The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway is to send one of its two original locomotives, 0-6-0T No. 822 ‘The Earl’ for a major overhaul at the Vale of Rheidol Railway’s Aberystwyth workshops, taking the engine out of a long queue for work at its home line.

Built by Manchester firm Beyer Peacock in 1902 for the opening of the W&LLR a year later, ‘The Earl’ and its sister locomotive ‘Countess’ have been stalwarts of the mid Wales line through its entire life. ‘The Earl’ hauled the first public train of the preservation era on 6th April 1963, and the two sisters worked most passenger trains until the arrival of Franco-Belge locomotive 699.01 ‘Sir Drefaldwyn’ from Austria in 1969.

‘The Earl’ continued to work until 1978 when major repairs became necessary, and the loco was withdrawn, afterwards going on extended display at the National Railway Museum in York, the Birmingham Railway Museum and the Great Western Society’s Steam Centre at Didcot. Mounted on a standard gauge well wagon, ‘The Earl’ also took part in the 1980 ‘Rocket 150’ cavalcade at Shildon celebrating 150 years since the Rainhill Trials and the advent of public steam railways.

The loco returned to the Llanfair Line in 1991 and in 1996 a Heritage Lottery Fund grant enabled a major overhaul to begin including replacement of the boiler – this work was finished in time for the W&LLR centenary celebrations in 2003.

Since then ‘The Earl’ has been a core member of the line’s loco fleet – in the 2018 season it ran 3,310 miles, or 32 per cent of the total engine mileage that year, before being withdrawn with a fault in October, shortly before its 10-year boiler ticket expired.

While this will be the first time the W&LLR has sent a locomotive away for an overhaul, the move is no reflection on the capabilities of the line’s own mechanical engineering department, which is extremely busy. The W&LLR workshop team are currently in the final stages of a nut-and-bolt restoration of ‘Sir Drefaldwyn’; with the popular Sierra Leone Hunslet No. 14/85 in the queue for overhaul and two more locomotives coming to the end of their boiler tickets in 2020 and 2021, it was decided to accelerate the work required on ‘The Earl’ by having the VoR carry out the overhaul in parallel with the in-house projects.

“We considered several highly qualified suppliers for this overhaul”, said W&LLR Chief Mechanical Engineer Bruce Webber. “The Vale of Rheidol impressed us with its excellent engineering standards and very strong references from previous customers.”

As well as restoring its own 2-6-2T locomotive ‘Owain Glyndwr’ to service after many years out of use, the VoR has also recently fully overhauled the Talyllyn Railway’s Hughes 0-4-2T ‘Sir Haydn’ and is currently restoring a Baldwin 4-6-0T for the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway.

The VoR also shares a common heritage with the W&LLR. Despite a difference in gauge (the W&LLR 2ft 6in gauge, the VoR 2ft), both were operated by the Great Western Railway and later British Railways. Indeed cattle wagons built for the Rheidol line were transferred to Llanfair and on the W&LLR’s closure in 1956 one went to the Ffestiniog Railway, before being bought back by the VoR in late 2017 and restored to its original specification.

Both railways are key players on the Welsh narrow gauge scene and members of the Great Little Trains of Wales marketing group, through which they have a history of sharing information and technical expertise.

Commenting on the decision, VoR General Manager Llyr ap Iolo said that everyone at Aberystwyth is delighted with the commission. “We are proud that the W&LLR has entrusted such an iconic and historic engine to us – we will be working hard to meet the specification and timeline,” he added.

‘The Earl’ will be transported to Aberystwyth in June for disassembly and forwarding of the boiler to another firm for specialist work. The overhaul will start in earnest in September and a return to steam is scheduled for June 2020, in time for the busy high season on the Llanfair Line.

We are pleased to announce the start of our project to build a new station and multifunction display facility at our Aberystwyth station.

Titled “Wales to the World” it will see the current terminus at Park Avenue, Aberystwyth transformed into a Great Western Railway style station suitable for the modern tourist together with the creation of a multifunction display and entertainment facility within our former steam locomotive shed.

Alongside these visitor focused developments, a new carriage storage shed will be built allowing the priceless collection of historic railway carriages to be stored in a protected environment and aid their long term conservation.

For many years we have been working with Visit Wales to achieve our goal to improve the terminus of our station as well as plans to build our multifunction display facility. This funding has allowed us to start of the project and we are thankful to the whole team at Visit Wales who have been fabulous, and helped us through the mine field of paperwork to achieve this project. 

