Fairbourne Railway History

The Railway has run from Fairbourne village to Penrhyn Point since 1895.

With the arrival of the Cambrian Coast Railway there were schemes to develop the area for tourism. There were several horse drawn construction tramways in the area and the 2ft gauge tramway that was used to construct the village became the Fairbourne Railway.

In 1916 a company created by Bassett-Lowke took over the now derelict horse tramway and rebuilt it as a 15 inch gauge pleasure railway and introduced steam locomotives. They continued to operate the line until 1922 when the railway was taken over by some local business men, who ran it until the Second Worls War started in 1940.

Rebirth - Wilkins Era
In 1946, a Midlands businessman J C Wilkins formed a company and bought the remains of the railway. Over the period 1946 - 1958 the line was completely rebuilt and the facilities extended.

In the 1960's new rolling stock and Guest Engineering & Maintenance steam, diesel and petrol engine locomotives were added.

J.C. Wilkins ran the line until it was sold to the Ellerton family in late 1983 and it was the Ellerton's who at the end of the 1985 season converted the line to the 12.25 inch gauge it remains today.

Aerial view of Penrhyn Point rebuilt for 12.25 gauge line
Aerial view of Penrhyn Point showing the railway

The arrival of the Ellerton family brought massive change to the Fairbourne Railway, least of all being a name change. The station at Fairbourne was dramatically rebuilt, a new extension built at the Point complete with new, permanent cafe and a Tunnel was added.

During the winter of 1985-6 the line was converted to 12¼ inches gauge 1986 and 4 new steam locomotives introduced (2 of which had run on the Réseau Guerlédan Railway in Brittany in 1978). All 4 steam locomotives are ½ sized replicas of narrow gauge engines; Yeo, Sherpa, Beddgelert and Russell. Other than Sylvia (rebuilt as Lilian Walter) almost all the old 15 inch gauge locomotives, coaches and wagons left the railway.

The railway was again put up for sale in 1990, the lines fortunes appeared to be declining once again. During the five years it was up for sale the railway deteriorated dramatically and its reputation not helped by leasing portions off to persons who were clearly unsuitable.

Prof. & Mrs Atkinson and Dr & Mrs Melton bought the line in April 1995 and invested heavily in the railway and Rowen Centre (taking no salary, or share dividend) in order to preserve the line.......continued in the Fairbourne Railway Now.

This site is dedicated to the "Wilkins Era" but reflects on the other periods.