Gwili Railway Preservation Society
About the Gwili Railway
The Gwili Railway, is a standard gauge steam railway located in the village of Bronwydd, 3 miles north of Carmarthen. Named after the River Gwili, alongside which it runs for 2½ miles between Bronwydd Arms and Danycoed it passes through picturesque farmland and steeply wooded hillsides.
The railway follows the original main line between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth and once formed part of a continuous link between North and South Wales. Built originally by the Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway, with its 7'0¼" broad gauge, and the Manchester and Milford Railway companies, the line was eventually bought up by the Great Western Railway. It carried both passenger traffic and locally-produced goods - wool, livestock, milk and timber - before falling victim to the Beeching reforms. Passenger traffic ceased in December, 1964, and the last milk train ran in September, 1973.
In April, 1975, the Gwili Railway Company was formed and purchased 8 miles of trackbed between Abergwili Junction and Llanpumpsaint. The first passenger train ran in 1978 to a new halt built at Cwmdwyfran. Two further short extensions took the track across the River Gwili to a new station at Llwyfan Cerrig.
In 2001 a further ½ mile extension built by volunteer labour was
opened to a new station at Danycoed. Work is underway to extend the
line southwards towards the former Abergwili Junction, the planned
site for a new station being adjacent to the Carmarthen Eastern
bypass. The Gwili Railway Company has purchased 3.6 acres of land
adjoining the bypass which is designated to be a car and coach
park. At the proposed station site, it is planned to build a
cafeteria, a small museum and a carriage shed.
Presently, the vast majority of work on the railway is carried out by volunteers. Volunteers on the railway are members of the Gwili Railway Preservation Society or other supporting groups. The volunteers represent a wide range of backgrounds and skills. The Railway does provide in-house training for certain jobs, such as guards, footplate staff, signalmen and caterers, and organises safety training and medical examinations for operational staff.
We have a mixture of volunteers from all walks of life. The fact that the majority are in full-time employment or education necessarily curtails the number of days per year that some volunteers can offer. A converted sleeper coach provides overnight accommodation for up to 36 volunteers.
The Gwili Railway Preservation Society, which has over 380 members, helps to finance projects on the Railway through a variety of fundraising activities. It produces the "Gwili Messenger" magazine twice a year and a monthly volunteers' newsletter (VNL) which is available on-line. Its Committee holds regular meetings with the Directors of the Gwili Railway Company.
The Railway operates services throughout the year, carrying over 20,000 passengers annually. In addition to its normal passenger services, it organises very popular special events such as "Day Out With Thomas", Santa's Magic Steamings, Sunday dining trains, evening jazz trains, photographic charters and driver experience courses.
The Railway's authentic heritage and outstanding scenery has proved an attractive location for English and Welsh language film and television companies.
So what is the attraction of the Gwili Railway? Well, it can claim to be one of the most picturesque preserved lines, set in beautiful countryside with its abundant wildlife, following the River Gwili on a steady uphill journey through farmland and wooded hillsides. At Bronwydd, passengers can visit the working signalbox and gift shop, while at Llwyfan Cerrig they can ride on the miniature railway and picnic alongside the river. But surely what is most appealing is the natural friendliness of the volunteers who maintain the railway and operate the services. Their enthusiasm is infectious and draws people back time and again. They can feel justly proud of the part they play in recreating the glorious age of steam!