Gwili Railway is one of the UK’s most picturesque preserved lines. Set in beautiful countryside with abundant wildlife, the line follows the River Gwili on a steady uphill journey through farmland and wooded hillsides.
Beyond the locomotives, history and scenery, the railway’s appeal lies in the friendliness and enthusiasm of the volunteers who maintain the railway and operate the services. They’re justly proud of the part they play in recreating the golden age of steam and their love of the railway is infectious – they’ll be happy to regale you with information and stories about Gwili and its historic locomotives.
The Gwili Railway has the distinction of becoming the first standard-gauge preserved railway to operate in South West Wales when it re-opened the one-mile section of the Carmarthen-Llanpumsaint route from its base at Bronwydd Arms, three miles north of Carmarthen. Since then, the railway has expanded to Danycoed and the company continues to hope to expand to Llanpumsaint. The locomotive stock of the Gwili Railway is unusual in that it mostly represents local industrial and wartime operations rather than mainline services.
Timeline Of Gwili Railway's History
The Gwili Railway, is a standard gauge steam railway located in the village of Bronwydd, 3 miles north of Carmarthen. Named after the River Gwili, alongside which it runs for 4 miles between Bronwydd Arms, Abergwili Junction and Danycoed, passing through picturesque farmland and steeply wooded hillsides.
The railway follows the original main line between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth and once formed part of a continuous link between North and South Wales.
Built originally by the Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway, with its 7’0¼” broad gauge, and the Manchester and Milford Railway companies, the line was eventually bought up by the Great Western Railway. It carried both passenger traffic and locally-produced goods – wool, livestock, milk and timber – before falling victim to the Beeching reforms.
Passenger traffic ceased in December, 1964, and the last milk train ran in September, 1973.
In April, 1975, the Gwili Railway Company was formed and purchased 8 miles of trackbed between Abergwili Junction and Llanpumpsaint. The first passenger train ran in 1978 to a new halt built at Cwmdwyfran. Two further short extensions took the track across the River Gwili to a new station at Llwyfan Cerrig and then onto a new station at Danycoed.
In 2017, work was completed on a southern extension to the line to the former Abergwili Junction – the planned site for a new station next to the Carmarthen Eastern bypass.
The Gwili Railway Company has purchased 3.6 acres of land adjoining the bypass which is designated to be a car and coach park. At the proposed station site, it is planned to build a cafeteria, a small museum and a carriage shed.
Presently, the vast majority of work on the railway is carried out by volunteers. Volunteers on the railway are members of the Gwili Railway Preservation Society or other supporting groups. The volunteers represent a wide range of backgrounds and skills. The Railway does provide in-house training for certain jobs, such as guards, footplate staff, signalmen and caterers, and organises safety training and medical examinations for operational staff.
The Railway operates services throughout the year, carrying over 20,000 passengers annually. In addition to its normal passenger services, it organises very popular special events such as Santa’s Magic Steamings, Sunday dining trains, evening jazz trains, photographic charters and driver experience courses.
The Railway’s authentic heritage and outstanding scenery has proved an attractive location for English and Welsh language film and television companies.