Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

31 January 2011

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Forthcoming events

February 2011

Friday 4 February   Clwyd Railway Circle    David Rapson: Reflections on a Railway Career.A reflection in pictures and anecdotes of a 35 year career on the railway based largely in the North West.

Monday 7 February    RCTS Port Sunlight: Peter Jackson: STEAM IN THE SNOW Slides of Peter’s visit to China in 2002, showing mainline and industrial steam.

Thursday 10 February  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society "Arriva Trains Wales 2011 - The Way Forward" - Ben Davies, ATW Stakeholder Manager.

Friday 11 February  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society
RED SEA RAILWAY - THE RAILWAYS OF ERITREA a PowerPoint presentation by Jennie Street (author "Red Sea Railway")

Monday 21 February  RCTS Chester MEMBERS SHOW 30 slides or digital images of your choice.  

Thursday 24 February Merseyside Railway History Group Allan Lewis: Norfolk & Western

March 2011

Friday 4 March   Clwyd Railway Circle  AGM followed by Photo Competition and Members Night. Members are invited to give a 15 minute presentation of their choice, any format welcomed. Please book your slot no later than 18th February by contacting David Jones (see below for details).          

Monday 7 March  RCTS Port Sunlight   John Day will give a digital presentation on 21st Century Steam featuring steam in the UK, USA, China and the Ukraine.

10 March    Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society   The last months of the Routemasters  with Dr John Willis and 'Society tribute to the late Bill Rear' by Bob Barnsdale and Larry Davies

Friday 11 March  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society STEAM AROUND CHESTER FROM THE 1960s ONWARDS a colour slide presentation by John Feild

Monday 21 March   RCTS Chester Paul Chancellor FROM BLUE AND GREY TO BLACK AND GREEN. Paul from Colour-Rail presents slides illustrating the wide variety of liveries that have adorned British steam, diesel and electric locomotives over the past 60 years.

Thursday 31 March Merseyside Railway History Group AGM: Members Slides

April 2011

Friday 1 April   Clwyd Railway Circle    Geoff Morris: The Railways of South-West Wales over the last 30 years. A photographic journey looking at the railway scene in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and West Glamorgan, an area often neglected by the railway enthusiast.  We visit far-flung outposts of the passenger system (Fishguard Harbour, Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock, Central Wales line) and also meet some unusual diesels (cut-down classes 03 & 08) on the way.                 

Monday 4 April RCTS Port Sunlight   BRANCH AGM (Members Only) Followed by Members' Photographs. 

Friday 8 April  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society
illustrated presentation by Graham Nicholas (A1 Steam Locomotive Trust)

Thursday 14 April   Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society "Cardiff Canton Diesel Depot”  Steve Morris

Monday 18 April   RCTS Chester Geoff Morris: ANOTHER AUSTRALIAN ADVENTURE. A digital presentation of Geoff’s 2010 visit to Australia featuring main line & preserved steam in Victoria, New South Wales & Queensland plus views of the modern scene and the odd kangaroo!

Thursday 28 April Merseyside Railway History Group Richard Kells: Quiz and informal evening

See the Calendar page for more details and later dates.

Chester station, 15 January (Geoff Morris)

The end of the Wrexham & Shropshire

What can we say? At 09:00 on 26 January Wrexham & Shropshire released a statement that due to continuing losses their operations would be closing down completely after the evening train from London to Wrexham two days later on Friday 28 January. The staff had been told the day before, we believe, with the result that the first train from Wrexham on 26 January left Wrexham without passengers, reportedly as some of the crew were too upset to report for work.

Remarkable as it may seem that a train company can crash like this at such short notice, this was indeed what happened. Arrangements had been made for other companies to honour tickets, and that was that.

Needless to say, we have received many pictures, reports and comments from readers: we'll collate these and present them properly in the next next issue. Rich Billingsley's picture above shows the last train on arrival at Wrexham.

The locomotive for the last train was 67 013 Dyfrbont Pontcysyllte (George Jones)

The Holy Oakes Railtour

On Saturday 26 March, a Spitfire Railtours charter is running from Taunton to Chester, and is called the 'Holy Oakes'. As well as the main trip (running via Weston-Super-Mare, Bristol, Cam & Dursley, Cheltenham, Droitwich, Tame Bridge and Manchester), a mini tour from Manchester Victoria and Chester to Holyhead and back, is planned to run. The fare structure for the 'mini tour' is as follows:

Manchester Victoria - £25 if booked in advance, or £30 on the day.
Chester - £20 if booked in advance, or £25 on the day.
Traction for the tour is planned to be a pair of West Coast Railway Company Class 37s.
Further information from the Spitfire Tours website,

Train reaches destination - report by Chris Morrison

Following the failure of this train on the last two Saturdays, I'm pleased to report an exemplary performance from the driver of 57 304 Gordon Tracy from Crewe to from Holyhead on the 'Pendolino drag' on Saturday 29 January. He was spot on time all the way, and about 7 mins early into Holyhead. Above, the loco is being attached to Pendolino 390 018 for the return journey.

