrian Government Railways rebuilt her in 1957 as tank engine 699.01 for use on the line from Weiz to Ratten.  However, in practice she saw little service there and came to the W&L in 1969.  Her power and adhesive weight, together with short wheelbase, enabled her to pull the heaviest trains.  She is named after the County of Montgomery, which in Welsh is 'Sir Drefaldwyn'.

W&L No.6 'Monarch' was built in 1953 by W. G. Bagnall of Stafford, the last steam narrow gauge locomotive built for industrial service in Britain.  In addition to being a four-cylinder articulated engine it has several other interesting features, for example the circular ('marine') firebox and an eight-element superheater, the latter being rare indeed on narrow gauge locomotives in Britain.  The loco was new to Bowater Lloyd's paper mills at Sittingbourne, Kent, and came to the W&L in May 1966.

Photo:  Kevin Heywood

Ends

Back to Top of Page


Release date 19th May 2012

Progress with the Overhaul of Locomotive No.19

Following work to re-stay the firebox last autumn, the locomotive has been subject to a general overhaul to improve both its reliability and appearance.  The programme of work includes:

  • Full overhaul of the locomotive’s motion including reworking all the connecting and coupling rod bearings.  During this work it was found that the cylinder on the driver’s side was slightly out of alignment so this was removed and refitted with a tapered shim.  In addition the slide bars and crossheads were found to require adjustments to their alignment.

  • Adjustments to the set-up of the Klien-Lindner (steering) axles.

  • A new cab, some 5” higher than the original and manufactured in thicker material to provide a more comfortable and quieter working environment for crews.

  • A new ashpan.  This is a challenge since it has to be fabricated in-situ.

  • A new smokebox door.

 

 No.19 Overhaul

At the beginning of the year the locomotive was looking in a sorry state with cab, tanks, firebox cladding, motion and driver’s side cylinder all removed.

Photo: Bruce Webber

 

No.19 Overhaul

By the end of January the boiler cladding had been refitted and painted.

Photo:  Kevin Heywood

 

 No.19 Overhaul

By mid-February the tanks had been refitted and the new shim for correctly mounting the driver’s side cylinder had been made.  The new cab was just beginning to take shape.

Photo:  Bruce Webber

 

No.19 Overhaul

No.19 Overhaul

After a lot of work to re-metal and bore all the rod bearings and the rear axleboxes, in early April we were starting to replace the motion.

Photos:  Keith Bide & Bruce Webber

 

 No.19 Overhaul

At the end of April, the new smokebox door was proceeding apace.

Photo:  Bruce Webber

 

No.19 Overhaul

No.19 Overhaul

At the beginning of May, the crossheads had been opened out, metalled and were being machined true in the milling machine.  This involved mounting the complete piston, piston rod and crosshead assembly in the machine to obtain the correct set-up.

Photos:  Bruce Webber & Keith Bide

 

 No.19 Overhaul

The pistons were refitted after the work on the crossheads.

Photo:  Bruce Webber

 

 No.19 Overhaul

By mid-May the motion had been completely reassembled and the engine was ready for valve setting.  Repainting is proceeding in parallel with the mechanical work.

Photo:  Bruce Webber

Ends

Back to Top of Page

 


Release date 4th May 2012

Looking forward to May

Now that the first month of the season has passed, the Railway staff are looking forward to the general growth of the season towards the summer months.  May starts with two locomotives in use (Bank Holiday Saturday 5th to Monday 7th May inclusive) and an opportunity to take full advantage of our Rover Tickets.  Starting this season, our main full return journey fares on non-event days (Adult £12.50, Senior Citizen £11.50 and Child £3.00) are valid for unlimited travel on the day of issue.  With two locomotives and different carriage types in use, this weekend is the perfect opportunity to spend a day on the Railway.

With the Spring Bank Holiday moving into June, the railway has taken the opportunity to review the train services in May and has introduced a few extra mid week operating days for those who are unable to travel at weekends or later in the season.  Our Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday service will begin on 22nd May, two weeks before the Bank Holiday weekend and our traditional start of midweek trains.  Weekend services operate throughout the season (last day Sunday 4th November).

One final change towards the end of the month to look forward to is the use of the Vintage Train on some services on Saturday and Sunday 26th and 27th May.  The Railway's Vintage Train is scheduled to be composed of original locomotive No.823 'Countess' and replica Pickering carriages.  Normal fares apply, and passengers wishing to take advantage of the Rover tickets may do so.  Full details of all of our train times can be found on our timetable page.

Countess and Pickering Carriages.

'Countess' and Pickering Carriages.

Photo Copyright:  Jeff Cogan

 

Joan.  Photo Andrew Charman

After her debut at last year's Gala, 'Joan' has begun to make more regular appearances on lighter trains.  Locomotive crews are delighted with her performance to date.

Photos:  Andrew Charman

Ends

Back to Top of Page


Release date 25th March 2012

One Week To Go!

Final preparations are underway for the re-opening of the railway next Saturday, 31st March.  As many (but not all) long term tasks come to an end, staff are concentrating on ensuring everything is ready to welcome customers to the stations and trains once more.  Services will operate daily until Sunday 15th April.  We look forward to showing you some of the tasks we have been working on since last year.

 

Tamper at Coppice Lane.  Photo:  Kevin Heywood

2 March 2012

 

Track relay near Coppice Lane.  Photo:  Kevin Heywood

24 March 2012

 

Another long winter relay was completed this week and the site inspected and tidied.  Although rails have been in place for over a month a significant amount of time has been spent moving ballast to site, levelling and aligning the track into the desired position.  The result is a credit to all involved and passengers will be able to admire their handywork from the back balcony of the train.

 

Coppice Lane Crossing.  Photo:  Kevin Heywood

During the winter three level crossings have been renewed.  The photo shows Coppice Lane crossing, complete with bilingual signage (updated last year by Powys County Council) and new fencing and anti-trespass rails. - 24 March 2012

 

 

Earl maintenance.  Photo:  Kevin Heywood

Locomotives 1, 2, 8 & 12 ('The Earl', 'The Countess' , 'Dougal' and 'Joan') have all successfully completed their annual boiler tests, along with other attention to defects and general maintenance. - 25 March 2012

 

Llanfair Garden.  Photo:  Kevin Heywood

The stations are being tidied and the gardens are being attended to. - 24 March 2012

 

 

Laying Turf.  Photo:  Kevin Heywood

A new picnic area is being developed at Llanfair Caereinion station and the opportunity has been taken to tidy an area in the station yard at the same time. - 24 March 2012

 

 

Another component for No.19.  Photo:  Kevin Heywood

No.19 re-assembly.  Photo:  Kevin Heywood

 

Of course the start of the operating season does not mean that everything is ready.  As annual tasks come to an end the pace is quickening on Locomotive No.19's intermediate overhaul and the reconstruction of Carriage C569 and a number of lower profile, but equally important vehicles. - 24 March 2012

Photos:  Kevin Heywood

 

Ends

Back to Top of Page


Release date 21st January 2012

Track Relaying Underway

As is customary at this time of year the railway's track gang has spent the first few weeks of the year dismantling the section of railway between Coppice Lane to a point some 430 metres East of that location (in the direction of Sylfaen station).  With the track bed clear and graded, the relaying work commenced this week using new 50lb rail to match the rail used during last month's Level Crossing renewal at Coppice Lane and the rail previously used on the section of line between that location and Castle Caereinion station.  There is much to do, but it is a significant step towards re-opening at the end of March.

