By Cliff Thomas

End of the line for National Railway Museum donation of 90 year old Great Western Railway wagon to the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway

Published: 16th December 2016

Wagon to be used to provide educational background to the railway

The National Railway Museum has transferred 1925-built Great Western Railway standard gauge five-plank open wagon No. W108246 to the 2ft 6in gauge Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. The vehicle has been made available as part of the NRM’s rolling stock collections review.

W&LLR intends to display the wagon at Welshpool Raven Square station to demonstrate the transhipment of goods which took place between the main line and narrow gauge railway in pre-preservation days. The interchange sidings were near todays national network Welshpool station.

Town section lost but rural route revived

When initial efforts to preserve the W&LLR commenced in the late 1950s it was made clear BR would not negotiate a sale of the town section of the line between the main line station and Raven Square, about a mile away on the western edge of the town. The centre for revival of the railway therefore had to become Llanfair Caereinion at the far end of the line. When a lease-purchase was agreed with the preservationists in spring 1959 a selection of rolling stock was moved out of the yard in Welshpool - hauled by horses!

Working from Llanfair Caereinion, the revived railway was progressively extended back towards Welshpool with public trains returning to Raven Square on 18 July 1981, bringing the length of the line up to its presents eight miles. A station and other facilities have been progressively developed at this Welshpool Raven Square terminus.

The wagon will be placed on a standard gauge track panel next to a siding outside the shed in which W&LLR’s narrow gauge heritage goods wagons are displayed, helping to recreate the transhipment scene at the railway’s current terminus as part of the line’s mandate to educate the public about the railway’s history.

Preservation and display of heritage wagons

They said: “The National Railway Museum is very pleased to be working with the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway and to have found such a suitable home for this wagon on a railway which was once operated by the GWR”, said Anthony Coulls, Senior Curator at the Museum. “The W&LLR has an outstanding record for preserving and displaying heritage goods wagons, something which is paramount to the museum.”

W&LLR regularly runs Vintage Weekends featuring mixed trains, including the railway’s three replica Pickering carriages and heritage wagons hauled by one of the original Beyer-Peacock 0-6-0Ts built for the 1903 opening of the line. The new wagon will add to the shunting and other demonstrations featured on these weekends.

Town section interpretation trail

The former cattle docks still exist, complete with a short section of mixed-gauge track. Welshpool Town Council has cleared the location and plans to restore the area, close to the main line station, as a historical exhibit.

In recent years, a trail including a modern sculpture (adjacent to the Tourist Information office) and wall murals has been developed recalling the old route of the narrow gauge line through the town.

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