Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

03 October 2011

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

Forthcoming events

October 2011

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 Cine 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.

November 2011

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.

December 2011

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.

37 422 at Fishguard on 20 August 2003, running round its stock to form
1R38 - the 13:35 to Rhymney. 37422 had, earlier in the year (31 January), been named Cardiff Canton. Picture by Ken Robinson.

This is something of a nostalgia edition, as we are away from home this week. I hope you enjoy it. - Charlie

A visit to Barrow Hill depot - report by Charlie Hulme

On 17 September I travelled to Barrow Hill depot near Chesterfield, a one-time Midland Railway locomotive shed which has been taken over by a private company and acts both as a heritage site and a workshop for various rail companies. The occasion was the 'Model Rail Live event' - a model railway show organised by Model Rail magazine, with a chance to explore the rest of the site. For the first time it was possible to reach the event entirely by rail, as East Midlands Trains had agreed to provide a shuttle from the new Platform 3 at Chesterfield station using 156 411, seen above. An   interesting day all in all, but what persuaded me to tear myself away from the computer desk was a report that two ex-North Wales Class 37/4 locos, 37 419 and 37 425, were located within the precincts. And so they were: a glimpse of 425, once known to all as Concrete Bob, can be seen in the picture, along with 40 145 and some of Cargo-D's coach fleet.

37 425 was not in a ideal photographic location, but at least the sun shone on him and he does make an impressive sight from ground level. 418 and 425 are among a batch of 37/4s in varying condition, which were bought by DRS from DB Schenker earlier this year, and - I understand - are at Barrow Hill to be restored to working order by the Harry Needle team of engineers who are based there. They arrived at Barrow Hill on 9 August, towed by a Class 66 from DB Schenker's Toton depot.

The loco has a somewhat strange appearance; the horns were moved from the roof to the nose when its previous owners were bidding for a rail head treatment train contract involving a route in southern England which has a low bridge, although in the end that duty never happened. The 'large logo blue' livery had gone from all the class except 37 408 by the time these engines were working regular trains in North Wales in the 1990s: the current version, along with a new name Pride of the Valleys was applied in 2005 when working South Wales services. It did, however, appear in North Wales a couple of times in this guise. Perhaps DRS will retain the livery: let's hope they do.

The people who created this  'heritage version' of the livery did not have the facility (or time?) to source the correct 'Rail Alphabet' typeface for the number, so used another font (Helvetica?) which differs in a number of ways, notably the curved down-stroke of the '7' which should be straight. Curiously, also in the siding was a Class 73 electro-diesel whose (smaller) numbers suffer from the same fault. Margam depot (MG) in South Wales was the allocation after EWS moved their base away from Cardiff Canton depot.

37 419 was also present, as expected, but in a location which could not be reached on foot, but visible from the Chesterfield shuttle train; unfortunately rain had started to fall by the time I left for home. This one and 37 670, both painted in 2009, were the only two 37 to get the 'Traffic Red' treatment following DB Schenker's takeover of EWS. Both failed and were taken out of traffic soon afterwards.

Also present, looking very sorry for himself,  is 37 412, ex-Driver John Elliott, which is most unlikely to run again. It arrived at Barrow Hill by road transporter from the military depot at Long Marston where it had been stored. No doubt it is seen as a source of spare parts for the other two.

Some more pictures from the day: above, 37 087 Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, see from what was once (and may be again) the ramp to the coaling stage. This loco has recently been a familiar sight in North Wales on flask trains; back in September 1996 it spent a couple of weeks on North Wales passenger turns.

47 828 looking very smart in DRS livery. This loco, when in the Virgin Trains fleet as Severn Valley Railway, was a common sight on North Wales - London trains around 2004-5. It came into DRS ownership after the collapse of the Cotswold Rail; it has been repainted at Barrow Hill from Cotswold's silver livery at Barrow Hill. Incidentally, another recent purchase by DRS has been XP64-liveried 47 853 from Riviera Trains. (Note: this picture and the one below have been edited to remove a brickworks chimney from the background.)

Also looking in prime condition is preserved D213 (40 013) Andania, in the care of the Class 40 Preservation Society. This one and its sisters were standard power on North Wales trains until their run-down and withdrawal in the 1980s, as chronicled by our contributor Steve Morris in his fine book Class Forties to Holyhead (2004).

