Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

2 August 2010

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Forthcoming events

August 2010

2-30 August, Mondays - Fridays only: Cambrian Steam: 44871 Machynlleth - Porthmadog or Pwllheli and return.

7-15 August. Llangollen Railway Day out with Thomas (again) the summer time visit by No.1 and friends.

Sunday 8 August Excursion Compass Tours to SKIPTON & KEIGHLEY (out via Bentham, return S&C + Shap) Picks up: Holyhead, Llanfairpwll, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint, Chester, Frodsham & Warrington Bank Quay. Expected to to be hauled by a class 67.

Sunday 8 August Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. The North Wales Coast Express. Liverpool - Holyhead

Wednesday 11 August Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company. The Welsh Mountaineer Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Wednesday 18 August Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company. The Welsh Mountaineer Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Sunday 22 August Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. The North Wales Coast Express. Liverpool - Holyhead

Wednesday 25 August Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company. The Welsh Mountaineer Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Monday 30 August Excursion Compass Tours to DURHAM + optional add-on tour via Hartlepool to Newcastle (routes covered include Cumbrian Coast, Tyne Valley, ECML, Aire Valley & Hellifield to Carnforth) Picks up: Crewe, Hooton (after runnning round), Ellesmere Port, Frodsham, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster & Carnforth This train is booked to feature D1015 Western Champion throughout.

See the Calendar page for more details.

A slide show of the first week's operation of this summer's Cambrian Coast steam train. For booking information and times see the West Coast Railways website.

Riding The Cambrian - with Alan Crawshaw

Rowan and I were up early on 28 July to catch the 07:49 from Porthmadog in order to return on 'The Cambrian' summer steam service. This service waits at Harlech from 08:09 to 08:30 so we alighted to photograph our train, 158 840 alongside 158 839, on a northbound train which waits here from 08:09 to 08:21 (Above)

We alighted at Dyfi Junction to stretch our legs and get the approach shot of 44871, rather than scrambling across at Machynlleth where the locomotive is off the end of the platform. It was quite a busy spell as 158 838 arrives from Aberystwyth at the same time as our unit and waits for ours to leave (above). The driver told me that an osprey was perched on one of the signals yesterday morning.

An empty working from Aberystwyth soon after 158 838 had departed, and waited for 'The Cambrian' (above) to clear the section. The Black 5 made light work of the eight coaches, I think there were only six on previous years, and I don't recall first class accommodation being available in the past.  [Note the passing loop track which has recently been laid on the Aberystwyth line here, and awaits the implementation of the new ERTMS signalling before it can be used.]

Cambrian newcomer

Above, a portrait by Kate Jones of 44871, which is working this summer's Cambrian steam service, at Morfa Mawddach on 27 July. 2-6-0 76079, used in previous years, is not available now as it has been sold by Ian Riley to the North York Moors Railway. Bought by Ian Riley in 2006, and given a full overhaul in 2008,  44871  has seen its tender slightly modified to bring the ensemble within the axle-load limits of the Cambrian Coast line.

On 11 August 1968, double-headed with sister loco 44781, it hauled the Carlisle - Manchester  so-called 'Fifteen-Guinea Special' - the last main-line passenger train to be hauled by a steam locomotive on British Railways on 11 August 1968 before the introduction of a 'steam ban' that started the following day. Fifteen Guineas - then two weeks' wages for your compiler - was the fare for the special, which made a round trip of north-west England. A re-run was staged in August 2008, but sadly 44871's overhaul was in progress and it could not take its rightful place. Its partner on the day in 1968, 44781, was 'destroyed during the making of the film The Virgin Soldiers; as Wikipedia puts it.

More Roving - report by Geoff Morris

Like Tim Fenton in last week's noticeboard, I have been using a North & Mid Wales Flexi Rover this past week. Here are some shots taken during the week. On Wednesday 28 July  I arrived at Caernarfon by bus from Bangor to find a couple of vintage Silver Star buses in the Town Square. Silver Star still operate local services out of Caernarfon in addition to coaches and retain vintage vehicles for private hire. After they had unloaded their parties in the Square they drove down to the car park below the Castle. A web search indicates that the darker green one (EAS 956) is a Leyland PS1 vehicle built in 1948 ... 

... while the lighter green vehicle (LPT 328) is an AEC Regal III with a Burlingham body, built in 1950.

I then caught the Sherpa S4 bus to Beddgelert I concentrated on getting some shots on the WHR in the Aberglaslyn Pass. I started with a lineside shot of Garratt 87 coming out on the second short tunnel - with the wagon for conveying bicycles (& pushchairs?) behind the loco it could be taken for a freight train.

I then walked back down the riverside path to get a shot of 87 returning from Pont Croesor.

Before Garratt 138 appeared on the on the 14:40 from Caernarfon I walked up a steep footpath on the opposite hillside to get aerial views of it. It was a fair climb but worth the effort.

I then came back to ground level for a shot of it alongside the river, near the railway overbridge on the return form Pont Croesor. As it was late afternoon (c.17:20) I was lucky enough to get a photo without anyone in the river (it's a popular spot) nor on the footpath.

