4662 - Vol 62 Welshpool and Llanfair Railway Railways & Recollections
Author: Mike Heath
Imprint: Silver Link Books
Published: June 24, 2016
The W&LLR opened in 1903 to link the rural community of Llanfair Caereinion with the historic market town of Welshpool. A 2ft. 6in. gauge light railway had been chosen to keep the costs of construction much lower than those associated with a standard gauge line. Furthermore, it was more suitable for the tight curves and steep gradients of the route and allowed the line to follow the contours of the countryside.Passenger services struggled to operate economically from day one and only lasted until 1931. However this sturdy little railway continued to help the communities of the Banwy Valley transport their goods, sheep and cattle to market until competition from the motor lorry won out and goods services ceased in November 1956. The preservation movement, although in its infancy, had already taken steps to preserve the Talyllyn Railway and an equally ambitious band of W&LLR enthusiasts embarked on saving their own local line. Their efforts were rewarded when the 1962 formed Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway Preservation Society reopened the first section of railway from Llanfair Caereinion as far as Castle Caereinion. With the section of the line that ran through Welshpool Town centre lost to preservation, the group redeveloped the area at Raven Square to create a new terminus. Services reached there in 1981. From that time visitors have been treated to a gentle steam hauled 8 mile journey through some of the most picturesque scenery in Wales. The railway's unique locomotive collection has developed and now embraces examples from three continents including the W&LLR's two original locos built for the line's 1903 opening, by Beyer, Peacock & Co. Ltd. Their coaching stock comprises turn of the century balcony ended saloons from Austria, 1950s built bogies from Hungary and 1960s stock from Sierra Leone. They have also invested in the construction of three replica coaches built to the specification and details of those that operated on the original line.This photographic album captures the essence of the Welshpool & Llanfair Railway which whilst having a decidedly foreign feel to it, continues to retain the traditional atmosphere of a Welsh rural light railway.