Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

21 September 2013

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This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters, and especially the rail staff of North Wales.

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

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 Merseyside, Chester & North Wales ’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 north-west 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 Merseyside, Chester & North Wales ‘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 Merseyside, Chester & North Wales ‘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 Merseyside, Chester & North Wales 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 Merseyside, Chester & North Wales ‘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.

Light and Shade in the Gold Zone at Crewe at 11:16 on 18 September as 66 090 passes with the very long 04:30 Southampton Eastern Docks to Halewood (Jaguar) train of empty car carriers. Picture by Charlie Hulme.

Welcome to another extra bonus issue - next update 24 September

Diesel Parcels Unit in North Wales - continued

Our item about single-car parcels units (2 September issue) has produced some rather fine - and nostalgic - pictures from readers. Above, Bangor station on 9 October 1978: Gloucester-built Class 128 Diesel Parcels Unit (DPU) M55994 is coupled to Park Royal/Metro-Cammell 'hybrid' M56150 + M51200 and Metro-Cammell set M56345+M51191 on the 13:30 departure from Manchester Victoria. Picture by Jim Johnson.

March 13 1979 and the 13:30 from Manchester Victoria again: loco 25 106 + Parcels unit M55995 + Metro-Cammell units M56349 + M51202 and M56353 + M51199. This trailing unit had failed somewhere en route, hence the Class 25 assistance. The whole formation was shunted onto the 'down main' centre road while its fate was determined (Jim Johnson).

25 March 1980: M55995 + Metro-Cammells M56333 + M51203 and M51185 + M56352 forming the 18:25 to Crewe. Picture by Jim Johnson, who writes: 'I think the units from the 13:30 from Manchester, seen in the first two pictures, worked back to Crewe but I'm not 100% sure.'

Unidentified units forming the 18:25 to Crewe on 14 April 1980 passing Gipsy Corner, just east of Bangor (Jim Johnson).The white livery with blue stripe indicated a unit which had been refurbished, but was later abandoned in favour of standard blue with grey around the windows.

Here is DPU M55993 leading an impressive 8-car DMU forming 2D99 13.30 Manchester Victoria - Bangor on Friday 4 May 1979. The train has left Shotton Low Level and is approaching Connah's Quay signalbox. Immediately behind the DPU is Park Royal Class 103 set M50403 + M56155 followed by a two-car Class 108 (M56504 leading and now preserved) and then a pair of two-car Class 101 Metro-Cammell units. Picture by David Rapson, who notes: 'I had caught this train from Chester to Shotton the previous day when it was also headed by M55993 although 3 May 1979 is best remembered as the day when Margaret Thatcher becoming Prime Minister!'

Forward a few years, and a new look: 55993 leading 54902 + 55932, 55994 and 54900+55930 at Chester on Friday 12 October 1990. The train is 1T29 15:25 Chester - St Pancras and was the last DPU service run by British Rail. It was routed (for reasons now forgotten) via Crewe, Nuneaton, Hinckley and the Midland main line to St Pancras (David Rapson). Note that the corridor connection has been removed.

Ten of these vehicles were built in 1959, four for the London Midland Region, M55987 - M55990, with three end windows and no end gangways, and six, W55991 - W55996 for the Western Region with gangways. However on the evidence of these pictures the Chester-based ones were all from the gangway-ed batch, transferred to the London Midland.

On the Shrewsbury line, a grubby M55993 leading M55994 on 4D29 12:15 Shrewsbury - Chester parcels with the regular tail traffic. The picture above (by David Rapson) shows the pair heading north and towing a BG (bogie passenger brake) on 2 October 1976. A father and two children observe its passage at Green Lane Crossing, Lache. This area is completely buried beneath new housing today and unrecognisable from the time of the picture. The signalbox is just out of picture to the right.

The close-up of M55994 at Chester was taken by David Rapson on 1 February 1977, and this time the 'tail traffic' is a single GUV (General Utility Van) W86631 ...

