Sixty years of Welshpool & Llanfair

Re-opening day, April 6 1963, 60 years after the railway was originally opened. An atmospheric photograph of 0-6-0T Countess running through the Narrows in Welshpool. Here, the railway had been constructed over Lledan brook.
Published Tue, 2016-11-01 16:26

Some railways are defined by their locomotives. This is especially true of narrow gauge lines, where more often than not, locomotives were designed and built to cope with a line’s specific traffic requirements, gradients and local conditions.

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Re-opening day, April 6 1963, 60 years after the railway was originally opened. An atmospheric photograph of 0-6-0T Countess running through the Narrows in Welshpool. Here, the railway had been constructed over Lledan brook. © Colour Rail

For instance, the fabled Lynton & Barnstaple Manning Wardle 2-6-2s covered in the other half of this month’s Glorious Years epitomise the revered 1ft11½in-gauge line.
This month marks the 60th anniversary of the closure of another narrow gauge railway defined by its motive power – the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway – a railway synonymous with the pair of Beyer Peacock 0-6-0Ts, No. 1 The Earl and No. 2 The Countess.
Built by Cambrian Railways in 1903 to an unusual 2ft6in gauge, the original WLLR connected the rural community of Llanfair Caereinion with the market town and main line station at Welshpool. The 8-mile railway closed on November 3 1956, after an operational life of only 53 years.
The line never carried much traffic but thanks to surges in freight traffic during the First and Second World Wars, the line survived, although passenger services were suspended in 1931.
Despite its relatively short operational life, the WLLR came under the charge of three different owners – first Cambrian Railways, then the Great Western Railway in 1923 and then British Railways on Nationalisation in 1948.
Like many similar railways, the line eventually succumbed to road traffic and lorries taking away the majority of its custom.
However, thanks to preservation efforts that commenced in 1963 to restore the line, passengers can still enjoy a ride on this unusual railway through the Powis estate in the heart of Wales. Both The Earl and The Countess are still hard at work to this day and busier then they have ever been.
 

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