Wordless Wednesday 22nd March 2023

Mooring Warden
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Wordless Wednesday 8th March 2023

Thomas The Tank Engine
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Battling The Brambles

The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway is just eight miles long. Put another way that means there are sixteen miles of lineside verge with their associated fences, hedges and ditches that need to be maintained. Vegetation within three metres on the track centre line can be kept trimmed using a tractor mounted flail carried on a railway wagon.

Flail Train
Flail Train Seen Near Mile Post 6 1/4

Much of the out of reach stuff can be left to grow wild and it provides a lovely habitat for wildlife. Where the line is on an embankment it is periodically necessary to clear the vegetation back so that the Civil Engineers can inspect the structure. One such structure is the embankment on the upper part of Castle Bank where at its highest the track is about 6m (20ft) above the surrounding land.

A decade or so ago this embankment was undermined by a rabbit warren and a significant amount of earth moving was required to stabilise the ground.

Looking Towards Coppice Lane

Embankment looking towards Coppice Lane and Welshpool

Looking Towards Castle Caereinion

Embankment Looking Towards Castle Caereinion Station

Arrived On Site

The Fence2Fence team have arrived on site. The tools have been carried up on small trolley that can be dismantled to be transported in the back of a small estate car. There was an Engineering Possession in force and no other rail movements were authorised for the weekend.


The sides of the embankment were covered mainly in brambles and nettles interspersed with hazel, elder, ash, and blackthorn. The brambles were hacked down and the various tree species coppiced – they will soon grow back.


A relatively new volunteer gets stuck in.

Clearing Brambles

There was nothing cut down that was large enough to stack for later recovery as locomotive lighting up wood plus some of the ash saplings were showing signs of the ash-dieback disease. Burning on site was chosen as the best way to clear the debris.


On gentle slopes the petrol engined strimmers were effective at clearing the undergrowth.

Organic Waste Remediation Plant

On the south side of the railway there is an Organic Waste Remediation Plant that is owned and operated by Hafren Dyfadwy. This discharges treated water into a ditch that then passes through a pair of glazed earthenware pipes under the railway thence onwards to the River Banwy.

Oraganic Waste Remediation Plant

The adjacent plant’s discharge point.

Culvert Headend

The headend of the culvert back in March 2018. Note the position of the fallen tree.

Obstruction - Potential Danger

The fallen tree was slowly sinking into the water course and was now posing a significant threat of blocking the entrance to culvert beneath the railway track.

Culvert Headend Now Clear

With the surrounding vegetation cleared, a length of rope and several people working together the very rotten section of tree was hauled out of the way.

Tree Earmarked for Removal

The semi-collapsed tree in this picture will have to be removed before it crushes the fence and or falls into the culvert seen the pictures above. As there will have to be negotiations with the neighbouring farmer the felling will most likely take place in the autumn.

Cleared Embankment Sides
Cleared Embankment Sides

Tidying The Ballast Shoulder

The last task on site was to rake the ballast shoulders back into place where they had been trodden down.

Badger Sett

Just outside Castle Caereinion Station there is an active badger sett and they have recently excavated a new entrance adjacent the the railway and deposited the spoil on the ballast.

Badger Sett


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

Wordless Wednesday 1st March 2023

Posted in Heritage, locomotives, Photographs, railroad, railway, Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, wordless Wednesday | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


These pictures were taken getting on for half a century ago and they feature a little steam engine that has come off the rails.

The engine is Pixie, a Wren class saddle tank locomotive, that was built by Kerr Stuart & Company at their works in Stoke-on-Trent in 1922, works number 4260. After a busy life in a quarry Pixie was retired and for a while sat in the garden of the Leather Bottle public house in Harpenden.

It subsequently moved to the Iron Horse Rail Road (IHRR) in Leighton Buzzard who had leased the, by then, unused section of the old Leighton Buzzard Light Railway. The IHRR soon morphed into the Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway. Back then track was not in very good condition and so occasionally a wheel or two would part company with the rails.

Pixie Derailed

The incident documented here happened at the location shown on the two maps below.

Map derived from http://streetmap.co.uk/map?X=493569&Y=226735&A=Y&Z=115
Map derived from the National Library of Scotland collection

Pixie has derailed on, what was then, the steep slope down from Bryans Loop. From the pictures it would appear that before rerailing commenced the carriages were removed from the train. Whether they were just pulled back to the loop or right back to the station at Stonehenge Works I can’t recall.

