Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

26 November 2012

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Recent issues

19 November 2012

 Bangor Shed mystery
 Network Rail assortment
 Christmas at Bala
 Hop on our 'Merry-Maker' - with Stephen Hughes
 About Mark 3 coach bogies
 Ayrshire Yeomanry at Llangollen - report by George Jones
 Club 55 to Barry - report by Richard Fleckney
 Christmas Reading
 Sandy Lane crossing - pictures by Roly High
 Bridges at Berwyn - report by George Jones

12 November 2012
 Saturday 10 November: Rugby Special etc.
 Timetable change looms
 Grinding in North Wales - pictures by Roly High
 Ffestiniog scenes - by Ian Pilkington
 Princess leaves Ffestiniog pub - report by Eryl Crump
 Mouldsworth to Helsby memories - by Dave Sallery
 Cambrian needs nine million pounds
 Come to sunny Rhyl
 Derbyshire in a day - with Alan Crawshaw
 Brush Corner
 The new coaches in close-up - pictures by M.Lloyd Davies
 Hawarden from the Air - report by George Jones

05 November 2012

 DB Schenker under fire
 Changeable weather on Saturday 3 November
 Double Grids on timber train - report by Mark Riley
 New carriages for Snowdon
 Remembrance at Llangollen
 Birkenhead Tramway troubles
 Picture miscellany

 29 October 2012
The Bigger Picture
 Premier Service events
 Visit the World Cafe
 Samaritan commemorated
 Locomotive views
 Trouble on the Autumn Snowdonian
 The 'Spectacular Snowdonian'
 In the Vale of Rheidol - with Alistair Grieve
 Class 158 tidings
 Classic handbills - from Oliver Hambly
 On the blocks - with Charlie Hulme
 Movie corner

22 October 2012

Diesel memories - pictures by John Young
 Saturday Drag, A Traveller's Tale - by Glen Cusack
 Discrete electrification?
 In the Vale of Rheidol - with Vince Chadwick
 Ferry-go-round - report by Mark Riley
 The end for Chester Enterprise Centre
 Heritage Railway Miscellany

15 October 2012
Gerald's Big Day ... happens!
 Cambrian Freight 1982 - looking back with Aled Rees
 Leaf-busting season starts
 Historic Prestatyn question
 Cambrian Coast scenes - pictures by Ian Wright
 Ffestiniog Classic
 A visit to the East Lancashire Railway - with Alan Crawshaw
 Cambrian Award
 Llangollen wedding- report by Martin Evans

08 October 2012
 Gerald's big day?
 Conwy Valley notes - by Larry Davies
 Franchise fiasco
 Walk the Corwen Extension - with George Jones
 Locomotive scenes
 A visit to the Penrhyn Quarry Railway - report by Rowan Crawshaw
 Llanfairfechan footbridge lift-out
 No Steam to Chester 6 October
 The Isle of Man - another view - by David Hennessey
 Tuesday 24 July

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

Forthcoming events

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

November 2012

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.

Saturday 8 December Railway and Canal Historical Society  "Widely as his Mersey Flows" by Hugh Beggs

Monday 10 December Wrexham Railway Society Society's Annual General meeting followed by members' Rail Review.

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

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

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

Saturday 15 December Rhyl & District Model Railway Club Charity Model Railway Exhibition, Parish Hall & Scout HQ, Top of Central Car Park, Prestatyn, 10:30 to 16:00.

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 “Early Railways of Gwynedd 1790- 1830’s”     Dr Dafydd Gwynn

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

Saturday 12 January   Railway and Canal Historical Society    Group Annual General Meeting commencing at 13:45 followed at 14:30 by "Members Choice".

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.

Saturday 9 February   Railway and Canal Historical Society   "The Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal, its history and restoration" by Dr. Paul Hindle.

Thursday 14 February Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society “My Life in Crewe Works”         Arthur Jones

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.

