Gallery Group – Wales

Members of our Yorkshire Group enjoying a walk along the abandoned trackbed of the Ffestiniog Railway (Jane Ellis)
Penmaenmawr (literally ‘Great Stone Head’) on the north Wales coast is littered with tramways and inclines associated with the area’s former quarrying industry. In places, the infrastructure has simply been abandoned and left to rust, as can be seen from this incline in the western quarries (Richard Lewis)
This is part of the former GWR line from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Bala Junction, viewed near Nant Ddu looking towards Bala. The last passenger train passed this way on 4 January 1960. March 2005 (Richard Lewis)
This mouldering ruin is a GWR ‘Toad’ brake van viewed at Rhosaman on the Aman Valley line between Cwm-twrch Uchaf and Brynamman. Feb 2009 (Bob Prigg)
The Plynlimon & Hafan Tramway. This operation was a 2ft. 3in. tramway in Ceredigion (formerly Cardiganshire) which ran from Llandre (originally named Llanfihangel) on the Cambrian Railways’ branch between Dovey Junction and Aberystwyth. This view is of the main incline at Hafan. 2011(Chris Parker)
At the foot of Hafan Incline, the gradient on the trackbed eases off for a gradual descent into the valley of the Afon Cyneiniog. 2011 (Chris Parker)
The Manchester & Milford Railway became the former GWR branch line from Aberystwyth to Carmarthen via Strata Florida and Pencader. Between Abertystwyth and Tregaron, parts of the line have been opened up as the multi-use Ystwyth Trail. 2011 (Bob Morgan)
A road-over-rail bridge on the Ystwyth Trail near the site of Strata Florida Station, viewed from the Aberystwyth side. 2011 (Bob Morgan)
The ‘Wheel o Drams’ at Maesycymmer in south Wales, near the restored Hengoed Viaduct, stands on Sustrans’ Celtic Trail, which links Hengoed with Quaker’s Yard, largely via disused railways. 2008 (Darren Wyn Rees)
Pont y Cafnau and a bridge that was commemorated at a civil engineering conference in Merthyr Tydfil in 2011. Its name means the ‘bridge of troughs’: it is Grade II* listed and a scheduled Ancient Monument, since it is the world’s earliest surviving iron railway bridge. The 47ft iron truss structure is over the River Taff in Merthyr Tydfil. 2007 (‘Locus Imagination’)
Llanerchayron Halt on the ex-GWR branch line from Lampeter to Aberaeron. The trackbed here is an official railway path, right through to Aberaeron on the coast. 2011 (Bob Morgan)
Llanerchayron Halt looking towards Lampeter. The loaded platform trolley completes the scene. 2011 (Grahame Cox)
The view looking down Hafan Incline towards the valley of the Afon Cyneiniog, which can be seen in the distance. The views on this line really repay exploration. 2011 (Chris Parker)
The Moel y Faen Tramway. Looking north west along the trackbed. 2013 (Mike Hodgson)
At this point on a sharp curve to the left, the tramway passes through the site of a small former quarry. The mountainside ledge occupied by the tramway can be seen clearly. 2013 (Mike Hodgson)
The trackbed of the Moel-y-Faen Tramway above Pendwr. Considering that this route hasn’t been used for rail traffic for over a century, it is in remarkably good condition. 2013 (Mike Hodgson)
The Glyndyfrdwy or Deeside Tramway is a little know 2 ft.6 in. narrow gauge line in Wales extended in both directions after the arrival of the railway at Glyndyfrdwy to carry slate from Moel Fferna Quarry down to a transhipment wharf in the goods yard. The photo Shows a wooded section of the tramway below Pandy Mill which harnessed the water from the local stream, Nant y Pandy. 2014 (Chris Parker)
The horseshoe curve between Pandy Mill and Deeside Quarry. It looks as if there has been some slippage and reinforcement on the embankment. 2014 (Chris Parker)
The view up the second incline from Deeside Slab Quarry. 2014 (Chris Parker)
The 1¼ mile branch from Holywell Junction to Holywell Town closed to passengers on 6th September 1954, but the junction station on the LNWR line from Chester to Bangor remained open until 14th February 1966 to serve the local community of Greenfield. The former station is shown here as a private residence. 2015 (Chris Jennings)
Just south of the junction, the branch crossed the A55 by this very substantial underbridge. 2015 (Chris Jennings)
Looking up the grade to the site of Holywell Town station. The stone wall on the left is not the platform but the retaining wall of the former goods yard. 2015 (Chris Jennings)
Some 10 miles to the west of Holywell Junction, the 2¾ mile branch from Prestatyn to Dyserth closed to passengers as long ago as 22nd September 1930, although various forms of freight survived until 7th September 1973. This is the site of the former rail level halt at Woodland Park on the south of Prestatyn. 2015 (Chris Jennings)
These two underbridges are situated near the halt at Allt-y-Graig just south of Dyserth. 2015 (Chris Jennings)
Abersychan was once served by two stations, Abersychan High & Low Level. This is the former goods shed at Abersychan & Talywain, a Grade ll listed building. 2008 (Chris Jennings)
This is Garndiffaith Viaduct, also known as Talywain Viaduct on the LNWR part of a route that crossed the Heads of the Valleys. 2008 (Chris Jennings)
The well preserved station at Gilwern, the next east from Clydach and a view down the station steps. 2008 (Chris Jennings)