 

W&L Track 20 Jan 2012 003 Kevin Heywood

The railway begins to take shape once again.  Coppice Lane Level Crossing is situated beyond the parked vehicles - 20 January 2012

 

Photo Kevin Heywood

25 January 2012

 

W&L Track 20 Jan 2012 004 Kevin Heywood

The 'Head of Steel'.  The inside rail has been laid next to the outside rail temporarily for

'Jim Crowing' - the term used for pre-bending the rail to the desired radius - 20 January 2012

W&L Track 20 Jan 2012 006 Kevin Heywood

The 'outdoor office'. 

Looking ahead, the worksite turns to the left beyond the edge of the photograph. - 20 January 2012

 

 

Photos:  Kevin Heywood

 

Ends

Back to Top of Page


Release date 20th December 2011

2012 Timetable Changes

Looking forward to next season the 2012 Timetable features a few changes following customer comments during the last few years.  During the low summer season the railway will be operating an extra three weeks of mid week (Tuesday to Thursday) trains, one extra during May and two in September.  People wishing to travel mid week rather than at weekends will now be able to do so from 22 May until the end of September.

Our popular GWR replica Pickering Carriages will be playing a larger role next season, with four weekends featuring additional Vintage Trains, and with an additional train added to enable passengers to complete a return journey from both Llanfair Caereinion and Welshpool.

The final change allows anybody purchasing a full return journey during non-event days to have unlimited travel throughout the day, particularly useful for those who wish to sample different locomotives and rolling stock.

We look forward to welcoming you all to the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway.

Download a PDF of the 2012 Timetable Leaflet

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 20th December 2011

Level Crossing Renewals

In the closed period between 30th October and the ‘Santa Train’ season, three level crossings at Cyfronydd, Castle Caereinion & Coppice Lane were dismantled and totally refurbished with new materials.

A four-day road closure at each crossing allowed the installation of pre-built track panels constructed in heavy rail section. After ripping out of old materials, the new panels were set up and levelled prior to flooding with C45 concrete with reinforcing strands.

With this work successfully concluded, the track gang began dismantling 55 lengths of life expired track beyond Coppice Lane towards Welshpool. This will be replaced by new 50lb rail in 40’ (12m) lengths laid on ‘Pandrol’ baseplates and Brazilian hardwood sleepers. Completion of this work gives a cumulative total of 5.5 miles of track refurbished since the turn of the century.

 

2011 Crossing Work

Cyfronydd Crossing before renewal.  November 2011

Photo:  Tony Beardsell

 

2011 Crossing Work

To enable each crossing to be refurbished in the short window available during the road closures each panel was constructed at Llanfair and transported to the desired location by rail.. Each panel took about a week to construct and involved pre-bending of the rails (four for each crossing), drilling approximately 32 holes in the rails and bolting everything together to the correct gauge.  October 2011

Photo:  John Jacobs

 

 2011 Crossing Work

The finished panel at Coppice Lane prior to flooding with concrete.  December 2011

Photo:  Tony Beardsell

 

2011 Crossing Work

Photo:  Tony Beardsell

 

2011 Crossing Work

Photo:  Tony Beardsell

 

2011 Crossing Work

Cyfronydd Crossing after completion.  November 2011

Photo:  John Jacobs

 

Ends

Back to Top of Page


 

Release date 29th August 2011

Art Exhibition Set to Benefit Railway

The work of a group of talented artists goes on show in Welshpool this week, and is set to boost the funds of the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway.

Members of the Machynlleth branch of the Society For All Artists are staging the show in the railway’s exhibition room at Raven Square station in Welshpool, on all days that the railway is operating between 2nd and 18th September.

The pictures on show all feature various aspects of life on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, and are the result of a day that the group spent on and around the line earlier in the year. A variety of styles are included, including some quirky and unusual pictures.

All the paintings on show will be on sale, and the group has announced that a large percentage of the proceeds from the exhibition will be donated to the railway, which is almost entirely operated by volunteers.

According to W&LLR spokesman Andrew Charman the pictures are fascinating and show great talent. “I immediately recognized some of our regular volunteers,” he said.

“It will be great to host this exhibition, particularly as an extra attraction at our annual Steam Gala on 3rd-5th September, while the donation will be particularly welcome as we start to plan for our winter maintenance programme.”

The art exhibition is open every day from 2nd to 18th September except Monday 6th and 13th, and Friday 9th and 16th, when the line will not be open. Full details of the railway’s opening and train times are available by calling 01938 810441 or from the timetable page. of this website.      

 

 

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


 

Release date 25th July 2011

Joan Under Test

 

Tony Purse in the cab of Joan.  Photo Bruce Webber

Loco No.12 'Joan' has entered the testing stage beyond Llanfair station limits.  So far so good - Driver Tony Purse takes her on her second outing to Castle Caereinion (The first took place on 22 July)

 

Joan at Heniarth.  Photo Bruce Webber

You couldn't ask for a better evening - a temporary pause at Heniarth to check all is well.

 

Joan at Castle Caereinion.  Photo Bruce Webber

Journey's end for now - Castle Caereinion.  The evening was declared a success, but there is still plenty of work ahead to keep the hard working workshop staff occupied before she can enter passenger service.

All photos - Bruce Webber.  24 July 2011

 

Joan returns to Welshpool.  Photio Bruce Webber

A few days later 'Joan' finally steamed back to Welshpool.

Photo:  Bruce Webber.  28 July 2011

 

Joan at Sylfaen.  Photo Mervyn Pritcahrd

The final test in July and Joan is ready to depart Sylfaen with the two Hungarian carriages.

Photo:  Mervyn Pritchard.  31 July 2011

 

Photo: Keith Bide

Although the paint work is not yet finished, 'Joan' is now seen in all her glory.

Photo:  Keith Bide.  8 August 2011

 

Photo: Keith Bide

Photo: Keith Bide.  8 August 2011

 

Photo: Peter Little

Departing Welshpool

Photo:  Peter Little 8 August 2011

 

Photo: Peter Little

Test train at Cyfronydd. 

Photo:  Peter Little.  8 August 2011

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


 

Release date 4th July 2011

Joan on the move for first time in two decades

Hard-working volunteers and staff at the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway celebrated reaching a major milestone on Sunday (3rd July) when one of the line’s steam locomotives moved under its own power for the first time in 20 years.

Loco no 12 ‘Joan’ is an 0-6-2 Kerr Stuart tank which was built in Stoke-on-Trent in 1927, for service on the sugar lines of the Caribbean island of Antigua. It has been under restoration at Llanfair Caereinion for five years, the work including fitting a new boiler. The restoration was paid for by an appeal amongst members and supporters of the railway that raised £135,000.

On Sunday a fire was lit in Joan before much of the day was spent carefully checking everything was working correctly, along with weighing the engine using specialist equipment.

Finally in the afternoon the regulator was gently eased open, and with a blast on the distinctive and deep-throated whistle Joan moved forward. The rest of the day was spent running around Llanfair yard, watching closely for any signs of problems, but initial results looked highly encouraging.

There are still several jobs to do before Joan is complete and ready to haul passenger trains. The team working on the engine hope that if enough volunteer help comes forward in the next few weeks Joan can be made ready for the summer high season before playing a starring role at the line’s annual Steam Gala on 2nd to 4th September.

Joan was found in Antigua by W&LLR Trustee Tony Thorndike and repatriated in 1971. The loco was a mainstay of the line’s fleet during the 1980s but firebox issues resulted in it last being steamed in 1991.

