Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

12 August 2013

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Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

August 2013

Saturday 17 August  Steam on the Coast Vintage Trains 'The Welsh Dragon' Tyseley - Llandudno Junction and return. Loco 5043. Times: Outward / Return

Saturday 17 August Excursion NENTA Train tours: Llandudno & Ffestiniog Explorer Norwich - Blaenau Ffestiniog (fully booked). Traction: WCRC 47 /57.

Sunday 18 August Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Crewe - Holyhead, steam-hauled Manchester Piccadilly - Altrincham - Chester - Holyhead and return. Note change of route.  Times: Outward / Return

Tuesday 20 August Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'The Welsh Mountaineer' 
Preston-Frodsham-Llandudno Jc -Blaenau Ffestiniog and return. Loco 45305 or 61994.  Times: Outward / Return

Thursday 22 August Talyllyn Railway Children's 'Duncan' Day

Saturday 24 August Excursion Compass Tours Perth - Holyhead. Traction: WCRC diesels. Times: Outward / Return

Saturday 24 August Wirral 0 Gauge Group Open Day,  Unit 7, The Odyssey Centre, Corporation Road,
Birkenhead  CH41 1HB American model trains running 13:00 to 17:00.  Admission £2 - ample free parking. Nearest Station Birkenhead Park. Contact 0151 653 0637or j.elliott37[at] for more information. 

30-31 August and 1 September  Llangollen Railway Steam gala

September 2013

Sunday 1 September Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' steam-hauled Manchester Piccadilly - Altrincham - Chester - Holyhead and return. Note, does not start from Crewe due to engineering works. Cancelled.

Tuesday 3 September Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'The Welsh Mountaineer' 
Preston  - Frodsham - Llandudno Jc - Blaenau Ffestiniog and return. Loco 45305 or 61994.

Friday 6 September  Clwyd Railway Circle Larry Davies  '1962, A year of so much change'  Major changes were about to happen on the national network; Larry shares his observations with us.

Sunday 8 September Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' steam-hauled Liverpool - Chester - Holyhead and return. Note change of route.

Wednesday 11 September Excursion Mid-Cheshire Rail Users Association Settle & Carlisle Express Scenic Railtour. Outward journey via the Settle & Carlisle Railway, a stopover in Carlisle and returning via the Cumbrian Coast line. This year the train starts at Hooton, then picks up at Chester, most stations on the Mid Cheshire Line, Stockport and Reddish South. As usual, there are reserved seats, a buffet car, trolley service and a MCRUA detailed route description.

Saturday 14 September Llangollen Railway Murder Mystery evening

Saturday 21 September Llangollen Railway Diesel Day

28 September Community Rail Festival at Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog in conjunction with the Community rail awards.

October 2013

Friday 4 October   Clwyd Railway Circle   Ian Mainprize  'Narrow Gauge Railways of the Harz Mountains' The talk comprises a section by section description of the narrow-gauge system, each section being illustrated by a map followed by photographs taken by Ian during the early 1990's. The history, infrastructure, rolling stock and locomotives are covered, and the railways are placed in context with regard to the history, geography and people of the area.

Saturday 5 October Steam at Chester West Coast Railway Company 'Welsh Borders Steam Special.' Cleethorpes - Shrewsbury and return. Steam-hauled Crewe - Chester - Shrewsbury - Whitchurch - Crewe by 44932, 45699, 46115, or 48151.

5/6th October Manchester Model Railway Society Exhibition Armitage Centre, Moseley Road, Fallowfield, Manchester M14 6ZT.

12 October Llangollen Railway Real Ale Train evening

Saturday 19 October Steam at Chester West Coast Railway Company 'The Cheshireman' Cleethorpes - Chester. Steam-hauled by 70013: Cleethorpes - Doncaster - Sheffield - Altrincham - Chester - Doncaster.

19-20 October Llangollen Railway Days Out with Thomas

26-27 October  Llangollen Railway Days Out with Thomas

31 Oct  Llangollen Railway Ghost Train evening

November 2013

Friday 1 November   Clwyd Railway Circle  Paul Davies   'The Buckley Railway and the Industries it served' The talk celebrates the 150th Anniversary of the railway.     

