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Talyllyn Railway, Tywyn

Tywyn is the base of the world's first preserved railway, the Talyllyn.

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Wharf Station, Tywyn, Gwynedd, LL36 9EY, Wales

LL36 9EY
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About Talyllyn Railway, Tywyn

During the Second World War and in the period immediately afterwards several enthusiasts, particularly from the Birmingham area, had become aware of the narrow gauge railways of Wales and there had been suggestions that one of the lines, most probably the Ffestiniog Railway, could be saved.

In the summer of 1950, Tom Rolt wrote a letter to the Birmingham Post newspaper suggesting that a rescue of the Talyllyn be undertaken. He received sufficient positive response for a meeting of interested enthusiasts to be held on 11 October 1950 at the Imperial Hotel in Birmingham. Around 70 people attended the meeting and Rolt proposed the formation of a committee to look into the acquisition of the railway. With the support of the meeting, the committee met for the first time on 23 October and immediately entered into negotiation with Haydn Jones' executors, the owners of the railway.

The transfer of ownership to the committee was legally complex, but both parties agreed that all shares in the railway company would be transferred from Haydn Jones' estate to a new company called Talyllyn Holdings Ltd., whose board consisted of two directors from the executors and two from the committee. The transfer took place on 8 February 1951, at which point the newly formed Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society effectively took control of the railway. The Society immediately began to publicise its efforts, hoping to raise funds and find further volunteers to help reopen the railway, and by May nearly 650 members had joined the society.

The railway re-opened under the control of the Society for the first time on the Whit Monday bank holiday, 14 May 1951, with trains running between Wharf and Rhydyronen stations. Regular trains began to run on 4 June and continued through the summer.

The railway is based at Tywyn and runs roughly eastward for over seven miles. The track gauge is unusual being 2 ft. 3 ins. At Tywyn there is also a railway workshop and a museum. The oldest working steam locomotive dates from 1875.

The Preservation Society celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2001, and as part of the year of celebrations a major new project was launched to once more extend and improve facilities at Tywyn Wharf station. For many years the station had been home to semi-permanent buildings housing the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum, but the new plans for the station included the construction of a new two-storey building to house the museum and the extension of the existing station building to house a new cafe and booking office. Work began on the first phase of the project in January 2002. In 2003 the railway received a £682,500 Heritage Lottery grant towards the £1,170,000 cost of redeveloping Wharf station, and the new station and museum were officially opened by Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall on 13 July 2005. The railway has seen a steady increase in passengers carried since the turn of the millennium, with nearly 95,500 passenger journeys recorded in 2006, although this figure is still only around half the peak figure carried in 1973.

Photos:Jeff Buck, Chris Allen / Talyllyn Railway  CC BY-SA 2.0  via Wikimedia Commons

By Road: Tywyn is on the A 493 between Machynlleth and Dolgellau.

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National Transport Trust, Old Bank House, 26 Station Approach, Hinchley Wood, Esher, Surrey KT10 0SR