Friday, June 2, 2023

Sun shines down on official opening of Corwen station

* Lord Hendy unveils the commemorative plaque on the platform.

* The new station canopy.

* A steam train drives through a ceremonial banner places across the line.

* Guests arrive for the opening ceremony.

* Welsh Secretary David Davies.

* Founder member and president Bill Shakespeare. 

To the strains of the Welsh national anthem the chairman of Network Rail, Lord Peter Hendy, unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the official opening of the new Corwen station earlier this afternoon (Friday).

The ceremony was watched by hundreds of supporters and VIPs of the heritage railway who had arrived aboard a special steam train from Carrog.

They stood on a sun-drenched platform to see the ceremony which marked the culmination of a decade of hard work by volunteers and directors - and the investment of £1.25m by both the Welsh and UK governments and other donors.

Lord Hendy, who is also chairman of the Heritage Railways Association, said the new station was a great tribute to the work and commitment of all those involved in its creation from spare land at the end of Corwen's main car park.

"It's a brilliant job which took foresight, guts and determination. Two hundred years ago the railways changed the face of Britain and now this station will do the same for Corwen," he told the gathering which included the Secretary of State for Wales, local MPs and Senedd Members plus numerous county and town councillors for the area.

Lord Hendy said one of the main problems facing heritage railways such as Llangollen and Corwen, as it is now being marketed, was the high cost of coal much of which was now being imported from abroad.

"How much better it would be if these railways could be run on good Welsh coal, and that is what I and others will continue to lobby for," he promised.

In his speech Welsh Secretary David Davies described the work done at the new station as "outstanding and inspirational" and he told volunteers and directors, "You have turned a pipedream into reality. What you have all done is unforgettable."  

He added: "One or two of our train mainline companies could learn about punctuality from this railway and perhaps we should put you guys in charge of HS2."

Looking over at the railway's president and founder Bill Shakespeare who was in the audience, railway chairman Phil Coles said it had been 48 years since the Llangollen line had been revived and that Mr Shakespeare had said at the time it would be about 10 years before it reached back to Corwen.

He added: "It took a bit longer than that but we're here now, Bill."

Mr Coles thanked the volunteers for their hard work in building the new station and admitted that at times the project had been difficult and stressful and that those involved had needed to shed "sweat and sometimes blood" to bring it to a successful conclusion.

"It's just wonderful that it has now happened," he said.       

The opening of Corwen station marks the culmination of years of hard work by volunteers and staff of the railway, millions of pounds of investment and the triumph of the heritage attraction over the massive setbacks of liquidation and pandemic. 

Tomorrow and Sunday will see a two-day gala event when an intensive public timetable will operate a three-train service of steam, diesel and railcar workings, each train working two return trips to Corwen a day. 

Locomotives and railcars are expected to be drawn from Austerity 68067, Class 31 No 31271, Class 47 1566 and Classes 104, 108 & 109 DMU. 

A range of attractions are planned in Corwen including model railway layouts in the town's community centre and museum.

Liverpool Model Railway Society will be exhibiting a layout entitled Corwen Through the Ages in the community centre and there is a 4mm scale model of sections of the Llangollen Railway in the museum. 

Dapol and Rails of Sheffield will also be making an announcement about a forthcoming new 4mm scale model that should be of great interest to both Llangollen Railway and GWR fans alike.

There will also be a display of heritage memorabilia in the Henry Robertson suite at Llangollen station across all four days of the event. 

A vintage fire engine will also be on display at Llangollen station. 

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