Shropshire Star

New face at the helm for Llanfair and Welshpool Light Railway

There is a new man at the helm of Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway.

James Brett, left and Charles Spencer. Photo: Andrew Charman

One of James Brett's first tasks is to plan the 2021 operating season.

Mr Brett succeeds the retiring Charles Spencer as the Llanfair Line’s general manager.

The railway lost a significant part of its 2020 season to the Covid-19 pandemic, but was able to operate trains through the summer.

“We are currently working towards reopening as soon as we are able and our plans naturally depend on the coronavirus situation,” said the railway's marketing manager Oliver Edwards.

“Our volunteers and staff are giving a lot of thought to how we operate responsibly – our experience in 2020 gave us fantastic learning and great visitor feedback which reflected the preparatory efforts of our team.”.

The railway will shortly be launching a new website which will feature a wide range of experiences planned on the line for 2021.

Highlights of the season are expected to include the return of the 1902-built original locomotive ‘The Earl’ following a major overhaul at the Vale of Rheidol Railway, first-class rides featuring the line’s Sierra Leone Railways Independence Carriage, vintage train days and a host of further events.


Mr Brett said that everyone at the railway was closely monitoring the lockdown situation and government advice .

"Trains will only begin running when it is considered safe to do so and services will be announced on the website,, and the railway’s Facebook page at"

Mr Brett arrived at the Welsh line from the National Tramway Museum at Crich in Derbyshire, where he was in charge of facilities and infrastructure.

He was unanimously selected from more than 100 applicants for the post.

The railway’s interview panel said the were impressed by his management of an overwhelmingly volunteer workforce at Crich, during which he successfully delivered several major projects, and his extensive experience gained across the heritage and tourism sector.

Mr Brett said: “Over the coming months I am looking forward to getting to grips with the challenges of the General Manager role, meeting the team, and leading the organisation forward to future opportunities.

"I was impressed with the team's careful Covid-safe operations in 2020 - we will just have to do the same in 2021 to make sure everyone is safe, comfortable and can enjoy their time at the railway,” he added.

Mr Spencer will step down on March 31 after six years in post.

But as a qualified railway fireman he says he will be making regular return visits as a volunteer.