Barry Railway Company


Barry Railway Company

The Barry Railway Company was promoted by interests in coal mining and steel in the South Wales valleys as an alternative to the existing rail service to Cardiff docks in Tiger Bay. Its primary interests were always very much in transporting the commodities of its sponsors.

It was incorporated as the Barry Dock and Railway Company by Act of Parliament on 14 August, 1884 for the construction of a dock at Barry Island. The name was changed to The Barry Railway Company by an Act of 5th August 1891.

The company persuaded P and A Campbell to run steamers from a pier built alongside the dock across the Bristol Channel, but later put their own fleet on the station. Although the "Red Funnel" fleet as it became known gained a great measure of popularity, the company was dogged by legal disputes with its main competitors, P and A Campbell, legislation restricting their freedom to develop services and the legacy of the high cost of its three magnificent new steamers

Barry Railway

Starting in 1885, the company constructed 7 miles (11km) of track from Cardiff, Wales, and the construction of railways of about 26 miles (41.6km) in length from the docks to the Rhondda Valley. Additionally, access was created to junctions with the existing and authorised railways to all the other great mineral-producing districts of South Wales. Eventually the Company’s route mileage was convert|66|mi|km, but with convert|140|mi|km of sidings: convert|100|mi|km of them were around the docks. The head office of the railway was at Barry. Apart from owning the docks themselves—which consisted of three docks entered by locks—the four main portions of the rail network were:

* the main line from Barry to Trehafod (via Wenvoe, Creigiau, Efail Isaf, Tonteg and Trefforest)
* a branch from Cadoxton giving access to Cardiff via the Taff Vale Railway
* a branch from St Fagans via Penrhos giving access to Rhymney via the Rhymney Railway
* the Barry Island branch
* the line via Aberthaw to Bridgend, linking with the Great Western Railway. This was the Vale of Glamorgan Railway, promoted by the Barry.

Despite the disadvantages of the line (not serving many collieries directly, crossing valleys rather than using them leaving to higher construction charges and running costs, and the Barry docks being further from the mines than Cardiff and Newport), the Barry Railway was by far the most successful of the South Wales companies.

Being largely owned by the mine owners, they used it wherever possible and the expansion of coal production meant there was more demand for transport than other lines could cope with. The docks were also larger and more efficient, sharing common management, being accessible to larger ships for more hours, and not needing to be dredged as much due to not being on an estuary.

The Vale of Glamorgan Railway was worked and managed by the Barry Railway but remained independent until grouping in 1922. At first, passenger services on the Barry were only run on the Cogan branch, but soon further services were run, including those for passengers using the steamers in the docks. There were 150 coaching vehicles owned in 1912; and 138 locomotives. Llandow Halt was opened on 1st May 1915, St. Athan Halt on 1st September 1939 and Llandow (Wick Road) Halt on 19th April 1943.

Barry and Bristol Channel Steamship Company

In 1905 they started to build their own fleet of four ships, but as a railway company, parliamentary powers were required to operate steamships and the powers granted generally included provisions which limited operations to routes genuinely associated with the mother company's principal business (ie railway connections to non-accessible locations). The powers were also granted to take account of the legitimate interests of existing operators.

The Company were limited to calls on the southern bank of the Channel between Weston and Ilfracombe, with additional summer excursion destinations allowed so long as the cruises started and finished at Barry. To circumvent these restrictions, the company resorted to the ploy of registering their vessels in the names of its directors and set up an operating company, the Barry and Bristol Channel Steamship Company. P and A Campbell resorted to successful legal action which ensured that by July 1907, the Barry Railway Company was required to abide by the terms of the original legislation.

Services were maintained despite deteriorating financial fortunes, but as a cost saving measure, PS Gwalia was sold to the Furness Railway Company on May 7th 1910. Five days later the remaining three steamers were sold to Bristol Channel Passenger Boats Ltd. The latter company struggled to make the business pay and after two seasons, sold out to P and A Campbell.

Paddle Steamers of the Barry and Bristol Channel Steamship Company

* PS Gwalia - 1905
* PS Devonia - 1905
* PS Westonia - second-hand 1905
* PS Barry - second-hand 1907

After 1923 - post grouping

The Barry Railway became a constituent part of the Great Western Railway in 1923, post the railway grouping [http://www.railfuture.org.uk/tiki-download_file.php?fileId=39] . Local traffic on the line included that from the limestone quarries and the cement works Aberthaw, and Rhoose cement works at the eastern end of the line. Wartime traffic was created from Tremains and Brackla Hill at Bridgend and the RAF base at St. Athan. More recent developments were the opening of Aberthaw power station in February 1966 and the Ford engine plant at Bridgend in January 1980. The Barry-Bridgend passenger service finished on 13 June, 1964, but the line continued to be used by through passenger trains between Cardiff and Bridgend when the main line via Pontyclun was closed. This still frequently happens at night and on Sundays and train operators ran empty coaching stock and empty mail trains via this route to retain train crew route knowledge.

By the late 1990s, a daily train runs between Ford’s plants at Dagenham and Bridgend and merry-go-round coal trains run between Onllwyn and Cwmgwrach (to the west), Tower Colliery, Newport Docks and Avonmouth (to the east), to Aberthaw power station averaging some 10 trains a day. Rhoose cement works has closed, and a connection is retained to Aberthaw cement works where wagons are stored

Reopening to passengers

A pressure group called Railfuture [ [http://www.railfuture.org.uk/tiki-page.php?pageName=RailFuture Railfuture ] ] produced a booklet “Rails to the Vale” in 1997 in which it was stated that they believe: "that a new daily passenger service through the vale could cover its costs – and even generate profits given time"

With traffic increasing to Cardiff airport, the Local Government transport consortium SWIFT also identified the potential for reopening the Vale of Glamorgan line. The scheme was promoted by the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend Borough Councils to the Welsh Assembly Government in August 1999. After agreeing funding, track upgrading and signalling works commenced in June 2004 with: convert|3.5|mi|km of new track laid; convert|6.5|mi|km of track upgraded; 15000 tonnes of ballast used; three new section signals (2 on the up and 1 on the down) were installed together with three distant signals and one repeater signal required by the curved approach to Llantwit Major Station. Final planning permission for the new stations and interchanges at Rhoose, Cardiff International Airport and Llantwit Major was granted in 2004 and from October 2004 the line was closed daily between Bridgend and Abethaw or Barry for the station construction, with goods traffic passing at night. At Bridgend, the Barry bay was relaid and a new platform face built. Network Rail used three contractors: Mowlem for the permanent way; Carillion for signals and telephones; and Galliford Try for civil engineering, including the platforms. The Vale of Glamorgan Council was responsible for the construction of the interchanges at Rhoose, Cardiff International Airport and Llantwit Major. Network Rail spent £15m and the Vale of Glamorgan Council £2m making a grand total of £17m for the whole project. The daytime closures were shortened from April to enable crew training to commence. The line officially reopened to fare paying passengers on Sunday 12 June, 2005 with 143606/624 working 0840 Cardiff-Bridgend and 0945 return

References

ources

*The Railway Year Book for 1912 (Railway Publishing Co Ltd)

External links

* [http://www.railscot.co.uk/South_Wales_Railway/frame.htm Barry railway at Railscot.co.uk]
* [http://www.gwr.org.uk/nobarry1.html The Barry Pages]
* [http://www.trackbed.com/companies/b/company_bry.htm Barry Railway notes]


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