Cambrian Dispatcher

 

1. Of Railfans and Railwaymen
2. A Machynlleth Sunday
3. Cuppa with John Gwynne
4. A Railwayman's Railwayman

 

Two: A Machynlleth Sunday

 

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Machynlleth's
gabled 1863
Depot, built of
stone from the
railway cutting at
Talerddig.



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Diesel cars to
Aberystwyth pulled
up at the down
platform.
I met John on a pearl-gray Welsh Sunday morning in Machynlleth, a small Mid-Wales market town.  I had not intended to tarry there.  Steam trains and the storied Vale of Rheidol Light Railway were the agenda for the day, and riding the Cambrian line diesel cars from Machynlleth to Aberystwyth was simply the means to my end.  However, Central Trains Ltd. had other ideas.  In my hurry that morning I had failed to note the crucial differences between the Sunday timetable and the rest of the week-- a mistake one should never make in rock-ribbed Protestant Wales.  With kind amusement the railway agent in Machynlleth's gabled station explained to me the error of my ways, and delivered the bad news: I faced a two-hour wait for the first train to Aberystwyth.  Disappointed but unbowed, I thanked the agent and set on out through the platform door.  With two hours to kill, what else could one do head on out to trackside and poke about?  

 

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Victorian truss
footbridge
connecting the up
and down platforms.

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The 1950s interlocking tower.
The platform doors opened on a scene almost from the last century.  Beneath the 1863 depot's tall gables and gray fieldstone walls, two tracks stretched out to either hand.  A sturdy ironwork canopy offered shelter from the rain to passengers on the down or depot side of the rails, while a lovely vaulting wrought-iron truss footbridge provided convenient access to the up line.   Tall semaphore signals stood guard at the ends of the platforms, controlling access to coachyards on one side and the long mainline down to the sea on the other. The only incongruous touch was the "new" 1950s-era interlocking tower huddled at the end of the up platform: slab-sided and squat, done up in a sort of poor-man's modernism, it alone marred the otherwise fine Victorian scene.

   

Just as I was frowning at the tower, its door popped open and a tall uniformed man appeared at the top of the steps, gesturing to me imperatively.  Sure that I was about to be shooed off of the platform to wait in the station until traintime, I approached apologetically. When I got within earshot, the tall fellow instead called out a cheery greeting: "Would you like to see the tower?   Come on up, then!"  I hastened up the steps. 

   


 

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All materials, images, text and presentation copyright 1998 Erik Gray Ledbetter.  See Terms of Use.