Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

09 September 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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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.

September 2013

Monday 9 September  Wrexham Railway Society. Graham Briggs, videos from 2013 main line steam scene and review of a number of heritage railways around the UK.

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.

Thursday 12 September Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society "6G and friends" - a look at the last years of the steam depots in North Wales of Llandudno Junction 6G, Rhyl 6K, Bangor 6B and Holyhead 6J. By Larry Davies.
Saturday 14 September Llangollen Railway Murder Mystery evening

Monday 16 September RCTS North West ’The Talyllyn Railway’ by David Mitchell. Digital presentation by David who has been involved with the Talyllyn for most of the preservation era and was its chairman for some years including archive footage from the 50s.

Saturday 21 September Llangollen Railway Diesel Day

Thursday 26 September Locomotive Club of Great Britain  Ken Grainger "Rhapsody in Blue": the Great
Northern Railway of Ireland

Thursday 26 September Merseyside Railway History Group Simon Starr 'History of the Tralee and Dingle Railway'

Saturday 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.

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

Thursday 10 October Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 'The Wrexham – Bidston Line' Dave Rapson

Friday 11 October Altrincham Electric Preservation Society TRAINS IN THE SNOW By Dr Les Nixon. Over 60% UK including much pre-1968 steam, 20% foreign including South Africa, Turkey and Peru.

Saturday 12 October Llangollen Railway Real Ale Train evening

Monday 14  October  Wrexham Railway Society. Allan More, The Railways of the St Helens  area, a presentation showing the history of railways there.

Monday 21 October RCTS North West ’Banished to the Tropics’ by Les Nixon.Well known photographer travels from Sheffield to present an account  of his life as a railway enthusiast working in Sri Lanka in the early 70s. Lots of good old colonial British railwayana with plenty of steam e.g. narrow-gauge  railcars and Garratts. All backed by two salaries – no income tax – free accommodation – free car etc but no film available locally. He to take out enough to keep him going for well over two years! 

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

Thursday 24 October  Locomotive Club of Great Britain  Noel Coates "The L&YR in B R Days"

26-27 October  Llangollen Railway Days Out with Thomas

Thursday 31 October  Llangollen Railway Ghost Train evening

Thursday 31 October  Richard Sant  Merseyside Railway History Group 'Building the new Patriot engine'

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

Friday 8 November  Altrincham Electric Preservation Society FREIGHT AROUND THE WORLD by John Ryan. Presentation is 90% steam

9-10 November Llangollen Railway Remembrance Weekend

Monday 11 November   Wrexham Railway Society. John Fry, North West Electrification, speaking on the electrification of a large number of secondary lines in the northwest these and the forthcoming initial phase of the work across Chat Moss in particular.

Thursday 14 November Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society AGM 'American Wanderings Part 1' Gordon Davies

Monday 18 November  RCTS North West ‘Circular tour of North Wales from 1966 to 1980’ by John Hobbs. 

Thursday 21 November Locomotive Club of Great Britain  Steve Fort "Carlisle to Crewe " - mainly steam scenes

Thursday 28 November  Geoff Morris   Merseyside Railway History Group 'The Many Varied Railways of Australia'

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

Monday 9  December    Wrexham Railway Society. Stephen Gay, Railways in a Yorkshire Landscape,  from Sheffield, he specialises in researching and photographing railways, particularly the old lines and former features alongside current routes all over Britain by walking along them in the company of his dog.  He is a Yorkshireman and his presentation will be based on his home county, including the beautiful Settle to Carlisle line.

Thursday 12 December Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Xmas Social/ 'All Change at the Junction'  Local Speakers                   

Friday 13 December  Altrincham Electric Preservation Society STEAM SHEDS ACROSS THE YEARS By John Sloane

14-15 December Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

Thursday 19 December Locomotive Club of Great Britain  John Ryan "Various Gauges in France and Spain 1966 to 1973"

20-24 December Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

7 December Llangollen Railway Real Ale Train evening

Thursday 12 December  Merseyside Railway History Group Geoff Coward 'Europe & The Old Buffers'

Monday 16 December  RCTS North West ‘Early Days’ by David Maidment, Formerly Operations Manager BR London Midland Region David  presents his early days at Swindon and commuting on the Southern and around the UK in the early 60s

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.

