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the vale of rheidol railway

NEWSLETTER issue no.23

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Taken by John R Jones

Volume 1 - 2017

Telephone us: 01970 625 819 - Park Avenue, Aberystwyth SY23 1PG Regular steam train services running throughout the year



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Upcoming Events Locals Discount Event ‘Driver for a Fiver’ RS NIO , SE LTS ENTS U AD STUD &

CH (agedILDREN 3-1 5)

£11 £6

During February Half Term we will be running a locals discount Between 29 May & 1 Jun and From 17 July to 31 August we offer for those living in SY, SA, and LD postcodes will be running ‘Driver for a Fiver’ at our Devils Bridge Station

during yellow and green timetable days

Vale of Rheidol Newsletter Covering news and events from November & December



Page 3 - Vale of Rheidol News

The past couple of months has been a busy time for all here at the railway. From the November Autumn Colours Trains to the Santa Specials, with routine maintenance keeping us occupied during the periods where no trains are being run.

Page 5 - Vale of Rheidol Volunteers Page 6 - Maurice’s Featured Walk Page 7 - The Mines of the Rheidol Valley Page 9 - Advertisements Page 11 - A day in the Life Of Page 13 - Workshop Updates Page 15 - Pictures from the Month Page 18 - Wildlife of the Rheidol Valley Page 19 - History in Pictures Page 20 - Permanent Way Update Page 21 - 2016 Review of the Year Page 23 -Shop Product of the Month Page 24 - Garden Railway Product of the Month

During this period we have welcomed No.9 ‘Prince of Wales’ back into traffic after a repaint, returning it to its original Great Western guise as No.1213. We have taken two engine’s to the Warley Model Railway Exhibition at the Birmingham NEC Arena, a major event for us at the railway, and an exciting one too. We have also had the pleasure of welcoming a new member to the team. The railway has gone from strength to strength over recent periods and we feel that our newsletter should also grow too. If you have any feedback on our newsletter then please do let us know by contacting us at info@rheidolrailway. Thanks for taking the time to read our newsletter and we all look forward to seeing those of you who visit us throughout this coming year.

Page 25 - The Plynlimon & Hafan Tramway Page 27 - Readers Mail & Classifieds Page 28 - Upcoming Events Page 29 - Timetable Page 30 - Ever wanted to charter a train? Page 2

Vale of Rheidol Railway News Grant Supports Cattle Wagon Restoration

Warley Model Railway Exhibition During the 26th & 27th of November we were privileged to be asked to take two of our engines to the Warley Model Railway Exhibition, one of the biggest in the UK. On the Wednesday before the event No.1213 ‘Prince of Wales’ and No.7 ‘Owain Glyndwr’ were loaded on Low Loaders ready for their journey to the NEC Arena, Birmingham.

During 2014, a historic cattle van returned home to our line after 75 years of absence, We were also pleased to be awarded a grant of £5000 by the Big Lottery Fund to fund its restoration. The cattle wagon is one of two built for the line in 1923, the second wagon can be found at the Welshpool & Llanfair Railway, where the wagons were transfered by the GWR. The cattle wagon that has returned had been sold to the Ffestiniog Railway and modified as a bicycle carrier. A lot of work has been undertaken on the cattle wagon, working towards a full restoration to original condition allowing the vehicle to form part of our heritage goods vehicle fleet. For more on the work completed so far and to track the progress of the restoration it is featured in the workshop updates segment of our newsletter each edition.

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This exhibition was the first time any of our engines have been out of Wales since No.9 ‘Prince of Wales’ appeared at the National Railway Museum between November 1982 and February 1983 as part of the railways 80th Anniversary commemorations.

Vale of Rheidol Railway News Welcome to the team

Santa Trains 2016

At the start of November we welcomed a new member to the team at the Vale of Rheidol Railway.

Our Santa trains provided an exciting week for young and old alike with lots of visitors flocking to see Santa and getting into the festive spirit with all trains sold out!

We welcome to the team Allison Cadoret. Allison has joined the railway as our new Marketing Manager. Born in Brittany, she has an experienced background in marketing and event management having achieved a lot with her previous companies within Those who came to visit us enjoyed not just a narrow gauge train but also a miniature Scotland and France. railway on the demonstration track that I hope you will all join us in giving Allison a was set up between the booking office and warm welcome to the railway and wish her waiting area. For those wishing to come all the best as she settles into her new role next year we strongly recommend booking early, bookings will open soon. with us here at the railway.

