The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s smallest steam locomotive will be a big star over the August Bank Holiday weekend, appearing at the Shrewsbury Steam Rally and travelling there in a very heritage manner.
Andrew Barclay 0-4-0 tank locomotive ‘Dougal’ will be taken from Welshpool to the rally site at Onslow Park, Shrewsbury, on a trailer hauled by a steam traction engine. Then on 5th September it will return to make a grand entrance at the railway’s own Steam Gala event.
While highly unusual today, the occasion will replicate the manner in which such locomotives would have been delivered to work sites by road, in the days before the rise of the articulated lorry, a time when steam ruled the roads as well as the rails.
The plan is for Dougal to depart from the Llanfair Line’s Welshpool Raven Square station during the latter part of August, for the 15-mile trip to the rally site – the exact date and time of departure is still to be finalised but will be published on the railway’s website, Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Hauling the trailer will be no ordinary traction engine, but ‘Wolverhampton Wanderer’, a crane engine built in 1929 by the well-known manufacturer of steam locomotives for both road and rail, John Fowler. The engine is finished in the livery of its owner, freight transport specialist Leonard Crane of Wolverhampton, and has even been the subject of a Corgi Toys model.
Wolverhampton Wanderer will be driven by John Glaze, renowned in the railway industry as a designer and inspector of boilers, while among the support crew will be W&LLR volunteers Gareth Jones, John Travis and Sam Billmore. Together with fellow volunteer James Newby, they have masterminded the expedition to Shrewsbury.
Dougal will be on show throughout Sunday and Monday (30th-31st August) at the rally. This is one of Shropshire’s biggest events of the year with more than 1,000 exhibits and attractions for the whole family. The loco will be the centrepiece of a W&LLR stand, which will be promoting the railway’s Steam Gala which is being held on 5th-6th September.
Following the end of the rally Dougal will spend a week in secure storage near Welshpool, and then on the eve of the Gala, on the evening of Friday 4th September the loco will arrive back at Welshpool Raven Square. This time haulage will be provided by another Fowler steam road loco, ‘Foremost’, built in 1911 and recently restored to award-winning standard by Joe Walker.
The combination will spend the night at Raven Square and then at about 9am on Saturday morning they will set off to travel to the other end of the railway at Llanfair Caereinion. On arrival, a journey that is expected to take around two hours, Foremost and Dougal will form a major part of the yard displays at Llanfair as part of the Gala, these displays also including a Sentinel steam lorry and a steam car.
Dougal’s road adventure adds yet another aspect to the W&LLR’s Gala which already boasts a number of new attractions this year, including the visit of an articulated steam locomotive that formerly worked in Indonesia, ‘Pakis Baru No 5’.
“Dougal has been out of service for a while as the loco needs some boiler repairs,” said W&LLR spokesman Andrew Charman. “This excellent initiative by our members will both keep the loco in the public eye while promoting both the Shrewsbury Steam Rally and our own Gala, in an innovative and exciting way which is sure to attract the attention of many enthusiasts.”
More details of Shrewsbury Steam Rally, including advanced ticket booking facilities, can be found at www.shrewsburysteamrally.co.uk More details of our own Gala will be available on this website shortly.
Model railways at both ends of Llanfair Gala
15th July 2015
This year’s Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway annual Gala on 5th-6th September will for the first time feature a model railway exhibition at both ends of the mid-Wales line.
While the Llanfair Garden Railway Show is a long-established event in its own right alongside the Gala, the W&LLR will also be staging its first-ever ‘Little Layouts’ exihibition in the display shed at Welshpool Raven Square station.
Former Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway Meyer loco ‘Monarch’, that normally resides in the display shed, will move outside to be displayed in hopefully the sunshine, creating space for the free-to-enter exhibition which is being organised by W&LLR member and well-known modeller in 7mm scale narrow gauge Martin Rich.
The layouts on show will be ‘Snailbeach’ in 7mm scale narrow gauge, the also narrow gauge ‘Afon Adit’ in 09 scale and built by Martin, ‘Stoke City’ a OO scale modern image diesel depot, the OO gauge ‘Marks End’ and ‘Shelf Sidings’, which will be available for visitors to the event to operate. There will also be a 16mm scale layout featuring live steam.
“This year’s show is a bit of a toe-in-the-water exercise”, says Martin. “We hope it will be successful enough to build up into a major part of the Gala in future years.”
At the other end of the line the separate-entry garden railway show is held at Llanfair Caereinion leisure centre, just up the hill from the W&LLR station and with a free bus service running between the two throughout the Gala weekend.
This show is under new management this year, well-known railway bookseller and Welsh Highland Heritage Railway management team member Steve Currinn having taken on the event and promised to develop it following the untimely death in January of previous organiser Steve Warrington.
