Return to Steam – 29/05/2021

RETURN TO STEAM – OPEN 29TH MAY 2021

Gwili Steam Railway returns to steam for May and June on selected days 29/30/31 May. Subject to Welsh Covid-19 guidance and local restrictions. Phone and online bookings only, please. Walk-in bookings are not available May-June.

Guidelines and information:

  • Face masks must be worn.
  • Please do not travel if you have Covid symptoms.
  • Please remain seated in your seat/compartments during the journey.
  • Trains depart; 10.30, 13.00, 15.30.
  • Please arrive 30 minutes before departure.
  • Compartment Prices – £50.00 (Max 6 per party).
  • Single Tickets: Adult £13, Child £7.00 (Max 4 per party).
  • Takeaway food only, available from the Vintage Tea Room.
  • No dogs allowed (except Guide Dogs) during May/June.
  • June dates: 5/6, 12/13, 16, 19/20, 23, 26/27, 30.

Further travel dates will be announced in mid-June.

Welcome Back, Phone: 01267 238213

STÊM YN DYCHWELYD

Mae Rheilffordd Gwili yn dychwelyd i stêm ar ddyddiadau penodol yn ystod 2021. Mae’r teithiau yn ddibynnol ar ganllawiau/cyfyngiadau Covid Gwiriwch y wefan a’r cyfryngau cymdeithasol am ddyddiadau a’r newyddion diweddaraf. Croesewir archebion ar-lein a ffôn. Ni chaniateir archebion ar y safle. 

  • Peidiwch â theithio os oes gennych symptomau Covid
  • Rhaid gwisgo mygydau
  • Mae trenau’n gadael; 10.30, 13.00, 15.30, cyrhaeddwch 30 munud ymlaen llaw
  • Pris caban: £ 50.00 (Cerbyd A a B). Uchafswm o 6
  • Tocynnau Sengl: £13 oedolyn, £7 plentyn. Uchafswm o 4 (Cerbyd C)
  • Cludfwyd yn unig, ar gael o’r Ystafell De 
  • Ni chaniateir cŵn yn ystod mis Mai/Mehefin ac eithrio Cŵn Tywys

L.92 Locomotive Hire confirmed

The Gwili Railway Board are pleased to confirm the hire of the Worcester Loco Society ’L92’ locomotive until December 2021.
We would like to credit the teams and thank South Devon Railway and Worcester Loco Society for their kind assistance in making L92 available to the Gwili Railway again for 2021. 2021 season dates will be announced in Mid-May with bookings being taken by 14th May.

L.92 History:

5786 was built by the Great Western Railway in 1930 and, unlike many of its siblings, didn’t get scrapped by British Railways, but was sold on to The London Transport Passenger Board. 5786 is one of over 800 57xx Pannier Tank locomotives built. They were used mainly for heavy shunting, short-distance goods and branch line passenger duties. Built at Swindon, 5786 entered service in January 1930 at Aberdare shed. 5786 remained in South Wales throughout its life with the GWR and BR(W).
Its last depot was Cardiff Canton. In 1958 it was overhauled at Swindon and transferred to London Transport where it was painted Maroon and numbered L92. The next eleven years were spent working maintenance trains, goods traffic and shunting from Lille Bridge and Neasdon Depots. In the autumn of 1969 ‘The Worcester Locomotive Society’ purchased it, in working order, from London Transport and it was transported by road to Severn Valley Railway (SVR), Bridgenorth. It was steamed to Bewdley and restored to GWR livery.
During May 1970 the loco travelled in steam to Tyseley for a festival of transport and then returned to Bridgenorth, however it never worked on the SVR again. It was moved by road to the Bulmer Railway Centre (BRC) at Hereford. Since that time it was used to turn about with other locos at the centre on passenger workings and for Brake Van rides.
In the autumn of 1969 ‘The Worcester Locomotive Society’ purchased it, in working order, from London Transport and it was transported by road to Severn Valley Railway (SVR), Bridgenorth. It was steamed to Bewdley and restored to GWR livery.
L92 will be the first engine to lead the railway back into steam for the 2021 tourist season. We also look forward to pairing up L92 with our GWR carriage 216 of 1888 during the year at some point which is currently the subject of a National Lottery funded ‘restoration to working order’.
L92 will be working on running days from the 3rd April* through to December 2021. We will also confirm other locomotives that will be available mid-season. Saturdays will see our D2178 (Built-in 1961 at Swindon Works, Ashford) take passengers on our regular coach stock.
Additional notes:
5786 was the 3rd pannier to be purchased by London transport to replace their aging fleet. The WLS paid £1,100 for the loco after an inspection of the loco at Neasden depot, having initially investigated the purchase of l.91 or l.97 both of which were out of use, however, l.92 was chosen as it was next to be withdrawn and effectively a ‘goer’ whereas l.91 & l.97 had been stripped of many fittings to keep the fleet running.

