Today, I had a tour around the Cambrian Railway works at Llynclys to see what was going on, hear about their plans and vision and also to meet some of the people involved in this ambitious, long-awaited and much-anticipated project.
For a Sunday morning, the place was a hive of activity, with coaches being repaired, tracks being cleared, Isabel - the steam engine - taking passengers up and down the line for a fun little jaunt, and areas of important wildflowers along the bank being marked out to protect them from any weeding work.
It was great to hear that the Cambrian Railway Trust and Cambrian Railway Society are now working very well together; and along with the Station Trust will shortly now operate under one umbrella organisation called The Cambrian Heritage Railway Ltd (a Social Enterprise as of August 09). It just awaits votes of the Trust’s and the Society’s members to move forward to the next stage.
Having representatives from all the contributing organisations on their board of directors provides them with one strong voice to drive forward the next stage of their vision.
The dream, from what I could glean, is to connect up the railway from Llynymynech through Oswestry to Gobowen. And in so doing, eventually have connections between the Montgomery Canal and the railway, a historical partnership which would serve the area well in times to come.
BY EASTER 2010: The first stage is to get a diesel train running up and down from Oswestry, to send a signal that the "trains are moving" in Oswestry! Symbolically, this would be a boost to the morale of all who want to see the trains running again in town albeit for upto 200 metres to begin with.
TWO PLUS YEARS: The second stage is to get the trains from Llynclys to Oswestry. A partial stage being to get them to the level crossing on the A483. And then onward to Oswestry - which would become the main pickup for passengers along the line to Llynclys.
The two years timescale would be if everything went to plan and the funding was in place - so if anyone knows of a local millionaire and trains enthusiast, point them in the direction of Llynclys Station. :)
TO GOBOWEN: The third stage is to connect to Gobowen, thereby bringing Oswestry a direct connection to the mainline services! Oswestry to London - Wow!
Getting ahead of myself there - :)
ALSO: It is also planned to build a small halt at Pen y Garreg Lane in Pant to enable passengers to alight and have access to the Montgomery Canal towpath. Work on which should begin this winter.
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST: Connecting Oswestry with Pant (Pen y Garreg Lane) and Blodwell and possibly on to Llanymynech in the more distant future.
There's no question, that as a tourism asset, such a railway would be a hugh attractor to the area, and combined with the Iron Age Hillfort, the Castle and the town's many other attractions provides a powerful tourism package.
Some say it might bring in 50,000 a year, but if well-packaged and promoted, it could be way more than that!
IF YOU'D LIKE TO KNOW MORE
Go and have a wander along to Llynclys Station and see what is going on. Travel on the steam train, have a coffee and get a feel for what is happening on the ground - and on the track.
The websites for more information and history are:
WITH KIND THANKS
I would like to thank Andrew, Rick and Richard for their kindness in showing me around and answering my many naive questions about railways. The depth of passion and intent to make this happen, of all those working towards it, is clear for all to see.
And...with the ownership of the track now in Shropshire Council's hands, this has given the whole project a head of steam to crack on to the next stage.
Member since: 10th July 2012
A quick introduction - I'm John Waine, Director of TheBestOfOswestry. Having lived in this beautiful area for around 20 years now, I have decided to stay. :)
With kind thanks