Talyllyn Railway Recollections pt 3

By Nigel Adams & Bob Cambridge 

The Talyllyn Railway is a remarkable survivor from a long past industrial age. It was built and opened in 1865 to carry slate from the Bryn Eglwys Slate Quarry in the hills above Abergynolwyn village to Tywyn (then Towyn) from where it was shipped all around the world.

The first passenger train ran in 1866 and the line runs from Tywyn (on the coast of Cardigan Bay) inland for 7¼ miles to Nant Gwernol. The slate traffic ceased in 1946 after a serious rock fall in the quarry. In 1950 the line’s owner (Sir Henry Haydn Jones) died and the future of the railway looked very uncertain because it had been losing money for some years.

However, a group of enthusiasts sought to prevent the line’s closure and, as a result, the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society was formed and took over the Talyllyn Railway Company and it still owns it today.

Over the ensuing years a great many improvements have been made and the volunteer members of the preservation society now provide most of the train crews and station staff needed to operate the railway. Volunteers also assist with maintenance work and many other varied activities.

Since 1951 the track has been relaid, locomotives have been acquired and rebuilt, additional carriages have been made, and many other improvements to cater for all the passengers that the railway now carries each year. In 2005 Wharf station was totally rebuilt and was officially opened by the present King and Queen.

However, despite all the changes made over the years, the Talyllyn Railway is still a rural byway where the pace of life is unhurried and the passengers can enjoy a marvellous journey up and down the beautiful and unspoilt Fathew Valley. The maximum speed on the T.R. is only 15 miles per hour so passengers can sit and enjoy the views and experience the travel of yesteryear in the 21st century.

The two original locos and the original carriages remain in regular use today but the Talyllyn Railway hasn’t stood still and it built Loco No. 7 Tom Rolt in its own workshops and has recently introduced some new carriages.

If you have never visited the Talyllyn Railway we hope that this new volume in the Recollections series will encourage you to do so. You can be assured of a warm welcome.

If you have already visited the T.R. we hope that this third volume about it will encourage you to pay a return visit in the future.