Renaissance – 1966 on

In December 1966 a group of Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society members from the East Midlands formed what became The Corris Railway Society, with four goals:

  1. to preserve what remained of the line 
  2. to research its history
  3. to open a museum to display relics and photographs
  4. to look into the possibility of reopening a section of the original route to passengers

Visible signs of their activity came with the opening of the first stage of the Corris Railway Museum in 1970, using the remaining buildings of Corris Station. A “demonstration track” was laid at the south end of the Station Yard, adjacent to the Museum, in 1971, but bureaucratic obstacles prevented it initially reaching more than a few hundred yards.

In 1981, Maespoeth engine shed and yard (about three-quarters of a mile from Corris) was returned to the Railway after being used by the Forestry Commission, and the Society has transformed it back into a well-equipped engine shed and workshop.

Approval for reinstatement of track to connect Corris and Maespoeth was finally received in 1984, and in 1985 the Society celebrated by running the “First Train Back To Corris” after a break of thirty-seven years.

The “First Train” ran over lightly-laid construction track, and following the acquisition of heavier rail from a number of sources, plus the necessary sleepers and ballast, the line has been upgraded to passenger standards, and also extended a short distance south of Maespoeth to provide storage space for rolling stock. Maespoeth yard has been transformed, with the clearance of the Forestry Commission’s access ramp providing much-needed siding space, and the installation of a platform for the first time ever – it had not previously been used as a passenger station.

In 1996 a steam loco returned to Corris for the first time since 1948, when No.4 was loaned from the Talyllyn Railway to mark its 75th birthday, and hauled demonstration trains between Maespoeth and Corris. However, as legal formalities were not then completed, it was not possible for passengers to travel on the trains.

While the railway was physically re-appearing, the Society had a long and tortuous struggle with the local planning authorities to achieve agreement on the reconstruction of a sufficient length of line to provide long-term viability. Happily most of the outstanding issues have now been resolved, and the railway is moving steadily towards achieving the necessary legal documents, in the form of a Transport & Works Order, to permit the extension of the line a further one-and-a-half miles to the proposed new southern terminus at Tan-y-Coed.

In the summer of 2002, the Corris Railway resumed passenger services after a seventy-two year hiatus. Following a successful inspection from H.M.Railway Inspectorate on March 15th, and the obtaining of permission to operate from the body holding the residuary powers of the British Railways Board, the first scheduled fare-paying passenger train left Corris Station at 11 a.m. on Monday June 3rd.

On Saturday 7th June 2003 the railway staged its formal Grand Re-Opening Ceremony, featuring a very special guest – the 125-year-old original Corris steam locomotive No.3, returned from its new home on the Talyllyn Railway, complete with a Corris heritage train made up of an original bogie carriage, coal waggon and brake van. No.3 ran passenger services every weekend in June before returning to Tywyn. The Corris Railway is very grateful to the Talyllyn Railway for the loan of the loco and rolling stock, which helped to make the occasion extra-special for all involved !

The task of historical research has not been forgotten. A great deal of original research has been undertaken into the history of the railway, quarries and district, with the long-term aim of publishing a comprehensive history. A concise history, containing much new information, was published in 1988 under the title “A Return to Corris – the continuing history of the Corris Railway”. An annual Journal, free to members and on sale to the public, includes articles on many aspects of the history of the railway and district, as new areas are researched.

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