Wordless Wednesday

The Works Yard
Posted in Heritage, Industrial Archaeology, LBNGR, locomotives, Photographs, quarry, railroad, railway | Leave a comment

A Crossing And A Cutting

Surely not another blog post about the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s vegetation clearance gang AKA the Fence 2 Fence Team? Well yes, we were in action again on 22nd to 24th of February.

Friday’s task was a relaxing, one person, job for the author of this journal. Drive to Golfa Halt (OK that does take me three hours from home), phone into the office to say that I was on site, put on overalls and boots and then take a gentle stroll along the line. It had been dark and foggy when I left home but by now the sun was shining and the birds were singing; and that was why I was there. Just what species of birds might be hopping about in the bushes and trees down in Quarry Cutting ?

Well much to my relief my birding tally was just a couple of blue tits foraging for a mid morning snack. The thin whippy stems of blackthorn that made up most of the scrub we were planning clear were hardly ideal targets for those birds that do start to nest this early in the year.

Emergency Clearance in Quarry Cutting January 2018

Wind back to January 2018. A severe storm had brought down several trees on the railway and in Quarry Cutting had blown over a lot of thin blackthorn saplings some of which were within the loading gauge. e.g. there were likely to scratch along the side of the trains or maim anyone hanging out of a carriage window. The bare minimum was cut back and the rest left for later.

Saturday 23rd February

The team had prepared their plans for the weekend well in advance but as often happens in the real world a few days earlier the GM had put in a request ‘ The north-east quadrant of Hydan Fawr (that’s Dirty Lane in old language) has a bit of brush and bramble on the bank obscuring the view of drivers approaching from Castle.  Would a couple of people be able to divert there by car (walking in from Dolarddyn road is best because the lane itself is very rough) to spend a few minutes lowering it?

Decision Point

Well, it is a half mile walk from Dolarddyn Road, so six people in three cars drove to Dirty Lane and parked on the south side of the line. This photo is taken from what is called the ‘Decision Point’ and is where the vehicle driver decides if it is safe to continue onto the crossing.

View of Railway Line From The Decison Point

Taken from the same location as the photo, the railway line can clearly be seen.


On the other side of the road there was a huge mass of brambles on the field side of the hedge. Once these began growing again they would have posed a visibility problem. A phone call to Llanfair resulted in a brush cutter being despatched on the 11:00 train.

Clearing Brambles

Dave is busy shredding the brambles with a brush cutter.

So with that ‘little’ task completed we set of for Golfa Halt to meet up with the rest of the team. We had an Engineering Possession for the part of the line so, after deploying the necessary protection, the components of our trolley were unloaded and assembled. We then loaded our equipment and walked the near half mile to the work site in Quarry Cutting.

After arriving at the site our first choice task was a lunch break!

Slow Tedious Work

We then set about clearing the horrid spikey blackthorn scrub. The stems of most of this was less than one inch (25mm) in diameter so could be cleared using loppers.

That afternoon Wales were playing England in the Six Nations Rugby. So some of the team wanted an early finish. Wales won 21-13 so the atmosphere in the pub that evening was a bit raucous.

Sunday 24th February

Needless to as the DGM found yet another ‘just job’ – clearing a way a pile of logs and brash a couple of hundred yards beyond our work site.

Snip By Snip We Cleared It

Sunday was more of the same, but, as we reached the top of the cutting there were some larger bushes that required a saw.

Looking Up Quarry Cutting

With our task completed this is the view looking up the cutting.

Looking Down Quarry Cutting

Looking towards Welshpool. All the scrub has been cleared. To the left of the line at the top of the cutting there is a hedgerow and on the other side is an extensive woodland that is part of the Powis Estate.

The Fence 2 Fence Team’s trolley can also be seen in the photo. It is equipped with self acting brakes, e.g. if you let go of the brake handle they are applied, a critical feature as the gradient on this section of the line is 1 in 29 (3.4%). It can be dismantled into easily handled sections for transporting by car. We use it for carrying our tools and equipment and moving materials around on site.

The Sunday Team

The Sunday Team


Further down the cutting in the area we working on before Christmas the snowdrops are out and look magnificent.

