Rhostyllen station after closure to passenger services. Photo from the John Alsop collection
On 14 October 1848 the Shrewsbury and Chester Railway (part of the Great Western Railway [GWR] from 1 September 1854) had opened and it passed just to the south of Rhostyllen.
However much to the annoyance of the residents no station was provided to serve them. This remained an issue as the nineteenth century progressed and it was only in the 1890s when residents of Rhosllanerchrugog (3 miles to the south-west) formed the East Denbighshire Railway (EDR) that the prospects of a station for Rhostyllen became a reality. The EDR proposed a line from Wrexham Central (on Wrexham, Mold & Connahs Quay Railway) to Rhosllanerchrugog and beyond towards the Vale of Llangollen. The GWR was spurred into action and they were able to kill off the EDR by proposing to build the 3¾-mile Rhos branch which received Royal Assent on 6 August 1897. The line extended from Rhos Junction (some 50 chains to the east of Rhostyllen on the Shrewsbury and Chester line) to an end-on junction with the Pontcysyllte Branch at Rhosllanerchrugog (shortened to Rhos by the GWR).
The station at Rhostyllen must have been substantially complete by 4 April 1901 because the North Wales Guardian of that day reported that ‘at Rhostyllen, Mr Holding, formerly stationed at Ffrith, is in charge, and the station premises comprise offices, general and ladies’ waiting rooms, and a small goods warehouse’. The station opened to passenger services on 1 October 1901. The very first train was a Rhos to Wrexham General service which departed from Rhos at 8.30am.
Rhostyllen station had a single platform located on the south side of the line. Located on the platform, just to the east of its mid-point, the station building containing the usual passenger facilities was of a standard GWR design seen at many of its stations (including Rhos and the smaller version at Legacy) which were opened or improved circa 1900. The structure was of red brick with paler brick quoins beneath a hipped slate roof. A canopy extended along the full length of the building and full width of the platform; it was asymmetrically ridged in profile with a saw-tooth, pierced valance. This feature, too, was the standard for GWR stations of the time.
A further building was located to the west of the main passenger facilities. This rather small goods warehouse was a somewhat ungainly structure, of similar height to the station building, of brick construction and under a hipped, almost pyramidal slate roof.
There was no passing loop at the station but it was provided with a goods siding behind the platform which connected to the running line just to the west of the station; the siding serve a loading ramp. The 1904 RCH Handbook of stations showed that Rhostyllen could handle passengers, parcels and general goods. However with no lifting crane, covered goods shed or animal pens the station was limited as to what goods it could handle.
The station did have signals but there was no signal box so it is likely that they were controlled by a ground frame operated by station staff.
At the time of opening a passenger service was operated between Wrexham General and Rhos. There were four passenger trains a day each way, with two extra services on Thursday and Saturday; no trains ran on Sunday.
Two goods trains served the station each day from Monday to Saturday. At Rhostyllen wagons had to be collected / dropped off by goods train travelling towards Rhos. Wagons for Wrexham and points onwards had to be taken to sidings at Legacy so that they could be picked up on the return trip.
A horse-drawn tramway running between Wrexham and Johnstown had served Rhostyllen since October 1876. Whilst the tramway was slower than the railway it ran into the centre of Wrexham (Wrexham General station was on the western edge of the town) and for that reason it was very convenient. In 1900 the horse-tramway was purchased by the Wrexham and District Electric Tramways Company who converted the line for electric operation. Electric services began to run on 4 April 1903. The introduction of the electric trams abstracted many passengers from the railway.
In order to counter the competition the GWR introduced a rail-motor service onto the Rhos branch on 1 May 1905. Three new halts were opened on the Pontcysyllte Branch (south of Rhos) and the passenger service was extended to the southernmost of them, Wynn Hall Halt. From 5 June 1905 three more halts were opened on the Legacy/Ponkey branch and services began operating between Ponkey Crossing Halt and Wrexham General.
The November 1906 timetable (click here to see it) showed Rhostyllen as having 16 trains to Wrexham General on Monday-to-Friday and 17 on Saturday. There were also 16 trains in the other direction on Monday-to-Friday but on Saturday there were 18. Of the 16 Monday-to-Friday southbound trains 12 were advertised as running to Ponkey Crossing Halt, ten to Wynn Hall Halt and two to Rhos. The disparity is due to a number of the southbound services operating both to Ponkey Crossing Halt and Wynn Hall Halt. This could have been achieved by running two rail-motors in tandem and splitting them at Legacy (the junction for the Legacy/Ponkey branches) or by the provision of a shuttle between Legacy and Ponkey Crossing Halt. As there was only one platform at Legacy the former seems to be the most likely.
In 1912 the Wrexham and District Electric Tramways Company (changed to the Wrexham and District Transport Company Limited in 1914) introduced motor-bus services to Rhos and the surrounding area and they successfully competed with the rail-motor service. On 22 March 1915 passenger services between Rhos and Wynn Hall Halt and between Legacy and Ponkey Crossing Halt were withdrawn and the halts were all closed. Passenger services reverted to operating only between Rhos and Wrexham General.
For the year 1924 passenger receipts at Rhostyllen accounted for only £540. Parcels carried by passenger trains accounted for £74 and goods in wagons earned £362. By the standards of the day Rhostyllen was financially a very poorly performing station.
Although the trams ceased to run on 31 March 1927 they were replaced by buses and, faced with a continued decline in revenue, on 31 January 1931 the GWR withdrew the passenger service. Although the goods siding remained open at Rhostyllen the station became unstaffed and the only regular traffic handled was coal brought in for a local merchant.
The line passed into the ownership of British Railways in 1948. The 1956 RCH Handbook of stations listed Rhostyllen as being able to handle general goods and parcels; however, it is unlikely that any of the later were handled as the station was unstaffed.
On 14 October 1963 the Rhos Branch closed to all traffic and track-lifting had commenced by July 1964. The station building was demolished after 1965 and the area became a landscaped public open space.
The site of Rhostyllen station looking east in January 1974. Photo by John Mann