Brecon Mountain Railway

Coordinates: 51°48′33″N 3°22′02″W / 51.8093°N 3.36731°W / 51.8093; -3.36731
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Brecon Mountain Railway
Rheilffordd Mynydd Brycheiniog
1908-built German 0-6-2WTT Graf Schwerin-Löwitz and American-style carriages.
LocaleMerthyr Tydfil, Wales
Commercial operations
NameBrecon Mountain Railway
Built byBrecon and Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway
Original gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Preserved operations
Owned byBrecon Mountain Railway Ltd
Operated byBrecon Mountain Railway Ltd
Length5 miles (8.0 km) [1]
Preserved gauge1 ft 11+34 in (603 mm)
Commercial history
Brecon Mountain Railway
Road bridge
Bridge over Nant Callan
Dolygaer loop
Road bridge
Road bridge
Pontsticill railway museum
Pontsticill sheds
Pant depot and engineering works
The American feel of the line is apparent from this photo of 1930 US-built Baldwin Pacific No. 2 on 11 April 2004.

The Brecon Mountain Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd Mynydd Brycheiniog) is a 1 ft 11+34 in (603 mm) narrow gauge tourist railway on the south side of the Brecon Beacons. It climbs northwards from Pant along the full length of the Pontsticill Reservoir (also called 'Taf Fechan' reservoir by Welsh Water) and continues past the adjoining Pentwyn Reservoir to Torpantau railway station. The railway's starting point at Pant is located two miles (3 km) north of the town centre of Merthyr Tydfil, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough, South-East Wales.

Route description[edit]

The line runs along part of the trackbed of the northern section of the former 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge Brecon and Merthyr Railway from Pant to a new station at Torpantau, via Pontsticill and Dolygaer, a total of about 4.5 miles (7 km).

This takes the BMR just short of the southern entrance to the 667 yd (610 m) long Torpantau tunnel, the highest railway tunnel in Great Britain,[2] which carried the original line through the hills along the side of Glyn Collwn to Brecon or to Moat Lane or Hereford via junctions at Talyllyn and Three Cocks.

One of the benefits of the line, and a condition of the planning permission, is that tourists can access and experience part of the Brecon Beacons National Park without driving their cars through it.[3] Car parking for railway passengers is only available at Pant Station, outside the Brecon Beacons National Park.

The Brecon Mountain Railway is a member of the Great Little Trains of Wales.


The Brecon Mountain Railway was founded in the mid-1970s, by Tony Hills (1937–2015). Hills was a long time railway enthusiast who by 1970, had established a base at Gilfach Ddu on the Llanberis Lake Railway where he stored the locomotives he purchased. In 1977, he purchased five miles of trackbed of the abandoned Brecon & Merthyr Railway at Pant and moved his collection there.[4] Construction of the BMR started in 1978, with the grant of a Light Railway Order in 1980.[5] Track was laid between Pant and Pontsticill in 1979–80. At Pontsticill the station house was renovated, the old waiting room was converted into a small workshop and a storage shed was built. Seven bridges were repaired or replaced. The railway opened to passengers in June 1980 using the engine Sybil and one carriage.

Between 1982 and 1996, a large station and workshop were built at Pant. These provide passenger facilities including toilets, cafe, shop and booking office as well as the extensive workshop used to build and maintain the railway locomotives, carriages and wagons.

A 1+12 miles (2.4 km) extension from Pontsticill to Dol-y-Gaer opened in 1995. The railway was further extended to Torpantau, just short of the southern entrance of the Torpantau Tunnel, with passenger services commencing 1 April 2014.

By 2016, the original waiting room building at Pontsticill, which had served as a workshop for a period, was converted into a steam museum housing various stationary steam engines and three of the smaller locomotives. All of the stationary units were connected up to a steam distribution header and boiler, which in 2017 was still awaiting commissioning.


  • Pant – southern terminus of the BMR.
  • Pontsticill – at the southern end of the Pontsticill reservoir.
  • Dolygaer – station closed, but passing loop in use.
  • Torpantau – current northern terminus of the BMR.


Full list of locomotives at the site:[6]

Builder Works No. Date Type Name or Number Status Notes
Steam Locomotives
Baldwin 15511 1897 2-6-2 1 Operational Named Santa Teresa. Acquired 2002. Restored to full working order in 2019.[7]
Baldwin 61269 1930 4-6-2 2 Operational Originally built for the Eastern Province Cement Company in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Acquired by the Brecon Mountain Railway around 1990, and restored to full working order in 1997.[8]
Baldwin / BMR 2-6-2 3 Under construction Working from original drawings of former Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad locomotive 23 (works number 40733) of 1913.[9]
Baldwin / BMR 2-4-4T 4 Under construction Working from original drawings of former Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad locomotive 10 (works number 42231) of 1916.[10]
Jung 1261 1908 0-6-2WTT Graf Schwerin-Löwitz
99 3553
Operational Due to lower power, requires assistance if operating beyond Dolygaer.
Diesel Locomotives
BMR 001 1987 0-6-0DH Operational Constructed at the railway.
Kambarka TU7-1698 1981 4w-4wDH Operational Acquired from a Peat Railway at Seda, Latvia.[11]
Kambarka 706.951[12] 1985 4w-4wDH Unknown Acquired from the Tatra Electric Railway, Slovakia.[13]
Locomotives on static display
De Winton 1894 0-4-0VB Pendyffryn Museum On display (in working order).
Hunslet Engine Co. 827 1903 0-4-0ST Sybil Museum On display (in working order).
Redstone 1905 0-4-0VBT Museum On display (in working order).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jacobs (Ed.), Gerald (2005). Railway Track Diagrams Book 3: Western. Trackmaps, Bradford upon Avon. ISBN 0-9549866-1-X.
  2. ^ Archived 4 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 18 December 2012
  3. ^ Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine accessed 18 December 2012.
  4. ^ Johnson, Peter (9 November 2015). "Tony Hills obituary". The Guardian.
  5. ^ Notice of Light Railway Order application, 1979
  6. ^ UK Locos – Preserved, Private, Hired & Industrial Locos
  7. ^ "No. 1 Santa Teresa Locomotive". Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  8. ^ "No. 2 Baldwin Locomotive". Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  9. ^ "No. 3 Sandy River Locomotive". Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  10. ^ "No. 4 Forney Type Locomotive". Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  11. ^ "Photo Sharing. Your Photos Look Better Here".
  12. ^ "Úzkorozchodky - TU7E (706.9)". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  13. ^ "elezni n .net - eleznica a v etko o nej - report e, fotogal rie vlakov, hist ria, retro". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.

External links[edit]

51°48′33″N 3°22′02″W / 51.8093°N 3.36731°W / 51.8093; -3.36731