Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

27 August 2012

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

Recent issues

22 August 2012
Llangollen weekend programme - report by George Jones
Farewell Virgin, Hello First
Number 9's last run (for this year)
DRS Open Day 18 August - pictures by Richard Fleckney
Freight views
Working Timetables online
Timetable troubles
North Wales Jubilees
Chasing the A4, 12 August - with John Myers
Thomas gets Gold

20 August 2012
The Welsh Dragon - 18 August

13 August 2012
60009 rides again, 12 August
Four days of locomotive pictures - by Stavros Lainas
Marine visitor
Basingtoke to Buxton via Middlewich
Driving Van Trailer Training
Mystery structure identified
Out on the 'Long Drag' - report by David Parry
 Manchester Jubilees
 Day Out with Thomas
 Consultation or imposition?
 Looking back: A weekend in Anglesey - with Mark Youdan

09 August 2012
On the Welshpool and Llanfair - pictures by Martin Evans
The Holyhead View - with M. Lloyd Davies
Penrhyn Railway news - report by Stephen Hughes
 Cambrian Coast in yellow

06 August 2012

Push-Pull training starts
Brush replaces Gresley - 5 August
Virgin on Anglesey - pictures by Steve Morris
The end of Virgin Trains?
The Welsh Mountaineer 31 July

02 August 2012

Prestatyn Progress - report by Dave Sallery
Compass Tours to Holyhead
175 002 repaired
60s Gala at Llangollen - report by Chris Jones-Bridger
On the Parliamentary - report by George Jones
Crewe 1995 - pictures by Peter Hanson
Four-car Voyager
Shrewsbury spruced up - report by George Jones
Curzon Park Footbridge, Chester

Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page. For the current list visit our Calendar.

September 2012

31 August, 1 - 2 September  Llangollen Railway Autumn Steam Gala

Friday 7 September  Clwyd Railway Circle  Glyn Jones  “John Summers & Sons Ltd” A look at the Steelworks at Shotton from its opening in 1896 to the closure of the heavy end in 1980. The talk includes footage of the iron ore trains from Bidston.

Thursday 13 September Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Keith Jones with a double-barrelled show of 'The History of Penmaenmawr Quarry & its rail system' followed by 'Building and running miniature steam locomotives'

Monday 17 September RCTS Chester North Staffordshire from the mid 1960s to the Early 1990s By Max Birchenough.

Saturday 22 September Llangollen Railway Diesel Day

Wednesday Sept 26 September. Ffestiniog Railway Society Cambrian Heritage Railways. H.Gallagher & R.Williams.

Thursday 27 September LCGB North West John Owen "Vintage US Steam in Cuba"

Thursday 27 September Merseyside Railway History Group Tom Heavyside: Narrow Gauge Tracks

Saturday 29 September, Railway Ramblers club. Guided Walk from Tryfan Junction to Talysarn via Rhostryfan, Bryngwyn, Y Fron and Nantlle on or adjacent to the Welsh Highland and Nantlle railway trackbeds. For further details by post a reply to Chris Parker's message of 23/06/12 on the messages board of

October 2012

Friday 5 October    Clwyd Railway Circle    Les Nixon “55 Years of Railway Photography (part 1)” The acclaimed railway photographer and entertaining speaker will treat us to an evening of nostalgia, including pre 1968 steam, foreign, modern traction and some preservation. The accent is on the unusual.

Thursday 11 October  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society John Barden Davies tells us “How railways made North Wales a Tourism destination”

Friday 12 October Altrincham Electric Railway Society "From Roade to York" colour slides of steam and modern traction at home and overseas from 1963 to the present day by Robin Patrick.

Monday 15 October RCTS Chester Steam Classes that failed to make Preservation; Powerpoint presentation By John Cowlishaw Using Edgar Richards Photographs.

Thursday 18 October Merseyside Railway History Group Gordon Davies:   American Wanderings (note, not the last Thursday due, to redecoration of the hall)

Wednesday 24 October Ffestiniog Railway Society    Railways and Tramways around Blaenau Ffestiniog.   D.Southern. (Note: not the last Wednesday this month.)