Thursday 9 January  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 'From a Driver’s point of view' Dave Trains

Friday 10 January  Altrincham Electric Preservation Society HISTORY OF BOLTON TRAMWAYS by Derek Shepherd (Vice-Chairman, Heaton Park Tramway)

Monday 13 January   Wrexham Railway Society. ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING AND RAIL REVIEW ENTERTAINMENT Annual General Meeting will be followed by various  members’ own presentations.

Monday 20 January  RCTS North West BRANCH A.G.M  Followed by Alan Donaldson ‘Around Britain 1983 to 2010’

Thursday 30 January  Merseyside Railway History Group   David Rapson 'Seacombe to Wrexham'

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.  

Monday 10 February   Wrexham Railway Society. Fred Kirk,  A Scottish Trip 60 Years On. The results of  a week long trip to Scotland, shed bashing previously not seen, black and white images of long gone shed scenes, Princes Street station etc.

Thursday 13 February  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 'A short history of Crosville & my time with it' Clive Myers                        
Friday 14 February  Altrincham Electric Preservation Society A JOURNEY FROM MANCHESTER TO EASTLEIGH WORKS IN 1910 By Mike Hayward (Secretary, Manchester Locomotive Society)

Monday 17 February  RCTS North West Barry Shore ‘BR freight in the post steam era 1967 to 1979’

Thursday 20 February Locomotive Club of Great Britain  John Sloane "BR Scenes from the 60s”
Thursday 27 February  Merseyside Railway History Group Allan Lewis 'Union Pacific Steam'

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.

Monday 10 March   Wrexham Railway Society. Geoff Morris- Railways of New Zealand a digital presentation based on two steam-hauled trips around New Zealand in 2011 & 2012 including both preservation activities and the rapidly-changing current railway scene on the other side of the world.

Thursday 13 March Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 'The Dinorwic Quarry Railway & its locomotives' Eric Lander

Monday 17 March  RCTS North West ‘The Ugly Duckling’: Bob Casselden looks at the transformation of B.R.’s ‘Other Provincial Services’ via ‘Regional Railways’ into today’s privatised railways
Friday 14 March  Altrincham Electric Preservation Society A Selection of Doug Darby's UK PHOTOGRAPHS by Paul Shackcloth (Photographic Officer, Manchester Locomotive Society)

Thursday 23 January Locomotive Club of Great Britain  Neville Bond “From Sea to Shining Sea” 30 years of North American scenes

Thursday 20 March Locomotive Club of Great Britain  Dr Michael Bailey "The Manchester Ship Canal Railway"

Thursday 27 March  Merseyside Railway History Group AGM & Members Slides

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.

Thursday 10 April Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 'Welsh Wanderings in the 1980’s & 90’s' Geoff Morris   

Thursday 10 April  Merseyside Railway History Group Ted Lloyd 'Quiz and informal evening'

Friday 11 April  Altrincham Electric Preservation Society Slides from the Manchester locomotive society collection by David Young.  Mainly steam locomotives taken 1950s and 1960s

Monday 14 April   Wrexham Railway Society. Jon Penn.   Railway Pictures From the  1960’s –scanned black and white negatives and vintage colour slides, favouring the Cheshire and surrounding areas.

Monday 28 April RCTS North West ‘South of the Border steam in the 50s and 60s’ by David Kelso, David travels from Kent to present a follow up to his  earlier North of the border presentation, including a period when he was resident in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
Thursday 17 April Locomotive Club of Great Britain  Norman Matthews "Steam in Central America"

May 2014
Thursday 8 May Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 'The Deganwy Dock Story' Eric Smith

Thursday 15 May Locomotive Club of Great Britain  AGM and Members/Visitors Slides & Digital Photos.

