LLANGOLLEN RAILWAY Education Pack 2
Carrog Station Information
Materials to help prepare for the visit:
1. Introductory notes
2. Carrog Station – Historical Background
3. Livestock on the Line
4. Signalling for Safety
5. Platform 2 Waiting Room
6. Bridging the Dee
7. The Tea Room
Self-Guided Tour of Carrog Railway Station
This pack includes materials and images to help teachers and group leaders conduct a self-guided tour around the Llangollen Railway’s Carrog Station, which was built to serve its namesake village on the opposite side of the River Dee.
We strongly recommend that the Group Leader comes on a preliminary visit to the Llangollen Railway when planning a self-guided tour of Carrog Station and familiarises him/herself with this document and the suggested route.
As the railway station involves areas outside, pupils should be appropriately dressed and wear suitable footwear and the tour should only be attempted during clement weather.
Details on train services calling at Carrog Station can be obtained from the Llangollen Railway’s website: www.llangollen-railway.co.uk
Carrog Station – Historical Background
Carrog station was built in 1864 in the style of a lodge to a stately home. The Great Western Railway was a very proud railway. There was at first only one short platform, now number 1, the sloping end of which can be seen by the Carrog sign in the flower bed. What is now the car park used to be the goods yard where freight trains would deliver trucks of goods for local use and trains would leave with local products such as stone, slate, timber and farm produce for the rest of the country. The first trains arrived in early 1865 carrying coal for the villagers.
During the late Victorian era, in about 1890, a second platform and waiting room were installed at Carrog to handle the increase passenger traffic using the railway. Passengers wishing to travel towards Bala and the Cambrian Coast would have particularly glad of the comfortable and warm waiting room during periods of inclement weather. The small coal fire in the corner of the room would have been tended to by the Station Master.
After the railway closed in the 1960s, much of the railway infrastructure was demolished or dismantled, including the waiting room on platform 2 and the signal box. All track and signalling was removed. This has all had to be painstakingly restored back to what you see today.
The Station Today (viewed towards Corwen)
Livestock on the Line
The station's restored cattle dock can be found halfway along platform 1 and was once an important source of revenue. A cattle dock is a place where sheep, pigs and cattle can be safely penned before being loaded to specially designed cattle wagons which then were used to move the livestock around the railway network. Most of the rural stations along a line would have had these cattle docks.
Before the development of the railways, cattle had to be moved from the local farms to market on foot, which meant that they lost weight and therefore their value. The coming of the railway to Carrog in 1865 brought new opportunities for the local farmers, offering a much faster and more efficient mechanism for transporting cattle to market. It also meant that animals could be traded further afield than had previously been the case.
Signalling for Safety
The safety of passengers has been one of the most important aspects of the line's history since the railway opened in 1865. The earliest railway signalmen were in fact police officers who were employed to keep order on the railway, to set the road and to make sure that the line was clear for the arrival of trains. Indeed it is still possible to hear signalmen being referred to as 'bobbies' today. In the early days the bobbies signalled with flags (green, yellow and red) and these flags are still used on occasions. Bobbies despatched trains at 10 or even 5 minute intervals and as trains had quite poor brakes then accidents often happened. Gradually the signal boxes we see today were developed with far safer systems.
Inside Carrog signal box, the main operating room has a mechanical lever frame in the centre of the floor, whilst the large glazed windows enable the signalman to see all the train movements around the station. Generally, the red coloured levers operate the signals, whilst the blue and black levers operate the track points. A white coloured lever indicates that this is spare (unused).
The signalman on duty at Carrog communicates with other signal boxes on the line through a bell codes and mechanical instruments displayed on a shelf above the lever frame. When a train from Llangollen is due, listen out for the series of bells ringing out as the Carrog signalman chats with his counterpart at Glyndyfrdwy.
The current signal box is an award-winning replica of the original Victorian version which was demolished after the railway closed in the 1960s. The rebuilt signal box was made operational on 3rd March 2007 and won the national Westinghouse Signalling Award in 2008. To fit in with the chosen period of the Station Restoration (mid 1950's) wood post signals have been installed throughout the station's layout. These were researched, materials sourced and constructed by the Friends of Carrog (FOC) group.
After the railway closed in the 1960s, the waiting room and urinal on Platform 2 were demolished. Fortunately, thanks to the hard work and efforts of volunteers, the building was painstakingly rebuilt on its original foundations in the early 1990s. A similar waiting room building was found to still survive on a closed GWR railway in Gloucestershire and was carefully dismantled brick-by-brick over the course of three days in readiness for its rebuilding at Carrog.
Inside the waiting room a small dedicated museum on the former Ruabon to Barmouth railway detailing the historical development of the stations along the line from Llangollen to Corwen has been established.
Bridging the Dee
Carrog station is connected with the village it serves by a picturesque five span stone bridge over the River Dee. The bridge was built during the 17th Century during the reign of King Charles II and the date 1661 can be seen engraved into one of the stones. The bridge is now a Grade Two listed structure.
Carrog Tea Room has been open for the past twenty years and has become a welcome stopover for many weary travellers. It is warm and cosy and a tranquil space for visitors to rest. The Tea Room is located in what used to be the Ladies Room, which was a posh way of saying Ladies Waiting Room and Toilet.
We don’t generally advertise this fact because some people would feel quite ill if we told them we made their sandwiches in what used to be the old toilet area! In the olden days, the ladies and the gentlemen had separate waiting areas. The original ‘Ladies Room’ sign is now on the ladies toilet door which is just behind the Tea Room.
Dotted about on the floor of the tea room are some replica GWR tiles, the original flooring being lost and destroyed during the period of dereliction after the line closure. The only heating in this room is via a very shallow fire grate. The tiled fire surround and tiled area on the floor in front of the fire survived and remain in use today. There is a vaulted ceiling space which requires a lot of heating in winter. Heat rises and often it seems to rise up and stay there, looking down at everybody in the tea room and laughing.
The tea room sells snacks, small gifts and ice cream which is made nearby in Ruthin. It is called Chilly Cow which is probably because it is made in Wales and it’s usually chilly. This Tea room helps to support Llangollen Railway as all of the profits from the tea room go back to the railway.
There used to be a door from the booking office into the Station Masters house, bricked up long ago during the restoration. It is still heard by the people living in the house sometimes to slam at about 10.45 in the evening. Occasionally something wakes the people in the house at about four o'clock in the morning. They do not know what, but that time was when the night goods train used to steam through the station. Sometimes a train whistle is heard along the valley when no trains are running.
The rusty old bicycle on platform 2 belonged to Old Emyr who worked at the station from 1865 until he disappeared without trace in 1927. They say that he sometimes comes back to see if it is still there. What spirits and events might have left an imprint over 150 years?