Photo album on Flickr


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Trees & Fences

The Welshpool & Llanfair LIght Railway’s Fence 2 Fence team were in action over the weekend of 26th & 27th of January. It was decided to deploy most of the team to finish the section between School Mistress’ Bungalow and Heniarth that had been started in November. On Saturday morning after dropping the Mess Coach and most of the people by the bungalow three people plus the loco #17 and a wagon proceeded onwards to Castle Caereinion.

Tree Maintenance

We had a request from the Signal, Telecoms & Electrical Department to trim the branches of a tree that was very close the the radio antenna at Castle Caereinion Station. 

Branches Clear of Radio Antenna

After carrying out the requested action we then set about reshaping the tree so that it was better balanced.

Ready To Depart

Ninety percent of what is on that wagon came off that one tree! The load may look a little precarious but it was roped on and nothing fell off on the way back to the disposal site.

Fence 2 Fence Team In Action

#17 and the wagon was then used to transport brash from the main work site to the bonfire.

Loading Brash

Loading brash for removal to the bonfire. Larger sections of timber were stacked by the line side and on Sunday morning were transported to Heniarth. I am standing in what had been the leat that supplied the water wheel at Heniarth Mill. When the River Banwy is in spate this area is flooded and from time time actually inundates the railway line.

Burnt Fence Post 1

In the dim and distant past the fence along this section of the line was refurbished using recycled railway sleepers. They are very old and rotten and the occasional a lineside grass fire has spread to them.

Burnt Fence Post

Another burnt away fence post and a new one lying on the ground awaiting installation.

Ant Hill Around Fence Post

This post has an ant hill around it needless to say it had rotted away inside their home.

Unstapling Wire From Burnt Post

Tim is extracting a staple from the remnants of an old fence post. The replacement post and ‘monkey’ used to hammer it into the ground can be seen in the bottom right of this photo.

Hammering In Staples 2

Stapling the wire to a new post. We inserted 22 new posts that day; mostly on the field side of the line and just a few on the other.

Collecting Brash From Cyfronydd

The Track Gang had left a load of brash between Brynelin Viaduct and Cyfronydd so late in the morning the works train was sent to collect it and bring it back to the bonfire.


While loading the brash this clump of snowdrops was spotted
– spring is on the way.

Heritage Telephone Pole

When the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway was re-opened in the 1960s they had an internal telephone system. A few of the wooden poles that carried the wires are still standing.

If you would like to take a ride on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway or join the other volunteers that keep the railway running then please click on this LINK


Posted in Castle Caereinion, Cyfronydd, Heniarth, Heritage, Lineside maintenance, Photographs, railroad, railway, vegetation management, Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, winter | Leave a comment

Winter Wonders In The Workshops

It might have been the middle of winter with the hill tops dusted with snow but last week in the the workshops of the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway there was plenty of activity.

Countess In The Workshop

Countess, one of the railway’s original locomotives, built by Beyer Peacock in 1902, is seen in the workshop on Thursday 24th January 2019.

The smokebox door was open to allow the sealing strip to be replaced. If air leaks in through the periphery of the door then the fire does not draw properly and it becomes difficult to produce an adequate amount of steam.

My first task was to remove and examine the two injector steam valves.

Countess' Steam Manifold

The valves are mounted on the steam manifold and are the ones with the brown handles.

Removing Countess's Driver's Side Injector Steam Valve Stuffing Box & Spindle

The correct size spanner was located but within the confines of the cab it was not possible to apply sufficient weight onto it to shift the valve stuffing box; so a length of tube was added to provide some more leverage.

NB it is very bad practice to hammer the end of an open ended spanner – the jaws tend to spring open; also it can damage the flats on the nut you are trying to turn – especially when it you are working on brass or bronze components.

Injector Steam Valve Stuffing Box & Spindle Removed

So with not too much difficulty the driver’s side injector steam valve was dismantled, closely followed by the fireman’s side one.

Injector Steam Valve Stuffing Box & Spindle

A GWR type injector steam valve stuffing box, gland and valve spindle assembly. The valve head and seat are flat.

Valve Seat In Poor Condition

The valve seats were in need of a bit of tender loving care so it was off to the stores to find the correct tool to re-cut them.

Valve Seat Cutting Tool

A valve seat cutting tool alongside a socket and T-bar to work it.

Valve Seat Cutter In Place

Valve seat cutter fitted into the fireman’s side valve body. The tool is rotated a few times and then removed to check the progress.

Valve Seat Partially Cut

Part way through the process. It is fairly clear where metal has been removed. At about 5 o’clock you can see a pile of swarf that has fallen away from the cutter.