The morning summer Saturday extra, making what is probably its last appearance for this summer, passes the former Talacre station on 31 August. 67 002 propelling from the rear, driving van trailer 82306 leading.

Llangollen steam gala

Some views from the Llangollen Railway's Steam Gala event on 30-31 August and 1 September which saw a the visit by 7812 Erlestoke Manor from the Severn Valley Railway. Glyn Jones visited on the Friday, and reports that the event was very well patronised, despite only four locos being in steam - the 'Black 5', 44806, was not due to make an appearance until the Saturday and Sunday.
Above, 7812, seen reflecting the early morning sunshine, piloted Llangollen's own 7822 Foxcote Manor on the 10 am departure from Llangollen.

Awaiting the signal for departure (Glyn Jones).

Foxcote Manor rests in the siding at Carrog, whilst 7812 departs for Llangollen on its own (Glyn Jones).


7812 departs Berwyn for Llangollen (Glyn Jones).

Glyn Jones writes: 'Having changed trains at Berwyn, I was struck how the station appears to be stuck in a time warp.  Apart from a plastic litter bin and modern road sign, which I removed in 'Photoshop', the picture could have been taken in the 1950/60's.  For this reason, I have converted it to black & white.' Even the bikes have a period look.

BR Standard Tank 80072 with an immaculate two coach suburban set approaches Llangollen.  Unusually it was running smokebox first from Carrog, presumably having been returned 'wrong way round' from a visit to another railway.  Note the profusion of willow herb growing on the railway


Having arrived at Llangollen, 80072 has uncoupled, and bides its time prior to running around and eventual return to Carrog bunker first. 80072 has its own website, which chronicles its history and restoration (Glyn Jones).

On to Sunday 1 September, and pictures by George Jones.  7812 and 7822 are seen (above) about to depart Llangollen on 1 September with the 12:55 'Cambrian Coast Express'.

The return of Standard  Class 4 Tank 80072, hauling the two suburban non-corridor  provided a highlight amongst a five-loco turnout, operating with a near 45-minute interval timetable. Above, 80072 departing Berwyn with the two coach local, running bunker first, a view unusual at this location.  As reported in the last issue, and contrary to a report in a national magazine, the chain bridge, seen in the background, still awaits the repairs funded by a lottery grant; the contractor is not yet on site (George Jones).

2-8-0 3802 runs around at Llangollen from the down line to the up line necessitating a slow passage through the points as the clearance between the cylinders and with the platform here is limited (George Jones).

Picture miscellany

Tamper DR73935 spent the night of 1-2 September in the Llandudno Junction tamper siding before heading off to Wrexham General. It is seen trundling through Rhyl at 11:27 on 2 September. Picture by Roly High.

Former Arriva Trains Wales loco 57 315 passes Cosford at 07:50 on a 'Statesman' charter to Kingswear from Crewe on 31 August (Stavros Lainas).

Network Rail measurement train at Bangor on the evening of 28 August, with 97 302 and 97 304 John Tiley (Peter Basterfield)

Heading east towards Llandudno Junction. Note the lights under the measurement coach (Peter Basterfield).

175 004 arrives at with the 10:44 ex Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly as disused Rhyl No. 2 signalbox slowly disappears under greenery (Roly High).

Having been declared a failure the evening before at Prestatyn with brake problems whilst working the 18:27 Crewe to, Holyhead, 158 839 was stabled overnight at Rhyl sidings. On 2 September it crossed to Platform 1 (above) and headed off empty to Chester depot (Roly High).

