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News from the Line

Photo:  Kevin Heywood


Restoration of loco 699.01 is well underway.

 14 November 2014    Photo:  Kevin Heywood



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For older news stories please follow the follow links:

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Release date 28th February 2015

Welshpool & Llanfair appoints new general manager

The trustees of the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway are delighted to announce the appointment of Charles Spencer as the railway’s general manager, succeeding Terry Turner who retired at the end of the 2014 season.

In seeking a new general manager the W&LLR was looking for broad management experience to build on the railway’s success under Terry. Advertisements placed in relevant outlets produced a keen interest in the position from candidates with a wide range of experience, both within the UK and internationally.

Canadian by birth, Charles has a broad background in business, management and leadership in volunteer organisations. In 2012 he retired from a 30-year career with the Bank of Canada, for the second half of which he was a leading member of the Currency Department, which was responsible for Canadian bank notes from design to destruction.

He was jointly responsible for a staff of 250 and gained particular experience in organizational change and in conceiving and building new initiatives. These ranged across public education and communications, ground-breaking technical research approaches, market research, heritage revitalization, organizational reviews and staff training programmes.

The W&LLR interview panel recognised in Charles a wide range of skills that will be highly beneficial to the railway going forward, as will his extensive experience of working with volunteers. He has undertaken leadership roles with a number of adult and youth volunteer organizations in music, sports, and charities, involving up to 400 volunteers and budgets in excess of a quarter of a million.

Charles is also familiar with the W&LLR, having been a regular volunteer at the line across several departments since 2008, qualifying as a locomotive fireman in 2014. He also volunteers at the Groudle Glen Railway on the Isle of Man.

Commenting on his appointment, Charles says he is relishing the challenge ahead. “I am looking forward to working with the committed board of trustees and hard-working volunteers, and to building relationships with the local community and the heritage railway sector,” he adds.

Chairman of the trustees Iain McLean wishes to thank all the candidates who applied for the position and made the eventual choice of the new general manager an exciting decision. “We are confident that Charles’s expertise in management, finance, marketing and railway matters will complement the many skills among our railway’s volunteers,” Iain says.

The trustees would also like to thank, on behalf of the membership, deputy general manager Kevin Heywood, who stepped up to the role of acting general manager over the winter. Kevin has very effectively guided the railway through the important closed period, when much essential work needs to be completed.

Charles is expected to be in post around the time trains start operating for the 2015 season.


Photo:  Kevin Heywood


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Release date 26th February 2015

Busy winter as railway prepares for 2015 season


It is still a little over a month before passenger trains start running again on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, but the staff and volunteers of the popular mid-Wales line have been very busy over the winter.

The railway has recently concluded its traditional February Workshop Week, which sees a number of volunteers descend upon Llanfair Caereinion to boost the winter maintenance on the locomotives. This year they came from near and far, the closest from Llanfair itself, the furthest from Canada, and some spent just a day in the workshops, others the whole week.

Highlights amongst a great deal of work carried out included making a replacement chimney for original 1902-built locomotive No. 1 ‘The Earl’, a new ashpan for No. 12 ‘Joan’ built in 1927, and continuing the restoration of No. 10 ‘Sir Drefaldwyn’, which it is hoped will return to steam later in 2015 after 15 years out of service.

Meanwhile the railway’s dedicated track gang has been busy on essential renewals which can only be carried out in the winter months while the railway is closed – despite the less than helpful weather prevalent at this time of year. This winter major track relaying has taken place close to Cyfronydd station and around the roadside halt of Sylfaen.

The operations department has not been relaxing too much either – a small group of members spending a weekend giving the carriages a deep clean ready to welcome the first customers of the new season at Easter.

W&LLR acting general manager Kevin Heywood said; “Our volunteers are looking forward to showing our passengers everything we have achieved during the winter months.  Cold and damp conditions are never the most pleasant to work in, yet they continue to give valuable time to ensure that all is ready for the new season.”

The railway opens for its 2015 season on Saturday 28th March and over the Easter weekend, 3rd-6th April, will stage ‘The Great Easter Eggspress’. The Easter Bunny will be much in evidence and children travelling on the train will be encouraged to spot the Easter Eggs placed en route, while enjoying the free chocolate egg given to them with their train tickets.

Full details of the 2015 timetable and the Easter special trains can be obtained from our timetable page, or by calling 01938 810441.

Workshop week.  Photo Alan Regan

Just some of the many participants of this year's workshop week.

Photo: Alan Regan, 14 February 2015


Winter track gang.  Photo Kevin Heywood


Winter track gang at work near Sylfaen.

Photo: Kevin Heywood, 29 January 2015



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Release date 20th February 2014

Welshpool loco features on latest Royal Mail stamp collection

One of the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s two original steam locomotives has found a different kind of fame, featuring on the Royal Mail’s latest pictorial stamp collection issued on 20th February.  Locomotive No. 822 ‘The Earl’ is one of four locomotives appearing on the ‘Classic Locomotives of Wales’ collection – the final release of a four-part set that began with England in 2011, followed by Scotland in 2012 and Northern Ireland last year.

The Earl is shown on the 88p stamp, hauling a freight working in the W&LLR’s pre-preservation days in the 1950s, when the line ran through the streets of Welshpool. The loco is seen crossing Brook street into the now long-gone ‘Narrows’, with a car parked across the line having to be pushed out of the way.  Following the railway’s closure by British Railways in 1956 both The Earl and identical sister loco ‘Countess’ were stored at Oswestry works, from where they were able to be rescued when the line was reopened by the Preservation Company in 1963. Since then the two locomotives have proven the backbone of the tourist-era locomotive fleet.   

Llanfair Caereinion’s local postman, Nick Thomas, and W&LLR volunteer Andrew Charman helped the Royal Mail launch the new stamps at the railway’s Llanfair Caereinion headquarters. The Earl is currently in the workshop having heavy winter maintenance to ensure it is in prime condition for the railway’s new season at Easter.

“We rely on The Earl and its sister engine, Countess, to haul trains on our eight miles of narrow gauge railway from Welshpool to Llanfair Caereinion,” said Andrew.  “We are delighted to be helping Royal Mail launch the stamps and to be highlighting the work that volunteers do to ensure that their history is preserved and enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year,” he added.    

The other three locomotives featured on the stamps are the Ffestiniog Railway’s ‘Blanche’ and two standard gauge locomotives on the Britannia Bridge across the Menai Strait and in the South Wales coal fields.

Working in collaboration with railway experts, Royal Mail’s stamp design team reviewed thousands of photographs to find these period photos of steam locomotives in Wales.  The stamps come in a fully illustrated Presentation Pack. Inside the pack, Welsh railway historian, David Gwyn, takes a look at Wales’ steam railways and the impact the steam locomotive had on Welsh history.  The stamps are on sale in selected Post Offices from today and from www.royalmail.com/classiclocomotives


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