Refurbished Valve Seat

Seat cutting virtually finished. There is now a decent flat area for the valve head to bear down on.

The valves were then reassembled.

Fitter at Work

I then moved on to assisting TC to get the bolts out the flange that connects the fireman’s side injector delivery pipe to the top feed. Needless to say that the nuts had seized onto the bolts. The length of tube on the end of the ring spanner might have enabled more torque to have been applied but it did not shift the errant nut. Significant persuasion in the form of the oxy-acetylene torch was employed and after being heated up to bright cherry red the nuts came undone.

Applying Some Heat

The next day the Top Feed clack boxes were dismantled and put up a huge fight. In this picture the cap/stuffing box assembly is being heated to remove the screw that can be used to shut the clack off. Elsewhere PW was busy with a tub of hydrochloric acid descaling the the clack valves.

Later I was assigned to reduce the side-play in the reverser quadrant. This entailed removing the existing shims, basically 3/4 inch diameter washers and replacing then with some much thinner shims. After a bit of trial and error 20 thou shims were added resulting in  a reverser leaver that was free to move but did not slap about in the quadrant.

Slicing Through 100 x 100mm Steel Bar

The bandsaw cutting 100 x 100mm steel bar into manageable sections. These were then cut into smaller pieces.

Machining Bottom Part Of Spring Buckle For The Earl & Countess

We need to order a batch of springs for The Earl & Countess. The component seen in the laths chuck will form the bottom part of the buckle that holds all the spring leaves together. The spigot locates in the top of the locomotive axlebox and supports the weight. Making these parts in house reduces the cost of the new springs.

Machining Bottom Part Of Spring Buckle For The Earl & Countess

A growing batch of spring buckle parts produced on our CNC lathe.

Machining Bottom Part Of Spring Buckle For The Earl & Countess

OK so this is not the clearest of videos there is cutting oil spraying everywhere and clouds of steam as well. It shows a few moments of the machining of a spring buckle component. The material is 100mm x 100mm steel bar and the lathe is taking a 2mm deep cut each pass.

Frames Wheels & A Countess

Last but not least a glimpse of the four wheelsets for 699.01 aka Sir Drefaldwyn. They had been sent to Statfold Barn to have remedial work done to get the axle journal and tyre diameters concentric and the crank throws all the same.


Posted in Countess, Heritage, Llanfair Caereinion, locomotives, Photographs, railroad, railway, The Earl, Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, winter, Workshops | Leave a comment

So That Was 2018

Twelve months in twenty four photographs


Where The Wee Folk Live ?

The Ascot estate – perchance this is where the wee folk live?

Cutting Up Fallen Trees Near Golfa Summit

Obstruction! Danger! Following a storm fallen trees block the Welshpool & Leanfair Light Railway (W&LLR) near the summit of Golfa Bank.


Drilling Brake Blocks

Drilling brake blocks at the W&LLR. That ancient radial arm drill was condemned later in the year and has been replaced by a new machine.


A rather handsome clivia flower.


Frozen In

The Beast From The East froze the Grand Union Canal in Linslade.

Out In The Countryside

The sheep ignore Countess storming up Coppice Lane Bank and carry on grazing.



No, this isn’t a scene from the Great War but a start on rebuilding the section of the Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway from Stonehenge Works to Mundays Hill.

Hoo Wood Kiln

Deep in the Chilterns lies Hoo Wood brick kiln.


What is this life if full of care

The good weather had arrived. The guard of the 13:00 departure from Llanfair Caereion stands in the shade while he reads the news paper.

Leisure by W H Davies

WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Lifting Off The RHS Cylinder

Removing the right side cylinder of 699.01, Sir Drefaldwyn, for re-boring.


Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away

A peaceful stroll alongside the canal. On the other side of the water the sheep are harmlessly passing their time in the grassland away.

Coded Welder In Action

John Varley giving a master class in vertical welding.


Barley and a Big Sky

Yet another scorching hot afternoon and under that big sky the barley is ripening and the trains on the West Coast Main Line keep rolling on.

Green ][ Yellow

A bit of photo trickery. Who said that the camera cannot lie ?
The original picture was taken at Welshpool Raven Square station.



Plenty of clouds but still no sign of any rain. The combine harvesters are busy in the fields below Beacon Hill.