Our heritage, keeping the 1930’s alive

Building the new station to authenticate the Great Western Railway era is a key goal of our project. Hours of research has been undertaken to find the correct pattern gas style lamps and posts, and the right shade to enhance our visitor experience. 

Who is paying for the project?

Our project is a funding collaboration between the Vale of Rheidol Railway and Visit Wales using WFO funding as part of the TAD Destination Program and the TMF Regeneration Fund. The railway is providing 35% of the revenue to support the project whilst the remaining amount will come directly from grant funding.

How long will it take?

The project started in late 2018 and will finish at the end of 2020. Over this period we will have totally transformed our Aberystwyth station. Due to the station still in operation we have broken the project in five phases starting with the new platform and toilet and finishing with the development of the old Great Western shed.

What comes next?

This project will act as the stepping stone to building the main museum in the future. These infrastructure improvements will release the space and provide the vital area’s to enable the larger museum to be built.

What are we building?

A New Ticket Office : As anyone who has visited our railway knows the current ticket office leaves a lot to be desired. The project will recreate a Great Western style booking office offering a dry and spacious entry to the railway. Expanding this space will offer visitors a more efficient area to buy tickets, while offering retail opportunities.

New Carriage Storage and Conservation Store : Within our Aberystwyth site we are developing a three road storage shed to house our Heritage fleet of carriages but also to enable us to move items from the future multifunction display facility that will require protection from the elements. Alongside this, the shed will provide the railway with a store for future exhibits as the new Museum develops. The complete current train set of carriages will for the first time be housed separately from the steam locomotives ensuring a clean environment in which our dedicated staff can maintain them.

New platform and toilets: As part of the new project we are moving our station platform over 180 metres (200 yards) from the existing terminus. This will give our visitors less distance to walk from the car park and an accessible access to our new multifunction display facility. Customer toilets used to be provided by British Rail and that arrangement came to an end a few years back which led to a temporary toilet block being installed at the station. On the new platform we will be building a Great Western style lavatory block with a Pagoda appearance and will offer our travellers a decent facility for the first time.

New Display Space: The journey begins! Getting some of the 30 engines the railway owns on display has always been our goal but with the huge backlog of maintenance left by British Rail this has proved to be an uphill battle. Thankfully, we are now at the edge of achieving this with the original Great Western shed being converted into a multifunction facility. This will offer the railway 5000 sq ft of space to display some of its priceless collection and also host events and entertainment.

What will be inside? The aim is to display any of the operational engines when they are not running so a Rheidol tank and the newly arrived Beyer Garrat NG13 could be on show together with examples of the rolling stock such as our Hafan tramway wagons and Great Western coaches. These will tell the story of the railway together with our collection of original artefacts. Alongside these exhibits, for the first time, we will display some of our international collection of engines and they will tell the story of how Wales led the way in narrow gauge railways and helped export the idea all over the world, thus the project title.

New Café: Matching the style of our heritage station we will be building a new fully functional café to service our visitors as well as enabling us to cater for events in the new multifunction display facility as well.

All New Railway Servicing Facilities: Keeping our precious engines running has always been top priority but now we are able to construct a dedicated servicing and coaling area, together, with new water cranes and water storage tanks, all helping to maintain the smooth operation of our trains.

With all the works listed above we are also building a whole new track layout in Aberystwyth and moving and rebuilding all the signalling within the station site.

This will be complimented with improvements to our current car parking arrangements as well.

Going Green looking at a sustainable future

At the heart of the Vale of Rheidol’s business is sustainability. Looking long term is something we have prided ourselves on whether its apprentice training or re-planting woodland. As part of this project we are installing a solar roof to complement our current system sited on our new storage shed. This will provide power for both the storage shed and the new ticket office. A new water system will allow captured rain water to be fed into the new water system feeding our engines.

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“O Gymru i’r Byd” Newid mawr yng Ngorsaf Aberystwyth

Mae Rheilffordd Cwm Rheidol yn falch o gyhoeddi bod ein prosiect i adeiladu gorsaf newydd a chyfleuster arddangos amlbwrpas ar fin cychwyn.