This extraordinary gate, which includes a model of the Crumlin viaduct, was situated at the entrance to the Bridgend Inn pub car park; after the pub closed, it was last noted at the foot of the former beer garden. The viaduct at 200 ft was the highest in the UK throughout its working life (1857-1964). The model is one pier short, presumably because the gap occupied by the gate. 2008 (Chris Jennings)
This rudimentary structure is the passenger shelter at Gelli Felin, the first station on the Heads of the Valleys Line east of Brynmawr. 2013 (Chris Jennings)
Just east of Gelli Felin halt, the line plunged into the darkness of the twin bore Gelli Felin Tunnels. The white material to the left of the eastbound portal is a large sheet of ice.2013 (Chris Jennings)
Just inside the eastbound tunnel was an impressive display of icicles. The first bore was opened in 1862, with the second following in 1877. The tunnels are only 352 yards long but are pitch black inside because they incorporate a curve of 90 degrees. 2013 (Chris Jennings)
A view of the Gelli Felin area from above the tunnel portals, looking west. Tiny Gelli Felin halt is situated in the distance where the line curves away to the left. 2009 (Chris Jennings)
West of Gelli Felin, the engineering drama continued. The trackbed can be seen clearly in the foreground, with several blind arches below. These were constructed when the line was doubled. 2009 (Chris Jennings)
This study of the cutting wall gives a very clear impression of how much stone the railway had to remove from this location. Between Brynmawr and Abergavenny, eight bridges and two tunnels were required, plus a climb of over 1,000 feet, which made this one of the steepest stretches of railway in the UK; one three-mile section had a rising gradient of 1 in 34. 2009. (Chris Jennings)
This structure, which Chris describes as ‘Clydach No. 2 Viaduct’, must be near invisible when the trees are in leaf; it is situated east of the village’s station.2009. (Chris Jennings)
The Rhiwbach Tramway was a 1 ft 11½in narrow gauge line which connected remote slate quarries east of Blaenau Ffestiniog with the Ffestiniog Railway; its main route and branches survive as footpaths or easily-traced tracks in the other-worldly landscape which will be found east of the town. This is the view down the incline from the top quarry; the trackbed can be made out in the centre.2016 (Maurice Blencowe)
An incline top winding drum. This photograph was taken at a lower level than the one above and depicts the first Votty & Bowydd quarry incline, which ascended directly from the eastern terminus of the Ffestiniog Railway at Duffws. 2016 (Maurice Blencowe)
There is some fine walking along the trackbed on the summit level of the Rhiwbach Tramway, seen here passing Llyn Bowydd. 2016 (Maurice Blencowe)
The view of the trackbed alongside Llyn Bowydd. Note the sheer-sided cutting which the navvies had to cut to get the tramway through the rocky outcrop in the left distance. 2016 (Maurice Blencowe)
During a Snowdonia walking break, members of the club’s Wales and North Western groups explored the Gorseddau Tramway, a 3ft gauge railway built in 1856 to link the slate quarries around Gorseddau with wharves to the south east at Porthmadog. The line ran just over 8 miles to the Gorseddau quarries, rising 900 feet in that distance. The line was horse operated using wagons and a passenger carriage supplied by the Festiniog Railway’s Boston Lodge Works. Uphill workings would have comprised empty wagons, while down loads were worked by gravity. One of the best engineered of all slate tramways, it became one of the least used. The slate produced at Gorseddau Quarry was poor and in 1860, the peak year, the output was 2,148 tons from a workforce of 200. It fell to 865 tons in 1865 and a mere 25 in 1867, the final year. The upper section of the tramway was abandoned in about 1872, but the lower section was incorporated in a 2′ gauge railway opened in 1875 to serve quarries in the Pennant Valley to the west. However, these were similarly unsuccessful and the railway had fallen into disuse by 1887. (Chris Parker and Chris Homer) The view is to the north of the Gorseddau Tramway looking over the distant Gorseddau Quarry. The scale of the enterprise is evident from the fact that the quarry has taken away a significant proportion of the mountainside. 2019 (Chris Parker)
The so-called ‘Wailing Wall’ (seen here looking north) overhangs the tramway at 45º as it approaches Gorseddau quarry yard. It was skilfully built at great expense, out of huge blocks of stone as a retaining wall to prevent slate waste engulfing the line. 2019 (Chris Parker)
The ‘Wailing Wall’ looking south shows the angle of the overhang to more dramatic effect. 2019 (Chris Parker)
Nant-y-Pandy slate mill, seen here from the nearby road, resembles an ecclesiastical ruin. It was remote from the quarry but had a much better water supply powering a 26ft diameter overshot wheel. 2019 (Chris Parker)
The interior of Nant-y-Pandy slate mill. Slab was processed here to make such items as flooring, dairies, troughs and urinals , whereas roofing slate was dealt with at the quarry. Built at the same time as the tramway and lavishly designed and equipped, it saw little use after Gorseddau Quarry closed in 1867, although an eisteddfod was held there in 1888 and it was reputedly used as a chapel for a time. 2019 (Chris Parker)