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Vale of Rheidol Volunteers By Maurice Kyle, Railway Volunteer As always at this time of year, the work of the volunteers has been more than usually affected by the weather. We cope well with sunny and cold, but the dominance of wet and mild this year has hampered our efforts. Apart from routine maintenance jobs, we have mainly been involved with end of season clearing of annual plants from the containers on the station platforms, and the planting of large numbers of extra daffodil and tulip bulbs. These should bring about an even more colourful Springtime display in 2017. We use large galvanised water troughs (designed for farmers’ livestock) as platform planting containers. They arrive shiny silver colour, and to get them to the chocolate brown of GWR fame, they must first be ‘etched’ to remove the zinc coating, otherwise the paint coats will not adhere. Next comes a red or grey oxide primer, finishing with a coat or two of the gloss top coat. Four more of these have been acquired this year, two to go to each of Capel Bangor and Aberffrwd stations, and will serve to add to the floral display. We had a report from a local walker that our newly-created path above Rheidol Falls Halt had become obstructed by fallen trees and branches. When we had a look, we found that the recent ‘mini-tornado’ had swept a couple of smaller trees, left over from the felling, all over the top stile which leads from the forest to rejoin the original path. A large coil of farmers’ fencing wire had also become entangled and dangled near the same spot. Clearing the stile and path required a bit of heaving, and a scramble up a very loose, very steep and dangerous crag. All unexpected, but part of the Tuesday volunteers’ varied experience! We await the finishing of the refurb of the p-way team’s ‘Permaquip’ vehicle to get tools up the line to do more work on the footpath (extra steps), as Rheidol Falls Halt has no road access...a minor hike is required every time we visit, check, and sweep out either of the top two Halts, which we do regularly. Page 5

There is a small brick-built hut at the side of the track just before Nantyronen Halt, complete with chimney. This would originally have been built in BR days for the use of track maintenance workers, and possibly for storage. At present this small building is derelict and slightly collapsed, but we have in mind to restore it and put it back into use. An interesting project for the New Year!

I am happy to say that, at last, the Second Edition of my walkers’ guidebook ‘Railway Walks in the Vale of Rheidol’ is on sale at the station bookshop, the tourist office in Terrace Road, Aberystwyth, and soon to be at Bwlch Nantyrarian Visitor Centre. Because of a larger print-run, we are able to offer the book at the remarkable price of £4.99, even though the production quality is as good as the first edition, and there are more photographs of trains! Watch out for a hoped-for official book-launch in the Spring, at which I will be happy to have a chat and sign your copy!

The featured walk in this issue of the Newsletter is a very short one...but it’s to get up to the Half Way Inn on the Devil’s Bridge Road from the Vale of Rheidol Railway!

Maurice’s featured walk To the Half Way Inn, at Pisgah. About 2 km (1¼ miles), there and back approx 45 minutes (not including the time spent at this nice hostelry!). The Half Way Inn at Pisgah is a very attractive little pub on the Aberystwyth to Devil’s Bridge road, and this is by far the nicest way to get there…not to mention not having to drive home afterwards! The return can be a simple backtracking, but with an excellent wide panorama spread out before you as you walk back to the station.There is also a good alternative route back to the Halt. 1. From the train, walk to the west little to the left, you will be end of the platform, and head uphill over inspired in your exhausting efforts by the the railway crossing on the tarmac lane. The knowledge that your hostelry is near at lane curves round to the right alongside a hand! Keep to the left of the white cottage house called Tyn-y-Wern and continues up and find the gate alongside its garden. Make steeply, with views down to the station and sure you re-secure this gate carefully after passing through, as ponies are kept in this the river valley behind. field. What looks like a driveway (but is 2. About 300 m after the first bend in the right of way) leads you through to the the road, find a gate to the left into the open main road with the Inn across the road to meadowland. Up to this point, the high the right. For the return to the station ridged hedgerow has been impenetrable; 6. here the gate is easily accessed and opened, without an uncomfortable but scenic section but there is no waymark. Remember to along the main road, you could reverse your route by the way you came… this is very far latch the gate securely behind you. from tedious because you have the reward 3. After going through the gate, bear of a fantastic view all round the green right in a south easterly direction diagonally picturesque landscape of the lower Rheidol up the steep grassy hillside, initially below valley. and then well to the left of the house called For a circular walk, go east (to the Llechwedd-melyn. There is mostly no real 7. path, but follow a faint sheep path diagonally right) along the main road after leaving the uphill to make the going easier, towards inn, watching out carefully for traffic. After a stile you should be able to see in the about ½ km you reach a clear track to the left indicated by a bridle path signpost, just distance at the top corner of the field. before a prominent modern-built white 4. The right of way goes over the house. This sunken track is rough and stony stile, on which there is a waymark, and then at first, with trees each side, getting quite crosses the next, slightly less steep field steep then bending to the left. It is very towards a second waymarked stile also easy to follow until you get to a gate where at the top corner of this field, next to a it enters an open field; but keep going in domestic TV aerial. Just before you get to exactly the same direction along the edge the stile, spot the wisteria-covered front of of the field and you will eventually spot the the Half Way Inn up and over to the right. railway ahead. A gate and surfaced driveway brings you out at Tyn-y-Wern above the 5. Over the second stile and very station. steeply up a small hump of a hill bearing a

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Mines of the Rheidol Valley: Aberffrwd, Bonsall & Gothic By Ioan R Lord N.B. This mine is on Private property and entry is forbidden unless by prior arrangement. Mines in the Valley are very dangerous owing to the vertical shafts and the potential for them to be hidden within woodland. Exploration should only be undertaken by experienced persons!

