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The Kington and Eardisley railway

(Historic Environment Record number 30876)

The Kington & Eardisley Railway Company was formed in 1862 with Major the Hon. Charles Morgan of Titley Court as its first Chairman. Charles Morgan had also been the MP for Brecon. The Kington & Eardisley Railway received its Act of Parliament on 30th June 1862.

Other directors of the company were Sir Godfrey Morgan, MP for Brecon, Sir Richard Green-Price, MP for Radnor, and the architect Richard Kyle Penson, whose brother Thomas Mainwaring Penson had designed Hereford's Barrs Court Station (now the only Hereford station still in use). The only local director was the iron founder Richard Meredith from Kington.

The line was surveyed by Benjamin Piercey and the engineering contract awarded to Thomas Savin, who had also been the contractor of the Hereford, Hay-on-Wye & Brecon Railway. The new line used and adapted lengths of the old 3ft 6in horse-drawn tramway, which had at one time been intended to link up with the Hereford, Hay-on-Wye & Brecon Railway.

Work was begun on the Kington & Eardisley line in March 1863 and the first sod was cut by Lady Langdale of Eywood, Titley, at a ceremony in Kington. An article in the Hereford Times on 14th March declared that she "displayed all the skill of an experienced navigator".

However Savin, the engineer, was careless with money and eventually went bankrupt. At this point running powers were granted by an agreement with the Great Western Railway in 1868. Work did not begin again on the line until 1872, when the five and three-quarter mile line was built by the Leominster & Kington Railway by an Act of Parliament of 31st July 1871. Another name had been added to the Board of Directors at this time, that of Stephen Robinson, a JP who farmed 430 acres at Lynhales in Lyonshall. Part of the Kington & Eardisley Railway was to run through his land, which also adjoined the new station at Lyonshall with its single 200ft platform.

There were two stations in between Kington and Eardisley; these were Lyonshall and Almeley. The line opened on 3rd August 1874, with the official party travelling from Kington with luncheon baskets for an "al fresco" meal in a field next to Almeley station. The stations on the Kington & Eardisley line were known for being rather sparse in the facilities that they offered to travellers, with no accommodation for the stationmaster and no signal boxes.

Lyonshall Station was the grandest station on this line. It was of two storeys, with a ground floor entrance hall and stairs leading up to the platform and waiting room. A large round-headed window at the end of the building on the first floor gave views up and down the track.

In the 1920s the staff at Eardisley station consisted of the stationmaster, booking clerk, six signalmen, two porters and a weighing boy - a considerable amount of staff for such a small rural station. Railway staff were well respected and the work was very desirable. All applicants for jobs needed references from JPs, rectors and the like, and had to take a written exam and a medical.

During World War II an extra line was added just outside Eardisley station to reach an oil and petrol dump which supplied American forces at the Kington camp at Hergest.

In 1897 the Kington & Eardisley Railway line passed to the Great Western Railway Company, and during World War I the line was closed for a period in 1917. It re-opened in December 1922. The line was eventually closed for good in 1962. Lyonshall Station was closed in this year and the removal of the road bridge cut the station buildings in half. Almeley Station is now used as a cattle shed. The station at Eardisley was taken down piece by piece and rebuilt at Welshpool, where it forms part of the restored Welshpool & Llanfair Railway, now a tourist attraction.

[Original author: Miranda Greene, 2003]