Saturday 9 March    Railway and Canal Historical Society   "Lost Canals of the East Midlands" by the Society's President, Dr. Wendy Freer

Thursday 14 March Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society “Polish Steam”  Brian Bollington & Pete Hanahoe

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 “Chester to Holyhead English Electric traction 1984 – Present day”  Steve Morris

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

Saturday 13 April  Railway and Canal Historical Society   "The General Strike & the Railways" by Dr. Robin Smith

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 “The Buckley Railway”  Paul Davies

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

97 302 brings the Rail Head Treatment Train through Colwyn Bay, high-pressure water jets in full play, 24 November. Picture by Jack Bowley.

End of the Pendolino Drag?

It appears from timetable database information available on the Web that the Saturday London - Holyhead train currently worked by a Pendolino will become a Class 221 Voyager following the 9 December timetable change. At the time of writing we haven't been able to confirm this, though. The actual timings still allow for the loco change at Crewe. Developments are awaited...


The week leading up to the publication of this issue has seen storms and flooding in several parts of Britain, including North Wales, with the line intermittently blocked in several places. Problems between Bangor and Holyhead caused difficulties for the loco-hauled Premier service, and the Holyhead - Cardiff and return rugby special using its rolling stock which operated on Saturday 24 November. This train ran southbound as planned, propelled by 67 003, as Jack Bowley's pictures from Colwyn Bay show,  but the return trip had to terminate at Crewe, although the empty train did make it back to Holyhead on Sunday, only to be trapped at Holyhead the next morning so the Premier train had to be run by a Class 175 starting at Bangor.

Looking back at the Dyserth branch - with John Hobbs

Regarding comments about 45337 pretending to be 45156 Ayrshire Yeomanry in the 19 November issue, here are some pictures of the real thing on the Prestatyn - Dyserth Branch on 14 September 1963. Close examination reveals that the nameplate also carried a shield and indeed a smaller plate underneath. Above, 45156 is approaching Bryn Rhosyn level crossing at Prestatyn, on the daily trip working from Rhyl with the old gas holders in the background.

A porter went from the station to open the gates, and then released the starting signal for the Dyserth Branch, which then gave authority for the train to proceed with its propelling move to Dyserth, the Porter would then shut the gate behind the train thus obviating the need to stop and close the gates behind the train on this steeply graded branch. The guard keeping a sharp look-out from the leading brake van. On the return journey  the crossing was protected by an LNWR fixed distant at Meliden Road, the train stopped clear of the crossing and the guard opened the gates, before stopping the train; re-boarding and running on to the yard at Prestatyn Station.

Here's the locomotive on the curve leading into Dyserth Quarry at Dyserth station. The return trip included a ride in the brake van for me. I heard tell that a 'Jubilee' once reached Dyserth but even so, this must have been one of the few 'Namers' to reach Dyserth.

[Opened in 1905, the 2½-mile branch opened in 1869. A passenger service operated from 1905 to 1930, but its prime purpose was to serve mines and quarries. The last stone trains ran in the 1970s, and it is now a foot/cycle path. The excellent Disused Stations website has many pictures and details.]

To Birmingham for the Model Railway show - with Roly High.

After boarding the 06:40 to Birmingham International from Rhyl, to visit the Warley model railway exhibition,we arrived at Chester (above). After standing in the bay platform for some time,
we were told the driver could not take the train (158 832) forward due to a faulty door in his compartment, caused by vandalism at Holyhead.

We were then informed that the train was going to be turned on the triangle at the west end of the station, and, with the signallers' permission we should be able to stay on the train. After another length of time, we were then told this was not possible to leave us on the train whilst they performed this movement, due to Chester North/South Junctions being a goods only link.This I found bemusing, as only fairly recently I traversed this section on a charter train from Hooton towards Wrexham,  by-passing Chester station.

