President David Shepherd CBE FRSA FGRA
Welshpool and Llanfair Railway
The re-commencement of Ffestiniog services was followed a year later in November by the closure of the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway. Unlike the Talyilyn and Ffestiniog, that line was owned by British Railways, inherited from Cambrian Railways days.
Passenger services over the 9.5-mile W & L line had ceased in 1931 and it had eked out an existance until November 1956 almost exclusively for the benefit of the local hill farmers. It was in fact , the U.K.s sole surviving non preserved narrow gauge still carrying freight.
A Preservation Society had been established in the month the line closed, and a letter to the RM in October 1957 advised readers that the British Transport Commission had given assurances that no part of the line would be sold or demolished while the Society was in negotiations to buy it. The writer, a William Morris, also dispelled the rumour that one loco had been scrapped at Swindon and the second was to follow.
It transpired that negotiations with British Railways and the Ministry of Transport were painfully slow and drawn out, but in 1959 the Society was granted a concession for volunteer working parties to undertake certain work between Welshpool and Llanfair Caereinion.
One of the reasons for the protracted negotiations was that after leaving Welshpool Station, the 2ft 6in gauge line ran through the town and over several road crossings. Obtaining the necessary authority for passenger services proved difficult and such intentions were eventually abandoned, although it was used for works trains for some years. Instead, the Society took up a lease on Raven Square Station, on the edge of town, in 1962.
The following year, W & L passenger services started over the 4.5 miles between Raven Square and Castle Caereinion.
More information can be found at this website www.wllr.org.uk