|Company||Burry Port & Gwendraeth Valley Railway|
The Burry Port and Gwendraeth Valley Railway (or Burry Port and Gwendreath Railway, owing to a spelling mistake in the Act of Parliament creating the railway) was a 21-mile long railway progressively opened between 1859 and 1891.
It ran along the bed of the former Llanelly & Kidwelly Canal built to bring coal down the valley.It also operated dock facilities at Burry Port. The railway was poorly managed in the nineteenth century and often bankrupt. Increasing traffic at the turn of the century and intelligent management transformed it as a business and Colonel Stephens was employed as a consultant in 1908 to reconstruct it to legalise its unofficial carrying of passengers. The necessary legislation was obtained in two Light Railway Orders in 1909 and 1911. Stephens supervised re-construction and re-equipment over the years up to 1913 after which he had no further connection.
Various small branches from the Burry Port and Gwendraeth Valley Railway fed out to the collieries and small villages like Rhiwlas and Llandry.
The railway was absorbed by the Great Western Railway in 1922 and in turn by British Railways in 1948. Throughout its lifetime the railway kept an unusual style. The fact that part of it was built down the old canal route meant that the line was not only prone to flooding but had low bridges and sharp curves. This always posed a problem to the railway operators as very little rolling stock could traverse the line safely. The original passenger stock was primarily second hand, including ex Metropolitan Railway stock and four-wheelers. The Great Western condemned almost all of the existing coaches on takeover and replaced them with four-wheel GWR S11, S17, T32 and T59 coaches from the 1890s. Only in 1939 did the railway acquire new GWR coaches slightly narrower than the standard suburban bogie coaches and 18 inches lower.
Despite the problems passenger traffic lasted until 1953. The freight service continued far longer and coal traffic continued until 1996 when the Cwm Mawr loading point closed down. In later years the restrictions on the line meant that British Rail maintained several specially height reduced diesel shunters to pull the coal trains down the line as well as brake vans with the stove chimney cut down to clear the bridges.
Only one Burry Port and Gwendraeth Valley Railway locomotive still exists this day into preservation. Built in 1900, the last surviving B.P.& G.V.R No.2 0-6-0ST.2 Pontyberem was one of a class of 7 locomotives built by Avonside and Chapman & Furneaux (Gateshead) 1900-07 for the Burry Port & Gwendraeth Valley Railway. They sold it in 1914 to Llewelyn (Nixon) Ltd (later Mountain Ash Colliery and later part of the National Coal Board). In 1962 it was transferred to Penrikyber Colliery and withdrawn about 1970. This locomotive and Barclay 0-6-0ST 2074 of 1958 Penrikyber 1 worked the yard of this colliery until 1968 when one diesel shunter replaced them. It was decided to keep one of the steam locos as standby and, amazingly, it was decided to retain the 68 year old Avonside locomotive rather than the Barclay one, even though it was only 10 years old! No.2 must have been very highly regarded and it had a long working life.
The engine was sold off by the Great Western Society and is now in private hands, currently residing at the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway. It is in need of overhaul and being restored to working order.
|Home Base||Current Status||Owner|
|Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway||Requires restoration||Privately owned|