Rolling Through The Hills

Small train in a big landscape. The Earl passes Sign Hut Curve with a train for Welshpool on the first day of the W&LLR’s annual steam gala.



It’s 21:00 and dark outside. The fireman’s face is illuminated by the glow from the firebox.

Autumn Glory

Late September in Mid Wales; the leaves are beginning to turn from green to yellow. The briar rose has finished flowering and hips are forming. Former GWR locomotive number 823, Countess, seems to be making light work of the 1 in 29 gradient.


Lined Up And Heading East

Geese swimming along the Aylesbury arm of the Grand Union Canal

Storming Up Golfa Bank

The Earl storms up Golfa Bank with a goods train. The W&LLR had been chartered by Timeline Events to run three days of photo charter trains.



Sunrise as seen from the back bedroom window the time was just after 7 o’clock on 14th November.

Milling Axlebox Slipper Jig

CNC Milling Machine in action in the railway workshops at Llanfair Caereinion.


Peering Through The Trees Towards All Saints Church Leighton Buzzard

Peering through the trees towards All Saints church.

Betwixt The Trees

Betwixt the trees near Old Linslade









Posted in 699.01, canals, Countess, diesel, Heritage, Industrial Archaeology, Joan, kiln, narrow boat, Photographs, Poetry, railroad, railway, The Earl, Uncategorized, vegetation management, Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, winter, Workshops | Leave a comment

Not Santa Trains

I was at the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway for a couple of days in mid December. In recent weeks some new machines have been installed in workshop and I received training on the use of both the radial arm drill and the band saw.

Radial Arm Drill

The new radial arm drill – a significant improvement on the old machine.

Drilling Brake Blocks

The old machine – basically life expired, the electrical equipment was in poor condition and put simply it would have taken a huge amount of effort & expenditure  to bring it up to an adequate standard.

Power hacksaw in action

The old mechanical hacksaw. It didn’t cut square and was very slow.

Band Saw In Action

The band saw in action slicing through a piece of cast iron (a discarded axlebox slipper).

Axle Boxes

The axleboxes for 699.01 aka Sir Drefaldwyn. To avoid the chore of reaching through the aperture in the wheels to attend to the lubrication the horn guides will be lubricated from oil trays and the axle bearings will be fed from a mechanical lubricator.

Who Is About To Creep Into The Engine Shed

It is 14th December and the hours of darkness exceed the daylight. But who might this gentlemen be who is about to enter the engine shed?

In preparation for service the next day both Countess & Joan needed to have warming fire lit. I attended to Joan and Simon B dealt with Countess.

Who Left The Fire Iron In The Bunker ?

Not the normal sort of picture of a steam locomotive. This was taken from the tank on the fireman’s side. Note that a fire-iron had carelessly been left in the coal bunker before it had last been refilled.

Warming Fire in Joan

A fire has been lit and the smoke and mainly water vapour from the wood makes it way upwards and out through the roof vent.

Bouncing On the Pin

After a couple of hours the water in the boiler has reached a little over 100 Celcius and the pressure gauge needle is bouncing against the pin. That was the target for the day so the fire was then allowed to die down.

Warming Fire In Countess

Countess simmers in the engine shed on 14th December 2018.



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Down By Heniarth Mill

It has become something of a tradition that the November meeting of the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s Fence 2 Fence Team is a three day event and also incorporates a meal at The Dragon Hotel in Montgomery.

Not everybody can escape the clutches of employment on a Friday so on the first day a group of eight parked at Heniarth Station to unload the tools and equipment. The plan was to work back towards Llanfair Caereinion clearing unwanted vegetation and attending to the culverts and fences. The owners of Heniarth Mill had agreed that we could also cut down some of the vegetation on their side of the boundary. For the railway that meant improved views of the River Banwy and for them some firewood.

Heniarth Sketch Map


Light weight track trolley

As the Track Gang were out and about with a works train we had rely on our light weight trolley for moving tools and materials around the site.  The trolley is equipped with a spring brake that has to be held in the off position in order to move it. Let go of the brake handle and it stops. It is easily dismantled and the components fit in the back of a small estate car. Prior to use this season it was examined by Bruce Webber the lines Chief Mechanical Engineer ans signed off as fit for use.

Coppicing alongside the leat that used to feed Heniarth Mill

By the time it ready for use Bob had already got plenty of  small stuff cut down. The water on the other side of the fence is the old leat that used supply the water to the wheel at Heniarth Mill.

