Gif of LNWR Emblem
London & North Western Railway Society
Bygone Lines of the LNWR

LNWR CAERNARFON - AFONWEN (single line 18¾ miles)

Opened
2.9.1867 Caernarfon (Pant) - Afonwen; 5.7.1870 Town line linking terminus of B&CR to Pant station; 1.8.1870 Caernarfon Harbour branch.
Closed
7.12.1964.
Reopened
14.10.1997 Caernarfon - Dinas (narrow gauge).
Stations
Caernarvon*, Bont Newydd (NR 1856-65), Dinas**, Pwllheli renamed Llanwnda, Groeslon, Penygroes, Pant Glas (opened 1869 closed 1957), Brynkir, Ynys, Llangybi, Chwilog, Afonwen
*four stations: Castle 3'6" NR (1856-65), Pant CR (1867-70), Morfa C&LR (1869-71), Caernarvon LNWR (1870- 1970)
** Dinas NR (1856-65), reopened and r/n Dinas Junction (1877-1938), r/n 1938 Dinas Caerns (closed 1951).
Signalboxes
Caernarvon No.2, Dinas Junction, Groeslon, Penygroes, Bryncir, Llangybi, Chwilog, Afonwen
Loco shed
Caernarvon two- track shed (opened c1875,closed 1931).

History
The narrow gauge Nantle Railway (NR) opened about 1827 to convey copper and slate to the quays at Caernarfon. About thirty years later the railway operated four passenger trains daily over the line which involved many dangerous curves and steep gradients. By 1867 much of its formation had been converted by the Carnarvonshire (sic) Railway into part of their standard gauge single track line to Afonwen. Two years later it was absorbed by the LNWR and in 1870 they opened a short line connecting it to the Caernarfon LNW station and the line to Bangor. Seven trains were provided by the LNW each way daily, mostly Bangor - Afonwen with some continuing to Pwllheli by reversing at Afonwen. On summer Saturdays, from 1947, double-headed ten coach holiday trains could be seen making there way to Penychain (Pwllheli) for Butlin's holiday camp; it was also on the route of the popular North Wales Land Cruises. The line closed to all traffic in 1964 with track lifted between Dinas and Afon Wen in 1968 and the remainder by 1970.

Narrow Gauge Tourist Railway
The Welsh Highland Railway (WHR) have relaid the Caernarfon - Dinas section with n.g.track and this now forms form part of the (almost) reopened line to Porthmadog.

Route when open
In 1870 the LNWR opened a new through station in Caernarfon (SH481632) and from there two single lines (to Afonwen and Llanberis) headed south dropping down to pass under Turf Square before climbing briefly to Caernarfon tunnel. Emerging from the tunnel the lines passed the site of two former stations and the entrance to the Harbour branch with the two single lines parting company after a further half mile at Seiont Bridge. Except for a level stretch at Dinas trains then faced an eight mile climb with the final two miles to Bodychain summit at 1 in 49. Three miles after crossing the Afon Seiont it reached Dinas Junction where interchange was possible with the WHR. It then passed under the A499 Pwllheli road at Llanwnda and continued to climb for a further three miles to Penygroes where the Nantlle branch (see below) diverged east. From Bryncir it chose a more westerly route to join the Barmouth - Pwllheli line at Afonwen (SH440372).

Route today
The line that dropped down from Caernarfon station including Caernarfon tunnel has been converted into a one-way road, part of the A487. Thirteen miles of the trackbed from south of the new Caernarfon WHR station (SH480626) to Bryncir (SH479447) have been converted into a cycleway, the Lon Eifon which also forms part of the Welsh National Cycle Route Lon Las Cymru NCN8. The surface varies between compacted dust and tarmac. For the first three miles to Dinas it runs alongside the narrow gauge track of the WHR. Improvements to the A497 have taken over the trackbed at the following locations: SH474574 - 473568: between Llanwnda and Groeslon; SH773556: south of Goeslon the new road crosses the trackbed but a new cycletrack bridge is in place; SH466532 - 468524: Penygroes bypass; SH467509: south of Llanllffni for 300yds just before bridge carrying the lane to Foel Uchaf. South of Bryncir it becomes more fragemented with long stretches of undergrowth and quagmires. It becomes a little easier south of SH459409 as parts of the trackbed have been used as an access for fishing. Beyond Llangybi station plenty of ballast remains and there is little or no obstruction but four of the five bridges over the Afon Wen require care as the decking has rotted away. Approaching Chwilog a short detour is necessary around a small sheltered housing development regaining the trackbed at a caravan site which then crosses the A497 to reach the junction with the Pwllheli - Porthmadog line along a short embankment.

Stations
On the Welsh Highland Railway - new stations have been opened at Caernarfon 100 yds south of the tunnel, Bontneydd Halt (opened 1999) and Dinas. At Dinas the WHR have erected a 12-car carriage shed and the former WHR goods shed is now a museum where No.138 the 2-6-2+2-6-2 Garratt locomotive is also on display when not in use.

Stations
On the Original Line - Caernarvon LNW station site now a Morrison's supermarket and car park; Llanwnda demolished; Penygroes demolished - site built over by bypass; Groeslon traces of platforms beneath vegetation; Pant Glas platforms also under vegetation, station house and buildings in situ; Bryncir overgrown platforms, water tank and station house; Ynys station house/LC cottage residence; Llangybi station building survives, station house residence; Chwilog remains of platform in childrens' playground but no trace of level crossing; Afonwen station house residence.

Bridges
High two-arched viaduct over Afon Seiont, carries cycleway and narrow gauge line; bridge over Afon Gwyrfai (SH478600) at Bontnewydd listed grade ll, carries cycleway and narrow gauge line; most bridges intact Dinas - Bryncir; immediately south of Bryncir high bridge over Afon Dwyfach intact; overbridge at Pont-y-felin (SH477434) infilled; overbridge at Chwilog (SH435381) infilled; four bridges over Afon Wen (the river) - first three decking has rotted away, last one in good condition; abutments only of bridge over A497; at Afonwen (the village) one half removed of bridge that carried this line and Pwllheli line over the Afon Wen.

Tunnel
Caernarfon 164yds, in 1999 it was converted into a road which, with link roads, runs from Crown Street (near Victoria Dock) to St Helen's Road, south portal (next to WHR station) is listed grade ll.

Loco shed
Caernarvon (SH483634) on west side of line north of station, after closure remained standing for a number of years before being demolished - the cyclepath now passes through the site.

Miscellaneous
Signal post complete with distant arm north of Chwilog.

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