Railway, Bronwydd Arms Station,
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In March 1978, the Gwili became the first standard-gauge preserved railway to operate
in Wales when it re-opened a one-mile section of the Carmarthen-Newcastle Emlyn route from
its base at Bronwydd Arms, three miles north of Carmarthen. Since then, the Gwili has
steadily expanded into the idyllic surroundings of a wooded valley where its previous
terminus was a former quarrymen's halt on the banks of the River Gwili.
At the start of the 2001 season, the Gwili opened its extension to a new station at Danycoed.
On September 4th 2010, the 150th anniversary of the opening of the line was celebrated.History
The broad-gauge railway was opened in 1860 from Carmarthen to Conwil by the ill-fated
Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway Company - which fell in and out of insolvency until it was
eventually absorbed by the Great Western Railway - though even under the auspices of the
GWR, the line never got any closer to Cardigan than Newcastle Emlyn, and this was not
until 1895! Meanwhile, the Manchester and Milford Railway made a junction with the CCR at
Pencader, making a through route to Lampeter, later extended to Aberystwyth. In 1872, the
line became the last in Wales to be converted from Brunel's 7ft 0¼in gauge to standard
In its early days, the line thrived by serving the farming and wool industries, though in the years following the First World War, this traffic declined. World War II brought another lease of life as a relief route carrying heavy ammunition trains between south and North Wales.
The route always had a reputation as a lazy rural branch; where trains ambled along, being flagged down by market- bound farmers' wives making their way across the fields to board the carriages, and in the post- war years closure of the spurs off the main line began. Newcastle Emlyn closed in 1952 (but see the Teifi Valley Railway) which left only the route between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth. Heavy flooding severed the line six miles from Aberystwyth in December 1964, and little more than two months later the remainder of the branch was closed to passenger trains, though milk traffic kept the line between Carmarthen and Felin Fach on the Aberaeron Branch open until 1973. Two years later, the Gwili Railway Company was formed to preserve eight miles of the route, from Abergwili Junction to Llanpumpsaint.
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Trains on the Gwili start from Bronwydd Arms where the replica GWR station is dominated
by a Signal Box brought from Llandybie on the Heart of Wales line. The Signal box, which
is open to the public, was built in 1885 and has been restored to operate signals in the
From Bronwydd, the line climbs between hills and meadows until it passes under a rusticated bridge close to its original terminus at Penybont.
Before further extension was possible, a bridge which crosses the River Gwili (one of eight with which the Gwili has to cope before Llanpumpsaint is reached!) had to be redecked.
This was achieved in time for 10th anniversary celebrations, and at the same time, the new terminus of Llwyfan Cerrig was opened. The photograph shows one of the celebration trains crossing the bridge.
Llwyfan Cerrig (in English, Stone Platform) was a former quarrymen's halt, and the Gwili has created a nature trail which winds through the old quarry and emerges above the stock sheds. The station building, which originally stood at Felin Fach on the spur to Aberaeron and dates from 1911, has been restored and furnished in authentic 1950s style.
From the platform, a path leads to a picnic area on the bank of the Gwili River, where kingfishers and heron can sometimes be glimpsed. A special leaflet gives details of other attractions at Llwyfan Cerrig, including a treasure hunt and a miniature railway. (Your ticket includes a round trip on the miniature railway.)
Now that the new half-mile extension to Danycoed is completed, the Gwili will turn its attention to southward extension towards Carmarthen.
The Gwili owns the track as far as Abergwili Junction, two miles south of Bronwydd Arms, where a new station - Carmarthen North - will be built alongside the new Carmarthen by pass.
The Gwili has a large collection of locomotives and rolling stock, and there are too
many to list here (though perhaps it will be included in a later update) but two items are
worthy of special mention.
Return to top of Page2014 Days, times and fares
On Blue days, trains leave Bronwydd Arms at
10.30am, 11.50am, 1.20pm and 2.50pm. In June, July and August, there is an
additional train at 4.10pm
Sunday lunch trains run from Bronwydd Arms at 12.30pm and 2.30pm
Adults: £9.00; Children (2 - 15): £4.00; Senior Citizens: £8.00;
Family (two adults and two children): £24.00
Party Rate for 10 or more fare-paying passengers: 10% reduction.
Tickets are valid all day on date of issue except for certain special events
Blue Peter badge holders travel free except on Special Events days.
A local residents' discount card is also available at a cost of £1.00, which gives a 25% discount and allows holders to bring one guest (not valid on Special Event trains).
(Special fares and timetables apply. Contact the Gwili for details.)
Southward extension to Abergwili
The extension is expected to open some time in 2014, but the
Gwili cannot give a specific date.
When it opens, trains will depart Bronwydd Arms at 10.30am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.40pm. A shorter journey will be available in July and August only, departing at 4.30pm.
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Carmarthen stands on the Towy River and is founded on the Roman town of Moridunum,
but is also steeped in Arthurian legend. One legend states that when the Carmarthen Oak
falls, the town will fall with it. All that is left of the oak is the stump, but what
remains is guarded with meticulous care at the Carmarthen Museum in Abergwili.
Of the Norman Priory there is no trace, but it is famed for the Black Book of Carmarthen: a collection of Welsh poetry, and the oldest manuscript book in the Welsh language (now at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth).
Parts of the 11th century castle remains, but has been encroached upon by more modern structures.
Near the Guildhall, a statue to General Sir William Nott - a hero of the Afghan Wars - stands on the spot where, in 1555, Bishop Ferrar was martyred at the stake for his Protestant beliefs.
For how long the Church of St Peter has stood is uncertain. Parts of the building have been dated to the 13th century, but there are references to the church during the reign of Henry I.
It was Henry I who also built the Castle at Kidwelly, 9 miles south of
Carmarthen. One of the best preserved castles in the region, it featured prominently in
the battles of the Welsh Uprising of 1257.
Opened on April 24 2000 is the National Botanic Garden of Wales, located at Middleton Hall, Llanarthne, 8 miles west of Carmarthen.
On the opposite side of the Towy estuary is Llanstephan Castle, and the village of Laugharne, briefly the home - and finally the resting place - of Welsh poet and dramatist Dylan Thomas (1914-1953), and said to be the model for Llareggub in Under Milk Wood, though this he always denied - perhaps wisely in view of what the cod-Welsh name reads backwards!How to get there
The Gwili is three miles from Carmarthen on the A484 road (watch for Gwili road signs).
Arrive at Carmarthen by Arriva Trains Wales train services or by bus or coach, then take First Cymru buses 460, 461 or 462. For times, telephone Carmarthenshire Transport Helpline on +44 (0)1267 231817 or the All-Wales bus info line on +44 (0)870 6082608. The National Train Enquiries number is +44 (0)8457 484950.
For details of connecting services, including travel planner and timetables, visit the Traveline Cymru website.
Select link to visit the Gwili Railway's official website.
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Copyright © 1996/7/8/9/2000/1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10 /12/13/14 by Deryck Lewis.
All rights reserved.
Page created July 24 1996; Redesigned March 29 1999; Updated March 22 2014
If you have any suggestions, comments, or glitches to report, please contact the author at WalesRails