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12 September 2011
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Saturday 17 September – Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, Porthmadog – Cob 200. 'The Great Embankment which allowed Porthmadog to be built was completed 200 years ago this weekend. Two centuries on, The Cob is still there and still doing its job. We’re planning a day of celebrations as part of the festivities going on in town, including a visit from the man who built The Cob – William Madocks himself.'
Monday 19 September RCTS Chester Bob Casselden: Teenage Memories Of The Early 1960s. A digital presentation of some of Bob’s black and white pictures from the 1960s. Bob’s home town of Yeovil will feature as well as faraway places such as Carlisle and Sunderland. His presentation will cover steam, diesel and electric traction with some of his early photographs which were taken with his ‘Box Brownie’ camera and have now been scanned for this presentation.
Saturday 24 September - Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, Porthmadog – Railways on the Air. Railway enthusiasts get together with amateur radio enthusiasts to broadcast around the globe from our station at Pen-y-Mount, and celebrate the 200th birthday of the Cob. Listen out for call sign GOWHR.
Saturday 24 September. Llangollen Railway Autumn Diesel day with class 26 D5310, Class 31 5580, Class 37 6940 and (maybe) Class 47 D1566 with class 108 DMU to give an intensive train service.
Saturday 1 October Stephenson Locomotive Society Stephen Cornish - The Railway Career of a Career Railwayman. Stephen will describe the belt-and-braces railway work of his early career (Guide Bridge, Woodhead line, Buxton) and BR Board work, and also the last 10 years (with Railtrack/Network Rail) as manager for all special traffic on the network - charter trains, steam trains, Orient Express, the Royal Train etc.
Sunday 2 October Wirral Bus & Tram Show at Pacific Rd, Woodside, Birkenhead.
Wednesday 5 October Excursion Compass Tours - from Holyhead (dep. 07:30) and stations to Crewe, to Bath or Salisbury, 'Western Cathedrals Express'
Friday 7 October Clwyd Railway Circle Larry Davies: Railway Wanderings in North Wales. A collection of slides around North Wales presented by a great favourite with our members.
Monday 10 October. Wrexham Railway Society Mainline Steam with PSOV - The Preserved Steam on Video team will be visiting with their latest presentation of action on the mainline.
Thursday 13 October Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society E. Norman Kneale NORTH WALES STEAM RAILWAYMEN/6G STEAM DAYS
Friday 14 October Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Railway Ciné Films from the 1970s" by Richard Greenwood MBE
Monday 17 October RCTS Chester Brian Stephenson: Great Railway Photographers. Brian visits us from Ashford to give a digital presentation from about 10 individual photographers of the last 90 years. The show will include the work of W.J.V. Anderson, O.J Morris, T.G. Hepburn, F.R. Hebron, P. F. Cooke, Kenneth Field and C.R.L.Coles. Also included will be a selection of Brian’s own photographs from 50 years of railway photography.
29/30 October Merseyside Model Railway Exhibition at Pacific Rd Arts Centre, Woodside, Birkenhead with full size tramway operating outside.
Friday 4 November Clwyd Railway Circle Geoff Coward: The Worlds Last Real Working Steam – China 2002. The Ji-Tong line featured frequent 2300 tonne trains, 1 in 80 gradients, snow, mountains and huge steam locos. Other locations include coal trains, passenger services and a steelworks, all steam operated in November 2002, now all gone.
Friday 11 November Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Locomotives Part 1" by Paul Shackcloth, Photographic Officer, Manchester Locomotive Society
Saturday 5 November Stephenson Locomotive Society Mike Crabtree, I.Eng., M.I.E.T. The Great Orme Tramway, Llandudno – a History of the Line . An illustrated talk describing the history of the line and a description of how the line has been rejuvenated to meet the challenges of operating in the 21st century.
Thursday 10 November Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Larry Davies "Summer Holidays by Train"
Monday 14 November. Wrexham Railway Society A Colour Rail Journey - The new proprietor of Colour-Rail Paul Chancellor will talk about the difficulties of dealing with old colour slides and will present a UK wide journey with illustrations taken over the past 60 years.
Monday 21 November RCTS Chester Edgar Richards: North Eastern Part 1. Our very own Edgar Richards returns with views of the northern part of the former North Eastern Region.
Friday 2 December Clwyd Railway Circle Xmas Celebration –
A film show to whet your appetite before our interlude of festive goodies.
