Chirk rail station
Chirk rail station
This station was where the tiny trains of the Glyn Valley Tramway once met the mighty Great Western Railway empire.
The railway which survives here today was built by the Shrewsbury & Chester Railway. Chirk was one of several stations opened at the same time as the line in October 1848. Engineer Henry Robertson had to take the line over the valleys of the Dee and Ceiriog, which cut across the higher ground. Thomas Telford had encountered the same obstacles when creating what’s now known as the Llangollen Canal. North and south of Chirk are Robertson’s stone railway viaducts, masterpieces of civil engineering which are often overlooked because Telford’s aqueducts steal the limelight.
Horses hauled trains on the narrow-gauge Glyn Valley Tramway initially. From 1873 it carried slate and granite from quarries around Glyn Ceiriog to the now-closed Preesgwyn station, south of Chirk. Passengers were conveyed from 1874. Trains free-wheeled downhill from Preesgwyn to Pontfaen (with the horses riding on special wagons) until 1878, when a passenger train detailed because an inebriated member of staff failed to control its descent.
In 1888 a new track from Pontfaen to Chirk station replaced the Preesgwyn line, and the GVT replaced the horses with unusual rectangular steam locomotives. All the moving parts were boxed in, for safety where the trains ran alongside roads.
The GVT closed in 1935. The only obvious sign of its existence at Chirk station is the spare arch in the road bridge to the west of platform 1 - the arch visible in the photo above. Also in the photo is the locomotive Denis and some of the tramway's four-wheel coaches.
Since 2005, Chirk has been served by Arriva Trains Wales’ hourly services from Holyhead to Shrewsbury, continuing in alternate hours to Cardiff and Birmingham. Timber arrives by train here from around Britain, to feed the Kronospan factory north of the station. Established in 1970, the factory produces chipboard and other wood-based panels.
Postcode: LL14 5LU
Website of Science & Society Picture Library - prints available of the above image and many others