Gauge: 1ft 11½in (600mm)
The Vale of Rheidol Railway was authorised by act of parliament passed in 1897 and construction began in 1901. Gauge was 1ft 11½in. Since the railway would offer views of the spectacular and remote valley of the Rheidol river some tourist traffic was envisaged, but the primary purpose of the railway was to haul lead, copper, zinc and iron ores extracted from the Devils Bridge area to the sea and the railway in Aberystwyth. The railway was inspected for safety twice in 1902 before being granted permission to carry passengers.
Two large, purposeful 2-6-2 locomotives were built by Davies and Metcalfe of Cheshire, one of which (Prince of Wales) still operates on the line today. Two later locomotives, built in the Great Western works at Swindon, follow the style of the two originals.
The freight traffic never amounted to much and passengers, particularly in the summer season, brought in the profit. Even so, the Rheidol did not last long as an independent company, and in fact it has had many owners.
Cambrian Railways took over the line in 1913. In the grouping of 1923 the line passed into the hands of the Great Western Railway which immediately set about relaying the entire track with new rail, built two locomotives and new carriages and moved the Aberystwyth terminus to its current location alongside the standard gauge trains. The railway was closed during the Second World War. It reopened in 1945 and three years later, under Railway Nationalisation, was transferred to British Railways. As steam passed away elsewhere, it became the last steam operated BR railway. In 1989 with closure looking imminent the Brecon Mountain Railway, which operates a 2 foot gauge tourist line in South Wales, took over the Vale of Rheidol in time for the summer season. The railway has since regained it's independance under the current management.
The locomotives and rolling stock on this railway are built to a large loading gauge with the result that the passenger accommodation is roomy and comfortable. The locomotives are powerful and heavy and more modern than many on British narrow gauge railways.
1 Edward VII Davies & Metcalfe No. 1 of 1902; 2-6-2 tank. GWR 1212. Scrapped 1935
2 (9) Prince of Wales Davies & Metcalfe No. 2 of 1902; 2-6-2 tank. GWR 1213. Survives
3 Rheidol W.G. Bagnall of 1896; 2-4-0 tank. Ex. Plymlimon & Hafan Talybont. Scrapped 1923
7 Owain Glyndŵr GWR Swindon of 1923; 2-6-2 tank. Survives
8 Llywelyn GWR Swindon of 1923; 2-6-2 tank. Survives