[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 12.7.1875
Location: South of a junction of two unnamed minor roads
Company on opening: Whitland & Taf Vale Railway
Date closed to passengers: 10.9.1962
Date closed completely: 27.5.1963
Company on closing: British Railways (Western Region)
Present state: The station buildings are extant and now converted into a private dwelling. The building is largely un altered with the canopy still in place. The track bed has been infilled up to platform level.
County: Carmarthenshire
OS Grid Ref: SN181267
Date of visit: August 1967 & September 2010

Notes: Very little information is available relating to the original station at Llanglydwen. Like other stations on the Whitland & Taf Vale Railway the station building was little more than a wooden shed with a urinal; it is not even certain that a platform was provided at this time. In 1885 the construction of a permanent station was proposed and this was authorised in 1886 and completed by 1887 during the relaying of the track on the W & TVR.

It is believed that a passing loop was not provided at the station until the 1880s. The new Llanglydwen was at the end of the first single line (the loop at Llanfalteg having been converted into a siding) section of the line and had two platforms, the main station building which was located on the longer up platform comprised a two storey stationmaster's house with a single storey booking office and waiting room alongside, both were built of stone with a short canopy over the platform. The down platform had a timber waiting shelter.

A signal box at the south end of the up platform controlled, the crossing and access to the goods yard which consisted of a single siding behind the down platform.

For many years the evening trains crossed at Llanglydwen but if one train arrived first the driver would hoot furiously as hr approached the station to alert the landlord in the adjacent pub that it was time to pull pints for the crew.

Llanglydwen had a busy coal yard and although parcels traffic was withdrawn when the line closed to passenger traffic the yard remained open for large freight until 2th February 1963 and the coal merchant remained in business at the station until at least the mid 1970s.

In September 2010 the station was for sale for £145,000.

In 1845 there was a proposal to build a branch line from Carmarthen to Cardigan at the mouth of the River Taf as part of the planned Great North and South Wales & Worcester Railway; nothing came of this scheme. In 1854 the Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway was formed with the intention of building a broad gauge line from the South Wales Railway at Carmarthen to Newcastle Emlyn and Cardigan, together with a deep water port at Cardigan. The SWR had opened their line form Chepstow to Swansea in 1850, extending to Carmarthen in 1852 with the intention of eventually reaching Neyland.

Construction started in 1857 and by September 1860 it had reached Conwil Elfed; it took a further four years to reach Llandysul. Due to financial difficulties this was to remain the end of the line for another 31 years before the link to Newcastle Emlyn was completed by the Great Western Railway; but the line, which had been converted to standard gauge in 1872, never reached Cardigan.

During the 1860s, mine and quarry owners along the Taf Valley realised that the troubled C & CR would be of little benefit to them even if it did ever reach Cardigan. Their best interests would be served by a line running south from Cardigan along the valley. To achieve this aim, the proprietor of Glogue Slate Quarry spearheaded the promotion of the standard gauge Whitland & Taf Vale Railway, which would provide a better outlet for the slate and minerals of the valley. The proposed line would run from Whitland on the SWR (part of the GWR since 1862) to Crymmych, on the main road between Cardigan and Haverfordwest. Engineer James W Szlumper was employed to draw up plans for the line ready to put before Parliament.

There was a lot of local support for the line, and the promoters had little difficulty raising sufficient capital.  At this time the SWR was still broad gauge so, to enable trains to run into Whitland, the new company had to negotiate with the GWR to lay mixed gauge track to its junction with the W & TVR, 2’/4 miles west of Whitland.

The Whitland and Taff Vale Railway Bill was unopposed and was passed by Parliament in 1869, and in the spring of 1870 the company started negotiation to acquire the necessary land. Much of this was owned by the church, and some of the landowners were making such exorbitant demands that the project was almost abandoned. Eventually agreements were reached and a contractor, Edward Lewis, was appointed on 13th October 1870. Lewis undertook to build the single-track 14¼ railway to James Szlumper's specification for £8,700.

Construction started on 8th November 1870 and, despite bad weather, there was rapid progress. Five miles of earthworks had been completed by February 1871, and it was anticipated that mineral traffic to Glogue would be possible by 1st May that year, and to Crymmych by the summer assuming that the GWR completed the junction with their line; this didn't happen until June 1871.

