Moel Rhos No. 3 steams through Brockhampton station on a rainy day

2023 in garden railway visits…

Looking back over the garden railway year, one particular pleasure has been our South West Wales 16mm Association Area group resuming a substantial programme of garden railway visits after lockdown shifted us online in 2020, and while we had some good meetings in 2021/22 it was only this year we got back to monthly (sometimes even twice monthly) gatherings in each others’ gardens.

As I didn’t post here about them at the time, it seems a good opportunity to link to my photos albums from each visit.

Hoffnant Valley Railway April 2023

Three 16mm scale trains viewed head on running across four divergent tracks

In April we revisited the Hoffnant Valley Railway, a picturesque line around a lake, featuring two independent running tracks and some steep gradients.

Moel Rhos Nos 1 & 3 attended, with a train of mixed slate and coal wagons. In the accompanying image, No. 3 is hauling a rake of tippers from the Lambak Railway.

See all the photos in the album: Hoffnant Valley Railway April 2023

The Railway in the Valley of the Mill May 2023

A diesel halted train of mostly empty slate wagons in front of a row of quarry worker's cottages

In May we visited the Railway in the Valley of the Mill. This was our group’s first full meeting on the line, although I have had the good fortune to visit many times and Moel Rhos stock has run there frequently. It is a steep end to end railway, with multiple passing loops and some impressive line side building and a huge wooden viaduct. Most members’ lines are loops with continuous running, but running end to end provided some challenging – and fun – opportunities to co-ordinate, to make sure no two trains enter a block from opposite ends (perhaps we should use tokens!)

Again, Moel Rhos Nos 1 & 3 attended, with the same train of mixed slate and coal wagons, which can be seen with No 1 in the accompanying photo, in front of the quarry workers’ cottages at Tanygrisiau.

See all the photos in the album: The Railway in the Valley of the Mill May 2023

I also shot a driver’s eye video of The Railway in the Valley of the Mill, on my newly designed and printed camera wagon, which I will describe in a separate post.

Preseli Mountain Railway June 2023

I wasn’t able to make this meeting – so there were no visiting locos from the Moel Rhos and I have no album – although you can see other’s photos on the group’s website.

Shearstream Light Railway June 2023

A steam hauled train of empty slates runs along a line on a ledge - there are also lines above, to the left, and below, to the right.

In June we visited the Shearstream Light Railway. This was both the group’s first gathering there and the first time I had seen it for real – although the I first met railway’s designer, builder and director in the comments section of this blog several years ago! The engineering is hugely impressive, there are two separate loops (on two separate levels) linked so you can run out and back.

Once again, Moel Rhos Nos 1 & 3 attended, with the same train of mixed slate and coal wagons. In the accompanying photo, No 3. is hauling the train on the lower loop.

See all the photos in the album: Shearstream Light Railway June 2023.

I brought the camera wagon along again and took some driver’s eye shots of the Shearstream Light Railway too.

Dyffryn Llynfi & Porthcawl Railway July 2023

A cabless diesel loco in grey primer pulling a rusty tanker and a small coal wagon.

Another first for the group in July when we visited the Duffy Llynfi & Porthcawl Railway, a fun and charming line in a small garden, incorporating a terminus and a tight loop for out and back running.

This time, owing to the fact I’d been staying in a hotel the night before, I brought a very short train comprising Moel Rhos’ No. 10 which I had designed and printed over the three weeks prior, particularly so it could fit in a small box along with a rake of Phil Sharples coal wagon. It’s a cabless loco which currently runs on No. 1’s chassis, and I’ll provide a full description in a future post. The accompanying photo reveals that it was only primed, but perhaps we could call it “photographic grey”.

See all the photos in the album: Dyffryn Llynfi & Porthcawl Railway July 2023.

Rhos and Betws Tramway August 2023

A Regner Konrad with empty slate wagons crossing a viaduct

In August we returned to the Rhos and Betws tramway, which the groups has visited on many previous, highly enjoyable occasions. This is a large loop, mostly at ground level, running around the perimeter of a mature garden, with a busy and interesting station and a number of line side features including a viaduct across a pond.

The Moel Rhos visiting locos were back to the season regulars Nos 1 & 3 again, with the mixed slate and coal wagons. No 3. is seen on the viaduct in the accompanying photo.

See all the photos in the album: Rhos and Betws Tramway August 2023.

Brockhampton and Umbridge August 2023

A Regner Konrad running across a level crossing, shot from the road with a rusty crossing gate in front of the train

Later in August we visited another line we’ve gathered at frequently, the Brockhampton and Umbridge Railway. This intricate line which incorporates a reversing line into a loop and an outdoor terminus as well as one inside the shed. But its standout feature is extraordinarily detailed and realistic model village. We had perhaps our wettest running session of the year, but I think this adds to the atmosphere in the photographs!

Moel Rhos Nos 1 & 3 were again the visiting locos from my line, with the mixed slate and coal wagons. No. 3 is on the level crossing in the accompanying photo, and can also be seen steam through Brockhampton station in the featured image on this post.

See all the photos in the album: Brockhampton and Umbridge August 2023.

I also shot some footage both from the lineside and the camera wagon, resulting in the following three videos.

The first video is a driver’s eye view from a steam hauled train while the second is a driver’s eye video from a diesel hauled train which follows a slightly different route.

The final video is a set of line side views. I added music just to mask some of the line side conversations and to protect the innocent…

It’s been a great year of garden railway visits and I’m looking forward to many more in 2024.

In the meantime, a Happy New Year from Rheilffordd Moel Rhos!

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Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See for more...

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