Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway

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Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway
Rheilffordd y Trallwng a Llanfair Caereinion
823 COUNTESS - one of the two original W&LLR engines
Locale Mid-Wales
Terminus Welshpool
Commercial operations
Name Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway
Original gauge 2 ft 6 in (762 mm)
Preserved operations
Length 8.5 miles (13.7 km)
Preserved gauge 2 ft 6 in (762 mm)
Commercial history
Opened 1903
Closed to passengers 1931
Closed 1956
Preservation history
1963 Re-opened as a heritage railway
1981 Opening of extension to Raven Square
Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR)
Cambrian Line
Cambrian Line
Welshpool Raven Square
Golfa Bank
Castle Caereinion
Llanfair Caereinion

The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR) (Welsh: Rheilffordd y Trallwng a Llanfair Caereinion) is a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge heritage railway in Powys, Wales. The line is around 8.5 miles (13.7 km) long and runs westwards from the town of Welshpool (Welsh: Y Trallwng) via Castle Caereinion to the village of Llanfair Caereinion.


The W&LLR was one of the few narrow gauge branch lines to be built under the provisions of the 1896 Light Railways Act. Noted narrow gauge promoter Everard Calthrop appeared at the Light Railway Inquiry, and proposed the use of transporter wagons. However the line ended up being built by the Cambrian Railways engineer, with consequent conservative 4-wheel wagon and other provisions.

Original operations

It was opened on 4 April 1903 to aid economic development in a remote area, never making a profit. It was originally operated by the Cambrian Railways, connecting with it at the former Oswestry and Newtown Railway station in the town of Welshpool. The line is built through difficult country, having a great number of curves in order to reach the summit of 600 ft. The original terminus at Welshpool was located alongside the main line station and trains wound their way through the town, using the locomotive bell as a warning.

In the 1923 Grouping of railway companies, Cambrian Railways, including the Welshpool to Llanfair Caereinion line, was absorbed by the Great Western Railway (GWR). On 9 February 1931 the line lost its passenger service, which was replaced by a bus service, and it became a freight-only line. It was temporarily re-opened to passengers between 6 and 11 August 1945 for the Eisteddfod. The GWR itself was nationalised in 1948 and became part of British Railways.

Freight traffic lingered on until 1956, by which time British Railways decided to close the line, with services ceasing on 5 November.[1]


A group of volunteers and enthusiasts took the line over and started raising money to restore it. On 6 April 1963 the western half of the line, from Llanfair Caereinion to Castle Caereinion, was reopened as a tourist railway. The line through Welshpool, however, could not be reopened, so the line now has a new terminus station at Raven Square on the western outskirts of the town, opened on 18 July 1981. There are current discussions about reinstating the link through the town to the main line station, following a different route from that originally used.

Because of the 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge, unusual for British narrow gauge railways, locomotives and rolling stock to supplement the originals have had to be obtained from sources around the world including the Zillertalbahn in Austria. A major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund permitted restoration of both original locomotives together with several coaches and original wagons, and provision of new workshop facilities, ready for the line's centenary.

File:Welshpool Heritage.jpg
Gala Day: "The Earl" and "The Countess" at Llanfair Caerinion


Locomotives of the preserved railway

WLLR No. Name Image Builder Works No. Date built Date arrived Wheels Type Status Notes
1 The Earl 150px Beyer Peacock 3496 1902 1902 0-6-0T Steam Operational Original W&LLR locomotive
2 Countess Countess basks in the sunshine at Welshpool Beyer Peacock 3497 1902 1902 0-6-0T Steam Operational Original W&LLR locomotive
6 Monarch Bagnall 3024 of 1953 - aka Monarch from the Bowaters railway at Sittingbourne W. G. Bagnall 3024 1953 1966 0-4-4-0T Steam On display at Welshpool Raven Square station Previously from Sittingbourne. Sold to Ffestiniog Railway but re-purchased by W&LLR.
7 Chattenden * Chattenden shunts the Sierra Leone coaches Drewry Car Co. 2263 1947 1968 0-6-0DM Diesel Operational ex Chattenden and Upnor Railway (also known as the Lodge Hill & Upnor Railway), previously from Admiralty Depots, rebuilt at Llanfair in 1980. Has recently been rebuilt at Llanfair and is now fitted with both air and vacuum braking.
8 Dougal * Dougal and train Andrew Barclay 2207 1946 1968 0-4-0T Steam Stored Originally operated at Provan Gasworks, Glasgow. Currently awaiting boiler repairs
10 Sir Drefaldwyn * 150px Franco-Belge 2855 1944 1969 0-8-0T Steam Under overhaul as of November 2013. When finished it will be a replacement for no. 19 Originally operated by German Army & in Austria at the Zillertalbahn. An HF 160 D-type locomotive.
11 Ferret * Ferret Welshpool & Llanfair Hunslet Engine Company 2251 1940 1971 0-4-0DM Diesel Under overhaul Previously from Admiralty Depots.
12 Joan Joan at Llanfair Caereinion Kerr Stuart 4404 1929 1971 0-6-2T Steam Operational Originally operated in Antigua
14 - WLLR 14 at Castle Caereinion Hunslet Engine Company 3815 1954 1975 2-6-2T Steam On display at Shildon, awaiting funding and engineering resources for major overhaul including boiler renewal Originally operated by Sierra Leone Government Railway
16 Scooby * Hunslet Engine Company 1941 1992 0-4-0DM Diesel Stored Previously from Admiralty Depots. Rebuilt by W&LLR
17 TSC 175 Diema and The Wasp Diema 1979 2004 6wDH Diesel Operational Originally operated by Taiwan Sugar Company
18 764.423 Reșița works 1957 2004 0-8-0T Steam Spare parts donor for #19 Originally operated in Romania
19 764.425 Locomotive at Welshpool - geograph.org.uk - 1926845 Reșița works 1957 2007 0-8-0T Steam Stored Originally operated in Romania

* = Name added by WLLR

Former locomotives

WLLR No. Name Image Builder Works No. Date built Date arrived Wheels Type Status Notes
3 Raven * Ruston & Hornsby 1934 4wDM Diesel N/A Sold — now in private ownership.
4 Upnor Castle * Upnorcastleconst F. C. Hibberd 3687 1954 4wDM Diesel N/A Sold to Ffestiniog Railway
5 Nutty Sentinel 7701 1929 1964 4wVBT Steam N/A Previously from Fletton Brickworks. Owned by & returned to care of Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
9 Wynnstay * Victor and Hector at the Great Whipsnade Railway J. Fowler 1951 0-6-0DM Diesel N/A Built for a failed groundnuts scheme in Africa, sold to British Portland Cement Co.'s works at Lower Penarth, Glamorgan. Arrived at Llanfair in 1968, Sold to the Great Whipsnade Railway in 1972 as Victor.
15 Orion * 150px Tubize 2369 1948 1983 2-6-2T Steam N/A Previously from Finland. Returned to Jokioinen Museum Railway in Finland in 2006.

* = Name added by WLLR


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See also


  1. "Railway Magazine" November 1956
  • Cartwright, Ralph I. (2002). The Welshpool & Llanfair. RailRomances.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> ISBN 1-900622-06-8

External links