By now the company was in financial difficulty and raised further capital by offering unsold shares at a reduced rate to existing shareholders, with any remaining shares being offered to the public.  Work then proceeded steadily, and by August 1872 the line was ballasted from the junction to Llanglydwen .It was anticipated that on completion of ballasting to Glogue six or eight weeks later the permanent way would be ready for light traffic. The company was hopeful that the line would be ready for heavy goods traffic by November that year, and the rolling stock was ordered and staff appointed.

Completion of the line was further delayed due to deliberate vandalism and a dispute with the GWR over delivery of rails and fishplates, and once again the company was in financial difficulties with payments to the contractor being in arrears. At a board meeting on 11th February 1873, Edward Lewis, was asked to hand over the line, including the sections that were unfinished; he eventually complied, and on 1st March 1873, although the arrears had still not been cleared, work restarted.

The junction was examined by the Board of Trade on 15th March. Once a few improvements had been made the line was officially opened for goods and mineral traffic on 24 March 1873, with two daily trains between Whitland and Glogue quarries calling at all intermediate stations: Llanfalteg, Login, Llanglydwen, Rhydowen and Llanfyrnach.

Following the departure of Edward Lewis - who had to resort to legal action to get at least some of his money - the company was forced to take on the remaining work itself, employing the existing workforce to complete the line to Crymmych, which opened to goods traffic in July 1874. Steady progress was made to bring the line up to the standard required to carry passengers, and on 29th May 1875 the Board of Trade was notified that the line would be ready for final inspection two weeks later. An inspector was appointed, but he failed to turn up within the ten day period provided by statute. Having received no communication from the Board of Trade, the line opened to passenger traffic on 12th July 1875 without an inspection.

Initially there were four down trains (northbound) and three up trains a day with a journey time between Whitland and Crymmych Arms (the station at Crymmych was always known as Crymmych Arms) of between 1 hour 10 minutes and 1 hour 30 minutes. A connecting road service to Cardigan met two of the trains. 

The line was eventually inspected three days later, and the company was informed that it must suspend the passenger service for one month to allow the required modifications to be carried out. The directors ignored this directive, stating that it had acted within the law as the inspector had failed to turn up within the specified period, and that once a line had been opened the Board of Trade had powers only to recommend works and not to compel them. .

Early traffic receipts were encouraging with a dividend of 3% on ordinary shares in the second half of 1875.

In 1876 James Szlumper drew up plans for extending the line to Cardigan, and, after some initial caution, the directors agreed to seek parliamentary approval. The Whitland & Taf Vale (Cardigan Extension) Railway Act was passed in 1877, and the company then became known as the Whitland & Cardigan Railway.  At this time the directors were aware that eventually their line would probably become part of the GWR.

Although reluctant to start work until sufficient finance was available, the board could not resist an offer of cheap rails, and on 22nd April 1878 they agreed to start work immediately at both ends.

Due to difficulties buying all the land work did not in fact start until August that year. Progress was slow following disagreements between Szlumper and the company; eventually all construction stopped, and Szlumper was dismissed. A new engineer, J B Walton, was appointed, and limited work on the extension restarted, but serious financial difficulties inhibited progress, and the company entered into negotiations with the GWR to take over the running of the line. After protracted negotiations the GWR agreed to work the line for 70% of receipts in the first year, and a new Bill was put before Parliament in August that year to facilitate the agreement between the two companies and authorise a new route between Boncath and Cilgerran. In 1878 it was decided to relay the entire line with a heavier rail, and the GWR agreed to contribute towards the cost of this; by now take over by the GWR was generally expected.

Once purchase of the necessary land had been completed, construction of the Cardigan extension began in earnest on 1 May 1883 and went ahead rapidly. The permanent way from Crymmych to Boncath was completed in August 1884 reaching Cardigan a year later. No authority had been granted to run a passenger service, but a special excursion from Cardigan to Tenby was arranged, with the first passenger train running in and out of Cardigan on 10th August 1885, although the opening of the extension was still over a year away.

By the end of 1885 take-over of W & CR. services by the GWR on the completion of the Cardigan Extension Railway was believed to be imminent. There was local outrage when the GWR announced that the stations at Login, Rhydowen and Glogue would close to passenger traffic within a year of taking over the line, if passenger receipts did not improve.

In July 1886 notice was given to the Board of Trade that the Cardigan Extension was ready for inspection. This took place on 29/30 June despite the fact that there was still unfinished work at Cardigan station. Inevitably the inspector postponed the opening of the line for one calendar month from 6 July to allow this work to be completed. The GWR agreed to operate the line from 1st September 1886. The station in fact opened on 31st August 1886; this was only the second time the W & CR operated the service into Cardigan, which was handed over to the GWR that evening. Additional intermediate stations were opened at Boncath and Kilgerran. Although the extension was already open the official opening ceremony was held the following day.  Under the 1883 agreement all existing rolling stock was handed over to the GWR.

