Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

27 September 2010

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This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters, and especially the all rail staff of North Wales.

Forthcoming events

September 2010

Thursday 30 September Merseyside Railway History Group Alisdair McDonald: Ramblings on Rail

October 2010

Friday 1 October   Clwyd Railway Circle    Edgar Richards: Freight in North Wales and the North West. A combined collection of slides taken by Dave Airey and our well respected speaker.

Friday 1 October Compass Tours excursion from Llandudno Jct, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint and Chester to Pitlochry and Aviemore.

Saturday 2 October Compass Tours 'The Snowdonian Explorer'   
Shrewsbury, Wellington, Telford Central, Codsall, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Cannock, Hednesford, Rugeley Town & Stafford to Betws-Y-Coed or Blaenau Ffestiniog with optional extra Steam Excursion.  Class 66 Diesel to feature throughout.

2-3 October. Llangollen Railway Diesel weekend. Intensive service by the mainline diesels supported by one of the railcars.

Sunday 3 October: The annual Tram and Bus show at Pacific Road Birkenhead

Monday 4 October:    RCTS Port Sunlight   Harry Madden: MERSEYSIDE TRANSPORT. A miscellany of trains, trams, buses and shipping from both sides of the River Mersey.

Tuesday 5 October North Wales Railway Circle David Lindsay: Statfold Barn Railway visit.

Friday 8 October Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society A TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICAN RAILWAYS IN THE EARLY 1970S (INDUSTRIAL AND MAIN LINE STEAM) a colour slide presentation by Alan Gilbert

Monday 11 October. Wrexham Railway Society Preserved Steam on Video - the 2010 mainline steam action with PSOV.

Tuesday 12 October. 8E Association Charles Roberts (RCTS): 80s and 90s Irish Railways.

Saturday 16 October Llangollen Railway: Growler Group Members' Day. 6940 (37 240) will be making six return trips between Llangollen & Carrog. Tickets are available for non-members of the Group.

Monday 18 October   RCTS Chester   Tony Keeley: 50 YEARS BEHIND THE LENS. Tony’s presentation covers his career working for Beyer Peacock in South America and Europe through to the present day.

Tuesday 19 October  North Wales Railway Circle Bill Rogerson :Sardinia Railways.

23-31 October. Llangollen Railway Day out with Thomas. the half term event featuring No.1.

Thursday 28 October Merseyside Railway History Group Keith Crabtree: Tornado, a steam locomotive for the 21st Century

29 - 31 October Merseyside Model Railway Society exhibition at the Pacific Road Arts Centre, Birkenhead. Trams will be in operation on the adjacent tramway.

November 2010

Monday 1 November  RCTS Port Sunlight   Steve Ollive:  PLANDAMPF 94 Featuring standard and narrow gauge in East Germany and organised trips around  Dresden and the  Thuringer Forest

Tuesday 2 November  North Wales Railway Circle Paul Hardy: Wait and See (a secret location?)

Friday 5 November  Clwyd Railway Circle  Gordon Davies -  American Wanderings. - A selection of slides showing diesel, electric and steam trains in the USA working passenger and extremely long freight trains from the East to the West coast, photographed in the last 16 years.
Friday 12 November Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society
16MM CINÉ FILMS FROM THE 1970s a miscellany by Richard Greenwood

6-7 November. Llangollen Railway Poppy Train Service as part of the Remembrance festival - special guest engine possible.

Tuesday 9 November. 8E Association Chris Simon: ‘The Examination Quiz’.  

Monday 15 November RCTS Chester Keith Crabtree: 60163 Tornado.Keith is from the A1 Steam Trust and will be giving a Power-point presentation on the history, building and operation of Tornado.

Tuesday 16 November  North Wales Railway Circle Steve Morris: Brake Trials

Thursday 25 November Merseyside Railway History Group Geoff Morris: Steaming through the gauges in the 21st Century

See the Calendar page for more details.

Some marvellous pictures were among the many sent from the 10-12 September Steam Gala at the Llangollen Railway. Above is a YouTube slide show of selections from the three days, with soundtrack from one of Charlie's favourite albums. You can see the pictures at a larger size if you go to the Youtube website.Our thanks to all who sent pictures and of course, as always, to everyone at the Llangollen Railway.

