Rails To Corwen Dennis Williams

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Rails To Corwen  by  Dennis Williams

Rails To Corwen by Dennis Williams
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The story of the building of the railway in the Vale of Edeyrnion, North Wales, in the mid-nineteenth century. Once the railway had arrived the impact on agriculture was significant. No longer did it have to depend on coastal shipping nor canalMoreThe story of the building of the railway in the Vale of Edeyrnion, North Wales, in the mid-nineteenth century. Once the railway had arrived the impact on agriculture was significant. No longer did it have to depend on coastal shipping nor canal waterways.

The industry remodelled marketing of livestock and was crucial to increasing prosperity in the local economy.A consequence of the railway was increasing volume of transportation. This resulted in almost doubling the numbers employed in the slate quarries together with a welcome reduction in domestic fuel by 43%.Slate production in local quarries grew creating further jobs as demand increased.By the end of the 1860’s the total slate production in Wales had reached 350,000 tons per year.

Penarth Quarry’s contribution was small in comparison to the quarries of North-West Wales but production increased considerably as a consequence to the arrival of the railway. The result of this increased wealth in the area saw many new businesses re-locatng in the valley and changed the lives of the ordinary inhabitants.The first railway to actually arrive in Corwen was the Denbigh, Ruthin & Corwen Railway in September 1864, with the Llangollen & Corwen Railway following in April 1865.

It was however in 1860 that the real story begins, when both railways received Royal Assent.There is also human tragedy in the building of the railway with the tragic deaths of three navvies on the ‘Trewyn Cutting’, it later emerging that one person concerned was an Italian with an assumed alias.The number of railway casualties during the early years is quite alarming, and the way in which these fatalities are reported in the press is so graphical as to be gruesome to say the least, with scant regard for families of the victims concerned.With the opening of the Ruthin to Corwen line we unearth a commemorative poem by one of Wales’ leading poets.And what of the tree planters in Llangwm in the early 1800’s - did they envisage that their saplings would grow to become part of the ‘iron road’ in the Vale of Edeyrnion some sixty years later?

Where would Corwen’s station be located? Due to the way in which the river Dee flooded it was envisaged at one time that this would be on its north side and some way out of the town. And who would ever have imagined that a compulsory order on property would be made against the largest landowner in North Wales.The social and economic benefits of the railway are clearly seen as detailed in reports of a variety of ‘Excursions’ to the seaside, as well as introducing the people of the Vale of Edeyrnion to the delight of a winter ‘Pantomime’ in Liverpool. How else would a slate quarry’s ‘Brass-Band’ travel to perform for one of its owner’s?It is ironic that almost a hundred years prior to the closure of the Ruabon to Barmouth railway, we discover details of the ‘Great Flood at Corwen’ which immobilised the railway only four months following its opening.The book itself begins with the end of the line and a brief analysis detailing the closure and some of the grave errors behind it which, while not attempting to absolve the infamous Dr Beeching of ‘brutally mangling’ the local railway, does at least part remove the horns from his head but perhaps not the axe from his hand.A considerable amount of the text in this book chronicles events leading up to the arrival of the railway in the Vale of Edeyrnion as they appeared in the two newspapers serving the area at that period - the ‘Carnarvon & Denbigh Herald’ and the Welsh language newspaper ‘Y Baner ac Amserau Cymru’ (The Banner and Welsh Times), as well as numerous facts gleaned from a wide number of published books.



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