Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

08 October 2012

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Y Gerallt Gymro

Recent issues

01 October 2012

 Weekend events
 Another look at the at the Arriva Premier Express
 The new 'Irish Mancunian'?
 'Last of the Summer WAG', or 'The Long Way Round' - by
 Class 97/3 doings - report by Mark Watson
 Corwen Project Update - by George Jones
 Looking back
 Corwen exhibition - report by George Jones
 To Dundee, come Hell or High Water - report by Roly High
 New book on Ruabon to Barmouth - reviewed by George Jones

24 September 2012

 Archive addition: 37s on Ballast
 Stormy Weather
 Class 56 on the logs
 Exhibition: Corwen, A Railway Town
 Llangollen's Autumn Diesel Day 22 September
 Quarry Power on the Welsh Highland - report by Ian
 Club 55 to Cheltenham (and website woes) - by Stephen  Hughes

20 September 2012

All Change for the Premier Service - special issue

17 September 2012

Rainbow at Helsby - report by Bob Greenhalgh
News from Arriva
Mind the (158) gap
Crewe to Tywyn by Club 55 - with Robert Darlaston
Mixed Gauge at Laxey
Carnforth to Holyhead
Training Turn
Picture Miscellany
Variety at Crewe - report by Martin Evans
Welshpool and Llanfair gala - report by David Parry

10 September 2012
News in Pictures
Llangollen Steam gala views - by Chris Jones-Bridger
Suburban detail
A Class 67 day out - report by Charlie Hulme
Three rails to Snaefell Summit - by David Parry
Liverpool Central (Wirral) reopens - report by George Jones

03 September 2012
Heritage Weekend: Chester Station
Change looms for the WAG Express
Class 47s in the Conwy Valley
Virgin strikes back
Saturday on the Coast - with Roly High
Doing the Round Robin - report by Greg Mape
Welsh Holiday - with Ben Bucki
The Bill Rear legacy
A day on the Isle of Man Railway - with David Parry

Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

October 2012

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"

27 - 28 October Merseyside Model Railway Society. Wirral Model Railway Exhibition. Mosslands School. Mossland Drive, Wallasey  CH45 8PJ. Close to Wallasey Village station (7 min walk) For further details

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.

Excursion train at Wrexham , 6 October. See report below. Picture by George Jones.

Gerald's big day?

Arriva Trains Wales plan (although we have no guarantee) to start push-pull working with the refurbished Mk 3 coaches and Driving Van Trailer with Wednesday evening, 10 October, northbound from Cardiff.  We don't know which way the locomotives will face to start with, but apparently the intention is to reverse it every few weeks to keep drivers' traction knowledge balanced. Good news for photographers maybe, although the train will traverse our area in darkness most of the year.

We have also heard that Royal Train loco 67 005 Queens Messenger has been added to the Arriva Trains Wales 'pool' of locomotives, joining 67 001 to 67 003, covering for one of the other locos receiving attention.

If you are interested in the doings of Gerald of Wales, the ancient traveller and scholar after which the train is named (although it very rarely carries the headboard) a recent Radio 4 programme about him presented by Melvyn Bragg is available to 'listen again' on the BBC website. See

Conwy Valley notes - by Larry Davies

On Saturday 6 October, in conjunction with an Arts Festival in the village, rail passengers at Betws-y-Coed were entertained by the melodious tone of Côr Meibion Llanrwst (male voice choir) who held a concert in glorious autumnal weather on the station platform. Many passengers were delighted with the rendering and a host of visitors gathered. Above: 150 281 formed the 11:00 arrival from Llandudno. This was really something different and well enjoyed by our passengers and visitors. It was a first for us to have a choir concert on a Conwy valley station. It proved an immense success and another opportunity for the railway really to become part of the community. [Larry is Community Rail Officer for the Conwy Valley line.]

Old Rube, stalwart of the Conwy Valley Railway Museum, complete with standard gauge whistle, added to the melodious tones.

Côr Meibion Llanrwst with an unmistakable railway backcloth.

The Conwy Valley line has benefited from extra passengers this last week with people visiting Llanrwst to see for themselves "Ty Hwnt I'r Bont" tearoom after its photograph featured in the tabloid press on 1 October. Said to date from 1480, the house is much older than the bridge, Pont Fawr, over the Conwy, the design of which is credited to Inigo Jones.