According to the LBNGR Archivist, who has checked the Guards’ Journals, the most likely date for this incident is 18th July 1976.

Thankfully the only damage was to the driver’s pride. Re-railing would have been done with either jacks or more likely with a length of old rail and some sleepers as a fulcrum to lever the loco up and back onto the track.

Pixie Derailed


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Wordless Wednesday 22nd February 2023

Lambton, Hetton & Joicey Railway No. 29 and the P3 at Grosmont
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Wordless Wednesday 18th January 2032

When Winter Comes Howling In
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Beside The River

For about two miles the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway runs alongside the River Banwy. It is one of those rivers that can go from a mere trickle to a raging torrent in just a few hours. During the long hot summer it was very docile and after a few days of rain last week was running close to, or just above its ‘normal’ range.

The graph shows the level of the river at the gauging station in Llanerfyl for the week commencing 21st November 2022. The ‘green’ band is the typical level.
Source: Natural Resources Wales

The Fence2Fence Team had their regular monthly session working mainly alongside the river between Dolrhyd Mill and Heniarth over the weekend of 26th and 27th November 2022.

Map showing location of the work sites
Source Streetmap.co.uk

River Bank Before Clearing

Cutting back extraneous vegetation near Dolrhyd Mill
The Diema diesel loco can be seen in the background.

The river is lined with mature trees; many of the gaps between these were becoming filled with saplings and scrub. This was removed to open up the view from the train across the river. Herons, a few ducks and an occasional cormorant are the the most likely birds the visitor will see. The eagle eyed observer may be lucky and catch a glimpse of a kingfisher. (I saw one earlier in the year).

After Strimming

Nearer to Heniarth there is a section of track that is due to be lifted and replaced after Christmas. A detachment of three spent a long time strimming the grass either side of the line to provide a clear area for the new sleepers and rails to be stored.

Dolrhyd Mill Tail Race

After heavy rain the river can become a raging torrent and it is not unknown for it to completely cover the track. This picture was taken at Dolrhyd Mill in February 2022.

Low Impact River Bank Protection (1)

Erosion of the river bank is an issue the railway has to contend with. Following a suggestion from a member who works for the Environment Agency some experiments with soft defences have been tried.
The one in the picture, with the exception of the blue rope, was entirely made out of natural materials sourced on the site. Put another way – it was made out of the stuff that was cut down.

Yes they will eventually rot down and wash away but further upstream an example built in 2019 is still extant.

Clearing at Colonel Robertson's Bridge

The railway’s Civil Engineer needs to undertake an inspection of Colonel Robertson’s Bridge and the team had been asked to clear the vegetation that had grown up around it.

Clearing at Colonel Robertson's Bridge

Battling with hawthorn


Clearing ivy from the masonry.
Photo by David Gunby

Canoes On The River Banwy

On Sunday afternoon half a dozen canoes came down the river. They were a little surprised to see people working on the railway.

After Clearing

After two days work we had tidied up a hundred metres or so of river bank, strimmed 200 metres of line side and cleared the vegetation around a bridge.

If you would like to visit the railway to take a ride on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, which passes through the rolling hills of mid Wales, then please visit the web site. There you can see when the trains are running and if desired pre-book your seats.

If you would like to become a volunteer on the railway then please leave a message in the Comments section and someone will get back to you.

Unless stated all photos are by the author.
More photos here


Posted in Heniarth, Heritage, Lineside maintenance, Photographs, railroad, railway, vegetation management, Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wordless Wednesday 16th November 2022

A Train At The End Of The Rainbow 2
Passing Black Mill Cottages (4)
Mixed Train Arrives At Heniarth
Posted in Heritage, locomotives, Photographs, railroad, railway, The Earl, Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, wordless Wednesday | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jigsaw Puzzles

The evenings are getting longer; so perhaps you might desire to spend some time doing a few, railway themed, online jigsaw puzzles? I have created some, on the Jigsaw Planet web site, using my own photographs, taken at the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. There are two versions of each, easy at around 30 pieces and harder at circa 100 pieces. By using the ‘Play As’ tab you can also re-configure the puzzles to more or less pieces.

To the Jigsaw Puzzles I hope you enjoy them.


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