Where nothing ever happens2'-6"-gauge inspiration marketing narrow-gauge photos preservation prototype
Between trains at Castle Caereinion station on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway you could be mistaken for thinking that time has come to a standstill. Fortunately, for many of us in narrow gauge land, that’s just the way we like it.
A family visit to my parents in the West Midlands provided another opportunity to pop over the border and visit one of my favourite preserved lines. As with the last outing, our train was hauled by the beautifully maintained Beyer-Peacock loco, Countess. However the extra services which run on bank holiday weekends gave the chance for some train spotting during a picnic at Castle Caereinion, halfway along the line.
Meeting Countess at Welshpool in the glorious sunshine was a great sight. Whoever thought of placing the station’s water tower next to a main road out of town had their marketing brain on – what more temptation do you need to stop and look?
After a pleasant 30 minute journey through the Powys countryside we arrived at “Castle”. The three coach train was well loaded, discussion around the water tower suggested that passenger numbers were holding up despite economic conditions.
The second train in service was hauled by Hunslet 2-6-2T, the W&L’s no. 14, which doesn’t carry a name but is known as Sierra Leone No. 85 as a reminder of its origins. Although I’ve come to appreciate its design since, this was the first time I’d seen the loco up close in many years and it was great to be able to take some pictures for upcoming modelling projects.
It’s hard to think of a narrow gauge loco with more attractive proportions, although the Hunslet family resemblance is clear in similar engines such as the Welsh Highland’s Russell. The corners on that lining are going to a nightmare to reproduce in 7mm scale though!
After a brief pause for the train crew to work the level crossing gates, No. 14 and train departed for Llanfair Caereinion and peace and quite returned to the station.
Sadly vandalised and locked out of use, the waiting shelter at Castle at least contained this lovely piece of W&L ephemera – a great line-art drawing of No. 14. on the notice board.
The two service trains were crossing at Cyfronydd, a little way down the line towards Llanfair, so there was a wait of about 20 minutes before Countess returned with our train back to Welshpool and – ultimately – a barbecue in the evening sun at my sister’s house. The perfect finish to a great weekend!