Set in the heart of the rural Welsh Marches, the 2ft 6in gauge Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway possesses a quiet charm and unspoiled friendliness unique amongst Britain’s preserved lines. Alone amongst the Great Little Trains of Wales, this Edwardian gem was built not for slate, minerals or visitors, but for the everyday needs of the local farming community. Operated first by the Cambrian and then by the Great Western Railways, it was used for goods only from 1931 and then, under British Railways control, it closed altogether in 1956. But a group of enthusiasts re-opened the line in stages between 1963 and 1981 and today it forms a noteworthy attraction for tourists and rail buffs alike.
Thirty years of impoverished decline as a freight only railway left the newly formed preservation company with a massive backlog of maintenance and a dire shortage of equipment for the lines new tourist role. To overcome this, a collection of locomotives and rolling stock has been gathered from narrow gauge railways in Austria, West Africa, the West Indies and Finland, supplementing the lines own original locomotive and wagon fleet. Today, these fascinating showpieces combine regular service with special events to create a unique and firmly established railway business. Yet these changes have not altered the line’s traditional, down to earth and local atmosphere, well away from the excesses of mass tourist trade.
This video programme, which includes some rare archive footage, tells the story of the Welshpool and Llanfair Railways decline, rescue and restoration, also its plan for future progress in a landscape untarnished by the crowds and commercialism of the late twentieth century.
‘What will be regarded as the definitive video tape of the W&l … this production successfully encapsulates the character and ethos of our enterprise.’ (Llanfair journal Review)