The garden railway show always features a number of layouts featuring live-steam, battery and electric motive power, supported by 40-plus traders offering everything needed to create one’s own garden line – stock, track and accessories.
Meanwhile the W&LLR Gala will feature a number of new attractions this year including a visiting locomotive, the Statfold Barn Railway’s Orenstein & Koppel 0-4-4-0T Mallet ‘Pakis Baru No. 5’.
Built in 1905 for an Indonesian sugar mill, this loco was brought to the UK by Statfold in 2004 and restored. It is set to work several demonstration trains and play a major part in the traditional Saturday evening photography session at Llanfair Caereinion.
Other attractions include an intensive timetable including freight and mixed trains, displays of stock not normally seen in action including the ex-MOD railcar ‘The Wasp’ and Hunslet mines loco ‘Ferret’, conducted tours of the line’s Tanllan yard and stock shed, a display at Raven Square by the Sierra Leone National Railway Museum’s UK support group and featuring the W&LLR’s Sierra Leone carriages, further displays and traders at both termini. A real ale bar and refreshments will be available throughout the weekend.
And there will be more models at Llanfair – a 16mm scale layout in the workshops and the famed 009 layout ‘Under Milk Wood’, built in the 1970s by the late Dave Rowe and inspired by the writings of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.
Site entry to Llanfair station will cost £3 per car – parking at Welshpool will be free. Entry to the Llanfair Garden Railway Show will be £6.50 per adult with accompanied under 16s free.
Full details of the Gala on the website shortly, where discounted online tickets will be able to be pre-booked. Updates will also appear on the W&LLR Facebook page www.facebook.com/WelshpoolSteamRailway. For more information contact the railway on 01938 810441.
Statfold Mallet to star at Llanfair line Gala
22nd June 2015
The Statfold Barn Railway’s Orenstein & Koppel 0-4-4-0T Mallet locomotive ‘Pakis Baru No. 5’ is to visit the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway this summer, appearing as the star attraction at the mid Wales line’s annual Gala.
The 2ft 6in gauge loco, built in 1905 and repatriated from an Indonesian sugar mill by Statfold in 2004, is one of only two examples of a Mallet in a gauge above 10.25in currently working in the UK, the other 2ft gauge example also at Statfold.
Pakis Baru is scheduled to be in operation throughout the Gala, on 5th-6th September, working several demonstration trains and playing a major part in the traditional Saturday evening photography session, which this year will be choreographed, at Llanfair Caereinion.
The visiting locomotive is just one of a number of innovations at the W&LLR’s annual enthusiast event, with several new items planned alongside the most popular regular happenings that have long made the Gala so popular.
A team of W&LLR staff and volunteers has recently refurbished the run-round loop at Cyfronydd station, which will allow a much more intensive timetable – this including freight and mixed trains. The loop will also be used by a photographers’ special, to be hauled by Kerr Stuart 0-6-2T ‘Joan’ (4404/1927) and which will drop snappers off at Heniarth halt and Cyfronydd station in time to catch run-pasts by the heritage mixed trains, returning them to Llanfair afterwards.
Welshpool Raven Square station will play a major role in the event – Kitson-Meyer 0-4-4-0T ‘Monarch’ (3024/1953) will be on show outside as will the line’s Sierra Leone Railway bogie carriages, forming the backdrop to a display by the Sierra Leone National Railway Museum’s UK support group. The space released in the display shed will be occupied by a ‘Little Layouts’ model railway exhibition. There will also be traders present at Welshpool.
More stands will be found at Llanfair where the workshops will be open with stands and displays within, while conducted tours will be undertaken of the line’s Tanllan yard and stock shed, normally not accessible to the public. And stock not normally seen in action on a public day will be demonstrated, including the ex-MOD railcar ‘The Wasp’ and Hunslet mines loco ‘Ferret’, which moved under its own power for the first time in several years on 31st May. A Real ale bar and refreshments will be open throughout the weekend.
The W&LLR is also promising a special and highly photogenic event involving its currently out-of-use Barclay 0-4-0T ‘Dougal’ (2207/1946), the precise nature of which will be revealed closer to the event.
As previously, the Gala will coincide with the separate-entry Garden Railway Show at Llanfair Leisure Centre. This event is under new management this year, well-known railway bookseller and Welsh Highland Heritage Railway management team member Steve Currin having taken on the show and promised to develop it following the untimely death in January of previous organiser Steve Warrington. A free bus service will run between Llanfair station and the Garden Railway Show.
Site entry to Llanfair will cost £3 per car – parking at Welshpool will be free.
Commenting on the impending visit of Pakis Baru, W&LLR general manager Charles Spencer said; “We are making this year’s Gala busier and more varied, and we’re very grateful to Statfold Barn for offering us Pakis Baru, which will be a great attraction.”