D213 was one of a group of Class 40s named after ocean liners, inspired by the working of boat trains to Liverpool. Andania was a Cunard White Star line liner, built in 1922, and sunk by a German submarine in 1940 while on military duty.

The view from the signalbox (re-located here from Pinxton), which was open to visitors.

Tornado pops up everywhere! It is seen working a free shuttle along Barrow Hill's short running line, top-and-tailing an industrial saddle tank.

My thanks go to everyone concerned with the organisation of the event. The model railways were interesting too - especially the one with a working container crane.

DRS Class 37/4 situation

When DRS bought their job lot of 37/4s, they were scattered around various locations. The last few weeks have seen efforts made to collect together as many as possible, other than the Barrow Hill inmates listed above, at DRS Carlisle Kingmoor depot. 37 422 was moved on 19 August, as reported here in an earlier issue; 411, 416 and 417 were moved from Eastleigh on 25 August, and 427 from Tyne Yard. 401, 406 and 426 may well have moved from Crewe by the time you read this.

Now here's a coincidence: hearing that 67 003  in its new Arriva blue livery had been spotted in Warrington Arpley stabling point, I headed over there on 21 September to see if I could bring you a picture, but it had moved on. What was there, however, to my surprise, was 37 410 (seen above at my camera's maximum zoom) which had been brought from the wagon repair works at Stoke-on-Trent where it has been stored from some time. It is coupled to four vans of the type used for carrying 'government stores',  no doubt destined for the MoD depot near Carlisle. Incidentally, Warrington Bank Quay station is no place to watch trains at the moment, as all the platform ends are blocked off for work to accept 11-coach Pendolino trains.

Notes on an old document

With the Class 37 era in mind, I have recovered the following from a 1997 item on our website: it now seems to take on the aspect of a historic relic. At the Crewe Depot open day on 3 May 1997, the TOPS office staff were making enquiries for visitors in return for a charity donation: many spotters were taking the chance to trace elusive locos, but I asked for a listing of the locomotive 'pool' coded LWMC - the ten engines allocated to North Wales coast duty.

K342159 03/05/97 12.22.55 U2527
ON N406 BY AAA FROM K342159,SATURDAY 03/05/97  12.22.55 LP

37402 LWMC CREWE 421D67MI03 X BANGOR N 1K67 17H A
37417 LWMC BANGOR 401K63MI03 X CREWE N 12H A

10 2 8( 80 PC. PLANNED 70 PC )

By studying this, we can get a good general view of the coast line situation, at that time, even if we don't understand every one of the codes, especially if we also consult the Winter Saturday timetable, in the form of the document issued with our website in those days.

This was not a normal day: the Stockport - Holyhead and return Irish Mancunian which was normally loco-hauled on Saturday was being worked by a railcar set and diverted via Northwich because of engineering work, and 37 418 (the first EWS-liveried 37/4) was taking part in the electric depot's open day, as its last location entry CREWE IEMD and 'train working' of SHOW reveals.

The depot aimed to maintain 7 of the 10 locos available for use, although there are a maxiumum of booked duties daily. On this day, 8 were ready for use if required, with 37 418 on duty at the Open Day and 37 422 in its home depot of Crewe Diesel (CREWE DMD) awaiting its Level E examination. There were five levels of maintenance examination, from level A which is a simple inspection to E which is a thorough servicing. The numbers, such as 32, in the 'exam' column, are the number of running hours before the next planned maintenance for that loco. The 'ORIGIN' column is the location of the terminal at which the information was entered.

'LAST LOCN' being the last recorded location of the vehicle; if it is actually in transit, a compressed code is used : in this case 421D67MI03 shows (a) 42 : The first 2 digits of the five-digit TOPS location code from where the working originated (Crewe station); (b) 1D67 : the WTTID (train number) for the working; (c) MI: The business sector of the train; and (d) 03 : The date of the month that the working started its journey.

