Railways in West Wales Part 1C – Pembrokeshire Industrial Railways – Section B – The Saundersfoot Railway (Second Part)
The featured image above shows the Locomotive Bulldog which was used on the length of the line between the Inclined Plane and Reynalton Colliery.
This is a follow-up to the first article about the Saundersfoot Railway. The first article covered the history of the Railway and then went on to look at the route of the line from Saundersfoot Harbour via Wiseman’s Bridge to Stepaside. That is the arm of the Railway shown on the right-hand side of the image below.
The first article can be found by following this link:
These articles are part of a series looking at the railways of Pembrokeshire. Full details of that series can be found in the first article about the Saundersfoot Railway.
This article follows the line running West from Saundersfoot Harbour under Saundersfoot Railway Station to Reynalton at the left side of the map above.
Saudersfoot Harbour to Reynalton Via Saundersfoot Tunnel (Kingsmoor Tunnel)
We start this journey with some of the pictures from the first article of Saundersfoot Harbour. We begin with two very early views of the harbour and its tramroad.
This picture showing coal being loaded onto a vessel at Saundersfoot Harbour was shared on the Saundersfoot & District Historical Society’s Facebook Group on 25th May 2020 by Gillian Hibberd.
This small extract from the 1906 6″ Ordnance Survey shows the same are as appears in the satellite imagery immediately above. As can be seen, very close to this location the three rails of the incline separated into four to allow wagons to pass. 
The 1887 6″ Ordnance Survey shows the building at the head of the incline and a second loop closer to the highway which does not appear on the 1906 Survey. The existence of remains of the winding house in 2021 (see below) suggests that the building was missed off the 1906 survey. 
Coflein records the Inclined Plane as follows: “The main line of the Saundersfoot Railway … opened in 1832 between Saundersfoot Harbour … and Thomas Chapel. It was built to a gauge of 4ft 0 3/8in and originally worked by horses. A self-acting incline, some 300m long and on a gradient of 1 in 5, lay about 800m west of the harbour. At the foot was a siding and hut whilst at the summit was a winding house. The track on the incline was double with a shared inner rail, widening to a loop midway allowing wagons to pass.” 
The incline was 363 metres long. Ancient Monuments UK’s website records the site as follows: “The monument consists of the remains of a complete tramroad incline formation from an important horse-drawn tramroad built in 1832, including a former counterbalance drum housing and marshalling areas at top and bottom. The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of 18th and 19th century industrial and transportation practices. It retains significant archaeological potential, with a strong probability of the presence of associated archaeological features and deposits. The structure itself may be expected to contain archaeological information concerning chronology and building techniques. A drumhouse may be part of a larger cluster of monuments and their importance can further enhanced by their group value.” 
The tunnel under Saundersfoot Railway Station was constricted in size and as a result dictated the size of any locomotive which could be used. Bulldog was purchased in 1915. Full details of the loco can be found on the first post about the Saundersfoot Railway. There is a picture of it above at the entrance to Bonville’s Court Colliery. 
Coflein records the tunnel as follows: “The main line of the Saundersfoot Railway opened in 1832 between Saundersfoot Harbour and Thomas Chapel. It was built to a gauge of 4ft 0 3/8in and originally worked by horses. King’s Moor Tunnel carried the line under rising ground below the hamlet of Hill and the site of the 1866 Saundersfoot Station on the Whitland extension of the former Pembroke & Tenby Railway. The tunnel is 450m long, 2.44m wide and approximately 2.6m high with a semi-circular arch.”  The route of the tunnel appears most clearly on the 1948 revision of the 6″ Ordnance Survey. …
28dayslater comments that the tunnel “is very wet and very muddy in places due to the years of neglect and non-use but is a very important part of Welsh industrial history.” 
To the North of the tunnel the line was in cutting for 200metres or so. It then traversed open country until passing on an embankment and bridge over New Road (it’s present name).
The line continued across the fields before it approached Thomas Chapel. We do know that there was a short branch to Broom Colliery. Its existence is recorded by Coflein: “An earthwork linear feature, probably a relict tramway, runs for c.400m NE-SW from SN11220814, at Broom Pit, … to SN10900788, where it effects an apparent junction with the Saundersfoot Railway . … It is not depicted as a railway on Ordnance Survey County series 25inch mapping of 1889 as it was disused by this time. … Broom Colliery was re-constructed and re-opened in 1933 and improvements included a 600-yard electrically-hauled narrow-gauge tramway to carry coal to the Saunderfoot Railway.” 
