The “West Llangollen Light Railway” possibly holds the record for being the shortest lived, and possibly little known narrow gauge railways in recent years.
The railway was developed as part of the “Steam, Steel and Stars 2” event held at the Llangollen Railway in 2009, on a site within Carrog station goods yard area.
The railway consisted of 150 yards of virtually straight 35lb/yard 2ft gauge steel prefabricated track, laid directly on the ground, and which was transported to site and laid on a morning of Saturday 4th April 2009. The finalised track was laid in a reasonably straight alignment, running alongside a Standard Gauge siding and terminating just short of the SW sign at the top of the yard, ensuring that the locomotive could be photographed alongside the incoming Standard Gauge Trains, and along with the rolling stock of a solitary flat wagon formed the completed railway.
The motive power arrived on site on Friday 17th April, in the form of ‘Irish Mail’ an Ex Dinorwic quarry Hunslet, 0-4-0ST locomotive, works no 823 of 1903, which was placed into steam immediately, and the track was tested and packed as required. The loco then continued in steam for a further nine days between the 18th – 26th April, offering footplate rides to those who desired and forming a backdrop to the other activities in Carrog
station yard. This is certainly the most intensive number of days in steam the locomotive has operated whilst in preservation.
Many visitors took the advantage of having a footplate ride, and some even had the opportunity to drive the locomotive on this short line, including the railway celebrity ‘Peter Waterman’, who advised that it was his first footplate experience on a Narrow Gauge locomotive.
Following the end of the Gala, the locomotive and track were removed on Mon 27th April and transported back to its home base in Hesketh Bank.
There remains little or no trace that the railway existed, apart from possibly some clinker and ash from the locomotive’s fire.
The Railway was operated by the West Lancashire Light Railway Trust, (the other WLLR) based at Hesketh Bank, Nr Preston in Lancashire, whose members crewed and slept alongside the locomotive throughout the event.
We do hope that anyone who visited the event enjoyed the railway and possibility took advantage of a footplate ride, which was possibly a unique experience, and this short article was written to place its existence on record.
West Lancashire Light Railway Trust