Welsh Railways

Talyllyn Railway

Length 10.6 km., Gauge 69 cms.

The Talyllyn was the first Welsh narrow-gauge railway to be taken over by a preservation society, formed in 1950, almost straightaway after the original railway officially closed, in Ocotber 1950.

Slate from the Bryneglwys quarry (of Ordovician and Silurian origin) had been quarried since 1847, but this company apparently ran into problems when the neighboring quarries in Corris (on the other side of the hill) became connected to the Corris Railway, while Bryneglwys still had to rely on packhorses transporting their product to Aberdyfi.

The existence of the railway could be attributed to the desire of a Manchester cotton firm to diverse into other areas, because it was suffering from the effects of the American Civil War. It opened in 1866, transporting slate from the Bryn Eglwys quarry above Abergynolwyn to Tywyn, where it met the Cambrian Coast standard-gauge line. It managed to operate from 1866 until the early 1950s with basically the original equipment. It was intended to run, straight from the beginning, as a steam railway, taking advantage of the recent experiments with steam, from 1863, on the Ffestiniog Railway.

Apart from slate, a passenger service was soon inaugarated. This ran from Abergynolwyn and Tywyn Pendre, short of the end of the line at Tywyn King's (now Wharf) station, which was reserved for slate traffic. The engine sheds were later built at Pendre.

There was an incline from the railway into Abergynolwyn itself, the railway operating as a tramway behind all the houses in the village.

The slate company had an uncertain history. It closed in 1883, but a new company took over until 1909. Abergynolwyn was effectively a quarry town (it had been built by the quarry in the first place) so the closure in 1909 was an enormous blow. Some respite was given when the quarry re-opened in 1911, closing for good in 1947 (this was after a major cave-in, just after the workers had left for home).

The railway was purchased by Henry Haydn Jones in 1910. In same year he became Liberal MP for Merionydd, until 1945.

The Preservation Society ran initially only to Abergynolwyn, but now it runs one stop further, to Nant Gwernol.