SATURDAY, July 1 saw the Gwili Railway open its long-awaited southern extension to the outskirts of Carmarthen.
It was 40 years since the last section of the GWR cross-country route between Aberystwyth and Carmarthen – which had been kept open for milk traffic until 1973 – was lifted by BR.
The southern extension to Abergwili Junction station, which stands alongside the A40 trunk road, a major tourist route, is 1¾ miles long and is the culmination of 17 years of graft by volunteers.
The extension required more than 4000 sleepers, and over 300 60ft lengths of rail, as well as over 4000 tonnes of ballast. Around £350,000 has been spent on the project, including funds from CWM Environmental, Carmarthenshire County Council Rural Development Fund and County Collaboration Fund, together with money raised by supporters.
The extension opened two years later than scheduled.
The opening train was run in top-and-tail mode by two Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns 0-6-0STs. It set off from the line’s Bronwydd Arms headquarters at 11.30am, hauled northwards to Danycoed by Austerity No. 7170 of 1944 WD No. 71516 Welsh Guardsman, with No. 7849 of 1955 No. 47 Moorbarrow on the rear.
It was Moorbarrow’s turn to haul the ‘Carmarthen Express’ from Danycoed south to the new terminus, arriving at 12.30pm for the opening speeches.
Read more in Issue 231 of HR – on sale now!