Aberffrwd and Bonsall Mines are two small sets of workings located a stone’s throw from the Vale of Rheidol Railway. Aberffrwd Mine is located in the near vicinity of the station, whilst Bonsall lies nearby and below the largest earthwork on the railway – the Cwmdauddwr Embankment. Gothic Mine lies a short distance further up the valley.

By 1 March 1863, a smithy had been built on site, and anvils and bellows had just been delivered. “Working with spirit” in the Deep Adit, a shaft was driven upwards for almost 100 feet before cutting into the old Shallow Adit on Crip y Lluest. This shaft followed the vertical dip of the lode, which didn’t yield the ore that the syndicate in charge had hoped. They continued the shaft above the Shallow The lead vein or lode, which was worked Adit and it broke out to surface, forming a further west by the Abernant Mine, crosses vertical bore of 150 feet. the railway directly under the platforms of Aberffrwd station.There is an old shaft which lies directly beside the lower station points on the main line side; luckily it was only 15 feet deep, and filled before the railway was built. The tiny adit under the railway at Bonsall, 2016

The lode was first found outcropping high above on the slopes of Crip y Lluest, overlooking the village of Aberffrwd. Around 1844, a shallow adit was driven into the lode; this apparently contained a 2-3”-wide rib of solid lead-ore. In 1863, a Deep Adit was also driven south towards the lode, 90 feet below the existing Shallow Adit. The entrance was behind Capel Aberffrwd, and the level was driven 230 feet before cutting the lode. This was undertaken at 75 shillings per fathom wages, shared equally between the four miners driving it: each miner was therefore paid about 19 shillings for every fathom (6 feet) he drove. Page 7

No. 8 enters the loop platform at Aberffrwd, one of the filled-in shafts of Aberffrwd Mine lies beyond the water tank and behind the stop board, 2014

A final, desperate attempt was carried out by the syndicate which worked Aberffrwd, by opening a new mine over in Cwmdauddwr. The land on either side of Nant yr Aber was put on lease by Sir Thomas Bonsall of Fronfraith, and the new mine was therefore called Bonsall Mine. The same lode, in continuing east from Aberffrwd Mine, crossed the stream at this point, where an adit was driven into the east bank and under Cnwch yr Arian. After driving the adit a short distance, it was deemed valueless and abandoned.

The Gothic Mine is the third in the vicinity of Aberffrwd, and located three-quarters of a mile further up the railway from Cwmdauddwr Embankment. The lode was found at a point directly below the present alignment of the railway, where several small open-cuts were created around 1800. These workings can still be seen in the bracken below the trackbed. An adit was soon started by Mr Jones of Tyllwyd farm, driving southwards from the river to strike the lode at a depth of 200 feet. This mine, unlike Aberffrwd and Bonsall, immediately proved rich, and a shaft was sunk to a depth of almost 400 feet from below the opencuts. Six different levels extended east and west from the shaft at various depths; two of The gaping shaft at Gothic, now securely which were adits driven in from surface to fenced, 2016. drain out the water. An ore-processing floor was constructed at the entrance of the upper adit, and the Gothic Mine produced a total of 277 tons of lead-ore, 198 tons of lead, and 5 tons of copper between 1850 and 1868. Sadly,a forestry commission track constructed in the 1950s completely destroyed all traces of the ore-processing floor, which contained a smithy, 12’ × 6’ waterwheel, ore-crushers, jigging machines and settling ponds. However, the Gothic Shaft survives, and still contains its cast-iron pump-rods and rising main, which accommodated the pump piston and drew out the water. Apart from the shaft itself, very little remains of this once-productive mine.

The iron pipe for the pump piston in the Gothic Shaft, 2016.

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A family run Tea Room, set in Devils Bridge near Aberystwyth, with indoor and covered outdoor seating areas, good food and friendly staff. A 5 minute walk from the mythical set of the story with the devil, with waterfalls nearby. Part of a good day out on the Vale of Rheidol Railway. Tel: 07779 450 735 Email:

VoR Newsletter Advertising Price Guide Your Advertisement could be here. There are six newsletters produced per year. The newsletters are made available in printed form and are also emailed out to our subscribers. Currently the printed version is available in our railway gift shop to all our customers. The emailed version currently has a subscription of 3,500 people globally and this number grows throughout the year with new subscribers. Artwork for adverts is to be provided by purchaser. Wording for classifieds is to be provided by the purchaser. Adverts can be sent as either PDF or JPEG documents. Please email adverts and wording for classifieds to Price List for Adverts (inclusive of 20% VAT) Full Page Advert £36 Single Half Page Advert £24 Single Quarter Page Advert £18 Single Eighth Page Advert £12 Single Small Classified £6 Single

£168 Annual £120 Annual £96 Annual £60 Annual £30 Annual

For further information or any queries please contact the above email address or phone us on 01970 625819 option 3. Page 9

Don’t forget to help Vale of Rheidol Railway Limited raise free donations. Remember every time you shop online.

It doesn’t cost you a penny extra!

