An alternate history of the railway of the North Wales Marches

London Midland
& Scottish Railway

Welsh Marches

Owdham Sidings

Coedlei Pontyblyddyn Pontybodkin

Wych Brook Valley


Tallarn Green

Dymock’s Mill

Castle Hill

Welsh Borders



Vale Crucis

Shapridge Mill

The fight between the Great Western, Cambrian, London North Western and later the Great Central Railways gave rail development in the North Wales Marches an interesting history. History records the first two companies won out and dominated the area. I have re-written history with the London North Western winning out by building the proposed mainline from Wolverhampton to Rhyl and a cross-country line from Port Dynllaen to a junction west of Shrewsbury. Together these would have kept the Great Western Railway east of Shrewsbury and the Cambrian Railway south of the Port Dynllaen-Shrewsbury line. North-south lines via Corwen, Ffestiniog and Canarvon would have connected the main and cross-country lines. As part of this the LNWR would have become the principle railway in the Wrexham area. This is an interesting mix of the rural and urban and was, until the 1950’s, speckled with small collieries, quarries, iron, brick and chemical works. This created a demand for transport.

I have assumed that the plans proposed between 1845 and 1875 to build a line from Rhyl to Wolverhampton were bought to fruition, and the line was absorbed into the London North Western Railway. Included in the plan were branches to Llangollen and Wrexham capital of the North Wales Marches. 1862 would see branches built into the Clywedog and Black Valleys. The Clywedog Valley would have served Rhos-berse and terminated at Nant. The Black Valley would have terminated at the mining and manufacturing village of Esclusham extending in 1882 to Wynnstay Park. The same year would see a steeply graded branch built into the Moss Valley. The youngest of the lines the Wych Valley would have opened in 1895 as a cross-country line extending the Wrexham Branch to Whitchurch to give a more direct link to Crewe and Manchester. The last line would have been built between Llangollen and Vale Crucis in 1902.

In 1923, the LNWR lines were absorbed into the London Midland
Scottish Railway (LMS).