Saturday 2 November  Llangollen Railway Murder Mystery evening

Saturday 2 November  Wirral '0 Gauge' Group Open Day,  Unit 7, The Odyssey Centre, Corporation Road, Birkenhead  CH41 1HB British model trains running 13:00 to 17:00. Admission £2 - ample free parking. Nearest Station Birkenhead Park. Contact 0151 653 0637 or j.elliott37[at] for more information. 

Sunday 3 November Llangollen Railway Ride the Rocket evening

9-10 November Llangollen Railway Remembrance Weekend

30 November Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

December 2013

1 December Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

Friday 6 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 no later than 16th November by telephoning David Jones.

7-8 December Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

14-15 December Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

20-24 December Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

7 December Llangollen Railway Real Ale Train evening

26-31 December  Llangollen Railway Mince Pie Specials.

January 2014

1 January 2014 Llangollen Railway Mince Pie Specials.

Friday 3 January   Clwyd Railway Circle  David Rapson  'Wrexham to Bidston Line' A history of the route illustrated with pictures covering the last 70 years.

February 2014

Friday 7 February    Clwyd Railway Circle   Brian Bollington & Peter Hanahoe  'Polish Steam' The presentation is a mix of slide shows and video showing steam on the national network, including shed scenes, taken in the 1990’s.  

March 2014

Friday 7 March    Clwyd Railway Circle    The Committee & David Southern AGM followed by the talk 'Railways of the Wirral'    After the formality is over, we can look forward to Dave sharing his railway experiences of 60 years living on the Wirral.

April 2014

Friday 4 April    Clwyd Railway Circle   Ron Watson-Jones   'The Irish Mail Train Crash at Penmaenmawr Aug 1950' Ron’s account of the accident on 27th August 1950.

67 001 propels the Summer Saturday extra train, 1K52 09:56 Holyhead - Crewe past Llanfair PG on 10 August. Picture by Ken Robinson.

Fifteen Guinea Special re-lived - report by George Jones


I belatedly decided I must commemorate 11.8.68 and the sight of the rerun of the 'fifteen guinea' last day of steam special. As Merseyrail could not conveniently deliver me to Lime Street station due to the Loop being closed, I took the car to Liverpool South Parkway in the hope of seeing the special, re-routed due to engineering works,  pass. I was in luck and with a select band of aged rail fans saw 45305 on the approach and into the station where it would take the connection to the Cheshire Lines route towards Warrington Central at 10:09. However, the signalman had the road set for Runcorn! Fortunately the footplate crew recognised the error and stopped the train in platform 1 at Liverpool South Parkway, so we had an extra few minutes whilst the signalman ascertained the required routing and reset the road to allow the train to head for Warrington and Manchester Piccadilly where it would reverse at Longsight before heading for the Settle - Carlisle route to Carlisle.
45 years ago I came back from seeing 1T57 at Manchester Exchange using the CLC route from Central and alighted at Allerton to get the bus home. I told my father I had just witnessed the last steam train departure, a fact he found hard to believe. Fortunately, as we all now know, it wasn't the end of steam on the main line, but back then it was unbelievable a Black 5 would again exit Lime Street as the shutters had come down.
Back in the present, I took a Northern 156 into Lime Street - it was surprisingly full at 10:30 on a Sunday and Lime Street was quite busy too. I came back on a TransPennine 185 headed for Scarborough - this three-coach unit was full and standing leaving Liverpool,  an expression of the totally inadequate provision of seats at a time when rail is enjoying a comeback.  It was glad to get off at Liverpool South Parkway but the young Japanese lad standing with me looked forward to a long stand all the way to Leeds ... My picture (above) shows 45305 stopped at Parkway and 'blowing off'. I almost felt 26 again!

Taken by J.W.Sutherland, and included here by courtesy of Mrs Sutherland, a look at the scene on 11 August 1968 at Manchester Victoria with 45110 on the '1T57' special. 45110 still exists, but is not currently working. Back in 1968, 45305 had been scheduled to work the special, had been failed with a collapsed firebox brick arch; 45 years later, its chance came. This time, the second fare was £109, with to Premier Dining at £259.  Fifteen guineas in 1968 is equivalent to £231 in 2012 using the retail price index, or £430 using average earnings. Enthusiasm of the kind shown in the picture is not to be tolerated in this century!

