The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway – An Addendum
Since posting about the Town Section of the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway I have received some pictures from people who visited the railway in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and I have identified a few other items worth including in this addendum.
The featured image above is one taken by K.H. Cribb and used by kind permission of his son Russ.
The original article about the W&LLR Town Section can be found here:
Most of the images included in this article are shared with the kind permission of the photographers. My thanks to all who have been willing to let me share their photographs. The author of an image is credited in the text under that image and, as appropriate, the source is provided in the ‘References’ at the end of the article. There are a number of images for which it has not been possible to determine or to contact the original photographer to seek permission to share the image. Any help in identifying a copyright holder, if one exists, would be appreciated.
1. A set of three photographs sent to me by Tony Jervis are included in the photographs below. All were taken in 1977. One shows the remaining dual-gauge track as it existed in 1977. Another shows the location of the Seven Stars Halt, the third shows the Bron-y-Buckley length of the line after the lifting of the track.
2. Three pictures were sent to me by Malcolm Peakman.
The first to mention was from the abandoned section of the narrow-gauge line in the town and particularly the dual-gauge track alongside the Smithfield livestock market and mirrors Tony Jervis’ photograph of the same location. This photo is included in the series of pictures following the route of the town section of the line below.
The other two are from further along the line and show some of the stock purchased by the preservation society when it took over the line. I have included these here for their historical interest, even though they do not relate directly to the Town Section of the line.
Malcolm Peakman also shared some memories of the early preservation period:
“As a volunteer on the W&L between 1962 to 1964 I travelled the town section many times, despite the failure to obtain long term permission we were allowed to use the line to recover spent ballast from BR to spread further up the line, so a typical weekend would see 2 or 3 trips with empty wagons down and loaded back up and then off loaded. As I was a teenage apprentice in a Locomotive Works I was a lot fitter than I am now and this part of the job certainly helped keep me in shape!
The worst part of the run was at Raven Square where we perforce ran wrong direction in the road due to the island. This caused several near misses where motorists ignored the red flags and tried to proceed in the face a steam loco. I only saw one collision, that was outside the Seven Stars where an irate local who had parked on the tracks despite knowing it would be used at the week end, chose to deliberately drive into the locomotive, he burst his radiator and scratched the paint on the loco. The police were not very sympathetic towards him.
I was there when the pannier tank and The Earl stood side by side.”
3. An image of the W&LLR is used by the Lightmoor Press on their website to advertise one of their publications, Michael Whitehouse’s, ‘Narrow Gauge Album 1950-1965 In Colour’.  The photograph was taken by Patrick Whitehouse and is covered by copyright so cannot be reproduced in this article. It can be seen by clicking here. 
The picture shows the view from the main W&LLR yard adjacent to Welshpool Railway Station towards the town centre. It shows No. 822 idling gently in the yard whilst the day’s goods train awaits its journey to Llanfair Caereinion having already been assembled. The passenger platform was behind the photographer to the left, behind the waiting goods train. Although no regular passenger services were offered at the time that Patrick Whitehouse took the photograph, having been withdrawn by the GER in the early 1930s. Beyond the engine to the right a second goods brake van can be seen. Behind that is the dual-gauge Smithfield Siding and the Smithfield livestock market. 
(On its webpage, Lightmoor Press writes: “Patrick Whitehouse (PBW)… travelled far and wide to photograph many … narrow gauge lines and systems before they were lost. In 1957, he compiled his seminal Narrow Gauge Album, which brought many of these wonderful but obscure railways to the attention of thousands of other enthusiasts, some of whom followed in his footsteps with their cameras. Now, PBW’s son Michael has delved in to the family and other archives to compile a similar album for the 21st century, accompanied by essays from a variety of well known names and sources.”) 
4. Then and Now Images. Tim Abbot has posted two images on Flickr with permission to use under a Creative Commons Licence. These are included in the series of photographs following the route of the line. Both appear early in that series of pictures as they show the length close to the mainline railway station.
5. Ken Cribb(K.H. Cribb) took around 1000 photographs of a series of different railways. All his photos come from the 1950s and 1960s. These photographs are very recently uncovered and mostly unseen by others. His son Russ is at present cataloguing those photographs and hopes one day that publication may be possible. Russ has very kindly allowed me to include a number of his dad’s photographs in this article.
Russ has been sharing a few of the photos on a number of Facebook Groups “to gain a bit more knowledge from people or railway groups that could help. This has been a bit of an eye opener as to some of the photos, not realising what historical importance some of them are.” 
