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Cambrian Railways
(Note: Numbers in brackets refer to specific references)

The Cambrian was formed by the merger in 1864 of the Llanidloes & Newtown Railway, Oswestry & Newtown Railway, Newtown & Machynlleth Railway, and Oswestry Ellesmere & Whitchurch Railway. In 1865 they absorbed the Aberystwyth & Welsh Coast Railway and took over the running of the Mid-Wales Railway from 1888. Other towns served were; Whitchurch, Welshpool, Builth Road, and Afonwen (all offering connections to the LNWR) Oswestry, Buttington and Dolgellau (all linked with the GWR) Wrexham, Whitchurch, Aberystwyth, Pwlleli and the Dovey Valley. There was a connection with the Midland Railway at Three Cocks Junction. It was the largest of the Welsh companies to be grouped with the GWR in 1923 with a total of some 280 route miles of track.

This company operated a considerable mileage of single track and favoured rather low passenger platforms, necessitating two steps on the side of the coaches. About two thirds of the goods stock was made up of fixed-side and drop-side two plank open wagons. The Cambrian system served most of Wales, from Pwllheli and Wrexham in the North to Aberystwyth and the Brecon and Talyllyn Junction in the South. The logo was used with Royal permission and the company considered itself 'the' Welsh railway company although its headquarters were in the English town of Oswestry. .

Open goods stock had light grey bodies with ironwork picked out in black. Vans had grey bodies with black chassis and the outside face of the outside framing also painted black. Van roofs were white. Gunpowder van bodies were red. Early lettering consisted of the number on the ends of wagons but in about 1899 they emblazoned the sides of open wagons with the words CAM RYS with the 'Prince of Wales' feather logo between, all in white and using a serif font. The load was painted under the central logo as shown in the sketch. After 1915 this started to change to the word CAMBRIAN, painted twelve inches high in white along the side of wagons in a light serif font, on some wagons the load was indicated in the lower right as shown in the sketch. In the event few vehicles received this lettering. (1)

Closed vans had CAMBRIAN RAILWAYS about 6-8 inches high, usually about twelve inches down from the top, normally with the wagon number on the central part of the doors. Official photos of newly built stock show black shading to the company name but it is doubtful if this was generally applied. The tare was painted in the lower left in a plain sans serif font using the form 5.17.0 and the load was painted in the lower right, originally in italic, later in a plain sans serif font. (1) The Cambrian seems to be one of the few Welsh companies that did not use the ubiquitous iron bodied van.
Passenger stock had black chassis and running gear. Bodies were bronze green with white upper panels, later changing to all over bronze green. (1) The lettering and the feathers emblem was in gold, shaded dark blue below and light blue to the right. (4)

In an RCH document dated 1891 the tarpaulins are described as being marked CAMBRIAN RAILWAYS with the Prince of Wales feathers to either side and a blue and red cross running corner to corner.(2) The cross was probably a blue stripe with a red line running along the centre. Great Western Way describes the tarpaulins as having the word CAMBRIAN above the number and with the prince of wales feathers to either side of the number, as shown in my sketch. However a study of tarpaulins in the HMRS Journal in 1988, based on the only known photo of a Cam Rys sheet, had only a single feather logo to the left of the number and the date of manufacture to the right.

Fig ___ Cambrian

Cambrian Railways
The four plank and two plank wagons were made from a Peco seven plank wagon kit.. The body of the four plank wagon was shortened by removing 1mm from each side of the doors and new diagonal side strapping was added from 10x20 thou strip. The chassis has 1mm removed from either side of the V hanger and the weight is broken in half.. The two plank wagon is the top two planks of the Peco wagon mounted on a Peco nine foot wheelbase chassis. The side detail between the end plates was removed, the body was shortened by trimming a short length from one end of each side close by the corner plate and new side supports were added from 10x20 thou strip.


(1) Great Western Way - J. N. Slinn - HMRS - 1978/79/85 - ISBN 0 902835 09 2
This book details the livery practice of the GWR and also briefly covers the principal liveries of absorbed companies. There are not as many photographs as one might wish but there are plenty which suggest modelling ideas.

(2) The descriptions of the tarpaulins markings are taken from an RCH document entitled 'General Arrangements Relating to Coaching Traffic' dated 1891, researched by Ray Caston of the Welsh Railway Research Circle.

(3) HMRS Journal Vol.16 No.6 (1998) contained a discussion on tarpaulins from the earliest days to the 1940's.

(4) Historic Carriage Drawings Vol. 3 Non Passenger Coaching Stock compiling editor Peter Tatlow - Pendragon Partnership - 2000 A really useful book containing scale drawings and photographs with potted histories and details of livery for a wide range of rolling stock, mostly pre-grouping designs. Highly recommended.

The Tanat Valley Light Railway by Mike Lloyd is highly recommended to anyone considering a model of a light railway but is essential reading for those considering the TVLR

Welsh Railway Research Circle
Cambrian Railways Society Ltd.
Oswald Road,
SY11 1RE
Enquires: (+44) 01691 671749

Available Models.
No specific models known


Considerable thanks are due to Tony Miller and Ray Caston, both of the WRRC, for their help in the preparation of this article.

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