On Thursday 29 July I went to photograph 138 making a very smoky start out of Caernarfon before once more getting the S4 bus to Beddgelert ...

... where I photographed it again in the Aberglaslyn Pass. I then caught the S97 Sherpa bus service to Porthmadog and came back to Chester via the Ffestiniog to Blaenau Ffestiniog and Arriva Train Wales services from there.

On Friday 30 July I went for a ride on the Great Orme Tramway, something I hadn't done for many years.

I was impressed with the new complex at Halfway and the fact that you can walk under cover from one tram to another was welcome given the indifferent weather. The improved facility at the Summit means that the tram stops under cover - which is a bit of a pain for the photographer.

I took my time coming back so that I managed to ride on all 4 trams and also got some shots of them.

The Welsh Mountaineer

The 'Welsh Mountaineer' on 28 July was a Railway Touring Company excursion from Preston to Blaenau Ffestiniog and return, hauled by 2-8-0 48151 Gauge O Guild. Neil Kennedy's picture above shows the train approaching Frodsham, where a stop was made to take water. Because  of the steep gradients and sharp curves of the Conwy Valley branch, and in view of problems which have occurred on previous occasions the train consists of just six coaches, including the support vehicle.

48151 being admired at 8.54 at Frodsham by the passengers who had somehow found out that the departure time had been brought forward. (Neil Kennedy)

The water stop gave Neil the chance to portray for us the nameplate now carried by 48151. For those not versed in model railway jargon, the Guild is a society for modellers whose trains run on track of '0' gauge, and are modelled at the scale of 1/43rd. Founded in 1956, the Guild celebrated its jubilee in 2006 by sponsoring this naming; the apostrophe giving the name an Irish look is perhaps an unofficial addition. Unfortunately the design and proportions of the plate give it a rather crude look.

The works plate reveals the loco's wartime origins: the type first appeared in the 1930s, a William Stanier design as a freight version of the 'Black 5' 4-6-0. Many machines of the type were built for wartime use, and some saw service abroad.

The water tanker at Frodsham - note the comprehensive safety rails. (Neil Kennedy)

Heading for Chester at Dunham-on-the-Hill (Andrew Vinten)

Arrived at Chester (Glyn Jones)

It is considered best to run steam locos chimney-first up the Conwy Valley, so at Chester 48151 was removed from the train and turned on the triangle of lines west of the station. It is seen above about to head for the triangle (Glyn Jones).

The Chester - Llandudno Junction run was made with the tender leading, as seen above passing Flint station at speed (Darren Durrant)

Near Colwyn Bay (Jack Bowley). These locos were not designed for tender-first running: the crew have to lean out to see the signals. (the required 'road knowledge' includes knowing where the signals are.) In steam days there were turntables at most depots. There is a triangle of lines at Valley just before Holyhead, which is used when steam trains are terminating there, but to visit from Llandudno Junction and return would take too too much time on a Blaenau Ffestiniog run.

At Llandudno Junction the locomotive was detached and run round the train (Peter Lloyd)

Ready for the hill (Larry Davies)

North Llanrwst (Route19)

Steaming towards Betws-y-Coed (Route19)

Southbound on the Conwy Valley branch between Pont-y-Pant and Dolwyddelan. (Ian Pilkington)

Passing Roman Bridge station, the last before the long tunnel which leads to Blaenau Ffestiniog (Alan Crawshaw)

The return train at Glan Conwy (Larry Davies)

The river Conwy as backdrop (Larry Davies)

Arrived at Llandudno Junction with its informative nameboard sponsored by the Conwy Valley Rail Partnership (Larry Davies)

A volcanic departure from platform 3 at Llandudno Junction, eight minutes earlier than the revised booked time of the return leg to Preston. (Ian Pilkington)

Colwyn Bay (Darren Durrant)

Passing Mickle Trafford, east of Chester (Stavros Lainas) The '8F' locos were rarely as clean as this during their working life on British Railways freight trains, which they hauled until almost the final days of steam in 1968.

The return water stop at Frodsham (Neil Kennedy). The usual wandering photographers doing their thing - yes, we know the prohibition sign is at the bottom of the ramp probably because there was once a 'barrow crossing' there. Even so, setting up a tripod right next to the line cannot be approved of....

... you never know when a Class 175 is going to come up behind you (Neil Kennedy).

Frodsham has on one or two 'Cheshire Best Kept Station; awards in recent times, not bad for an unstaffed station close to a town centre, without the benefit of an adjacent manned signalbox enjoyed by nearby Helsby, and a  credit to the volunteers from the North Cheshire Rail Users' Group who look after the station. Note the variations on the 'Totem' theme: the top left-hand one is perhaps the most 'authentic.' (Neil Kennedy)

A last look at the train as it passes under Neil Kennedy's viewpoint on the footbridge that connects Church Street and the station car park to High Street, and enters the sandstone cutting leading to the tunnel.

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