O dan y teitl “O Gymru i’r Byd”, bydd y gwaith yn golygu trawsnewid y terminws presennol yng Nghoedlan y Parc, Aberystwyth, a’i droi’n orsaf debyg i orsafoedd Great Western Railway sy’n addas i dwristiaid modern. Byddwn hefyd yn creu lle arddangos amlbwrpas ac adloniant yn hen sied y trenau stêm.

Ochr yn ochr â’r datblygiadau hyn sy’n canolbwyntio ar ymwelwyr, bydd sied newydd yn cael ei chodi i storio cerbydau, sy’n golygu y bydd modd storio’r casgliad amhrisiadwy o gerbydau rheilffordd hanesyddol mewn amgylchedd gwarchodol a fydd yn help i’w cadw yn y tymor hir.

Rydym wedi bod yn gweithio ers blynyddoedd gyda Croeso Cymru i wireddu ein nod o wella terminws yr orsaf ynghyd â’r cynlluniau i adeiladu’r cyfleuster arddangos amlbwrpas. Bydd yr arian hwn yn gweld y prosiect yn cychwyn. Hoffem ddiolch i bawb yng nhîm Croeso Cymru sydd wedi bod yn wych, ac wedi’n helpu drwy’r mynydd o waith papur er mwyn gwireddu’r prosiect. 

Ein treftadaeth, cadw’r 1930’au yn fyw

Mae adeiladu’r orsaf newydd gan adlewyrchu oes y Great Western Railway yn un o amcanion allweddol ein prosiect. Gwnaed oriau o ymchwil i ganfod y patrwm cywir ar gyfer y lampau a’r polion, yn arddull hen lampau nwy a chan ddefnyddio’r lliw cywir er mwyn rhoi’r profiad gorau i’n hymwelwyr. 

Pwy sy’n talu am y prosiect?

Mae’r prosiect yn gynllun ariannu ar y cyd rhwng Rheilffordd Cwm Rheidol a Croeso Cymru, gan ddefnyddio Rhaglen Cyrchfannau TAD a Chronfa Adfywio TMF. Mae’r rheilffordd yn darparu 35% o’r refeniw i gynnal y prosiect tra bydd gweddill yr arian yn dod yn uniongyrchol o arian grant. 

Faint o amser fydd hyn yn ei gymryd?

Bydd y prosiect yn cychwyn yn 2018 ac yn gorffen ddiwedd 2020. Dros y cyfnod hwn byddwn wedi trawsnewid ein gorsaf yn Aberystwyth yn llwyr. Gan fod yr orsaf yn dal i weithredu, rydym wedi rhannu’r prosiect yn bum cam, gan gychwyn gyda’r platfform a’r toiledau newydd a gorffen drwy ddatblygu hen sied y Great Western. 

Beth sydd yn dod wedyn?

Bydd y prosiect hwn yn gyfrwng inni fwrw ymlaen i adeiladu’r brif amgueddfa yn y dyfodol. Bydd y gwelliannau seilwaith mawr hyn yn rhyddhau’r lle ac yn darparu’r arwynebedd holl-bwysig i’n galluogi i adeiladu’r amgueddfa fwy.

Beth ydyn ni’n ei adeiladu?

Swyddfa Docynnau Newydd : Fel y g w yr unrhyw un sydd wedi ymweld â’ n rheilffordd, mae ein swyddfa docynnau ymhell o fod yn foddhaol ar hyn o bryd. Bydd y prosiect yn ail-greu swyddfa docynnau debyg i rai’r Great Western – bydd digon o le, a hynny dan do, i gael mynediad i’r rheilffordd. Drwy ehangu’r gofod hwn bydd yn cynnig lle mwy effeithlon i brynu tocynnau, ynghyd â chyfleoedd manwerthu.

Storfa Gerbydau a Storfa Gadwraeth Newydd : Ar ein safle yn Aberystwyth rydym yn datblygu sied storio dair ffordd i ddal ein fflyd Dreftadaeth o gerbydau. Bydd hefyd yn ein galluogi i symud eitemau y mae angen eu gwarchod rhag yr elfennau o’r cyfleuster arddangos amlbwrpas yn y dyfodol. Law yn llaw â hyn bydd y sied hefyd yn darparu storfa i eitemau newydd yn y dyfodol wrth i’r Amgueddfa newydd ddatblygu. Am y tro cyntaf, bydd y set gyflawn bresennol o gerbydau yn cael eu cadw ar wahân i’r peiriannau stêm gan sicrhau amgylchedd glân lle gall ein staff ymroddedig eu cynnal a’u cadw.