­­Find out more and join here: Page 10

A Day in the Life Of: A Train Guard by Robert ‘Batty’ Williams shed and welcome in the morning sun. The engine staff have started to prepare the engine by this time, I greet the loco crew and then begin polishing the carriage brasswork. There are seven bits of brass per door and three doors per carriage side, all of which gets polished daily. When the carriages are all gleaming, I head to the booking office to collect my guard’s box and radio, after first washing my hands of course.

It’s a cold dark morning when I leave the house. I get on my pushbike and cycle the mile to work at the Vale of Rheidol. On arrival I park my bike and sign in at the booking on point. I wander over to the engine shed, unlock the door and switch off the alarm. In the engine shed the engines are cold and silent, waiting in anticipation, like me, for the day ahead. I turn on the radio and collect some wax polish and rags from the cleaning supplies and head to the far end of the coaches. I apply the wax to the paintwork to get the sooty residue off the end of the summer coach, I then walk back to the other end of the coaches and do the same on the first class coach. Using a second clean rag I then buff the wax polish to a shine. I head off to the guard’s compartment on the train to collect the window cleaner and clean cloths and then head down to the open car and start cleaning the windows inside and out. I make my way up the rake of coaches cleaning the exterior and interior of the carriage windows as I go, until I reach the end of the rake of coaches. I then open the big double doors at the end of the Page 11

I eagerly walk back to the shed where the diesel shunter is coupled up to the coaches. I climb aboard the guard’s compartment and give the right of way to the driver of the diesel, letting him know the carriages are ready to be taken down to the platform. I check my party lists and I have a party on the afternoon up train. I pick up the ticket punch from the guard’s box and place the tail lamp on the bracket at the rear of the train. I then open all the doors of the train and get ready for the first passengers of the day. I always greet the passengers with a smile and the odd joke as I check their tickets. The engine is coupled to the front of the train shortly before departure time. There are a few passengers left to board, once they are safely on the train I make my way to the Guards compartment, securing the doors as I go. One last radio call to the shop to ensure all passengers are present, which they are. The signal goes down promptly at departure time, I blow my whistle and signal to the driver he is clear to proceed, then climb aboard and we’re off. When the train arrives at Capel Bangor, I get out of the train and wait for the engine crew to

exchange the token. The engine driver signals that he is ready, I blow my whistle, signalling to the driver he is clear to depart, and climb back aboard the train. In the up direction we have a water stop at Nantyronen before heading on to Aberffrwd, where the engine crew exchange the token once more. The train climbs steeply now on the last part of the journey to Devils Bridge. I really enjoy this part of the journey, the stunning countryside looks even more beautiful in the late morning sun. On arrival at Devils Bridge I open up the doors to the train, assisting any passengers to get out if they need it. Once the passengers are off exploring Devils Bridge, I collect the tail lamp and get the broom from the guards compartment. I then place the tail lamp on the summer car at the end of the train and sweep out the summer cars to clean the ash from the floor, as I do so i reverse the seats in the summer cars to face the right direction for the return journey. After putting the broom back in the Guards compartment and checking the train for rubbish, I prepare the reservation signs for the afternoon up train and place them in the windows of the carriage to be reserved. Next up, it’s off for a quick tea break with the engine crew at the Two Hoots Cafe. Before long it’s time to head back onto the platform ready to receive the passengers for the down journey. In the down direction, I have a family of four travelling one way to Capel Bangor, I seat them as close as possible to the guards compartment so I know where they are when we reach their stop. All the passengers are aboard and all the doors are secured ready for departure. At the appropriate time, I blow my whistle, signal to the driver and off we go. On th return journey I spot some red kites soaring in the valley. These wonderful birds of prey are at eye level until they

fly high up above the valley below. At Aberffrwd, the tokens are exchanged by the engine crew before we set off once more. Upon arrival at Capel Bangor, the engine crew exchange the token. I open the door for the family to get off, then secure the door once they are clear, then off we head for Aberystwyth. On arrival at Aberystwyth, I open up the carriage doors, change the seats around in the summer car and move the tail lamp to the other end of the train. I radio the shop to check if the party has arrived and to let them know that I’m ready to receive the party, escorting them to their reserved carriage on their arrival. By now the passengers have begun boarding, so starting at the back of the train I work my way foirward checking tickets as I go. This is looking like it could be a busy train. Shortly before departure, the last passenger boards the train, I secure the doors and get ready for departure. After a final radio call to the booking office, I blow my whistle, signal to the driver and off we go into the valley. Upon arrival at Devils Bridge I sweep all the coaches this time, before getting ready to head back to Aberystwyth. When we get to Aberystwyth, I assist the passengers of the train thanking them, and then I collect the tail lamp and take it back to the guards compartment, shutting the carriage doors as I go. Then whilst the carriages are propelled into the shed I clean the windows and floor in first class. The engine is uncoupled and the engine crew then take care of it ready to put it to bed. I then shut the shed doors and go home after another busy, but enjoyable day. Page 12

No.7 “Owain Glyndwr”

Locomotive No.7 “Owain Glyndwr” is undergoing a major overhaul. The locomotive was withdrawn from traffic in 1998 and dismantled. Over recent months, major progress has been made and a return to steam is forecast for 2017.