After re-boarding 158 832,we were then informed the train was being failed, and to go to the adjacent platform, where another unit, in the form of 150 227 would be made available [A spare 150 is kept at Chester, we understand.]This unit was to provide a service to Cardiff Central (poor souls) and anyone travelling towards Birmingham would have to change at Shrewsbury into the service from

The 150 unit was held at Chester so as the late running 175 from Holyhead could let its passengers connect for Cardiff. After leaving Rhyl 2 hours before, we finally departed. From Wrexham to Shrewsbury,this unit was very very,cramped.After de-training at Shrewsbury (picture above), it was a mad rush to get onto the Birmingham train-a 4 car unit,comprised of, 158 830 and 158 820. The train was so full that at Telford Central a call was made for passengers to squeeze in even more tightly in order to let the guard back on the train! Still no respite,as a number of Wolverhampton Wanderers supporters added to the chaos, whose team just happened to be playing at home.

At the show was replica Lynton and Barnstaple loco Lyd.

A good model of a Motive Power depot.

A lot of skill went into making this model of Liverpool Lime Street by John Holden. The roof girders were all hand made.

I returned on the 17:09 from Birmingham International to Holyhead, which had arrived from
Pwllheli at 16:50; anyone sitting in the front two cars of the train (158 831) were told when we neared Shrewsbury that we would have to transfer to the two rear cars which were going on to Holyhead. Upon arriving at Chester,we were told to move back to the other two cars, because they had to fail the unit we were now sitting in! Once again I was wedged in a very cramped train.

I have nothing but praise for the Arriva Trains Wales front line staff, who try their best to make use of the equipment that is available to them. Their morale, on a day like this, with a huge game of Rugby at Cardiff, three very busy exhibitions at the NEC, the football matches at Wolverhampton and Aston Villa, plus train failures, together with a lot of disgruntlement from passengers, must be quite low.This not the first time I have endured cramped conditions on a 2 car 158 unit, which are travelling long distances. Either Arriva senior managers don't travel on their trains on a Saturday, or are quite happy with the status quo.

For Sale: Penmaenmawr station house

The following comes to us, with the pictures, from Jacksons estate agents.

Penmaenmawr Station House has been put on the market. Built in 1850 shortly after the Chester - Holyhead Railway Company opened the route, now the link from Holyhead to London Euston, the building is highly visible from the railway and also from the A55 Expressway which runs parallel to the railway at this point, opposite the Station House. Famously, Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone was to put Penmaenmawr firmly on the tourist map and in all likelihood actually set foot inside the Station House, possibly on his first visit in 1855. He continued to visit by Penmaenmawr by rail over a period of 40 years, bathing in the sea and walking the Welsh Mountains. To commemorate his visits a Memorial with his bust was constructed in the village in his honour in 1899.

Over the years the Station House has seen many changes. Decommissioned by British Rail in about 1986, since then it has been used as an Antiques & Reclamation outlet, showroom for a Pine Business, through to it’s current use of workshops and residential.  Today, the Grade 2 listed Station House offers a blank canvas. A solid Victorian building, substantially constructed with heavy granite stone elevations, hewn from the local Quarry (which gave Penmaenmawr its early wealth) under a hipped slated roof, the fabric is as strong as ever although the interior is now in need of a fresh start. The property extends to some 2,220 sq ft of floor space. There are two basement rooms and then the ground floor (the former Station ticket office and waiting rooms) split into a variety of areas and with its own door onto the platform. Independently accessed on the first floor is a massive 3-bedroomed flat with a stunning vista over the North Wales Coastline with sea views to Anglesey, Puffin Island and on a clear day as far as the Isle of Man.

But more importantly the most easterly bedroom has a window specifically designed to give a birds eye view down the line towards Conwy & Llandudno, with the Great Orme clearly visible. Surely this must be every rail enthusiast’s dream bedroom! What the future holds for the Station House is now in the hands on the buyer, whoever he or she may be. With its history of mixed residential and commercial use, the possibilities would seem endless, subject of course to the usual planning obligations. Could it end up as a Guest House, Bunk House or B&B, or with it’s magnificent sea views could it form a substantial family home with a twist? Might it become a Showroom again or even a Restaurant with rooms these are just a few of the ideas being mooted. One thing is certain. To build The Station House today we used a well known house building cost calculator which gave a figure in excess of £250,000, (excluding the plot), yet you can buy this property today for just £127,500!