Loading the trolley with brash

Loading the trolley with brash. In the distance you can see the yellow ‘caution’ flag and the red ‘Stop’ board protecting the work site.

Heading for the bonfire

The trolley and its load are propelled over the bridge at Mile Post 7 3/4 towards Heniarth Station for unloading.

Blocked stream

Upstream of the bridge there is an old gate across the stream to prevent livestock escaping from their field and into the land belonging to the mill. It traps twigs and branches which then allow leaves and other debris to build up behind forming a dam.

Debris in the stream

As the water level was quite low it was a good day to clear it out.

Stream before clearing

Water trickles through the debris and under the bridge.

Clearing the debris

After fishing all the bigger bits of wood out of the water is was necessary to agitate the water and leaves so that they would flush away down the stream.


So for now it is all clear but no doubt it will not be long before we have some heavy rain which will wash down more material to form a new dam.

Flowing culvert

About 70 yards towards Llanfair a drainage culvert benefited a bit of tender loving care.

At the close of work on Friday the landowner appeared and was so impressed with the work done that he asked if we could fell some more trees (willows) on his side of the boundary fence. Well, it would have be rude to have refused, and as they were leaning over onto our side it was agreed to take them down.

On Saturday the team swelled to 18, not including myself as I had planned to check over the Track Gang’s power tools and extension leads. I can report they were all in good condition and fit to use.

Attacking Ivy

Several  trees along this section have ivy growing up them. Whilst this will not directly kill the tree, if it is not in good health, the additional weight can affect the stability especially in windy conditions. Here Chris is cutting the ivy away.

Delivery of logs to Heniarth Mill

Taking down the additional trees down was a good move as at least one was hollow and could well have eventually fallen onto the railway line. The trunks were chopped into movable lengths then carried by train to Heniarth and left by the entrance of the mill.

On Sunday I was allotted the task of Works Train Driver and most of the gang travelled in the Mess Coach with a few joining us on site having taken their cars to Heniarth.

Well somebody had to do it

Jeremy volunteered to don the waders and deal with some branches that were overhanging the old mill leat.

In between driving duties, and with the help of Marguerite,  I checked and and where necessary repaired the fences on both sides of the work site. In all nine new fence posts were inserted. We had brought seven with us and cut a two more from suitable sections of silver birch. Additionally several ‘living’ fence posts were pressed into service. Almost a whole packet of staples was used up in the process.

Loading brash

Loading the dropside wagon with brash. This was taken the short distance to the bonfire and burnt.

View acrosss the River Banwy

As the day progressed the lineside was taking on a new form with views across to the river.

Dormant bluebells

There is going to be a wonderful display of bluebells here in the spring. Lets us hope that winter is not too harsh to cause damage to the plants.

Manicured lineside

The site is now looking neat and tidy. All that is required is some kind person to spend a day or so with a leaf blower clearing the track so that the sleepers can dry out a bit.

All aboard!

Getting ready to leave the site. All in all it was a productive weekend. The next Fence 2 Fence session is on the weekend of 26/27th January 2019 when we will be returning to Golfa Bank to work on the upper section of Quarry Cutting.

If you would like to become a volunteer on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway please click on this LINK where you find further information. There are a range of opportunities including entry level activities that require no previous experience of railway operations through to the various training schemes for Guards, Station Masters, Footplate Crews, etc. Please note, however, that some roles require a reasonable level of physical fitness.



Posted in Heniarth, Heritage, Lineside maintenance, Photographs, railroad, railway, vegetation management, Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Machine Shop Action

For several years 699.01, Sir Drefaldwyn, has been undergoing a protracted re-build at the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. The locomotive was built in 1944 by Franco-Belge for the German army. After the war it worked in Austria for a while and came to Wales in 1969. It was taken out of service in the late 1990s.

699.01 Sir Drefaldwyn

The loco on display outside the carriage shed at Tanllan during the annual steam gala in September 2009.

Work is currently progressing on the axleboxes. New axlebox slippers were being machined over the weekend of 24/25th November. This work was being done on the XYZ SMX4000 CNC milling machine. The slippers are a  relatively easily replaceable component of the axlebox. As the suspension allows the axleboxes to move up and down the slippers slide against the horn blocks in the frames.

