Archive for Trains

The Brecon Mountain Railway

The second part of our Bellringer’s coach outing was to the Brecon Mountain Railway which is a narrow gauge steam railway that goes from Pant to Torpantau high in the Brecon Beacons.


The Brecon Mountain Railway was conceived over 40 years ago when a search started to find a suitable site to build and  operate a steam railway using locomotives collected from around the world.

Merthyr Tydfil seemed ideally located at the southern edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park with its beautiful mountain, lake and forest scenery. At one time Merthyr Tydfil was the greatest iron making town in the world, most of the very early railways used rails rolled in Merthyr Mills. Merthyr witnessed, in 1804, the trial run of the worlds first steam railway locomotive built by Cornishman Richard Trevithick.


The section of line chosen for the Brecon Mountain Railway was part of the abandoned Brecon and Merthyr Railway, originally built in 1859 it finally closed in 1964. This Railway fought its way through the Brecon Beacons using steep gradients to the summit at Torpantau 1313-ft above sea level.

Pant Station is at 1134 Feet (346m) above sea level and the first 600 yards (500m) of the route are built on a new alignment some of which was cut through solid rock. The original station site at Pant was not available when the trackbed was purchased.


Upon leaving the platform at Pant Station the line curves right then left on a climbing gradient before joining the original trackbed of the Brecon and Merthyr Railway.


We travelled in loco number 2 called Baldwin, which originally ran in South Africa.



On the journey back we stopped at Pontsticill station, where as it was a hot day, most people purchased an ice cream from the little café there.

The return journey was 1 hour and 30 minutes with a 25 minute stop at Pontsticill.

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St George’s Day special on the West Somerset Railway

On Thursday 23rd April, St George’s Day, Neil and I were treated to a day out on the West Somerset Railway.  It was a fish and chip lunch as we chuffed our way to Minehead and then afternoon tea on the way back to Bishops Lydeard.  What started out as an overcast day quickly turned to sunshine. The steam train was waiting for us to depart.



Whilst waiting to depart we visited the museum, I particularly like the old posters.



There was a model railway on display, Neil was quite jealous.


The we set off gently chugging for an hour and 20 minutes and the fish and chips was served with little bottles of Prosecco.



Arriving in Minehead the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.


We went for a stroll along the promenade but the tide was out.



We stopped for an ice cream on the front, well it had to be done!!



The afternoon tea on the way back was also St George’s Day themed with red crosses on the cup cakes.


Now some interesting facts about St George’s Day.  It was in 1222 that the Council of Oxford declared April 23rd to be St George’s Day but it was not until 1348 that St George became the Patron Saint of England.  April 23rd 1616 was also the date of the death of William Shakespeare.

St George was born to Christian parents in AD 270 in Cappadocia, now Eastern Turkey.  He became a Roman soldier but later resigned his military post and protested against his pagan leader, the Emperor Diocletian who lead Rome’s persecution of Christians.  His rebellion resulted in imprisonment and torture but he stayed true to his faith and on 23rd April 303 AD he was beheaded.

The medieval legend of St George and dragon is over a thousand years old. The tale goes that the dragon made it’s nest by the fresh water spring near the town of Silene in Libya.  When people came to collect water they disturbed the dragon and so offered a sheep as a distraction.  Eventually they ran out of sheep and a maiden was chosen to be the next sacrifice by drawing lots.  The King’s daughter was to be the next victim.  However at the moment of offering a knight from the Crusades came riding by on his white stallion, protecting himself with the sign of the cross he drew his sword and fought the dragon, slaying the beast and saving the princess. The people of Silene was extremely grateful and abandoned their pagan beliefs to convert to Christianity.

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