He writes: “Dad was great friends with Richard Blenkinsop and many photographic locations were done together, Dick taking loads of notes and then publishing so many fantastic books over the years, with Dad showing up in a few. Sadly we lost dad in 1995 after Alzheimer’s set in very early at the age of 56, passing away at 64. There was never enough time to go through all the photos with him at the time as I had just started my own family and time was centred around the children. Then it was sadly too late and the recollection were very mixed and distorted so now left with the enormous task of trying to make as good a job as I can with the information available.” 
Russ would be delighted if there are people who might want to assist in understanding the pictures he has. He has kindly watermarked the photographs included here and would love to hear from anyone who can add to his knowledge. For the purposes of this blog, I have to remember to keep photograph file sizes relatively small, so please don’t judge the quality of the photographs on the basis of what appears here. In my view Ken Cribb’s photos are a great asset and they need to be shared more widely, If you have something significant to offer, please get in touch with me and I will pass your details on to Russ.
Ken Cribb took 26 photographs of the W&LLR, many on the last SLS special. Russ again: “His friend Pat Webber was with him that day, (who he cycled with for two weeks around Ireland and at Letterkenny) also sent one of his photos as a Christmas card. The photos are along the route, so he didn’t travel on the train on this occasion.” 
Russ continues: “Any publication is miles away yet, have to get the spreadsheet finished first and proper inventory of what photos there are before proper scanning. … [Dad] spent most of his spare weekends and holidays helping out on the Ffestiniog Railway and photographing Welsh narrow gauge along with the 1950’s steam on standard gauge across the UK and Ireland.” 
9 of Ken’s photographs are included below.
Photographs taken along the Town Section of the W&LLR
The photos which follow illustrate the Town Section of the line throughout its history. They begin close to the mainline station in Welshpool and end at Raven Square.
The following photographs are, as far as possible, shown in sequence along the line through Welshpool starting at the mainline station and the W&LLR yard.
The first is a ‘then and now’ photograph created by Tim Abbot.
The second shows the view from Smithfield Road in front of the mainline station car park in the year s after the W&LLR rails had been lifted.
The Smithfield Siding ran alongside the Smithfield livestock market and over part of its length was dual-gauge.
It is worth noting that the provision of the narrow gauge as part of this dual-gauge track was not to allow loading and unloading at the cattle dock but to provide access for W&LLR wagons to a sawmill farther down next to the standard gauge lines. The goods and cattle were unloaded from the narrow gauge in a different part of the yard. 
In 2003, Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust recorded the site of the dual-gauge siding on its website  in 2003 as follows: “PRN 85212 – Welshpool, Smithfield Road, railway transfer dock (multiple site) Scheduled Ancient Monument MG254(POW): NGR:- SJ22980734 (SJ20NW); Unitary authority:- Powys; Community:- Welshpool; Preferred site type:- 20th Century – Cattle docks (Multiple – Intact) … A rare surviving interchange facility between narrow and broad gauge railways. Built 1903 to provide a connection between the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway (narrow gauge) and the Cambrian Railways (later Great Western) (standard gauge), it remained in use until 1956. Three parallel rails in the transfer dock allowed access for both standard and narrow gauge rolling stock to the same platforms. The site is well documented in the papers of the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway in the National Library of Wales. A triangular island platform of stone, brick and concrete survives with mixed gauge track on both sides, laid into concrete without sleepers. The island platform has two rows of cattle pens with concrete and iron fencing and timber gates, and a single-storey brick office. Of national importance as a rare surviving railway transfer dock, believed to be the last surviving example in Wales, and possibly Britain (Cadw, 2003).” 
An interesting aside to the photograph above is the content of a short discussion on the Narrow Gauge Railways Facebook group. This discussion started with a comment from the photographer about the fact that the locomotive was facing towards Llanfair and a recollection that on another visit it was seen in the loco shed with its bunker facing towards Llanfair.
In response to Alfred Fisher, Tim Abbott commented that “Countess worked bunker first towards Llanfair in the 1920s. But your experience suggests this might not have been the only time. Until 1937 it was theoretically possible to turn locos on a triangle at Welshpool, but the connecting sidings were removed after this date.” 
The triangle Tim Abbot refers to was probably formed from the narrow gauge line which was part of the dual-gauge Smithfield Siding and a line which connected to the transshipment siding in the mainline goods yard at Welshpool.
Michael Whitehouse; ‘Narrow Gauge Album 1950-1965 In Colour’; Lightmoor Press, Lydney, Gloucutestershire, 2018.
These quotes come from private messages which Russ has sent me. He has kindly given permission for these to be shared here along with some of his father’s photographs.
All Ken Cribb’s photographs are included with permission from his son Russ. Rus would be interested in hearing from anyone with information to share about his father’s photographs. Please get in touch with me, if this is the case, and I will pass your details on to Russ.