A visit to Llynclys - with Martin Evans

On Saturday 10 August I paid a visit to the Cambrian Heritage Railways Llynclys site and found Ruston 0-4-0DE '11517' (works no 458641) operating the service to Pen Y Garreg Lane.

Also Class 08 D3019 was noticed on site but not in use currently out of action awaiting repairs.

Editor's note: '11517' came to Llynclys in 2011 from the Chasewater Railway where it had gained its fictional British Railways livery and number. BR did have some of the type, but this one worked for industrial concerns - the Manchester Ship Canal and the National Coal Board it seems. It was built in 1963 to a basic design dating back, in its diesel-electric form at least, to 1950.

Peak Forest interludes - by David Parry

Over the last couple of Fridays, I have had the opportunity to spend an hour or so in the Peak Forest area in search of interesting freight movements to photograph. The remaining section of the old Midland Railway main line through the Peak District from Ambergate to Manchester is still bristling with semaphore signals, which add to the attractions for the railway photographer.

The former Peak Forest station, one of those 'railway misnomers' as it is some miles from the village of that name, provides accommodation to the DB Schenker operation in the area, so there is often activity in the yard and in connection with the Doveholes Quarry and DBS sidings, while most trains to and from the Tunstead complex pass through.   Peak Forest still has a classic signal box which, though externally modified, still projects a Midland appearance.

On Friday 2 August, I arrived around 11:30 and, as well as some movement around the yard, within just over an hour three non-DBS trains passed through, though I learnt subsequently that the empties from Northwich, often featured in these pages, had arrived about two hours earlier that the working timetable time [as it does most days.- C.H.].  At 12:05, a loaded GBRf limestone train, headed by 66 705 Golden Jubilee.  passed through on the way from Tunstead to, I believe, Brentford Town (picture above).

This was followed at 12:25 by a Freightliner empty hopper train to Tunstead, headed by 66 596, while DBS 66 250, still in EWS livery, waited at the head of a limestone train and 66 185, resplendent in DB Schenker livery, made its way up the Doveholes Quarry sidings to fetch some empty wagons (above).

Then, at 12:34, a Freightliner empty hopper train arrived behind 66 605, having to wait for a while at the Peak Forest home signal.

By 12:43, 66 185 had moved fourteen empty mineral hoppers to the loading siding, in the shadow of a mountain of crushed limestone awaiting loading.

On Friday 9 August, I called at nearby Great Rocks Junction at 14:22 just as 60 020 was arriving 'light engine' and crossing over to the Tunstead line, suggesting that a Tunstead - Oakleigh limestone train was imminent.

At 14:48, a Freightliner empty hopper train, hauled by 66 619, followed towards Tunstead, pausing briefly at the signal box – not quite such a picturesque example as at Peak Forest, though the semaphores add interest to the location.

At 15:13, 60 020 returned with a train of loaded limestone hoppers, the afternoon Tunstead - Oakleigh run.

Note: for those interested in the complex railway and industrial history of this fascinating area, an excellent new illustrated book published under the Book Law / Foxline imprint, entitled Over the Peak: Chinley to Peak Forest and written by former Buxton-based train driver J.M. Bentley, will be available in all the best bookshops very soon. Through Limestone Hills by Bill Hudson (OPC, 1989) also has a wealth of information and photographs about the Ambergate to Chinley line.

Single units in North Wales - report by 'Concrete Bob'

Following the appearance of two single-unit railcars Llangollen DMU gala, the question arose  'Are there any records of these Class 121 and 122 units operating on the ordinary lines in North Wales?' Hmm, sort of; 55005 and 55006 were allocated to Chester from January to May 1986, and later  TDB975023 (55001) from June 1988 to October 1990. These are dates published in the journals of the time, such as Motive Power Monthly. Above, 55005 is seen at Chester depot.