By this time, both passenger and goods traffic was in decline. Although the Glogue quarries were still profitable, agricultural traffic - which was the main business of the line - was in decline. There had been a disastrous slump in lead prices between 1876 and 1885, and Llanfyrnach mine closed in 1890. Glogue Quarry remained in operation until March 1926, when it too closed.

It came as no surprised when the W & CR was finally absorbed into the Great Western Railway with effect from 1st July 1890. The earlier threat of station closures was never carried out, and all stations remained open until final closure of the line. For the next 70 years the line settled down to a quiet and eventless existence.

Crymmych developed as one of the important agricultural centres of west Wales and was the busiest intermediate station on the branch. A 'Cattle Special' ran from Carmarthen Junction to Crymmych on the last Tuesday of each month to serve the cattle, horse and sheep fair. There was also a good trade in rabbits from stations on the line.

The GWR maintained a freight service of two trains a day in each direction on weekdays, and one each way on Saturdays.  In the war years extra trains were run, but on an ‘as required’ basis. The railway was generally busy. Crymmych handled large quantities agricultural machinery, animal foodstuffs and coal, and every Monday a consignment of beer was received from Burton-on-Trent. At Cardigan the sidings were often crowded to capacity, especially with coal wagons and vans of fertilisers. Even if the passenger trains were not full local people felt that the freight was enough to make the railway profitable, which was probably true before WW2.

On 1 January 1948, the Cardigan branch of the GWR. became part of the Western Region of the nationalised British Railways. In the period of BR ownership the passenger service consisted of four down and three up trains. The trains called at all the intermediate stations; latterly Llanfalteg, Login, Rhydowen, Glogue and Kilgerran were downgraded to 'halts'. Of these only Kilgerran became unstaffed; at the rest at least one person was required to deal with level crossing gates.

Post war freight traffic was almost as varied as ever. Coal and fertilisers were conveyed to Llanfyrnach, Crymmych and Cardigan. At Kilgerran and Boncath the business was largely timber, and at Llanglydwen it was coal. A lot of milk went by rail, and although there was some decline in cattle traffic even in the late 1950s, plenty of cattle wagons were to be seen at Crymmych. In spite of this volume of goods traffic, and some steady custom in passengers from villages devoid of any other public transport, it became obvious in the 1950s that the days of the railway were numbered as the popularity of the car increased.

Cardigan was still quite a popular destination for tourists in the summer months, but this generated insufficient traffic to make the passenger service viable along the steep and winding line, which took its toll on the locomotives and rolling stock. The line had a remarkable number of tight curves along its route - few branches in Britain could match it and progress along the branch was always slow. In 1961 the first passenger train of the day from Whitland to Cardigan managed a breathtaking average speed of about15 mph. There were seven level crossings, all of which had to be manned, and signalmen or goods yard staff were needed at Llanglydwen, Crymmych, Boncath and Cardigan. It therefore came as no surprise when, in February 1962, British Railways submitted proposals for the closure of the line to the Transport Users’ Consultative Committee. There was little opposition, and closure was approved: passenger services were withdrawn on 8th September 1962, at the end of the summer timetable.

In the weeks up to closure the line was busy and on the last day there was a large crowd eager to travel on the final train, including one passenger who had been on the first official train into Cardigan in 1886. About 500 passengers were crammed into the last service out of Cardigan.  A new bus service started the following Monday, calling at all the intermediate stations.  Even this unprofitable and was withdrawn after three years.

The line remained open for freight traffic with a reduced service of one train in each direction on a Monday and two trains Tuesday - Friday. Cardigan shed was closed, and the halts at Llanfalteg, Login and Rhydowen were closed completely with trains only stopping at Glogue to take on water. Parcels traffic was also withdrawn from Llanglydwen, Llanfyrnach and Boncath.

Most of the staff were retained at Crymmych and Cardigan, but this was to be short-lived as the freight service was withdrawn completely from 27th May 1963. One or two trains ran over the line after that date to collect materials and to clear wagons. The last man employed on the line by British Railways left Cardigan in November 1964. Track lifting operations began in December 1963 and were completed by July 1964. Through the 1960s the land was disposed of, mostly to local farmers or other adjoining landowners.