Workshop No.8 “Llywelyn”

At the end of October No.8 was brought into the workshop, as it’s boiler was due a ten yearly overhaul. The boiler has now had all the tubes removed ready for inspection.

Work on No.7 recently has seen the assembly and test fitting of the new tanks.

Whilst No.8 is in the workshop other routine maintenance has been taking place on No.8’s chassis. We have also altered the mounting bracket and position of the air Work has also been ongoing on various parts pump on the engine. Watch this space for more on where the pump now resides. and fittings for the engine, these include blower valves, whistle, and bump stops for the cover of the water tank filling port.

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Other workshop projects

Within the workshop, the team work on repairing and maintaining the Vale of Rheidol Railway’s rolling stock as well as taking on other contract work.

Permaquip Our unique narrow gauge ‘Permaquip’ personnel carrier known as ‘Thunderbird 4’ is rapidly approaching completion. Recent work has included a full rewiring and fitment of new panels. As can be seen in the paintshop update, it has been given a new coat of paint and assembly of the new layout on the interior is progressing well.

Cattle Wagon The cattle wagon continues to progress towards completion. As featured in our news section, we have been awarded a grant towards the restoration of the wagon


Work completed includes: Replacement of large sections of bodywork Full re-wire of the electrics Fittment of new lighting Modification of the interior Re-upholstering the seating Full re-paint and signwriting

In the paintshop, the team have been working on the painting of the permaquip and its trailer. This has included sign writing and varnishing. We have also brought one of our summer cars, carriage No.7, in for a re-paint. Look out for updates on this one in the next edition. Page11 14 Page

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Image courtesy John R Jones Taken Summer 2016 Page 16

Pictures from the Month By John R Jones, International Travel Photographer

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Invasive Plant Species, By Phillip Ellis Railway lines throughout the UK have helped the spread and survival of both native and alien plants and shrubs An invader truly specialising in railways is the Oxford Ragwort, Senecio Squalidus, a yellow flowered plant 2 to 3 foot high. It was introduced from Sicily in 1700 and shortly afterwards specimens were acquired by the Oxford Botanical Garden, hence its English name. Some seeds escaped and found new homes on Oxford’s old stone buildings and walls. It is unlikely that it would have spread much further without the development of the railway lines converging on Oxford.

which also grows on railway land as well as coastal dunes and pastures. This species is poisonous to cattle and horses and although they will not eat the bitter tasting ragwort when fresh, they may be poisoned by eating dead plants inadvertently mixed with hay.

Himalayan Balsam

Oxford Ragwort The clinker, ballast and stony cuttings of the new railways had a lot in common with the plant’s volcanic wastelands in Sicily. Added to this was the convenient vortex of air behind the trains carrying the thousands of tiny seeds in their wake and spreading them wherever this combination of habitat and aerial conveyance leads. This plant has even reached the Vale of Rheidol Railway. The botanist, J. H. Salter, had noted that it first appeared at Aberystwyth stations after the Great Western Railway took over from the Cambrian in 1922 and was subsequently found at Capel Bangor station in 1925. It is interesting to speculate how the little seeds actually got there. Were some washed off or dropped from new GWR rolling stock or just taken by the air currents behind the train?

We try and control two formidable invaders alongside our lines, the Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam. The latter is at least popular with bees, which brings me to the third invader, in this case from China, the common Buddleia. This species also favours waste land and railway margins in addition to walls and buildings where, if it gains a footing, its roots can cause serious damage.

Buddleia Buddleia is however an attractive shrub with scented flowers favoured by bees and butterflies, so we allow some to grow along the line, but watch carefully for any further invasion.

The Oxford Ragwort keeps to railways and waste land, unlike its relative, the native Common Ragwort, Senecio Jacobaea, Page 18

Vale of Rheidol Photo Archive, By Rob Bance, Archives This edition the archive photographs have a slight festive feel! We see locomotives No.8 & 9 covered in snow whilst inside the locomotive shed at Page 19

Aberystwyth. The photograph was taken on the 15th January 1982, after a heavy snow storm. Although it makes a pleasant and unusual photograph it illustrates the poor condition the locomotive shed had gotten into. Later in the year, improvements were made to the shed when it was thoroughly overhauled and made water tight.

Permanent Way

The Track Maintenance Team

The Permanent way team has, as always, been hard at work keeping the railway’s trackwork and lineside in a good condition. The team has been continuing with the lineside clearance work of the last months and have also undertaken hedge cutting throughout the route of the line. A project that has been undertaken since the last train of the season to

Devils Bridge, has been the lifting and modification of the points in Devils Bridge, this involving rebuilding the points to new specifications. The above pictures show some of the work undertaken during this process involving the lifting, stripping, rebuilding and installation of the modified pointwork. Page 20

2016 Review of the Year 2016 has been a very busy year on the Vale of Rheidol. Thanks to all those who have visited us this year - either travelling on the trains, attending one of our events or visiting our shops / cafe. Lots of work goes on behind the scenes to provide a world class steam railway. So much has happened in 12 months. Here are just a few 2016 highlights . . .

