Stationoverview.htm

The Carmarthen Branch

Llandeilo – Abergwili Line

Overview

The 13½-mile Carmarthen branch from Llandeilo was opened by the Llanelly Railway & Dock Co on 14 November1864 (for goods). The first passenger service started on 1 June 1865.

The line was always single throughout – with passing loops – and had block posts at Carmarthen Valley Junction, Golden Grove, Llanarthney, Nantgaredig and Abergwili Junction. Llandilo Bridge was also a block post, although two trains could not cross there. This provision was due to the station being located next to the cattle market held fortnightly on Mondays, as on these days, a special train arrived from Llandeilo at 1.50pm and departed to Llanelli at 4.30pm.

Nantgaredig Station pictured in May 1958

From its opening in 1864, the line was operated by the train staff system and by 1871, at which time the branch was in the hands of the LNWR, it was controlled by absolute block telegraph and this system was replaced by electric train staff in 1896 and electric token in 1938.

A bridge was built over the River Gwili west of Abergwili station. There were six viaducts and one 83 yard tunnel, the latter situated between Nantgaredig and Abergwili.

Between Carmarthen Valley Junction and Abergwili Junction there were six stations:

Llandilo Bridge

This was a block post but had no crossing loop.

Passengers and freight.

Closed on 9 September 1963.

Golden Grove

Crossing loop.

Passengers and freight.

Closed on 9 September 1963.

Drysllwyn

Passengers only until 13 October 1902 when freight traffic commenced. It became an unstaffed halt during the Second World War and staff were reinstated at the end of hostilities. It became unstaffed at certain times of the day from 4 June 1956.

Closed on 9 September 1963.

Llanarthney

Crossing loop.

Passenger and freight. Became an unstaffed halt from 4 January 1954.

Closed completely on 1 June 1959.

Nantgaredig

Crossing loop.

Passenger and freight.

Closed on 9 September 1963.

Whitemill

Closed by Llanelly Railway Co. on 1 November 1870.

Abergwili

Passenger and freight.

Partially unstaffed from 4 June 1956.

Closed 9 September 1963.

The stations on the line and distances from Llandeilo Station were:

 

 

Llandeilo Bridge

 ¾ mile

Golden Grove

 3¼ miles

Drysllwyn

 5¾ miles

Llanarthney

 7 miles

Nantgaredig

 9¾ miles

Abergwili

 13 miles

 

There were two platforms at Golden Grove, Llanarthney and Nantgaredig to allow trains to pass but the loop and second platform at Llanarthney was taken out of use in February 1938. The83 yard tunnel between Nantgaredig and Abergwili was the only significant engineering construction along the route. [The tunnel disappeared along with what remained of the Abergwili section of the line when the A40 Llandeilo to Carmarthen trunk road was upgraded in 1999/2001 between Whitemill and Abergwilli.]

The branch joined the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line at Abergwili Junction, which was ½ a mile beyond Abergwili station. At the time of opening, the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line was broad gauge (7′ 0¼”) so the standard gauge (4′ 8½”) Llanelly Railway added a third rail from Abergwili Junction. This mixed gauge line provided the 2-mile connection to Carmarthen station.

The building of the Carmarthen branch (and the line from Pontardulais to Swansea) was authorised by an Act of Parliament on 1 August 1861 (Llanelly Railway (New Lines) Act).

Both the lines were set up as financially independent of each other and the Llanelly Railway company itself. This led to difficulties because the whole network could not operate as one. The Swansea line went into receivership in 1867 and the Carmarthen line in 1871. A new act on 16 June 1871 severed their connection with the parent company and the Swansea & Carmarthen Railway Co now owned the lines. For the most part the shareholders were the same.

The London & North Western Railway had been pressing for this change and took the opportunity to take over the Carmarthen and Swansea lines in 1871. This completed their main plan, which was for access from the north to the south Wales ports.

The GWR’s broad gauge was changed throughout south Wales in 1872. After that the LNWR gained running powers from Abergwili junction into Carmarthen for passenger trains only, which facilitated through trains to the north. Later this included holiday traffic on summer Saturdays from Manchester and Liverpool although these did not stop at Nantgaredig or any other station on the line. There was even a train from Pembroke Dock to Llandudno that used the line at one time.

Although the line ran through a sparsely populated area it did offer an alternative to the main line through Llanelli. There was one occasion (in about 1910) when the seawall near Ferryside collapsed in a storm and mainline trains from Fishguard used the line.

In 1948 the railways were nationalised and the Carmarthen branch became part of the British Railways (London Midland Region). A typical journey at that time (which changed little) was

 

 

Llandeilo

08:00

Llandeilo Bridge

08:04

Golden Grove

08:10

Drysllwyn

08:15

Llanarthney

08:20

Nantgaredig

08:26

Abergwili

08:32

Carmarthen

08:40.

 

The line transferred to the Western region in the 1950s and the sight of pannier tank locomotives became common. However the line was never a great economic success. It was included in Dr. Richard Beeching’s report in 1963 and approved for closure by the government. When it closed on 9 September 1963 it was said that it was losing £21,000 a year. Llanarthney station had closed earlier on 1 June 1959.

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