The new bridge in Llandudno

2D15 11:46 Blaenau Ffestiniog to Llandudno approaching the recently-opened new Maesdu bridge, as seen from Conwy Mountain on 17 September (Peter Lloyd)

Manchester Model Railway Show 2 - 3 October

This year the annual Manchester Model Railway Exhibition, has a new venue, the Armitage Centre, Moseley Road, Fallowfield, Manchester M14 6ZT. Opening hours are 10am to 6pm on Saturday 2 October and from 10am to 5pm on Sunday 3 October. (No Friday evening opening.) The Armitage Centre is a University facility about three miles south of the city centre in Fallowfield. If arriving by train from North Wales, get off at Oxford Road station, walk down the approach and cross the road to the bus stop on Oxford Road outside the main entrance of the Palace Hotel. Buses 41, 42, 43, 44, 46, 48, 140, 142 and 143 from there go to 'Owens Park' in Fallowfield which is the nearest stop for the Centre. A Manchester PlusBus ticket bought with your train ticket will cover the bus fares. (Welsh over-60s bus passes are, of course, not valid in England.)

Here's the full information about the exhibition.

The Snowdon Mountain Ranger

22 September saw North Wales visited by a Compass Tours excursion 'The Snowdon Mountain Ranger'  from Burnley Manchester Road, Rose Grove, Accrington, Blackburn, Cherry Tree, Bamber Bridge to Blaenau Ffestiniog are return.  Above, the train passes Hapsford near Helsby at 10:10, with 47 802 Pride of Cumbria in the lead.

Colwyn Bay (Stéphanie Durrant).

On the rear was 47 712 Pride of Carlisle (Stéphanie Durrant)

Above, with 47 712 now on the front after the reversal at Llandudno Junction, the train arrives a little late at Blaenau Ffestiniog after being delayed by an Arriva service train. A nice bit of 'clag' from the 47 heralds its arrival. (Mark Riley)

Passengers disembark and cross the footbridge for an afternoon jaunt on the Ffestiniog Railway. (Mark Riley)

The empty train was shunted into a holding position on the centre road for the afternoon, providing an interesting comparison between standard and narrow gauge, steam and diesel. Merddin Emrys is about to leave with the 13:40 Blaenau Ffestiniog - Porthmadog.

In the centre of the eleven coach consist was InterCity liveried Mark 2F Buffet First 1203; many readers will have fond memories of these RFB vehicles, which were converted by British Rail from open firsts for use on Cross-Country trains, later passing to Virgin Cross Country - your editor remembers comfortable holiday journeys to Devon, and also some particularly notable runs behind Deltic D9000 Royal Scots Grey. The other 10 coaches were red and black ex-Virgin Mark 2s. For the record, these were 9507, 6054, 5987, 5952, 6024, 3304, 3386, 3344, 3325 and 3333.

47 802 would be the lead loco for the return as far as Llandudno Junction later in the afternoon. (Mark Riley)

Railway Society Meeting 5 October

The opening meeting of the season for the Railway Correspondence and Travel Society takes place on Monday 4th October at 7.30 p.m. in the upstairs room at the Lever Club, next to Port Sunlight railway station. The evening will have Harry Madden, a well known Cheshire bookseller, as the guest speaker presenting his Memories of Merseyside Transport.  Visitors will be made most welcome after making a £2 donation. Telephoned enquiries about this meeting can be made to 0151 – 608 4296.

At the Welshpool and Llanfair Gala

The Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway held a Steam Gala event on 3-5 September, featuring both the railway's original Beyer Peacock-built locomotives. Above, 823 Countess prepares to move empty coaching stock at Welshpool Raven Square with all three of the recently-built replicas of the line's original   coaches. The originals, built by the Pickering company, were scrapped many years ago when passenger services on the line were withdrawn by the Great Western Railway. (David Parry)

Sister engine 822 The Earl arrives at Llanfair Caereinion with the 12:05 goods train from Castle Caereinion on Friday 3 September as the signalman prepares to collect the single-line token. The picture is from the picnic area which offers a superb view of trains arriving and locos being serviced. (David Parry)


Visiting loco Chevallier (two 'l's is the correct spelling) taking water at Welshpool, Saturday 4 September. This Manning Wardle 0-6-2T of 1915 was built for the Admiralty's Chattenden and Upnor Railway, was sold to Bowaters' Paper Mill railway in Kent in 1950, and later worked the first passenger train on the railway at Whipsnade Zoo. Sold to Bill Parker in 2006, it has been given a full overhaul over the last year at his Flour Mill workshop in the Forest of Dean. (David Parry)

Teething troubles: Chevallier 'ran hot' (overheated bearings) on both days and consumed copious amounts of oil; the above view by Glyn Jones shows some attention being given to the mechanical lubricator. She slipped to a stand on the notorious Golfa Bank on Sunday in the rain and failed to move after stopping at a level crossing further up the line. This necessitated sanding of the track  by a member of the mobile Permanent Way staff before she finally got away.