 ...seen to better effect in the 'going away' view which includes one of the former London and North Western Railway lower quadrant semaphore signals still in use at that date (David Rapson).

Roger Carvell adds to the story: 'One of the three Cravens-built DPUs also featured in the area in 1970s  From memory it may have been M55998 but I stand to be corrected. Cravens units en masse were never North Wales allocated although they did feature on excursions from time to time. Given the large allocation of Cravens passenger units in the Manchester area I am surprised we didn't see more. Their  characteristic exhaust rasp and blue smoke (inside as well as out!) was legendary. The ex-M & GN Cravens units, transferred to King's Cross suburban services similarly upheld the blue smoke and vibrating windows Cravens tradition.'

Modellers' note: The Class 128 unit is now available in 00 scale from Heljan, including a rather nice version in 1970s blue as used in North Wales. It seems that no class is too small to be be made as a mass-produced model these days, although no maker has yet tackled the essential present-day North Wales train, the Class 175. Perhaps when they start to appear in 'WAG' livery, enough versions will be possible?

Llannerchymedd and its Brake Van - pictures by Nick Gurney

Back in July we published the above picture by Nick Gurney of a brake van being transported west along the A55 road, and asked if anyone knew its destination. From this we discovered that it was at the old station site at Llannerchymedd (or Llanerchymedd, or Llanerch-y-Medd - the spelling seems to vary) on the disused Gaerwen - Amlwch branch.

Nick now adds: 'Thanks to the correspondent for pointing out the brake van I photographed on the A55 on 15 July was en route to Llannerchymedd. My work takes me there quite often so on Tuesday 10th August I stopped off at the old railway station for some photos.

The area used by the railway restoration group Lein Amlwch is fenced off so these photographs are taken through the fence. The old station, 50 years since it closed, is now a heritage centre, museum and community café. Everything was closed when I visited and I believe it only opens at weekends.'

The earliest full-size railway exhibit, still there (above) in a rather sad condition, is a non-working diesel shunter transferred from the Llangollen Railway: a John Fowler 40 HP 0-4-0 (JF 22753/1939) bought new for the Broughton aircraft factory, opened in 1939, which had a siding connected to the Mold Junction - Mold line. The locomotive was rescued after the sidings fell into disuse and initial restoration took place in a pub back yard, before movement to the embryo Llangollen Railway in 1975 where it was the first locomotive on the railway. It was used on Permanent Way trains during the initial building of the line, but was eventually sidelined as more powerful shunters arrived. While at Llangollen it was named Eliseg after the old king of Powys who gave his name to Eliseg's Pillar, an old stone cross near Llangollen. A historic machine, but unfortunately unlikely to run again, at least with its original engine which long ago suffered frost damage to the cylinder block.

We last reported on this place in June 2009, when our report read:
The two locomotives and two wagons from the closed Associated Octel plant at Amlwch, which had been kept, and worked on by local enthusiasts, until recently in the Anglesey Aluminium Metal sidings, have now also been moved, thanks to sponsorship by the aluminium company and Stena Line, to the Llanerchymedd site, where the community centre is due to open in the next few weeks, accompanied by a song specially written by local schoolchildren.  Community councillor Tony Lewis told the Holyhead and Anglesey Mail: 'This has been a project carried through by the community council using European Funding found by Menter Môn. These locos are back where they belong on their home line. They went up and down from Amlwch to Ellesmere Port carrying chemicals like chlorine for nearly 40 years.' Well, at least, that's what the reporter thought he said! Of course the locos were only used at Amlwch between the factory and the exchange sidings.
The official opening of the centre was reported by the BBC in 2010, including that the fact that a room is dedicated to a display by the Lein Amlwch (Anglesey Central Railway) preservation group; the Old Station Café appears on their website although the information may not be current.

