Vale of Rheidol Railway, Aberystwyth station
Tourists have enjoyed riding by narrow-gauge train from Aberystwyth to Devil’s Bridge for over a century, but not always from this station.
The 19km Vale of Rheidol Railway opened in 1902 to carry tourists, lead ore and felled timber. The space between the rails is just 60cm, enabling the trains to take sharp bends as the railway follows the countours of the slope above the Rheidol valley. The railway was engineered by Sir James Szlumper, who also designed Trefechan Bridge and many other railways in Wales and England.
Passengers originally boarded the trains at a station on the south-west side of what’s now Park Avenue. It was on a short spur line off the VoR track to Aberystwyth harbour, which followed the curve of the river and passed under Trefechan Bridge.
From 1910 to 1914, the army boosted the VoR’s coffers when it held a summer camp at Lovesgrove, 5km east of Aberystwyth. A small station was installed for the camp.
In 1913 the Cambrian Railways (owner of the main line to Aberystwyth) acquired the Vale of Rheidol. The Cambrian, in turn, merged with the Great Western Railway in 1923. For the tourist service, the GWR provided improved rolling stock, which remains in use today. In 1925 it extended the railway to a new station, alongside Aberystwyth’s main rail station.
As the economy slumped, the service was reduced to summer-only in 1931. Freight trains stopped in 1937, 13 years after the connection to the harbour was closed. The railway reopened after wartime closure in 1945, and soon passed into British Railways ownership. Freight traffic resumed, eventually ending in 1964. Closure of the railway to Carmarthen released space on the south side of the main line station for a new VoR terminus, opened in 1968. This remains in use today.
In 1989 the line was re-privatised. Today it’s owned by a charitable trust, which has renovated the rolling stock and cleared vegetation to improve the scenic views for passengers.
Postcode: SY23 1PG View Location Map