TV appearances on the award winning Hinterland / Y Gwyll and also some Welsh language childrens tv. Our resident Kerr Stuart Wren 3114 became the first steam engine to work at the Bromyard and Linton Railway when it operated a photographic special. It then spent the rest of the year working at the London Museum of Water and Steam.

The railway recruited more apprentices in the engineering workshops, several of whom have now been trained as Guards / Firemen. We are proud that we can field some of the youngest crews in the whole of the UK. The railway workshop continues to develop and has outside contract work taken on alongside our own restoration projects. Major progress on the overhaul of Loco No 7 Owain Glyndwr. A return to steam should not be too far off. Our hard working Permaquip Personnel carrier has been through the works for a major overhaul after approx 350,000 miles of service. The VoR Cattle Van restoration has continued apace, a considerable amount of the work being undertaken by apprentices. Our Permanent Way gang have been out in all weathers ensuring the track and lineside is kept in tip top condition. This has included renewal work and woodland management. Hugely popular Locals Discount Week in February. - This returns for 2017. Our workshop open weekend in September drew large crowds Page 21

Penrhyn Quarry Small Hunslet “Margaret” used on Driver for a Fiver all summer. Two Hoots Cafe owners Shan and Alun celebrated 25 years of running the refreshment room at Devil’s Bridge.

Loco No 9 restored to 1920s appearance as No 1213 Major refurbishments on a number of historic carriages Awarded Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for 3rd year in a row Winner of Heritage Railway of the Year in National Coach Tourism Awards (we were a finalist in 2015)

We’ve worked closely with the Cambrian Railways Partnership and the Great Little Trains of Wales to promote http://bigtrainlittletrain. com/ - and the new Bradshaw style guide. This was launched at Kings Cross Station. We were instrumental in developing a Multi Attraction Leaflet for Ceredigion to encourage visitors to come to the area. Our Marketing & Sales stand has visited the 16mm Show Peterborough, Great Central Railway, Royal Welsh Show, Exeter Model Railway Show and many other events including wedding fairs. We anticipate returning to these and more venues during 2017. We’ve carried thousands of interesting passengers. We’ve been working with the new owners of the Hafod Hotel in Devil’s Bridge to promote Sunday lunches. An Evacuee train bought history to life for school children, the children learnt about the Blitz from a former Liverpool evacuee. Two Music Trains provided a platform for local talent Halloween Trains were a sell out once again Our busiest ever Santa Special season - all trains sold out! These are just a few of the things which have happened on the line in the last 12 months.

We received a brilliant score from Visit Wales’ mystery shopper. Two of our locomotives formed the centrepiece display at the Warley Model Railway show in the NEC, Birmingham. This was the first time any of our locomotives had left Wales for 30 years!

Thanks to all those who have visited us and helped 2016 to be one of our best years on the Vale of Rheidol Railway.

Here’s to 2017! Photography from John R Jones and VoR Collection Page 22

The Vale of Rheidol’s Railway Shop featured products: Thereafter, almost every belligerent nation with a railway system made some use of armoured rolling stock, ranging from lowintensity colonial policing to the massive employment of armoured trains during the Russian Civil War. And although they were somewhat eclipsed as frontline weapons by the development of the tank and other AFVs, armoured trains retained a role as late as the civil wars in the former republic of Yugoslavia. The military was quick to see the advantages of railways in warfare, whether for the rapid deployment of men or the movement of heavy equipment like artillery. From here it was a short step to making the train a potent weapon in its own right – a mobile fort or a battleship on rails. Armed and armoured, they became the first practical self-propelled war machines, which by the time of the American Civil War were able to make a significant contribution to battlefield success.

This truly encyclopaedic book covers, country by country, the huge range of fighting equipment that rode the rails over nearly two centuries. While it outlines the place of armoured trains in the evolution of warfare, it concentrates on details of their design through a vast array of photographs and the author’s meticulous drawings. Published in French in 1989, this highly regarded work has been completely revised and expanded for this English edition. It remains the last word on the subject.

Star Wars Products

We sell a wide range of products in our Booking Office Shop, not just railway related. To celebrate the release of Star Wars Rogue One, we are reducing the prices of our Star Wars products, while stocks last. Page 23

Our range includes action figures, building kits, talking plush heads, lunch boxes, plates sets and mugs. Come and see for yourself, use the force!

Call our shop on 01970 625819

Vale of Rheidol Railway Garden Railway Review

Specifications: • Scale: 16mm to 1 foot (1:19) • Gauge: 32mm or 45mm • Length over cowcatchers: 350mm (13½ inches) • Width: 116mm (4 ½ inches) • Height: 168mm (7 inches) • Min Radius: 1.2m (48 inches) • Boiler: Centre Flue • Working Pressure: 60psi • Reversing Gear: Slide valves, Simplified Walschaerts, reverser lever in cab. • Fuel: Butane Gas • Boiler Fittings: Safety valve, pressure gauge, water gauge. • Cab Controls: Steam regulator, gas regulator, reverse lever, lubricator under floor drain valve.

