The Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway is a volunteer-run heritage railway, running trains between a station platform in a former colliery furnace site, up a steep but short section of railway line to a halt platform opposite the Whistle Stop public house (famed for its collection of miner's lamps) in Blaenavon.
The railway has not increased in track size since opening, but it has increased as a going concern, with a larger number of volunteers, a larger amount of operational rolling stock, and more definite plans for the railway's future.
The Pontypool Blaenavon Railway Company has been granted an Order under the Transport and Works Act to extend and operate its line from the Whistle Inn in the north to Blaenavon (High Level) some two miles to the south.
Work, which started in December 2004, was initially complicated by difficulty in determining who built the railway. The order allowing most of the initial construction was the Brynmawr and Blaenavon Act of 1866, but a short section in the south was built under the LNWR (Wales &c) Act of 1875. Once the two months spent on this research was complete matters progressed rapidly so that a formal application to the Welsh Assembly was made on 3 May 2005. By the end of June 2005 the application became public with a two-month subsequent period allowed for formal objection.
By 28 November 2005, the inspector appointed by the National Assembly for Wales, Stuart B Wild, MRTPI, MCMI made his report to Parliament. Subsequently a full meeting of the planning Decision Committee of the National Assembly for Wales, chaired by Carwyn Jones, Minister for Environment, Planning and Countryside, approved the application on 24 January 2006. The minister in turn wrote to Winckworth Sherwood on 31 January. The Order, called the Pontypool and Blaenavon (Phase 1) Order 2006 was finally made on 20 June 2006 and came into force on 21 June 2006.
The railway is now concentrating all its efforts on extending the line southwards a further 1 ¼ miles from its existing main station at Furnace Sidings to Blaenavon (High Level). The route southwards is made difficult by the need to refurbish a number of bridges en route. A substantial report which has just been issued by the Company to Torfaen County Borough Council, the successor to the Welsh Development Agency, and other interested parties, estimates the lowest cost for the extension and the provision of a minimal station at High Level at between £235K and £395K, with cost of the bridges lying between £162K and £323K—by far the dominant item in the total cost. The Company is now actively seeking partners to help raise funds to meet the refurbishment costs. Blaenavon (High Level) station is close to the centre of Blaenavon town, and, as a result, a substantial increase in passenger numbers is confidently expected. Blaenavon is the centre of the World Heritage Site of the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, a landscape which includes Big Pit National Coal Museum and the famous Blaenavon Ironworks. The presence of the railway there is expected to significantly add to the visitor experience and tourist potential of the town.
Family Day out; Eve Jenkins, of Roath, Cardiff, Took Her Grandchildren on an Easter Bunny Hunt at the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway. Out&about
Apr 05, 2008; Who went? Eve, grand-daughter Amber Jenkins-Jones, eight, and grandsons Odin Jenkins-Jones, seven, both pupils at Ysgoly Berllan...