Thursday 25 October LCGB North West Tom Heavyside "B R in the North West"

November 2012

Friday 2 November    Clwyd Railway Circle  Dave Southern “Chester to Pwllheli” The slide show will follow a journey from Chester to Pwllheli via Oswestry. There will be slides of each of the lines we pass on the journey, based on the early 1960's.

Thursday 8 November  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society AGM followed a look at “The Llandudno Transport Festival over the Years” (Guest Speaker)

Friday 9 November  Altrincham Electric Railway Society "30 Years of Steam Photography" a colour slide presentation by Phil Taylor.

Monday 19 November RCTS Chester – Conway and Llandudno Junction in B.R Days by Larry Davies.

Thursday 22 November LCGB North West Norman Matthews "Steam in New Zealand"

Wednesday 28 November  Ffestiniog Railway Society My life with trains. B.Bushell.

Thursday 29 November Merseyside Railway History Group Andrew Scott:  Around the world with 80 trains.

December 2012

Friday 7 December    Clwyd Railway Circle   Members Night & Christmas Celebration.  Members are invited to give a 15/20 minute presentation of their choice (any format). This will be interrupted by festive treats (all high calories).  Members must book their slot with David Jones no later than 20 November.

Thursday 13 December  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Christmas Social helped along by members Alex Cowan confirming to us that “Trainspotting was an education” and Larry Davies taking us back to “1962 – a year of change”

Thursday 13 December Merseyside Railway History Group Angus Tilston:  Film & Social evening

Friday 14 December  Altrincham Electric Railway Society "Steam Saved from the Scrapyard" a colour slide presentation by Tom Heavyside.

Thursday 13 December  LCGB North West Les Nixon "55 Years of Railway Photography – Part Two"

Monday 17 December RCTS Chester Members Slide/Digital Images – 30 Slides or artefacts of your Choice

January 2013
Friday 4 January   Clwyd Railway Circle   Pete Gray “Welsh Highland Railway”  Our speaker for the night is the Safety & Development Manager of the WHR; previous to this, he was the Construction Manager from 2006-2010. Pete will be talking about his experiences during this time and the organization that is needed to keep the show on the road.

Thursday 10 January Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Speaker to be confirmed

Friday 11 January  Altrincham Electric Railway Society "Transport around Manchester from 1750" a colour slide presentation by Chris Makepeace.

Thursday 17 January LCGB North West Keith Naylor "Isle of Wight Railways"

Monday 21 January RCTS Chester Branch A.G.M. followed By British slides between 1983 & 2010 By Alan Donaldson.

Thursday 31 January Merseyside Railway History Group Geoff Coward:  Northeast China Steam 2002
February 2013

Friday 1 February   Clwyd Railway Circle   Gordon Davies “American Wanderings 2, the Great Plains Drifter” - Recollections of Gordon’s trip in 2008, covering the largest open cast mine in Wyoming plus the world’s largest marshalling yard.

Friday 8 February  Altrincham Electric Railway Society "The Lynton & Barnstaple Railway" a digital presentation by Bob Barnard.

Thursday 14 February Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Speaker to be confirmed

Monday 18 February RCTS Chester The Northern Hub. A Talk By Duncan Law, Senior Programme Development Manager, Network Rail.

Thursday 21 February LCGB North West Mike Taylor "Preston and North"

Thursday 28 February Merseyside Railway History Group Dave Southern:  Rails to Blaenau Ffestiniog

March 2013

Friday 1 March    Clwyd Railway Circle   The Committee & Larry Davies.  AGM followed by the talk “60 years ago – Diamond days” After the formality is over, we look forward to the talk by one of our favourite speakers.           

Friday 8 March  Altrincham Electric Railway Society "The ICI Hopper Trains" a colour slide presentation by Brian Arnold.

Thursday 14 March Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Speaker to be confirmed

Monday 18 March RCTS Chester B.R in the early 1980’s By Tom Heavyside.

Thursday 21 March LCGB North West Tony Harrison "The Dragon's Last Roar"

Thursday 28 March Merseyside Railway History Group AGM:  Members Slides

April 2013

Friday 5 April   Clwyd Railway Circle   Michael Murphy 'Liverpool Overhead Railway' To finish off the season, a highly recommended speaker known for his light-hearted style of presentation. The talk will be followed by film footage of the railway in its heyday.