FREE CAR STICKER with this voucher

Newsl 20

This months new arrival in our Garden Railway Shop is the highly anticipated Accucraft 16mm scale Sierra Leone Government Railways Hunslet 2-6-2T locomotive No.14. Like the other Accucraft locos in stock, it’s fitted with an internally gas fired boiler and has slide valve cylinders which are operated by a simplified Walschaerts valve gear. It comes in manual control, with the ability to be re-gaugeable from 32mm to 45mm. It is finished in matt black and certainly looks the part, a super addition to any Garden Railways motive power department!

Postcode:__________________________ Email:_____________________________ ____________________________________ Disclaimer: This voucher entitles the bearer to one free car sticker when details completed.

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The Plynlimon & Hafan Tramway By Geraint Roberts

Our railway has been steadily plying its trade for the last 114 years, but it just missed out on having a neighbour only 5 miles north of Aberystwyth. It was a short-lived enterprise, an ambition not borne out by the harsh realities of a failing mining industry and a quarry that did not fulfill its potential. The Plynlimon and Hafan tramway ran for 7.75 miles from the goods yard at Llandre (then Llanfihangel Genau’r Glyn) station, to Talybont and through the Leri valley to the end, linking to the Hafan stone quarry by an incline. The plan was to ferry the stone to the sea at Ynyslas. However, the Cambrian Railways refused permission to cross their lines. Bereft of viable alternatives, the tramway could only terminate at Llandre. In providing this service, the tramway hoped it would lead to a regeneration of lead mining in the region. There was also provision of passenger accommodation, by purchasing a single coach. The gauge chosen for the line was 2’ 3’’ – that of the Talyllyn and Corris railways. The Hafan chairman even wrote to Sir James Szlumper, asking him to consider building the Vale of Rheidol to this gauge. The additional cost of engineering a wider railway at the top of the valley made them decline, so ended the dream Page 25

of a network of narrow gauge in Mid Wales, to rival that of Charles Spooner in the North. The tramway bought a locomotive, ‘Victoria’, from John Slee, an engineering firm associated with the chairman. Slee’s had never built an engine before, nor did they after. The engine was a unique design, an 0-4-0 vertical boilered tank engine with a cab. A very cramped working place for what proved a very troublesome engine, that probably never was involved in revenue paying service. They managed to acquire a 2-4-0T Bagnall engine ‘Talybont’, after a customer in Brazil cancelled their order. A third engine, ‘Hafan’, an 0-4-0T Bagnall was used in the quarry itself. In hindsight, the tramway was doomed from the start. The lack of port access made them an unattractive option. The mines could not compete on cost with the huge output from the New World. The quarry failed to get even local contracts – such as the Elan Valley dams and the Aberystwyth promenade (amid allegations of the rock samples being switched for poorer ones). The passenger service only ran on market days from Talybont to Llandre - most locals preferring to continue to walk along the road next to the tramway to access the Cambrian railway station.

The tramway opened with ceremony in 1897, but died with a whimper in 1899. Too early for the Vale of Rheidol and the Bwlch Glas lead/ zinc mine, that opened at the beginning of the 20th Century. Ironically, the tramway was built through the latter and would probably have kept it running. The invention of zinc galvanisation, which led to the mine re-opening, came too late for the line. What is left? In terms of the rolling stock, the trucks survive on the Vale of Rheidol, albeit regauged and rebuilt. The ‘Talybont’ engine also came to us and was renamed ‘Rheidol’. It was a favourite with crews and lasted until GWR ownership. Of the other engines, little is known of their disposal. The coach is reputed to have ended up as a summer house on Llanbadarn Road, in the town! The trackbed is in remarkable condition in some places. The interchange at Llandre is now

a childrens playground and the line travels through a small copse and many front gardens down Glanfred Lane. Further down it can be occasionally seen in the field next to the road. Before Talybont, a cycleway marks the line as it heads along to end at a minor road. The field gate opposite leads to the site of the station, above Talybont village. In the valley itself, the earthworks are quite pronounced. Good views are obtained on the hillside opposite on the road to Bontgoch. The incline itself is still intact and commands spectacular views down the Leri valley, past the remains of mines and patches of woodland. (See pictures below) The definitive history of the line was written by the late Ted Wade and published by Twelveheads press. Sadly now out of print, it charts what limited information is left of this line, that sadly promised so much, yet in the end delivered so little.

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Readers Mail This is a new section to our newsletter giving you our readers the chance to offer feedback on both the railway in general and our newsletter. A Prize of a Family ticket for two Adults and two Children will be offered each edition to the best letter or email we receive. You can write us a letter and post it to the address on this card. Or alternatively write us an email please put Newsletter Editor in the subject line.

