There is something incredibly romantic, and dare we say magical about a steam train. Yes, it has a lot to do with Harry Potter and the Hogwarts Express, but for those who remember ‘back in the days’, or indeed have a passionate interest in these things, the steam train really is the only way to travel.
If you’ve not been on one before, or indeed even seen one close up, it’s more than how they look, it’s the history, the workmanship and of course the smell. There is something very special about the whiff of a steam train as it passes by.
And if you want any proof, we can highly recommend a visit to the BLAENAVON HERITAGE RAILWAY (once restrictions are lifted). We understand they are planning to get up and running again this year ASAP.
As enthusiasts go, you’ll not meet a more dedicated lot than the team at Blaenavon. They are made up of volunteers who like to play trains in the best way imaginable. They look after the three and a half mile-run 3.5 heritage railway, set within the stunning Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
They’ve been around for a while now, 37 years in fact. Initially started by enthusiasts who wanted to preserve the Brynmawr to Pontypool line for future generations, since then they’ve grown and developed to welcome thousands of passengers every year! They now operate steam and heritage diesel services on weekends and bank holidays throughout the spring and summer, giving you a chance to take a trip back in time through the heritage landscape!
They also run on selected days during the school summer holidays and have a fantastic programme of special events, including the popular Halloween Ghost Trains and of course, Christmas Steam Santa Specials.
We can tell you now, the kids absolutely love a visit and trip on these masterpieces of rail.
The main station at Furnace Sidings, is close to the A465 Heads of the Valleys Road, and has ample free car and coach parking. You don’t even have to take refreshments, they have that covered, together with toilet, a gift-shop.
The railway and its four stations are the ideal way to explore the stunning UNESCO-listed World Heritage landscape in style!
A round trip lasts around one hour, and on standard running days, they typically operate to the following service pattern: HERE
Your ticket is valid all day and they do recommend that you make a day of your visit (and why wouldn’t you) by combining a trip on the railway with a trip to another attraction in the area, and trust us there’s plenty.
If you’d like a copy of their 2020 events & information leaflet, you can download that right here. EVENTS
They have so much more on offer too. You can become a volunteer or member. They have a really active model railway club. Or indeed you can just go along and have a fantastic day out.
As you would imagine the team have a full Covid plan in place and they are eager to invite you along as soon as possible.
If you get a few of you together you can actually book yourselves a compartment for only £32, which will be a lovely way to celebrate getting back out into our world once restrictions ease. For more details, go here. RAILWAY
They are really easy to find and they have detailed instructions, no matter how, or which direction you are travelling from. GET THERE
30742 Charters have occasional one day specials which in the past have featured Rosyth No.1 and the lines mineral wagon rake. The last one was a day on foot, with focus on activities around Furnace sidings with their favourite images and hopefully a few different angles.
For those who haven’t joined them on an event before, take a look at the video below from a previous visit . You’ll see the location offers superb valleys scenery, industrial nooks and crannies and more.
Each year 30742 Charters runs a program of events across Britain’s Preserved Railways offering unique opportunities for photographers and videographers of any level. They were formed in 1997 with the first event being LNER K4 3442 “The Great Marquess” on the Severn Valley Railway, 30742 Charters has gone on to run many events on Britain’s Preserved Railways , Industrial sites and Network Rail since and is now one of the leading providers of photo charters in the UK .
The focus and speciality is the Steam Era although they are known for occasional forays into more modern traction. Highlights over the years include running the first photo charter on Network Rail, returning 75014 on Ballast Wagons to the Grassington Branch and instigated with friends at NELPG and WCRC the end of season West Highland Steam Bash for a number of years.
We’ll let you know when we hear about other special days as soon as they become available. In the meantime you can look at their Facebook page HERE.