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28 March 2011
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Thursday 31 March Merseyside Railway History Group AGM: Members Slides
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 TORNADO - A STEAM LOCOMOTIVE FOR THE 21ST Century illustrated presentation by Graham Nicholas (A1 Steam Locomotive Trust)
Thursday 14 April Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society
"We built the Railway" An interesting talk by Dafydd Thomas and a colleague on the engineering
tasks that were required to complete the Welsh Highland Railway through the
Aberglaslyn Pass and into Porthmadog.
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
Thursday 12 May Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society
A presentation by Paul Lewin, General Manager, FR/WHR on the current
operations of these two fascinating railways.
Thursday 12 May Steam at Chester 'The Cathedrals Explorer' Steam Dreams Oxenholme - Carmarthen via Chester - Shrewsbury - Llandrindod.
Friday 13 May Excursion 'The North Wales Scotsman' Compass Tours Holyhead, Llanfairpwll, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint & Chester to Dundee via the Forth & Tay Bridges.
Sunday 19 June Steam on the Coast: Northern Belle Father's Day Special. Crewe-Holyhead and return with 46201 Princess Elizabeth.
See the Calendar page for more details and later dates.
The flasks are back - 57 008 Telford International Railfreight Park 2009 and 57 009 pass Mostyn on 17 March. Picture by Tim Rogers.
This issue is in the category of 'one I prepared earlier' as on normal publication day I'll be in a restaurant in Munich before catching the night train to Paris. Back to normal next week. - Charlie
British Railways pacific 70000 Britannia has completed its overhaul at Crewe; the owner has decided to paint it initially in black, which it apparently carried for a short while after being built (at nearby Crewe works) in 1951 before receiving the more familiar dark green. On the evening of 14 March made a return trip with a support coach (and a Class 67 on the back) from Crewe to Chester, where Stavros Lainas obtained these two pictures.
The loco was turned round using the triangle of lines west of Chester station. Above, it returns to Chester station, now facing back towards Crewe.
Two days later, on 18 March, Britannia (minus nameplates) embarked on a longer test run (without passengers) from Crewe to Bristol, hauling an assortment of Riviera Trains coaches and 67 006 Royal Sovereign which could rescue the train in case of problems. The train ran an hour late due to problems with the ground frame controlling the exit from the Crewe Heritage Centre. The weather was dull and misty but Britannia made a fine sight passing Wardle (above) on the way to Chester. The exhaust and whistle were audible long before the train came into range of John Beresford's camera.
Above passing Hargrave on the way towards Chester (Stavros Lainas)
After running through Chester, the train crossed the River Dee on Roodee viaduct heading for the Wrexham line at Saltney Junction (Jeff Albiston).
Seen from the footbridge on the single-track climb of Gresford Bank, 70000 Britannia 'storms' past heading for Wrexham (Bob Greenalgh). Reportedly the loco managed to crest the steep bank at 50 mph.
Passes Croes Newydd, south of Wrexham station. Seeing steam on the line from Wrexham to Shrewsbury was a rare treat, with a report in the Wrexham Leader newspaper announcing the event. In this picture, the exhaust has just shut off as 70000 slows for a signal check at Felin Puleston. In the background, and to the centre left of the photo, work is under way on preparing the land for a new Morrison's supermarket. Workers pause to witness the unusual sight of a steam locomotive (Mark Riley).
Making an impressive sight, 70000 accelerates away from a standing start at Felin Puleston and passes Rhostyllen, next stop Chirk to take on water.
A few more people than normal at the usually sleepy, tranquil, diminutive station of Chirk, to see Britannia taking on water, supplied from a fire tender in the station car park. The Kronospan plant, served by trainloads of timber, can be seen in the background (Mark Riley).
A black and white impression of 71000 making an impressive departure from Chirk after its water stop. How many years it will be until we see steam on this stretch of line again?
Passing Gobowen (George Jones). After a cautious approach to the level crossing the sound effects when leaving Gobowen were noteworthy as it hit the short gradient to the south.
British Railways Chief Mechanical Engineer R.A. Riddles had, before it was merged with other companies in 1923, worked for the London and North Western Railway, which painted all its engines black, and clearly favoured the same colour for his new 'standard' designs. He largely got his way when the LNWR lined-black livery was chosen for all BR's 'mixed traffic' locomotives, and a simplified version for diesels and electrics. However, after trials with various colours it was decreed that express passenger locomotives, including the Britannia class (despite Riddles classifying it as mixed-traffic), should wear Great Western-style green. 54 other locos were built, and 70013 Oliver Cromwell is also preserved in working order.
The driver on the test train was Pete Sheridan (Picture by George Jones) one time regular the Llangollen. Following the test run, 70000 proceeded to the West Somerset Railway to take part in a Spring Steam Gala on 19-20 and 24-27 March.
