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17 June 2013
66 168 powers the afternoon steel coils for Shotton through Ruabon on 10 June (Martin Evans).
Don't miss the Llangollen Railway DMU Gala on 22 and 23 June: the timetable for the event is now available on the Llangollen Railcars website. Visitors include single-units 55005 and 55032.
Chester assortment - pictures by Peter Dickinson
At Chester station on 14 June, 'Pacer' 142 064 stands at Platform 5. Northern Rail trains reach Chester from Manchester via Northwich, and also as empty workings which form part of the diagram of the minimal Helsby - Ellesmere Port service. Completists wishing to travel on a train departing from this platform will find it difficult, as (in normal circumstances) nearly all passenger departures are from the adjacent platform 6. The only passenger departures from Platform 5 seerm to be early in the morning and late at night.
Merseyrail Electric 507 003 stands at platform 7b during the four-minute layover permitted by the timetable before setting off again on another run to Liverpool, where it runs round the loop and back to Chester 74 minutes later. Running these 35-year old (although refurbished more recently) trains every 15 minutes, with no chance to recover at the busy Liverpool end, requires a high degree of operating efficiency, and perhaps also some luck. As travellers will testify, it doesn't always happen as planned.
Amey Rail-operated Plasser & Theurer 08-164x4C80-RT Tamper DR73921, a regular visitor to Chester, stands in the sidings opposite Platform 7. The blocks of flats which now for the backscene were built in 1999 on the site of the Chester goods depot sidings; they are in Thomas Brassey Close. Brassey, born near Chester, was the contractor whose men built Chester station as well as much of the line to Holyhead and, it is said, one third of the railways which existed in Britain in 1847. A plaque on the station concourse commemorates him.
About the log trains
Above: 56 087 captured at at Helsby by Andrew Vinten on 13 June hauling 6J37 log train from Carlisle to Chirk.
Some information comes to hand about the log train items in the last issue. The double-headed train on 26 June with the second loco switched off was a positioning move to get 56 302 to Carlisle for driver training after it was taken from Crewe depot the week before due to 66 847 failing on the logs. 56 087 had come up from Hinksey to Warrington and was put on the front but was not able to be connected to work in multiple. The return working from Chirk was only 8 wagons - as the late running meant the customer was unable to fully unload and was double headed to Shrewsbury where due to engineering work it was run round and top-and-tailed back to Carlisle.
The short-formation train on 30 May was run to allow a 17-wagon train of empty wagons to be made up for the return journey, which, as part of the quite complex working of these trains which now serve four originating points, ran to Ribblehead.
Steam meet at Crewe - report by Ian Bowland
There was an interesting movement at Crewe on 14 June when 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe and 46233 Duchess of Sutherland both arrived at Crewe to travel North to Carnforth in readiness for double-heading 'The Cumbrian Conqueror' over Shap and then back to Crewe on 15 June. The 'Castle arrived early from Tyseley and sat in platform 12 together with its support coach, followed by 46233 arriving on time from Butterley, also with support coach.
As the Duchess was approaching the station (above) one of its successors on the West Coast Main Line, a Pendolino, ran alongside and it reminded me of an anecdote from many years ago. After the withdrawal of the 'Coronation' pacifics and when electrification was in full swing, it was reported that the fireboxes of the Duchess class had been recovered and melted down and used to create the copper cable used in the electrification process, it was known as the Duchess Metamorphosis. I don't know if it's true or not but it's a nice story.
Strangely the Duchess buffered up to the Castle's support coach and the ensemble left in a loco-coach-loco-coach formation.
Past Times with John Hobbs - Prestatyn Troughs, Sandy Lane
Ex-LMS Class 5 4-6-0 44832 in fine condition (above) runs off Prestatyn Water Troughs with the 3.38pm (Saturdays Only) Llandudno to Manchester (Exchange) on 16 May 1964; a typical cascade of water falls from the tender. Today the level crossing at Sandy Lane, faces closure and replacement with a bridge due to worries about pedestrian safety. In steam days you could hear the train approaching but even in those days there were fatalities, especially at Abergele, but then the railway was never considered to be at fault.
'Britannia' Class 4-6-2 70021 Morning Star coasts off Prestatyn Water Troughs and leaves fine spray, while following 44832 on the up fast line, with a typical Saturday empty coaching stock train, returning coaches for re-use the following day on excursions to North Wales. Also taken on 16 May 1964. On the left, the reserve tank for the water supply and the illuminated sign for the start of the troughs. In advance of this there would have been a warning board with a zig-zag line.
[Editor's note: water troughs, which allow locomotives to replenish their water supply without stopping, had a long history on the North Wales line, having been the very first to have them. John Ramsbottom, locomotive superintendent of the Northern Division of the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) is believed to have invented the idea. A completely flat stretch of line with slight gradients at each end is essential to prevent the water running away. The first set was installed in 1860 at Mochdre, and later moved to Aber.]
44765, a double-chimney 'Black Five' also fitted with Timken roller bearings, leaves Prestatyn with a down relief train on the evening of the 16 May 1964; the engine is being pounded, just a bit, in order to gain enough speed to pick up water from the troughs which lie immediately ahead. I remember the lovely deep exhaust beat of these double chimney locomotives.