Above, 55006, also seen at Chester. 5 and 6 came from Newton Heath (on paper), and had previously been used between Stockport and Stalybridge; they may have in fact come from Longsight (I photographed at least one there), and they may have retained that work whilst at Chester. I believe the plan was to deploy them on the Wrexham - Bidston line, and received wisdom is that they were too small for the traffic on offer at some times during the day. There may be others who have recorded this use. [Any offers?]  They went off to Plymouth, once finished with at Chester.


TDB 975023, formerly 55001, was a bit decrepit to say the least, with a hole in the floor covered by a concrete trough lid at one end. Nevertheless, it served where needed, including a six week use on route learning duties in the Wigan / Ince Moss area in 1993 (when allocated to Longsight - Chester lost its allocation in September 1990) to cover the training precipitated by transference of ballast tipping from Mold Junction to Ince Moss.

It was photographed in the old coal yard car park at Wigan North Western on road learning duties. This was the nearest siding that gave access to the world famous (in Wigan) Poole's Pie shop on Wallgate; that unit went over nearly every inch of track in Wigan, including Springs Branch. By that time, it had gained the legend 'Thunderbird 1' and whitewall tyres; must have been something in the pies...

Beyond the above, I have no photographic or anecdotal evidence to answer the question about North Wales positively. The 1980s and early nineties have some interest for the DMU enthusiast, with introduction of sprinters, parcels units and a very fluid allocation regime. All three of the cars pictured here still exist.

Here's another picture from the J.W.Sutherland archive. 55005 makes its way across Stockport Viaduct (before it was cleaned), working the 09:03 Stalybridge - Stockport, with an assortment of the then-numerous 'Selnec Standard' buses in the bus station below.

Freight update

66 007 powering through Ruabon on Saturday 10 August with the 6V75 steel empties for Margam, S. Wales (Martin Evans).

On 8 August, 20 302 and 20 305 head west through Llanfair PG with two flasks in tow (Peter Basterfield). They ran 16 minutes early out of Llandudno Junction ...

... and ran about 100 minutes ahead of the booked out of Valley for the return trip, following the 1331 Bangor - Manchester passenger service along the coast. Peter Basterfield's picture is taken at Glan-y-Mor Elias foot crossing just before Lanfairfechan.

GBRf 20 901 and BR blue 20 107 approach Widney Manor (between Birmingham and Warwick) at 19:58 on 7 August with the 15:54 Derby Litchurch Lane - Amersham, returning a rectified S8 unit to London Underground. These trains are fairly regular runners on Mondays and Wednesdays with new S7 or overhauled S8 units from either Old Dalby or Derby with trains for overhaul running northbound from Amersham - Litchurch Lane, sporadically on Tuesdays.

Realtimetrains is very useful for tracking these trains, and indeed any others. If you want to see freight trains, be sure to choose the 'Advanced' tab. Click on the headcode, or FGRT, to see the running of the train. Those with a date and time 'Activated' are the ones lilely to run; actual real-time times are shown in bold type.

A tenuous connection with North Wales: Harry Needle pair 20 311 and 20 314 used on the GBRf charter to Llandudno and Holyhead on 27 July bring up the rear of the train at Widney Manor. Both pictures by Chris Morrison.


Barmouth viaduct from above, 9 August (Ian Wright).

Shipping news: Cruise ship Celebrity Infinity berthed at Liverpool Cruise Terminal on 10 August, taking on fuel from tanker Mersey Spirit. Picture by Chris Morrison.

Network Rail Multi-Purpose vehicle  (MPV) 98961 and 98911 at Gobowen on Thursday 8 August, apparently it worked a circuit from Bescot to Bescot via Wrexham and Chester. Picture by Martin Evans.

The signaller's view of 45231 The Sherwood Forester passing Llandudno Junction with the North Wales Coast Express, 4 August (Alan Roberts).

The signaller's view of the entrance to the sidings at Llandudno Junction. These sidings are still officially part of the Network. The linkages for the points worked from the signalbox haven't been disconnected from the signalbox, although we believe the hand-worked turnouts at the Queens Roadd end of yard cannot be operated and are firmly 'stuck.'  Picture by Alan Roberts.

