Brecon Mountain Railway

The Brecon Mountain Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd Mynydd Brycheiniog) is a 1 ft 11 34 in (603 mm) narrow gauge tourist railway on the south side of the Brecon Beacons. It climbs northwards from Pant along the full length of the Pontsticill Reservoir (also called 'Taf Fechan' reservoir by Welsh Water) and continues past the adjoining Pentwyn Reservoir to Torpantau railway station. The railway's starting point at Pant is located two miles (3 km) north of the town centre of Merthyr Tydfil, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough, South-East Wales.

Brecon Mountain Railway
Rheilffordd Mynydd Brycheiniog
1908-built German 0-6-2WTT Graf Schwerin-Löwitz and American-style carriages.
LocaleMerthyr Tydfil, Wales
TerminusPant
Commercial operations
NameBrecon Mountain Railway
Built byBrecon and Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway
Original gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Preserved operations
Owned byBrecon Mountain Railway Ltd
Operated byBrecon Mountain Railway Ltd
Stations4
Length5 miles (8.0 km) [1]
Preserved gauge1 ft 11 34 in (603 mm)
Commercial history
Opened1980
Website
http://www.bmr.wales/
Brecon & Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway
Brecon (Watton)
Brecon Free Street
Groesffordd Halt
Talyllyn Tunnel
674 yd
616 m
Merthyr High Street
Talyllyn Junction
Maerdy Junction
Brandy Junction
Ynysfach Junction
Talybont-on-Usk
Ynysfach Ironworks
Rhydycar Junction
Pentir Rhiw
Cyfarthfa Junction
Cwm Colliery
Llwyngelyn Junction
Heolgerrig Halt
Cyfarthfa Steelworks
Cefn Viaduct
Cefn Coed
667 yd
610 m
Pontsarn Halt
Torpantau
Pontsarn Viaduct
Dolygaer
Morlais Junction
Pontsticill
Dowlais Central
Morlais Tunnel
1040 yd
951 m
Pontsticill Junction
Pantysgallog Halt
(High Level)
Pant Junction
Pant
Brecon & Merthyr Rly
Brecon Mountain Rly
Dowlais Top
(LNWR)
 
Dowlais Top Junction
Rhymney Railway
to Dowlais Cae Harris
Pantywaun Halt
Fochriw Colliery
Fochriw Junction
Fochriw
Ogilvie Village Halt
Rhymney Lower & Pontlottyn
Ogilvie Colliery
Abertysswg
McLaren Colliery Halt
Darran and Deri
New Tredegar Colliery Platform
New Tredegar
Groes-Faen Colliery
Elliot Pit Halt
Groesfaen Colliery Platform
Cwmtysswg Colliery
Cwmsyfiog Halt
Bargoed North Junction
Cwmsyfiog & Brithdir
Bargoed
Aber Bargoed
Bargoed South Junction
Bargoed Colliery Halt
Aberbargoed Junction
Pengam
Fleur de Lis platform
Maesycwmmer Junction
to Pontypool
 
Gwernydomen Halt
Maesycwmmer
Barry Railway
to Barry Junction
Fountain Bridge Halt
Llanbradach Colliery Halt
Waterloo Halt
Bedwas
Trethomas
Machen
Machen Quarry
Church Road
Rhiwderin
Bassaleg
to Alexandra Docks
 

Route of the BMR

The line runs along part of the trackbed of the northern section of the former 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge Brecon and Merthyr Railway from Pant to a new station at Torpantau, via Pontsticill and Dolygaer, a total of about 4.5 miles (7 km).

This takes the BMR just short of the southern entrance to the 667 yd (610 m) long Torpantau tunnel, the highest railway tunnel in Great Britain,[2] which carried the original line through the hills along the side of Glyn Collwn to Brecon or to Moat Lane or Hereford via junctions at Talyllyn and Three Cocks.

One of the benefits of the line, and a condition of the planning permission, is that tourists can access and experience part of the Brecon Beacons National Park without driving their cars through it.[3] Car parking for railway passengers is only available at Pant Station, outside the Brecon Beacons National Park.

The Brecon Mountain Railway is a member of the Great Little Trains of Wales.

