An extraordinary HD video of Penarth Railway Station as it was in 1949 has been digitally created and placed on the internet by noted local photographer and pleasure-boat operator Ben Salter.
What we see isn’t the cut-down – single-platform, stark, 80s-era station of today, but the Victorian Penarth Station – or “Penarth Town Station” as it was originally known – in all its glory with all its original platforms and bays and sidings.
The 3D graphics are all based on the original 1904 Ordnance Survey map – showing just how much territory in the town the railway system then occupied.
Until 1968 Penarth Station had two platforms, one on each side of the tracks for down and up traffic and still retained its original Victorian stone-built ticket offices and waiting rooms. British Railways demolished them in 1984.
Also to be seen is the now missing – but much lamented – passenger-bridge over the railway which once linked the two major platforms.
The graphics aren’t accurate to the last brick and shopfront – but they’re very close – and give a great idea of what railway travel was like in Penarth in the first half of the 20th century – and what we’ve lost in the process of “modernisation“.
Viewers are taken on a journey from Penarth Station – along what what is now the Railway Path – along Sully Terrace and as far as Alberta Halt – and are left to muse what might have happened if nationalisation and Dr Beeching’s cuts had never happened, – and all that railway infrastructure had been left in place.
This digital re-creation is set in 1949 – just after British Rail absorbed GWR – which accounts for the large amount of GWR liveried rolling stock to be seen .
Just for fun, Ben Salter (skipper of the pleasure-boat “Daffodil”) has also created a scenario in which all the lines west from Cardiff have been closed so that “all rail traffic is passing through the Penarth, Lavenock, Sully coastal line to Barry and beyond”.
That means that Penarth station is seen as a hectically-busy place – and in keeping with the smoke and steam era – there isn’t an Arriva diesel train to be seen anywhere.
In February last year, top transport expert Mark Barry, Metro Advisor to the Welsh Government, told Penarth Town Council that Penarth’s Railway Path could revert to being a railway again – using units similar to those on Manchester’s light rail system – and could link Penarth with Sully and ultimately with Barry . Mr Barry’s proposals also included re-opening a station in Penarth Dock.
Mr Barry told the council that when it came to organising a transport infrastructure “the Victorians were ahead of us in that respect”. Ben Salter’s video gives us graphic evidence of just how advanced those Victorians were.
The realistic video can be seen on YouTube using the link above.
Below is a map showing just how extensive the railway system in the centre of Penarth system was in the 1920s :-