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Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway


Join the train at Furnace Sidings and enjoy a journey through the landscape of the Blaenavon World Heritage Site to the Whistle Inn. The train is the ideal way to experience the beauty of the Blaenavon World Heritage Site landscape. Visit the railway shop in Blaenavon town which sells model railways, books and gifts.

The line from Brynmawr to Blaenavon was originally built in 1866 by the Brynmawr & Blaenavon Railway and immediately leased to the London and North Western Railway (LNWR), to transport coal to the Midlands. Eight years later it was extended to meet the Great Western Railway at Abersychan & Talywain. From here the line carried on down the valley through Pontypool to the coast at Newport. In 1922 the LNWR was grouped into the London Midland Scottish Railway (LMS).

The line was closed to passengers in 1941, and to goods in 1954, though the section from Blaenavon to Pontypool was in use for coal from Big Pit and other local mines until 1980. Our line is on part of the northern section, with our main station 'Furnace Sidings' built close to the site of the former washery and some other colliery buildings which were demolished during 1987. The line northwards is the steepest standard gauge preserved passenger-carrying line in Britain, and the steep pull up the line ensures some spectacular starts from our locomotives. The northern terminus, Whistle Halt, stands at 1300 feet and is the highest (and probably the most windswept!) station in England and Wales. The Whistle Inn, next to the station, is famous for its extensive collection of miners lamps. A mile or so further on up the line, the summit of the line at Waenavon is reached and this was once the highest station in England and Wales at over 1400ft above sea level. The landscape through which our railway runs was once dotted with collieries and slag heaps, and still contains a fascinating mix of relics from the days of steel and coal. Today however, there is much which is new, and the addition of the Garn Lakes (with its resident duck population), provides an ideal spot for picnics and walking after a ride on the train.

Public Transport Directions

Nearest station: Abergavenny is 4 miles.

Road Directions

The railway is situated just off the B4248 between Blaenavon and Brynmawr, and is well signposted as you approach Blaenavon. Use Junction 25a if you are coming on the M4 from the east, or Junction 26 if you are coming from the west, (both junctions are clearly signposted). Head for Cwmbran and pick up the signs for Pontypool or Big Pit. As you enter the World Heritage Site, look out for the brown and white 'Steam Railway' signs.