With this fund, we are aiming to improve on site toilet and baby changing facilities for all of our visitors and volunteers.
Our first public open day occurred on Saturday 3rd September 2017 which marked the start of regular events at our railway. Since then, we have successfully pulled off several themed events, including Christmas and Easter from 2017 to the present day.
The reception from the local community to these events has been a huge motivation for us to continue to develop both the site that we have and the events that we hold. Year by year we are increasing the number of public events and see this as an important step in the development of the project.
Our project is volunteer reliant and this has given many people the opportunity to utilise their skills as well as learn new ones. It has also allowed many the opportunity to be more socially included and to make new friends and social groups as a result. We have an inclusive volunteer population and encourage people with a range of disabilities and additional needs. Many have commented on how their self-confidence and employability has improved as a result of their involvement with the project.
The site (which our charity own) once served the mining industry and the intention of the project is to not just preserve the history of the area, but also to use the land for a positive community facility which all can enjoy. We want to continue to improve site facilities and make our site a complete day out for visitors of all ages. Our project is not just about railways and history, although we fully recognise that these are important cornerstones. We have a small heritage centre, which concentrates on the history of the railway line and the mining industry that it served.
Our railway operation currently consists of the utilisation of diesel locomotives and a mixture of using our brakevan and our mark 2 buffet carriage. Longer term we wish to complete the restoration of our class 122 DMU to compliment the fleet and ultimately we want to complete the outstanding work on 0-4-0 saddle tank locomotive ‘Desmond’. This would allow us to bring the first working steam locomotive to Cynheidre since 1969.
Since 2018 we have worked with local charity Carmarthenshire Wildlife Walks. On selected open days the group lead Nature Trail walks over selected sections of our site to search out various wildlife that may be present. This partnership has already proven to be a popular added attraction and we wish to see this continue to grow to showcase the diverse natural beauty that can be found within our site.
Initially, when our railway first opened to the public we offered a train ride of just over a hundred metres. Now, as of November 2019 we have approximately half a mile of railway line that we can use on open days, which has been possible due to grant funding. We will further extend the running line during 2020, as we continue with our aim to be able to utilise the full one mile of track bed that we own.
We also maintain the ultimate goal of extending the running line to the south towards Llanelli. Although challenging, it is by no means impossible and we remain open to the possibility of one day making it a reality. This is a fantastic challenge that we gladly accept.
None of this could have been possible without the tireless efforts of every single volunteer that has helped us over the years. To continue to grow and develop we need to recruit more volunteers to continue our progression. Many thanks for taking the time to read this. If you think you could assist us in any way then please get in touch, you would be very welcome to join us on our journey to becoming a major tourist attraction in West Wales.