Steam train brings back memories
The nostalgic sight of a steam train passing through the Neath area attracted plenty of enthusiasts on Sunday 31st August. The Pembroke Coast Express was being hauled by ex-Great Western Railway Castle class steam locomotive No. 5029 'Nunney Castle'. Built in 1934, it had once evacuated children from London at the start of WWII. This steam hauled excursion starting from Temple Meads at Bristol was fully booked: seats on it were not cheap with ticket prices starting at nearly one hundred pounds. On its outward run the locomotive passed through Port Talbot and at Briton Ferry crossed the Neath river over the swing bridge. From Llanelli it ran by the sea wall most of the way to Carmarthen. While many of its passengers later disembarked for a two hour stop-off at Tenby - where your correspondent (pictured above) caught up with it - the train itself continued on to Pembroke Dock. On its return journey the iconic locomotive passed through Neath station where more enthusiasts watched its progress.
For those interested in its preservation history, Nunney Castle was sent in 1964 to the scrapyard at Barry where it languished for 12 years before its rescue in 1976. The locomotive was restored at Didcot and returned to service in 1990 since when it has been a regular performer on the mainline. Despite the fact that anyone who remembers regular steam hauled trains would now probably be aged sixty plus, these nostalgic rail excursions attract large numbers of passengers from across the age spectrum during their summer running.
The Pembroke Express steams past Baglan Station
Train after leaving Neath Station on its return from west Wales: photo taken from the Metal Box bridge.
View more images and live footage taken by NGO Correspondents
Mike Davies & Jeff Griffiths