Railtours no More - by Alan Crawshaw

I spent a significant part of my childhood on York station admiring the LNER pacifics. In 1961 my parents took us on a family trip to London but couldn't afford the rail fare so we travelled by coach. On the way back I copped my last A4, 60024 Kingfisher, and I never saw it again so it was some consolation for missing out on an East Coast Main Line ride. A couple of years ago, concious that mainline registered A4s could be taken for granted, I booked a Railway Touring Company excursion from Newcastle to Kings Cross, only for it to be cancelled a week before departure because Network Rail could only offer a 05:00 departure rather than the provisional 07:00. With hotel already booked, Rowan and I travelled to Newcastle anyway and looked round the city.

With my thwarted childhood yearning for an east coast A4 trip still unsatisfied, I booked on Friday 30 August's 'Tyne-Tees Streak', authorised for 90 mph running between York and Newcastle as part of the 'Mallard 75' commemoration. I travelled east on the Thursday to be sure of being in York for the 11:00 departure time and for what will probably be a last look in the National Railway Museum  at the two A4s temporarily repatriated from North America (picture above).

I timed my arrival at York station to see the 'Scarborough Spa Express', this time hauled by 'Royal Scot' 46115 Scots Guardsman and continued on to ...

 ... Barnetby,  where I'd booked accommodation so I could photograph the impressive semaphore signals before they're swept away in the resignalling project. Above, 66 066 passes with a coal train.

At 19:00 I received a phone call announcing that the charter had been cancelled because Network Rail had slapped a last minute steam ban on the area, so I came straight home on Friday.

Back in 2011 I booked a York to Saltburn steam charter, operated by West Coast. Passengers were informed on the platform that Network Rail had refused steam at the last minute because of fire risk so disappointed passengers had a top'n'tail trundle with 57 601 / 47 826 through the drizzle. I'm throwing in the towel on steam tours.  I'll photograph those that come to North Wales. and visit preserved lines, and if the Cambrian Coast steam ever returns I'll go on that again, since I can pay on the day and don't need a hotel.

Last train recalled at Llanfair

The weekend  of 31 August / 1 September saw the latest re-enactment of a significant event in railway history.  As part of its 50th Anniversary  Gala, the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway included a brief re-creation of the last train arrival at Llanfair Caereinion under British Railways auspices, which took place at 16:00 (or 4 pm as it was in the pre-Beeching era) on Saturday 3 November 1956.   This was nominally a freight train, though the Stephenson Locomotive Society (SLS) had arranged with British Railways to turn it into a special event.

The 2013 re-enactment was a well-focused interlude in the Saturday gala schedule, the Aberystwyth Silver band entertaining visitors during the afternoon with a varied programme of popular numbers, occasionally supported by steam whistles from traction engines, impressively on the beat. The re-enactment itself started with the arrival of a motorised engineers’ trolley bringing the event commentator, who set the scene for the audience (Picture above by David Parry).

Earlier in the afternoon, the 1.50 pm from Welshpool,  hauled by The Earl, one of the railway's original two locos, built in Manchester by Beyer Peacock, was photographed at at Coppice Lane crossing, Castle Caereinion by Chris Morrison.

Sister loco Countess leaves Castle Caereinion for Llanfair Caereinion with the signaller stopping any road traffic (Chris Morrison). Note, the names of the locos are The Earl but just Countess with no 'The', possibly to make the plates the same length.

Countess and Great Western-liveried coaches leaving Castle Caereinion on the 13:50 from Llanfair Caereinion to Welshpool. Balconies on the carriages give the line a unique atmosphere. These replicas of the line's original passenger stock have been built by the Ffestiniog Railway workshops (Chris Morrison).

Passengers in period costume were carried in open wagons in a re-creation of the last train of November 1956, seen between Cyffronyd and Llanfair Caereinion.

To musical accompaniment from the band playing 'Myfanwy', appropriately black-liveried 822, The Earl, arrived at Llanfair Caereinion wearing an 89A shed plate, an SLS headboard and a placard announcing the last train.   Also, it had acquired a GWR-style whistle shield during the course of the afternoon! (David Parry)

Although comprising goods wagons, this last train ...