Saturday 3 December Stephenson Locomotive Society - Malcolm Dickin THE CHAIRMAN’S CHRISTMAS QUIZ
Thursday 8 December Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Members Night/Xmas Social
Friday 9 December Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Current Developments on Metrolink" by Tony Williams, Manchester Area Officer, Light Rail Transit Association
Monday 12 December. Wrexham Railway Society AGM and Rail Review with members' material on show
Monday 19 December RCTS Chester Members Evening:30 slides or digital images of your choice. Please advise Alan Donaldson if you intend to make a presentation and to what format you will be using.
57 308 Tin Tin approaches Rhyl with the Saturday afternoon Holyhead - London Pendolino on 10 September (Darren Durrant).
Cambrian special - report by Ken Robinson
A Statesman Rail excursion ran as 1Z51 from Peterborough to Aberystwyth on Saturday 10 September top-and-tailed by 47 804 and 47 826 to Shrewsbury then double-headed by 97 304 and 97303 (with 47 804 on the rear) onwards to Aberystwyth. Above, the train is seen at Forden near Welshpool running very near to 'right time.'
Here's the same excursion (as 1Z52) returning from Aberystwyth with 97 303 leading past Borth Golf Course, again running on time.
[We hear that this autumn the 97/3s may run the Rail Head Treatment Train which will cover the North Wales Coast line and the Cambrian line.]
Corris on the Talyllyn
In the 60th anniversary year of the world’s first preserved railway, the Talyllyn Railway will be visited by Corris Railway 0-4-2 ST locomotive No. 7 for a 'Corris Railway Gala' on 15 and 16 October. The Talyllyn’s rare gauge of two feet three inches is only shared by the Corris, and this will be the first time ever that there has been a visiting steam locomotive to the TR.
The Talyllyn bought the two remaining Corris locomotives which survived its closure in 1948, and they have been working on the TR since 1952. During the Gala No.7, which was built in 2005, to the basic deign of the 1921-built Corris loco which since 1951 has been Talyllyn No. 4 Edward Thomas, will operate a Corris railway train using the Corris coach and brake van preserved on the TR. It will also double-head a special train with one of the former Corris locomotives (Nos. 3 & 4) and the timetabled service trains will be operated by the former Corris locomotives.
On Saturday evening No.7 and the Corris train will be illuminated for photography at Wharf station, where the café will be open for meals and drinks. There will also be a film show of old TR footage. One- and two-day gala tickets are available from Wharf Station. These will cover travel on the various special trains as well as the TR service trains.
Detailed information and timings will be available shortly on the Talyllyn Railway’s website.
Llandudno Station revamp agreed
Llandudno station (picture above by Dave Sallery) is to undergo a £5.4m revamp after the Welsh Government agreed funding. Work includes new shops and toilets, refurbished platforms and ticket areas, as well as an upgrade of the customer information system, and a new car park. Conwy council leader Dilwyn Roberts says the renovations will create a 'great first impression'.
The work on the station is due to start in 2012 after the plans were unveiled earlier this year. The station was built in 1858, and is used by about 270,000 passengers each year. It is intended that original Victorian structures of the station will be restored and reused. Network Rail will now start work on the detailed designs for the finished station, although concept designs were seen by the public at an event held at the resort's Venue Cymru earlier this year. Funding approval has been agreed from the Welsh Government's National Station Improvement Programme, through the European Regional Development Fund.
Network Rail route director Mark Langman says 'The improvements will mark a huge improvement for Llandudno. It has seen a steady increase in passenger demand over the years and the proposed improvements will cater to this growth and encourage sustainable travel, whilst improving the environment and socio-economics of the town.'
The proposal has been jointly developed by Network Rail, Arriva, Conwy County Borough Council, and the Regional Transport Board (TAITH).
Llangollen Steam Gala
The Llangollen Railway steam gala of 9-11 September featured two guest locomotives, including recently-overhauled 'Black 5' 45337 from the East Lancashire Railway, seen above at Llangollen on 11 September (Ivor Bufton).
Also visiting was BR Standard 2-6-0 78019, see double-heading with recently-returned resident 2-4-4 tank 80072 (Ivor Bufton).
Also on 11 September, George Jones photographed 45337 at Llangollen double-heading with resident sister loco 44806. 45337 was rescued from the scrapyard in Barry back in 1984: an interesting picture on the Flickr site shows what it looked like before rescue.
Great Western 2-8-0 3802 added a touch of green to the proceedings, see here on the Friday with 78019 (Chris Jones-Bridger).