The two Associated Octel locos were moved from the aluminium factory sidings, where they had been stored since they were moved there in 2004 following the closure of the Octel plant. They are No.1, a Ruston and Hornsby 88 hp loco (RH321717/1953), and the un-numbered Hunslet machine see above (HE 7470/1977). The tank wagon is one a fleet once used by Associated Octel to carry bromine extracted from sea water at the Amwlch plant. (Apparently 22,000 tons of sea water have to be processed to recover one ton of bromine.) Built in Switzerland and fitted for train  ferry use, its last running number was 23 85 7492 201-5. A similar wagon, minus tank, is also among the collection.

The wagon detail comes from the excellent Vintage Carriages Trust (VCT) database, although unfortunately the compilers have not yet recorded the location or provenance of the brake van, which carries no numbers or other identification. It does not appear to be from the Cambrian Railways site at Llynclys, and a look at pictures of the several LMS-style vans on the VCT database does not immediately reveal one with the same features as this one. Any information welcome.

Welsh Highland views

Above, on Sunday 8 September,  part of the 'Great and Small' weekend, the  14:40  Porthmadog - Caernarfon with the 1909-built K1 Garratt and a newer South African machine climbing out of Beddgelert Forest (Peter Basterfield) The left column picture shows the same train at Waunfawr.

The small: Hugh Napier and Lilla heading home to Porthmadog (Peter Basterfield).

Dinas: Palmerston and Prince leaving with the Vintage train from Caernarfon to Porthmadog (Alan Crawshaw).

A visit to Birkenhead docks - with Chris Morrison

You have to be lucky to catch anything moving under the two working bascule bridges of Birkenhead Docks; ships can only join or leave the Mersey reasonably near high tide. Above, tugs Svitzer Sussex and Svitzer Nari move the cargo ship Rickmers Dubai across East Float, Birkenhead, moving backwards away from the camera on 14 September.

The tugs manoeuvre the 166-metre long ship under the bascule bridge in Tower Rd, Birkenhead.

25 minutes later the bridge is still in the 'up' position as the ship and two tugs can only just fit in the Alfred Dock leading to the Mersey.

With traffic on Tower Rd moving again, preserved Wigan Corporation Leyland Leopard AEK 514 passes the ship in Alfred Dock.

The Alfred Lock gates open and the tugs manoeuvre the ship through the narrow channel to the Mersey. Swiss registered tanker San Padre Pio is moored, discharging oil.

Coal Tank in South Wales

London and North Western Railway 'Coal Tank' 0-6-2T 1054, paused at Fairfield car park in  Abergavenny from 10:00 to 12:00 on Tuesday 10 September en route to the Pontypool and Bleanavon Railway Steam Gala from the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. Dennis Oliver was on hand with his camera, as the local mayor took the opportunity of a photo-call.

The Abergavenny & District Steam Society has a link with this loco, which was at one time stationed at the local shed and (with another ex-LNWR loco) worked the ceremonial last train from Abergavenny to Merthyr in 1958; the Society's magazine is named 'The Coal Tank' in its honour. Under its British Railways number 58926, it was the last survivor of a large class, some of which operated in North Wales, and as we have related here before, Bangor shedmaster J.W. Dunn organised its purchase for preservation. For a while it was a static exhibit at Penrhyn Castle. See also

A day out in South Wales - with Richard Putley

On 15 September I got to Furnace Sidings station on the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway in time for the first train of their steam gala at 09:45. This consisted of the LNWR 'Coal Tank' 0-6-2T 1054 and two old carriages: a Great Eastern Railway observation car and a one-time Manchester & Milford Railway carriage which passed to the Great Western when it acquired that concern, and was rebuilt as the Gloucester District Engineer's Saloon.

I rode in it - it has loose chairs inside - shades of the Titfield Thunderbolt! The train ran down to Bleanavon High Level (above) where the Coal Tank ran round then back to Furnace Sidings.

