Aberporth Railway Carriage Conversions

Between Aberporth and Tresaith the Ceredigion Coastal Path has, for the majority of its length, been upgraded as a path accessible to all. Fantastic views across Cardigan Bay are now available to us all.

Amid the great scenery there are a series of Edwardian railway carriages which have been converted to holiday homes.

Two railway carriage cottages close to Aberporth. The beach is off to the left of the image by a few hundred yards. [Google Earth]
Two more of the carriages are highlighted on this Google Earth satellite image. The two highlighted in the image immediately above are identified by the circle furthest to the left of the image. The centre of Aberporth is further off to the left. Tresaith is some distance to the right of the image beyond a couple more railway carriage cottages. [Google Earth]
Eryl-y-Don was once one of three railway carriage holiday homes on what was Helyg Fach Farm. [Google Earth]
Another converted railway carriage which is in use as a holiday home. Tresaith is just off this picture to the right. [Google Earth]

Early in 2022, another of the carriages which had for many years graced the clifftop near Aberporth was removed and sent to a new home. [3]

One of the longtime railway carriage holiday homes is removed from the clifftop near Aberporth in April 2022. It was moved to Llanfyrnach, near Crymych where it will be used as a holiday let.  [3]

It seems that a number of railway carriages, which had reached the end of their useful life on the railways, were brought to Aberporth in the 1920s and 1930s.

The website demery.org [1] lists some as:

  • Eryl-y-Don – a 58-foot, seven-compartment, tri-composite brake coach (one of thirty coaches of this type) which was built on 3rd May 1902. The original number of the railway coach was 1115. (When the Great Western Railway reorganised its passenger coaching stock into a single unified numbering series in 1907, it was renumbered 7115.)  … When built the carriage had: 2 no. 1st-class compartments, 2 no. 2nd-class and 2 no. 3rd-class compartments; 4 no. lavatories; and a Guard/Luggage compartment. [1]
  • At one time Eryl-y-Don was flanked by two other carriages. “Eryl-y-Don was in the centre of three coaches. The one on the Tresaith side was built in Swindon for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1897. It was moved from Helyg Fach in 1982 for display at a Madame Tussaud’s  exhibition entitled ‘Royalty and Railways’ at the Windsor and Eton Railway Station. Extensively renovated, it is now on display at the Steam Museum in Swindon. The carriage on the Aberporth side of Eryl-y-Don was destroyed by fire.” [1]
  • Min-y-Mor – on the clifftop side of the coastal path, was an eight-wheel family saloon built in 1892. It was used in a Royal train on at least one occasion: at Welshpool, carrying the Prince and Princess of Wales on a three-day tour of Wales in 1896. According to the Railway Heritage Register [4], it was put ‘out of service in May 1936’. [1]
  • Wendy – was built in 1905 as a London & South Western Railway sleeping car for the Plymouth-Waterloo boat train. When constructed, it had seven single and two double compartments, a lavatory and an attendant compartment. Taken over by the GWR in 1911, it was converted in 1919 to eight singles and only one double and was condemned in 1931. Wendy is the only known surviving example of its type [4]. According to the website[5] advertising Wendy, ‘in 1936 she was purchased from GWR Swindon and delivered by rail to the (then) Newcastle Emlyn railway station. She was then delivered by lorry and bogey to Aberporth where she has rested ever since.’[1]
  • A holiday-home railway carriage belonging to Alan and Joyce Bailey of Sutton Coldfield which they sold in 1983 ” to the Great Western Society at Didcot for restoration. [7]. The Tivyside Advertiser (18th March 1983) reported that the coach had been in Aberporth since the early 1920s, ‘having been brought there with others for use as offices by a Captain L. Davies who used to ship slate into Aberporth’. The article continued: ‘It has more of a history than that however having been built as only one of two such sleeping cars for the Great Western Railway in 1874.’” [1]

There are others – specifically Clifftop Carriage and Ar-Lan-y-Mor.

It seems that all the remaining coaches have had significant modifications made to them both internally and externally.

Clifftop Carriage – is internally significantly modified as a temporary home for two people. [8]

Wendy – sits alongside the coastal path on the landward side. It has featured in a number of national publications. The pictures below come from the cottage’s website. [6]

Ar-Lan-y-Mor – is placed next to Clifftop Carriage. The pictures below come from the cottage’s Facebook page. [9]

Min-y-Mor – has been delightfully restored and expanded. The pictures below are mine, taken on 16th September 2022.

Eryl -y-Don – the owners have put some effort into establishing the provenance of the railway carriage which makes up the significant part of this cottage. [1] The pictures below are mine, taken from the coastal path on 16th September 2022.

Much closer to Tresaith is one more property, right on the clifftop and placed in a significant amount of its own land. access to it is through the adjacent caravan site, Llety Caravan Park. I have not been able to find out any more about this property. My pictures below (taken in 16th September 2022) are complemented by a satellite image from Google Earth. The cottage clearly has an old railway carriage at its heart

This article gives a flavour of all these carriages and some idea of what they look like today. It would be good to learn more about their history.

It is known that a number, at least, were brought along the Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway to Newcastle Emlyn and then we’re manoeuvred down the narrow lanes of the 1920s and 1930s from Newcastle Emlyn to Aberporth by steam tractors/lorries. It is hard to imagine the effort needed to get them to Aberporth and then into position across the fields to the cliffs.

References

1. http://www.demery.org, accessed on 16th September 2022.

2. https://www.cottage-choice.co.uk/holiday-cottages/cottages-Clifftop-Carriage-1035508.asp, accessed on 16th September 2022.

3. https://www.tivysideadvertiser.co.uk/news/20065409.aberporths-last-carriage-disappears-track, accessed on 16th September 2022. [NB: the title for this article is misleading, as a number of carriages remain in use near or in Aberporth as holiday homes.]

4. http://www.cs.rhrp.org.uk/se/CarriageInfo.asp?Ref=5508, accessed on 16th September 2022.

5. http://www.cs.rhrp.org.uk/se/CarriageInfo.asp?Ref=5510, accessed on 16th September 2022.

6. https://www.underthethatch.co.uk/wendy, accessed on 16th September 2022.

7. Apparently the coach was beyond restoration and was given to the West Somerset Railway (WSR) who had a similar sleeping car ‘which also came from Aberporth’. They broke up the Bailey’s coach for parts. [1]

8. https://t.vrbo.io/YT6fhlmontb, accessed on 16th September 2022.

9. https://m.facebook.com/100030981652262, accessed on 16th September 2022.

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