Thursday 11 April Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Speaker to be confirmed

Friday 12 April  Altrincham Electric Railway Society "Current Developments on Metrolink" a digital presentation by Tony Williams, Manchester Area Officer, Light Rail Transit Association.

Monday 15 April RCTS Chester Even Further Down Under: New Zealand In 2011 & 2012 By Geoff Morris.

Thursday 18 April LCGB North West John Sloane 'Steam Sheds and Diesel Depots'

Thursday 25 April Merseyside Railway History Group Richard Kells : Quiz and informal evening

May 2013

Thursday 9 May Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Speaker to be confirmed

Thursday 16 May LCGB North West AGM and Members/Visitors Slides & Digital Photos.

61994 The Great Marquess approaches Blaenau Ffestiniog on 21 August, amid scenery worthy of its 'home' routes in the West Highlands of Scotland. Many more pictures, with a few other background events from the same day, below. This picture by John Myers.

Don't miss the extra 22 August update with general stories: there'll be another later this week, hopefully. See the left margin for contents of recent issues.

The Great Marquess and the Welsh Mountaineer

The 'steam special' season in North Wales this year has been characterised by a certain lack of locomotive variety, and a couple of advertised ones never ran, as in previous years. There was also one that turned out to be diesel-worked, and proved just as interesting to our contributors!

However, the last steam train of the summer, the Railway Touring Company 'Welsh Mountaineer' of 21 August from Preston to Blaenau Ffestiniog certainly 'broke the mould' with the appearance of London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) 2-6-0 61994 The Great MarquessIan Pilkington's reflective picture above shows the outward-bound train, 1Z90 07:40 Preston - Blaenau, crossing the Weaver Navigation at Frodsham.

The locomotive was turned using the triangle of lines west of Chester station, and hauled the train tender-first at Llandudno Junction in order to be running boiler-first up the gradients of the Conwy Valley branch, which looks better and also possibly helps to keep the water level in the boiler above the crown of the firebox when working hard on the climb. Above, the train passing Rhyl station (Roly High).

Shortly afterwards at Rhyl, an appearance on a Holyhead - Cardiff service by 158 819, a minor celebrity as the very last unit of any sort to wear the silver and blue colours of the Wales and Borders train company, and one of just two Arriva 158s to remain un-refurbished (Roly High).

Passing Abergele en route to Llandudno Junction  (Larry Goddard).

Abergele from the bridge (John Myers).

Having reversed at Llandudno Junction, the train is seen alongside the estuary south of Glan Conwy (Ian Pilkington).

61994 blasts out of Denbigh Street tunnel and into Llanrwst town station opened in 1989 (Larry Davies).

Near Betws-y-Coed (John Myers). The LNER used a class coding in which a letter was allocated to each wheel-arrangement: The 'K' in 'K4' indicates a 2-6-0.

After a creditable climb up the sharply-curved 1 in 47 at Pont-y-Pant, a brief stop at Dolwyddelan for a 'blow up' to regain steam pressure, as indeed was done in the days when Conwy Valley line had steam in 'real money.'  (Larry Davies). In those days Dolwyddelan station had tracks each side of this platform, to allow trains to pass: entrance was by steps from the bridge where Larry was standing.

150 231 arriving at the picturesque Dolwyddelan station on the 13:32
Llandudno to to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The flower beds are maintained by local people (Chris Taylor).

Setting off from Dolwyddelan (Larry Goddard).

61994 storms up the 1 in 62 away from the station (Ian Pilkington).

Passing Dolwyddelan Castle (Chris Taylor).This locomotive was one of a small class of six locomotives, designated 'K4' by the LNER, credited to Chief Mechanical Engineer Sir Nigel Gresley. The idea was to replace old machines built by the North British Railway with a modern locomotive suitable for the steep gradients and lightly-built infrastructure of the line to Fort William and Mallaig. The LNER Encyclopaedia website has the full story.