Franchise fiasco

Above, Larry Goddard's picture of Virgin's 09:10 Euston - Holyhead crossing Llanddulas viaduct on 3 October. As announced at Midnight just as last week's update was being completed, the new Minister of Transport has cancelled the award of the West Coast Main Line (including the London - Holyhead service) 13-year operating franchise to FirstGroup, which had been definitely confirmed by the previous Minister. Statements made to the media explain that 'mistakes were made' in evaluating the bids by Virgin and First and that three Civil Servants responsible for the blunder have been suspended. The tradition of Ministers taking responsibility for the actions of their Department seems to have become a thing of the past.

Now, we are told,  the whole bidding process has to be re-started and the companies compensated (£40 million pounds, possibly) for the money they have spent on bidding. Why not simply re-evaluate the existing bids and correct the mistake? Nobody seems able to explain. It was obvious that the end of Virgin Trains was going to be very controversial, surely the figures should have been checked with great care. Money has no doubt been spent by the Government on external consultants, presumably now wasted.

Now we have a situation where there are only a few weeks to go before the new operator was to take over, and nobody knows what is going to happen. The details of the original bids by First and Virgin, which were supposed to be confidential, and are now in the public domain. It seems the mistake was in checking the deposits offered in case the contracts were given up before 13 years.
The whole concept seems very strange. Here is a question for readers who own or manage businesses. Can you guess what your profits will be in fifteen years' time?

The Sunday Herald newspaper in Scotland has an detailed article on this farce for those interested. Or watch the Minister on TV.

Walk the Corwen Extension - with George Jones

There is another opportunity on Saturday 13 October for those interested in the progress of the Llangollen Railway's extension to participate in a walk from Carrog to Corwen. Departing Carrog station at 12.00 noon, the walk will proceed via the riverside footpath to the foot crossing over the railway and up on to the A5 road. From the A5 road, several opportunities are available to view the new line and the work undertaken through to Plas Bonwm.

Access to the new rail head at Bonwm will then allow for walking on the next trackbed section which is being prepared for track laying after the over bridge 28 repairs are completed. The proposed site for a loop line to permit engines to run round the train outside of Corwen will be inspected and onwards to the site of the Phase 1 Corwen East platform. The walk concludes through the site of the proposed phase 2 terminal station along the embankment to Green Lane and the end of the walk in Corwen. The distance covered is 2½ miles and from experience the walk will take approximately two hours; this will allow time for inspection and discussion of aspects of the extension.

Strong footwear is essential, as is adequate outdoor clothing. Hi-Vis vests are appropriate for use on the roadside section of the A5. Note: the walk will take place in all weather conditions other than heavy, driving rain. Participants are asked to support a cash collection made to support the Corwen Extension appeal.

Locomotive scenes

Ken Robinson writes: 'I visited Shrewsbury on Thursday 4 October, and made a quick dash to the station, the weather being so fine and sunny. At 10:30 however. the sun comes directly from the South of the station and fine for trains from the North but rather too head-on  The only train of interest I saw was this one hauled by 66 034. it is the 04:10 4Z80 Tees Yard - Moreton-on-Lugg  empty stone train which at the moment runs Thursdays and Fridays only - the wagons are returning from Redcar Steel Works where limestone is used in the steel-making process. (Thanks to Roger Thomas for help identifying this train).

Gobowen, with train 6Z71, empty log wagons from Chirk to Carlisle, hauled by Colas 66 849 passed me at 13:12, a little earlier than booked.

Northenden Junction in South Manchester on the Altrincham - Stockport line, on a very wet 25 September. Blue 60 074 Teenage Spirit on east bound limestone empties just about to cross to the single line branch towards Hazel Grove and New Mills (Greg Mape).

57 316 pulls out of Holyhead with the return Pendolino to London on Saturday 6 October. In the background, am excavator stands amid the ruins of the old fuelling point and canopy, demolished earlier in the week. Picture by M.Lloyd Davies.

A visit to the Penrhyn Quarry Railway - report by Rowan Crawshaw

A short section of the Penrhyn Quarry Railway is being reopened near Bethesda. Operator of the line, Felin Fawr, participated in the Gwyl Ogwen River Festival on 6 October, and the site was opened up to visitors, guided tours of the buildings and the railway continued throughout the afternoon.

Above, loco no. 26 (built by Ruston & Hornsby in 1943 for the Royal Naval Armament Depot at Broughton Moor, Cumbria) arriving at the station. Another Ruston, no. 25, which does not have the covered cab, is also on site.

The end of the line. There is no normal public service on the line at present.

Llanfairfechan footbridge lift-out

In the early hours of 30 September the span of Llanfairfechan station's London and North Western Railway footbridge was lifted out and taken away for refurbishment; expected date of return is 24 November. Picture by Peter Basterfield. More views and much else on Pete's flickr site.