W&LLR Press Officer and locomotive fireman Andrew Charman was particularly pleased to see Joan on the move on Sunday. “This was the loco I travelled behind when I first visited the railway in the early 1980s,” he said. “To see the engine in steam again is great and I am looking forward to having a go on the footplate.”

Photo:  Bruce Webber

'Weighing the locomotive' - one of the many tasks undertaken during the morning whilst pressure was being raised.

Photo: Bruce Webber

 

Photo:  James Charman

The safety valve lifts as ‘Joan’ demonstrates her keenness to be underway for the first time in 20 years on Sunday.

Photo: James Charman

 

Photo:  Rolf Thomas

And another milestone is achieved.  After two decades 'Joan' finally moves under her own power again.

Photo: Rolf Thomas

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 17th May 2011

Sierra Leone Railway No.85's New Neighbour

Mallard and No.85.  Photo Anthony Coulls

 

Mallard and 85.  Photo:  Anthony Coulls

 

No.85 and Mallard.  Photo Anthony Coulls

Photos:  Anthony Coulls

The W&L's ex Sierra Leone Railway No.85 has been moved to a new position at NRM 'Shildon' and now sits alongside one of the World's most famous steam locomotives, LNER Class A4 No.4468 'Mallard'.  Built in 1938 in Doncaster, 'Mallard' is the holder of the official world speed record for steam locomotives at 126 mph, approximately 8 times faster than the W&L's maximum of 15 mph.

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 19th April 2011

Updated 21st April 2011

Sierra Leone Railway No.85 moves to Shildon

SLR loco No. 85 has finally departed Llanfair Caereinion to begin a five-year display at the NRM 'outstation' in Shildon.  The locomotive arrived at 'Locomotion' on Monday 18 April and was safely craned on to a standard gauge 'weltrol' bogie wagon during that evening. It is expected that No.85 will be the centrepiece of a display celebrating 50 years of Sierra Leone independence.

Photo  Andrew Charman

'The Earl', a one time resident of the National Railway Museum at York, is on shunting duties for the day as No.85 begins her journey to County Durham.

Photo:  Andrew Charman

 

Photo  Andrew Charman

Farewell for now.  Loco No.1 'The Earl' gives No.85 a helping hand on to her transport to 'Locomotion'.  13 April 2011

Photo:  Andrew Charman

 

85 at Shildon 18 April 2011 Photo Richard Pearson

Photo:  Richard Pearson

 

85 at Shildon 18 April 2011 Photo Richard Pearson

Photo:  Richard Pearson

 

85 at Shildon 18 April 2011 Photo Richard Pearson

The loco has safely arrived at Shildon and craned on to the standard gauge weltrol wagon before being moved undercover.  18 April 2011

Photo:  Richard Pearson

 

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 11th April 2011

Railway open in time for Easter

It has been a long wait this year but finally the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway is opening its new running season on Saturday (16th April) and looking forward to welcoming visitors and particularly families on their Easter school holidays.

Staff and volunteers have been hard at work over the winter to ensure the railway is ready for another hopefully busy season. Several sections of track have been relaid, one of the original engines has had its boiler lifted out and tubes replaced, while the volunteer team of ‘hedgebashers’ have been opening up the views for passengers, particularly on the rollercoaster section of line between the Banwy river bridge and Cyfronydd station. 

Trains will be running every day until Easter, and over the Saturday to Monday of Easter weekend itself a busy two-train timetable will be worked, with children visiting getting an extra surprise. Accompanied children who ride the line between Good Friday and Easter Monday will be given a free chocolate egg. Full details of services can be obtained on the timetable page.

With the season getting underway, the pace will quicken for the hardy staff and many volunteers who run the eight-mile narrow gauge line. A major priority will be the return to steam of the line’s no 12 ‘Joan’, an 0-6-2 Kerr Stuart tank built in 1927 for service on the sugar lines of Antigua. Joan has been at Llanfair since 1971 but was last steamed in 1991. Over the past five years a meticulous restoration has been taking place, including the fitting of a completely new boiler, and the final pipework is now being added ready for a return to service early in the new season.

W&LLR General Manager Terry Turner is looking forward to the new season, saying; “The weather has been glorious in the last few days showing just what a beautiful part of Mid-Wales we live in. Hopefully many visitors will come and discover the best way of seeing our scenery, from the carriages of a Welshpool & Llanfair train!”

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 3rd March 2011

Workshop Update - Photo Feature

By the end of February visible progress is testimony to all of the hard work undertaken in the workshop so far this year.  In addition to the very regular weekend teams, and an ever increasing mid week presence, this year saw a record breaking 133½ man days during the traditional nine day workshop week (12 to 20 February).

The photographs below show some, but not all, of the work that is being undertaken this winter to help ensure trains can operate during 2011.

Countess being dismantled.  Photo Bruce Webber

With her last duty performed during the December Santa specials ,Countess was well on course for her boiler lift and examination.  15 January 2011

Photo:  Bruce Webber

 

Chattenden axle replacement.  Photo Bruce Webber

Meanwhile 'Chattenden' is having her rear axle replaced.  This locomotive is now mobile once more having also received attention to a failed transmission coupling.  15 January 2011

Photo:  Bruce Webber

 

Welding balcony end for C569.  Photo Bruce Webber

Work underway on a new balcony end for carriage C569.  15 January 2011

Photo:  Bruce Webber

 

 

Joan Boiler First Match 15 Jan 2011 Photo: Bruce Webber

She's not in steam, but at least there is a fire in her grate. A few more weeks will pass until Joan reaches working pressure, but testing has begun.  15 January 2011

Photo:  Bruce Webber

 

Joan - test fitting of tanks.  Photo  Eileen Niblock

One month on and the water tanks are being trial fitted.  15 February 2011

Photo:  Eileen Niblock

 

Fitting Joan's water tanks.  Photo Eileen Niblock

Fixings are being drilled in readiness for final assembly.  The water tanks will be removed again to fit the boiler lagging and cladding.  15 February 2011

Photo:  Eileen Niblock

 

3 locos in the workshop.  Photo Eileen Niblock

In addition to the main steam locomotive projects the remainder of the fleet requires attention and annual boiler tests.  15 February 2011

Photo:  Eileen Niblock

 

Countess Boiler Overhaul.  Photo John Clark

'Countess' receiving repairs to her firebox as part of her 10 yearly boiler exam.  February 2011

Photo:  John Clark

 

Countess Boiler Overhaul.  Photo John Clark

The interior of Countess's boiler before retubing.  February 2011

Photo:  John Clark

 

Evidence of  Joan's final livery.  26 February 2011

Photo:  Bruce Webber

 

Joan's water tank being fitted 27 Feb 2011 Bruce Webber

And her water tanks are fitted once again.  27 February 2011

Photo:  Bruce Webber

 

Joan with water tanks.  27 Feb 2011 Photo:  Bruce Webber

There is still a long way to go, but 'Joan' is recognisable once more.  27 February 2011

Photo:  Bruce Webber

 

Joan.  6 March 2011.  Photo Bruce Webber

A few days after this piece was originally posted Joan's cab was fitted.  6 March 2011

Photo:  Bruce Webber

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 7th December 2010

Workshop Update - Photo Feature

Joan December 2010.  Photo:  Bruce Webber

Pipework and cab fittings are well underway on Joan, the workshop's highest profile job this winter.  However, in addition to this steam loco, the remainder of the fleet must undergo maintenance after the Santa trains have finished.

