The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway is now well into its summer timetable with trains running every day, while members of the line are preparing to welcome back a visitor for the big enthusiast event of the year.
Making a triumphant return visit to the W&LLR Steam Gala on 30th August to 1st September will be the locomotive ‘Superb’, kindly loaned to the railway by the Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway in Kent. The Bagnall 0-6-2T loco, built in 1940 for service at the Bowaters paper mill at Sittingbourne, proved a big success on its initial visit to Wales last year.
For this year’s Gala Superb is planned to be used more extensively, including for the first time taking charge of passenger services over the whole line, including ascending the 1 in 29 Golfa bank out of Welshpool. There are also set to be some double-heading turns with one of the Llanfair line’s resident engines, most likely Kerr Stuart 0-6-2ST ‘Joan’ which is effectively a sister design to Superb.
A very different form of rail transport will also be visiting from the Sittingbourne line. A hand pump trolley will be stationed on the bay platform line at Welshpool Raven Square station, and for a donation to railway funds visitors will be invited to ‘have a go’.
The intensive three-day timetable also includes an evening train on Saturday, a lovely way to get a different perspective on the line.
Raven Square will host a miniature railway, miniature road steam engines, a model railway exhibition in the display shed and various railway-themed stalls. From here trains will be running on an intensive timetable to Llanfair Caereinion where there will be a host of further attractions.
Llanfair highlights will include displays in the workshop, traction engines and other vehicles in the yard, and a large 16mm layout and model engineering display in the former Colinette industrial unit adjacent to the station. A Real Ale bar will be available, as will refreshments from the tearoom, bacon rolls in the morning and a burger van on Saturday evening.
The station will also be linked by a free bus to the separate-entry Garden Railway show that will be held on Saturday and Sunday at Llanfair High School. This show, traditionally held alongside the Gala, features large-scale models, many steam powered.
Parking at either of the railway’s terminus stations will be charged at £3 per car, and a free double-decker bus shuttle will connect Raven Square with other carparks in Welshpool.
New this year will be a brochure/guide to the Gala – this will be on sale at the railway’s stations and will also be available from the Welshpool Tourist Information Centre from just before the event. Further Gala details and online booking facilities can be found on the events page of www.wllr.org.uk.
“The Gala is entirely run by volunteers and is always a highlight of the railway’s year”. said W&LLR general manager Charles Spencer. “We try to ‘get out all the toys’, and having two visiting vehicles from our friends at Sittingbourne is a great pleasure.”
The line’s summer daily service runs right through to September, with extra trains and freight movements featuring at the Vintage Weekends, on 4th-5th and 18th-19th August. The Tearoom at Llanfair Caereinion is open every day for light lunches and refreshments.
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