Manchester and Milford Railway Memo from Aberystwyth 1900
The successor of several attempts to connect the industrial Midlands with the fine natural harbour of Milford Haven, the Manchester & Milford Railway was incorporated by Act of Parliament dated 23 July 1860. It was to build a standard gauge railway from the Mid Wales Railway at Llanidloes down the Wye Valley to Llangurig then tunnel through the mountains to Yspyty Ystwyth and descend the Teifi Valley through Tregaron and Lampeter to Pencader to connect with the broad gauge Carmarthen & Cardigan Railway. From there it was to lay a third rail on that railway to Abergwili Junction on the Llanelly Railway with running powers to Carmarthen.
Construction began at the northern end in 1861 but because of disputes which the Llanidloes & Newtown and the Mid Wales Railways and its own precarious financial position, little real progress was made. An initial nine miles of railway to just beyond Llangurig was completed in 1863, but then work stopped while an attempt was made to obtain a deviation act to build a less costly railway through the mountains. Powers to build a branch line to Aberystwyth was first obtained in July 1861, but rival schemes of the Mid Wales Railway and board room bickering caused a delay in awarding the first contract. Pencader to Lampeter was opened on 1 January 1866, a further section to Ystrad Meurig was completed in August 1866 and the third rail on the Carmarthen & Cardigan Railway was also completed in August allowing through traffic to commence. An amended act of 1865 authorised a line from Ystrad Meurig (renamed Strata Florida) to Aberystwyth; this branch line to Aberystwyth was opened on 12 August 1867. Construction thus far was only made possible by the contractor David Davies financing his own contracts, the M&MR’s precarious finances having worsened following the failure of the Quaker bankers, Overend and Gurney in 1866. Construction of the northern end of the main line ceased while the company tried to obtain a Deviation Act. This failed at its first attempt in 1864, and although second Bill the next year was successful, no more construction ever took place because of lack of funds.
As the M&MR had not paid its share of the cost of Llanidloes station and was also in arrears for Aberystwyth, the Cambrian and Mid Wales Railways obtained judgment against the M&MR for joint charges and the company was put into receivership on 23 July 1875. The early 1900s saw the M&MR engaged in negotiations with the Great Western Railway and Cambrian Railways, coming to terms with the GWR and signed an agreement with that company on 1 July 1905.