Cambrian Heritage Railways
|Cambrian Heritage Railways|
|Locale||Llynclys & Oswestry, Shropshire, England|
|Original gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Operated by||Cambrian Heritage Railways|
|Stations||1 (Oswestry section)|
2 (Llynclys section)
|Length||62 chains / 0.77 miles / 1.24 km|
|Preserved gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|2004||Restoration and relaying of track begin|
|2005||First trains run on newly restored (Llynclys section) of track|
|2011||First train service along restored (Oswestry section) of track|
|2012||Penygarreg Lane halt (on Llynclys section) opens to the public, officially|
Cambrian Heritage Railways
Formed after the 2009 merger of the Cambrian Railways Society and the Cambrian Railways Trust, it aims to reinstate the infrastructure required to operate trains from Gobowen to Llynclys Junction (for Pant) and to Blodwel.
Cambrian Heritage Railways also operates the Cambrian Railways Museum in the Oswestry railway station's former goods depot. Displays include photographs, signs, lamps, signal box fittings and artefacts related to the history of the Cambrian Heritage Railways.
The Cambrian Railways was formed through the merger of a series of regional railway companies on the England/Wales border. Following LNWR sponsored connection with the LNWR station at Gobowen, it enabled CR and LNWR trains to run from the northwest and North Wales into Mid Wales and beyond. This enabled the LNWR to have an alternative route to the GWR mainline, enabling it to run trains between the coal and steel industries of South Wales, into the industrialised Midlands and Northwest England.
Merged into the GWR on grouping, it closed its old Oswestry station and ran all services from the former CR/LNWR station. Initially on nationalisation in 1946 it became part of the Western Region of British Railways, but in 1963 moved to the London Midland Region. This brought about a sharp decline in services, with the final DMU powered passenger service running in 1968. Occasional quarry trains ran until 1988 to Blodwel, after which the track was left in place but abandoned by Network Rail.
All operations of the Cambrian Heritage Railways are located within England, albeit close to the Welsh border. However, the historical Cambrian Railways company operated from the Welsh/English border territory into Wales, with more than 95% of its permanent way located in Wales. A number of currently operational Welsh heritage railways were also part of the historical Cambrian Railways, including the Vale of Rheidol Railway, the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway, parts of the Ffestiniog Railway, the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway and the partially preserved Penmaenpool railway station. Cambrian Heritage Railways are widely publicised throughout Wales and despite their English location, are preserving elements of significant Welsh railway heritage.
In 1972, a group of enthusiasts established the Cambrian Railways Society (CRS), which obtained a lease from BR over the former Oswestry goods yard and Oswestry South Signalbox. The CRS established a museum in the former CR goods shed and acquired either directly, or through members, a number of steam and diesel engines plus associated rolling stock. In 1997, BR agreed to allow CRS to run trains under a Light Railway Order to Middleton Road, over a track of 300 metres (980 ft) in length. The CRS then purchased the freehold of Weston Wharf goods yard and shed with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund. After quarry trains finished in 1988, the CRS obtained further agreement from BR to run occasional works/inspection trains (i.e. non-passenger carrying, non-revenue earning) over the line to Blodwel.
In 1998, to secure the trackbed and return trains to the residual CR lines, a wider community group of the CRS, Oswestry Council and local business people formed the Cambrian Railways Trust (CRT), to acquire the railway between Gobowen and Blodwel. Once secured, the CRT would hand over the legal agreement to the CRS to actually run trains. In 1997, the CRT obtained funding to carry out a business study of the plans and subsequently agreed to purchase the track from Railtrack. By 2001, planning permission had been obtained for the entire project, along with a supporting business plan and funding.
However, after government owned company Network Rail replaced Railtrack, they stopped negotiations and broke off the deal, stating that they would only deal with a local council. As a result, the CRS withdrew from the CRT and went back to new direct negotiations with Network Rail. After negotiations failed for a second time, the CRS established a third base on part of the Nantmawr branch at Llanddu Junction.
The enthusiasts left in CRT decided to embark on their own project, having been offered the freehold of trackbed between Llynclys and Pant. After obtaining European Union grant aid through Oswestry Borough Council’s tourism initiative, the trackbed was purchased by the council and leased to the CRT. From 2003/4, the CRT began rebuilding the track bed, which allowed trains to run from July 2005. Further grants from DEFRA and the EU allowed this small operation to expand, in both track as well as rolling stock assets. This culminated in the building of Llynclys South station.