 

Wagon maintenance.  Photo Bruce Webber

Less glamorous tasks are also being undertaken such as wagon restoration and servicing of the diesel locomotives.

 

Decorating for Santas.  Photo Bruce Webber

And just for a change some of the volunteers take a weekend off to prepare the station and carriages for the Santa season.

All photos:  Bruce Webber

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


 

Release date 7th December 2010

Winter Trackwork Underway

Marking a change from single lengthy track renewals of recent years, the W&L's track gang is turning its attention to four shorter jobs this winter.  The first close to Sylfaen has already been completed during November, other than tamping and final ballasting.

With a short term absence of diesel locomotives (No.7 Chattenden is currently mid overhaul, and Diema locomotive No.17 was undergoing a few minor repairs), steam locomotive No.2 'Countess' deputised for a couple of days on the 25th & 26th November to perform ballasting duties and move recently purchased rails from Welshpool to the second work site near Cyfronydd.  No.17 was available again the following week to complete the tasks.  

The remaining renewals this winter are both in the Llanfair Caereinion to Cyfronydd section of line, which will be made available to the track gang after the Santa Special trains this month.

Loading Rails.  Photo:  Tony Beardsell

No.2's short stint on works train duties coincided with the first winter snow in the area.  New rails from Poland are being loaded for transportation to the winter's second work site near to Cyfronydd.  26 November 2010

Photo: Tony Beardsell

Countess in snow.  Photo: Graham Hall

The opportunity to capture a W&L steam loco in the snow are quite rare.  Once again the loco crew has taken pride in the locomotive's appearance despite the lack of customers and earlier than normal start to the day. 26 November 2010

Photo: Graham Hall

 

Frozen Banwy.  Photo Bruce Webber

By the 3rd December ice is covering much of the River Banwy, but work continues on the railway.  Photo:  Bruce Webber

 

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


 

Release date 29th September 2010

Llanfair loco favourite heads north for display 

A steam locomotive regarded as a favourite by many crews on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway is to take a new starring role with Britain’s National Railway Museum.

Hunslet 2-6-2 tank locomotive No.85, No.14 in the W&LLR fleet, was withdrawn in April following the expiry of its boiler ticket. The loco now needs a complete overhaul including a new boiler, and with newly restored No.12 ‘Joan’ due to enter service next season No.85 is unlikely to return to action for some time.

Therefore rather than have the historic loco stored out of sight in the stock shed, staff at the W&LLR have negotiated a loan for No.85 to go on display at the National Railway Museum’s ‘out-station’, Locomotion – The National Railway Museum in Shildon, County Durham. The loan period will initially be for five years but can be extended.

The loco is likely to form the centerpiece of a display highlighting the twinning of the National Railway Museum and the Sierra Leone Railway Museum. Built in 1954 in Leeds, No.85 spent its working life on the Sierra Leone Government Railways in the West African state. It was repatriated by the W&LLR in 1975, since when it has been one of the most popular and most regularly-employed locomotives at the Welshpool & Llanfair, its user-friendly nature making it a favourite for driver experience courses where members of the public are introduced to the skill of driving a steam locomotive.

In April No.85 bowed out in style at an African Train Weekend. Guests at the event included three members of the Sierra Leone High Commission and Steve Davies, now the head of the National Railway Museum based in York but the man who as a British Army officer serving in Sierra Leone was instrumental in setting up the railway museum in the country.

Commenting on the loan, W&LLR General Manager Terry Turner said that the railway was delighted to see No.85 going to the museum, adding; “Until such time as No.85 can be returned to service, it is important that the locomotive is on public display demonstrating how Britain exported narrow gauge railways to the world, while also promoting our railway. And there is no better place for it to be displayed than at Locomotion." 

Anthony Coulls – Senior Curator, Rail Vehicle Collections for the NRM and a fellow Sierra Leone Railway Museum activist with Steve Davies, is looking forward to welcoming No.85 for display. He said; “No.85 has been a popular loco on the Welsh narrow gauge scene for over three decades, we hope that display in the NRM will introduce the engine and the Sierra Leone National Railway Museum to a new audience who we hope will wish to visit both the W&LLR and Sierra Leone in due course.”

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


 

Release date 26th August 2010

'Chevallier' Arrives at Llanfair - Photo Feature

Manning Wardle 0-6-2T 'Chevallier'  (No. 1817 / Built 1915) has arrived for her Gala appearance at the W&L fresh from her overhaul at the Flour Mill.

Chevallier on road transport.  Photo Andrew Charman

 

Chevallier at Llanfair.  Photo Andrew Charman

Both Photos:  Andrew Charman

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 1st August 2010

Third Replica Pickering Arrival - Photo Feature

The Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway has taken delivery of replica Pickering carriage No.6338 at Llanfair Caereinion this afternoon.  This carriage, constructed at the Ffestiniog Railway's Boston Lodge workshops,  completes the replica set.  Operating with original locomotive No.2 'Countess', and some of the surviving wagons, the carriages form the passenger portion of the Great Western Railway era mixed train.  

Following acceptance trials the carriage is scheduled to enter service at the Annual Steam Gala on the 3rd, 4th and 5th September.

6338 Arrival.  Photo Andrew Charman 

 

6338 Arrival.  Photo Andrew Charman

 

6338 Arrival.  Photo Andrew Charman

All photos:  Andrew Charman

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 27th July 2010

'Joan' Photo Update

Workshop staff are continuing work with 'Joan' as time permits between routine maintenance and locomotive roster duties.  The following photographs show some of the recent progress.

 

Joan Tanks 15 June 2010 Geoff Gauntlett

 

Joan's new water tanks recently manufactured by Brunswick Ironworks, Caernarfon.  15 June 2010

Photo:  Geoff Gauntlett

Joan Tanks 15 June 2010 Geoff Gauntlett

The new tanks being shunted into the workshop by No.17.  15 June 2010

Photo:  Geoff Gauntlett

Fabricating Joan's New Chimney.  Photo Bruce Webber

Fabricating Joan's New Chimney.  4 July 2010

Joan's New Chimney.  Photo Bruce Webber

Both Photos:  Bruce Webber

Smoke Box Door.  Photo Bruce Webber

New smokebox door, with old fittings.  5 July 2010

Photo:  Bruce Webber

New Regulator.  Photo Bruce Webber

New Regulator.  4 July 2010

Photo: Bruce Webber

Removing old paint from inside cab roof.  Photo Bruce Webber

Removing old paint from inside cab roof.  2 July 2010

 Photo Bruce Webber

Setting Up Joan's Crosshead and Slidebar  Photo Bruce Webber

Setting Up Joan's Crosshead and Slidebar.  

Photo: Bruce Webber

 

Joan Front end 18 July 2010 Bruce Webber

 

The interior of the smokebox is beginning to take shape. 18 July 2010 

Photo:  Bruce Webber

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 10th June 2010

‘Chevallier’ heads for Llanfair Gala

FOR the first time in over a decade the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR) is to welcome a visiting steam locomotive to its annual September Steam Gala.

The locomotive, Manning Wardle 0-6-2T ‘Chevallier’, has several connections with the Mid-Wales line, and indeed has visited before, in 1991.

‘Chevallier’ was built in 1915 for the Chattenden & Upnor Railway, a line ran by the Admiralty in Kent. Years later in 1963 the fledgling preservationists of the W&LLR obtained their first passenger rolling stock from the Chattenden line, together with diesel locomotive ‘Chattenden’ which still runs at Llanfair today.