Cutting the First Sod for Corwen - report by George Jones
The Deputy Minister for Housing and Regeneration, Jocelyn Davies AM, attended Llangollen station on 17 March when she visited the exhibition coach to see the displays for the Corwen Extension Project and the 'before and after' displays for the Railway’s initial years of restoration from 1975. Ms Davies was accompanied by Mr. Wyn Roberts, Programme Director North Wales Coast Regeneration and was meet at Llangollen station by Mr Jim Ritchie, chairman Llangollen Railway Trust and Cllr Hugh Evans, Leader Denbighshire County Council and members of the Llangollen Railway Trust Ltd.
The party travelled by special steam train service to Glyndyfrdwy for onward road transport to Corwen where the Deputy Minister visited the site of the new temporary station for the Phase 1 of the Railway’s extension. In a short ceremony the Deputy Minister was invited by Mr. Jim Ritchie to initiate the project to bring the trains back to Corwen by digging the first sod, ably assisted by Vice-President of the Llangollen Railway Trust, Bill Shakespeare, MBE. The spade used for the occasion is to be suitably etched to commemorate the start of the Corwen project and will be displayed at Llangollen station.
The Deputy Minister said: 'It is a pleasure to see the plans that the Trust has for the railway. Regeneration is all about making the most of what an area has to offer and the railway is certainly one of the jewels in Llangollen’s crown. The funding we have awarded will mean that the tourists who currently visit Llangollen will in future also be drawn to Corwen and the wider Dee Valley area will benefit from the railway. I’m delighted that the project is running ahead of schedule and that work can begin earlier than originally planned so that businesses and tourists alike can reap the benefits sooner rather than later.'
Leader of Denbighshire, Councillor Hugh Evans, said: 'We are fully supportive of the project and we have been involved in assisting the Railway with their Transport and Works Act Order and funding applications. The Council has also supported the project both financially and with officer time in dealing with the planning process. The council will also assist the Railway during the construction phase. The arrival of the railway back into Corwen will provide a huge economic opportunity for the town, as well as the Dee Valley and surrounding area.'
Chairman of Llangollen Railway, Jim Ritchie said, 'We are really delighted that the Deputy Minister for Housing and Regeneration has been able to visit Llangollen Railway and participate in the start of the final lap of a project that began some 35 years ago. The provision of grant aid funding from the Welsh Assembly Government has allowed Phase 1 of the project to commence and it is appropriate that the Deputy Minister should ‘cut the first sod’ at the site of the Corwen temporary station. A first train can be expected in Corwen during 2012, bringing some of the 110,000 passengers a year that travel on the Llangollen Railway into our new western terminus. The Railway looks forward to growing our passenger revenues from the tourist sector to the west of Corwen. Plans are already under way to expand the Railway’s catchment area to attract additional passengers from the important road network which brings traffic through from Snowdonia and the North Wales coast into the locality of Corwen.
'Most of the work involved in laying the track will be undertaken by volunteer staff at the Railway. However, we need help from Llangollen Railway supporters and well-wishers to raise further funds to ensure completion of this important extension to the heritage line in the Dee Valley. Donations to Llangollen Railway Trust Ltd are welcomed and purchase of shares in Llangollen Railway plc will provide for capital to expand the facilities necessary to support the extended railway and additional train operations.'
Above, the site of the temporary platform looking towards Carrog, with the River Dee hard by on the left. The temporary platform site is effectively one field away from the planned terminus adjacent to the town's car park and is accessed around the back of the (now closed) pavilion.
John Briggs, Project Manager said, 'Extending a railway alongside an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) i.e the River Dee, requires careful management. The key to this has been the agreement of Countryside Commission for Wales to our conservation management plan. As a consequence of that plan we will work closely with ecologists to maintain the biodiversity of the site which places some restriction on the timing of engineering activities within the project Plan.'
The comments by John Briggs are significant as regards the conditions applied to working on the extension in the area of the SSSI. In particular, those who wish to help must abide by specific conditions and just 'turning up to join in' is not an option for insurance, HSE and environmental awareness requirements. Volunteers working on the site must be paid up members of Llangollen Railway Trust and have the appropriate documentation to verify their access to the site. It sounds all very complicated compared with previous extension project work but this is the world we are now working in.
Trains of stone ballast continue to run as required from Penmaenmawr to Guide Bridge, Manchester. Above, 66 604 approaches Llandudno Junction with a train of empties on 14 March (Stéphanie Durrant)
Above, 66 519 is seen at Llanddulas on 17 March (Stéphanie Durrant). That signal post has suffered from the sea air!
21 March, and another load passes Llandudno Junction behind 66 605 (Stéphanie Durrant).
Bangor on 18 March: 31 285, festooned with lights and cameras, stands in the siding with a measurement train (Richard Fleckney)
Andrew Vinten was at Manisty Quay, Ellesmere Port on 17 March to see the loading of the train of imported coal for Fiddlers Ferry Power Station. Above, 70 002, looking nicely weathered, runs round the train.
Loading in progress.
The locomotive carries a sticker twinning the famous logo of its maker General Electric with the weird 'Olympic 2012' symbol. GE is a 'Worldwide Partner of the Olympic Games.' In particular, in 2012 the company will be supporting the British Triathlon team.
More on the Crewe charity event - pictures by Richard Fleckney