In 2005, the council bought the semi-derelict Oswestry railway station, refurbishing it with grant aid to provide both a visitor and small business centre. It established the Oswestry Station Building Trust to manage the building and provide information on the old CR. Also in 2005 the CRT obtained via match-funding a HLF grant to establish a new business-plan to reinstate the railway between Gobowen, Llynclys and Blodwel.
After completion of the study, the CRT proposed a merger with the CRS and the Oswestry Station Building Trust. This would enable: the assets of all three organisations to be merged; duplication of effort in restoring the railway to be removed; a revenue stream which would enable such efforts to continue; and a resultant organisation capable of obtaining monies to restore the railway at an earlier date. This was agreed to in 2009, resulting in the formation of the new trust company, Cambrian Heritage Railways'.
Through a ballot at an Extraordinary General Meeting held at Oswestry railway station on 20 November 2009, members of both the CRS and CRT agreed that:
- Every member of the CRS & CRT automatically becomes a member of the recently formed Cambrian Heritage Railways (CHR) Ltd
- The CRT & CRS work towards transferring assets from the CRT to CHR Ltd.; and
- To combine various functions of both groups to avoid duplication of costs and efforts.
The CHR currently operates trains on a short stretch of line in Oswestry and on the former CRT Llynclys South to Pant line. The CHR has moved the museum collections of the CRS into Oswestry station, while retaining the former goods shed as an engine and rolling stock restoration point. CHR is also restoring more of the railway infrastructure in Oswestry to operational condition and since 2006 has restored the former Oswestry South Signal Box, thanks to a £22,000 grant from the Oswestry Visitor Facilities Infrastructure fund.
The Cambrian Heritage Railway is extending and repairing track northwards from Llynclys South towards Oswestry, to enable trains to run back into the former Cambrian Railway headquarters. The line between Llynclys Junction and the A483 level crossing at Weston on the Oswestry bypass has now been largely cleared; and was visited, with recommendations made by HM Railways Inspectorate in September 2009.
Additional working-party activities have concentrated on the eastern edge of Dolgoch housing estate (between Porth-y-waen & Llynclys) and the A483 road bridge at Llynclys. Efforts are soon expected to be directed from the Dolgoch housing estate, west towards Blodwel, which will link up with an already cleared section at Porth-y-waen.
Most recent work has concentrated upon reinstating track from the current railhead (RH) south of Oswestry station - with the aim of reaching Weston Wharf.
The primary goal is to extend the operating track to Western Wharf, the location of a craft brewery and other recreational facilities. Before this extension can be realised, a certain amount of work has been required prior to track being re-laid. The replacement of the Middleton Road Footbridge in June 2018 kicked off the infrastructure update, followed by the trackbed lowering under the Gasworks Bridge (GWB). The replacement of the Cattle Creep girders beyond Travis Perkins had already been completed.
CURRENT STATUS (as at 21 December 2018) Ballast has been laid from the current railhead to Gasworks Bridge and from the Cattle Creep north to near the bridleway crossing at Travis Perkins. Concrete sleepers have been laid from the RH to where the sewer passes under the track, at which point steel sleepers have been laid. Concrete sleepers have also been laid for about 200m north from the Cattle Creep. Work has progressed, using mechanical help, in spacing and aligning the sleepers to the reference pegs.
Early in the new year a contractor will fix the rail-bearing chairs to the concrete slab under GWB. Drainage work is required in the vicinity of the Travis Perkins crossing before the final stretch of trackbed can be prepared and the two stretches of track joined together.
The work on the bridge is now complete and locos can run under it. Track laying is currently going on at Weston Wharf after the rolling stock that was stored there was moved. Sections for the new station that will go in at Weston Wharf has been delivered and the volunteers are working hard on it.
The CHR applied for a Transport & Works Act Order for transfer of NR's residual rights to itself and this was granted on 28 February 2017. This permits the CHR to reopen the route from Gobowen to Blodwel Quarry subject to level crossings of the A5 and A483 being replaced by a tunnel and overbridge respectively.
Stations of the Cambrian Heritage Railways
Cambrian Railway (Oswestry)
- Gobowen [Future Interchange for commuter services to the National Rail network.]