Click here for a short 1958 film of the Cardigan branch

Sources: The Whitland & Cardigan Railway by M R C Price published by the Oakwood Press 1976 and 1986 ISBN 978-0853614098

Tickets from Michael Stewart, route map drawn by Alan Young,

To see other stations on the Whitland & Cardigan Railway click on the station name: Whitland, Llanfalteg, LoginRhydowen, Llanfyrnach,
Glogue, Crymmych Arms, Boncath, Kilgerran & Cardigan

One of three photographs taken by David Samuel Rees (1884 - 1976), a keen local amateur photographer and grandfather of the contributor. The vantage point is the grounds of Abertaf, a cottage then owned by the contributor's great aunt and located across the Afon Taf valley from Llanglydwen station. This particular view was reproduced as a postcard, this survivor being postmarked 26 July 1926. The presence of the LMS van and LNER wagon tells us the photograph was taken after The Grouping, therefore we can date the photograph to no earlier than January 1923 and no later than the postmark date. A group of people stand on the platform, of which at least two are staff, obviously posing in awareness of the photograph being taken. Behind the station is Pretoria Stores, a general store and to its right a building displaying a Thorley's Cake sign. It is probably an agent's office. As tempting as the name sounds, Thorley's were in fact suppliers of animal foodstuffs and had a factory at King's Cross. Thorley's enamel advertisements could bear the name 'Thorley Cake' or, as here, 'Thorley's Cake' and quite a few survive today in either form. To the left of Pretoria Stores is Pretoria Mill which, although unconfirmed, may have been connected with Thorley's. Of the goods vans, the squat van coupled to the LMS van is an 'Iron Mink'; a once prolific and highly successful type copied by several other railway companies. 'Mink' was one of numerous telegraphic code names given to railway wagons, particularly by the GWR, and often borrowed from some form of animal life of which perhaps the best known is the 'Toad' brake van. The practice is still in use today to a limited degree and now almost exclusively on engineering vehicles Click here for a larger version.
Photo by David Samuel Rees

1907 1 :2500 OS map shows the layout of the station after rebuilding in 1887. There are two facing plaforms with the main station building and the stationmaster's house on the up platform adjacent to the level crossing. There is a waiting shelter in the middle of the down platform. The signal box at the south end of the uyp platform cantrols access to the goods yard behind the down platform; this comprises a single siding. Road access to the yard is from the west side of the crossing. A wighbridge (WM) is shown at the entrance to the yard.

Another photograph by the late David Samuel Rees, this time from a different angle and affording a clearer view of the station buildings as well as including the level crossing. Again taken in the early post-Grouping period, this time the station appears eerily deserted but the photographer has company in the form of the group of people on the bridge. The LMS open wagon, right of centre, appears to be loaded with newly felled timber. The pitched roof building behind the Down platform is stilted off the ground to protect its contents from rodents. It was probably a store for animal foodstuffs. Adjacent to the level crossing is what looks like a railway goods van with steeply pitched roof. It is in fact a road vehicle and similar to the vehicles once seen towed by steam rollers and used as accommodation for the driver/operator as he moved around from job to job. This example, however, lacks windows and has a sliding door in its bodyside so it was possibly used for local collections and deliveries to and from the railway station - most likely to and from outlying farms. It would have been owned and operated by a local cartage agent rather than by the Great Western Railway. The small building at extreme left and beyond the level crossing was of corrugated iron construction; it no longer exists and a brick structure now stands in its place. Just beyond it, but hidden from view by the trees, was and still is the Penybont Inn, or Pen-y-bont Inn, better known today as 'The Bont'. Its link with train crews is mentioned in another caption and also in the history text. In the foreground runs the Afon Taf and a short distance to the left is its confluence with the Afon Tigen. The bridge, carrying the road towards Pant-y-caws, dates from the 1820s and is of brick and slate construction. The cylindrical 'tunnels', one large and one small either side, are for the purpose of weight reduction. The bridge is today a listed structure.
Click here for a larger version.
Photo by David Samuel Rees