Award for the Talyllyn Railway

On 26 July at Tywyn, the Talyllyn Railway was presented with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. This award recognises the work that volunteers of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society have contributed to preserving and operating the Railway since 1951. The criterion for the award states that it is ‘given for outstanding achievement by groups of volunteers who regularly devote their time to helping others in the community, improving the quality of life and opportunity for others and providing an outstanding service.’

Various dignitaries gathered at Tywyn Wharf station on the Talyllyn Railway on Friday 26th July 2013, in order to ride a special train to Abergynolwyn station where the Lord-Lieutenant of Gwynedd was to present the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.  The train itself also had appropriate royal connections for the week that Prince George was born. This was because the presentation party travelled in the same carriage that Princess Diana had used in when she and Prince Charles visited the Railway in 1982, which was only a few months after Prince William was born.

After travelling up the line to the Railway’s terminus at Nant Gwernol the train returned to Abergynolwyn station where the Lord-Lieutenant, His Honour Huw Morgan Daniel, presented the award on behalf of the Queen, to Richard Hope, President of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society, in the form of a special certificate and also a commemorative piece of crystal inscribed with the award’s insignia. In turn Mr. Hope thanked the Lord-Lieutenant for coming to present the award, and stated that he was delighted to accept it on behalf of the Society, saying that it was a great honour to be recognised in this way. Mr. Bill Heynes, Vice-chairman of the Society, who had also been the driver of locomotive No.2 on its journey, also spoke. He commented that the award not only recognised the work of the current generation, but also of those, sadly no longer with us, who had done so much to preserve the Railway in previous years.

Pictures by Eryl Crump. Text from the Talyllyn Railway.

Liverpool terminations - report by George Jones

With the loop line closed for maintenance, Merseyrail trains have been terminating at James Street and on Friday 26 July I went to see how things were working. Alternae trains from the Wirral lines, Chester, West Kirby and New Brighton, where using platform 1 (start of the loop line) or platform 2 (the original Mersey Railway unrestored platform) to terminate and work back out from. Platform 3 the restored outward bound platform was out of use. Ellesmere Port services are mainly reduced to a shuttle to and from Hooton.
The arrangement seemed to be working well and James Street with its lift access was coping with the mid-morning crowds - almost like the pre-loop line days when it was a major access point for the Wirral lines, although some passengers were bemused at the need to alight short of their intended destination, despite all the Merseytravel publicity about loop line closure.
The photo opportunities underground are challenging but my pocket Canon coped well with the minimum light, as in the view (above) of 508 103 having terminated from Chester in platform 2, otherwise known by some as the emergency platform. It is not normally used by train services on what was the direct line into Central Low Level. I think the vault that is the interior of the original James Street comes out well along with the Mersey Railway tiling and latter day artistic works that adorned the walls. Platform 3 remains lit up opposite although not in use and not accessible for what would have been a better photo.

The scene in Platform 2 with 507 015. The Loop line itself is now open again, but the Lime Street closure lasts until 22 August: see the information page from Merseytravel.

Manx Transport Festival 2013 - report by David Hennessey

Following on from my 2011 and 2012 (mis)adventures to Manx land, a third bout of travelling on the Island's famous rail, tram and bus systems was in order for 2013. What follows is what I got up to during the week I was there.

Monday 22 July:After arriving in Douglas (the island's capital) on the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's Seacat Manannan from Liverpool, my first objective was to see the various horse tram services terminating a stone's throw away, at the Jubilee Clock near the Sea Terminal. As luck would have it, and as it was a fairly glorious afternoon, Ian and open top double decker Car 18 - which only comes out once a day, depending on the weather - was stood there. They picked up their passengers before setting off along the promenade to Douglas Derby Castle. I would've gone for a ride, but I had a taxi to my hotel to wait for...

Later, after checking in to my hotel, I went back to Jubilee Clock to catch my first horse tram of the year; Douglas (the horse, that is!) and open top single decker Car 21 were there (picture above.) Having climbed aboard, we trotted off to Douglas Derby Castle, where I was to do a quick session of observing what was going on at the Electric Railway (a few inbound services coming in and retiring empty to the Car Sheds for the day), and have some beer and a meal at the Terminus Tavern nearby.

