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London & North Western Railway Society
Bygone Lines of the LNWR

The Amlwch Branch — LNWR GAERWEN - AMLWCH (Single line 14¾ miles)

Opened
(Gds) 16.12.1864 Gaerwen - Llangefni 1.2.1866
Llangefni - Llanerchymedd; 10.9.1866
Llanerchymedd - Amlwch; 1953
Amlwch - Oil terminal. (Pass) 12.3.1865
Gaerwen - Llangefni;1.2.1866
Llangefni - Llanerchymedd; 3.6.1867
Llanerchymedd - Amlwch.
Closed
(Pass) 7.12.1964, (all traffic OOU) 1.2.2003.
Stations
Gaerwen (opened 1849, closed 1966); Holland Arms (closed 1952); Llangefni; Llangwyllog; Llanerchymedd; Rhosgoch; Amlwch.

History
Amlwch on the north coast of the Island of Anglesey is today a sleepy seaside resort but was once the copper mining capital of the world with the biggest seaport in Wales. The Anglesey Central Railway built this branch in three stages and had opened it for passengers throughout by 1867. It was absorbed by the LNWR in 1876 and by 1910 they were providing six trains daily each way over the full branch with several others operating only as far as Llangefni. In 1953 it was extended one mile to Associated Octel Company's oil terminal. There were still six passenger trains serving Amlwch in September 1964 with most of these operating from Bangor but three months later all were withdrawn. In 1993 Associated Octel decided to send chlorine to Ellesmere Port by road and the last passenger charter train ran in October that year.
Copper was rediscovered on Parrys Mountain in 1768 and the opencast mine soon became the greatest copper mine in the world. In the late 18th century Amlwch was the largest population centre in Wales. Three thousand tons of copper were exported annually and it dominated world markets. The area round Amlwch has already been designated as a place of historic importance in Europe and Amlwch Industrial Heritage Trust aim to recreate the port and the mine to attract tourists.

Heritage Railway
1995: Ynys Mon Council (Anglesey) agreed in principle to buy the line for 250,000 pounds and lease it to the Isle of Anglesey Railways Ltd.
2000: In April the Council reaffirmed its intention to buy the line but negotiations were being held up by EWS who wanted to prevent it being resold should a tourist line not prove to be viable.
2006: In April Network Rail agreed in principle to sell the the whole line to Anglesey Central Railways. The Group hoped to have the lease by end of the year and, in due course, to open a five mile section in the middle of the branch at Llanerchymedd, setting up their headquarters there.

Reopening Freight
Whilst it was unlikely that Great Lake Chemicals (the successor to Associated Octel) would use the revived line, hopes were high at one stage that the purchaser of the former rail connected oil storage depot at Rhosgoch would use rail during construction work and afterwards to move out finished goods. Meanwhile the Council was supporting Sustran's plan to develop a cycleway alongside the track.

Reopening Passenger
2000: In September the Rail Passengers Committee informed the Council that it considered the construction of a new halt at Gaerwen and the reintroduction of passenger services over the first 4½ miles to Llangefni should be a priority.
2010: In January talks were held between Network Rail, The Welsh Assembly and Ynys Mon Council over reopening which could lead to an hourly passenger service to Llangefni.

Route when open The branch diverged from the Bangor - Holyhead line at Gaerwen (SH484707) to head west and after 1½ miles curved sharply NE and passed under the A5 to reach Holland Arms. Leaving that station the branch to Redwharf Bay curved away NE whilst this line headed NW over the Malldraeth Marshes to Llangefni. The next section to Llanerchymedd had sharp curves and a ruling gradient of 1 in 67 and later a causeway over Cefni Reservoir when it was built. For the final seven miles the line wandered across the north of the island to the terminus at Amlwch (SH442928). The later extension continues through the town by a series of level crossings to terminate inside the Associated Octel works, a few hundred yards from the coast.

Route today
The track is still in situ throughout but there is no evidence of the junction at Holland Arms. There are long stretches of clear ballast but slow going in parts due to foliage. The only major obstacle is at SH410892 on the approach to Rhosgoch station where a some 150yds of chest-high brambles has to be barged through as there is no obvious diversion. The walkable section ends at the site of Amlwch station as the extension to the works site is well fenced off and badly overgrown.

Stations
Gaerwen station and bays survive next to the manned signalbox and level crossing; Holland Arms station buildings are used as store for nearby house and the yard as a coal store; Llangefni and goods shed residence; Llgwyllog residence; Llanerchymedd council owned station building bricked up platform left in place, station house on nearby rock outcrop residence; Rhosgoch station (fenced off) platform left in place station house residence; Amlwch demolished and a road built over the site.

Bridges
a new concrete bridge carries the A55 dual-carriageway over the line at Holland Arms; all other bridges are in place.
Further information can be found here.


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