Huge crowds flock to see steam engines in Blaenavon
3:33pm Monday 16th September 2013 in News
Crowds gather on the platform as Blaenavon's heritage railway celebrates 30 years with their biggest ever steam gala (1119598)
IN celebration of its 30th anniversary, Blaenavon Heritage Railway's steam weekends this year have attracted thousands to its site. CHRIS WOOD reports.
BLAENAVON was packed over the weekend as over a thousand rail enthusiasts enjoyed rides around the town on Saturday alone.
The two-day steam gala marked the 30th anniversary of the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway, with traffic manager Alex Hinshelwood saying: “I have never seen so many people here. It has been absolutely mental with every train full with people standing.”
There were four steam engines running- two of them the last to run between Abergavenny and Merthyr Tydfil before the line closed and one a freight train that would have carried coal through the valleys.
The railway line originally opened in 1869 by the London and North Western Railway, but has been run as a heritage railway since 1983.
Trains ran from Garn-yr-Erw to the Whistle Inn and Big Pit, with a successful marketing campaign and the presence of significant engines drawing huge crowds.
Mr Hinshelwood added: “ Bringing two of the last surviving LNWR engines back to South Wales is something we've talked about for a long time. It's made extra special by 1054 being a local engine and we hope recreating the Heads of the Valleys last train will bring back a few memories”.
Blaenavon’s Heritage Railway travels through Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, at the highest altitude of any standard gauged preserved railway in England and Wales.
As well having a number of steam and diesel rolling stock and locomotives, a wide range of family friendly events are organised throughout the year. The highlight of the calendar is the ‘Santa Special’ service held in December, taking families on a train ride to Santa’s Grotto, at ‘The Whistle’ Public House.
The railway has been well preserved and maintained thanks to the efforts of the dedicated railway enthusiasts. These are exciting times for the railway as the line was opened to Blaenavon High Level Station in May 2010, more than doubling the length of the track, and it is planned to open the line to Big Pit in 2011. The volunteers also run the Railway Shop| in the centre of Blaenavon
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