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The Vale of Rheidol Railway - News

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by ValeOfRheidol, Nov 12, 2014.

  1. Maldwyn

    Maldwyn New Member

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    There is an article in the VoR’s own newsletter from 2017 (issue 3) that details the route of the proposed extension. Essentially it traversed inland after crossing the Rheidol on a new bridge once it passed under the GWR line and only hugged the coast once it got to Llanon. The Light Railway Act for the extension was already in place 4 years before the current line was completed so it may simply have been proposed because the County Council was willing to grant the railway a significant amount of funds (in a belief that the area would be developed). As it happens, the VoR struggled to obtain funding for the Devils Bridge line which is why the contractors (pethicks) ended up as significant shareholders (with stock in lieu of payment). As shareholders, Pethicks pushed to obtain the extension (even suggesting they could build it as standard gauge) and which is why in 1910 the extension went out to tender. Unfortunately for Pethicks they were not the cheapest; upon realising they were not going to receive the contract they sold out to the Cambrian Railways who had been sniffing around for a while.
    With part of the extension covering an area that was already served by the Manchester and Milford Railway it would seem to have been on a sticky wicket to make money given the towns and villages served. However the same applies to the GWR Carmarthen line which soldered on until Beeching so it would have come down to whether the VoR could have developed the area enough to have increased traffic and negated the need for the standard line to Aberaeron. I think not but it could have been interesting, particularly if then the Cambrian would have bought out the entire set up and expanded their empire further south.
    (Information collated from the various VoR books in existence)
     
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  2. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    It seems so unlikely a magnet for railway development that it prompts me to ask, does anyone know if that stretch of coast ever played host to any WD / Military weapons research or manufacturing facility? The more sensitive of these tended to be tucked away in the unlikliest of places, either easily defended or where ousiders would stick out like a sore thumb. The timing seems about right given that following the demise of Queen Victoria, tensions with the Kaiser's Germany were rising long before the events in Sarajevo which precipitated WWI.
     
  3. I. Cooper

    I. Cooper Member

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    Given some of the nation's art treasures from the national collection were moved to the care of the National Library of Wales at Aber. (alongside much also heading to Manod quarry in N.Wales) to protect them from bombing raids, it would seem unlikely that destination would have been chosen if there was a strategic military target in the area, even if it was hoped the presence of that target should remain a secret.
     
  4. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    I know 'National Treasures' were removed to safety in WWII, but was any such provision made during WWI? In any event, the period in question here is a few years ahead of WWI.

    The reason I ask the question is that something decidedly not in the public eye might explain why construction of a rail link in such a seemingly unpromising location was so attractive. AFAIK, this wasn't the case at Aberaeron, but my knowledge is a long, long way south of comprehensive!

    The sort of cases I'm aware of are what prompt the question are high explosives manufacturing (nitro) at a remote Scottish seaside location (ended decades ago) and 'certain classes of munitions manufacture' at 'a certain location' in the Forest of Dean .... or, more accurately, under the Forest of Dean. Later used for industrial processing of (principally) gold and platinum, I believe the precious metals manufacturing at this site has finished (the company's main facility being in Sindelfingen, near Stuttgart) , but recovery of same from electronics and automotive catalytic converters by the same company is ongoing.
     
  5. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    On the specific about "national treasures", I think the difference to consider is between WWI, when aerial bombing was new and very minor in it's effect, and WWII, when defence planning was dominated by "the bomber will always get through" thinking.

    More generally, I'm simply not convinced that there was any strategic imperative for that particular half baked scheme. Aberaeron wasn't connected to Aberystwyth, and was deemed by some to be a desirable destination where a railway would take the intermediate traffic and benefit the communities. Plenty of railways were built on that logic, with the railway losing money that some of the promoters and their neighbours possibly gained by improvements in the value of their land and businesses; in general, the more rural or later the railway was built, the more likely it is that some of this logic was in play.

    This was happening at least as early as the 1860s, and the 1896 Light Railways Act was a final flourishing of the belief that, for remote areas to do well, they needed a rail link building. As we know, once the internal combustion engine was available, the relative advantage of road and rail swung materially towards road - just as it had swung decisively from road to canal, and then canal to rail, over the previous couple of centuries.
     