Platfform a thoiledau newydd: Fel rhan o’r prosiect newydd rydym yn symud platfform yr orsaf dros 180 metr (200 llath) o’r terminws presennol. Bydd hyn yn golygu llai o bellter cerdded o’r maes parcio i’n hymwelwyr a mynediad hygyrch i’n cyfleuster arddangos amlbwrpas newydd. Roedd toiledau i gwsmeriaid yn arfer cael eu darparu gan British Rail ond daeth y trefniant hwnnw i ben rai blynyddoedd yn ôl gan arwain at osod bloc toiledau dros dro ar yr orsaf. Ar y platfform newydd byddwn yn adeiladu bloc toiledau yn arddull y Great Western a fydd yn edrych fel Pagoda, gan gynnig cyfleusterau teilwng i’n teithwyr am y tro cyntaf.

Gofod Arddangos Newydd: Dechrau’r daith! Arddangos rhai o’r 30 injan y mae’r rheilffordd yn berchen arnynt oedd y nod inni erioed ond oherwydd yr holl waith cynnal a chadw a adawyd gan British Rail mae hyn wedi bod yn dipyn o dasg. Ond, rydym ar fin gwireddu hyn nawr wrth i sied wreiddiol y Great Western gael ei throi’n gyfleuster amlbwrpas. Bydd hyn yn cynnwys 5000 tr sg o le i’r rheilffordd i arddangos rhai o’r eitemau yn ei chasgliad amhrisiadwy a hefyd i gynnal digwyddiadau ac adloniant.

Beth fydd y tu mewn? Y nod yw arddangos unrhyw injans sy’n gweithio pan nad ydynt yn rhedeg ar y cledrau, felly gallai Rheidol Tank a’r Beyer Garrat NG13 sydd newydd gyrraedd gael eu harddangos gyda’i gilydd ynghyd ag enghreifftiau o gerbydau fel wagenni tramffordd Hafan a choetsis Great Western. Gyda’n casgliad o arteffactau gwreiddiol, bydd y rhain yn adrodd stori’r rheilffordd. Ochr yn ochr â’r eitemau hyn, am y tro cyntaf byddwn yn arddangos rhai o’r injans o’n casgliad rhyngwladol a byddant yn dweud y stori fel yr oedd Cymru yn arwain y ffordd o ran datblygu leins bach ac wedi helpu i allforio’r syniad ar draws y byd – sy’n egluro teitl y prosiect.

Caffi Newydd: I gyd-fynd â’n gorsaf dreftadaeth, byddwn yn adeiladu caffi newydd i wasanaethu’n hymwelwyr yn ogystal â’n galluogi i arlwyo ar gyfer digwyddiadau yn y cyfleuster arddangos amlbwrpas newydd.

Cyfleusterau Trin Newydd Sbon: Mae cadw ein hinjans gwerthfawr i redeg wedi bod yn flaenoriaeth bennaf erioed ond nawr rydym yn gallu adeiladu lle pwrpasol i’w trin a’u llwytho â glo, ynghyd â chraeniau dwr â thanciau storio dwr newydd – i gyd yn helpu i gadw’r trenau’n gweithio’n effeithiol.

Gyda’r holl waith sydd wedi’i restru uchod rydym hefyd yn adeiladu cledrau i gynllun cwbl newydd yn Aberystwyth ac yn symud ac ailadeiladu’r holl signalau ar safle’r orsaf.

Byddwn hefyd yn gwella’r trefniadau parcio.

Bod yn Fwy Gwyrdd – tuag at ddyfodol cynaliadwy

Mae cynaliadwyedd yn ganolog i fusnes Cwm Rheidol. Mae edrych tua’r dyfodol tymor hir yn rhywbeth yr ydym wedi ymfalchïo ynddo, boed hynny’n hyfforddi prentisiaid neu’n ailblannu coetiroedd. Fel rhan o’r prosiect hwn rydym yn gosod to solar newydd ar ein sied storio newydd, i ategu’n system bresennol. Bydd yn darparu pwer ar gyfer y sied storio a’r swyddfa docynnau newydd. Bydd system ddwr newydd yn caniatáu bwydo dwr sydd wedi’i ddal i mewn i’r system ddwr newydd a fydd yn bwydo’r injans.

  

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