This bridge is the only surviving structure on the station from the time before the A55 road was driven alongside in the 1980s.

No Steam to Chester 6 October

Some views of the excursion which passed through Chester on Saturday 6 October. The tour (1Z53) originated at Skegness and travelled to Crewe where was due to take over for a circular tour back to Crewe with a 3 hour stop in Shrewsbury. A steam loco, 'Black 5' 44932 was due to take over from diesel traction for the run from Crewe - Chester - Shrewsbury - Crewe. Sadly the steam loco and support coach failed at Lancaster on the way from Carnforth with a failed steam element and returned to base Accordingly. West Coast Rail 47's 47 760 and 47 500 were in charge throughout. Above, 47 760 at Chester (Martin Evans).

47 760 shows off West Coast Railways' uninspired livery (Roly High).

A Pendolino (390 040 Virgin Pathfinder) and a Voyager (221 110 James Cook) share Chester station with the excursion (Roly High).

47 760 leads through Rednal (Stavros Lainas). Interestingly the organisers of the excursion had anticipated the problem by promising a £5 refund to passengers should the steam loco not materialise.

The Isle of Man - another view - by David Hennessey

The Isle of Man's annual Manx Transport Festival took place on all the island's major rail and tram systems (Isle of Man Steam Railway, Manx Electric Railway, Snaefell Mountain Railway, Groudle Glen Railway and Douglas Horse Tramway), between Wednesday 25 and Sunday 29 April 2012. I was there between Monday 23 and Monday 30 July; here is a report on the activities that took place. Above: 2-4-0 tank no.4 Loch at Douglas, with a train for Port Erin on 24 July.

Tuesday 24 July

Although the festival was due to start the next day, I took this opportunity to make my first visit of the year, to the Isle of Man Steam Railway; the 13 mile, 3ft gauge line that was once part of a network of lines serving Port Erin, Peel, St John's, Foxdale and Ramsey. The Douglas to Port Erin section is all that remains today, and is one of the most popular of the island's railways.
Two of the railway's stalwart Beyer Peacock 2-4-0 tank engines were out an about. No.4 Loch was in charge of services originating from Douglas, while No.10 G.H Wood handled services from Port Erin where it seen above taking on water. I did trips from Douglas to Port Erin behind these locos (on separate services during the day of course). Whilst at Port Erin, I paid a visit to the railway museum, home to No.6 Peveril and No.16 Mannin, and a various collection of carriages and relics. I also visited Santon, a request stop in the middle of nowhere, situated between Port Soderick and Ballasalla.

Wednesday 25 July

On the day the festival was getting under way, I began with a trip on the 3ft gauge Douglas Horse Tramway, with Albert and Car 43 doing the honours. At Derby Castle, I transferred to the Manx Electric Railway, for a trip on 'Tunnel' Car 6 and trailer 44 to South Cape. I alighted there, and took a walk down the hill to Laxey harbour/village. After lunch, it was back up the hill to South Cape again for the next service to Ramsey.

As luck would have it, 'Crossbench' Car 33 and trailer 40 were en route, and so I hopped on for the ride. 33 is one of the few vehicles which only sees occasional use, so it was quite a lucky catch.
Above: the author poses with no. 33 at Ramsey.

After a Ramsey to Douglas Derby Castle bash on the same vehicles, I alighted at Laxey in time to see something interesting take place. On the nearby 3ft 6in gauge Snaefell Mountain Railway, letters posted at the Summit were being brought down on one of their service cars, for transfer to the M.E.R for a journey to Douglas. 'Tunnel' Car 5, trailer 46 and mail van 4 did the honours of moving the mail away from Laxey.

After a short teatime break at Douglas Derby Castle, I got on 'Tunnel' Car 5 for an evening trip to Groudle, and a ride on the 2ft gauge Groudle Glen Railway; the line that goes uphill to the sea. The line's veteran Bagnall 2-4-0 tank engine Sea Lion (recently back in service after a period of overhaul/rebuilding) took charge of the two-carriage train from Lhen Coan in the glen, to Sea Lion Rocks near the site of the old sea lion and polar bear zoo. On Wednesday evenings during the Summer months, Sea Lion Rocks is one good place to go and watch the sunset over the Irish sea.

My travels that day concluded back at Douglas Derby Castle, having caught 'Winter Saloon' Car 20 from Groudle on the Douglas to Groudle shuttle. Above, 'Amby', one of the horses on the Douglas Horse Tramway, is led away from Derby Castle at the end of a hard day at work.

