Saturday, 2 July 2016

56 Six Rail Terminus Stations

56 The Railways - 2 July 2016 (photos: Victoria Station, GWR, High Street Station)

The routes of former railway lines provide some fine tracks for cyclists, joggers and walkers.  For example, from Swansea’s Leisure Centre one can follow the former route of the London and North Western Railway along the seafront to Blackpill, then turn inland, where a bridge used to take the track over the Mumbles Road, to continue up the Clyne Valley to Gowerton. 

The route of the Mumbles Railway used to run from Rutland Street parallel with the LNW line, along part of what is now the much-widened Mumbles Road as far as Blackpill, but would then pass under the LNW railway bridge to follow the coastal route to Mumbles Square.  This used to be the terminus, until the line was extended to 4½ miles to reach the pier, which opened in 1898.

Railway companies competed carrying minerals and passengers down the Afan valley, the Vale of Neath, the Swansea valley and the Clyne valley, until as many as six lines (some primarily for freight) all ended in Swansea. 

The Vale of Neath Railway served the collieries of Merthyr, Aberdare and the Neath valley.  Taken over by the Great Western Railway in 1865, its terminus was Wind Street station until 1873, subsequently extended to East Dock. 

The Rhondda and Swansea Bay Railway ran from Treherbert from 1894 to the terminus at Swansea Riverside; it was taken over by the Great Western Railway in 1906.

The Swansea Vale Railway, which served the Tawe and Amman valleys, ran to Pontardawe by 1860, and to Brynamman by 1864.  Ten years later it was taken over by the Midland Railway, which became the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in 1876, with the terminus at St Thomas.  The Swansea Vale Railway Society maintained the remaining track before merging with the Gwili Railway in Carmarthenshire.

The Mumbles Railway was famously the earliest passenger-carrying railway in the world, with the terminus at Rutland Street.  It began as a mineral line serving the Clyne valley, with horses pulling trucks along a railway between Mumbles and Swansea, before passengers were carried to a regular timetable from 1807.  With the increase in private car ownership and the need to widen the Mumbles Road, it closed in January 1960, to widespread dismay.

The Llanelly Railway ran initially to Pontardulais, but was extended to Swansea’s South Dock in 1866.  It was taken over by London and North Western in 1873 and ran to Victoria (approximately the site of the Leisure Centre) until closed in 1964.

The South Wales Railway reached Swansea in June 1850 after the completion of the Landore viaduct, with the terminus at High Street station.  It merged with the Great Western Railway in 1863, and nine years later all its track was converted from the 7’0¼” broad-gauge favoured by Brunel from 1838 to the 4’8½” standard or narrow-gauge.  From 1906 the Swansea Loop enabled the main line from London Paddington to West Wales to run to Swansea (High Street) station, where an engine could be attached to the other end so that the journey continued without passengers needing to change trains at Landore.

The former North and South Docks - now Parc Tawe and the Marina respectively – were linked by an overhead railway, while an iron bridge carried the Harbour Railway over the junction of Wind and Mount Streets.
Many rival companies throughout the country were merged by the 1921 Railway Act into just four railways – the Great Western, the Southern, the London and North Eastern, and the LMS.  With the nationalisation of the railways in 1948 these became parts of British Railways, until the 1963 Beeching Report instigated a massive reduction of the rail network.  So Swansea’s principal station is no longer called “Swansea (High Street)”, for it is the only remaining station in the city: Cockett, Loughor, Landore and Llansamlet have all closed - along with five of those terminus stations.

No comments:

Post a Comment