Bygone Bettisfield

Cambrian Railway's station at Bettisfield

Cambrian Railway’s station at Bettisfield

Bettisfield and the Railway

For over 100 years Bettisfield was an important station on the Cambrian Railways between Aberystwyth and Whitchurch.  Later the Great Western and British Rail, both passenger and goods, ran the timetable as shown.

The mail train from Aberystwyth had a letter box for public use which was detached at

Whitchurch and re-attached to the Shrewsbury to Crewe train.  At Crewe it was unloaded and the train was then loaded with the morning mail and all the newspapers.  It then ran overnight and could be heard around 3 a.m. hurtling over Fenn’s Moss.  A goods train ran each morning from Oswestry and returned in the afternoon also there was an early morning milk train especially for the farmers.

During the summer months, on Saturdays, many “holiday trains” passed through between Manchester and Aberystwyth.  In these days the station was manned by a station master, two porter signalmen and an office clerk.

In the days of the Cambrian Railway trains would stop by prior arrangement, one could have a full day in Manchester till midnight for theatre etc. and then return on the mail train.  One of the busiest times for Bettisfield station was during the 1914 – 18 war when service men were stationed at Bettisfield Park.  Andrew Dekker

Bettisfield station today

Bettisfield station today

The Whitchurch to Oswestry railway first opened to traffic in April 1863.

A previous attempt had been made by The Great Western Railway Company to build a spur line from their recently purchased Shrewsbury – Chester line. This would join at Rednal near Oswestry and head for Whitchurch via Ellesmere, Penley, Redbrook and to Whitchurch and to give access to Crewe and the north. Due to fierce opposition from land owners, this scheme was shelved, although our local estate owner Lord John Hanmer was fully in favour of the plan.

A smaller company was duly formed with the same idea in mind. This time to connect Oswestry, Ellesmere and Whitchurch and so the O.E. &  W. Rlwy Co. was formed.

The proposed route again came under strong opposition from land owners and the company were finally obliged to divert and cross an area of Fenn’s Moss – a most undesirable piece of country for railway building.  Fortunately many members of the work force were either descendents of, or actually had worked on the canal during its construction and so were conversant with the ‘ Moss problem. ‘ The railway was duly completed. Before the opening however an amalgamation of the small local companies had taken place and was to become ‘Cambrian Railways.’ With the intention of opening a route to the midlands from Crewe and to the mid Wales coast. The company headquarters was to be Oswestry.  The line between Whitchurch and Ellesmere opened to goods traffic in April 1863.  Reg Meredith

Bettisfield Timetable

8.30 am             Oswestry

9.00 am             Whitchurch

10.15 am           Manchester

12 noon             Aberystwyth via Whitchurch

2.15 pm             Oswestry

4.20 pm             Aberystwyth via Oswestry

6.00 pm             Whit church & Manchester

7.00 pm             Oswestry

7.30 pm             Whitchurch

9.15 pm             Oswestry

10.00 pm           The Mail train

The railway warehouse now converted into a home

The railway warehouse now converted into a home