The Talyllyn railway has been operating continuously since 1865. It was built to haul slate from the Bryn Eglwys quarry near Abergynolwyn to the coast at Tywyn. For nearly 100 years trains ran up and down the valley using the original two locomotives and four carriages. By the time of WWII the line was increasingly decrepit and although the line continued to operate the quarry shut at the end of 1946 and the railway seemed doomed. In 1950 the last train ran and it seemed this little line would finally fail. But a group of dedicated enthusiasts had noticed the Talyllyn and a preservation society was formed to rescue and run the railway. The society ran its first trains over the Whit holiday in 1951 and thus the Talyllyn became the first railway in the world to be rescued and run by volunteers.
The first few years were difficult, with worn out stock and track that in places was held together more by the grass between the rails than sleepers. But the Talyllyn survived and was gradually bought up to proper railway standards. Two locomotives and a small amount of stock were brought from the nearby Corris Railway which had recently closed and was luckily also of the unusual 2’ 3” gauge. More locomotives followed including No. 7 ”Tom Rolt” a brand new engine built by the railway in 1991.
Today steam locomotives, including the original 1865 engines, still pull trains along the Fathew valley from Tywyn to Nant Gwernol, just below the old quarry.