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Very important passenger steams into Llangollen Railway's new station

The Llangollen Railway’s new Corwen station took a further step closer to opening to the public when a steam-hauled inspection train ran on the restored line.

The inspection train
The inspection train

And on board was a very special VIP.

The "Officer’s Special", a Great Western Railway 1923-built steam tank locomotive and an inspection coach, both built at the GWR’s Swindon works, made the trip from Llangollen on Friday.

Run to conduct further testing of the platforms and station facilities it also allow Llangollen Railway Trust founding member and president Bill Shakespeare MBE to be among the very first to use the station.

Bill has been involved in the railway from its creation as the Deeside and Flintshire Railway Preservation Society in the late 1970 and has given a lifetime’s dedicated service to the railway as a volunteer.

He served as chairman of the Llangollen Railway Trust between 1976 and 1998 and was awarded an MBE for services to the railway upon his retirement as chairman in 1998. He continues to support the trust in an honorary role as president.

Current trust chairman Phil Coles said: “What an honour it is to be travelling with Bill in this wonderful inspection coach on our first Officer’s Special to Corwen.

"If anyone deserves to be the first into the new station then it’s Bill. His contribution to the railway has been incredible, with many years of hard work and inspirational leadership. We have all worked very hard to make this happen are looking forward to seeing the station completed”.

Richard Dixon-Gough, the project manager for the Corwen Station project said “Seeing the Officer’s Special roll in with Bill on board is something me and the small team of volunteers who have built the station from nothing have been looking forward to for a very long time. Whilst this is still part of the testing phase of getting the station ready to open to the public, it’s another big step forward.

"We’ve got a fair bit more work to do in order to complete the platform buildings – with the roof to finish and the canopy to erect. We’ve been delighted to receive a 'Levelling Up' government grant to help us fund the canopy and are about to place the order with a local steelwork supplier for it. All being well the station will open for passengers early next year”.

"The Llangollen Railway continues to recover from its economic challenges of 2021 and work towards a more sustainable future as a successful tourist attraction.

"With healthy numbers of passengers using the current operational railway between Llangollen and Carrog, the railway’s management is looking forward to busy summer season, with a more intensive timetable of railcar, steam and diesel trains planned alongside some special events. These include a classic transport weekend on July 2 and 3 and a diesel weekend on September 1 and 2."

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