  6. Jon Lever

    Jon Lever New Member

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    I would suggest that if anything like that was going on in the area, it would have been further down the coast at Aberporth. Llanon, though, was the location of a POW camp in WWII (presumably a fairly small one), according to my grandfather who lived there from about 1967 onwards. A housing estate was built on the site post-war.
     
  7. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Oh, I'm 99% certain that's the case here too. If you look to North Staffs, the L&MVLR was constructed on the flimsy basis that if the Great & The Good of Leek didn't get their fingers out, the lucrative Manifold Valley dairy traffic would go via Buxton. Although the line actually did last until the demise of Ecton creamery (and roads up thataway still aren't the best!), had I been a shareholder, I suspect I've have taken issue with an unduly optimistic use of the adjective "luctrative" when forecasting the line's likely returns!

    Aberaeron does have a certain charm, with that distinctly Celtic application of colour to buildings which still serves as a useful navigation aid for fishing vessels, but nowhere near enough for anyone with the slightest eye for an investment to pitch in ..... unless there was something else the line might usefully serve. That was my only thinking in that regard.

    Does anyone know if there were suggestions of a mineral traffic staple from a line south? The lead veins in Cwm Rheidol were just about on their last legs when the VoR opened, so perhaps the company was looking to fulfill it's earlier ambitions elsewhere?[/QUOTE]
     
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  8. Maldwyn

    Maldwyn New Member

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    The main ore field in mid wales stretched from Aberystwyth to Llanidloes; Generally speaking the mineral veins in run east to west (slightly south east) which is why the Rheidol Valley has a plethora of mines. I think there was another vein for The Cwm Ystwyth complex which ended up near the Abbey Consel Mines at Strata Florida but there was nothing of note in the area of the Aberystwyth extension. Certainly nothing that would enhance a business case for a railway. There was no military establishment either. It was purely an agricultural area. Aberaeron itself did not effectively exist before 1800 and was only granted an urban district in 1894. This might be why the extension was planned. Cardiganshire council offered about 18k of the £25k budget possibly to open up the area. At the time there were only to roads east to west (London to cardigan and Aberystwyth) whilst there was a road from cardigan to Aberystwyth a lot of traffic used the sea. The hinterland had very little connections except possibly via the rivers. To get 65-70% funding as a grant would make any organisation want to put forward a business case. It’s a bit like the modern day where the likes of Homes England provide funding to councils to build infrastructure projects such as relief roads on the basis land can be developed for housing. As it happened the grant ended up being given to the Lampeter, Aberaeron and New Quay railway; the New Quay element was dropped and the railway became what is now known as the Aberaeron branch. Interestingly there is information to suggest that a narrow gauge railway was looked into circa 1885 running between llandissyl to New Quay and was surveyed by a Mr J Szlumper who then subsequently worked for the VoR so this area was familiar to said engineer.
     
  9. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Since the VoR management have earned themselves an enviable reputation for common sense and good housekeeping, it's obvious that NGG13 No.60 can shift a carriage or two more than the native locos (and likely more, if the platforms could cope!), I've a couple of questions, please.

    First off, does the Garratt's greater haulage capacity mean the (doubtless costlier) provision of two-train services can more readily be concentrated on the peakest of peak periods?

    And how does fuel consumption compare with a single Collett tank .... or two?

    Thanks in advance
     
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  10. 45669

    45669 Part of the furniture

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    Morning All,

    If anyone would like to have a look, parts three and four can now be viewed on YouTube:





    Lots more still to come...

    TTFN,

    Ron.
     
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  11. black5

    black5 Well-Known Member

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  12. black5

    black5 Well-Known Member

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  13. Maldwyn

    Maldwyn New Member

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    The sun was behind the hill so the images are darker than I would wish but the photos show the 3.45 train from Aberystwyth departing Rhiwfron today. It came as a surprise to find that not all the carriages were in the usual chocolate and cream livery. Someone has been busy in the paint shop.
    24CA2D52-9FA5-4F93-97E7-D3A779D3AB86.jpeg 393A9AD8-F10D-4430-B014-F6AC0AF0E3FA.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2023
  14. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Resident of Nat Pres

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    Might we be getting some BR liveried loco's to match? Preferably in the first version of the Rail Blue livery?
     