 ... carried a respectable load of passengers (for a light railway) - wearing authentic 1956-style dress -  in open wagons, evoking railway opening events of the 1820s and 1830s (David Parry).

The ghosts of 1956 being safely accommodated in the yard, attention was re-focused on the present and the massive achievement of the 50 years preservation effort, embodied in 823 Countess and its train of three reproductions of the original W&L Pickering coaches, entering the station to the strains of Handel’s 'See, the Conquering Hero Comes.'  Again, the livery was significant – this time, green for regeneration and growth.  

This was a simple but impressive and symbolic commemoration of the fall and rise of a unique local railway which has been transformed from an erstwhile rural lifeline to a window (or, perhaps, balcony?) on the narrow gauge world, with its eclectic fleet of locomotives and coaching stock.  Old and new appeared side-by-side for photographs as normal service was smoothly resumed. (David Parry).

We have taken the liberty of borrowing from the Railway's publicity this genuine 1956 view taken by the great Ivo Peters at Castle Caereinion; the headboard replicas are commendably accurate. By the way, the Stephenson Locomotive Society, founded in 1909, still flourishes today with meetings and events based on several centres including Manchester.

Three pictures from Sunday 1 September. Above, carrying BR livery, 822 The Earl heads a mixed train at Heniarth, including the three replica W & LLR coaches (Ian Pilkington)

Sister engine 823 Countess in Great Western livery eases its train of ex-Hungarian Railways coaches over the River Banwy Bridge near Heniarth (Ian Pilkington).

The two 1902-built Beyer Peacock 0-6-0 tanks roar up the 1 in 29 Golfa Bank with the final train of the day from Welshpool (Ian Pilkington).

The WLLR is your editor's particular favourite of the Welsh lines, thanks partly to its Austrian gauge and coaches. It is still operated entirely by volunteers, and a visit is strongly recommended.  Trains are running Tuesdays - Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays until the end of September and then weekends until 3 November plus October 29-31. See the Railway's website for full details.

Marches line signalling - pictures by Chris Morrison

We mentioned a few issues ago that Network Rail plan to abolish various signalboxes between Crewe and Shrewsbury and implement the delayed new signalling system over the weekend of 13/14 October, and suggested that people should photograph the present signalling. Chris Morrison has taken up the challenge. Above: those twin curses for the railway photographer, undergrowth and palisade fencing make a view of this bracket signal (CB 26) at Crewe Bank difficult. Note the new structure for colour lights behind; the  new signal heads are very small compared to traditional colour-light types.

The home signal is 'off' as Crewe Bank box is permanently 'switched out' and will soon be definitely closed, and the distant signal below (warning of the signals at Crewe Junction ahead) is fixed at caution, presumably because there is a speed restriction over the junction ahead: note it has no green spectacle glass.

Looking rather tidier, he same location as above in September 1986 as 33 035 ambles up the bank with the 07:50 Swansea Manchester-Piccadilly. The lattice post can be seen, and also the short-armed signal which applied to trains on goods line below the signal. Semaphore signals did not have number plates in those days.

The redundant box at Shrewsbury Crewe Bank, a 1943-built example of the now-rare 'blastproof' design, with 175 114 passing on a Cardiff - Manchester train on 31 August. The 'up goods loop' still exists, but the sidings, and the points which the small arm protected, have been removed. For more about this box and its signals, including an interesting explanation of mechanical signal 'slotting', see Adrian the Rock's website.

66 198 on a diverted Margam - Shotton steel train, approaches the 1885-built signalbox at Prees on 26 August.