In 1950 ‘Chevallier’ was sold on from Chattenden to Bowaters Paper Mills in Sittingbourne, also in Kent. This system would later form the basis of the preserved Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway, to which the W&LLR later sold on the ex-Chattenden rolling stock.

By this time however, ‘Chevallier’ had moved again, to the railway built to run through the wildlife enclosures at Whipsnade Zoo and Safari Park in Bedfordshire. Here the loco remained until 2006, when it was purchased from Sir William (Bill) McAlpine and moved to the Forest of Dean.  In 2009 a heavy general overhaul began at the Flour Mill workshop, which is scheduled for completion in August 2010.

“We need to make sure it works once we’ve finished,” commented Bill Parker of the Flour Mill, “and what better place than the Welshpool & Llanfair?  A little bit of everything, and a lot of beautiful countryside, steep gradients and passengers, not to mention enthusiastic volunteers”.

“We are delighted to play host to this historic and immaculately restored locomotive and thank Bill for making it available to us,” commented W&LLR General Manager, Terry Turner.It will haul its share of Gala trains and is bound to be a star attraction in GWR green with lots of brass and copper on display,” he added.

The W&LLR Annual Steam Gala will run from 3rd to 5th September and feature a number of attractions in addition to ‘Chevallier’. The last locomotive to visit the W&LLR Gala was Henschel 0-6-0 ‘Siam’ from the Bredgar & Wormshill Railway in Kent, way back in 1995.

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 14th May 2010

Joan's New Boiler Arrives!

Joan's new boiler was lowered into the frames this morning after an early morning arrival from builders Israel Newton and Sons.  Much work remains to be done but it is hoped that No.12 might be capable of being steamed at the Annual Steam Gala in September.

Joan's new boiler, 14 May 2010.  Kevin Heywood

 

 

Joan's new boiler, 14 May 2010.  Kevin Heywood

 

 

Joan's new boiler, 14 May 2010.  Kevin Heywood

 

 

Joan's new boiler, 14 May 2010.  Kevin Heywood

 

 

Joan's new boiler, 14 May 2010.  Kevin Heywood

All Photos:  Kevin Heywood, 14 May 2010

 

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 19th April 2010

The Third SLR Quietly Returns to the UK

Whilst the W&L entertained NRM Director, Steve Davies and guests from Sierra Leone on the very last run of the "African Train", another not to be forgotten SLR carriage arrived at the South Tynedale Railway in Cumbria.

Ex SLR Carriage No.1048 left the W&L twelve months ago for Romania and refurbishment as a 2' (605mm) gauge buffet car. Now resplendent in South Tynedale Railway deep red livery, the carriage is immaculately restored with a buffet counter at one end and upholstered 2 + 1 seating with tables.

Terry Turner, W&L General Manager and STR Project Manager commented:  "Whilst one of the four carriages imported from Sierra Leone in the 70s was beyond economic repair and recently scrapped, the remaining three survive as good examples of modern British built 'colonial' rolling stock. As well as the immaculately restored First and Third Class examples on the W&L, we are delighted to have found a new use for 1048 whilst helping our friends at the South Tynedale Railway".

NRM Director Steve Davies and guests from Sierra Leone.  17 April 2010.  Photo  Liz Turner

Photo:  Liz Turner

1048 arrives at South Tynedale Railway.  Photo Brian Craven

Photo:  Brian Craven

1048 arrives at South Tynedale Railway.  Photo Brian Craven

Photo:  Brian Craven

85 at Heniarth, 17 April 2010.  Photo Liz Turner

Former Sierra Leone Railway No.85 pauses at Heniarth during her last journey from Welshpool to Llanfair Caereinion,  17 April 2010

Photo:  Liz Turner

More photographs of the locomotive's last few days in traffic are shown below - see Farewell to 85

 

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 19th April 2010

Farewell to 85

W&L members gave a fond farewell to former Sierra Leone Railway No.85 on 17 April 2010, her last day in service before her boiler certificate expired.  

To enable as many people as possible to have their last ride behind this much loved locomotive she was rostered throughout the Easter weekend; and then a series of special trains where she was paired with the restored SLR carriages.  

The area was treated to some wonderful weather which enhanced the enjoyment for all who came to see her.  

The following photographs have been selected as a sample of her final days as an operational locomotive.

 

 

85's final climb out of Welshpool passing Hanged Man's Tree, 17 April 2010  

Photo Bruce Webber

85 passing Hanged Man's Tree.  17 April 2010  Photo:  Bruce Webber

 

 Ivo Peter's Bentley.  Photo Bruce Webber

The first of the special trains took place on 9 April when the Steam Railway Magazine team made a special visit to ride on the 'African Train' and sample the delights of the W&L.  We make no apologies for including a picture of 'The Earl' with the one guest that could not travel on the train - Ivo Peters' Mark VI Bentley.  No.85 might have been the star of the show this Easter, but the rest of the railway did not want to take a back seat.

Photo: Bruce Webber

 

85 passing Heniarth 10 April 2010 Photo Mike Heath

The general public were given the opportunity to ride the 'African Train' during the 10 and 11 April.  One of the trains is seen heading towards Welshpool at Heniarth.  10 April 2010.   Photo:  Mike Heath

 

85 approaching Coppice Lane 10 April 2010 Photo Mike Heath

The African Train approaching Coppice Lane.  10 April 2010.  Photo:  Mike Heath

 

Countess and Earl at Heniarth 10 April 2010 Photo Mike Heath

A surprise for the photographers - a heavily loaded 13.00 train from Llanfair required the use of an extra locomotive on this train and the returning 14.15 from Welshpool.  10 April 2010.  Photo:  Mike Heath

 

85 passing the old water tank Photo: Richard Pelham 12 April 2010

Photographic charter trains took place on Monday 12 April 2010.  85 is seen passing the old water tank alongside the River Banwy a short distance from Llanfair Caereinion.  Photo:  Richard Pelham

 

 

Tastefully decorated with flowers and flags, 85 operated two final trains on 17 April for working members, guests from the National Railway Museum and officials from Sierra Leone.  85 rests at Welshpool water tank.  Photo:  Tammy Stretton

 

85 and piper 17 April 2010.  Photo Tammy Stretton

Kate Billmore prepares to pipe off the last train from Welshpool.  Photo: Tammy Stretton

 

85 approaching Heniarth.  17 April 2010.  Photo Tammy Stretton

Train in the landscape.....  Photo:  Tammy Stretton

 

85 at LLanfair.  17 April 2010.  Photo Tammy Stretton

And back to Llanfair.  Mechanical Engineer, Colin Tickle, was given the honour of driving the last train from Welshpool.  His fireman was Caroline Schubert and guard Elizabeth Hall was assisted by new trainee John Gearey.  Photo:  Tammy Stretton

 

Ends

Back to Top of Page 

 


 

Release date 25th February 2010

Winter Progress 

The track relaying gang are delighted with the progress made during the last fortnight which has seen the renewal of two heavily used occupation crossings near Sylfaen station, along with the associated drainage and trackwork.

Sylfaen crossings before relay.  20 October 2009.  Photo Kevin Heywood

Both crossings at Sylfaen looking towards Welshpool at the end of the 2009 season. 20 October 2009.

Photo:  Kevin Heywood

 

Lower Sylfaen crossing prepared for concrete.  Photo Kevin Heywood

Rails and wooden shuttering are in place in readiness for the concrete. The upper crossing received similar treatment during the previous week.  23 February 2010.