Henry Noon of the Statfold Barn Railway commented; " We are very pleased to be supporting the W&LLR at its Gala. We are looking forward to seeing No 5 running through the beautiful Mid-Wales countryside, a far cry from its working life in the sugar mill in mid Java!"
Further details of the Gala and the timetable will be published on this website as they become available, and discounted online tickets will be available for visitors wishing to book in advance. Updates will also appear on the W&LLR Facebook page www.facebook.com/WelshpoolSteamRailway. For more information contact the railway on 01938 810441.
Llanfair Carnival Queen Arriving By Train - Saturday 20 June
16th June 2015
Passengers on our 11.15 departure from Welshpool on Saturday 20 June are in for a special treat. The 2015 Llanfair Caereinion Carnival Queen, Grace Cornell, and her attendees will board the train at Castle Caereinion for their journey to Llanfair Caereinion station, the starting point of the procession through the town.
The procession, led by Porthywaen band will leave the station at 12.30 and make their way through the streets of Llanfair during which crowds can enjoy entertainment from musicians, magicians and dancers.
Grace, will officially open the event at Mount Field at 1.30pm, allowing the activities to commence including Powys Dance; ‘Degawd’ band from Llanfair Caereinion High School; a martial arts display by MD Warriors; disco dancing by Llanfair Caereinion primary school pupils; music by Samm Gomm and a surprise local act! There will be fair rides; garden games and lots of stalls to suit all ages.
This year's Carnival has a ‘Welsh’ theme to mark the National Eisteddfod coming to Meifod in August (1st - 8th).
The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway looked even more heritage than usual on Sunday 26th April when it was visited by not one but two historic car runs.
At Welshpool members of the Vintage Sports Car Club (VSCC) arrived in time to travel on the 11.15 departure. Around 20 of their cars, the oldest dating from 1918, looked a fine sight parked on the grass alongside the water tower where loco no 1 ‘The Earl’ – itself dating from 1902 – paused for refereshment.
When the train arrived at Llanfair Caereinion there were a great many more cars to see, courtesy of the Salop Yesteryear Motor Club and the Shropshire branch of the MG Owners’ Club. They were visiting the line for refreshments while on their Richard Shuker Memorial Drive It Day around the borders.
The station car park was dominated by classic and vintage cars, the majority MG models dating back to T types of the 1940s-50s, but also including a wide variety of marques, among them an E-Type Jaguar, a Renault Alpine and a TVR. They certainly provided an extra attraction for the VSCC members, who also enjoyed tours of the railway’s workshops conducted by W&LLR volunteers.
W&LLR general manager Charles Spencer said all at the railway were delighted to see so many historic road vehicles present. “Part of our mandate is to present the heritage of the railway and the area, and we are always pleased to see classic and historic cars as they add so much extra atmosphere to our railway,” he said.
Details of group travel and the discounts available, along with other information on the railway, can be obtained by calling 01938 810441, or from this website.
A new season and a visit from the Easter bunny
20th March 2015
Leading Mid-Wales tourst attraction the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway is looking forward to opening its new season on Saturday 28th March, and welcoming a seasonal visitor just a week later.
The Easter Bunny will be dropping in to the W&LLR’s Llanfair Caereinion headquarters from Good Friday 3rd to Easter Monday 6th April, with some special fun for all children travelling on the line’s ‘Easter Eggs-press’ trains.
The Bunny has hidden some of his Easter eggs at various locations along the eight-mile route, and children riding on the trains will be encouraged to spot as many of them as they can. At the end of their journey on presenting their completed treasure hunt form to station staff they will be rewarded with a free chocolate egg.
There will be plenty of opportunity to spot the eggs too, as between Easter Saturday and Easter Monday two trains will be in operation, ensuring everyone visiting will have plenty of opportunity to take a steam-hauled ride along the delightful Banwy Valley.
The line will be running every day through the Easter school holidays to 12th April, with the exception of Monday 30th March and Friday 10th April. It will then settle down to its traditional early-season weekend service through to mid-May, trains also running on the Mayday bank holiday.
The opening of the new season follows a great deal of essential winter work carried out by staff and volunteers, varying from relaying and maintaining stretches of track to a host of tasks in the workshop, such as replacing the worn-out chimney of 1902-built 0-6-0T ‘The Earl’.
Meanwhile the restoration of Franco-Belge 0-8-0T locomotive ‘Sir Drefaldwyn’ is progressing rapidly, the rebuilt boiler expected back soon and high hopes that the loco will return to service later this year, for the first time since 2000.
Full information on the railway, including the full timetable and a facility to book tickets, can be found on the www.wllr.org.uk website or by calling 01938 810441.
Welshpool & Llanfair appoints new general manager
28th February 2015
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.
Busy winter as railway prepares for 2015 season
26th February 2015
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.