44806 was running (temporarily, no doubt) without its post-British Railways name Kenneth Aldcroft. (Chris Jones-Bridger)
78019 working the 15:25 Llangollen to Carrog goods waiting to pass the 1605 Auto-train service from Carrog at Glyndyfrdwy on 9 September (Chris Jones-Bridger)
Tornado at Chester
New-build steam locomotive 60163 Tornado hauled a 'Cathedrals Express' excursion from London to Chester. Steve Morris captured this view from the Crewe Heritage Centre signal box of the train leaving Crewe for Chester.
Arrived at Chester (Richard Fleckney).
Also there to see it was Martin Cleverley, who writes: 'It was quite an occasion, judging by the number of enthusiasts that were present armed with cameras at Chester.
'When you think that when l was in school they were scrapping steam it was an event for me to see a brand new engine arriving on the main line some 40 years later.'
RCTS Railway Meeting in Chester, Monday 19 September
The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society meets for its first meeting of the new season at the Town Crier opposite Chester railway station on Monday 19th September at 7.30 p.m.
Speaker is former Little Sutton resident and railway industry consultant Bob Casselden with his digital presentation of his teenage memories of the early 1960s, showing not only railway scenes from his home town of Yeovil but featuring such then faraway places as Carlisle and Sunderland.
It should be noted that the RCTS is no longer holding any indoor meetings in Port Sunlight. Visitors are more than welcome to attend this meeting but with a £2 voluntary donation. Such donations enable the Society to continue its regularity of such meetings. Further inquiries about this meeting can be made by telephoning 0151 - 608 4296.
North Wales Class 50 - follow-up
Our pages about the excursion hauled by 50 044 Exeter which ran on 4 September (seen above at Glan Conwy - picture by M. Lloyd Davies) generated some interesting comments from readers, which we present here along with some Bear in mind that the original numbers of these machines were D400 - D449, losing the 'D' in 1968 at the 'end of steam' and re-numbered 50 050 / 50 001 - 50 049 in 1973.
Dave Trains offers his notes of Class 50 workings between 1973 and 1976:
23/6/73 419 worked to Llandudno
25/7/73 413 worked to Holyhead, seen at Bangor
26/7/73 432 worked to Holyhead, seen at Bangor
16/10/73 440 worked to Bangor on test
26/10/73 50 036 worked to Bangor on test
5/1/74 50 009 worked to Bangor on test.
From 1975 to 1976 Dave travelled behind the following:
5/4/75 50 041 1D73 21:10 Crewe - Holyhead as far as Bangor
26/4/75 50 008 1D73 21:10 Crewe - Holyhead as far as Bangor
16/8/75 50 024 1D73 21:23 Crewe - Holyhead as far as Bangor
3/4/76 50 012 1D73 21:23 Crewe - Holyhead as far as Bangor.
This was, Dave believes, a regular Crewe drivers' turn as they worked to Holyhead, then back on 1A04 01:10 from Holyhead back to Crewe. Was this part of a regular Class 50 diagram, or just filling in?
As for the Conwy Valley line 'first' - over to Richard Putley:
'Whilst this may well have been the first time a 57/3 has visited the Conwy Valley Line, I know categorically that a 50 visited it in the winter of 1983/84 hauling a railtour on which I was a passenger. The tour had originated from Coventry, where I was a student at the University (or Coventry Lanchester Polytechnic as it was called in those days!) The tour had run from Coventry to Manchester Piccadilly behind an 86/0. It was then hauled by 40 122 round some of the freight lines in the Manchester area that have since closed, and also the dock line at Birkenhead.'
This was indeed an interesting train which many will remember from the days when enthusiastic British Rail staff organised excursions. It was the 'Conway Crusader' on 10 March 1984 which featured several locos, including 50 018 which performed on the Conwy Valley line. The tour was so popular that it was repeated in slightly different form on 21 April 1984, The 'Conway Crusader 2', this time featuring 50 007 up the Valley. (Special thanks to Six Bells Junction for these details.) The Conway Crusader which suggested the name for this train is a brand of folding tent-cum-caravan.
Here's a novel picture of the return special on 4 September, headed by 57 304 Gordon Tracy, as seen across the Rhyl Marine Lake from the Rhyl Miniature Railway (Darren Durrant).
On the Silvermines Railtour - with Alan Crawshaw
Rowan and I were up early on Friday 9 September to catch the 02:40 Irish Ferries sailing to connect with the RPSI (Railway Preservation Society of Ireland) Silvermines railtour. At Holyhead we steadied ourselves for a shot of 57313, at the head of the early morning Cardiff set (above).
