1. Introduction 6. Snowdon Mtn. Rwy.
2. Talyllyn Rwy. 7. Links
3. Vale of Rheidol Rwy. 8. Resources
4. Cambrian Dispatcher 9. Acknowledgements
5. Ffestiniog Rwy. 10. About the Author



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Engine Linda at
Ffestiniog Railway


Wales is a hard but lovely land in the west of Britain. During the nineteenth century, a network of of tiny narrow-gauge railways impressed themselves deeply into the lives of the Welsh people. Built to haul slate, timber and other resources from Wales' forbidding mountains down to the seacoast ports, the little trains opened the interior of Wales to the industrial revolution, and ushered in an era of profound change in rural Welsh life.


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Talyllyn Railway
driver stands by
his engine,
the Tom Rolt,
at Tywyn Wharf.

NOTE: Click on
thumbnails to
enlarge images.

For nearly a century the little trains thrived. Yet in the 1930s, the Great Depression began to erode the narrow-gauge lines' financial viability.   Staggered by the Depression, the trains sustained a further blow with the collapse of the Welsh slate trade in the 1940s. The end of slate mining spelled doom for the tiny railways, for the heavy stone had in many cases been the lines' most profitable commodity.


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Vale of Rheidol
Engine #8.

Happily, it was not to be. Over the years the tiny trains had won many admirers, and now those friends rallied to save them. Beginning with the takeover of the Talyllyn Railway by an enthusiasts' group in 1951, several of the most beloved lines passed into the hands of volunteer preservationists. Clearing brush, restoring and repainting rolling stock, and repairing lineside structures, these hardy souls pioneered the field of operating railway preservation.


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Wyddfa, Engine
#3, one of the
original 1895
steam rack
engines of the
Snowdon Mtn.

Today, the restored "little trains of Wales" attract visitors from around the world. As their fame and skills have grown, the preservationists have taken on new challenges, bringing more and more lines and right-of-way back into operation. So climb on board now, click on the coupler-link below, and join me for a week's trainspotting on the marvelous narrow-gauge railways of Wales (and the historic standard gauge Cambrian Coast Line, too!). Croeso i Gymru, and welcome aboard!



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All materials, images, text and presentation copyright 1998 Erik Gray Ledbetter.  See Terms of Use.