Fairlight Works

Official blog of the High Weald Light Railway (1977) Co. Ltd.

An afternoon at Llanfair

2'-6"-gauge inspiration narrow-gauge photos

On a short holiday a couple of weeks ago, we spent a day at the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. Although it was the closest narrow gauge line of note to where I used to live as a youngster I tended to overlook it in favour of the “big ticket” lines in Snowdonia, however with an increasing interest in larger NG prototypes it’s fast becoming one of my favourites.


In steam on the day we visited was Countess, one of the line’s original Beyer-Peacock 0-6-0T locos dating from 1903. After the railway was absorbed in to the Great Western empire she was subtly “Swindonised” and is preserved in that form today. Sadly most of the rest of the steam fleet was hidden away in the sheds, which is a shame as the Sierra Leone 2-6-2T No. 85 is a definite modelling prospect in the near future and I was hoping to get some of my own pictures.

The Earl undergoing some TLC

However Countess’s companion, The Earl, was outside the loco shed receiving some TLC after breaking a spring earlier in the week. As you can see he has been “jacked up” for access to the oily bits.

Llanfair station

There was plenty of time between trains to wander around and take photos at leisure, as my wife’s favourite knitting shop is next door to the station (a good incentive to come!). Despite the addition of sheds and workshops in the preservation era, Llanfair is still a quiet, picturesque by-way that is perhaps more true to its origins than most restored sites.

Balcony Shunting Shunting Shunting

When Countess returned to haul the last train back to Welshpool, the crew decided to remove the Zillertalbahn carriage as it was a quiet weekday afternoon and the two larger Hungarian coaches would be enough. It was great to see a little bit of shunting as it often feels like preserved lines are configured to just run the same train sets up and down.

Opening the crossing gates

I spent most of the journey back on the open balcony next to the loco – another appealing feature of this line. It’s a great way to see a steam engine at work and you also get a glimpse of the line’s other rural aspects, in this case the fireman opening a level crossing gate just outside Cyffronydd.

All in all a lovely, if quiet, day out. I think I would score the W&L around 60% on the heritage railway review scale although there is a more intensive service on bank holiday weekends and even more so during the annual gala which is on the 30th/31st August this year.