Above, Romanian loco 764 425 takes water at Welshpool, 4 September (Glyn Jones). This loco seems to be jinxed  as it failed yet again on the Saturday evening and was seen next day dumped out of steam at Llanfair Caereinion.

Former Bowaters 0-4-4-0T Monarch was on display at Welshpool (Glyn Jones) ...

... standing on rails rolled by the Dowlais Iron and Steel Works, Merthyr Tydfil  in 1902. (Glyn Jones)

Sierra Leone Railway no. 85, on view at Llanfair Caereinion on 5 September (Glyn Jones)

Dougal, which once worked at Provan Gasworks in Glasgow, in steam at Llanfair Caereinion on 5 September (Glyn Jones)

Diesel loco Chattenden, like Chevallier, also came from the Chattenden and Upnor Railway; it has been resident at the WLLR since the early days of the line's preservation, when the only passenger stock on the line in its early days was obtained from the same source.

Above: a vintage Cambrian Railways point lever still in service (Glyn Jones)

The WLLR will be running at weekends until the end of October, plus weekdays 25-29 October. (Timetable.)

More on LEV1 - notes by Evan Green-Hughes

With reference to your picture of LEV1 at Betws-y-Coed (20 September issue) I can confirm that the 1981 date on the picture is likely correct, based on an interview I did some years ago with Trevor Griffin, who was one of the development engineers on the "bus" at BR Research in Derby.
LEV 1 was modified in-between August and December 1979 for its US trip and was shipped via Liverpool on the Atlantic Span to Port Elizabeth, New Jersey. It then went by road to the Boston and Maine workshops at Iron Horse Park, Billerica, where it arrived in early January 1980. It was then towed to Boston where it ran 'under its own steam' as far as Attleboro. It appeared at the opening ceremony for the Boston-Concord rail service and was then tested on the New Hampshire main line, covering about 1,500 miles in total. The "bus" was then quickly shipped home and re-appeared on various UK branch lines during late 1980/81.
However, another railbus, the Wickham-assembled R3, was ordered as a result of this visit and dispatched subsequently to the States. Yet another, RB004 (the one which looks like a class 141 and is now at the Telford Steam Railway) also later visited the States. Nothing came of any of the visits and no other railbuses were sold.

[Evan is Chairman of the Llangollen Railcars group, who are participating in the Llangollen Railway Diesel Gala on 2-3 October: see their website for timetables for this event.]

Wales in Birkenhead - report by Larry Davies

Over the weekend of 18-19 September the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways took a quarry Hunslet Britomart and one of their beautifully-restored diminutive coaches to the Birkenhead Transport Festival held in Birkenhead Park.  The exhibits stood alongside the Ffestiniog Railway marketing stall at which the Conwy Valley Rail Partnership also featured, promoting their line and the range of Arriva Trains Wales products for their network in Wales and the Borders.   An amazing level of interest shown by the visiting crowds in the loco and coach and queues quickly formed to "cab" the loco and take family photos in the coach. A great weekend with a good atmosphere.

Following the Flasks

Train 6K41, 14:58 Valley to Crewe flasks, is one of the most photographed trains on the North Wales Coast line, especially when Class 37s are on offer. It is the return working of 6D41 05:41 Crewe - Valley, and can be seen on one or more weekdays; the North Wales Train News Yahoo Group is the place to find out if it is running. Above on 15 September, 37 601 and 37 604 are in charge of three flask wagons, seen passing Llanfair PG. (Richard Fleckney)

Same place two days later, 17 September, and 37 038 leads 37 059 with just one wagon. (Richard Fleckney)

The same train passes Conwy Castle, making an added attraction for passengers on the open-top bus tour (Mark Barber).

The same train again, seen from the footpath at Old Colwyn (Stéphanie Durrant)

Dad Has an Engine Shed

A new book, no. 21 in the Oakwood Press 'Railway Reminiscences' series of books, is Dad Had an Engine Shed: Some childhood railway reminiscences of a North Wales shedmaster’s son by Anthony J. Robinson. (A5 format, 184 pages with 138 illustrations, £12.95. ISBN 978 0 85361 707 5). The publisher's promotional text follows:

Railways were very much ‘in the blood.' John Eric Robinson (Anthony's Dad), born in Crewe in 1902, the second child and the eldest son of John Robinson, assistant chief electrical engineer to the London & North Western Railway. John Robinson was in turn the eldest son of the redoubtable (and famous) Ben Robinson who had enjoyed the distinction of having driven the Royal train more frequently than any other man of his era and he was at the controls of No. 790 Hardwicke on its record-breaking run during the ‘Race to the North’ in 1895.

