Oakwood Video Library

Vale of Rheidol Light Railway - Through the Years

Code: KW005
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Featuring the L.T. Catchpole Collection.

Climbing from Aberystwyth to 680ft above sea level at Devil’s Bridge, VoR passengers enjoy grand views across the Afon Rheidol as they travel the near 12-mile route to a destination rich in folklore, this DVD taking a trip along the line as well as through its history. Photographs date back to 1902, while a rich vein of cine film from 1939 through to the 1980s underpins the changing story of the Edwardian narrow gauge railway that went on to experience the ‘real end of British Railways steam’, and then thrived in preservation.

An overview of the story prior to opening, through Cambrian Railways and Great Western Railway ownership, and into the BR corporate blue era in 1968 precedes a trip up the line, complete with a section of cab ride along the 1 in 50 beyond Aberffrwd. Three different Aberystwyth termini, as well as a Harbour branch and two engine sheds, are all covered, while the oil firing method used on locomotives from the mid-1970s until 2013 is explained prior to departure. En route we call at Llanbadarn, cross the Rheidol, visit all the other halts and even see the pre-war charm of Felin Newydd Falls near Aberffrwd, since remodelled as part of a hydro-electric power scheme. Classic VoR territory includes Oliver Veltom's Curve, the ‘Stag’, the Horseshoe, Quarry Cutting, and Devil’s Bridge.

The concluding sections track the last decade of the Nationalised VoR, including the visit of Mountaineer from the Ffestiniog Railway, and the first 25 years of privatisation. On 5 November 1988 Owain Glyndwr and Llywelyn carried black flags as British Rail prepared to sell off the line, the management of the Brecon Mountain Railway taking over from March 1989. The VoR had entered a new era of massive investment, as explained by Tony Hills, while 1996 saw the railway become wholly owned by the Phyllis Rampton Narrow Gauge Railway Trust.

Taking the VoR back to its pre-war prime, the Trust has built on BMR improvements, reinstating semaphore signalling, the passing loop, sidings and rolling stock shed at Capel Bangor, and providing buildings at intermediate stations. In addition, the creation of a workshop capable of major overhauls comes with grand plans for a new museum to display a fleet of locomotives from around the world.

Produced by - Oakwood Video Library
Running time - 90 Minutes
Aspect Ratio - 4:3 (Colour/B&W)
DVD only
Released - 2014 

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