- Park Hall Halt
- Weston Wharf
- Llynclys North [ Located at the exact site of Llynclys Junction, this will be the replacement station site to the former Llynclys station site as well as the future junction station towards Blodwel.]
- Porth-Y-Waen Halt
Cambrian Railway (Llynclys)
- Gobowen [Future Interchange for commuter services to the National Rail network.]
- Park Hall Halt
- Weston Wharf
- Llynclys South [Current Northern Terminus.]
- Penygarreg Lane Halt [Current Southern Terminus.]
The locomotive fleet currently based on the line is listed below.
- Steam Locomotives
- Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. 0-6-0ST "The Barclay" no. 885 of 1900. Undergoing cosmetic restoration at Oswestry.
- Peckett 0-4-0ST "Adam" no. 1430 of 1916. Stored partially stripped at Oswestry.
- Beyer Peacock 0-4-0ST "Oliver Veltom" no. 2131 of 1951. Overhaul ongoing at Oswestry.
- Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. 0-4-0ST "Fife Flyer No 6" no. 2261 of 1949. Operational, arrived from The Ribble Steam Railway in August 2016.
- Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST 0-6-0ST "Norma" no. 3770 of 1952. Overhaul started at Oswestry but suspended pending fundraising.
- Diesel Locomotives
- Hudswell 0-4-0DM no. D893 of 1951. On display in the Cambrian Railways Museum. Overhaul undertaken at Oswestry as time allows.
- BR 0-6-0 Class 08 no. D3019 of 1953. Undergoing overhaul at Llynclys.
- Vulcan 0-4-0 "Telemon" no. 295 of 1955. Operational for passenger and shunting duties at Oswestry.
- Ruston & Hornsby 0-4-0DM "Scottie", works no. 412427 of 1957. Previously carried the number 1. Operational for passenger and shunting duties at Oswestry.
- Planet 0-4-0 Diesel hydraulic "Alpha", works no. 3953 of 1962. Operational as a yard shunter at Oswestry.
- Ruston and Hornsby 0-4-0DE "Alun Evans" no. 11517, works no. 458641 of 1963. Operational for passenger and shunting duties at Llynclys, 165 hp engine.
- English Electric 0-6-0DH "Jana" no. D1201 of 1969. Stored at Llynclys.
- English Electric 0-6-0DH no. D1230 of 1969. Known as 'Kimberley' by previous owners but no plates carried. Operational as a shunter and permanent way locomotive at Llynclys.
- F. C. Hibberd & Co Ltd 0-4-0 "Cyril" no. 3541 of 1952. Returned to CHR Oswestry in March 2018 from Tanat Valley Railway, Nantmawr.
- Diesel Multiple Units
- GP-TRAMM (General Purpose Track Repair and Maintenance Machine) no. 98205 of 1985. Stored at Blodwel.
Passenger carriages are based at Llynclys and Oswestry for storage or future restoration to be carried out. Most of the British Rail Mark 1 variety had already seen service in preservation prior to being brought on site, as these vehicles were originally based at the Great Central Railway in Loughborough.
- BR Mk 1 CK 16025. Stored awaiting overhaul.
- BR Mk 1 FO 3095. Undergoing overhaul, roof repaired and repainted, exterior and interior being finished.
- BR Mk 1 SO 4362. Stored awaiting restoration.
- BR Mk 1 TSO 4610. Undergoing overhaul with the bodywork receiving attention.
- BR Mk 1 CK 15632. Undergoing overhaul, bodywork receiving minor repairs and roof being repainted.
- BR Mk 1 BSK 35334. Undergoing overhaul. Work (as of early 2010) concentrated on brake end interior.
- BR Mk 1 BSK 35316. In restored condition but not used.
- BR Mk 1 BSK 35342. Stored awaiting restoration.
- BR Mk 1 RMB 1850. Non-operational and used as a station shop and café at Llynclys.
- BR Mk 1 TSO 4965. Operational in Oswestry.
- BR Mk 3 SLE 10722. Ex-Caledonian Sleeper.
- "Museum". Cambrian Heritage Railways. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
- "Preservation". Cambrian Heritage Railways. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 October 2006. Retrieved 7 February 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- DfT CHR TWAO Decision letter
- Cambrian Heritage Railways Trust
- Old Cambrian Railways Society page – historic information
- Video footage of Oswestry railway station