Tuesday 23 July: Tuesday dawned with thick mist around the Douglas area, but that didn't deter me from what I had planned for the morning. One thing I had planned to do before arriving on the island, was to walk along the Marine Drive, a coastal footpath that traces (as much as possible) the route of the Douglas Southern Electric Tramway; the island's only standard gauge line ever built, and one that has long since vanished.

To do this walk, I had to catch an Isle of Man Steam Railway service to Port Soderick and set off on foot from there. Whilst waiting, I spotted Beyer Peacock 2-4-0 tank 8 Fenella and a single coach, ready and waiting to leave for a run up the line on 'driver experience' duty. Meanwhile, fellow Beyer Peacock tank 4 Loch was turned out, ready to work the first trip of the day along the 13 mile route to Port Erin (the only remaining section of the island's railway system, that once served Peel and Ramsey).

Shortly after hopping off the train at Port Soderick, I walked down the road to find Marine Drive, and despite the thick mist, I was ready to go for it. The walk roughly took me about an hour and a half, from Port Soderick to the toll-gate at Marine Drive which serves as the only remaining structure on the Douglas Southern Electric Tramway. After looking at the hillside Camera Obscura along the way, I descended into Douglas to have a spot of lunch.

Later, after taking another horse tram ride to Douglas Derby Castle (with Una and Car 43), I boarded Manx Electric Railway 'Tunnel' Car 6 to Laxey. The former mining village was bustling with some activity, as Car 6 was drawn alongside 'Unvestibuled Saloon' Car 2 (which along with sister Car 1, is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest working tram in the world) and trailer 60 on a private charter to Ramsey; a trio of private charters was being run by the Isle of Man 50 Group, using three car/trailer sets in the morning and the afternoon. The Snaefell Mountain Railway was also in operation with a few cars coming in and out; Car 1 among them, looking smart in its '1890's' blue and white livery.

MER 'Crossbench' Car 16 and trailer 51 soon turned up from Ramsey; Car 16 had been involved earlier with the Isle of Man 50 Group charters, and had been pressed into passenger service soon afterwards. Returning to Douglas, she formed the last departure of the day to Ramsey just after 16:00, which meant she would be on the first Ramsey to Douglas service the next day.

Wednesday 24 July: On the day when the Manx Transport Festival got underway, I went up on the Electric Railway from Douglas to Dhoon Quarry (North of Laxey), where I was to catch Car 16 and trailer 51 back to Laxey.

I then spent a short period of watching and recording the many MER and Snaefell trams coming in and out of the station (which I believe is due to be revamped in the coming years). MER Car 2 turned up with Mail Van 4 (above); these, along with a trailer car, would form a Laxey to Douglas postal special later in the day, the letters (with special one-day cover stamps) being conveyed from the Summit at Snaefell.

After an out-and-back run to Minorca (on Car 16, returning with 'Winter Saloon' Car 20), another out-and-back run from Laxey to Douglas was made with Car 2; this vehicle had returned to service earlier in 2013, having been sidelined for a few years with a few technical issues. I then stuck with Car 2 for a ride up to Ramsey, where another surprise was waiting.

The Jurby Transport Museum (situated in the North-West of the Island) had sent the Ramsey Queen's Pier Tramway's 'Planet Hibberd' four-wheeled diesel loco and single passenger coach for display at the station. This duo were often seen in operation on the Ramsey Queen's Pier from (circa) 1930 to the early 1980's when the pier was closed to the public. The plucky little loco and coach were thankfully retained, and recently found a home in the Jurby Transport Museum. Whether or not the Queen's Pier will be opened again, remains to be seen.

On the return to Douglas, Car 2 and trailer 48 picked up Mail Van 4 (which had been loaded with the post transferred from a Snaefell Mountain Railway service), and away we went. A very satisfactory conclusion to my third day on the Island.

Thursday 25 July: Day two of the Manx Transport Festival 2013, and the Steam Railway was next to get my attention. The day had dawned cloudy and wet; a shower broke out over Douglas station, but that didn't deter me from getting a few snaps. Unfortunately, one of the stalwart Beyer Peacock 2-4-0 tank engines, number 4 Loch, was struggling to get up steam, meaning a 15 minute delay to a packed-out 09:50 departure to Port Erin. Luckily, another loco was available, in the form of Manx Northern Railway Dubs 0-6-0 tank number 4 (Isle of Man Railway 15) Caledonia; back in service in early 2013 after a lengthy overhaul.