Milling Axlebox Slipper Jig

A block of steel has been clamped into the machine vice and the top is being machined flat. it will form a jig to which the axlebox slippers will be bolted to for the next stage of machining. The block will remain in the machine until the whole batch of components have been processed.

Milling Axlebox Slipper Jig

The same operation as above but seen from further away.

Drilling the fixing holes. NB it is the camera moving about; not the milling machine table wandering. (video length 35 seconds)

Tapping the holes (video length 22 seconds)

Test Fitting of Axlebox Slipper on Machining Jig

A trial fitting of an axlebox slipper on the jig.

Trimming the slippers to the correct length. (video length 80 seconds)

Coded Welder In Action

New horn blocks were welded on back in June. The frames were then sent away to a contractor for them to be machined so they were all straight and square.



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Rampant Growth


This picture has got nothing to do with the ‘Rampant Growth’ title of this article. It shows a line of locomotives outside the engine shed at Llanfair Caereinion on the 26th of October. They had been pulled out so that that some work could be done on the The Earl which had been at the back of the shed.

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that back in September the Fence 2 Fence Team began to cut back the luxuriant vegetation in Quarry Cutting. By way of reminder this location is on the extremely steep section of the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway known as Golfa Bank. A member of the track gang, Richard Wiltshire, has unearthed some photos that were taken in March 2009 when this part of the line was being relaid.


Quarry cutting on Golfa Bank in March 2009. A full fence to fence clearance had been carried out. Note the magnificent spread of snowdrops on the cutting side.


A view from the same time period looking the other way. They team who cleared this lot did a magnificent job.


(Photo by Tim Abbott)
A little over nine years later and mother nature has reclaimed the cutting sides. This demonstrates the need to regularly cut back the undergrowth.


(Photo by Tim Abbott)
Late September 2018 and the Fence 2 Fence Team are getting ready to begin work. You may question why we have this desire to cut back all the greenery.  Here are a few reasons:

  • The gradient is very severe – 1 in 29 (3%). Leaves and sap falling on the rails impairs adhesion particularly when climbing up the hill but it can also make controlling the speed difficult when descending .
  • Fallen leaves carpet the track and trap moisture on the wooden sleepers – this can accelerate the rate at which they deteriorate.
  • The leaves also make it difficult for the track inspectors to see the rail fixings properly and identify any defects.
  • If the vegetation grows too close to the track it could injure passengers who might be leaning out of a carriage window and it most certainly scratches the paint work.


This photo taken on 4th November 2018, by Rosemary Charman, shows another portion of the Golfa Bank covered in leaves.


In this view, linked from Tim Abbott’s Flickr account, you can see that the rail fixings are covered by leaves.


When lineside work is taking place while trains are running the site has to be protected. The first warning is a yellow flag denoting ‘caution’ and if there is any possibility of the track being obstructed by either people, tools or vegetation then a Stop Board or red flag is also displayed.

Steady Progress

Cutting small hazel saplings. The tall trees to the right are in the Powys Estate woods which extend alongside the railway for about a mile. They are home to deer which sometimes stray onto the track and common buzzards that swoop down from the trees to chase rabbits that are disturbed by the passage of the trains.

Subsumed By The Vegetation

It looks here as if the brambles are about to engulf Phil


(Photo by Tim Abbott)
Working on the steeper parts of the cutting was potentially hazardous. In this picture your author is putting his experience as a cave explorer to good use. With my feet on the ground and a rope and harness providing a good third point of contact both hands were free to cut down those ash saplings.


(Photo by Tim Abbott)
The lower end of Quarry Cutting as work drew to close on the Sunday evening. The work has been done by a team of twenty one people using mainly loppers and hand saws although a few small trees were felled using chain saws. Some of the team have now been trained to use brush cutters and these have been useful for clearing away tangled masses of brambles. Thank you the Fence 2 Fence Team.

We plan to back at this site at the end of January 2019. For the November three day session (23/24/25), river levels permitting, the team will be working between Dolrhyd Mill and School Mistress’ Cottage.

Thanks to Richard, Tim & Rosemary for the use of their photographs.







Posted in Golfa Bank, Heritage, Lineside maintenance, Photographs, railroad, railway, vegetation management, Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Photographic Charter Trains

So, you would like to visit a heritage railway and take lots of pictures from multiple places, but your chosen line, e.g. the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, only runs a few trains each operating day? Additionally you think it would be great if they would run some demonstration goods trains and present the loco in an indescribably filthy condition! Hmm surely that is asking a bit much ?