An interesting email from Peter Richmond refers to two archive pictures we have featured recently. First, the mystery location of the railtour with 44680 (see 3 June issue). Peter writes: 'I live on the Wirral and often cycle across the bridge from where the photograph was taken. I have checked and it is definitely near to Mollington at Demage Lane.'
Peter continues: 'What is even more interesting is GWR 2-6-2T 4148 as pictured by John Hobbs under repair at Chester (Midland) shed (6A) on 9 August 1964. I actually recall going around Chester sheds on a Sunday in August 1964 and seeing what my memory says was two GWR prairie tanks - but time distorts so it may have been one Happy days in 1964. This one or two were the only engines of this class I ever saw at Chester.'
Also of relevance, and drawn to our attention by Peter, is a picture posted on Flickr by David Christie showing the same loco and captioned 'Pannier 7428 in GWR livery - also 51xx class 4148 and an unidentified Hall. These were taken at Oswestry from my passing train on 22 June 1964.' A correspondent commenting on the the Flickr picture writes: 'It would seem that the 51xx Class 2-6-2T No 4148 and 6930 Aldersey Hall arrived at Oswestry locked together after being in a collision at either Shrewsbury or Oxley ... Although there is no visible damage to either locomotives in your photograph I can confirm that the front end of the Hall is completely smashed in and is minus her connecting rods ... By the time your photograph was taken the two engines had been parted and were awaiting repairs at the works.'
The power of the internet! But why was 4148 moved to Chester?
Out and about
While cycling from Manchester to North Wales, Greg Mape took this image of the poor old British Railways ship Duke of Lancaster rusting away since 1979 in its dry berth near Mostyn, one of the 'sights' of the North Wales line. The owners have been in a long dispute with the council about its future use, and last year invited some artists to use it as a canvas. We have resisted including pictures of the result, described as a 'masterpiece' by the Daily Mail. The picture shows the less-afflicted side; Google will help you if you would like to enjoy the view; we wonder what HM the Queen thinks of the fate of the ship named after her.
Another, more salubrious, classic ship currently visible from Coast line trains is the hotel ship MS Wind Solution which is providing workers' accommodation during construction of the Gwent y Mor wind farm. Originally built in 1969 as the Princessan Christina, she initially worked on the ferry service between Gotherburg and Friedrikshavn, and has had a varied career, as her entry in The Ferry website reveals.
150 285 on the Crewe - Chester shuttle at Waverton, 31 May (Tim Rogers).
BR Standard 2-6-4T 80072 rests at Llangollen before taking the 3pm Service to Carrog on 11 June (Martin Evans).
20 309 and 20 305 pass Rhosneigr with the flasks from Valley on 14 June (Peter Basterfield).
175 116 at Abergele on the 17.21 Cardiff - Holyhead, 6 June (Roly High).
97 302 catches the last of the sun's rays while passing Barmouth on an engineer's train on the evening of 6 June. Picture by 'Dunstable Dasher.'
An early start at Chester for John Murray to catch the morning express towards Cardiff, with 67 001 providing the power.
The evening Cardiff - Holyhead arrives at Rhyl on 13 June; picture sequence by Roly High.
On the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland - pictures by Ben Bucki
Ffestiniog Railway Double Fairlie Earl of Merioneth crosses Cae Mawr embankment (above), near Penrhyndeudraeth with an afternoon service to Porthmadog from Blaenau Ffestiniog, on 29 May.
Ffestiniog Railway new-build Lyd (a replica Lynton and Barnstaple loco) crosses the Cae Mawr embankment, with an afternoon train to Blaenau Ffestiniog on 29 May.
Ffestiniog Railway Double Fairlie Earl of Merioneth slowly crosses the Cob embankment towards Porthmadog Harbour Station, from the sheds at Boston Lodge, on 29 May.
Seen at low angle from the path alongside the line, former South African Railways Garratt loco 143 heads into the Glaslyn Pass with a train towards Porthmadog, on the Welsh Highland Railway, 1 June 2013.
And finally ...
A novel idea from Huddersfield station, spotted by Chris Taylor in the Huddersfield Examiner:
Felix the cat has got station staff in a right flap. The moggy, who has been adopted as the official Huddersfield railway station cat, has been awarded a special treat by leading train operator First TransPennine Express. She has her very own personalised cat flap to allow easy access through the newly-installed platform ticket barriers. Felix has been the Huddersfield station cat for nearly two years and is a much-loved member of the team who is also popular with commuters.
Paul Jackson, station manager at Huddersfield, said: 'Customers and staff hold Felix in great affection and she’s very much part of daily life here at the station. We strive to offer the best service possible to both passengers and their four-legged friends and we know Felix is certainly the cat that got the cream with her very own VIP entrance and exit.'
After seeing the prototype undergo testing, one regular commuter added: 'I’ve heard that every dog has its day but Felix must be smiling like the Cheshire Cat at the sight of this.'
Surely a cat can get under station ticket barriers?
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