Cambrian Railways owned a total of 241 miles of route, and worked a further 57 miles, over a large area of mid-Wales. The Company was incorporated in 1864 as an amalgamation of a number of railways which were incorporated from 1853 onwards, and from 1865 included the Aberystwyth & Welsh Coast Railway which served Portmadoc. The Cambrian connected with two of the larger railways to give connections via the London and North Western Railway to the North West of England; and with the Great Western Railway for London and the south. The Cambrian Railways were absorbed by the Great Western Railway on 1 January 1922 as a result of the Railways Act 1921. The name is continued today in the route known as the Cambrian Line.
The Cambrian Line passes under the FR at Minffordd, where there is an exchange station and former interchange sidings, and crosses the WHR on the level at Cae Pawb crossing (formerly "Cambrian Crossing").
Precis taken from "The Story of the Cambrian", by C. P. Gasquoine, published 1922:-
When what eventually became the Cambrian Railways was born it was a very tiny baby. Compared with its ultimate frame, it possessed neither arms nor legs, nor even head, and consisted merely of heart and a small part of its trunk. It began “in the air” at Newtown and ended, if possible, in still more ethereal poise, at Llanidloes. Physical junction with existing lines there was none, and the engines—four in number—which drew the coaches that composed those early trains had to be brought by road, from Oswestry, in specially constructed wagons, not without difficulties and adventures, and placed on the metals at the railhead, to live their life and perform their duty in “splendid isolation.” It was only gradually that limb after limb was added, and subsequently constructed railways were incorporated or absorbed, until the consolidated system obtained the rather attenuated proportions with which we are familiar to-day, stretching from Whitchurch, on the Cheshire border, to Aberystwyth, on the shores of Cardigan Bay, with its two chief subsidiary “sections,” one (including some half dozen miles of the original track) from Moat Lane Junction to Brecon, and another from Dovey Junction to Pwllheli
It is this section to Pwllheli that passes through Porthmadog.
Mr. Savin, as we have seen, had, during these later stages of progress with the making of the line from Newtown, been busily engaged still nearer the coast. A company with an ambitious name and a not less ambitious aim had been formed to build a railway from Aberystwyth to Machynlleth and along the shores of Merionethshire to Portmadoc, the port of shipment of the Festiniog slate traffic, and eventually to continue, through Pwllheli to that wonderful prospective harbour, upon which the eyes of railway promoters had already been turned without avail, Porthdynlleyn, near Nevin (which was never reached).
The Cambrian made connections with many of the independent Welsh lines, and also worked the ones marked * below:
- FR Co. at Minffordd
- Corris Railway at Machynlleth
- Talyllyn Railway at Tywyn
- Plynlimon and Hafan Tramway at Llanfihangel (later Llandre)
- Kerry Tramway at Kerry, Powys
- Vale of Rheidol Railway* at Aberystwyth
- Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway* at Welshpool
- Manchester & Milford Railway at Aberystwyth
- Potteries, Shrewsbury & North Wales Railway later the Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Railway at Llanymynech
- Tanat Valley Light Railway*
- Mawddwy Railway* at Cemmaes Road
- Van Railway* at Caersws