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ICE keeps track of Barry Railway’s engineering history

01 December 2023

To mark 100 years since the railway stopped operating, ICE Wales Cymru unveiled an information panel at Barry Island Station.

ICE keeps track of Barry Railway’s engineering history
Barry Mayor Ian Johnson, Deputy Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan Elliot Penn and John Buxton, manager of the Barry Tourist Railway.

To honour the railway that led to the creation of Barry in South Wales, the ICE has provided an information panel that celebrates the town’s engineering history.

The poster, which marks 100 years since the railway formally stopped operating, was handed to the Barry War Museum and Heritage Centre at Barry Island Station.

Barry, South Wales

The extraordinary growth of Barry, South Wales came about with the construction of the largest integrated railway and dock system of its kind.

Barry Island Station is one of the last surviving buildings created by the railway and the terminus of the Barry Island branch line, which opened in 1896.

The opening of the station marked the start of Barry Island becoming a major tourist resort.

This was the last such development in South Wales and involved many industrialists and famous names from the world of engineering.

The Barry Railway information panel.
The Barry Railway information panel.

For example, Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s son, Henry Marc Brunel, working in partnership with a past president of the ICE, Sir John Wolfe Barry.

Three years later (1889) saw the beginning of modern Barry, the year in which the first dock basin was opened, to be followed by two additional docks and various port installations.

By 1913, Barry was famous for being the largest coal-exporting port in the world.

In that year, a world record of 11.09 million long tons (11.27 million tonnes) of coal were exported through the port.

The Barry Railway had a relatively short but eventful life that ended in 1923, with its absorption into the Great Western Railway (GWR).

But its importance to the town and South Wales lives on.

Raising awareness of Wales’ engineering heritage

In 1971 the ICE established the Panel for Historical Engineering Works.

This forms part of raising public awareness of Wales’ engineering heritage.

"Since 2006 ICE Wales Cymru has placed or supported 30 plaques and information panels throughout Wales - marking important historical engineering sites and commemorating famous engineers such as Trevithick, Brunel and Telford," Peter Burns, chair of ICE Wales Cymru, said.

"This is all part of a programme to raise the general public’s awareness of our historical engineering heritage and I hope today will go some way in helping to achieve our objective," he said.

  • Belinda Thomas, communications lead at ICE Wales Cymru