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Narrow Gauge Railway Museum re-opens in Mid Wales

The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum in Tywyn, Mid Wales

The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum in Tywyn, Mid Wales has re-opened to the public following the gradual lifting of Covid-19 restrictions by the Welsh Government.

The museum, which had been closed since December 4 last year because of lockdown, houses a unique collection, including six locomotives. It tells the story of narrow-gauge railways in the British Isles, their contribution to society and industry and the people who ran them.

Visitors can also learn about the slate industry, which shaped the characteristic landscape of North Wales. The museum also has the study of the Rev Wilbert Awdry, writer of the Railway Series books featuring Thomas the Tank Engine and other old friends, which have given pleasure to countless children since the 1940s.

The museum normally relies on donations at the door and Museum Friends’ subscriptions for its income. However, generous grants totalling £49,630 from the Lottery Heritage Fund, the Welsh Government’s Wales Cultural Recovery Fund and Gwynedd Council have allowed the museum to make the changes needed to provide a safe and secure environment for visitors.

As part of the changes, a striking new window has been installed in the wall facing Neptune Road, giving an exciting new perspective to passers-by.

The extra funding is also supporting longer opening hours and paid staff to supplement the work of the museum’s loyal volunteer attendants, ensuring a rigorous hygiene regime is maintained.

The museum’s success was recognised at the recent Heritage Railway Awards, when it received The Heritage Rail magazine Interpretation Award.

Due to social distancing, no more than 25 visitors  – fewer if children are present – will be allowed into the museum at any one time, in five groups distributed around the building. Visitors follow a one-way system around the museum.

Keith Theobald, museum trustees chairman, said: “We are glad to be opening the Museum doors after another prolonged closure, so that visitors can once again enjoy our unique collection and learn about the story of narrow-gauge railways.”

He thanked the museum’s volunteers and the Welsh Government, Gwynedd Council and the Lottery Heritage Fund for their contributions.

Stuart Williams, Talyllyn Railway’s general manager, said “A visit to Talyllyn Railway is a great day out for all the family, and having the museum open again really is the icing on the cake.”