Cambrian Crossing

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Cambrian Crossing
The crossing in 1934
Type Flat crossing
Status Closed
Replaced by Cae Pawb
Grid reference SH570391
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The Cambrian Crossing was the point where the Croesor Tramway and later the Welsh Highland Railway (WHR) crossed the standard gauge Cambrian Railways line (later GWR) in Portmadoc.

The modern WHR also has a crossing at this location known as Cae Pawb. For more detail regarding the present crossing, see the Cae Pawb page and the CTRL page.


The Cambrian crossing was - prior to 1923 - regarded as a simple occupation crossing, the crossing keeper living in the adjacent cottage. The narrow gauge tramway was horse worked until this date and paid nothing for the use of the crossing, having been there before the standard-gauge line was built.

From June 1923, however, upon the opening of the Welsh Highland Railway to loco.-hauled passenger trains, the GWR had taken over the Cambrian, and intended to replace the controlling arrangements with a full signal box. The Ministry of Transport's inspector, however, found this unnecessary. Instead, telephone circuits were installed (in place of mechanical gongs by which messages had previously been exchanged with Portmadoc (East) GWR signal box) at a cost (which they sought to recover from the WHR) of £150 (approximately £6375 in '2008' money[1] although it was also the income expected of a Gentleman and Lady with no child [2]), as well as a contribution to the costs of manning the crossing. This led to an on-going dispute - through the Chancery Court after the WHR went into Receivership in 1927. In the end, the matter was only finally settled in 1938 - after the line had closed - and the outcome was that the WHR never paid any of the charges that had been raised: they had had "free" use of the crossing. Nevertheless, the possibility that the GWR might prevent passenger trains using the crossing if they were not paid (they could not prevent free use for narrow gauge goods trains as this had been established when the crossing came into being in 1867) prompted the opening of a new platform to the north of the crossing. This is often erroneously categorised as a separate station, but public access was through Portmadoc New (1923) station of which it was a "supplementary" or "auxiliary" platform. For the summer seasons 1929 to 1933 inclusive all through passengers had to cross the GWR line to Portmadoc New (1923) on foot. Regular passenger crossings resumed in 1934 for the three years of leased operation by the Festiniog Railway (although some trains did still turn back at the north platform).

After the first couple of years of the period of dispute, costs (albeit never actually paid by the WHR) were kept down by using GWR staff only for brief periods when required for the passage of goods trains, rather than employing full-time staff: the crossing was never completely "closed" until narrow gauge trains ceased in 1937. [3]

Although not a full signal box, there was a small cabin at the crossing, manned by a GWR Porter Signalman. For the operating regulations at this period, see Day Log/1923-05-28 and Day Log/1923-06-13. By this time the crossing was known to the WHR staff as the Great Western Railway Level Crossing, but to the GWR as the Croesor Railway Crossing.

At the time of opening of the WHR the crossing was a cast manganese steel unit with integral check rails for the narrow gauge. It is not known when it was installed but that hard-wearing material was not in railway use before 1902. It was not new in 1923 as there was a request to the GWR for an adjustment of its position (which was not carried out) as part of the refurbishment of the Croesor line in that year. A WHR memo of this time mentions a small crack in the casting[3]. This may be the reason why it was replaced in 1928 by an assembly fabricated by the GWR from bridge rail with angle-iron check rails and longitudinal timbers.

After the cessation of services over the WHR, the GWR unsuccessfully sought the agreement of the Festiniog company (as lessees) and R T Griffith (the Receiver) to meeting the costs of either retention of the crossing or its removal. In the absence of any such agreement (or even any attempt to delay matters) [4], the crossing was taken out and plain-lined by the GWR on 27 December 1937 [5].


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Maund, Richard (2009). Chronicles of Croesor Crossing. Welsh Highland Railway Heritage Group. ISBN 978-1-906205-39-3.
  4. ^ Welsh Highland Heritage no. 58, page 8
  5. ^ GWR notice in The National Archives at RAIL 279/43

See also[edit]