Abercamlais Halt / Private Station
There was also a Halt at Penpont only a short distance away towards Brecon. Both were placed on the south side of the single track and had 60 foot long platforms and a small wooden cabin to provide a very basic waiting room. At Penpont this is was placed just below the platform and was accessible by a footpath. This went outside the walled garden on the west and north sides to the waiting room.
Both Halts were in service for just over 95 years – from the opening of the Neath and Brecon Railway on the 3rd June 1867 until the end of passenger services on 15th October 1962. It is probable that no railway staff ever manned the two halts on a permanent basis. Should a passenger wish to alight at Abercamlais then it would be sufficient to inform the guard when joining the train. Boarding a train at Abercamlais was possibly achieved by a simple hand signal.*
Essentially these halts were intended to be for the exclusive use of the inhabitants of the two houses. Whether the general public were ever able to use the halts is not known, certainly neither halt appear in public timetable of the 1930’s.*
The ownership history of this line is somewhat complicated. The Midland Railway took over running the line from the Neath and Brecon Railway in 1877 as part of their plan to get a route from Birmingham to Swansea / Neath via Worcester, Hereford, Brecon and Coelbren.
In 1922 the Neath and Brecon was absorbed into the Great Western Railway, a year prior to the creation of the Big Four – GWR, LMS and LNER, SR.
Possibly the most famous passenger to travel on the line was Dame Adelina Patti the operatic soprano who lived at Craiag-y-nos castle between 1878 and 1919. She used the train extensively to and from London via Neath. It was on the occasion of her third marriage on 25th January 1899 that she travelled by special train to Brecon for the wedding ceremony returning the same way to travel via Neath to London. Were there spectators at the halts to see her pass?
In 1900 the Revd. Garmons Williams asked that parcels of newspapers for him should be thrown out from passing trains. He indicated that he was prepared to indemnify the Railway Companies for any damages caused! The request was turned down so presumably a servant had to meet the appropriate trains at the next regular station (Aberbran or Devynock) if the Reverend gentleman was to be kept up to date with the news.
* more information would be welcome on these points.
Printed with kind permission from Mr Mark Robinson
The above has been garnered from “The Neath and Brecon Railway – A History” By Gwyn Briwant Jones, Denis Dunstone and Tudor Watkins, obtainable from Brecon library if any further information might be required.
Left: Brecon train prepares for departure from Neath Riverside on 14 July 1962, a few months before closure. The South Wales main line crosses on the overbridge in the distance.