Narrow Gauge Pleasure

The Teifi Valley Railway

The Railway Today

Alan George hauls a TVR train

The Teifi Valley Railway's main station at the small South Wales Village of Henllan near Newcastle Emlyn is a delightful spot, not only for railway enthusiasts but for anyone wanting a relaxing visit to an interesting location, maybe with a ride on a narrow gauge steam train as a bonus. The station boasts an excellent large car park, the teapot cafe, a souvenir shop with friendly railway minded staff, a museum, a nature trail, and even a miniature railway which kids of all ages can ride on after travelling on the narrow gauge railway itself.

The 2' gauge railway offers steam hauled trains on a four mile round trip along the wooded valley of the river Teifi, offering relaxing views of the valley and river throughout the journey. All the coaches on this railway are modern, built by the enthusiasts who run it, but the locomotives are historic narrow gauge engines still in steam and working today as intended by their builders. Like most narrow gauge locomotives still in service some changes have been made to these engines but Alan George, still has no cab. This locomotive, like so many of the little engines that haul today's narrow gauge trains, was built by Hunslet of Leeds and like most of the others was built with no protection from the weather, today the driver still gets wet when it rains and the engine has a completely different appearance to all the other Hunsletts around the country which have sprouted cabs over the years.

History and Origins

The original Railway in this area was broad gauge and was intended to link Carmearthen to Cardigan (The broad gauge was pioneered by Brunel and at 7' was much larger than today's standard gauge). Work commenced in 1857 and the line reached as far as Llandysul in 1864 leaving a horse drawn bus service for the latter part of the journey to Cardigan. In 1864, with debts of one million pounds, the company was put into the hands of the receiver. The directors regained control of the railway in 1867 but Plans to extend the line to Cardigan were abandoned. Another railway was incorporated into a seven mile branch line to Newcastle Emlyn via Henllan and so the Teifi Valley railway was born.

All broad gauge railways had been converted to standard gauge for a century and more by the time the little line was finally closed in 1973 and although a group of volunteers made attempts to purchase the railway and preserve it as a standard gauge line they were defeated in this laudable aim. In 1981 a group of, predominantly local, people finally purchased the track bed and in 1984 assistance in the form of labour and funding arrived from the Manpower Services Commission allowing the second change of gauge to start in the form of the 2' Teifi Valley Railway.

The track was soon laid to Forest Halt which served as a temporary terminus until the railway could be extended to the current terminus at Pontprenshitw, a name which refers to the original wooden false-work used to construct the highest bridge on the line. A rough translation is "bridge wooden shaky shaky wooden bridge". Strange that something so ephemeral as this temporary wooden structure should still give its name to this spot.

Haulage was all diesel until 1983 when Alan George arrived at the Teifi Valley Railway. Alan George was built in 1894 by the Hunslet engine company for service in the Penryhn Quarries in North Wales and, after being sold in 1965 underwent restoration and served on other preserved railways before coming to Henllan. Following further restoration work Alan George began passenger service in 1994 and was subsequently joined by Sgt Murphy, built by Kerr Stuart at Stoke on Trent in 1918. These two steam engines now move the majority of the passenger trains on the line.

Comments on this Railway

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norman pearson   26 Apr 2014
I have been coming to henllan and the railway for years but what an improvement 12 months has made, I was amazed at how well kept and improved it is, good luck to all staff, im told that a small amount of paid staff have turned it round thanks again
Roger Padfield   14 Sep 2013
Hi there, I was one of the original members of the TVRPS which was formed in the mid seventies. We were only a small bunch and eventually the members went their different ways, some forming the present Gwili Railway. I believe some of the original members had some connection with the present TVRPS. During our existence we had a number of photographs lent and donated and these were eventually published as a booklet, 'The Teifi Valley Railway', co-authored by myself and Barrie Burgess. I am a native of Henllan and, being born in 1943, recall travelling on the Newcastle Emlyn branch passenger train. I travelled on the last train in 1952. I am a retired librarian living in Llanishen, Cardiff but have very fond memories of my time in Henllan. As I was probably the only railway enthusiast in the village I have a lot of memnories of this branch so please feel free to contact me if you require any info. Pob hwyl, Rog
Ray Sanderson   31 Jul 2013
In reply to Stanley Jenkins. The VTNGRPS as set up following the BR clousure is the same as exists today. Now called the Teifi Valley Railway Society. Same group and 'still' some of the same members.
Marcel, TVR member   15 Oct 2012
Hello Stanley C.Jenkins, I suggest that you visit the TVR official site http://www.teifivalleyrailway.org/ and place your question there. Greetings from Switzerland.
Stanley C.Jenkins   03 Jan 2012
Can anyone explain what (if any) links existed between the Teifi Valley Railway Preservation Society which was set up following the final closure of the Newcastle Emlyn line and the present narrow gauge line at Henllan? The original scheme envisaged a standard gauge line, which would have been worked by Peckett 0-6-0ST that arrived at Henllan station on 6th October 1973.
ray sanderson   15 May 2011
Alan George first began passenger hauling in 1985 and was the first steam engine to use the (new) line since its closure in 1973. The engine is owned by a consortium with the main contributor the Teifi Valley Railway Society which is a registered charity who aim to 'preserve' 2ft gauge locomotives and other 2ft gauge rolling stock.

Thanks for the info Ray, much appreciated..
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