Railways around Hay-on-Wye, Wales
Disused lines around Hay-on-Wye, including Glasbury and Whitney-on-Wye
Photos and report by Mike Slocombe, May 2006
The Hay Railway
The Hay Railway started life as a horse Tramway, authorised in 1811-2 and running for 24 miles from the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal at Brecon to Eardisley on 3ft 6in gauge tracks.
The line was sold to the Hereford Hay and Brecon Railway (HH&BR) in 1860, with Thomas Savin - esteemed contractor and builder of many Welsh lines - completing the railway in 1864.
When it comes to ownership, things start to get complicated, with the HH&BR owning the section from Hay to Eardisley, but jointly owning the next stretch from Hay to Three Cocks Junction section.
The following section of line from Three Cocks Junction to Talyllyn was owned by the Mid Wales Railway, with the last section between Talyllyn to Brecon in the hands of the Brecon and Merthyr Railway (hope you're keeping up with all this!).
Despite a lavish opening ceremony featuring a huge picnic, marching bands and a firework display, the railway wasn't a great success, and was later bought up by the Midland railway.
Although firmly in Great Western territory, the Midland used the line to get one over their rival and create a through route from Birmingham to Swansea via Hereford, Brecon, the Neath and Brecon Railway and the Swansea Vale Railway.
Not exactly the fastest way to get from A to B mind, but still a useful connection none the less.
The Golden Valley Railway
Built between 1876 and 1889, this charming rural railway had its northern junction at Hay and then ran through the beautiful Golden Valley to Pontrilas.
By 1898 disastrous receipts had forced the line's closure, but it was rescued by the Great Western Railway in 1901 and ran a passenger service until 1941, with goods hanging on until the 1950s.
At its peak, passengers at Hay could travel to Brecon, Builth, Llanidloes, Rhayader and Hereford and easily connect to a veritable host of other lines on the railway network.
Sadly, the entire Hereford to Brecon rail network was abandoned in 1963 as a result of Dr Beeching's infamous act, leaving Hay disconnected from the railway network, with the nearest station some twenty miles away.
Hay station today
Although all signs of the station buildings seem to have vanished, the substantial old goods shed survives and serves as a farm supplies warehouse.
The station may be long closed, but this old shop frontage opposite remains intact.
Modern warehouse on the old station site at Newport Road, Hay.
Hay to Whitney-on-Wye
The line headed north east out of Hay, with the Golden Valley line branching off to the east a mile or so from the station.
Much of the old route has been turned into a footpath, and it makes for a very pleasant and tranquil walk.
Although it's beginning to look a little precarious in its old age, you can still walk over this old wooden bridge.
To the south of the bridge were these unusual embedded rails. The two rails ran parallel with the trackbed and then seemed to head straight into the embankment!
As we got closer to the River Wye at Whitney, the track bed became a lot more overgrown.
The remains of the stone pier that once supported the cast iron decking across the River Wye.
If you follow our route you can expect a severe lashing of stingy nettles when you try to scramble down the embankment to join the nearby road by the toll bridge!
Looking at the old railway bridge from the nearby Whitney Toll Bridge.
Whitney-on-Wye station was on the north side of the river and despite being something of a humble, one-platform affair, briefly had its moment of glory before vanishing forever.
For just over two weeks in Dec. 1961, the station acted as a terminus after the Wye Bridge was closed following flood damage.
Hay-on-Wye to Glasbury
The old railway line to Glasbury heads south west out of Hay, although none of it seems to be walkable. Here you can see a fence cutting off the trackbed.
You can just make out the remains of a substantial stone bridge between Hay and Glasbury.
By Treble Hill, a small strip of the old Brecon - Hay railway line has been turned into a small nature reserve, called Glasbury Cutting.
The nature reserve starts off on an embankment and then runs through a cutting, ending just before Glasbury village.
The surviving stone-built railway bridge near Glasbury station.
PASSENGER CLOSURE TIMETABLE
Hay - Brecon/hereford (Brecon Curve Jn): 31st December 1962
Hay - Pontrilas (Golden Valley): 15th Dec 1941