Caledonia took the first train of the day along the 13 mile route - the only remaining section of the once-vast 3ft gauge railway network stretching to Peel, Port Erin, Ramsey and Foxdale - passing Beyer Peacock tank 10 G.H Wood at Ballasalla. On arrival at Port Erin, some classic cars, a steam-powered lorry and a traction engine were on display on the platform. A quick visit to the nearby railway museum (to see retired Beyer Peacock tanks 6 Peveril and 16 Mannin) was also made.

After a lunchtime layover, I went to Castletown behind Beyer Peacock tank 12 Hutchinson, where Loch (which had regained enough steam by this point) and replica open wagon M.78, complete with an old-fashioned car for a load, steamed past and reversed to couple up to the rear of the Douglas bound service, which departed after G.H Wood (above) arrived with a train for Port Erin.

An hour later, another crossover was made, with G.H Wood bound for Douglas, and Caledonia (above) going the other way to Port Erin.

That evening, Loch operated the 'Rail Ale' excursion to Port Erin, with four of the railway's corridor stock; most passengers taking advantage of alcoholic refreshment served from the bar vehicle en route! After an hour in Port Erin (sampling a few pints of Bushy's beer in the process), it was back to Douglas for the night.

Friday 26 July: Day three of the 2013 Festival, and it was back to the Manx Electric Railway for the day's action. The MER saw a great deal of activity, with as many cars and trailers turned out for public service as possible. The intense timetable ran accordingly, apart from a mishap when 'Winter Saloon' Car 22 had trouble between Groudle and Laxey.

At Douglas, the car sheds and workshops at Douglas Derby Castle were opened for an opportunity for public visits. Car 2 was on display, along with Mail Van 4 and a selection of trailers; some in traffic, and some stored. A few attractions however, were a quartet of long-stored 'Ratchet' vehicles which had been spruced up for public inspection. The sad and deplorable state of the vehicles was all to evident, but Car 18 had been spruced up as much as possible. It remains to be seen whether or not any of these cars will ever run again, having been withdrawn in the 1970s and 1980s when tourism on the Island was in some sort of decline. (Having said that, Car 18 only just managed to make it into the current millennium before being withdrawn.)

In the evening, a special excursion was run, visiting ever terminating stop throughout the MER's 120-year history, including Groudle, Laxey, Bulgham and Ramsey. 'Tunnel' Car 7 and trailer 51 (above) were pressed into action for the purpose, with the surprise addition of wagon 8 at Laxey. The tour lasted about four hours (leaving Douglas at 18:00 and arriving back just after 22:00), and had many photographic stops along the way. Above, Manx Electric Railway Car 7, trailer 51 and wagon 8 seen at Dreemskerry near Ramsey, on the outward leg of the 'Terminus Tour'.

Saturday 27 July: Day four of the festival, and a morning trip to Peel was made. The Isle of Man Steam Railway was commemorating the 140th anniversary of the opening of the Douglas to Peel line in 1873. The Peel line was the first of the four 3ft gauge lines to be opened - the other three going to Port Erin in 1874, Ramsey in 1879 and Foxdale in 1886 - and served the small fishing town until closure in 1968. All that is left today is the station building (which now serves as a visitor centre), a water tower, a short platform, a carriage body, a short piece of track and a pair of level crossing gates.

Beyer Peacock 2-4-0 tank 8 Fenella (built in 1894) had been transported to the station site for display. On my visit that morning, the sunny weather and the marina as a backdrop completed the picture. Sadly she wasn't in light steam; probably just as well since the track wasn't long enough for her to move up and down on anyway!

Back in Douglas that afternoon, a trip to the Groudle Glen Railway was in order. The 'line that goes uphill to the sea' (usually open on Sundays and Summer Wednesday evenings) had a special Saturday timetable in operation. The veteran Bagnall 2-4-0 tank loco Sea Lion and her rake of four-wheeled Victorian carriages made the journey on the 2ft gauge line from Lhen Coan in the tree-smattered glen, to Sea Lion Rocks on the clifftops.

