Rails to Red Wharf Bay

by David Mills
(Menai Bridge)

Contractor's engine near Holland Arms

Contractor's engine near Holland Arms

As early as the 16th century coal mining was carried out in the Malltraeth marshes in central Anglesey.

Coal would have been transported away at considerable expense by mules, packhorses and wagons.

By the early 19th century a canal was proposed to reduce costs, but was later rejected in favour of a cheaper and simpler tramway, either to Malltraeth on the west coast or Traeth Coch (Red Wharf Bay) on the east coast.

Malltraeth was later rejected due to strong on-shore westerly winds that would have made it difficult to sail the small ships into the prevailing winds.

The more sheltered shores of Traeth Coch were favoured as it was also cheaper to transport from there to Ireland than from other North Wales ports.

An Act of Parliament was finally granted in 1812 to build it, but it never materialised, despite the many later rumours of its one-time existence.

It wasn't until 1899 that Parliamentary powers were obtained by the LNWR to build a six-mile single line branch line from Holland Arms to Red Wharf Bay, branching off the old Anglesey Central Railway that ran between Gaerwen and Amlwch.

This development occurred long after coal mining had ceased in the area due to constant flooding. It did, however, run very close to the proposed early tramway route.

The new line was built by J Strachan of Cardiff and was opened on July 1 1908 as far as Pentraeth and carried passenger and goods traffic.

The line was extended to Red Wharf Bay and Benllech station and fully opened May 24 1909. An early type of twin coach push-pull train ran on the branch for some years, later to be incorporated into the LMS grouping in 1923.

The stations were named Holland Arms, Ceint, Rhyd y Saint, Pentraeth, Llanbedrgoch and Red Wharf Bay and Benllech - the latter station being located typically
quite some distance from both communities it was intended to serve.

Trains comprised of passenger and freight trains carrying coal, agricultural produce, building materials, farm feed, livestock etc.

It could become very busy during summer weekends in the early years, with sometimes about 300 passengers, and the 4pm was sometimes met with as many as 50 horse traps and carts.

The winter of 1922/3 saw a great herring shoal between Moelfre and Benllech. Five hundred tons were landed and moved in two weeks in 12 special trains destined for London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham etc.

Due to the rapid expansion of rural road transport in the 1920s, regular passenger services finally ceased on September 22 1930 and goods traffic on April 3 1950.

The track was all removed by October 16 1953 and the remaining timber station building left to rot away over the next decade or so.

If you go in search of it today there is little to remind us of its previous existence except for some earthworks and a few remaining bridges.

Holland Arms station is the only survivor and has been wonderfully restored by the present owner, but one must appreciate it is now on private land.

There was a tale of a not-too-bright farm boy who removed Ceint timber platform station hut by mistake thinking it was a new shed being delivered for his farm.

There was also the one of an old woman who entered the train at Llanbedrgoch carrying poached rabbits.

When the local policeman tried to arrest her, he was refused entry onto the train, as he had no money to buy a ticket. Those were the days!

It has been said that a film of the railway was made. Does anyone know about it please?

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Comments for Rails to Red Wharf Bay

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Oct 19, 2017
Talk at PantonArms Pentraeth
by: Dr. Roger Freeman

There is to be an illustrated talk at Panton Aerms, Pentraeth,
Title is "Rails to Red Wharf", speaker is David Mills.
Date/time is Mon061117@1930

Jul 11, 2016
Red Wharf Bay Station
by: Peter T

The site of Red Wharf Bay station is currently (July 2016) fenced off to be re-developed for housing.

Jan 17, 2011
Rhys Y Saint
by: Dave Mills (author)

Rhyd Y Saint station was located at Ordnance Survey Grid Reference SH500759. You will find the location very overgrown under a road bridge over the track bed along a very narrow lane.

Jan 16, 2011
Rhyd y saint, pentraeth

where exactly was rhyd y saint railway station.

Dec 11, 2010
anglesey coal
by: Jeff

a very interesting article. i didn't know they had mined coal on Anglesey. i knew about the copper, kaed and zinc at Parys mountain, but not the coal. maybe there's more?

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