The Llangollen Railway's History


The line's history pre-closure is fairly standard for a branch line; it opened in the 1860s, expanding rapidly thereafter to its full length. Part of it was doubled around 1900, but by the end of the 1930s it was in decline. The 1960s saw the Beeching cuts, the final services finishing on 1st April 1968. There was only one really notable event on the line, which took place in 1945; at one point East of Llangollen the nearby canal burst its banks, washing out the trackbed. A mail train ran into the resulting breach, killing the engine driver.


Rebuilding a railway is not a quick or easy task, let alone cheap, when all the track and signalling have gone. Many of the fixtures and fittings were also removed, and one of the stations (Glyndyfrdwy) was completely flattened and grassed over. The rest of the stations and the trackbed were left to the mercy of nature for many years.

The revival began in 1972, just four years after final closure, when a group of enthusiasts got together with the idea of preserving a standard gauge line in North Wales. Initially they had designs on the Dyserth branch, but later moved their attention to Llangollen, establishing a base there in 1975. Since then the rebuilding of the line has been in stages, the most recent at the time of writing being the reopening to Carrog.

If you're reading this, and you took one of the photos (or know who did), please do let me know any details I've missed. Unfortunately many of the photos in the archives are undated and uncredited, so I would be grateful for any extra information.

Llangollen station in 1975 Llangollen pre-closure

Above: "Then and now": undated (pre-closure), and 1975 scenes at Llangollen contrasted.

The train on the pre-closure shot is hauled by 7822 Foxcote Manor, now preserved at Llangollen. (LR archives, Bill Shakespeare, Martin Hewitt, and John Joyce)

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