Another attraction on this day, was the appearance of the railway's latest addition to the steam fleet; the eccentric, yet inimitable 'Steamplex'. This bizarre four-wheeled machine is basically a vertical steam boiler mounted on the frames of a former Simplex diesel loco, hence the name 'Steamplex'. The boiler powers a single cylinder, which in turn operates the drive shaft powering the wheels. Privately owned by a volunteer on the railway, built by the Alan Keef Works of Ross-on-Wye and delivered to the railway in early 2013, the Steamplex has proved itself to be a very popular machine when in service. And the day of my visit was no exception, when she shared the passenger turns with Sea Lion, by taking a single carriage through the Glen and back.

While on the subject of locos, the Groudle Glen is presently in the process of creating a new locomotive to replace the long-departed resident Bagnall loco Polar Bear, which now resides at the Amberley Chalk Pits Museum in Sussex, and is unlikely to ever return to the Isle of Man. The new locomotive is to be called Brown Bear, since Brown Bears were another attraction at the Polar Bear & Sea Lion Zoo which closed in the early 1960s. The project has already made some progress (the frames and a few small items have already been cast), but a great deal of funding is needed. For more information, head to the Groudle Glen Railway's website:

The day was rounded off with a cruise on the Karina (a small boat), taking in Douglas Bay, Sea Lion Rocks and Port Soderick.

Sunday 28 July: The fifth and final day of the festival, and it was back to the Manx Electric Railway. However, having travelled from Douglas to Laxey on 'Crossbench' Car 32 and Mail Van 4, a morning diversion was made to make a quick trip to Snaefell Summit on the 3ft 6" gauge tramway of the same name. The journey uphill offered the usual spectacular view of the famed water wheel Lady Isabella (alias the Laxey Wheel), and Laxey village itself.

At the time of writing, a short section of line near Bungalow had been reduced to single-track working due to land subsidence, no doubt caused by the harsh Winter and Spring weather earlier in 2013. Repairs are reportedly now under way, and it is hoped that this stretch of line will be returned to two-track operation soon.

After a 25 minute break at the Summit, it was straight back down to join Manx Electric Railway 'Unvestibuled Saloon' Car 1 and trailer 51, for a ride up to Ramsey. After an out-and-back run from Ramsey to Ballaglass (in the middle of nowhere!), another attraction was waiting. Car 32 was giving the public an opportunity to drive a Manx Electric Railway car (under supervision) from Ramsey to Lewaigue and back, for just £5. Naturally, this was an opportunity that yours truly found too good to miss!

That evening, I took a ride from Douglas to Laxey onboard one of the Jurby Transport Museum's preserved buses; a Douglas Corporation AEC Regent III double decker bus. At Laxey, an event called 'Food for Thought' was held at the Pavilion Hotel; a barbeque and a slide show given by the Manx Electric Railway Society.

Monday 29 July: The last day on the island and another journey over the Irish Sea loomed, but not before I made one last visit to Douglas Derby Castle. Manx Electric Railway Car 2 and trailer 59 arrived on the first Ramsey departure of the day, and after a brief turnaround, set off again.

All too soon, it was time for me to head to the Douglas Sea Terminal to catch the Manannan back to Liverpool; a third successful visit to the Isle of Man in the can.

The author posing with Manx Electric Railway Car 32 at Ramsey; a very happy customer of the 'motorman taster' sessions. More pictures on my Flickr site.

Gloucester Warwickshire diesel gala - pictures by Richard Putley

On 26 July I called in at Toddington on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway and was rewarded with the sight of newly restored Peak class diesel 45 149 running, still in undercoat!

Also running was newly restored class 26 D5343 (above) ...

 ... class 20 D8137, 47 376 and one of their 3-car suburban DMUs.

Also on display was a GWR lorry ...

 ... and preserved West Midlands Travel Leyland National bus 7037 (DOC 37V), new in 1980, which was making its first appearance in preservation, providing a shuttle service between the GWR's terminus at Cheltenham Racecourse and the National Rail station there, which dates back to the opening of the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway in 1840.

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