Another photograph by the late David Samuel Rees taken from the grounds of Abertaf. Again we are looking at the period soon after The Grouping but, subtle background differences suggest, at a slightly different time to the 1926-postmarked postcard view. If only we could see this view in colour for, to modern eyes, it would be one of sheer delight; the ex-Cardigan train with its green locomotive and brown and cream carriages, the private owner wagons, the station livery, the river and the general greenery of the Welsh countryside. The locomotive is a halfcab 0-6-0 PT of the 1016 class. It has 'Great Western' in full on its tanks but appears to be in slightly scruffy condition. The numberplate is visible but due to the fencing only the first two digits, '10', can be discerned with any certainty while the fourth digit is either 8 or 9. The 1016 class appeared in various forms over the years, beginning life as saddle tanks, then going through a fad for side tanks before ending up as pannier tanks. Built at Wolverhampton from 1867 to an Armstrong design, the sixty-strong class became extinct by the late 1930s. Sharp-eyed observers will note there is no sign of the locomotive crew and it is not unreasonable to suspect they were in the local public house, out of view to the left. Llanglydwen was a passing place, meaning that at certain times of the day trains would need to await a train travelling in the opposite direction to clear the single track. Local anecdote handed down the generations informs us that when trains needed to wait at Llanglydwen it was not uncommon for the crew to take advantage and swiftly vanish to the nearby public house 'The Bont' (in full, 'Peny Bont Inn'). The Bont, at one time run by publican Dai Bont, was still there and trading at the time of writing. This practice of 'nipping for a swift half' was at one time not uncommon on rural railways well away from the 'powers that be' when the timetable allowed. Also not visible in this view are the station buildings but as if to compensate we are afforded a view of the signal box. The train appears to be wearing a variant of the GWR's brown and cream livery introduced in 1924. Behind the locomotive is a 6-wheel Brake Third followed by a four-compartment Composite. The third vehicle is probably a five-compartment Third; this and the second vehicle could have been either 4 or 6-wheeled. The fourth vehicle is a 6-wheel Full Brake or Luggage Brake. The sixth vehicle in an all-over livery, probably brown, is a 6-wheel 'Siphon'. Intended as milk vans, the milk being conveyed in churns, they were in practice used for anything which required good ventilation. The generous provision of non passenger accommodation on this train might suggest the photograph was taken on a market day. Keeping company with the GW and LMS open wagons, the two private owner wagons are typical of thousands once a common site across the country. Often colourful and always making sure the owners names were prominent, such wagons became, by the time of Nationalisation, very decrepit and in many instances unfit to run. With the arguable exception of a few of what we now call 'Block' trains, private owner wagons were swept away by the politics of Nationalisation and can now only be seen, splendidly restored, in museums and on heritage railways, Click here for a larger version.
Photo by David Samuel Rees

Llanglydwen station looking north in July 1958. The building on the right is a goods lockup.
Copyright photo by R M Casserley

A Cardigan train waits ion the shorter down platform at Llanglydwen station looking south in July 1958. The single goods siding is seen on the right.
Copyright photo by R M Casserley

A Cardigan train waits in the down platform at Llanglydwen station in 1961; this platform was noticably shorter than the up platform.
Photo from Steven Buckley collection

Llanglydwen station looking north c.1960s
Photo from John Mann collection
The evening Cardigan to Whitland service hauled by Churchward small prarie 4500 class 2-6-2T 4557 passes 1600 class pannier tank 1648 at Llanglydwen station in August 1962. 4557 only had a few months of life left being withdrawn at the end of September that year to be cut up at R.S. Hayes/Birds, Tremains Yard, Bridgend in August 1963. 1648 didn't last much longer being witdrawn at the end of May 1963 and cut up at Cashmores, Newport in September 1963.
Photo by David Maidment
Llanglydwen station looking north in August 1967. The station coal merchant continued trading after the station closed to all traffic.
hoto by Nick Catford

Llanglydwen station looking south in August October 1974.
hoto by Peter Howie

Llanglydwen station in January 1975.
hoto by Alan Young

Llanglydwen station in January 1975 and looking towards the level crossing, gates still present, and Cardigan. Referring to the photographs of the late David Samuel Rees and contributed by his Grandson, we are informed that Abertaf, the cottage owned by our contributor's Great Aunt, had a lodger known as 'Tommy the Railway' who started a coal merchant's business at the station around the time the line closed. Tommy produced brickettes from coal dust ('Culm') and sold these alongside ordinary coal. At the time of writing, March 2018, a coal merchant, T.J.D. Williams & Son (actually owned by Coal Products Ltd.) was still in business but whether this has any direct connection with the business started by 'Tommy the Railway' over half a century ago is not known.
hoto by Alan Young

Llanglydwen station looking south in September 2010.
hoto by Steve Chadney




[Source: Nick Catford]

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