BOOKINGS FOR THE 2021 SEASON START

Running days and bookings will start with telephone bookings being taken from the 1st March. We aim to offer train journeys from the 3rd of April.
All tickets will be a compartment based booking system, based on 6 adults max sharing inc 2 children. At £50.00 per compartment, this type of ticket offers families and bubbles the chance to travel on our beautiful heritage railway line.
Telephone and Online bookings for May/June can be made by telephoning the booking office at Bronwydd 9.30am-4.00pm Tuesday-Saturday during Mid-May. Your details will be taken on our new booking form for Track and Trace purposes. Card payments will be taken and a receipt sent out via first class post. Please confirm your receipt by emailing the office.
Telephone 01267 238213 and email your interest by emailing [email protected]
*Welsh/UK Covid Travel Restrictions – if for any reason the start of the season is delayed, all tickets will be valid for travel on another date.
If for any reason we cannot run steam on the day of travel a diesel class engine may be substituted at late notice.
Walk-on bookings are not allowed due to Covid Travel Booking restrictions. Please do not travel if you are showing symptoms.

Motive Power Department Moorbarrow No.47 update

Moorbarrow No.47:

Work continues on the overhaul of Moorbarrow which is now in its final stages. The backhead fittings are being replaced and the Carriage and Wagon Department Team are also busy painting the cab and tank. Meanwhile, the team have also been giving the new crane some attention and have recently fitted new hoist ropes as part of the programme to return the crane to active service.

Thanks to the gang for progressing all these works.

Carriage and Wagon Department Update

Heritage Lottery Grant success…

Work continues on the Heritage Lottery Fund supported the restoration of GWR Carriage No. 216 of 1888. This five compartments third-class four-wheel carriage entered the shed in September and since then has received a lot of attention.  Many thanks to the dedicated team who continue to progress the repairs to this carriage. The interiors have been stripped of fittings and the sides brought up to an undercoat finish. The ceilings are also in white undercoat. When the weather gets warmer the compartments will be glossed and scumbled. The lottery grant has enabled us to order some of the finishing touches such as glass for the gas lights, and luggage racks and brackets, and window blinds and holders.

The exterior sides have been stripped of the waistline beading and the sides have been filled and sanded again into a green undercoat.

Work on the ten doors is ongoing and a contractor is constructing some new side panels to allow two of the worst to be completely replaced. The remaining 8 doors are being attended to and are in various stages of stripping and woodwork replacement.

Some of the brass parts have been polished to the nines and are ready to be returned to the carriage when the time comes. These are the rings that hold the gas lamp glass, to be fitted to the ceiling.

Work continues on the sanding, painting and woodwork repairs. We are pulling out all the stops and hope that the carriage will enter service at some point this year for the first time since 1933. With TVR carriage no. 220 of 1891 to move into the shed as well shortly, we hope that this will be a taste of things to come.

Track and Rail donations help process the Gwili P-way works

Treasure Hunt by Simon Jones Gwili Railway Volunteer

Now what seems a long time ago in 1988 as a young sixteen-year-old I started volunteering on the Gwili. Things were very different than a newly opened extension to Llwyfan Cerrig and two coach trains being the normal service fleet comprising of the bar/buffet coach and DMU trailer car as brake coach. My roles in those early days were trainee guard/shunter, C&W and Pway. My first introduction to track laying was a week of icy conditions in Conwil with a very enthusiastic Paul Evans  – fast forward to 2020 and Rob Cross has the same stamina and determination. At this time as too young to drive, I frequently had lifts from Swansea or caught the mainline train and biked with Peter Greenough. I recall Peter explaining the complex land situation at Abergwili and the uncertainty over the route or at the time whether the bypass would be built, little did I know at the time that some 30 years later Abergwili would take up a lot of my time.

