Monday 14 September 2020

The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway

 Another book by prolific NG railway author Peter Johnson has recently been published, this time on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. 

The hardback book is similar in style to Peter's other recent books on the Vale of Rheidol Railway and the Corris Railway, all three share a common factor - they all came under the ownership of the Great Western Railway, and these books are expanded from some material that was compiled in Peter's book on the Great Western Narrow Gauge Railways a few years ago. 

A substantial portion of the book deals with the various proposals to build a railway to Llanfair, and how the successful scheme came about, including the local and central government funding. The periods under Cambrian and Great Western control are then covered. The nature of a book based on research of documents of a historical time means much of the content comes from official minutes and records, with some operational details and limited personal perspectives. 

There are plenty of photographs which are reproduced well, including some recent photographs, and some covering the preservation era, but most are period photographs. Sections of photographs covering for example locomotives or rolling stock are interspersed between the chapters. A map and gradient profile is included inside the covers, while some period maps are included giving detail of the main station layouts. There are no stock drawings though, which modellers like to see. 

The later part of the book tells the story of preservation to the present day. This is a nice end to the book, but this is a big story in itself which by necessity is covered only briefly. Key events and developments are noted, but by comparison to the original building and early operation of the railway this is clearly a whistle-stop tour. 

So this isn't a "definitive" work on the railway, but it is a good quality book with good photos and detailed but readable and enjoyable text. It tells a story of a rural railway with basic facilities that served its community for around 50 years, then after a difficult transition to preservation, has flourished as a characterful tourist railway. Whether it is a line you know well or not, if you like narrow gauge or minor railways then I am sure you will enjoy this book.