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A Day on the Welshpool and Llanfair

…And we’re back to the Wales posts. Followed by the Austria Posts. And a bunch of other posts I need to make….

Wednesday was a fantastic day for all of us. A friend of ours from the 16mm crowd, Dave, volunteers as an engine driver on the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway, so we decided to time our visit with when he was volunteering so we could get to ride behind a train he was driving. An extra added bonus was Dave offering to take all three of us on a tour of the “behind the scenes” (behind the steam?) areas after his last train for the day – disposing the engine, a walk down the track, and a glimpse in the workshop and engine shed! Dave even took us each up into the cab to show us what it looked like and gave Mark a short cab ride.

For me, it was the second time being in the cab of a narrow gauge engine while it was actually steaming (and not in a museum setting!), but it was still exciting. I know Helen and Mark enjoyed their turns as well.

We arrived at Llanfair station quite early. Dave was driving the second train of the day, and we timed our arrival for right after the first train had departed, so the station was relatively deserted. While Helen and Mark enjoyed a cup of tea, I took a wander down the platform taking photos. My favourite photo of the day will appear below, of the three fire buckets. While I was taking photos of the fire buckets, the signaller popped his head out of the signal box and asked me if I wanted to have a look around since it wasn’t busy. Did I? Of course I did! After all, Tim is a signaller. I managed to get photos of the frame and the diagram (drawn by the signaller I was talking to) before I needed to leave the box in preparation for the engine coming through.

To our surprise, Dave wasn’t bringing the engine in! There was much confusion, until we actually saw Dave and he explained that they have different people run in the engines from who will be the ones to put it to bed in the evening. Whew.

We had a pleasant ride down to Welshpool and waited while Dave and his partner for the day, Dan, did their midway maintenance work before running the engine back round to the front of the train to take it back. Dave showed Mark what he needed to do every step of the way – I hope he was taking notes! Since Dave was driving the second and fourth trains of the day, we decided to walk into Welshpool proper (about a mile or so) to get some Lunch and then head back to the station to take Dave’s second (and his last for the day) train back to Llanfair.

Welshpool isn’t much to talk about. Other than the railway (and let’s be fair, a lot of towns in Wales have narrow gauge railways!), it’s a typical town in Wales. Lots of shops, both unique and chain, dotted the main street along with restaurants and pubs. We travelled off onto a side street and found a small eatery called the Lunch Box that had reasonable prices.

Since we still had time, we did a bit of browsing and shopping before heading back to the station, and we managed to get to the Welshpool station as Dave was bringing the train in, so once again, Mark went to watch Dave do all his routine maintenance and Helen and I got on and found seats. Mark came rushing up to us to tell us that Dave was going to give him a cab ride up to the front of the train, so I ran down the platform to get some photos of Mark in the cab, then ran back up to try to get photos as he went past.

After the return to Welshpool, we browsed in their gift shop and headed back to the car to drop off our shopping while the rest of the passengers departed. We went back in and Dave called Helen and I over and asked us if we’d like to join him while he gave Mark a tour. Of course, we agreed!

We had to wait while Dave and Dan serviced the engine for the evening, and Dave was kind enough to explain everything he was doing step-by-step. I’m sure it took Dave and Dan twice as long as it usually did, but we surely appreciated it!

Our tour started with a walk through the sheds, where Dave showed us some of the other engines they regularly use. We also got to walk through the workshop, where we saw several engines that were being worked on, engines in pieces, and what the volunteers did to amuse themselves! Farther down the line, there was another shed, and this one contained some engines awaiting servicing, and several passenger cars.

It was fantastic getting to walk down the tracks, and getting to see things most visitors don’t. We’re all really grateful to Dave for taking some time out of his free time to show us around!

I can’t wait to go back and ride it again – Every time I ride a railway again, I see new things that I hadn’t seen before.

If any of the photos don’t resize properly for you, please let me know so I can fix them!

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5 Comments so far

  1. Ron Tedwater November 13th, 2010 9:02

    Great work keep it coming

  2. potenzmittel deutschland November 15th, 2010 12:57

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  3. […] Zillertalbahn had donated some of their surplus to the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway, and I had a ride in one of their donated coaches when I visited Wales in August. This was not to be the only connection back to the Wales trip on […]

  4. Ross Nicholson May 18th, 2014 12:34

    Hello Rebecca
    Great Photography and brilliant coverage of your exploits.
    We are planning to do the trip to UK and specially Wales to look at the W&L. I would hope that I might be fortunate enough to do exactly what you have done and get to see the “behind the scenes stuff”
    From over her in West Australia we can only get good information and photos from people such as you.
    Keep up the good work and look forward to more.
    Cheers
    Ross

  5. Rebecca May 22nd, 2014 20:31

    Hi Ross!

    Your best bet for trying to get a behind the scenes look at things at Welshpool would be to join their yahoo egroup (I think it’s w&llr) and start asking! I was fortunate enough that a friend of ours (and his wife and son) are all volunteers on Welshpool and we were able to time our visit for when he was on duty so we got to watch him put his engine to bed and then he gave us a tour. I know all the volunteers at Welshpool and the other railways are all really friendly, you just have to ask if things are possible!

    I’m afraid I’ve been very lax in blogging all the railway trips we’ve gone on, but I wind up posting all the pics to my facebook. If you’re a facebooker, feel free to add me. I hope you enjoy your trip to Wales! My husband and I go to Wales several times a year to visit railways and friends.

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