Two locos were actually working trains at 12:22, the time of the enquiry. 37 402 was under way with train 1D67 11.18 Crewe-Bangor (pictured with ye olde Casio QV-10), whilst 37 417 was eastbound with 1K63, the 11.22 from Bangor to Crewe. 37 408 and 37 425, shown as located at Chester, were probably parked in the station area in case of any loco failures along the coast. 37 414, at Bangor marked 'NEXT WTT' (next working timetable train) 1K65, would have been just on the point of departure with the 12.22 Bangor - Crewe. 37 420 was at Crewe: it would have been on the loco siding there, released from platform 9, having brought in the 09.13 from Bangor. Being a Saturday, when the 12.18 from Crewe is a railcar, this loco gets a rest before working 1D71, the 13.18 Crewe-Bangor.

37 421 was at Holyhead, having arrived at 11:57 from Birmingham International, and in process of running round to haul 1K69, the 13:54 to Crewe. 37 429 was located at 'EDGHLCMD' - Edge Hill Carriage Maintenance Depot, Liverpool, where the coast line's coaches are all maintained. Perhaps the transfer of some coaches was needed.

To explain the British train numbering system, the first character is the type of train, 1 being express passenger, 2 stopping passenger, 3 parcels or mail, 4 fast freight, 5 empty coaches, 6-8 increasingly slower grades of freight train. The second character is a letter for the geographical area of the destination, D being North Wales and K the Crewe/Birmingham district.The last two digits identify the particular train. Unlike most countries, these numbers are rarely shown in public timetables. At one time they were carried on the front of trains: the panelling over the route indicator window on the Class 37/4s can still be seen, now carrying just two marker lights.

Mr Dunn and the Coal Tank - by Charlie Hulme

Reading recently that the preserved London and North Western Railway (LNWR) 'Coal Tank' 0-6-2T, 1054, is undergoing overhaul at Ingrow works on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, we are reminded of how this loco, the last survivor of a large class and almost the only LNWR loco to have run in the modern era, came to be saved, as described by the late J.M. Dunn in the last chapter of his autobiography Reflections on a Railway Career (Ian Allan, 1966):

On the 21st April 1960 I went to the Model Railway Exhibition at the Central Hall, Westminster ... I got to the Exhibition about 11.30 a.m. and before I left at 5.0 p.m. I had succumbed to persuasion and promised to undertake the task of raising the funds necessary to save engine no. 58926 (LNWR No.1054), the last of the London and North Western Railway 4ft. 3ins. side tank coal engines, from the scrap-heap.

After storage at a Railway Preservation Society site in the West Midlands, the loco, which had worked in North Wales in its time, and also hauled the last train over Abergavenny to Merthyr line with LNWR 0-8-0 'Super D' 49121, was accepted by the National Trust, and in March 1964 in was installed on a piece of LNWR in a shed at Penrhyn Castle, near Bangor, as part of an industrial collection being assembled there by the Trust.

Nine years later, after Mr Dunn's death, it gained a new lease of life when, still owned by the National Trust, it was moved to the Dinting, Derbyshire, site of the Bahamas Locomotive society where it was restored to working order in time for the 1980 celebrations of the 150th Anniversary of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. The Dinting site closed in 1990, the Society moving its headquarters to Ingrow, and since then it has, made  appearances on a number of heritage lines, including the Llangollen Railway. It is intended that, if it is ready, 1054 will appear at Llangollen again for the Steel, Steam & Stars III gala to be held on April 21-29 2012.

John Maxwell ('Max') Dunn, who before his retirement in 1958 served as Shedmaster at Bangor Motive Power Depot, was an interesting character with strong opinions. He served an apprenticeship with the LNWR in London, and worked there at Willesden depot. He refused to join a trade union, and insisted on working during the railway strike on 1919 which made him so unpopular with his colleagues that he requested a transfer, and found himself working on the LNWR's remote lines in South Wales, including what is now the Pontypool and Blaenavon heritage line, which reaches over 1300 feet above sea level. He never seems to have been popular with his superiors in management, either, which perhaps prevented him from further promotion to higher levels not involving dirty hands.

Later he worked at Llandudno Junction for a time, and eventually came to take charge at Bangor Shed in 1944. He became an accomplished writer on railway matters, and his book The Chester and Holyhead Railway which was published by the Oakwood Press in 1948, for the centenary of the line, is full of interest. He includes a list of the locomotives allocated to North Wales depots at the time of nationalisation of the railways in 1948, which is conspicuous for the number of old LNWR engines still around at that time.

I feel sure he'd have been pleased to see that 'his' loco is still flourishing, and indeed has its own web site,

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