Here the Coal Tank ran round again then it ran down the branch to Big Pit. But I got off so I could see LNWR 'Super D' 0-8-0 49395. It pulled the 10:45 to Bleanavon High Level which I took. It then continued on the 11:10 from there to Whistle Inn. From Furnace Sidings (above) it was banked by the two J94 0-6-0STs, one of which was the NCB 72, newly restored at the Llangollen Railway . Later on the two J94s headed a train with the 'Super D' banking.

Having photographed all these I then decided to drive over to Ferryside to see the returning 'Pembroke Coast Express' steam excursion. I chose this location (above) as one of the very few places left on the South Wales main line where semaphore signals can still be seen.

I got there in time to photograph 158 830 (above) on the 17:41 to Manchester ...

... then 150 279 arrived on the 17:21 to Pembroke Dock and departed just before ...

... the steam train came through with 5029 Nunney Castle. I was lucky with the weather too. It had rained for most of the day but it had stopped an hour earlier and by the time the steam train came through the sun was shining.

Steam Nostalgia - by Stephen Hughes

I'm currently trying to add some detail to a few of my late father's photographs; above is an example which might be of interest. After having had them digitised I have had to change my understanding of the location of this picture, showing Stanier 2-6-4T 42627 appearing to be running round its train. I had always assumed that the photo was taken at Afon Wen, knowing that this class of locomotive worked trains into Afon Wen from Bangor, and that it was a location where my father might have alighted from the train.

However - as some readers might already have realised - the water tank is circular in shape (from a reference book I now realise that those at Afon Wen were rectangular) and the oil storage tanks in the background now shown clearly on the enlarged photo are a bit of a give away - the location is Caernarfon station,  taken from the 'up & down' platform ... Sadly,  this location is currently the fruit and veg counter at a Morrisons store!

A little bit of research in my father's notebooks show that the date was 10 Sept 1958 - 55 years ago. 42627 had been reallocated to Bangor shed in June of that year, I'm presuming that this was to work the heavily laden summer trains on the Bangor - Afon Wen line. Perhaps on this occasion 42627 was working one of the three daily Bangor - Caernarfon locals, unless anyone can supply another reason for it to be 'light engine' at Caernarfon?  We had arrived at Caernarfon behind BR Standard 2-6-4T 80095, another Bangor engine, presumably this train then continued to Bangor.

42627 was later transferred away from Bangor and withdrawn from Willesden in October 1961. Although my childhood memories are full of railways, I have absolutely no memories of this journey as I was only three at the time!

Talyllyn scenes - by Martin Evans

On 3 September I travelled to the Talyllyn Railway and found the following locos in steam: Dolgoch no. 2 and Douglas no. 6 in traffic on the passenger service, also in steam was no. 4 Edward Thomas on Driver Experience duties. Meanwhile no 7 Tom Rolt was noted at Pendre shed. Above, Dolgoch  at Nant Gwernol terminus...

... preparing to be coaled and watered at Tywyn wharf ...

... and awaiting departure with the 3.45pm service to Nant Gwernol.

Before they were famous - by John Hobbs

Ivatt Class 2 2-6-2T 41241: the locomotive which seems to have worked everywhere since it was built at Crewe in 1949. Currently 'out of ticket' (awaiting overhaul) on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, it must have worked all the usual North Wales jobs while briefly allocated to 6H (Bangor depot), spells on the Somerset & Dorset would had it working regularly from Evercreech Junction to Highbridge, I have a note of it working from Wellington in 1962 when it worked into Crewe, so would have covered many Shropshire lines. I believe it also worked other lines around Bristol; its final home at Skipton would see it on lines in the North West to Carnforth and Colne.

Other reports feature it working the last train from Wrexham to Bala, before the line was washed out and following that the last ever Whitchurch to Aberystwyth Mail to Welshpool. Quite a machine with an amazing history of rambling about the country. This picture was taken on 1 July 1964, while resting at Bangor Shed between duties.