Around about 1910 John Robinson moved the family to Wembley following a promotion to the head office at Euston. On leaving school in 1919 his son J.E. Robinson gained a position in the LNWR workshops which were part of Willesden sheds. It was the start of a career on the railway that was to span more than 45 years. Most of those years were spent in North Wales on sheds associated with the Chester & Holyhead Railway. He moved to Llandudno Junction in 1925 as a fitter and remained there for 20 years. In 1945 he was promoted to leading fitter at Rhyl and another promotion, in 1948, saw him achieve the position of shedmaster at Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire.

Keen to get back to North Wales, early in 1952 he applied for the shedmaster’s job at Mold Junction. The importance of Mold Junction shed was essentially in its freight engine stud and what was for the area one of the finest locomotive handling facilities available.

Who today could imagine someone in charge of over 200 men and 60-odd locomotives living in a council house and going to work on a bicycle? Working five full days a week plus Saturday and Sunday mornings and having to be on permanent standby day and night for breakdowns and, yes, for no extra pay at that! It has been written elsewhere that a typical shedmaster had to have the powers of judgment of Solomon, the ingenuity of Trevithick, the stubbornness of Stephenson, the leadership skills of Patton, the negotiating powers of Kissinger and the memories of several elephants! Well, J.E. Robinson would probably would have failed on the last one, so to counteract this he meticulously kept a diary of all his work activities from 1922 right through to 1965. His selfless devotion to duty was not unusual to men of his ilk, a job well done usually the only reward. This leadership by example imbued similar qualities in others responsible for the smooth running of the various departments within an engine shed. To say that he was a hard-working man would be an understatement in the extreme!

Pendolino pictures

The other regular film star on the Coast is the Saturday 'Pendolino Drag' - 1D83 08:50 London Euston - Crewe (add loco 10:35-10:50) Holyhead arr 12:56; 1A55 14:36 Holyhead - Crewe (detach loco 16:43-16:57) - London Euston arr 18:36 Above is 57 306 Jeff Tracy hauling 390 035 City of Lancaster westbound through Beeston on 18 September (Stavros Lainas) ...

... Approaching Llandudno Junction  (Stéphanie Durrant) ...

... and arriving at Bangor just before the rain. (Richard Fleckney)

Bersham Mystery

A recent email from a correspondent reads: 'I recently  had to visit the former Bersham Colliery south of Wrexham, which is now an 'Enterprise Centre'. Apparently the former spoil tip is to be removed and there was a fleet of lorries queuing at the site. The staff at the centre, however, said that the lorries are bringing in ballast for a new siding that is being installed on the adjacent  Wrexham - Shrewsbury line, and that the spoil is to be taken away by rail. I wonder of there is any confirmation of this?'

Well, our contributor George Jones went to have a look, and reports: 'From the over bridge there is no evidence of work on the provision of sidings as per the attached photo. It can be seen that there has been some recent re-ballasting of the main line. At one time the view from here included a crossover and siding access to the colliery behind the tree growth on the left; a lot of clearance would be needed before any rail is laid.'

'No sign either of evidence of the developers of the waste heap being on the site which is mostly Bersham Business Park within the remaining surface buildings. However, intriguingly there is a NR notice on the gate (above) accessing the back of the waste tip and a tanker lorry entered as I was there but no development obvious. No one was around to ask, however, but this gate is remote from the railway.

'The waste removal firm will have to install some plant to begin the extract of the waste and to sort it as they expect waste coal products to be extracted which can be sold on. Given the need to apply to Network Rail for rail access to be provided I doubt there will be a 'quick fix' for this idea. Transfer by rail is the obvious solution given the volume of waste to be reprocessed. Quite how a new siding, necessary signalling and pathing can be organised remains to be seen but the new freight flow would be welcome for power station feed and construction infill.'

Perhaps the lorries were delivering the ballast for use on the main line? It was reported recently that road delivery of ballast was used on recent work on the Shrewsbury - Machynlleth line, so it does appear that Network Rail no longer consider it necessary to send such material by rail.  Can anyone enlarge on this topic?

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