Near Roman Bridge (M.Lloyd Davies). This locomotive was built in 1938, but after the bridges were strengthened to allow larger locos, thee specialised class was replaced after a relatively short life by steam loco standards, all being withdrawn by British Railways in 1961. 61994 was purchased for preservation by David Lindesay-Bethune, Viscount Garnock (1926-1989), and ran for many years in LNER green livery and its original LNER number 3442. Under its current owner John Cameron (who also owns Pacific 60009 which has also run in North Wales this year) it has joined the many preserved locos to have been given the lined-black livery used by British Railways in living memory, and its British Railways number.

Larry Goddard writes: 'The drive over the Crimea Pass road was in torrential rain but fortunately it was clearing by the time I photographed the running downgrade from Ffestiniog Tunnel.'

Arrived at Blaenau Ffestiniog (M.Lloyd Davies). Who was The Great Marquess? Well, he was a man, not a woman: the title is sometimes spelt 'Marquis' to avoid confusion with the wife of a Marquess who is a Marchioness (see also the Marquess of Anglesey's column.) He was James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, born 400 years ago in 1612.  The names all Highland-related; as a soldier he was famous for 'raising the dis-affected and largely Catholic clans of the Highlands, plus some Irish soldiers, on behalf of the King' during  the English Civil War period. See the Clan Graham website for more.

Probably the first ever ex-LNER locomotive to visit Blaenau, 61994 is guided past Blaenau Ffestiniog No 3 ground Frame as she runs round her train (Larry Davies). In the 1950s and 1960s Summer Saturdays saw regular visits of ex-LNER class B1 4-6-0's from North Eastern Sheds (Hull Dairycoats, Mirfield, Sheffield Darnall, to name a few) on excursions to the North Wales Coast, but we believe none ventured up the Conwy Valley branch.

Propelling the stock into the loop  to clear the platform line for use by the service train (Larry Goddard).

Into the loop; Ffestiniog Railway tracks in the foreground (Larry Davies).

One of the fire-irons leans against the loco, suggesting that the fireman is engaged in maintenance of his fire during the layover. The tarpaulin to protect the crew from the weather during tender-first running  - usual between Mallaig and Fort William in the 'Jacobite' operation - can be seen. The batteries in the box alongside the boiler provide power for the electronic recording equipment, etc. demanded by present-day regulations. (Larry Goddard).

Waiting to leave the loop as the Ffestiniog Railway train hauled by Fairlie locomotive Merddin Emrys departs (Larry Goddard).

Rolling downgrade through Dolwydellan on the return run, 16:00 Blaenau Ffestiniog - Preston, due to arrive Preston 21:08 (Larry Goddard).

The man himself with the equipment necessary to take pictures from this location (Larry Goddard).

Back at Llandudno Junction, 175 109 arriving at Llandudno Junction on the 14:50 Manchester  to Llandudno passing 158 838 on the 14:50 Holyhead to Birmingham International.

Worlds apart: back at Llandudno Junction,  61994 awaits release from Platform 1,  having taken water, as a Class 175 heads for Llandudno on the 15:50 from Manchester Piccadilly (Larry Davies).

Departing Llandudno Junction, scheduled time 18:09,  returning to Preston in nice evening light. Picture by Chris Taylor.

Approaching Abergele  (John Myers).

Flint (Derek French).

Sign of the times by Flint station: tribute to Jade Jones, Olympic Gold Medallist in Taekwondo - and in the town centre, the official gold pillar box. Pictures by Derek French.

Holywell Junction (David Parry).

Approaching Helsby (Ian Pilkington).

Crossing the Weaver Viaduct at Frodsham in the twilight (Ian Pilkington).

The Great Marquess has been in North Wales at least once before:
Larry Davies writes: 'I recall the one previous visit of this loco to Llandudno Junction way back on 10 May 1964 when newly restored by Viscount Garnock in LNER apple green and bearing the number 3442. She worked a special from Leeds to Llandudno for staff of carpet manufacturers John Crossley & Son, and was serviced on Llandudno Junction (6G) motive power depot.  (The picture by Norman Kneale of the occasion is reproduced with kind permission from our associated website Llandudno Junction 6G shed.) Some of the retired staff that dealt with her that day were on the station on 21 August 2012 and back came the stories and the memories.'

As always, thanks to everyone involved in running this train, everyone who has sent contributions, and, last but not least, anyone who has read all the way down to here! - Charlie

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