James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Bishops Castle Railway in crisis

A passenger train service along the complete line did not start until February 1866 when four trains began running each way, daily. Still the income from the use of the line was insufficient to meet its spiralling costs. Financial difficulties would dog the line throughout its operation. The next crisis arose from the non-payment of monies to the various landowners from whom the company had rented and bought land, all of whom Elisha would have come to know through his surveying work; landowners such as W.H. Beddoes, John C. Lloyd, W.H.F. Plowden and Rev. W.G. Bottfield,. The following January the company was forced to sell two locomotives and its rolling stock, all at considerable losses, to pay off some of its creditors. However, the nominated receiver retained the existing staff as it was deemed viable to operate the line by hiring back the rolling stock.

After one judgment against the company in 1869, the Sheriff found no property to seize, most of the company’s capital assets having been sold already to pay creditors. New debentures were issued in 1872 to pay off some of the outstanding debts but matters got steadily worse. After another case in February 1877 bailiffs took possession of the line, taking up part of the track to prevent the movement of rolling stock. This caused great hardship to other companies whose wagons were trapped and to the town of Bishop’s Castle, a shortage of coal, in particular, affecting both coal merchants and the general public. After about a week a plan was hatched. One cold, dark night the bailiffs guarding the track were lured into "The Red Lion Inn" which allowed the track to be repaired and an engine steamed up. This collected supplies and sped them to the beleaguered town before the bailiffs could stop it. Unfortunately it provided only temporary relief. Normal services did not recommence until July.