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Swansea Vale Railway

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Location: 51 39N 3 54W; UK National Grid Ref: SS 682 969

Swansea Vale Railway, Upper Bank Works, Pentrechwyth, Swansea, United Kingdom. SA1 7DB

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The line today........Locos and rolling stock
Days, times and fares......How to get there
Other local attractions

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Please Note!
The Swansea Vale Railway has had a number of problems in recent times, the latest difficulty being that its lease with the City and County of Swansea Council has run out, and the Council is seeking to put the land over which the SVR operated to different use.

The Council has offered to fund a move to another location, but no new location has been identified at present.
This WalesRails page on the SVR has not been updated for a couple of years because reliable information was difficult to obtain.
What follows, therefore, is for information only, to provide historical record of what once was.
When the SVR becomes viable again, this page will be updated; until then do not travel to visit the site.
The only development has been the movement of members and rolling stock to the Gwili Railway.
No further news of the Swansea site development in
February 2011.

The Swansea Vale Railway operates over a mile-and-a-half section of the former Midland Railway route between Swansea and Brecon, on what was one of the oldest tramroads in South Wales. The tramroad was built in 1815 and used horses to draw coal from Scott's Pit to Foxhole Wharf on the River Tawe. The expansion of coal mining up the Swansea Valley, led to a group of industrialists forming themselves into the Swansea Vale Railway Company to develop a railway which would connect the mines in the valley with Swansea Docks. In 1846 the SVR sold out to the South Wales Railway - later absorbed by the Great Western Railway - whose track intersected the SVR's by a level crossing near Six Pit Junction. But the SWR did nothing about expanding the mineral railway, instead concentrating its efforts on pushing its line westward to Fishguard with an eye on Irish and trans-Atlantic traffic beyond. The SWR had created a new company called the Swansea Valley Railway which was supposed to build the new line, but it was not until this company's powers had lapsed that the SVR could once more revive the venture.
Following a fatal collision on the level crossing in 1858, the SWR diverted the Swansea Vale's line under the main line, and passenger services between Swansea St Thomas and Pontardawe began in 1860. By 1874 the line had been opened as far as Ystradgynlais with branches to Glais and Brynamman, and had attracted the attention of the Midland Railway which bought out the SVR two years later.
The Midland ran through trains from Swansea to Birmingham via Brecon and Hereford, a long journey via a tortuous route, though the inconvenience was offset by the spectacular scenery along the way.
But as the fortunes of the industries in the Swansea valleys declined, so did those of the railway, and from the 1930s the piecemeal process of closing the line began.

Passenger services ceased completely in 1950, and by 1968 the last section of the line between Six Pit and the Docks had been closed.

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The line today

By 1980, most of the track had been lifted, but that between Six Pit and Upper Bank remained, and it was to preserve this last reminder of the historic route that the SVR (then called the Lower Swansea Valley Railway Society) was formed.
Swansea City Council helped by assisting purchase of the line and by funding various community service projects to restore the line. Because of the dual connection with two of the Big Five railway companies, the SVR's intention is to create a typical GWR halt at its Six Pit terminus, while a Midland theme will predominate at the Upper Bank end of the line. At Six Pit, the layout is being redesigned and a new platform has been built. On a siding at the rear of the platform, a coach is used for displays and as a souvenir shop. The SVR also brought King's Dock Junction signal box from Swansea Docks and this has been re-erected at Upper Bank.
Application has been made to awarding bodies for funds to establish a Heritage Rail Centre at the Upper Bank end of the line, where B&Q DIY superstores and the Summer opening of one of the largest Morrison's branch in the UK increases the passing trade in the area.

Two of the SVR locos pose near Six Pit as 'King Edward I' passes overhead with a Charter Special on May 22 1994The SVR is unique in being the only preserved railway whose track passes under a main line on the national network.
The photograph alongside shows two of the locomotives at the SVR - Peckett 0-4-0ST Mond Nickel Co. No 1 No 1345 and Ex-Great Western Railway 0-6-0 Pannier Tank No 9642 - standing on the SVR's tracks, while ex-GWR King Class no 6024 King Edward I passes overhead on the Swansea - London main line.
The 'King' was hauling a special steam charter service on May 22 1994.

