Wings and Wheels Society.

The Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway Autumn Gala 11-9-2022.

The Pontypool & Blaenavon (P&BR) aims to help locals reconnect with their industrial heritage, and offers a great day for enthusiasts in the bargain. Paul Woollard picked me up and with son Charlie correcting my dodgy back seat navigating we were there in just over an hour. We met up with W&W member Chris Roscoe fresh from photographing Duchess of Sutherland leaving Bristol on a mainline tour. While it not unusual for the weather to be wet & windy based on previous visits, it was a pleasant this time. The line had progressed since my last visit, the new (but essential) four road carriage shed being the most obvious evidence of this. It was planned to have six locos in steam with GW Pannier 7714 from the SVR adding a South Wales BR flavour. The supporting cast included Hudswell-Clarke 1857 making its preservation debut following restoration at the West Somerset. Sadly this failed on the first day and the little blue tank engine was banished to the back of the carriage shed in true Rev Awdry style! Still, Hunslet 0-6-0T Jessie (very stripey), Barclay 0-4-0T pugs Rosyth No 1 (very smoky) and Caledonian works (very small) and visiting 0-6-0T Austerity Wimblebury (er, very blue) from the Foxfield railway were all in action. Two passenger trains plus a demonstration coal train were running on the steep 4 mile former LNWR route Pontypool to Abergavenny, together with a 'branch line' service up the short spur off to Big Pit (a former NCB coalmine still open for visitors brave enough to venture deep underground). This made it an all action affair, and Paul & Chris were soon off line-siding, while Charlie and I continued to enjoy things close up on the trains. The Highlight for me was the late afternoon pairing of the two Barclay 0-4-0T Pugs who fought their way up the incline (1 in 30 in places) in volcanic style. Charlie kept his cabbing quota up by getting on three different footplates. Result! A great day out at a line that is clearly going places and refreshingly seems to have recruited a fair number of younger volunteers. My thanks to Paul for driving and of course to all the volunteers from the P&BR and the various loco groups who made it so enjoyable.

Copyright of all pictures in this gallery belong to N Clarke.