John Speller's Web Pages Carmarthen & Cardigan Railway

John Speller's Web Pages - GWR Broad Gauge

Carmarthen & Cardigan Railway
The Carmarthen and Cardigan Railway was incorporated by an Act of 1 July 1854 to build a 26-mile broad gauge line from the South Wales Railway main line at Carmarthen to Newcastle Emlyn. There was an authorized capital of 300,000 with powers to borrow a further 80,000. The 12-mile extension to Cardigan was authorized by an Act of 1 July 1863, but never built. The first 1- mile section between Myrtle Hill Junction on the South Wales Railway main line and the C&CR's Carmarthen station opened on 1 March 1860, followed by the 6-mile section from Carmarthen to Conwil on 3 September 1860. The line was worked by the South Wales Railway (GWR) until 31 December 1860 and then closed until re-opened on 12 August 1861, at which time the Carmarthen & Cardigan Railway began operating the line itself. After this construction went slowly and the 8-mile section from Conwil to Pencader was not opened until 28 March 1864, followed by the 3-mile section to Llandyssil on 3 June 1864. That was as far as the Carmarthen & Cardigan Railway ever got by itself. To facilitate interchange with the Llanelly Railway the 2 miles from Myrtle Hill Junction to Abergwili Junction was altered to mixed gauge on 1 November 1864. To facilitate interchange with the Manchester & Milford Railway Railway the 13 miles from Abergwili Junction to Pencader Junction was altered to mixed gauge on 1 November 1866. The remainder of the line to Llandryssil was converted to narrow gauge on 1 June 1872 and broad gauge running ceased from that date.

The line had four broad gauge locomotives -- "Heron" and "Magpie" were two 4-4-0 side tanks built by Sharp, Stewart & Co. in 1861, and "Etna" and "Hecla" were two 4-4-0 saddle tanks built by Rothwell & Co. in 1864. The Locomotive Superintendent of the Carmarthen & Cardigan Railway was John Wright, who was also Locomotive Superintendent of the South Devon and Cornwall Railways. He arranged for the transfer of the Carmarthen & Cardigan Railway broad gauge locomotives to the South Devon and Cornwall Railways after the abolition of the broad gauge on the Carmarthen & Cardigan.

The Carmarthen & Cardigan Railway was taken over by the Great Western Railway on 22 August 1881. The Great Western Railway finally built the seven miles of railway from Llandyssil to Newcastle Emlyn, which opened on 1 July 1895, but by this point the Newcastle Emlyn to Cardigan section did not seem a practical proposition, largely because of opposition to the intrusion of the line into an area of natural beauty that had become a popular tourist attraction. So the GWR had to content itself with a bus service from Newcastle Emlyn to Cardigan (as well, of course as its other line from Whitland to Cardigan). It's sad, however, that the GWR didn't think of completing the line to Cardigan by the shortest route, which would have taken it directly west through Cenarth to a point two or three miles south of Cardigan on the Whitland line, which could then have been used to run into Cardigan without disturbing its natural beauty any more than it had already been disturbed. This might actually have made the whole line viable. As it was passenger service to Newcastle Emlyn was withdrawn on 15 September 1952, though goods traffic continued until the late 1960s.
Map of the Carmarthen & Cardigan Railway excerpted from the Great Western system map
Joseph Cubitt, C.E. (1811-1872), Engineer of the Carmarthen & Cardigan Railway. Carte de visite courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Builder's photograph of C&CR 4-4-0T "Heron" built by Sharp, Stewart & Co. in 1861
C&CR 4-4-0ST "Etna" built by Rothwell & Co. in 1864. As fitted with SDR sand box. Later the GWR fitted it with a B&E-style full-length saddle tank
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