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Friday, 27 July 2012

Talyllyn Railway

In a nutshell

Gauge: 2' 3"

Length: 7¼ miles (11.8km)

Opened:  1865


Talyllyn Railway Company
Wharf Station
LL36 9EY

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Department Within UK From abroad
Wharf Station (Main Office) 01654 710472 +44 1654 710472
Fax 01654 711755 +44 1654 711755
Shop 01654 711012 +44 1654 711012
Café 01654 712704 +44 1654 712704
Engineering Department (Pendre Workshops) 01654 710643 +44 1654 710643



Date of visit:  24 July 2012


Key Facts

  • The world's first preserved railway. The Preservation Society was established in 1951 by LTC (Tom) Rolt.
  • The first two locomotives bought by the Preservation Society from British Railways cost £25 each (they formerly ran on the Corris Railway).
  • In 1957 the BBC visited the railway for live outside broadcasts on two consecutive days.
  • The railway was engineered by James Swinton Spooner, whose father, James Spooner built the Ffestiniog Railway.
  • The railway was built primarily to convey slate from the quarries at Bryn Eglwys to the Cambrian mainline railway at Tywyn
  • The village of Abergynolwyn was originally served by an incline allowing wagons to descend from the railway on the hillside above
  • The terminus for the railway is 3¼ miles from Talyllyn Lake - it is unclear why the railway was so-named.
Abergynolwyn Village Incline - (Wikimedia Commons)


View Talyllyn Railway in a larger map

My Impressions

I found the Railway Shop at Wharf Station had a good selection of railway books and souvenirs and the café served a selection of food including hot meals. If we hadn't already eaten earlier in the day I most definitely would have been tempted. The narrow gauge railway museum (free entry) was fascinating with exhibits from across the UK and the Continent.

The replica of the Rev. W. Awdry's study was interesting, particularly as it includes some of his railway models and a relief map of the Isle of Sodor hanging from the wall. The Rev W. Awdry's connection with the railway stemmed from its early days when he acted as a volunteer. He also based some of his Thomas the Tank Engine stories on the the railway - inventing the Skarloey narrow gauge railway on the Isle of Sodor, which was based on the Talyllyn Railway.

We boarded the last train of the day and were fortunate to get a seat in the first carriage immediately behind the loco, which on this occasion was Talyllyn. The carriage was a replica of a Corris Railway coach (which were originally two four-wheel coaches mounted on a bogie chassis).

A plaque above our seats informed us that the Princess of Wales had travelled in the coach in 1982.

The journey up the line was fairly uneventful, the view being restricted by the rear of the locomotive and there being no opening windows on the sides of the coach..

However, as the train meandered slowly along the line, it paused at each station and on one occasion at a halt to deposit a local inhabitant and so there was plenty to see - as here at Rhydyronen, where plenty of passengers alighted for the adjacent camp site ..........

 ....... and at Brynglas where we passed the Down train hauled by Dolgoch (an original Talyllyn loco).

We paused briefly at Dolgoch Falls - made famous by the iconic Cuneo painting ........

 ........ before rolling into Abergynolwyn which was the terminus for the railway until the line was extended to Nant Gwernol at the foot of the incline to Bryn Eglwys quarry.

The train sat quietly at Abergynolwyn for fifteen minutes to allow sufficient time for a cup of tea and a bun ........

........ before setting out once more for Nant Gwernol, ............

 ....... passing the site of the incline down to the village of Abergynolwyn (see above).

The return journey was considerably more interesting for a railway enthusiast. Although the Corris coach had no opening side windows it had windows across both ends in the middle of which was an opening window. We thereby had a view of the track all the way back down the line.

We paused for a few minutes at Pendre, awaiting permission to steam into Wharf Station. This provided an opportunity to see some of the stock and hardware stored outside the railway's workshops.

Before steaming once more into the terminus at Wharf Station.

Because of its location outside the main tourist routes, the Talyllyn does not get the number of visitors that it needs or deserves. I found all the staff to be very helpful and accommodating - taking time to answer any questions I had and to find the most appropriate way of travelling given the time of day. Although this final train did not return until 6.20pm, I found that it was not as crowded as earlier trains and as a consequence there was more time and opportunity to look around the museum, take a leisurely coffee and pester the staff with questions while waiting for the train.


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