The Cambrian Railways Society
Formed in 1972, The Cambrian Railways Society Ltd had the idea
of using the mothballed Branch Line from Gobowen Station, to Blodwell Quarry.
This remains the target of the Society's Cambrian Project.
The Society have over 400 members including serving and retired Drivers, Guards, Signal staff, Maintenance staff, a good body of working volunteers, and their record of rebuilding coaches and wagons from almost scrap, show we have the bodies and combined qualified expertise to start a railway service on the branch at any time.
Obviously, there would be trackwork to be checked should we acquire control of the branch, but with our volunteers, expertise, etc., we could cover half a mile of straight track in just one weekend.
There are only two sets of points on the track, so the straight track could be checked and, if needed, re-laid over just 16 weekends.
The Society have made the old Station Yard their home. The old Oswestry Station Goods Shed is the Museum, and the Loco Shed / Workshop was added on to the rear.
The yard was the old Coal Yard which had been used by coal merchants for many years. Now, it is used for storage, and parts are the public car park. The 2 main sidings are without buffers, and are used by Road Transport vehicles when delivering or collecting locos or rolling stock.
Two smaller sidings are known as the Fish Dock, but actually, only one was used for Fish Vans delivering to the fishmongers of Oswestry. The other was used for coal deliveries.
The yard, which is part of the Rail Network, is still listed by the Network Owners as a Strategic Freight Depot.
The yard is publicised Nationally as ‘operational’ and could easily be adapted to accept ‘wagon load’ freight, Parcels, palletised loads and mini-modal freight cargo sprinter type trains to name but a few.
Possession of our LRO has advantages. Even when the Network Owners come along their track, for example with a Weed Killer unit, they have to contact the Society before they can legally cross the pedestrian crossing.
Oswestry Yard, being a listed by the Network as a "Strategic Freight Distribution Depot" has the right to run Commercial Freight services over the branch from Gobowen. Our information suggests that any sale of the line would have a clause to allow permitted train movements to the yard and travel on the branch from the network.
Local businesses are showing some interest in resurrecting this service, and talks with major parties continues.
The Society also own Weston Wharf, a short distance south of Oswestry. This property was a grain Store, and had sidings attached.
Used presently as a store, the Society have plans for this property. An educational establishment restored to its original condition, will allow school parties to see how it worked when it was operational.
As the Society enlarge their presence in the area, by either purchasing or leasing, this can only be for the good of the Society, the People of Oswestry and the areas adjacent to the branch line, as well as those further afield.
A major purchase has been made, subject to contracts being completed, and the Society expects control of yet another asset shortly.
Up to June 2003, the Society have never had grants from the local councils. But with over 400 members, assets approaching a million pounds, and a steady income, the Society has proved its worth in what it does. The working members of the Society are primarily local, but some come from as far as 100 miles away on weekends to carry out important ongoing work.
Even in the winter, members were seen in sub freezing temperatures painting the perimeter fence, gates, a fire point etc.
With our present excellent relationship with the Network owners of the branch, they come to the Society and ask us to do work on the Branch. As their contractor had rather more work to do than expected, the Society were asked to remove a dangerous weed, and they collected 12 black bags of the stuff. This is a useful relationship as we work well together, and it gives the Society some extra income as a donation from the network.
Used with Permission of The Cambrian Railways Society Ltd.