For more information contact Jacksons on 01492 877441 or email

Coal to Penyffordd

Not often seen on these pages is the train of coal to Penyffordd cement works on the Wrexham - Shrewsbury line, which runs weekly (or less often), from one or other of the UK's coalfields. On 21 November 60 059 Swinden Dalesman hauled the train, 6F41, which had originated from New Cumnock. Andrew Vinten headed it off at Rossett on the single-line section between Saltney Junction and Wrexham (above) When unloaded, the train was to head for Doncaster Decoy yard.

Passing the semaphore signals at Penyffordd station. The small arm on the signal is for movements into the siding where a locos can be run round a train; however this train will proceed pas the site of the closed Hope Exchange station to a point beyond Cement Sidings Ground Frame before reversing the train into the works sidings.  The wagons are open box wagons, code MEA, unloaded by a grab. The official timetable shows 09:10 as passing time at Penyffordd; the picture was taken at 15:10 by Bob Greenalgh.

Marches line resignalling

The new signalling system between Crewe Gresty Lane signalbox and Shrewsbury Crewe Junction signalbox will take over on Monday 10 December The last day of semaphore signalling from the mechanically worked signal boxes at Nantwich, Wrenbury, Prees, Wem, Harlescott Crossing and Shrewsbury (Crewe Bank) is Sunday 9 December. All trains using this section of line will be controlled from the Shrewsbury North panel located in the South Wales Signalling Centre in Cardiff.
This is one of two pilot schemes for Network Rail's 'modular signalling' concept.

We are told that the old signalboxes will remain in situ for one month, before being demolished. Photographers please note.

The closure of Wem signalbox, and the conversion of level crossing to a full-barrier one supervised by CCTV from Cardiff has been controversial, as the crossing, at the convergence of Aston Street, Station Road, and Soulton Road, is said to be the sixth most abused in the country. On the other hand, Councillor Pauline Dee, of Wem Town Council, would like to see the signalbox saved and converted into a new museum or tearoom.

Bangor Repair Shed - last days

We asked in the last issue if anyone had pictures of the elusive 'Repair Shed' at Bangor station, for a modeller in Australia who aims to reproduce it. So far we don't have any pictures of the building in use, but we do have the following written for us from Dave Plimmer whose superb website specialises on chronicling the 1975-83 period. If this views jog your memory and you have any pictures of the building - or complex of buildings as it appears to be - please get in touch. Over to Dave for his pictures and text:

I believe that this 'elusive' structure was the old Civil Engineers workshops - of which there is a paragraph's description in Bill Rear's book. In my time it was derelict, but I have a couple of pictures. The first (above) was taken from Bangor Mountain on 22 April 1976, with nine coal wagons in the adjacent yard sidings, and a couple of tanks in the oil siding.

A zoomed-in view showing the repair shed. Conspicuous behind is the Railway Institute.


A view of 24 082 at Bangor on 31st August 1977, whilst doing the "shunt as required" on its second trip of the day from Llandudno Junction to Amlwch on Trip 46. The derelict workshops are behind, whilst the signalman's car is in front.  The loco is also hiding the oil terminal storage tanks.


I've no definite date for demolition, but it had gone by 8 July 1980, when 40 106 was on the Amlwch Trip. This picture is taking from nearer the signal box, so the angles aren't the same, but there is now a clear view through towards Glanadda.


By 6 August 1983 the new Post Office Sorting Office has been built on the site. It's just visible to the right of 08 023 stabled in the goods yard. Also noticeable is that St David's church has lost its 'mini-spire' from the top of the bell tower.

North Wales electrification?

