Pembrokeshire & West Wales - Heritage Railways
The Vale of Rheidol Railway
The Vale of Rheidol Railway is one of the Great Little Trains of Wales and was the last steam railway owned by British Rail until it was privatised in 1989. Trains depart from the centre of Aberystwyth and the railway is adjacent to the mainline station that is the terminus for the Cambrian line from Shrewsbury.
The railway opened in 1902, to serve the lead mines, timber and passenger traffic of the Rheidol Valley. To save money, and in deference to the hostile terrain through which the line was forged, the railway was built to a narrower track gauge than the norm, with many sharp curves and steep gradients.
Yet despite the fact that the rails are just under 2 feet apart, the three steam locomotives weigh over 25 tons each and are more than eight feet wide. The locomotives and carriages currently in use were built for the line by the Great Western Railway between 1923 and 1938.
The 11.75 mile journey between Aberystwyth and Devil's Bridge takes approximately one hour in each direction as the train overcomes a height difference of over 600ft, affording superb views of the Rheidol Valley. At Devil's Bridge there is a cafe, toilets and a picnic area. The famous Mynach Falls, Jacob's Ladder and the Devil's Punchbowl are within walking distance of the station.
Aberystwyth Cliff Railway
The Aberystwyth Electric Cliff Railway, the longest in Britain, is at the northern end of the promenade and has been transporting visitors to the summit of Constitution Hill since opening in 1896; on a clear day it is possible to see 26 mountain peaks spanning much of the length of Wales. Once at the summit visitors can experience the views afforded by the world’s largest camera obscura, which offers a birds eye view of 1000 square miles of land and seascape.
Opened in 1896, it was originally operated on a water balance system until electrification in 1921. Now a powerful motor with high-tensile steel cables, supported by a sophisticated electronic safety system, haul the carriages to the summit at a stately 4 miles per hour.
The Cliff Railway is open 7 days a week April to October from 10am to 6pm (often later during the high season); out of season, the trains run to a limited timetable.
Borth Station Museum
This lovingly renovated museum opened in 2011at Borth station thanks to the efforts of the local Borth Station Volunteers along with support from a number of local and national organisations. The station is still served by passenger trains and is the last stop on the Cambrian line before Aberystwyth. The collection of artifacts includes hundreds of items collected by volunteers over the years as well as donated items from supporters' own collections. These items trace the significance of the railway here at Borth and the surrounding areas, where the lead mining industry, agriculture and of course tourism played an important role.
The old ticket office has been completely renovated, keeping as many original features as possible with many of the artifacts found in the abandoned cupboards having been cleaned of many years' of dust and replaced in their rightful places. The old waiting room is where you'll find our interactive displays, including a model railway, a cabinet full of old railway related items, and a specially produced video about the local area and the station itself. The Station Manager's office is where you'll find the Borth Station Volunteer team who are ready to answer any questions you might have, or give you an impromptu tour of the facility.
Teifi Valley Railway
The Teifi Valley Railway is narrow gauge line set on the old trackbed of what was originally designed as the Carmarthen to Cardigan line; however it only got as far as Newcastle Emlyn and this became the terminus up until 1973 when the line was finally closed. Although a group of volunteers made attempts to purchase and preserve it as a standard gauge line, they were defeated.
In 1981, a group of people brought the trackbed and in 1983 the new gauge of two foot was laid and the Teifi Valley Railway was born. The line starts at Henllan where the old platforms, cattle docks and sometimes in the summer the station footings can be seen.
The locomotives that haul the trains are heritage locomotives in their own right; the oldest is 115 years old and was originally a Penrhyn Quarry locomotive. Another locomotive from the same quarry, Sgt Murphy was a World War I locomotive that never made it to France, ended up making its way the Ffestiniog Railway; she eventually came to the Teifi Valley and now shares a shed again with Alan George.
Gwili Steam Railway
The Gwili Railway owns eight miles of the original track bed from Llanpumpsaint in the north to the site of Abergwili Junction in the south on the now closed Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway line. It was closed to passenger services in 1963 and the last goods train ran in September 1972.
Facilities at Bronwydd Arms Station include a Railway Shop for souvenirs, books, toys and Hornby model railway stock, the Gwili Railway Museum and a Café Coach. Exhibits on the line include a typical branch line waiting room from 1911, signal boxes that were formally at Aberaeron and Llandybie, a fully working Travelling Post Office 1950s-60s, a restored vintage carriage circa 1880s and a Taff Vale Railway carriage built in 1891.