White-knuckle ride - Great Western Railway style!


The first Great Western Railway (GWR) was noted for its varied range of excursion provision. Trips could be taken to visit chocolate and biscuit factories, railway and motor works, film studios and for sporting, river cruising, rambling and bluebell-picking purposes. But this one was for the more doughty excursionist. In August 1928 the GWR inaugurated its new morning excursion service to the top of Plynlimmon mountain, the highest point in the Cambrian mountains in Ceredigion or Cardiganshire as was. The summit was 752 metres or 2,467 feet above sea level. The hardy passengers travelled first from Aberystwyth on the Vale of Rheidol line to Devil’s Bridge where they joined an open six-wheeled former War Department truck equipped with an eight-speed gearbox. The last three miles of the uphill journey which took 50 minutes involved running over rough tracks, boggy land and coarse grass while crossing streams. For this reason to save the risk of getting bogged down, the vehicle could be fitted with a caterpillar track if necessary. The shovel seen in the picture no doubt also needed to be deployed by the driver on occasions. The downhill section took 35 minutes and the probably relieved passengers completed their journey at Llanidloes. The twelve doughty passengers were each supplied with a waterproof apron against the vagaries of the Plynlimmon weather. At over 100 inches of rainfall a year up there, this was GWR customer care at its best!


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By Mike Peart

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