James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

The opening of the railway 1

No doubt Elisha would have been amongst the crowds that enjoyed the pomp and ceremony at the opening of the line. Edward Griffiths in his booklet The Bishop’s Castle Railway 1865-1935, p 34 writes: It is interesting to note that Mr. Elisha Owen, who came to survey the land for the vendors, married a Bishop’s Castle lady and stayed to become the first stationmaster there [at Bishop’s Castle].

The 'Bishop’s Castle lady' whom Elisha married was Harriett Wilding. The uncertainty of his job security with the railway company as it limped from crisis to crisis must have been quite worrying. It is to be hoped that neither Harriett’s family nor Elisha invested money in the ill-fated concern.

In fact, the station at Bishop’s Castle had not been built before the grand opening of the line, which was described as follows:

The formal opening of this short line fell on Tuesday, 24th October, 1865, and, as was customary during those times, the occasion was marked by a round of festivities. At twelve noon the directors, together with a large number of shareholders and friends, left Stretford Bridge for Bishop's Castle in a train of eleven coaches, which, together with the locomotive, are thought to have been borrowed from the Mid-Wales Railway for the occasion. The locomotive was decorated with flags and carried the inscriptions, "Better Late than Never" and "Long-Looked-For Come at Last", while large numbers of people hailed the train at every vantage point. At the time of opening, the only station building in evidence was Plowden, which was not complete, even Bishop's Castle station not having been started. The "Shrewsbury Chronicle", in reporting the opening said, "The line of railway formally opened at present terminates near Strefford Bridge, about a mile from Craven Arms, but a junction will shortly be formed with the Shrewsbury-Hereford line." Notwithstanding this, the junction must have been already in existence, though legal or technical difficulties may have prevented the use of Craven Arms station. The Mid-Wales Railway was not plentifully endowed with stock, possessing at this time six 0-4-2 and six 0-6-0 locomotives.    >>