Photo:  Kevin Heywood

 

Concrete delivery.  Photo Kevin Heywood

Photo:  Kevin Heywood

 

Leveling and floating.  Photo Kevin Heywood

Photo:  Kevin Heywood

 

Completed crossing.  Photo Kevin Heywood.

The completed crossing includes steel fibers in the concrete for strength to enable it to withstand modern farm machinery and Powis Estate timber traffic vehicles.  Evidence of the extensive new drainage to deal with water coming off the adjacent A458 road can be seen on the left hand side of the picture (black pipe below the left most traffic cone).  24 February 2010.

Photo:  Kevin Heywood

 

The final stretch.  Photo Kevin Heywood.

The final stretch.  Only a short distance now remains before reconnection to the Llanfair end of the railway at Sylfaen station, although ballasting, tamping, fencing renewal and tidying will keep the track gang in the open air for weeks to come.

Photo:  Kevin Heywood

 

Meanwhile workshop staff were not to be outdone and by the end of the traditional February workshop week significant progress had been made on the reassembly of Joan in addition to the more routine maintenance tasks on locomotives 1, 2 and 19. 

Joan's brakegear assembly.  Photo:  Bruce Webber.

The all important brake-gear assembly. 21 February 2010.

Photo:  Bruce Webber

 

Joan with connecting rods.  Photo Bruce Webber

'Joan' is temporarily rolled out into the daylight to evaluate the week's assembly work. 21 February 2010.

Photo Bruce Webber 

 

 

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


 

Release date 15th February 2010

Joan back on the rails

The rebuilding of Joan has made significant progress today when her frame was lowered on to her wheels to make a rolling chassis in readiness for the new boiler which is due around April.  Reassembly work will continue over the coming weeks in addition to other winter maintenance tasks on 'The Earl', 'Countess' and No.19.

Joan 15 Feb 2010 Photo: A Charman

 

Joan 15 Feb 2010 Photo: A Charman

Joan 15 Feb 2010 Photo: A Charman

 

Joan 15 Feb 2010 Photo: A Charman

 

Joan 15 Feb 2010 Photo: A Charman

All photos:  Andrew Charman

 

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 11th February 2010

Member No.13 – John Hurdley

As his 70th birthday approaches, long serving member John Hurdley announced his retirement from active work on the W&L. After attending the formulative meeting of preservationists in Birmingham, John became member No.13 (he believes 1-12 were reserved for the original Board members) and has remained a loyal supporter of the W&L since those early years.

Home at the W&L was his campervan that made regular trips from his home in Harborne, Birmingham. Known for his dry humour, quick wit and occasional acerbic comment, John announced his retirement in typical fashion:

“My campervan is clapped out and so am I – but I shall be back to check that you are doing it right!”

John worked as a Guard, Booking Clerk, Blockman and Controller during the running season and was part of the track gang involved with major renewals during the winter months.  On Friday 5th February, his final day, he worked on the half-mile track refurbishment on Sylfaen Bank. To mark the occasion, a cake was produced and John was put in charge so that the gang could benefit from his wisdom one last time!

Terry Turner, GM commented: “I understand an early assessment suggested he should not be let loose on the public! We wish him well and are most grateful for his loyalty, commitment and effort. We face the continual challenge of finding younger replacements if the W&L is to continue to improve and prosper.”

John Hurdley.  Photo Tony Beardsell

 

John Hurdley.  Photo Tony Beardsell

 

Sylfaen farm crossings.  Photo Tony Beardsell

At the moment of John's retirement the relay was within site of Sylfaen station.  Two occupation crossings block the straight forward entry into the station, along with a substantial amount of drainage work.

All photos:  Tony Beardsell

 

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 14th January 2010

Making Tracks in the Snow

Mid-Wales might have been under several inches of snow in the past couple of weeks, but this hasn’t stopped Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway staff and volunteers from pushing on with a major track renewal programme.

The narrow gauge line is currently renewing half a mile of track on Sylfaen Bank, around two miles west of Welshpool. Before Christmas the old track, some of which dated from the 1960s, was dismantled and removed, and despite the arrival of seriously wintry conditions the gang returned to the work site in early January.

Despite further snowfalls, work continues on Sylfaen Bank, a notorious area that has seen three separate road vehicle incursions on to the track from the adjacent A458 road in the past year. Railway management are pressing for the erection of crash barriers along this stretch of the A458.

Welshpool & Llanfair General Manager, Terry Turner, said: “We are acutely aware of the tight deadline before we open to passengers at Easter, and have even resorted to the use of a flame-thrower to remove snow and heat rails so that they may be curved without risk of breakage in the sub-zero conditions.”

He added; “Considerable culvert and drainage work always precedes track laying and afterwards there is a small matter of spreading and consolidating over 1,000 tonnes of ballast before the Easter opening. Investments such as our Romanian ballast wagons, South African tamping machine and other forms of mechanisation allow projects like this to be completed by a small staff assisted by an equally small number of regular volunteers.”   

Meanwhile in the workshop at Llanfair Caereinion, work continues on the annual maintenance of the W&LLR’s operational fleet of steam locomotives, as well as the restoration of 0-6-2 tank ‘Joan’, which formerly worked in the distinctly warmer climes of Antigua. Some volunteers are battling from as far a field as Bedfordshire and Surrey to spend weekends in the workshop.

The railway would of course welcome more volunteer help, which whatever the weather usually provides plenty of fun for all concerned, as well as the warm feeling of a job well done – anyone interested can contact the W&LLR on 01938 810441 .

Winter Track work.  Photo Bruce Webber

 

Winter Track work.  Photo Bruce Webber

Photos:  Bruce Webber

Ends

Back to Top of Page 

 


Release date 8th November 2009

Steampipes - 10 December 2009  

Steampipes is a unique show featuring railway films, cartoons and comedy with organ accompaniment.  Now in its 32nd year, Steampipes is not only a fund-raiser for the Ffestiniog, Talyllyn and Welshpool and Llanfair Railways but also an important social milestone in the railway calendar as enthusiasts and supporters of all three railways gather for this popular annual show.

This year’s event is on Thursday 10 December at 7pm at Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London – opposite Euston Station.  The programme will feature film of big steam American railroading, the Metropolitan Railway and Brill branch in 1928, London trams in the 1930’s, Talyllyn and Welsh Highland Railways in the pre-preservation era, Class A1 locomotive construction at Doncaster, LNWR locomotives at work in the 1950’s and careers in transport in 1953.  There is a supporting programme that includes organ solos, a cartoon and silent comedy.  

Rob Foxon will present the Show and Len Rawle will be at the organ to accompany the silent films.  All seats cost £9 (£4.50 under 16) from R.Patenall, 10 Greta House, 60 Hardy Road, Blackheath, London, SE3 7PA.  (Cheques to be made payable to the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society; please enclose sae with your booking).

View the Steampipes booking form and leaflet here

 

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 4th November 2009

Kenneth Charles Fenton MBE – 1926-2009

ALL involved with the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway are mourning the loss of one of the line’s greatest servants. Ken Fenton, whose service to the W&LLR included over 35 years as Company Chairman through some of the most challenging times for the line, passed away peacefully on Friday 23rd October after a brave battle with cancer.