The sooner the case for a massive upgrade and electrification of the North Wales main line can be made the better, said Welsh Secretary David Jones, speaking before government, business and council representatives met in Llandudno to start preparing a business case.

The UK Government has confirmed plans to electrify the Great Western main line to Swansea, and to electrify commuter lines in the South Wales valleys. The original commitment was to electrify the line between London and Cardiff. Mr Jones said the decision to extend the upgrade further west was 'the consequence of a lot of work by various people including the Wales Office, but also crucially Swansea council who put in a very good business case.'

He went on on to say that a North Wales business case had to be ready in advance of the UK government's next round of long-term plans for the rail network, called a High Level Output Specification (HLOS), in about five years: 'Obviously it's going to be a lengthy process, but we are talking about 105 miles of track from Crewe to Holyhead. The sooner we can start working up a business case for the next HLOS round the better. The upgrade would mean faster and more comfortable trains than the existing diesel trains, and could help attract investors to North Wales. It would be significant and it's important to remember that when inward investors are looking at a location to establish businesses they tend to look at a two-hour journey time to London. At the moment Chester is the limit of that two hours. None of North Wales is.'

It's an interesting thought, but how many North Wales Coast towns can be brought within two hours of London by rail? Rhyl, for example, is 50 miles beyond Chester. But electrification would certainly be beneficial, if only to replace the fuel-hungry and noisy trains in use at present. We hope that the Welsh planners look over the border and don't ignore the Warrington - Chester section in their suggestions, to link from the with old Liverpool and Manchester line which is currently being electrified, and allow Manchester - North Wales trains to be electric. Likewise, Wolverhampton - Shrewsbury - Chester for the Birmingham services.

MOSI and the Ordsall Chord - report by Charlie Hulme

Network Rail has published the route of the 'Ordsall Chord', a new section of line to be built as part of the 'Manchester Hub' project. The idea is to allow through trains to run from Manchester Victoria to Manchester Piccadilly by linking Salford Central Station to the Manchester South Junction line between Castlefield Junction and Ordsall Lane.  Their digital impression, shown above, shows the planned route, which cuts across the formation of the original 1830 Liverpool and Manchester (L & M) Railway, which is now the link to the L & M's original Liverpool Road terminus, now the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI). It has been designed to avoid George Stephenson's  L & M stone bridge, a Grade 1 listed structure, over the Irwell river, which can be seen in the 'V' of the new junction.

All well and good; the museum rarely use their rail connection (although it did see a Royal Train not long ago) but internally to the Museum site a train service is operated for visitors, and trains use part of the doomed section as a headshunt to reverse and serve the lines on either side of the site.

Above is a view taken from approximately when the chord line will cut across. The museum train runs from behind the camera and reverses just before the gate which protects the main line link. The two arms of the internal route are on viaduct, so it's not possible to relocate the junction.

Down in Water Street, I took this picture from a point which, in future, be adjacent to the new viaduct: the 'pig slope' on the left can be seen in Network Rail's picture. The building on the right is part of the museum, being the L & M's stationmaster's house. The adjacent bridge carrying the line over Water Street replaced a much more ornate original version c.1909.

Incurring the wrath of a car park attendant, I managed to reach Stephenson's bridge, which like many L & M structures, is a masterpiece of the stone-mason's art with its complex-shaped stone blocks. On the left edge of the picture is the Manchester South Junction line, with one of the gantries which have recently been erected for the Manchester - Liverpool Electrification scheme.

This old painting, found (mis-labelled) in the BBC Your Paintings collection, appears to date from the very early days of the L & M line in the 1830s, and shows the view from the bridge from the river banks on the opposite side of the line from our picture

Manchester - North Wales trains pass along the Manchester South Junction line past the planned junction. This Llandudno-bound train has just passed under the steel viaduct which now carries Metrolink trams, and is passing the 1970s-built replica of part of the Roman fort which stood on this site. The view is from the top of the stairway which connects the Metrolink level with the street below. Note the gantries awaiting their overhead wires.

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