Great Western Railway 0-6-2T 6697 on the turntable within the typical GWR shed at Croes Newydd on 14 May 1966, shortly before withdrawal. This locomotive seemed to spend its BR life at Leamington Spa & Croes Newydd, although it is now preserved at Didcot Railway Centre, as the last example of its class representing a useful freight tank, although they did work suburban trains out of Birmingham Snow Hill and in South Wales and no doubt worked usefully on old Hill Bank when working in from Hartlebury.

Another view of 6697 at Crows Newydd. The type survived so long there because for a long time they were the only locomotives permitted to descend the Fishponds Branch in Brymbo; this line had a gradient of 1 in 34 and trains were only permitted to descend. The following extract from the Sectional Appendix to the Working Timetable of the period (with our rough sketch map) gives an idea the complications of working in the area, where today there are no railways at all except the main line through Wrexham and the Borderlands line to Bidston.

Working of outwards traffic from the Brymbo Steel Works via Fishponds

Ex L.N.E. Brymbo and Broughton Crossing
Trains from Croes Newydd to the Brymbo Steel Works which are required to clear outwards traffic via Fishponds, when an assistant engine is provided, must be formed - engine, brake van, wagons, brake van, and bank engine. On arrival at Brymbo Middle the train will proceed to Vron Jn. Sidings. After disposal of the wagons where the engine which has assisted in rear from Brymbo Middle will return there with the rear brake van.

Trains from Croes Newydd to Brymbo Steel Works which are required to clear outwards traffic via Fishponds when an assistant engine is not provided must be formed with one brake-van in rear leaving Croes Newydd. The engine with brake-van attached returning via Fishponds will then proceed via the Birmingham Road to the Steel Works Siding at Fishponds where outwards traffic will have been placed by the Steel Company. Between Vron Jn. and Fishponds British Railways engines and Steel Works engines work over the same line; Trainmen must, therefore, exercise the greatest caution. Maximum speed Vron Jn. to Brymbo ex L.N.E. station via Fishponds is 6 m.p.h. The movement from Vron Jn. to Fishponds must be preceded by the Shunter or assistant guard who must telephone from Fishponds to the Ground Frame at Vron Jn. Siding that it is in order for the engine and van to leave from Vron Jn. for Fishponds.

After picking up the outwards traffic in the Steel Company's sidings at Fishponds the trip will be propelled to Brymbo ex L.N.E. station. The brake-van in which the Guard or Shunter must ride must be leading and adequate wagon brakes must be pinned down at the front end.

The maximum number of wagons which can be conveyed from Fishponds to Broughton Crossing is equal to 22 in length, being limited by the two sidings at Brymbo ex L.N.E. which are 220 ft. and 310 ft. in length. When more than equal to 14 wagons in length are propelled from Fishponds the number in excess and brake-van must be detached in No. 1 Siding at Brymbo ex L.N.E. and the engine with the remaining wagons will proceed to No. 2 Siding and after the hand points have been reversed for Broughton Crossing the two parts will be rejoined. Adequate brakes must be applied at the front of the movement which is drawn from Brymbo ex L.N.E. to Broughton Crossing.

    All trains via this route must be brought to a stand before entering the sidings at Broughton Crossing and the Guard must satisfy himself that there is no conflicting movement. The gradient between Fishponds and the ex L.N .E. Station at Brymbo is 1 in 34 falling and the gradient from Brymbo ex L.N.E. to Broughton Crossing 1 in 34 falling. Guards must ensure that adequate brakes are applied to control the train down the two inclines.

Broughton Crossing Ground Frame
A one-lever ground frame is provided at Broughton Crossing to work the trailing connection in the Up Main Line serving the sidings. The ground frame lever is released by Annetts Key which is kept in .a Key Release Instrument in a cupboard at the ground frame. A telephone is provided for communication with the Broughton Crossing Signalman. The Key Release Instrument is operated by the Guard in accordance with the instructions in the Regional Appendix headed "Instructions for working ground frames operated by Key Control Instrument at Signal Box and Key Release Instrument at Ground Frame". See instructions exhibited at the Ground Frame.

