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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Margam Park Railway

In a nutshell

Gauge:         2'

Length:       Approx 1¼ miles

Opened:     2011 (?)


View Narrow Gauge Railways in a larger map

Tel:        01639 881 635


Date of visit:     12 April 2014


Key Facts

  • The railway has one steam outline 0-4-0DH  'Margam Castle' and three carriages (two open one closed) built by Alan Keef Ltd.
  • The railway runs daily in the summer months (usually from 1 April to the end of October).
  • The railway runs from the car park near the entrance to the Park through the grounds, across the dam of the lake (New Pond) to the castle.
  • The line originally ran from the castle around the lake to the adventure playground.
  • There is a modest additional charge to take the train which run every half hour.
  • There is a cafe in the castle courtyard and play areas for children.


My Impressions

 Entrance to the park is free, though there is a charge (£3.50) for car-parking - which I consider to be very reasonable when one considers the cost of visiting other visitor attractions.

As we arrived before the first train of the day, we walked from the car park to the Castle, where we partook of a cup of coffee in the cafe. There was an opportunity to study the history of the park and the 19th Century Tudor Gothic Mansion, which was designed by the architect Thomas Hopper for Christopher Rice Talbot between1830 and 1840. I was intrigued to discover that a frequent visitor to Margam was Henry Fox Talbot, probably the country's most famous early photographer.

Just outside the courtyard of the Castle, the train was being prepared for her first trip of the day

The Alan Keef 0-4-0 DH loco is very similar in design to that used on the Blenheim Park Railway and the one closed and two open carriages provide utilitarian comfort for admiring the views of the parkland.

After watching the train depart to pick up its first load of visitors, I waited for its return.

It skirted the artificial lake (New Pond) before returning via the balloon loop to the Castle Station .....

...... where I boarded, the only Down passenger on this particular service.

After paying the fare, we set off around the remainder of the balloon loop........

...... and off to the banks of the lake .........

 ...... eventually crossing the dam which helped form the ornamental lake. At the end of the lake, in front of the adventure playground, is the old loop which originally formed the other end of the railway.

We branched off to the left to begin our descent through the parkland towards the car park.

Visitors arriving at the car park and taking the train up the line to the castle will get a good feel for the park and its attractions as the train passes through some of the parkland and woodland ....... the track meanders through the park. As the train approaches the lower end of the line it crosses a stream and heads on to the balloon loop beside the cricket pitch .......

 ...... before pulling into the lower station adjacent to the entrance and the car park.

The approach to the station is a short walk from the main entrance but there is easy wheelchair access and facilities on the train to take disabled passengers.

The railway is in a wonderful setting and it's good to see that it is performing a useful function. I should imagine that young families who have expended their energies in the play areas and following the walks in the park will appreciate a return trip on the train. It's still very pleasing to see how excited young children get when they are having a train ride - and the length of the trip is just about right. Far enough to retain their interest but not too far that it becomes boring.


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