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The Hereford, Hay-on-Wye and Brecon railway

(Historic Environment Record number 19262)

This line was built up the Wye Valley in stages, but was finally opened at Hereford in September 1864. The line linked up with the Mid Wales Railway and the Brecon & Merthyr Railway.

The first section of the Hereford, Hay-on-Wye & Brecon Railway was agreed by Act of Parliament on 8th August 1859. It opened between Hereford and Moorhampton to goods traffic on 24th October 1862, to Eardisley for goods and passengers on 30th June 1863 and reached Hay-on-Wye on 11th July 1864.

The line reached the Three Cocks Junction on 19th September 1864, and the remainder of the line to Brecon had been taken over by different railway companies before construction had even begun. The section from Three Cocks to Talyllyn became part of the Mid Wales Railway and the Talyllyn to Brecon section was part of the Brecon & Merthyr Railway.

At first trains entering Hereford on this line used the Moorfields Station to the west of the city but when this station closed the Brecon trains were diverted to Barrs Court Station. The line could be used to get to Swansea, a journey which took four hours to cover the 79 miles and stopped at 24 different stations on the way.

The Hereford, Hay-on-Wye & Brecon Railway later suffered difficulties and was taken over by the Midland Railway in 1874, which had been running a goods service to Hereford via Worcester since 1868. It saw the line as a convenient way to gain access to South Wales.

On 1st October 1864, the Hereford Times commented on the convenience and improved communication brought about by the Hereford, Hay-on-Wye & Brecon Railway:

"Instead of going to the coach office in Broad Street, and paying down a considerable sum even for a seat on the outside, we have only to go to the Barton Railway Station, pay a trifling sum at the little window, receive the ticket courteously rendered, take our seat in the convenient carriages, and on a twinkling we are shaking hands with our friends in Hay".

The railway came to be known as the "Egg and Bacon Railway" because of the farm produce that it used to bring into Hereford, especially on market day. (See The Limes Railway Embankment, Norton Canon. Watching Brief, Archenfield Archaeology report, 2002, copy held in the HER.)

In 1876 the line was taken over by the Midland Railway. The line eventually closed to passengers on 31st December 1962, and one of the last trains was provided by the Stephenson Locomotive Society, when almost 400 enthusiasts travelled on the line for the last time and were given photographic souvenirs. In 1964 the line was closed to goods traffic as well between Eardisley and Three Cocks Junction, and later the same year the line was closed completely.

Most of the stations along this line have disappeared entirely: Credenhill has been demolished and replaced by a social club; Moorhampton station is now a caravan site (although the platform edges and road bridge can still be seen); Kinnersley station is now used as a store; and Hay-on-Wye station has been completely demolished and the site is currently in commercial use.

[Original author: Miranda Greene, 2003]