Thursday 26 July

The second day of the festival (unfortunately marred by dull and drizzly weather to start with), and a lot of activity was going on at the Isle of Man Steam Railway. It all started at Douglas station where, to everyone's amusement, a red P50 Car was driven onto the platform before being loaded onto the replica three-plank open goods wagon M.78 for transportation to Port Erin. I jumped on a preceding service train to Port Soderick, behind Beyer Peacock 2-4-0 tank No.13 Kissack, seen above on arrival at Port Soderick.

An engineering charter train ran from Douglas to Santon and back, hauled by Beyer Peacock 2-4-0 tank No.8 Fenella; one loco I was keen to get for bashing and photting, following it's re-entry into passenger service earlier in 2012. On the last occasion I saw Fenella (in July 2011), she was stored in the sheds at Douglas, during a period of bickering between her owners and the Isle of Man Railway Company in regard to her use on the railway. Things did eventually work out however, and an agreement was finally settled in April 2012 (with Fenella being steamed on the day that the agreement was signed, for good measure!). Given that Fenella is the smallest loco on the line, she only sees occasional use. Anyway, No.8 Fenella arrived briefly at Port Soderick with the engineering charter to Santon (above). This charter consisted of a two bogied flat truck (a former carriage frame) loaded with sleepers, a four wheeled wagon carrying a digger and a two-bogied hopper wagon (the frame being converted from a passenger carriage). The train had to be held up there for a bit, after news came in that a fallen tree had blocked the line between Santon and Ballasalla; as a consequence, the timetable was thrown in chaos for the rest of the day. Fortunately, things did get moving again, and No.8 Fenella crossed No.10 G.H Wood at Santon, with the latter loco working a Port Erin to Douglas service.

Later on, No.12 Hutchinson passed through Port Soderick, with the train transporting the little red P50 car to Port Erin, as well as a travelling post office in the rear carriage.

After No.8 Fenella returned to Douglas with the engineering charter from Santon, she joined forces with No.10 G.H Wood (resplendent in the 1967 'Ailsa' spring green livery), as both engines worked a double headed Douglas to Port Erin service. I joined this train at Port Soderick for the run to Port Erin. On the return run with the two tank engines, I bailed at Castletown briefly to visit the nearby Sidings Inn; a good place to sample beers produced by Okells and Bushy's (two of the Isle of Man's major beer brands)! I ended the day with No.13 Kissack, returning to Douglas (above). An 'Ale Train' to Port Erin ran that evening, but I was saving that for Saturday...

Friday 27 July

The day started with a morning visit to the Isle of Man Railway. Following a trip to Port Soderick behind No.12 Hutchinson, I recorded No.8 Fenella on a goods charter to Santon (above: formed of van G.12 and open wagons M.78 and H.1), before catching No.10 G.H Wood back to Douglas.

After lunch, another 'bash' on the Douglas Horse Tramway was in order. Although I did a nice ride behind Douglas and Car 45 along the promenade ...

 ... there was one particular vehicle I'd been hoping to see and ride on. The famous double decker car 18 (in the red Okells Pale Ale livery) only comes out once a day, depending on the weather since the top deck is open. Very fortunately, due to better weather, this day was a good opportunity to get a ride on it; 'Philip' hauled the vehicle from Derby Castle to the Sea Terminal and back, being swapped for 'Rocky' at the stables near Derby Castle on the return run. Great care is obviously taken at all times to ensure the horses don't get overworked; given that they have to endure the chaotic road traffic on the Promenade during the summer months, the horses on the Douglas Tramway have a calm nature and a relaxed, gentle and friendly character about them.

Afterwards, it was another spin on the Manx Electric Railway to Laxey (with 'Winter Saloon' Car 20 and trailer 40), where I managed a journey on the 3ft 6in gauge Snaefell Mountain Railway. Car 2 (above) was working the last return journey of the day to Snaefell Summit via Bungalow, a key location on the TT motorcycle race course. The weather on Snaefell was bright, albeit cloudy and breezy, and not quite clear enough to see England, Ireland and Scotland (and definitely no chance of seeing Wales either!)

After coming down from Snaefell, it was onward to Ramsey aboard 'Tunnel' Car 9 (the only illuminated vehicle on the railway) and trailer 58. To kill time, a walk around Ramsey Harbour was in order... 'Unvestibled Saloon' Car 1 (built in 1893 by G.F Milnes of Birkenhead, and listed in the Guinness World Records as the world's oldest working electric tramcar) also turned up on a private charter, consisting of trailer 59 and mail van 4. At 20:40 PM, it was time to make the return run to Douglas, with the sun setting over the Irish sea. It was getting dark by the time I got to Laxey, and that was when the lights on Car 9 were switched on. Having made many pickups and setdowns en route, I rode into Douglas Derby Castle just after 22:00.