That statement from Coflein is supported on their website by an Ordnance Survey extract which is reproduced here and annotated with the key features. 
The lane serving Honeywood Cottage and other deellings runs across the top-half of the map and satellite image above. Just left of, and above the centre of, the image it is crossed by the old railway. The location is marked with a red arrow. It is of interest because there appears to be a remnant of the Saudersfoot Railway just at this point. I am not entirely sure that this is the case. However, if it is then is fixes the route of the line beyond here to Reynalton. I’d be interested to know whether anyone can provide details of what it ia that appears in the photograph below.
Urbex tells us that the railway “was extended for about one and a half miles beyond Thomas Chapel to serve a new colliery at Reynalton. To avoid heavy expenditure on earthworks and bridges, the line followed a somewhat circuitous course through open country. The existing railway from Thomas Chapel to Saundersfoot was relaid.” Horse traction was finally abandoned, and all traffic between Reynalton and the head of the incline was worked by 0-4-0ST Bulldog. Bulldog was slightly larger than than Rosalind which worked the line between Stepaside and the harbour. “It had 9inch by 15inch outside cylinders, 2feet 6inch wheels, and weighed 12 and a half tons in working order. To enable it to pass through the tunnel under the Great Western Railway to Saundersfoot, the maximum height and width had to be restricted to six feet nine inches respectively.” 
Coflein comments that the colliery site at Reynalton was a former anthracite drift mine. “Reynalton Colliery was opened by 1906. It was rebuilt in 1914 under the New Reynolton Anthracite Colliery Co., and served by an extension of the Saundersfoot Railway. … The mine closed in 1921 and the site was cleared, the only survivors being a brick-built winding house, six houses in the village and some railway embankment. There are various shafts and pits shown on the 1948 OS 6inch map. A cinder and slag heap near the church was removed during the Second World War to assist with the construction of Templeton airfield, … 2km to the north. 
This last satellite image taken from Google Earth shows that my presumptions about the line of the railway close to the colliery may be right. The field which is centre-right on this image has an area of curved land which appears to have retained water differently to the rest of the field and which is as a result greener. [Google Maps, September 2022]
Writing about the Reynalton extension to the Saundersfoot Railway, Coflein says: “The main line was extended to serve Reynalton Colliery … in 1915. The colliery closed in 1921 and the extension was abandoned, the whole Saundersfoot Railway closing finally in 1939.”  Some detailed reasoning for my proposed alignment for the extension is given in the comments under the satellite image above. I am hoping that at some time I may be able to find further information on the alignments that I have shown and would be very happy for someone to correct my assumptions.
Making the assumption that I have the correct alignment a few more photos on the line of the old railway can be offered. …
It goes without saying that if anyone has photographs from along the routes shown, and is prepared to share them, I would be delighted to include them properly referenced in this article.
One final note: OpenRailwayMap  is usually an excellent source for following rail lines throughout the UK and abroad. Sadly the only length of the Saundersfoot Railway covered is a short length either side of Saundersfoot Railway Station. That length include the tunnel under that station. 
Pingback: Railways in West Wales Part 1C – Pembrokeshire Industrial Railways – Section C – RNAD Trecwn | Roger Farnworth
Hi Roger, a fantastic up to date source of information on the Saundersfoot to Reynalton railway. I live in Reynalton and I can help you out with a few bits as the railway (used) to approach Reynalton. Also I can help you locate where the photograph is on the line in Begelly with the house in the background. It’s such a shame more photographs don’t exist of the line. My email is email@example.com if you’d like me to help out with these bits!
Hi Sam. Thank you for the positive comments. There are two options. If you want, I will use what you send me to adapt my article, or, if you prefer, you could put your comments here. If you send stuff to me, I will attribute it to you and make changes to my article. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Having just spent a few days on holiday in Saundersfoot and walking the coastal path through the tunnels, this article pulls everything together. An excellent read, many thanks.
You are Welcome!🙂