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Bridgend Valleys Railway
(formerly Garw Valleys Railway)

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Location (Tondu): 51 32N 3 35W;
UK National Grid Ref: SS 893 842

The Bridgend Valleys Railway (BVRC) is perhaps one of the most unusual of the preservation societies in this survey, in that, like the Llanelli and District Railway Society, it was for years a railway without any track - not that either group allowed that to get in the way of acquiring locos and rolling stock.

The Bridgend Valleys Railway Company Ltd (BVRC) uses the trading name of Garw Valley Railway.

 

 

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The last train proceeds down the Garw Valley on March 6 1997The Garw Valley Railway was formed as the Bridgend Valleys Railway Society (BVRS) in 1988 with the aim of preserving the line which runs through the Garw Valley in the county of Bridgend. The line is one of three which radiated from the junction at Tondu: The Ogmore Vale is closed and lifted; the Llynfi Valley branch to Maesteg was reopened to passengers in 1992; while the Garw was reopened for freight to carry screened coal from tips in the valley as part of a land reclamation scheme.
The last coal train with mined coal ran in 1986, when the last mine closed, and the last passenger train was a special charter, the “Garw Guru”, which ran on 7th April 1997.  Network Rail severed the connection to Tondu at Brynmenyn Level Crossing, just south of Bryngarw Country Park, in 2007.

(The last train from the reclamation site ran on March 6 1997 and is pictured left near Pontyrhyl, in a setting which is typical of the topography of the valley.)
It was this branch on which the BVRS set its sights.

Groundwork Neath Port Talbot (responsible to Bridgend County Council for the regeneration of the Garw valley) had negotiated the acquisition of the track bed for use as a Community Route with cycleway and other leisure activities. The BVRC achieved a 125 year lease on 4 miles 56 chains of  line from Pontycymer to Brynmenyn and have the commitment to run passenger trains again over this route.
On March 23 2001, the Welsh Assembly made its first Transport Works Act order in favour of the  BVRS, and six days later Railtrack (the company which formerly had charge of the infrastructure of the national railway network) signed over the route to the company, clearing the way for steady progress to opening the line between Pontycymer and Bryngarw Country Park, a distance of about 4 miles. Bryngarw Country Park, which will be the southernmost limit of operations in the medium term, but later it is hoped to extend as far south as Tondu, close to the Arriva Trains Wales station on the route between Bridgend and Maesteg.
At Pontycymer, the BVRC have a large Engine Shed (pictured right in July 2012) containing workshop facilities, a new toilet and shower block for volunteers and a recently commissioned, internal,  two storey stores block. The initial land engineering for the new platform alongside the Engine Shed has been commenced. This required extensive excavation to achieve the necessary levels and will eventually include a run round loop.
Bryngarw Country Park will take the form of a small halt, with waiting shelter, but the site is difficult of access and visitors will be required to walk or cycle from the Country Park car park area. The company's immediate target, therefore,
will be to establish a mile of replacement track as far as Braich-y-cymer, as this does not involve any bridge replacement. South of here, to Llangeinor and Bryngarw Country Park, requires significant river bridge engineering and this will form a long term project.
In early 2008. the Society changed its name back to Bridgend Valleys Railway Company Limited under the requirements of the Transport Works Order.
Recent grants from the Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations, the Welsh Church Fund and the Coalfields Regeneration Trust have facilitated the building of new volunteer facilities and the purchase of heavy plant.  Vandalism has caused considerable damage to track and track materials and lineside fencing,  which are all costly to replace, Planning approval has been achieved for a large two storey extension to the Engine Shed which, it is hoped, will incorporate a Heritage Centre for joint railway and industrial heritage aspects of the Valley.

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Locos and Rolling Stock

Planet 0-4-0 diesel hydraulic shunter at the start of its restoration

DMU
Class 108 DMBS 51919 + DMC 52048

Other rolling stock
BR Mk1 BSO 9010 – currently on loan to the Swindon and Cricklade Railway.
DB993721 Brake Van fitted with snowploughs  Currently being re- clad and re-roofed.

Hunslet 0-6-0- Pamela  awaits a new clack valve.
Planet 3890 was acquired from Hanson Aggregates at Machen Quarry, and h
as had the bodywork cleaned, derusted and repainted. It is planned to commence a complete overhaul  in the near future.
Planet 4006 has been completely rewired and mechanically overhauled with a new cooling system fitted and the cab panel redesigned and upgraded. This loco is now operational.

Membership

Membership of the Bridgend Valleys Railway is open to everyone. Membership runs from April to March each year, and current fees are: Adult £10.00; Unwaged and Over 60s £7.50; Children under 16 years of age £2.00.
Members joining after the 1st October can take up Pro-Rata subscription fees.
Newsletters are published on the website. The website www.garw-railway.co.uk is now defunct and is being replaced with a new website. The new website is to be found at www.garwvalleyrailway.co.uk.
Membership applications are available from  The Membership Secretary, BVRC, The Locomotive  Works, Old Station Yard, Pontycymer, Bridgend, CF32 8AZ.

Barry Island Railway

In December 2008 the Vale of Glamorgan County Council served notice on the Barry Island Railway to quit its site at Barry, and remove its locos, rolling stock and other artefacts. Many of the BIR's locos have been dispersed throughout Great Britain, but some were retained by the preservation group, and will form the basis of establishing a presence at Pontycymer.
More details are available on the WalesRails page on the
BIR.

How to get there

Pontycymer is served by buses from Bridgend. For details of connecting services, including travel planner and timetables, visit the Traveline Cymru website.

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Copyright © 1996/7/8/9/2000/1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11 /12/13/14 by Deryck Lewis. All rights reserved.
Page created July 14 1996; Redesigned March 29 1999; Updated
February 15 2014
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