This film is part of Free

Their Purpose Served

The iron horses of yesteryear, and the railways they ran on, may be down but they are not out. Slate, cattle and coal are still carried as are passengers and restoration is in the air.

Amateur film 1977 16 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales


Wales’ narrow gauge railways were mainly constructed to carry slate but only the Penrhyn Quarry Railway still serves this industry, a superb view of the enterprise being provided by the cameraman bravely travelling up a steep incline in an empty wagon. Also featured are The Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway carrying coal right through the streets of Welshpool, and the summer services of the Ffestiniog Railway (under restoration) and the Vale of Rheidol Railway.

Engines ‘Blanche’, ‘Cackler’ and ‘Holy War’ are seen in operation at Penrhyn Quarry. ‘Prince’, ‘Taliesin’ and the ‘Earl of Merioneth’ are seen on the Ffestiniog Railway, which was closed in 1946, restoration starting in 1954. ‘Llywelyn’ is seen on the Vale of Rheidol Railway, run as a tourist line from the 1930s. Engine numbers 822 (The Earl) and 823 (Countess) are seen on the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway which was closed to passengers in 1931, closed completely in November 1956 but re-opened as a heritage railway in 1963. This film probably shows the line in its last year of operation.