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  15. Taliesin

    Taliesin New Member

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    No.9 is being advertised for photo charters in the Autumn in BR Green. Should be 5 carriages in Blood and Custard.
     
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  16. Keith Cake

    Keith Cake New Member

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    New Facebook post from the VOR today, with more info and photos of the recently outshopped BR Crimson & Cream rake of carriages. Both sets now feature beautiful first-class observation carriages, I rode in the GWR- liveried one last year and it was a wonderful experience. A new booking office and shop have also recently been completed at Aberystwyth, with the conversion of the ex-GWR loco shed into a museum almost complete. Exciting times ahead coupled with the anticipation of what might be on display in the museum. I can feel a couple of visits coming soon...
    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?st...jTSEyAuRdht7B6kCx169Ncou8l&id=100064621932104
     
  17. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Resident of Nat Pres

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    Rocked up at Aberystwyth yesterday, 15.4.23 at about 10.00. First time in 15 years.

    The sun was out if a little fresh.

    Got tickets for myself, Domestic Facilities management and our two sons, 13 & 14.

    Not cheap, then having inspected First at the suggestion of the Guard DFM wanted and got an upgrade.

    Having upgraded to First, and the lady at the booking office was as engaging and helpful as The Guard there was time to go somewhere I should not go when the train is in the station. The Gents is definitely a candidate for Bog of The Year, indeed when I mentioned it to The Guard his comment was that everyone says that and they even take photo's of it. On the return middle son (14) was equally impressed.

    First Class is quite something, moveable armchairs rather than fixed seats, and very comfortable they were too, I just need the makers name as I need a chair when we revamp the study.

    The line is in excellent condition, the new station at Aberystwyth and associated buildings are new and excellently maintained, the intermediate stations are similar - I can remember when all they were was a running in board in Rail Alphabet in the woods.

    With the sun out and the trees not yet in leaf we enjoyed an excellent view of the Rheidol Valley in comforter.

    As I am usually in the driving seat whenever the family identify a Kite I am inevitably having to concentrate on the Berk in a Merc (Other less alliterative and fruitier descriptions are available) however this time I was able to enjoy some very close up views without having to worry about driving.

    At Devils Bridge the Two Hoots Cafe was good, there was a Classic Car Run in as well which made it rather busy but we got drinks and cake before it was time to return.

    Not only was the railway a first class experience in more ways that one but it was clear that all the staff were clearly enjoying their jobs.

    A great change since I first went - yes I am old enough to have left from the old Park Avenue terminus and remember the plain Rail Blue livery.

    If therfe was just one thing I might change its that the access to the carriages from the ground could be a bit better, especially for the less mobile.

    But its well worth a visit not only as a railway but as an example of how a heritage railway could and should be presented.
     
  18. acorb

    acorb Part of the furniture

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    Can only agree wholeheartedly with @johnofwessex above, if you have not visited the VofR for a while you really are in for a treat. This line really has undergone a renaissance and continues to develop its facilities in a fantastic way. The locos, stock and stations are always presented immaculately, including the intermediate stops - not so long ago these were forgotten byways and looked very run down.
    The development at Aberystwyth is really very exciting and a massive improvement on what was there before. They are also quietly developing some world class engineering facilities here too, with more and more contract work being undertaken.

    Too often the focus of Welsh narrow gauge is Snowdonia and I have often felt this railway is overlooked, those that do are missing out. The scenery on the upper sections really is up there with the very best railways in the country and the locos have to work very hard for a living. These locos are the original ones for the line, unique & still doing brilliantly what they were built for. They are very powerful tank engines indeed - although, I do quite fancy a ride behind that Garratt!

    If you are looking to travel on a different railway this year give this one a try, you won't regret it. Aberystwyth is a lovely town too, with the Ceredigion coastline and Cambrian mountains offering stunning scenery - I maybe biased but it ain't a bad part of the world at all!
     
  19. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Resident of Nat Pres

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    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  20. kscanes

    kscanes Resident of Nat Pres

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    I agree with everything said, the only thing I'd add is that if timings allow it is well worth visiting the falls at Devils Bridge while you are there. Though I'll allow that 675 steep uneven steps is not for everyone.
     
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