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Pontypool & Blaenavon Heritage Railway

INFORMATION FOR THE VISITOR

RCD’s Overview

This heritage railway is located within the UNESCO-listed Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site. The line runs close to Big Pit National Coal Museum (a working coal mine from 1880 to 1980), and a trip to the railway and the Museum can be combined on a single visit. In keeping with its history, the railway operates a number of industrial steam locomotives.  The line forms part of a former railway from Brynmawr via Blaenavon to Abersychan & Talywain where it connected with the Great Western Railway for access to Newport. It was always predominantly a freight line serving numerous coal pits in the area. The heritage line today is centred on Furnace Sidings, where trains run north to Whistle Inn Halt before reversing via an adjacent line to Big Pit and further to Blaenavon (High level station) before reversing back to Furnace Sidings.

 

Key Facts (where and when)

Extent of Railway (where to where):

Blaenavon to Whistle Inn Halt (main station at Furnace Sidings)

Principal Visitor Centre:

Furnace Sidings

Period of Operation*

- April to September (Weekends)

- July and August (Also selected Wednesdays)

- Late October and December (Special event trains)

 [* This is a summary. Please go to the railway’s website for definitive operating days] 

 

Key Facts (what you’ll see)

Services usually steam or diesel?

Steam

Type of Steam / Diesel Locomotives Used:

Small industrial steam locomotives

Length of Line:

3.5 miles

Time taken for a round trip:

1 hour

Number of trains per day:

3 in each direction

Number of Stations:

4 stations

Prices:

Adult Rover: £11. Senior Rover: £10. Child Rover: £5.50 Family: £27.50

Time to allow for Visit:

1 to 2 hours

Museum:

No

Shop/Cafe:

Yes/Yes

Picnic/Play areas:

No

Preservation Established:

1983

Car Park Facilities:

Free car parking at Furnace Sidings

 

Key Facts (Galas/Events/Dining)

Dining Trains:

- No (light meals available at Furnace Sidings Tea-Room)                                                                              

Event Trains:

- Santa Specials: December                                                                               

Principal Galas:

- Annual Steam Gala: September                                                               

Experiences:

- Heritage experience (footplate and guard)

 

Contacts

Email:                                                                  Use Contact Box on website

Telephone:                                                           -

Website:                                                               www.bhrailway.co.uk

Social Media:                                                       www.facebook.com/pbrailway

                                                                              Also on Twitter and Instagram


INFORMATION FOR THE ENTHUSIAST

Brief History of the Railway and its Preservation  

This line forms part of the former London and North Western Railway (LNWR) line from Brynmawr via Blaenavon to Abersychan & Talywain where it connected with the GWR for access to Newport. The LNWR also owned the Heads of the Valley Railway from Abergavenny to Dowlais, and with obtained running rights, it was able to run trains from South Wales to the West Midlands, the North West and beyond. The line was built primarily for freight purposes, there being considerable coal fields in the Eastern Valley around Blaenavon. A passenger service was also run from Newport via Blaenavon to Brynmawr where it connected with the Heads of the Valley line. The Great Western Railway also had a route from Blaenavon to Newport, and such a situation could not survive indefinitely, and the whole of the former LNWR route was closed to passengers as early as 1941. However most of the route remained opened for coal traffic serving various collieries. When the last of these, Big Pit, closed in 1980, the railway closed to all traffic. A preservation society was set up shortly thereafter, basing itself just north of Blaenavon close to the former Big Pit. It opened a heritage railway in 1983 running trains between Furnace Sidings and Whistle Inn, extending it later southwards to Blaenavon. Big Pit has itself become a popular industrial museum.

 

Principal Aspiration

To extend the line to Varteg and then to Talywain

 

Steam Operational Locomotives:

(1) Andrew Barclay - ‘Rosyth’ No.1

(2) Hunslet - ‘Jessie’ No.18

(3) Andrew Barclay - No. 1219 'Caledonia Works'

(4) Hunslet - No. 7 ‘Wimblebury’ (visiting in from Foxfield)

 

Diesel Operational Locomotives:

(1) Hudswell Clark - Blaenavon No.14

(2) Hunslet - 5511 ‘John Roden’

 

Steam Locomotives Under Overhaul:

- Hunslet - No. 71515 ‘Mech Navvies Ltd’

 

Diesel Locomotives Under Overhaul:

- BR Class 31 - D5627 ‘Steve Organ GM’

 

Stored/ Under Restoration/ Out of Service:

- Bagnall - ‘Empress’

- Avonside Engine Co – ‘Sir John’

- GWR Class 57xx - 9629

- Andrew Barclay – ‘Llantarnam Abbey’ (off site)

- BR Class 37 - 37023

- BR Class 37 - 37216

- John Fowler – ‘Nellie Owen’

- Hunslet – 170 (EBBW)

- Heritage DMU Class 117 - 51351 / 51397

 

INFORMATION ON THE SUPPORT GROUP

Name of Support Group:

Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway Company / Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway Society

Annual membership fee:

Adult: £15. Junior: £7.50: Life: £300

 

Benefits of membership:                                  

-          Up 50% off ticket prices on normal (non-event) running days

-          A 5% discount on purchases from Eric’s Emporium and The Railway Shop

-          Invite to exclusive members evenings, with food and drink, entertainment and trains

-          Quarterly Magazine, ‘Top Line’

-          Regular ‘Bottom Line’ newsletter

 

How to Join:                                                        Go to www.bhrailway.co.uk/membership

 

What They Say About Volunteering:

Want to help run the highest standard gauge railway in Wales? Become a volunteer with us. Blaenavon’s Heritage Railway is very proud to be an entirely volunteer-run organisation. Whether it be the engine driver, ticket inspector, catering staff or track worker, everybody that you see during your visit is giving up their free time to keep our railway running for future generations to enjoy. We are always looking for new people to volunteer with us.

 

How to Volunteer:                               Go to www.bhrailway.co.uk/volunteering

 

How to Donate:                                   Go to www.bhrailway.co.uk/product-page/make-a-donation

 

WHY JOIN: Help the railway extend to Varteg and onwards Talywain.

                                                                               

INFORMATION ON OTHER SOCIETIES WITH RELATED INTEREST

Those interested in this railway may also be interested in the following railway societies also listed on this

website:

 

Traditional Railway Societies:

- Monmouthshire Railway Society

- Welsh Railways Research Circle

- Abergavenny & District Steam Society

- Great Western Society

 

Model Railway Clubs:

- Newport Model Railway Society

- Western Valley Model Railway Club

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