CG Smith Collection
Original photographs and notes
Digital Archive [INDEX] – Photographs of the Golden Valley Railway
1900 - 1953
This is a unique collection of original photographs of the infrastructure, people and workings of the Golden Valley Branch of the Great Western Railway from a collection by CG Smith, who worked as an Engineman on the line from 1924 to c.1960. The pictures are reproduced here by kind permission of his son, David Smith of Ewyas Harold.
Dates and comments shown in the captions are as noted on the original photographs where these are available. Elsewhere we have used our best judgement to identify and date pictures, and added our comments in brackets [with question marks where we are unsure].
The chequered history of the Golden Valley Railway has been described elsewhere on the website, but during most of the period covered by these photographs it was operated as an established, if relatively poorly used, branch of the GWR. It became briefly more significant during the Second World War, 1939 to 1945, with heavy traffic to and from the large Ordnance Depot at Elm Bridge, near Pontrilas, together with deliveries to an assembly point at Bacton for imported American tractors – vital for the ‘home front’ battle to feed the population in the face of German attempts to blockade food imports. Other war-related railway activities included bringing in [via Vowchurch] hard core and construction materials for the RAF Aerodrome at Madley, and taking out timber from the Golden Valley and surrounding areas primarily for use as pit props to help keep essential supplies of coal flowing from the South Wales mines.
For all its weaknesses and failings, the railway made an important impact on the social and economic life of the area including the parishes of Ewyas Lacy. This photographic record graphically illustrates the changing times as the twentieth century unfolded.
The collection is grouped by the individual stations along the Branch [in alphabetical order rather than by track position] and can be accessed through the links below. A high proportion of the pictures are at Pontrilas, where the photographer was based, and so that part has been divided into sections [by date] to keep document file sizes reasonable for downloading. Additional pictures of work on the main GWR line at Pandy, serviced using Golden Valley rolling stock and staff from Pontrilas, are included as a separate item.
CG Smith Collection - Photographs of the Golden Valley Branch of the Great Western Railway