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This is the story behind the photograph below which was taken over 55 years ago.
Periodically I look on eBay to see if I can find any old photographs or postcards from the village to add to my fathers collection of photographs. (click link: Well one day I was surprised to find the photo shown above was for sale, and as it was only a few pounds I bought it. It was advertised as a photo of the last passenger train to travel through Cwmgwrach railway station, I think you'll agree quite an historical event.
Just for some context, The Vale of Neath railway line fell under the axe of Dr. Richard Beeching, he was employed by the government of the day to look into making the Railway system profitable. In his report of 1963 "The Reshaping of British Railway" he proposed the closing of all non-profitable railway lines. This lead to a third of the National Rail tracks closing, 67,000 people losing their jobs and 2,363 Railway Stations closing. The Vale of Neath Railway Line and Glynneath Railway Station was unfortunately included in this closure, along with all the other stations along the line.
Well to the story, what I didn't realise at the time of purchase of the photograph, was that the boy seen alone on the "down" platform is myself, Roy Bowen. When I bought the photo off EBay, I didn't buy it because I thought I was in it, it was just another historical photo I wanted to add to my fathers collection. But looking at the photo a few times, I remembered that I actually went down to the railway station to see this event. Then the memory of that day all came flooding back to me, I surprised myself with how much I remembered of the day, and then it suddenly dawned on me that it was me on the platform.
So let's go back in time to Monday the 15th June 1964, I was playing in the street as was quite common then, and Lyn Lloyd who lived two doors up in Craig Nedd said he was going to see the last passenger train travelling through the station, and would I like to come along with him to see it. As I was only nearly 11years old then, I ran into the house to ask permission from my mother to go with Lyn. Luckily she said yes, but said, "I was not to cross the railway tracks as it was dangerous". As we were about to set off we saw another boy from across the street, and if I remember correctly his name was Mel and it was his birthday, hence the cowboy hat on the boy to the right of the photo. Lyn asked him if he wanted to come along as well, so the three of us set off to the railway station.
As you can see from the photo I kept my promise to my mother not to cross the tracks. Lyn and Mel went over the bridge to the "up" platform of the station to see the train coming, and they can be seen on the right of the photo. When the train stopped a photographer got off the train and positioned himself from where the above photograph was taken. What interested me was the fact that he wore similar clothes to my father, (a long light brown'ish coat with a Dai cap on his head) and had either a Roli-cord or Roli-flex camera which my father also used. So that was a bit strange, and after the train passed through and we went back home, I mentioned this to my father. Over the next few weeks we kept a look out in the local paper the Neath Guardian to see if the photo would be put in there, but to no avail. After a few weeks of looking we lost interest and forgot about the event, until 55 years later I saw the photo on EBay for sale.......... what were the chances of that?
The tall boy on the other platform is Lyn Lloyd with Mel ? in the cowboy hat next to him. Lyn and Mel eventually both moved away from Craig Nedd, with Lyn's father running the Ynysmeudwy Arms just outside Pontardawe , Lyn worked at Cam Gears and also ran the Cam Gears social club for many years. I do not know what became of Mel after he moved away.
Eagle eyed residents of the village have also identified two other people on the platform, Henry Caswell who now lives in America and Glyn Davies identified the two ladies in the picture as, Mrs. Margret Lloyd on the right, Margret married Jack Shortman of Glynneath, and their son Martin lived around the activities of the railway station, and was well known by all the train drivers and staff of the station , the other lady to the left of Margret is Mrs. Eva Brown the mother of Richard Brown.
You can also see there is a plaque on the front of the train which say's, Vale of Neath, then the dates, 1851 to 1964, which are the opening and closing dates of the line, then below that the train number 4639. You can also notice that the buffers are painted, Fredrick Edwards informs us "Must have been something special, white painted screw coupling and silver buffers. Normally only officer’s specials and the royal train had those unless I’m mistaken".
Out of interest, I have included a photo below of the same train which had stopped earlier at Resolven station.
Resources and References:
Photographer unknown.
Photograph of front of train courtesy of Glyn Davies collection.

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