There is a saying ‘never volunteer for anything’, except if most of us followed this the railway would not be here today. Some 31 years ago I also started employment with the council as a Highway design engineer and now lead up a full-time team of ten staff undertaking design, delivery and approval of a wide portfolio of projects.

Each project has its own challenges and uniqueness meaning no day is ever the same which I enjoy. Undertaking this role for council I’m aware of the large cost incurred in the preparation of civil engineering design work and how often the costs of such / design are not sufficiently challenged. I, therefore, offered to assist in any way I could with the aspirations for Abergwili Junction station. Matt Bowen and John Gurmin immediately took me up on this offer and many an evening was taken up drafting designs for the site, surveying what had been built and discussing with others their aspirations.

The small working group of Matt Bowen, James Buckley, Dewi Jones, Mike Dickinson, John Gurmin and Tony Ridgwell allowed these discussions to take place and consensus achieved. Many thanks to all these and any others engaged in this process.

Whilst we are fortunate of what appears to be a large site at Abergwili once four Mk1 length carriage sheds are placed on the plan then very little room is left to accommodate the trackwork and points to provide sidings etc. I deliberately used the term points above as little did I know at the time of the whole subject of Switches and Crossings. Double OO gauge model railways with small, medium and large points are much simpler to understand. To achieve the optimum layout it was clear that additional trackwork would be required. Note to oneself ‘never volunteer’.

Part of my Council job is undertaking feasibility studies for differing projects, this has included visits to numerous locations. On one such visit, I was very surprised to find hidden in the undergrowth a mile of bullhead rail and concrete sleepers still in in-situ.

I mentioned this find to Matt who asked if I could make enquiries with Network Rail, unfortunately, after a prolonged period with lots of discussions with different persons in NR this location is currently not an option at this time but one to keep on the radar. In the 2 year period it took for these discussions to come to these conclusions, the alternative focus was directed to privately owned sections of track.

Often whilst undertaking the design of projects we work on we refer back to historic maps to assess potential ground contamination and possible hidden structures. These maps typically are inundated with railways spiraling up every valley and massive sidings, particularly around docks.

It is hard to picture this scene now with so little remaining railway infrastructure in South Wales with most of these sidings areas either built upon or reclaimed by nature. As a result, the search for track became like a treasure hunt with snippets of information from volunteers and endless searching on Google maps.

The internet was a huge help in identifying possible owners of some locations and emails composed and sent expressing our interest. Some replies were received with disappointment and some kept the door open for when their future intentions were known not wishing to dispose of assets at this time.  One of the strengths of the railway is our engagement with the community and desire to support local businesses.

This approach was supported by Mekatek Business Group, a recycling company with sites in Carmarthen and Rhymney. Whilst the Carmarthen site in the location of the old dairy site in Johnston had a siding remaining this had been ‘tramroaded’ (encased in concrete), the Rhymney site had a 500ft run-round  loop and headshunt. The manager for both sites living in Ferryside had visited us with his family and supported our approach of working together in this instance a collaborative Tir-party arrangement of Mekatek, Barrett Rail Services, and us. On this basis, Mekatek was willing to donate this track to the railway.  Particular mention should also be made of the adjacent Tennant in  –  Williams Medical Supplies for their assistance in both providing contact details for  Mekatek and their cooperation during the removal process.

Plans are already in place for the rails to be used to replace original rails on our operating line with the worn rails displaced to sidings.  The switches and crossings will enable new switches for Bronwydd to be assembled in the car park in advance and then thanks to the new crane, the old switch craned out and new installed as a single operation. Another switch from the same location will be used at Abergwili to provide a further southern headshunt towards future Dando Phases 2 & 3.  This arrangement at Abergwili will not only provide much needed additional storage space for rolling stock but will also make required shunting movements much easier and quicker.