On arrival at Dublin's Connolly station, we popped round to the car park from where preserved team locomotive 186 was partly visible behind 071 class General Motors diesel number 072. The 'Silvermines' railtour was a precursor to the main weekend event, two steam runs from Dublin on the Friday and Saturday. We correctly guessed that 072 was assigned to our Friday diesel tour, which comprised a run to Limerick. The main attraction for us was the outward journey, which left the main line at Ballybrophy for the slow semaphore signalled line through Nenagh. We've been this way before, but with the line under threat of closure we were keen to get another ride. It connects several small settlements with the main line to Dublin and to Limerick but the new motorway has made it less attractive and a recently introduced commuter service from Nenagh (pop 8000) to Limerick has not been well supported. The disused Silvermines branch lies south of Nenagh, opened in 1966 to serve the barytes and zinc quarry, now closed.
At Ballybrophy we photographed 201 class diesel number 222 shoving a Cork to Dublin express, with 072 in the distance during its run-round procedure. The Cork service is one of only two remaining loco-hauled services in Ireland, the other being the Dublin to Belfast Enterprise.
At Ballybrophy 072 ran back onto the stock, after which it drew forward to set back the stock in the bay platform for the Nenagh line.
Limerick is a terminus station with no run round facilities. During the 90-minute break here, 080 was coupled to the head of the train and we left 072 behind for the main line run back to Dublin via the Limerick Junction curve.
Club 55 To Pembroke Dock - with George Jones
Our dynamic trio decided to make best use of the £16 fare (senior railcard reduction) to gain the other extremity of the ATW network by heading for Pembroke Dock on Tuesday 6 September. Our chosen day turned out to be wet and windy and we were heading into the weather with our destination in West Wales.
We came together at Shrewsbury (above) where the indicator board showed the Carmarthen train ex Man Piccadilly due on time. ATW's 175 001 provided pleasant enough accommodation in a set of seats for four without table and the big picture window offered a good view of the vistas down the Marcher lands despite the wild day outside.
Departing Newport we ran alongside 66 063 heading west with empties and my on board picture shows it with 66 069 about to pass heading east - seconds too late! Elsewhere along the Great Western Main Line into Cardiff, DRS 66 423 was seen and 66 165 on a train of coils.
We were into Cardiff Central on time at 10:34 where most of the passenger load changed and we selected alternative seats to get the seaside views. Passing Canton three Class 50s were seen with 50 044, 50 049 & 50 135 on the depot. At Margam steel works, two locos identified in the yards were 66 095 and 66 250. Into Swansea for 11:32 we found the station in the midst of its upgrade. The train reversed for departure to Carmarthen, and through Llanelli no further loco workings were seen.
Arrival at Carmarthen was on time at 12:23 and it was at least dry but still windy. The 175 now had a stopover before its return and we had half an hour to wait for the onward connection to Pembroke Dock - we could have made the change at Swansea but chose to stay with the 175. This was just as well as we found 'Pacer' 143 602 working off the branch rather than the expected 153, and our onward transport was another of the type, 143 601 at 12:52...
... seen in company with 175 001 which was awaiting return to Manchester.
Whatever one may think of the Pacer units this one certainly showed a clean pair of heels once it got moving beyond the triangle and we fairly rattled along to Whitland. Here the token was taken for the branch Carmarthen and we left the double track mainline.
As with our previous trip to Milford Haven we now experienced another downhill journey, running through rolling countryside where the views were mostly obscured by rampant lineside vegetation growth. First station call was at Narberth where the station building survives out of use but a traditional canopy remains. The train was lightly loaded but passengers came and went at all stops, although the next two stations are request stops and we ran through both Kilgetty and Saundersfoot.
The passing loop is at Tenby / Dinbych-y-Pysgod (above) and the token was exchanged via a driver worked cabinet. A 15 minute wait to pass the Up train allowed for a close look at the station for this popular seaside resort. The tourist map showed that the station is some way from the beach.
The stone-built station building is substantial but rail facilities are minimal although both platforms have canopies and a footbridge survives.
The Up trains arrived comprising two single cars with 153 312 and 353 something of an over-provision for the numbers travelling, but with the camera's batteries running low only a poor picture was obtained.
Immediately after leaving Tenby there are Army firing ranges with the red flag flying and the lonely armed solider on guard was glad to exchange a wave with the passing train. Penally, Manorbier (with a well remembered 'Castle' class loco named after it) and Lamphey follow until Pembroke / Penfro is reached and a modernised platform is found. The final section takes the train through Pembroke tunnel into the environs of Pembroke Dock and immediately an Irish Ferries vessel could be seen at some distance in the harbour.