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Locomotives and Rolling Stock

The list of locomotives and stock given below contains a number of errors as some locos and rolling stock have been sold. The list will be corrected as soon as possible:

Steam locomotives
Peckett 0- 4-0ST Mond Nickel Co. No 1 No 1345, built 1914
Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST No 1385 Rosyth No 1, built 1914
Ex-GWR 0-6-0PT No 9642, built 1945
Andrew Barclay 0-6-0ST No 2074 Llantarnam Abbey, built 1939
Hunslet Austerity 0- 6-0ST No 3829, built1955
Diesel Locomotives
North British 0-4-0DH No 279421, built 1961
Ruston and Hornsby 4WDM No 312433, built 1951
Ruston and Hornsby 4WDM No 476143, built 1963
Ruston and Hornsby 0-4-0 No 544998, built 1969
Brush Bagnall 0-6-0 (converted to 0-4-0) No 2974, built 1953
Rolling Stock
British Railways Suburban Mark One No W46137, built 1954
British Railways Mark Two Brake Composite No M9396, built 1968
British Railways Class 116 DMU trailer vehicle No 59445, built 1957
Brake Vans
GWR 'Toad' No 114762, built 1946
British Rail (LMS design) No DM73233, built 1948
Freight wagons
Four-wheel tank wagons ex NCB/Thomas Ness Tar Works Nos 40232/40353/48306
Great Western Railways 10-ton Mink A van No 95156
Great Western box vans (ex-Ministry of defence) Nos 85121/189/192, built 1940
Great Western Railway 14-ton Tunney No DW30773
Great Western Railway 10-ton Tunney No DW80880
British Railways 40-ton Gane A No DB996761, built 1951
Great Western Railway mobile workshop No DW150351
Thomas Smith and Rodley 4-wheel steam crane No 5640, built c1905
Cowan and Sheldon 6-ton hand crane No ADW225 (060976)

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Days, Times and fares

Contact the SVR for details, and for Times and Fares

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Nearby attractions

At the Six Pit end of the line, supermarkets, DIY superstores and other retail outlets means that a visit to the SVR can be combined with a shopping trip. The more athletic visitor should make for Upper Bank, where New Stadium is shared between Swansea City Football Club and the Ospreys Rugby team, Tennis courts, football pitches and a dry ski slope are just a short stroll away. There is a riverside walk which offers the chance to trace other aspects of Swansea's industrial past in the remains of long-disused wharves along the river, and the ruin of the Vivian Copperworks across the valley.

The city of Swansea itself has a modern shopping centre, with many attractive parks close by. The route of the historic and much-lamented Mumbles Railway - the world's first passenger-carrying railway which operated from 1807 until 1960 - is now a seafront walk from the town to Oystermouth and Mumbles. There are long-standing plans to reinstate the service using a tram system.
The Grand Theatre celebrated its centenary in 1997, and has been refurbished to a very high standard. It was opened by the celebrated Italian soprano Madame Adelina Patti, whose pavilion stands in Gors Lane.
A barrage across the mouth of the River Tawe, and the conversion of part of the former dockland area into a picturesque marina, has given Swansea an attractive waterfront quarter which harks back to its seagoing heritage.
On the northern quay of the marina is the Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum -  with extensive displays and artefacts which highlight that heritage, together with a statue of one of Swansea's most famous sons: the writer, poet and playwright Dylan Thomas, author of 'Under Milk Wood'.

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How to get there

The SVR is located at Bonymaen to the northeast of the city and is on the edge of the city's enterprise zone, an area of superstores and light-industrial factory units.
Both termini of the railway are served by bus routes 31A and 31B from Quadrant Bus station in the city centre. For Upper Bank, alight at Pentrechwyth, or to join trains at Six Pit, get off the bus at Tesco superstore in Nantyffin Road.
For details of connecting services, including travel planner and timetables, visit the Traveline Cymru website.

Motorists for Six Pit should leave the M4 at Junction 44, and pass through Llansamlet before turning left into Nantyffin Road at Peniel Green.

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Copyright 1996/7/8/9/2000/1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11 by Deryck Lewis. All rights reserved.
Page created July 14 1996; Redesigned March 29 1999; Updated February 23 2011
If you have any suggestions, comments, or glitches to report, please contact the author at WalesRails