Notes by the editor: This box, despite having been refurbished with new windows a few years ago,  will be closed in October, with everything supervised from Cardiff. Between the tracks are the LIDAR (Laser Interferometry Detection and Ranging) devices which will detect whether anything is on the road over the crossing before the computer lowers the barriers and clears signals for the train to pass. This complements a radar system, and the signaller in Cardiff will also be able to view the scene on CCTV.  This system has previously been installed on the Ely - Norwich line, where problems arose, some related to dirt, snow, etc. on the detectors; we understand they are now being fitted with shutters which will open just before the crossing sequence starts and close again afterwards. Behind the fence on the left is a curious triangular object which 'marks the boundaries of the area of interest' for the radar in places where a normal fixed object cannot be used. The upper of the small signs on the post, aimed at rail staff, reads 'Do not obstruct the reflector.' The lower one says 'Do not stand on crossing when in operation.' Note also the large cages protecting the barrier machinery.  There is a detailed document about these methods online in PDF form available on the Net.

175 008 approaches Prees with a Manchester - Milford Haven service on 26 August. The signal features health-and-safety hoops added in recent years. Like many small London and North Western Railway-built stations, the platform is very low, as anyone who has loaded a bike into a Class 153 here will testify.

Wrenbury, Wem, Nantwich, and Harlescott are also closing, would anyone care to visit them?

Tales of Roman Bridge - by Charlie Hulme

The recently publicity about Roman Bridge station on the Conwy Valley line, and its station house for sale for almost half a million pounds (see 26 August issue), made me wonder about the name of the place who might have been the first to live there. The picture above (by Noel Walley, reproduced from Wikipedia under Creative Commons licence) shows the bridge which gave the station its name, crossing the Afon Lledr. The owner of the house claims that this bridge replaced an original Roman bridge at the same location; there certainly was a Roman road not far away, but there is little evidence that it crossed the river here.

The above map is from the first Ordnance Survey of the 1840s, whose makers diligently recorded any ancient relics using the old-style typeface. The future location of Roman Bridge station can be identified near the word 'Dinas' (a supposed prehistoric settlement) by the meander in the river which became today's 'ox-bow lake.' The bridge over the Lledr is labelled 'Pont y Sarn ddu' which translates as 'bridge on the black causeway (or road).' The Roman Road, on the other hand, known as 'Sarn Helen' heads south up Cwm Penmaen from Dolwyddelan, seen crossing the bottom edge of our extract towards the right-hand side. It does seem likely that the name Roman Bridge was chosen by the railway to attract tourists. There is a 'Roman bridge' near Stockport which is known to be an eighteenth-century packhorse bridge.

A closer view on a 1880s map shows the station in its heyday, with its siding and, interestingly, signal posts at each end. Perhaps it was a block-post in those days.

The station opened in 1879 with the extension of the line from Betws-y-Coed to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Thanks to the railway records in the National Archives, now online at, and the 1881 Census we know that the first station master was Robert Weston, born in Leicester in 1824, who came to the Bangor area in the 1840s, probably to work on the construction of the main line to Holyhead. There he met Ann Roberts and they married in 1849. That year he gained employment with the railway company, and in 1851 described himself as a 'painter.' By 1861, still living in Bangor, he had risen to be become a 'railway policeman' - the equivalent of today's signalman. In 1876 he became a guard, based in Caernarvon at a wage of 25 shillings per week, and on 17 July 1879 he took up the post of Station Master at the newly-built Roman Bridge station. This was a salaried post, paying £60 per annum, much the same his previous wage. The 1881 census shows him, aged 56, living there with his wife Ann (49) son Alfred (17) and Granddaughter Agnes (4) who we suppose was the daughter of one of two sons who appear only in the 1861 census. What happened to them I cannot discover.

The London and North Western Railway staff records show that Robert Weston was taken ill just after Christmas 1884, and died on 2 January 1885. Intriguingly, Probate records reveal that he left an estate valued at over £750 to be administered by his wife - equivalent to over £60,000 today. The house belonged to the Railway, of course, but how could he have accumulated such a sum? The answer may lie in the custom which allowed Station Masters to act as merchants on their own account. Certainly the duties at Roman Bridge, even allowing for the supervision of the track maintenance gang, would have allowed him plenty of time for other activity, especially with his son Alfred to help.