Although initial discussions with Network Rail regarding the branch previously referred to was not successful, further discussions are continuing with the contacts established during the inquiry. These discussions were taken with an offer to the Materials Recovery Depot at Westbury. Here Peter Nicholas and I met by Jason Weetman and Ben Oakley who showed us around the facility with recovered items arriving by both rail and road.  All materials that arrive at the depot whether surplus from renewals or the original materials that were being replaced are dismantled and graded.  Some of the materials stockpiled would be suitable for the lower speed operating line that we use and we hope that once Covid restrictions are relaxed Network Rail Materials Recovery Team can visit us for further discussions on how we can work together/support each other for the benefit of the local community and rail industry as a whole.

Similarly, with Transport of Wales taking over maintenance and operation of the Cardiff Valley Lines positive discussions have taken place with them regarding similar ventures and will update you all when confirmed positive news is known.

There are further inquiries that are ongoing in respect to the few private branch lines/sidings remaining in the Wales and Borders area but naturally at this stage wish to keep these locations secret.

Many of the discussions would not be possible without the assistance of Barrett Railway Services and we are grateful for their help in arranging the lifting and specialist transport of track acquired.

Track donation update…

We are pleased to announce a substantial donation of track materials by DB Cargo from their Burrows Yard in Swansea.

Burrows Yard located adjacent to the A483 Fabian Way used to be one of 3 substantial marshaling yards for Swansea Docks. Now the sole survivor it too is substantially smaller than its original layout with only 5 roads retained for operational use. Extensive remodeling over the years had changed the original layout but retained a link to the Ford factory.

With the closure of this factory, this link was truncated east of Gower Chemicals warehouse (former Rhondda & Swansea Bay Railway engine shed) to allow the new Ffordd Amazon road to be built. Nature started to hide the retained part of this link now effectively a siding. From its previous use as a much larger Yard, the first section of the siding had numerous switches affording access to numerous other storage sidings once no doubt full of coal wagons. Whilst the sidings had been lifted the key parts of switches and crossings remained inside. Many of these switches are original GWR components including a loose heel 3 way switch destined for reuse at Abergwili. When alongside Fabian Way the bullhead rail changes to a flat-bottomed section. With dwindling supplies of bullhead rail and sleepers, we like many other heritage railways will have to use the flat-bottomed rail on future extensions with bullhead ideally retained within station limits where most visible and this donation will enable us to get up to speed with installation and maintenance of flat-bottom before wider use.

What is the track going to be used for?

The gifted track has been assigned for replacement of worn rails on the current operating line, much needed extra siding capacity at Abergwili and for the Conwil extension.

Over the coming months, the switches and crossings will be resembled to identify what elements are missing and determine how many sleepers will need replacement before being stacked for ease of loading. If you are good at jigsaw puzzles and enjoy fresh air please get in touch with Rob Cross.

Whilst we are extremely grateful to DB Cargo as a company, we would also like to thank in particular Charlie Swanson, Paul Cleverdon, and Steve Weston for their personal assistance in making this donation happen.

Whilst all track donations are gratefully received, costs are incurred in arranging dismantling and transport to Carmarthen. The majority of our fundraising is for locomotives we now ask that if you feel you would like to contribute towards the cost of transport of these track materials this would be welcomed by the Board. Further donations have been discussed so future updates will be posted to social media so please watch this space.

Activity Superstore Vouchers

Activity Superstore Vouchers:

  • Voucher Offer ended October 2020
  • Not valid on Special Events or dining trains
  • Not valid on Santa’s Magical Steam Trains
  • Not exchangeable by our ticket office
  • Any queries/refunds you must contact Activity Superstore as the reseller, not Gwili Railway
  • Contact details for Activity Superstore can be found on the voucher or online

Please note that Activity Superstore Vouchers are not a Gwili Railway Company. It is a special offer whereby we reduce our ticket price and give a discount. We cannot refund or exchange these vouchers. The vouchers and T&Cs are clearly stated. Although they are valid for 12 months they are only valid between April and October on the railway standard running days.