Born in December 1926 in Filton, Gloucestershire, Ken’s education was interrupted in 1946 by military service. He spent three years in the Corps of Royal Engineers, achieving the rank of Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant. Returning to University he went on to gain a first class honours degree in engineering before embarking on a very successful engineering career. Initially working on stresses in aircraft engines at the Bristol Aeroplane Co and then the Post Office Engineering Dept developing machinery for mechanised mail handling and sorting, Ken then joined the Midland Iron Co in 1961, serving as the company’s Managing Director between 1971 and 1992.

But it was Ken’s long involvement in the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway that brought him into contact with so many people, all of whom he impressed with his combination of enthusiasm and practical stewardship, particularly through many of the difficult times that the line faced following its preservation. Ken joined the preservation company in 1963, the same year that the first volunteer passenger train service began. Within five years he had been elected a Trustee, and in 1970 became Company Chairman, a post he held for a remarkable 35 years.

As well as his official role Ken was very much a hands-on volunteer, taking on any task from firing the locomotives to assisting with the accounts and running the railway booking offices – just a week before his death he was on duty as Station Master at Llanfair Caereinion. His work for and dedication to the railway was recognised in 2003 when he was awarded the MBE for services to tourism in Wales.

Describing Ken as “one of life’s real gentlemen,” W&LLR Chairman Alan Higgins led the many tributes, saying; “In a career spanning some 46 years with the W&LLR, Ken Fenton presided over the company from the difficult financial times of the early days of preservation, through the centenary of the line’s building in 2002, when he hosted a royal visit from the Prince of Wales. 

“Ken could silence a board of trustees with a glance but always had time for a chat with volunteers, members and customers alike. His expertise, dedication and commitment were legendary and his MBE in 2004 was never more deserved.”

Alan added; “Not only does the railway mourn the passing of a former Chairman, who was so instrumental in firmly establishing the W&LLR on the long road to success with many innovative ideas and solutions, the membership are all mourning the loss of a unique person and a special friend.”

W&LLR General Manager Terry Turner said; “Ken was Chairman of the W&LLR for over 35 years and the results of his leadership and financial acumen are all around us. He was a gentleman and a great friend to all who had the privilege of knowing him.”

Chris Walker worked alongside Ken for more than 20 years as Company Secretary and then Vice-Chairman, during the challenging early years of the line. He said; “After the early inaugural work of Stanley Keyse and Sir Thomas Salt, Ken became the most significant influence by far on the course of this railway where his canny combination of financial prudence, careful pragmatism and subtle personal skills steered us from a very marginal and fragile organisation to one of the most substantial and cohesive narrow gauge lines over 40 years.”

Ken’s wife Mercia, to whom he was married for 47 years, died in 2007. He leaves daughter Caroline, son John and grandchildren Tobias, Robert and Rosemary, to whom all at the Welshpool & Llanfair offer heartfelt condolences.

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 19th September 2009

A third Pickering Carriage for the W&L

Further co-operation between two of the ‘Great Little Trains of Wales’, has seen the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway award a contract for the building of a further replica ‘Pickering’ carriage to the Ffestiniog Railway.

W&L GM, Terry Turner: “Being aware of the superb standard of workmanship from Boston Lodge on previous W&L carriages, we are absolutely delighted to award this contract to the FR and look forward to further co-operation with them.”

Brake/Composite No. 6338 will be delivered next year and join identical Brake/Composite No.6466 and ‘All Third Saloon’ No.4154 to complete the replication of the three original carriages built by R.Y.Pickering in 1902 and scrapped by the GWR in 1936.

FR GM, Paul Lewin:  “We are delighted with the opportunity to complete the Welshpool & Llanfair set of carriages. We had always hoped to be able to do this since agreeing the contract for the first replica carriage back in 2003. To see all three carriages hauled by an original W&L locomotive will be a dream come true for both W&L members and the carriage works team at Boston Lodge. The contract helps to secure jobs in North Wales during difficult economic times and retain traditional skills.” 

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 7th September 2009

Youngest train climaxes successful steam gala

THE Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR) staged a highly successful annual Steam Gala over the weekend, with thousands of railway enthusiasts descending on the mid-Wales narrow gauge line for three days of action and entertainment.

Young Train Crew at the 2009 Gala.  Photo Andrew Charman

The crew of the youngest train before setting off from Llanfair - guard James Charman, firemen Harry Billmore and Dan Abbott (on the loco) and drivers John Travis and Richard Newby

Photo:  Andrew Charman

All ages were very much in evidence at the event, which on Sunday climaxed with the running of a double-headed train entirely crewed by the youngest qualified volunteers in their respective departments. Drivers John Travis, 25, and 29-year-old Richard Newby (who flew back from New Zealand specially for the event), were joined by firemen Dan Abbott, 23, and Harry Billmore (20), while the guard was 18-year-old James Charman, who only qualified last month and was working on his first gala event.

This year’s Gala was extended to three days for the first time, and the experiment was justified by a very busy Friday with several trains running full. Enthusiasts came from far and wide to see the many attractions that included a complete African Train – both the locomotive and rolling stock having been repatriated from Sierra Leone and restored to original condition. Other highlights included mixed trains, goods trains, the chance to see inside the railway’s workshops and on Saturday a very popular night photography session.

Speaking after the event W&LLR General Manager Terry Turner said he was very pleased with the success of the Gala, and particularly the running of the ‘youngest train’. “Our ability to run a train such as this demonstrates how the railway is attracting young volunteers helping to ensure its future – more are always welcome,” he added. 

While the Gala is over for another year the railway’s season continues, with trains running every day except Monday and Friday until 20 September and then weekends until the end of October. Full details, including the timetable, can be found on the railway’s website at www.wllr.org.uk 

 

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 1st September 2009

Young people make big difference at Mid-Wales steam line

 

AS the volunteer staff at the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR) prepare for their Annual Steam Gala this coming weekend (4-6 September) much useful help has come in recent weeks from young people.

During the summer months the W&LLR has hosted several parties of students taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. Staying for a week at a time in the railway’s volunteer accommodation at Llanfair Caereinion, the youngsters have been involved in all aspects of the line’s operation.

Duke of Edinburgh Residential August 2009 - Photo Andrew Charman

Photo:  Andrew Charman

Under the expert supervision of W&LLR operational staff, the students have carried out tasks ranging from parks and gardens work at the stations and duties in the shops to locomotive and carriage maintenance. Some even managed to get up at the crack of dawn to assist in lighting-up of the steam locomotives.

According to Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway Press Officer Andrew Charman the “Does”, as the youngsters are affectionately known by the line’s staff, have been a great help, especially in the weeks leading up to the gala event when everyone makes an extra effort to ensure that the railway looks at its best.

“The Does have proven enthusiastic and hard-working, and the complete opposite to the all-too familiar headlines you read about young people in newspapers these days,” Andrew said. “For them the steam locomotive is a mystery, something from long before they were born, yet some of our students have been really taken by the W&LLR and are keen to return and carry out further volunteer work on the line.”  

Young people will again be making the headlines on Gala Sunday, when the railway runs a double-headed steam train entirely crewed by its youngest qualified volunteers, including a guard aged just 18 years.

This year’s Gala has been extended to three days, opening on Friday 4th September, and will feature the line’s most extensive timetable, with all available steam locomotives working trains. There will be double-headed, mixed and goods trains, and plenty of extra attractions at the stations including vintage vehicles, sales stands and a chance to see inside the railway’s workshops.

Saturday night will see the traditional night photography session at Llanfair, with a real ale bar operating throughout the weekend. Meanwhile on Saturday and Sunday a garden railway model show will be held at Llanfair Caereinion Leisure Centre, just up the hill from the W&LLR’s Llanfair station.