Caught the 13:23 train from Holyhead as far as Rhosneigr to get a photo of the 57 on the return 14:38 to Euston from the popular field by Llyn Maelog lake to the east of the station.

I couldn't resist attaching a couple of July 1995 pictures scanned from Fuji Sensia transparencies taken at the same location, of 37 418 East Lancashire Railway (above) ...

... and 37 429 Eisteddfod Genedlaethol on afternoon departures from Holyhead when there was a 37 nearly every hour. Happy days.

LCVRS report - by Larry Davies

The next meeting of the Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society will be at held on Thursday 10 February, 2011 at the Llandudno Junction Sports and Social Club, Victoria Drive at 7.30pm. The principal feature will be an address by Mr Ben Davies, Senior Manager of Arriva Trains Wales on 'Arriva Trains Wales 2011 – the Way Forward' , together with an opportunity for questions and answers.

After a break there will be an illustrated show by Larry Davies entitled 'Arriva Land – Then & Now' – sixty years of changes.  New members and visitors are always welcome.

Sunset Scenes

Later, at Abergele (Darren Durrant)

Welsh Highland Railway news
On Saturday 19 February, two inaugural trains will set off at 10:45 - one from Caernarfon and one from Porthmadog Harbour - offering the chance to be one of the lucky few to travel the entire 25 miles of the Welsh Highland  Railway for the first time since the 1930s. Return tickets are priced at £100 first class [sold out already we think] and £50 standard class. Passengers will receive a special souvenir ticket and complimentary magazine commemorating their participation in this historic event.

From 20 to 27 February (half-term week) a public service will run over the whole route, with two trains each making a return run, crossing at Rhyd Ddu (timetable).

On Friday 25 March the Ffestiniog Railway Society’s London Area Group is promoting a whole-line special train called the 'Eryri Venturer' billed as 'the first opportunity to travel 80 miles on Narrow Gauge in one Day.' The train will depart Porthmadog Harbour station about 09:30 to
Blaenau Ffestiniog behind a Double Fairlie loco, then return to Porthmadog and traverse the new Cross Town Link over the Cambrian Line, and up the New Welsh Highland line, hauled by the oldest Garratt Locomotive, K1, to Caernarfon, and return to Harbour Station by 18.00.
A packed lunch is included, together with Souvenir timetable booklet and some special little extra. The fare is 65.00. Booking forms are available from

In the Dark - report by Geoff Morris

Having just acquired a new camera I have been testing it out.  Here are a few of the results - all hand-held at very high ISO ratings (1600 ASA or higher). As it was relatively warm on 13 January, I ventured out to see the Chirk log train.  With a film speed of 6400 ASA I took the attached shot of 66 842 passing Chester Locks - it was too dark to read the number but it was reported as this one on the North West Gen group !

On Saturday 15 January I was going out for the day and took a few shots at Chester and Crewe early in the morning - around 06:30 and 07:00 respectively.   At Chester, a pair of Voyagers were waiting to form the 07:17 to Euston - 221 115 Bombardier Voyager (in its special livery) provided a nice contrast with the other set.

At Crewe 57 311 Parker was 'parked', presumably prior to working the Saturday "drag" to Holyhead. 

Perhaps more interesting was the AC Locomotive Group's 86 101 Sir William A Stanier FRS behind it in the headshunt between platforms 11 & 12.  This loco seems to have been there for a while as I noted it in the same position on January 3rd while returning to Chester after Xmas in South Wales.

Prestatyn progress - report by Dave Sallery

The first section of the new footbridge at Prestatyn station (above) was erected over the weekend of 22-23 January.

A lift tower is under construction in the station car park; the temporary booking office is on the left of the picture.

Rhyl signalling question

As reported last issue, on Saturday 22 January the Class 57-hauled Pendolino failed at Rhyl, and while it awaited rescue, other westbound trains had to pass it via the central 'Down Main' line which does not have a platform. Contributor John Hobbs wrote to ask why these trains could not have used the 'up' platform line which appears to be signalled for reversible working. We passed this interesting question to local signalling expert Alan Roberts, who has kindly provided the following explanation and accompanying diagram:

The first problem with this is that there is now no crossover at the west end of Rhyl station. Westbound trains calling at the Up (eastbound) platform at Rhyl would then have to set back on to the Down towards Prestatyn and then forward on the Down main towards Abergele by-passing Rhyl platforms.

