Heritage group targets return of railway to Oswestry
BBC Inside Out in the West Midlands investigates the restoration of the Cambrian Line at 7.30pm, Monday 10 January on BBC One
A heritage group hopes to return the railway to Oswestry.
At its peak, the town was home to two stations, as well as the headquarters of Cambrian Railways, which managed 300 miles of track.
The town's last station and line, like many others across the country, became a casualty of the 1960s Beeching cuts.
But Cambrian Heritage Railways (CHR) volunteers believe they can reinstate part of the line and celebrate the town's proud industrial past.
The trains might have disappeared, but much of the rail infrastructure survived. Even today the main station building and much of the track bed remains intact.
Restoring the track
Heritage volunteers have restored three miles of track
That is not to say the CHR volunteers' task is an easy one and the restored three-mile section of track has taken years of work.
They eventually hope to bring eight miles of track back into operational use, from Oswestry through to Llynclys junction.
It is a long, slow process, and maintenance is almost as much of an effort as reinstating the rails.
Volunteer Kevin Kingsley gave BBC Inside Out's Phil Upton a guided tour of the route on a specially adapted vehicle, known as the 'go-kart'.
Mr Kingsley explained what inspired the volunteers: "The sense of achievement at the end of the day, when you can see what you've done and then you look at the scenery... it's spectacular."
In 1848, the first of two stations opened in the town, known as Oswestry GWR (Great Western Railway).
In 1860 the Oswestry Cam station followed, and in 1865 the town became the headquarters of Cambrian Railways, which managed 300 miles of track from Wrexham and Whitchurch through to Pwllheli, Aberystwyth and Brecon.
More than 2,000 men were once employed in Oswestry's engine sheds
At its peak, in the 1920s, more than 2,000 men were employed in the town, building and restoring carriages, freight wagons and servicing engines.
In 1924 the GWR took over Cambrian Railways and closed their original station on Gobowen Road. After the 1920s the network was nationalised, but Oswestry remained an important station.
However, like many other stations and lines, Dr Richard Beeching's 1963 report into The Reshaping of British Railways sounded the death knell for Oswestry, and the last passenger train rolled down the line in 1966.