The house was required for the next stationmaster, so Ann moved the family to a (now long-lost)  hostelry called the Llanfawr Arms in Holyhead where Alfred obtained work as a locomotive fireman, and she presumably ran the pub. However, she died in June 1886, and in the Probate award her son Alfred James Weston gave an address in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Postscript: Who remembers Roman Bridge station being used in a TV play about a runaway teenager back in the early days of this site? Unfortunately the details, and our report from that time, are proving hard to locate.

The Welsh Mountaineer, 3 August

The train stopped in Rhyl station (Roly High)...

... to allow 158 828 on the 'Irish Mancunian' express portion for Holyhead of the 08:50 from Manchester Piccadilly. The 158's passing was announced with a few blasts of the horns to warn the people with their heads out of the windows on the steam train (Roly High).

61994's nameplate, in classic Gill Sans lettering of which the London & North Eastern Railway was an enthusiastic user. The plate fits rather awkwardly on the smokebox. The 'shed code' 65A is for Eastfield (Glasgow) from which the loco once plied the West Highland line.

Crossing Troderavon Viaduct shortly after departing Llanrwst (Larry Goddard).

Above Roman Bridge, just before the tunnel (Peter Basterfield).

Approaching Blaenau Ffestiniog (Larry Goddard). Blaenau's  own Orthodox Priest, the Very Reverend Archimandrite Deiniol, a staunch supporter of the Conwy Valley line, watches over the proceedings. Remember his plan for a North-South Wales railway? And whatever happened to the proposal for slate waste trains of which he was a staunch proponent?

Hard to believe it's Blaenau - not a slate in sight as the train rounds the sharp curve towards the site of the North Station (Larry Goddard). Larry reports that while out with his camera he met Norman Kneale, whose books and photographs of the steam era are legendary. See for example the collections on our friend Geoff Poole's 6G website.

The signalman's view as 61994 runs round its train at Llandudno Junction after returning from the Conwy Valley (Alan Roberts).

Crossing Llanddulas viaduct on the return leg from Llandudno Junction (Larry Goddard).

On the Ffestiniog - with Jack Bowley

Some views taken while working as volunteer on the Ffestiniog Railway. Above, Linda on 22 August with the 20L00 from Blaenau Ffestiniog, seen at Minffordd.

Britomart making a rare appearance taking a rake of slate wagons to Boston Lodge ready for the next day...

... which was hauled on a cold, crisp morning, by engines Palmerston and Prince (built 1863/4 by George England & Co) seen from Minffordd - what a sight! The train was hauled to Blaenau Ffestiniog and then released so gravity could take it back down to Porthmadog, although it required some help nearer Blaenau over the section which is not the original route.

Middleton Press news - report by George Jones

The Middleton Press series of books looking at lines in North Wales is now complete with the publication of the title Wrexham to New Brighton. Also published recently was the title Branch Lines Around Denbigh. Both follow the established format of collected archive photos and more recent views of stations and places along the route interspersed with extracts from OS maps to illustrate the develop of the railways. The Wrexham title features 117 black and white photos; the other 120. Some of the archive pictures may be fairly well known, later views generally not previously published. The Denbigh title tries hard to cover the complex of lines not included in previous titles in the series which, also sees the North Wales coast covered by three volumes between Chester and Holyhead.
Interestingly, the earlier volume featuring Ruabon to Barmouth has been reprinted and the more obvious compilation errors have been corrected. With coverage of North Wales complete the lines from Chester to Birkenhead and Chester to Warrington are the subjects of more recent titles too.
Each book costs £16.95 for a hardback of 96 pages.

Timetable memories

An interesting item from the Oliver Hambly collection: a 20-page Timetable Supplement from the period following the Britannia Bridge fire, complete with a view of what the bridge would look like when repaired, but before the present road deck was added. At the time, Llanfair PG station which had been closed in Beeching's day had been re-opened as an interchange for the temporary bus service. For many more like this, see Transport Past Times.

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