History

The Brecon Mountain Railway was founded in the mid-1970s, by Tony Hills. Hills was a long time railway enthusiast who by 1970, had established a base at Gilfach Ddu on the Llanberis Lake Railway where he stored the locomotives he purchased. In 1977, he purchased five miles of trackbed of the abandoned Brecon & Merthyr Railway at Pant and moved his collection there.[4] Construction of the BMR started in 1978, with the grant of a Light Railway Order in 1980.[5] Track was laid between Pant and Pontsticill in 1979-80. At Pontsticill the station house was renovated, the old waiting room was converted into a small workshop and a storage shed was built. Seven bridges were repaired or replaced. The railway opened to passengers in June 1980 using the engine Sybil and one carriage.

Between 1982 and 1996 a large station and workshop were built at Pant. These provide passenger facilities including toilets, cafe, shop and booking office as well as the extensive workshop used to build and maintain the railway locomotives, carriages and wagons.

A 1 12 miles (2.4 km) extension from Pontsticill to Dol-y-Gaer opened in 1995. The railway was further extended to Torpantau, just short of the southern entrance of the Torpantau Tunnel, with passenger services commencing 1 April 2014.

By 2016, the original waiting room building at Pontsticill, which had served as a workshop for a period, was converted to a steam museum housing various stationary steam engines and three of the smaller locomotives. All of the stationary units were connected up to a steam distribution header and boiler which in 2017 was still awaiting commissioning.

Stations of the BMR

  • Pant - southern terminus of the BMR.
  • Pontsticill - at the southern end of the Pontsticill reservoir.
  • Dolygaer - station closed, but passing loop in use.
  • Torpantau - current northern terminus of the BMR.

Locomotives

Full list of locomotives at the site:[6]

Builder Works No. Date Type Name or Number Status
Baldwin 15511 1897 2-6-2 1 Operational. Acquired 2002. Restored to full working order in 2019.[7]
Baldwin 61269 1930 4-6-2 2 Operational. Originally built for the Eastern Province Cement Company in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Acquired by the Brecon Mountain Railway around 1990, and restored to full working order in 1997.[8]
Baldwin 40733 1913 2-6-2 3 Original locomotives rostered on Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad, Franklin County, Maine, USA, carrying road numbers 23 and 10 respectively. Scrapped in 1936. Replicas are being constructed in the workshops from the original drawings.[9][10]
Baldwin 42231 1916 2-4-4 T 4
Brecon Mountain Railway 001 1987 0-6-0DH Operational.
De Winton 1894 0-4-0 VB Pendyffryn On display but is in working order.
Hunslet Engine Co. 827 1903 0-4-0 ST Sybil On display but is in working order.
Jung 1261 1908 0-6-2 WTT Graf Schwerin-Löwitz 99-3553 Operational.
Redstone 1905 0-4-0 VBT On display but is in working order.
Wickham 10943 1976 2w-2PMR Operational.
Kambarka TU7-1698 1981 4w-4wDH The loco came from a Peat Railway at Seda, in Latvia.[11]
Kambarka 706.951[12] 1985 4w-4wDH The loco came from the Tatra Electric Railway, in Slovakia.[13]

See also

References

  1. Jacobs (Ed.), Gerald (2005). Railway Track Diagrams Book 3: Western. Trackmaps, Bradford upon Avon. ISBN 0-9549866-1-X.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. www.british-heritage-railways.co.uk Archived 4 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 18 December 2012
  3. www.narrow-gauge-pleasure.co.uk Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine accessed 18 December 2012.
  4. Johnson, Peter (9 November 2015). "Tony Hills obituary". The Guardian.
  5. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/47821/page/5222/data.pdf Notice of Light Railway Order application, 1979
  6. UK Locos - Preserved, Private, Hired & Industrial Locos
  7. "No. 1 Santa Teresa Locomotive". Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  8. "No. 2 Baldwin Locomotive". Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  9. "No. 3 Sandy River Locomotive". Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  10. "No. 4 Forney Type Locomotive". Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  11. http://www.philt.org.uk/Narrow-Gauge-Railways/Welsh-Narrow-Gauge/i-3tXQwNZ/
  12. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. http://www.zeleznicny.net/modules/xcgal/displayimage.php?pid=25932&album=162

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