Well no, it is all possible!! Periodically, usually in the autumn, David Williams/Timeline Events, book the railway for a few days. Provided they don’t ask us for the impossible we will endeavour to offer the trains they think that their clients would like to photograph.

Applying Grime

David Williams from Timeline Events is seen here applying ‘makeup’ to The Earl.
From a personal perspective I am happy with a an engine in work-a-day grubbiness condition. Let’s be honest I don’t suppose for one moment that in either GWR or BR ownership that the copper cap on the chimney or the safety valve bonnet got cleaned up more than once a week. Photographs taken in the 1950s show the W&LLR engines were at least given a bit of a wipe over on a regular basis. To my eye the level of weathering applied was over the top and from close up it was clearly painted on. But then again if that is what the clients are paying for ……

Longing For The 'Right Away'

A very grubby looking 822 at Welshpool Raven Square.

The departure time from Llanfair Caereinion on the Monday morning was 08:30 which meant an early start for the fireman and myself. Thankfully the goods train had been made up a few days previously and had been drawn up close to the station. The only shunting we had to do was to pull out a suitable carriage for the photographers to ride in.

So we eventually got under way, propelling the goods wagons and pulling the carriage. As ever with these jaunts the first stop was to be Heniarth for some run pasts over the Banwy Bridge and into the station; a grand word to describe a few old railway sleeper, some stone chippings and an open fronted corrugated iron shelter.

The passenger alighted and the carriage was then pushed along the line for a hundred yards and uncoupled. One of the two Guards, armed with a good book, remained with it.

Goods Train Approaching Heniarth

The Earl approaches Heniarth with a short goods train.

From there it was onwards to Cyfronydd. While the photographers walked along the line to access Phil Morgan’s fields we took the opportunity to top up the engines water tanks. In the photo above you will notice that the wagon immediately behind the loco is carrying a load protected by a tarpaulin. That load consist of a pair of one cubic metre Intermediate Bulk Containers or IBCs for short, some plumbing, a petrol engine driven pump and a long hose. Or put another way a reserve supply of 2000 litres/440 gallons of water.

The Earl near Sign Hut Curve

The Earl trundles around Sign Hut Curve and is approaching Morgan’s Crossing.

After a little over three hours we reached Welshpool Raven Square. The loco’s tanks and the water wagon were replenished and we had a break for lunch. This was also the time for a crew change. Relieved from my role as driver I now assumed the position of the liaison person to interface between the event organiser and the train crew.

The train plodded up Golfa Bank and disgorged the photographers near Hanged Man’s Tree. The coach was taken up above Quarry Cutting where the gradient eases. A number of run pasts were made between mileposts 2 and 2 1/4.

Approaching Hanged Man's Tree

With dappled sunlight filtering through the canopy The Earl approaches Hanged Man’s Tree.

And so it was onto Sylfaen.

Playing To The Gallery

The ‘gallery’ are lined up alongside the Sylfaen Brook as crew of The Earl obliges with yet another processional run.

Below Y Golfa

The Earl has departed from Sylfaen and in the background Y Golfa, clad in scrub and bracken, rises up to 1120 feet above sea level. The role of Liaison Person may seem like a poor way to spend all or part of a day compared to being on the engine but there is a significant benefit. Once the details of the run past have been agreed with the organiser and communicated to the train crew you are free to get out your camera and take a few pictures.

The Daily Goods Train

So with the wonders of digital picture manipulation we can produce and image that might be mistaken for a historic photo from those far off black and white days.
But a closer look will reveal some inconsistencies. There is an 89A shed plate on the loco’s smokebox door – a fitting from British Railways ownership. The second open wagon has got ‘G’ and ‘W’ in large letters – a style that was dropped in the 1930s.

But hey, everyone seemed to have a good day. If it really offends your it would easy enough use photograph tweaking software to re-arrange the lettering to suit.

Back at Llanfair The Earl had to be scrubbed clean to be ready for a series of ‘clean’ engine photos the next day.


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Mixed Train Heading To Raven Square






Posted in Cyfronydd, Golfa Bank, Heniarth, Heritage, locomotives, railroad, railway, Sylfaen, The Earl, Welshpool, Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway | Tagged , | 1 Comment