12 August 2013
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Saturday 17 August Steam on the
Coast Vintage Trains 'The Welsh
Dragon' Tyseley - Llandudno Junction and return. Loco 5043. Times: Outward
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
Tuesday 20 August Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'The Welsh
Preston-Frodsham-Llandudno Jc -Blaenau Ffestiniog and return. Loco
45305 or 61994. Times: Outward
Thursday 22 August Talyllyn Railway
Children's 'Duncan' Day
Saturday 24 August Excursion Compass Tours
Perth - Holyhead. Traction: WCRC diesels. Times: Outward
Saturday 24 August Wirral 0
Gauge Group Open Day, Unit 7, The Odyssey Centre,
Birkenhead CH41 1HB American model trains running 13:00 to
17:00. Admission £2 - ample free parking. Nearest Station
Contact 0151 653 0637or j.elliott37[at]sky.com for more
30-31 August and 1 September Llangollen Railway
Sunday 1 September Steam on the
'North Wales Coast Express' steam-hauled Manchester
Piccadilly - Altrincham - Chester - Holyhead and return. Note, does
start from Crewe due to engineering works. Cancelled.
Tuesday 3 September Steam on the
Coast Railway Touring Company 'The
Preston - Frodsham - Llandudno Jc - Blaenau Ffestiniog and
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.
Friday 4 October Clwyd Railway
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
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
Friday 1 November Clwyd Railway
Circle Paul Davies 'The Buckley Railway and the
Industries it served' The talk celebrates the 150th Anniversary of the
Saturday 2 November Llangollen
Railway Murder Mystery evening
Saturday 2 November Wirral
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]sky.com 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
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.
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.
Friday 7 February Clwyd Railway
Brian Bollington & Peter Hanahoe 'Polish Steam'
is a mix of slide shows and video showing steam on the national
network, including shed scenes, taken in the 1990’s.
Friday 7 March Clwyd Railway
The Committee & David Southern AGM followed by
'Railways of the Wirral' After the formality is over,
we can look
forward to Dave sharing his railway experiences of 60 years living on
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)
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
On Saturday 10 August I paid a visit to the Cambrian Heritage Railways
Llynclys site and found Ruston 0-4-0DE '11517'
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
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
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.
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
passed through on the way from Tunstead to, I believe, Brentford Town
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
... 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
foot crossing just before
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.
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
Barmouth viaduct from above, 9 August (Ian
Shipping news: Cruise ship Celebrity
Infinity berthed at Liverpool Cruise Terminal on 10 August,
taking on fuel from tanker Mersey
Spirit. Picture by Chris
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
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
Award for the Talyllyn
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
is now open again, but the Lime Street closure lasts until
22 August: see the information
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
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
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)
An hour later, another crossover was made, with G.H Wood bound for
Douglas, and Caledonia (above)
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
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
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
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,
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
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
Gloucester Warwickshire diesel gala - pictures by Richard
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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