We were slightly ahead of time and now had just on one hour to make some exploration of this port. Interestingly the mileage post shows 286 miles (from Paddington) - just slightly more than Milford Haven with 284 and a little less than the 288 to Fishguard Harbour.
The train conductress advised us that the Harbour was a mile away so we set out in a vague fashion down the long straggling High Street to find access down onto Fort Street and a convenient viewing point to photo the Irish Ferry Isle of Inishmore moored adjacent to a Martello Tower (above). From here we could see the former Royal Navy Dockyard wall and beyond it the tops of the hangars of the former RAF flying boat station. I had to reflect that it was 50 years since I had last been here, to see the newly preserved 'Sunderland' Flying boat - which is now displayed at the RAF Museum in Hendon.
The old RAF camp has a Flying Boat Centre exhibition and the members of the organisation are working on the recovery of a Sunderland which sank in the Dock - unfortunately time didn't allow further exploration other than to find the Asda and restock with food before finding our way back to the station, noting as we did the route of the former rail connection through to the Dock.
Like Tenby, the station building at Pembroke Dock (above) is a substantial stone-built creation suited to the early days of the railway, but no longer occupied by Arriva Trains Wales and facilities are again minimal.
National Rail Enquiries confirms that stations on this line do not have tannoy facilities or train time indicators, and it must be a lonely wait for passengers when things go awry, although there are Help points. The station is marked out for HST stops and such trains had provided a Saturday service by First Great Western in the summer season just ended. This could be interesting as at more than one unmanned crossing it was a case of Stop and proceed.
On departure at 15:09, the conductress advised there was a problem on the Milford Haven line where a power cable had been brought down and there might be a delay with our envisaged return working from Carmarthen but she would keep us posted. A further problem was advised: the next 'Down' train had been cancelled due to door failure and had retreated back to depot, so a delay at Tenby was likely.
On arrival at Tenby we were first into the loop and a delay of six minutes was advised. waiting passengers on the other side wanted to know what was going on!
The previously-seen 143 602 appeared at 15:48 to cross and we went forward to gain Whitland at 16:14. It now seemed better to stay with the 143 and continue to Swansea after it had reversed at Carmarthen and we rattled off along the mainline. Despite suddenly developing what appeared to be a wheel-flat near Gowerton we reached Swansea at 17:16 and made an across platform connection with a FGW HST with locos 43 129 and 43 018.
We selected seats in the 'entertainment coach' and made use of the free moving maps as the train heading east, noting a top speed en route of 91 mph although the mean speed was nearer 70 mph and the altitude reached 210 feet towards Bridgend from a low of 20 feet around Port Talbot.
This was my first encounter with the FGW airline seating arrangement which gives the appearance of a Ryanair B.737 for cramming them in - quite what it is like when the train is full is something I would rather not experience.
Back at Cardiff at 18:20, the weather was changing with the appearance of some sunshine from the west, but still a challenge to stand on the elevated and exposed platform.
66 070 came through with a heavy load of slab steel in tow ...
... and Cross Country 170 115 (above) provided something different ...
... before the Manchester train arrived with 175 005 on time at 18:50. It seems it had started from Carmarthen and we could have boarded there had we chosen to wait but we gained the added experience of HST travel.
Heading north back into the weather, the daylight soon departed and the journey was marked only by stopping at all stations through to Shrewsbury, gained for 20:50. There was now a 50-minute wait for the northbound Wrexham train at 21:39, an experience enlivened by late evening travellers passing through Shrewsbury as a hub station for the Borders. Finally 175 006 had me home in Wrexham for 22:15 after a long and tiring day when things went more or less according to plan and a value for money journey had been achieved.
To have done justice to Pembroke Dock a longer stopover was necessary but a night stopover would be needed. It might be possible to vary the journey by taking a bus around the Haven to return by train from Milford Haven - if the Club 55 ticket allowed for such a change of departure. [You could pay the fare for one of the branches to the junction.- C.H.]
Overall a good day out when a remote part of the system was seen to advantage in what some call Little England beyond Wales. I note that ATW's Community affairs webpage has most of the stations on the line with station adopters apart from Pernroke and Whitland. They probably could all do with active groups of Friends.
The view from above - by Peter Lloyd
Here are three pictures I took from Conwy mountain on 31 August. The first (above) shows train 1J70 17:30 Holyhead to Shrewsbury at Conwy Morfa.
Two trains about to pass at Llandudno Junction: 1H95 18.44 Llandudno to Manchester Airport and 1D31 16:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Llandudno.
1D90 16:10 Euston to Bangor on Conwy Cob: not the best of light for these shots, but it's well worth the walk for the views.
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