‘Bethesda Sidings’ is to be an entry in the Wild Swan/MRJ cameo layout competition and represents the goods yard of Capel Bethesda, which was an intermediate station on the erstwhile line between Leominster, Kington and Rhayader. The full history of the railways of the area is reproduced below, but for those for whom a load of pseudo-historical guff/ a carefully crafted and detailed historical account is just too much, I would summarise the theme of the layout as ‘The Presteign goods with added Pecketts’. A New History of the Railways of Radnorshire - Part 1 This is a story of railway companies large and small in the Welsh Borders area, some of which were to almost overreach themselves in trying to achieve their ambitious goals. It is also the story of unswerving persistence and dogged determination on the part of respectable, bewhiskered Victorian gentlemen in top hats and frock coats, meeting in coaching inns and country houses, enthusiastically seeking to improve the transport links in their area, at almost no matter what the financial cost. A 3’ 6” horse-drawn tramway (the Kington Railway) had been opened in two stages between Eardisley and quarries at Burlingjobb (west of Kington) between 1820 and 1833. This tramway connected to the Hay Tramway at Eardisley, thus providing a horse-drawn line through to Brecon. In May 1854 the Act for the Leominster & Kington Railway was passed and the first sod was cut by Lady Bateman on 30th November 1854, to the accompaniment of festivities in Kington and a procession through the town. Progress in construction was slow, but the first consignment of 50 tons of coal arrived in Kington from Leominster on Saturday 13th June 1857. Public passenger services between Leominster and Kington started on August 4th, 1857. In the meantime, there were businessmen and public figures of Kington who looked at the 3’ 6” gauge tramway down to Eardisley and argued that it should be rebuilt as a standard gauge railway, to link up with the Hereford, Hay & Brecon Railway, which had received its Royal Assent in 1959. This, they argued, would maintain Kingtons long established commercial links with South Wales. The gestation and eventual birth of the Kington & Eardisley Railway was long and protracted. It needed several Acts of Parliament in 1862, 1864, 1865 and 1871 to authorise the construction, raising of capital and modifications to previous proposals. There were problems with raising capital and with contractors in the early years of the project. Work was physically suspended for a number of years, before resuming in 1872, and all this for a line of just under 7 miles. The line was heavily graded and finally opened on 3rd August 1874. Intermediate stations were provided at Lyonshall and Almeley. Trains from Eardisley had to run over the metals of the Leominster & Kington Railway for the last mile and a half from Titley Junction to Kington. Before the Kington & Eardisley railway was even finished, the company took the decision to extend westwards from Kington towards New Radnor, a distance of six and a half miles. The Act for this was passed in June 1873 and construction proceeded with relative efficiency, certainly as compared to that of the route between Titley Junction and Eardisley, and the new line was completed by August 1875. The Kington & Eardisley Railway and the Leominster & Kington Railway, whilst both independent companies, were worked by the GWR from the outset, for which privilege the larger company exacted a significant proportion of receipts, as was fairly usual in such cases. The inevitable happened eventually, though, when both companies were bought out by the GWR and became part of their network. New Radnor was (and still is) a very small town, smaller in fact than many larger villages, and only had some 900 inhabitants at the time. The station, which was laid out more as a through station than a terminus, was inconveniently situated in fields approximately half a mile from the town. The reason for this can be found in the various proposals put forward during the mid-19th century to build a railway westwards from Kington through the mountainous region of Mid-Wales and onwards to the coast at Aberystwyth. Most of the early proposals were for a railway that initially linked with the Mid-Wales Railway at Rhayader or Builth Wells. In 1874, an Act was obtained, authorising the Worcester & Aberystwyth Junction Railway to build a line westwards from New Radnor to Rhayader, and then onwards to join that grandest of fruitless schemes, the Manchester & Milford Railway, at Llangurig. Local newspaper reports at the time of the opening of the New Radnor line indicated that the Kington & Eardisley extension was to become part of a through route linking Worcester with the Welsh coast. The grand ambitions of the Worcester & Aberystwyth Junction Railway were to come to nought, however, as sufficient funding could not be found. Sir Richard Green Price Bt, one of the principle railway promoters and investors of the area, and who had been involved in many of the local railways, together with his eldest son Dansey Green Price, complained bitterly at the lack of support for this most worthy of ventures. And thus things might have remained, with New Radnor remaining a sleepy little branch terminus serving a very small town in the mountainous Welsh Borders area. Sir Richard Green Price died in 1887 and his title was inherited by his son Dansey.