Freight Train from Fishponds leaving the Siding
The Guard must telephone the Signalman for permission for the freight train to leave the siding at the time previously agreed. If permission can be granted the Annetts Key must be withdrawn and the Signalman advised that the Key has been released.  The Guard must not permit the train to draw out to the Main Line until he has been advised by the Signalman that the Block Instrument is in the "Train-on.Line" position.

The freight train must be brought to a stand on the Main Line after which the points must be restored to normal and the Annette Key replaced in the Key Release Instrument. The Guard must telephone the Signalman advising him that the key has been restored and the train is about to leave.

    Up Trains Attaching or Detaching Vehicles.
The Guard must telephone the Signalman for permission to use the ground frame. If the Signalman is in a position to grant permission the Annetts Key must then be withdrawn by the Guard and the points set for the movement.    Under these circumstances the key must not be replaced in the instrument until the train is about to leave. The Guard must not rejoin his train or allow it to proceed until he has been informed on the telephone by the Signalman that the Key Control Instrument has been restored to normal and he has assured the Signalman that no vehicle has been left foul of the running line. Down trains requiring to work in the sidings must do so through the Box worked trailing connection in the Down Main Line.

These instructions will apply from a date to be advised.

[Interestingly the free DVD which is included with the October 2013 issue of Railway Magazine includes, among much else of interest, some scenes of steam trains working on the gradients in this area.]

The daily round at Abergele - 11 September pictures by Roly High

Virgin Super Voyagers 222 111 Roald Amundsen (leading) and 221 142 Bombardier Voyager at the rear form a 10 car service, the 09:10 from London Euston to Holyhead as it rushes through Abergele. The area at the bottom of the signabox steps was once occupied by a brick-built coal bunker.

158 841 follows the Virgin train on the down fast line with the 09:08 Birmingham International to Holyhead, seen heading away towards Colwyn Bay; once there were four tracks beyond here as far as Llanddulas.

175 112 comes onto the down platform with the 10:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Bangor. Network Rail long-term plans involve the removal of this platform line and widening the platform to reach the main line. A loop will be provided for the other direction, and the signalbox will vanish, all being controlled from Cardiff.

Another look at this view from last issue showing 97 302 on crew training run passing Abergele. We asked whether anyone remembered what the pillars in the foreground supported ...

... and by way of answer, Larry Goddard send this vintage picture showing that the station once had a covered footbridge with ramps down to the platform, similar to the one still in use at Rhyl. This bridge was constructed in 1902 when the station was rebuilt to allow four tracks, although no platform was ever provided on the 'fast' lines. The footbridge was supported by steel girders fixed into the bases which survive: the supports of the road bridge can be seen behind.  Note also the flowerbeds. There was a siding behind the 'up' platform, off to the right of this which for many years was home to several 'camping coaches.' Larry tells us that the footbridge was removed in 1966, leaving the road bridge as access to the up platform.

Berwyn Heritage revisited

The picture in the 9 September issue of Berwyn station by Glyn Jones, accompanied by a note by Glyn saying he had converted it to black and white and digitally removed a modern road sign and 'plastic litter bin'  so that it 'could have been taken in the 1950/60s'  inspired a response from Llangollen Railway supporter Peter Dickinson, after which we asked Glyn for the unedited picture, as seen above. Peter writes:

'I apologise if this sounds like Pedantics Anonymous(!) but the litter bin is not plastic but is in fact a metal one. A good number of passengers visiting the station have indeed confused this bin as an exhibit rather than its working purpose as an actual bin! The picture could indeed have been taken at the beginning of the 1950s, but certainly by the late 1950s the wooden platform extension that cantilevers over the side of the viaduct immediately after the station building had been dismantled. Certainly during the late 1950s and 1960s, the station building itself had been closed and replaced by a wooden waiting shelter on the platform. A fuller history of the station can be found on the Carrog Station website or in Paul Lawton's book Berwyn Memories.'

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