[Larger version of the diagram]

The trouble with this move is that any following Down trains due in Rhyl would have to be held at Prestatyn and also an Up train would have to wait at Abergele, causing more delays. Before the move from the Up platform to the Down Main can be done the signaller at Rhyl box has to send a '3-3' bell signal to Prestatyn, meaning the Down main line is about to be blocked outside the home signal (RL2,4,8) - this prevents the signaller at Prestatyn from clearing the signal for a next down train.

Also, it's impossible to signal a down train to the up platform in Rhyl if a train has already left Abergele on the up and been held on RL89 signal. There is a signal at the Abergele end of Rhyl Up platform (next to the former Rhyl No.2 box) - but that signal (RL101) is in fact fixed at 'red' and is not worked from the signalbox.

There were proposals at one time to have the Up platform bi-directional all the way;  trains would gain the Down Main again via a new crossover which would have to be installed somewhere in the Marine Lake area. However this has never happened, and the present arrangement caters only for any trains from the Chester direction which are known to be terminating at Rhyl.

Freight news

The stone trains from Penmaenmawr still make appearances: Stéphanie Durrant captured 66 518 emerging from Conwy tubular bridge on 17 January.

27 January and, 66 531 is ready to depart from the quarry with a loaded train (Nick Gurney)

The flask train on 17 January featured the first appearance on these trains by a loco - 66 434 - retaining the livery of the now-defunct Fastline company, and now in use by DRS. It is seen above at Rhosneigr, leading 66 424. Picture by Garnedd Jones.

The same train at Abergele (Stéphanie Durrant)

Llangollen 'Manor' update - by George Jones

The heavy overhaul of the boiler from 7822 Foxcote Manor at Llangollen is complete and awaits testing before fitting back in the frames and piping up. The need to replace the front end of the boiler assembly has seen the delivery of a new smokebox and ring, seen above on 15 January. Cutting of the holes for the chimney and blast pipe has yet to take place.

A week later (above) the new smokebox and ring have been fitted as shown during a trial installation of the boiler in the frames. The smokebox has been fixed to the saddle and the ring riveted to the smokebox which needs riveting to the boiler. All heavy work. The assembly will have to come out again to allow for an hydraulic test of the repaired boiler. The inside of the smokebox won't stay white for long!
The new smokebox and ring material have cost in excess of £6000 which just shows some of the expenses involved in preserving a steam loco these days. The costs of maintaining steam locomotives in the 21st century is something train-watchers might care to appreciate when 7822 is one of the stars of the Spring gala to be held 8-10 April. Donations to Foxcote Manor Society funds are always welcome.

Torquay Manor postscript

Some time ago we referred to the naming of the Manor class locomotives and the legend that the owner of the eponymous house was a rail enthusiast persuaded the Great Western Railway to name the first one no. 7800 as Torquay Manor.

Several interesting responses were received from readers - thanks as always - from which we can tell you the story is related in  C.J. Freezer's Railway Modeller magazine series on Locomotives of the GWR.
The gentleman's name was Captain Sir Francis Henry Godolphin Layland-Barratt, 2nd Baronet (1896-1968), who was a director of the GWR and a locomotive modeller. He lived at the Manor House, Torquay (not exactly 'Torquay Manor') a Victorian pile which his father had purchased in 1906. It seems that Sir Francis had heard that the new class was to be named after Manors and was keen to build a model of a locomotive named after his own house. He enquired whether Torquay Manor was among the projected names, and because he was a prominent supporter of the GWR they decided to bestow that name on the first of the class. Peto's Register of Great Western Locomotives: v.2: The Manor 4-6-0s, by Bill Peto (Irwell Press) makes reference.

There is an article concerning him in a recent issue of Great Western Railway Journal, no. 76, 2010. 'On the Sunday 7 May 1939 Capt. F.H.G. Layland-Barratt, who lived at Torquay Manor, Captain W.L. Sparkes and W.F.P. Kelly went on a photographic expedition to Dainton Summit and took photographs of themselves and King and Castle hauled trains and a picture of two of the party with motor car (1937 Bentley) in a drive overlooking Torbay...'

Place your bets at Chester - report by George Jones

A long-forecast facility in the refurbished concourse at Chester station has finally been delivered. Now open for business is a William Hill betting shop (above, right). Does it take bets on trains arriving on time or whatever other option there may be as to performance? 5 to 1 on the VT will be late - by how much?
I expect these things exist at London termini, and I believe there is one at Leeds station, but how many others? Not being a betting man I wouldn't know. You can place your bet, have a cuppa and watch the trains - paradise for some!

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