Published: 14th July 2015
Indonesian Mallet to run at Welshpool & Llanfair gala
Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s September 5-6 Steam Gala will feature Statfold Barn Railway’s 2ft 6in gauge O&K 0-4-4-0T Mallet (1473/1905) ex-Pakis Baru No. 5.
The last WLLR gala to feature guest steam was in 2010 when Bill Parker’s Manning Wardle 0-6-2T Chevallier made a post-overhaul appearance before moving to Whipsnade. The possibility of a WLLR gala visit by Pakis Baru No. 5 was raised in 2008 but did not in the end happen.
The guest loco, scheduled to work demonstration freights between Llanfair and Cyfronydd rather than service trains right through to Welshpool, is bound to form a significant attraction. It will also feature in a Saturday evening night photography session at Llanfair.
Recent efforts have allowed the run-round loop at Cyfronydd to be re-commissioned (for some time the only operational WLLR intermediate loop has been at Castle Caereinion) which boosts the lines ability to produce an intensive gala timetable including freight and mixed trains.
Signing a guest loco and reinstating a passing loop clearly reflect a determination to raise WLLR’s gala game. In addition, Welshpool Raven Square station will feature more prominently than hitherto with static exhibit Kitson-Meyer 0-4-4-0T Monarch (3024/1953) to be displayed in the open with W&LLR’s ex-Sierra Leone Railway carriages. Model railway layouts and trade stands will be located inside the display shed. Further stands and displays will be in Llanfair workshops, with conducted tours of Tanllan yard and stock shed.
The lines ‘Wasp’ railcar and Hunslet 0-4-0DM mines loco Ferret (which moved under its own power for the first time in several years on May 31) will be demonstrated while Barclay 0-4-0T Dougal (2207/1946) will feature in what is described as a ‘photogenic’ event. Dougal still has a valid ticket but a boiler issue restricts its use.
Although not part of the WLLR gala, for many years a major garden railway exhibition has been held at Llanfair Caereinion, forming an established supplementary attraction concurrent with the railways annual September gala. The organiser in recent years, Steve Warrington, sadly died in January, but the event will go ahead in 2015 - book seller and Welsh Highland Heritage Railway director Steve Currin having taken over its organisation.
Welshpool is served by the national network with trains between Birmingham, Shrewsbury and the Cambrian Coast, although with WLLR’s ‘Town section’ long gone the heritage lines Raven Square station is on the opposite side of Welshpool. A shuttle bus normally links Llanfair Caereinion with the garden railway exhibition.
While Talyllyn Railway’s big anniversary celebration - The 150th Party - was over July 3-5, the preservation pioneer line has further celebratory events to come: The 1865–2015 Gala (August 7-9), The Heart of Gold Weekend (August 29-31) and The Heritage Weekend (September 25-27).
Tywyn is also served by the national network with trains between Birmingham, Shrewsbury and the Cambrian Coast, the station being within sight (and easy walking distance) of TR’s Tywyn Wharf station.