Opened in 1903 the introduction of a light narrow gauge
railway connecting the town of Llanfair Caereinion with
the main Cambrian Railway’s network at Welshpool
brought about a major change for life in the surrounding
countryside. Local industry and farming was transformed
as a result of this much quicker, and more economic,
method of exporting produce and importing necessary
supplies. Passenger traffic was never particularly heavy
and that service ceased in 1931. Goods traffic struggled
on benefiting from a mini revival during The Second
World War, surviving until competition from the
improving road system brought about cessation of all
services in 1956.
That would have been the end of the story but for a
band of local people who had fallen in love with the line
and were determined to save it. Starting with very limited
resources they set about the restoration of the line.
The section between Llanfair and Castle Caerinion was
reopened in 1963, Sylfaen was reached in 1972 and
operations over the full 8 mile line toWelshpool recommenced
on 18 July 1981 following completion of the
new eastern terminus at Raven Square.
The railway’s steam locomotive collection now embraces
examples from three continents.Their passenger stock
comprises Austrian open balcony saloons dating from the
turn of the century, 1950s’ second class coaches built for
the Hungarian State Railway and 1960s’ built carriages
presented to the Sierra Leone Railway by the UK government
of the time. Thus the line has a distinctly foreign
atmosphere but with the retention, in working order, of
the W & L’s two original locomotives and some of the
original goods stock together with replicas of two, soon
to be all three, of the original passenger vehicles, the
traditional Welsh rural railway experience is still maintained.
All this is captured in this pocket sized album which
shows why this gem of a railway is well worth a visit.
For well over 25 years Mike Heath has enjoyed
combining his hobbies of photography
and visiting preserved railways all over
Britain. In that time he has amassed a vast
collection of stunning photographs covering
all aspects of the railways across all
four seasons, day and night. He is the author
of more than ten railway titles, all for
Imprint: PiXZ Books. ISBN 978 1 906887 82 7, hardback, 110x155mm, 64 pages. Published March 2010.