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 16th August 2009

'New Look' for Sierra Leone Railway No.85

Former Sierra Leone Railway No.85 has received a surprise livery change to Matt Black (representing her appearance in Africa) in time for Gala operations in September.  The remarkable transformation from its previous lined-out midnight blue scheme to plain black was effected in just three days – its previous appearance can be seen in the news item for 18th July.  Photographs by Bruce Webber below show her 'fresh' from the paint shop.

SLR No.85, Bruce Webber

 

SLR No.85, Bruce Webber

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 18th July 2009

Refurbished Sierra Leone Railway train returns to Welshpool

The two recently refurbished ex Sierra Leone Railway carriages Nos. 1066 and 1207 were re-united with locomotive No.85 for a test train to Welshpool and return on Friday 17th July.  The train is scheduled to make a couple of journeys during the Steam Gala (4th to 6th September).  Details of times and booking details for the First Class carriage are available on our gala page.  The locomotive is nearing the end of her 10 year boiler certificate so the opportunity to see the re-united train should not be missed.

 

SLR Test Train  Photo: Tony Beardsell

The test train assembled at Welshpool Raven Square station.  Photo: Tony Beardsell

 

SLR Test Train  Photo: Tony Beardsell

Climbing through the woods on the Golfa.  Photo: Tony Beardsell

 

SLR Test Train  Photo: Tony Beardsell

Approaching Coppice Lane level crossing.  Photo: Tony Beardsell

 

Third class interior

Interior of the Third Class carriage No. 1066.  Photo: Tony Beardsell

 

First Class interior

Interior of the First Class carriage No 1207.  Photo: Tony Beardsell

The locomotive and carriages originally arrived on the railway in 1975 and were gradually restored over the next few years.  After many years of service the carriages were withdrawn a few years ago and the opportunity has been taken to recreate an example of a first class and a third class carriage in keeping with the original drawings.

......and from the archives

 

Unloading SLR Carriage in 1975.  Photo Bruce Webber

 

Unloading one of the carriages at Castle Caereinion station when the W&L first acquired them on 8th August 1975.

Photo:  Bruce Webber

Unloading No.85 in 1975.  Photo:  Bruce Webber

Unloading No.85 at Llanfair Caereinion on 7th August 1975.

Photo: Bruce Webber

Train at Raven Square.

The locomotive and carriages in use at Raven Square station shortly after services had been restored to that station in 1981.

Photo:  W&L Archive Collection

Link to Annual Steam Gala Page

 

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 25th June 2009

Pre-War Austin Seven cars visit the W&L

A visit by the Pre-War Austin Seven Club will give some visitors to the railway this weekend (27 & 28 June) an added treat.  It is anticipated that over 30 cars, made up largely of Austin Sevens, will gather at Llanfair Caereinion during the early afternoon before their owners and guests depart on a special private train at 2.30pm for a trip to Welshpool and back.  The cars will also assemble at Welshpool Raven Square station on Sunday morning for about an hour and a half from 10.00am before moving on to Powis Castle.

In addition to the ordinary steam trains operating this weekend there will also be an 11.30 departure from Llanfair Caereinion with the Replica Pickering carriages and one of the original locomotives.   Further details are available on the timetable page of this site.

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 5th April 2009

'Comings and Goings' at the W&L

Comings…………

On Sunday 29th March, ex-SLR ‘First Class’ carriage No.1207 returned to the W&L after refurbishment in Romania. The original insect-infested leather armchairs were removed by the W&L upon arrival from Sierra Leone in the 1970s and replaced with bus seats. In seeking to restore ‘as built’ condition as far as possible, SLR 1207 has been fitted with ‘ivory’ internal panelling and 16 new leather armchairs in the ‘Dawn Mist’ shade specified on the original Gloucester C&W drawings. 

W&L GM, Terry Turner:  “For the first time ever, we can offer the sight and ambience of an original Sierra Leone Railway train by pairing 1207 and previously restored ‘third class’ 1066 with motive power provided by ex-SLR Hunslet loco No.85”.

 

Goings……………

The final part of the SLR trilogy, No.1048 (third class) is surplus to requirements at the W&L and has been out of service for some time. The carriage has left the W&L for modification and refurbishment and will eventually reappear as a buffet car on the South Tynedale Railway in Cumbria!

W&L GM, Terry Turner:  “We were delighted to assist our friends at South Tynedale Railway in their quest for a new carriage and we have the added bonus of finding a new use for a historic vehicle”.  

STRPS Spokesman, Brian Craven:  “The South Tynedale Railway has been working to improve passenger facilities for some time, especially as we work to extend our running line a further 2.5 miles to Lintley and Slaggyford, Northumberland. The Society is excited to be receiving SLR 1048 from the Welshpool & Llanfair Railway and to be involved in conserving such an important heritage vehicle for contemporary use. We cannot speak too highly of the support, guidance and encouragement we have received.”

 

 SLR 1207 & 1048, Photo Bruce Webber

A colourful scene. Taiwanese Sugar Corporation diesel No.175 hauls ‘Laurel Green’ SLR 1207 whilst 1048 prepares to leave Welshpool by road.

Photo:  Bruce Webber

 

International vehicles at Welshpool.  Photo Bruce Webber

An international scene at Welshpool. SLR 1207 partially obscured by South African ‘Plasserail’ tamping machine (UGM No.9), ‘The Wasp’ ex MOD personnel carrier, Austrian (ex-Zillertalbahn No.W303) transporter wagon and two Romanian ballast hopper wagons!  Photo.  Bruce Webber

 

A one way journey. TSC 175 pushes 1048 up the loading ramp for its final journey from Welshpool.  Photo Bruce Webber

Ends

Back to Top of Page 


Release date 8th February 2009

Winter Relay Progress

Opportunities to see and work on the W&L in snowy conditions are quite rare, so the recent poor weather has not dampened the enthusiasm of the W&L track gang who are currently working at the 'Reverse Curves' on the Golfa Bank.

The following photographs provide a snapshot of the outdoor work on the railway during the 'closed' period of the season.

Drainage. Photo Tony Beardsell 

Drainage has been improved throughout the site, the wet January providing the perfect opportunity to find any potential problem areas.  During the first week in February the final new pipes were laid, the remaining section of track bed was leveled, and the sleepers and rails were roughly laid in position with mechanical aid.

 

The Wasp in the snow.   Photo Tony Beardsell

'The Wasp' has been providing transport to site much to the relief of the gang who otherwise would have to walk up to a kilometer at the start and end of the day carrying essential supplies.  This is no laughing matter when you need enough water on site for hot drinks and soup for a dozen people.

 

Setting up the Mag Drill.   Photo Tony Beardsell

Much of the lower half of this year's relay uses a check rail (used on tight curves).  Setting up for drilling holes for bolts to secure the check rail to the running rail takes time and patience, not helped by the need to remove the snow first.  The relay is using 50lb rail from two sources - new rail from China and second hand rail from Trecwn in South Wales.  Most of the sleepers are  being re-used on the site as they are made of concrete, although some new hardwood sleepers have also been obtained.

 

Quarry Cutting.   Photo Tony Beardsell

The snow masks the fact that although this section through Quarry cutting is now re-laid, it still requires extra stone ballast and tamping before the railway re-opens to passengers in April.

All photos:  Tony Beardsell

Ends

Back to Top of Page