Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway
The Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway is a narrow-gauge railway in central Wales. It was opened in 1903, closed in 1956 and reopened as a preserved line in stages from 1963.
While narrow gauge, it has a different gauge from that of the Festiniog Railway. Its 2ft 6in gauge was rarely used on public passenger railways in Britain, only the Leek & Manifold Valley Light Railway in Staffordshire and the short-lived Alford & Sutton Tramway in Lincolnshire used it, but it was favoured for a while by military authorities and some light-railway engineers such E. R. Calthrop. It was used at several military and naval establishments in Britain and on some military campaigns, and for several lines in India, Sierra Leone, Cyprus and the Australian state of Victoria, and elsewhere. It was effectively identical to the 760mm gauge widely used in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.
Rolling stock[edit source]
For its entire commercial life its original two locomotives carried all the traffic, and indeed they are still in service on the line. However additional motive power and rolling stock has been acquired from overseas, and from military and industrial users.
Despite the gauge difference there has been a surprising amount of trade in rolling stock between the W&L and the FR.
- Upnor Castle was acquired by the W&L from the naval Lodge Hill & Upnor line and later sold to the FR, rebuilt and regauged, and has proved very useful.
- Monarch was acquired by the W&L from Bowaters industrial line and later sold to the FR for possible use on the WHR, but after a few years was returned to Welshpool.
- Carriage 1001 also came from the Upnor line to Welshpool, then indirectly to the WHR.
- Van 59 was a cattle wagon acquired by the FR (without running gear) when most of the the Welshpool wagons were scrapped after the closure, and rebuilt as a very useful van. (Now sold to Vale of Rheidol)
- The original Welshpool carriages were scrapped when the passenger service finished in 1931, so when the W&L reopened they used open carriages from the Lodge Hill & Upnor, but in recent years have ordered three very fine brand-new replicas of their original stock from Boston Lodge.
Couplings on these narrow gauge lines were also unstandardised. However the W&L used a chopper coupling somewhat similar to the Spooner types used on FR carriages, and when the W&L wagons were scrapped a quantity of these came to the FR and were used on Carriage 14 and Moelwyn among other items.
Some second hand rail from W&LLR found its way to The Welding Institute Railway in Cambridgeshire which was later bought by the Hampton & Kempton Waterworks Railway in Middlesex and laid at Kempton in about 2011