Newsletter Editor Vale of Rheidol Railway Park Avenue Aberystwyth Ceredigion SY23 1PG


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Upcoming Events Locals Discount Week



Driver for a Fiver


CH (agedILDREN 3


- 15)

During the February half term period of 11th - 26th February 2017 we will be providing those locals living in postcodes starting with SY, SA & LD the chance to get half price travel.

On selected dates during July & August we will have our quarry hunslet ‘Margaret’ offering a ‘Driver for a Fiver’ experiences in our Devils Bridge station. If you or someone you know would like to live those childhood dreams of driving a steam engine then come visit and have a go.

Why not take advantage of the discount and come take a trip through the Rheidol Valley to Devils Bridge.

Its £5 to drive and £3 for a footplate ride. There are no age limits either so even children can have the chance to drive a steam engine or ride on the footplate, definitely something for them to tell their friends about afterwards. Page 28

2017 Timetable 1. Pick your day of travel from the calendar. 2. Match the colour to the relevant timetable below. Please note there are no services on white days.


Aberystwyth Gift Shop is open Mon-Fri

FEBRUARY 2017 M T W T F S 1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 22 23 24 25 27 28

S 5 12 19 26

MAY 2017 W T F 3 4 5 10 11 12 17 18 19 24 25 26 31

JUNE 2017 M T W T F S 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 20 21 22 23 24 26 27 28 29 30

S 4 11 18 25


There are no train services this month

M 1 8 15 22 29

T 2 9 16 23 30

S 6 13 20 27

S 7 14 21 28

SEPTEMBER 2017 M T W T F S S 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

S 5 12 19 26

JULY 2017 M T W T F S 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 15 17 18 19 20 21 22 24 25 26 27 28 29 31

S 2 9 16 23 30

AUGUST 2017 M T W T F S 1 2 3 4 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 21 22 23 24 25 26 28 29 30 31

S 5 12 19 26

DECEMBER 2017 M T W T F S 1 2 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 12 13 14 15 16 18 19 20 21 22 23


NOVEMBER 2017 M T W T F S 1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 22 23 24 25

23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

27 28 29 30

S 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Aberystwyth Capel Bangor Aberffrwd Devil’s Bridge Devil’s Bridge Aberffrwd Capel Bangor Aberystwyth

dep: dep: dep: arr: dep: dep: dep: arr:

ORANGE 10:30 2:00 10:50 2:20 11:10 2:40 11:30 3:00 12:30 4:15 12:50 4:35 1:10 4:55 1:30 5:15

Aberystwyth Capel Bangor Aberffrwd Devil’s Bridge Devil’s Bridge Aberffrwd Capel Bangor Aberystwyth

dep: dep: dep: arr: dep: dep: dep: arr:

10:30 10:50 11:10 11:30 12:30 12:50 1:10 1:30

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MARCH 2017 M T W T F S 1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 22 23 24 25 27 28 29 30 31

12:15 12:35 12:55 1:15 2:15 2:35 2:55 3:15

10:30 10:50 11:10 11:30 12:30 12:50 1:10 1:30 GREEN 2:00 2:20 2:40 3:00 4:00 4:20 4:40 5:00

YELLOW 12:15 2:00 12:35 2:20 12:55 2:40 1:15 3:00 2:15 4:00 2:35 4:20 2:55 4:40 3:15 5:00 3:45 4:05 4:25 4:45 5:45 6:05 6:25 6:45

6:00 6:20 6:40 7:00 8:00 8:20 8:40 9:00

APRIL 2017 M T W T F S 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 15 17 18 19 20 21 22 24 25 26 27 28 29

S 2 9 16 23 30

S 6 13 20 27

S 3 10 17 24

25 26 27 28 29 30 31

3:45 4:05 4:25 4:45 5:45 6:05 6:25 6:45 GOLD 11:00 11:20 11:40 12:00 2:00 2:20 2:40 3:00

GOLD DAYS Enjoy the stunning Autumn Colours You can combine your visit with a Sunday Lunch at the Hafod Hotel, Devil’s Bridge

Have you ever considered chartering a private train? Here at the Vale of Rheidol Railway it is possible to hire a train specifically for an event you have coming up.

recently been taken over by new owners, who are able to provide a venue which can cater for a range of function types.

So whether it is a wedding, a work function or you just want to do something different why not get in touch with us and see what we can do.

The Tynrhyd Retreat is a popular venue for weddings nestled in the beautiful countryside on the outskirts of the village of Devil’s Bridge.

You may even like to consider linking in with one of the venues in Devil’s Bridge like the Hafod Hotel or the Tynrhyd Retreat.

For more information please get in touch with us by email ( or by phone (01970 625819) and ask to speak to our marketing team.

The Hafod Hotel shot to fame as a filming venue for the cult television series ‘Hinterland’. It has

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Telephone us: 01970 625 819 - Park Avenue, Aberystwyth SY23 1PG Regular steam train services running throughout the year

Newsletter Volume 1 - 2017  

Welcome to the new improved Vale of Rheidol Railway Newsletter. This edition covers news from November & December, and features articles on...