Saturday 28 July

Having spent much of my time so far with the Isle of Man Railway, the Manx Electric Railway would get my full attention on this day, and the next (29th July). The M.E.R had promised an 'enhanced' timetable, with as many cars and trailers out as possible. Unfortunately, all didn't quite go according to plan; 'Tunnel' Car 7 and 'Winter Saloon' Cars 19 and 22 had problems, as did green liveried 'Crossbench' Car 16, which had a fault and ended up confined to the depot for the day. As such, the timetable had to be altered and a few cancellations had to be made (despite this, I still feel that the railway company did a great job to fulfil it's commitment to putting as many vehicles into service as possible).

On the plus side, 'Crossbench' Cars 32 and 33 got a chance to stretch their wheels. The former vehicle (above) was quite a catch - she normally sees use as a works car - made even better by having the chance to sit up front with the driver (or 'motorman' as drivers on the M.E.R are called)! I pretty much spent most of the day with Car 32 and trailer 58, with trips to Groudle, Laxey and Ramsey.

Later in the afternoon, I jumped off at Laxey Car Sheds to visit the Sub-station nearby. This building housed the massive mercury arc rectifiers, as well as various other pieces of equipment used to generate and supply the electricity for the railway. The present building is due to close soon, and a new one is being built somewhere in Laxey to replace it. There are plans however, to display at least some of the equipment in Laxey.

Then it was back to Douglas Derby Castle for a visit to the Horse Tramway exhibition being held in the Strathallan Suite above the tramcar sheds. This was only a small exhibition consisting of a few relics and picture displays, but as I walked in, I was in for a totally different surprise. Incredibly, as chance would have it, one of the London 2012 Olympic Torches (used in the Isle of Man leg of the relay) was on display, and I managed to get a photograph taken of it, alongside the lovely lady who took part in the relay on Douglas Promenade when the Olympic flame toured the Isle of Man earlier in the year.

After riding the last Horse Tram service of the day to Douglas Sea Terminal with Charles and Car 45, followed by an early dinner in the centre of Douglas (the Island's capital), it was onto the Isle of Man Railway for an evening 'Rail Ale' trip behind Beyer Peacock 2-4-0 tank No.12 Hutchinson. This special consisted of four corridor vehicles (one of them a saloon with an on-board bar) and a brake compartment vehicle. Although the excursion was going to Port Erin and back, there was the option for passengers (some already taking advantage of the bar en route) to alight at Castletown (above) to visit the local pubs. Naturally, I headed to the Sidings Inn (I recommend the Pubs Galore website for a guide to Isle of Man pubs, for more beer and a game of darts. At 21:30, it was back to Douglas onboard the train, and another satisfactory day in the can.

Sunday 29 July

The final complete day of the 2012 Manx Transport Festival, and yet another day on the Manx Electric Railway. Having travelled on the Horse Tramway to Derby Castle (with Tommy and Car 36), I watched a couple of Laxey/Ramsey bound departures to see which vehicles would be producing on this day. 'Crossbench' Car 16 was, very luckily, fit to run this time and came out with trailer 58, making yet another rare sight.

Having ridden on the above combination to Ramsey (again being lucky to sit up-front with the driver), I also took advantage of a rare public opportunity to visit the Ramsey Car Sheds. Apart from a few stored trailers, there were two more forlorn looking vehicles; redundant 'Crossbench' Cars 14 and 30 looked very sorry for themselves, having been in long term storage for three or so decades. Would they be likely to ever run again? Only time will tell...

After lunch, I rejoined 'Crossbench' Car 16 (working solo), as she worked a 'Quarry Explorer' trip taking in Ballajora and Dhoon Quarries (once served by the M.E.R). Both locations made great photo opportunities for Car 16. I also got to have a look around Dhoon Quarry itself. En route to Laxey, Car 16 posed at Bulgham; the hightest point on the line, and a stop only used for special occasions when Douglas bound services stop very briefly for photo opportunities.

At Laxey, I boarded 'Unvestibled Saloon' Car 1 to make my last trip to Ramsey. Later, I bailed at Groudle to transfer back to 'Crossbench' Car 16 and trailer 58, for my final run back to Douglas Derby Castle. This brought down the curtain on my second successful visit to the Isle of Man's Manx Transport Festival.

A great festival all round! Same time next year, hopefully. More pictures can be found at my Flickr account.

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