NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:NOTICE
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24 September 2013
10:34 on Sunday morning 22 September, and amid British scenery at its most attractive, 56 087 heads past Rednal, Shropshire with empty log train 6C37 Chirk to Carlisle, pictured by Stavros Lainas. To avoid reversing after servicing the sidings at Chirk, this train heads south through Shrewsbury and Telford, then round the Bushbury curve to reach Stafford and northwards on the West Coast Main Line to Carlisle.
Don't miss our extra issue - uploaded on 21 September
Community Rail Weekend
As reported earlier, The Community Rail Awards event is taking place, with an invited audience, in Llandudno on Friday 27 September, hosted by Arriva Trains Wales and the Conwy Valley Partnership. An interesting working in conjunction with this will be the appearance in North Wales of a First Great Western Class 158 bringing delegates from community railways in south-west England. Leaving Exeter St Davids at 09:44 on Friday, with pauses of 15-20 minutes at Wrexham, Chester and Llandudno Junction, it will arrive in Llandudno at 16:27. (Full Schedule). After stabling for the night at Llandudno Junction, it departs Llandudno at 11:30, running non-stop to Chester and from there to Shrewsbury. Arrival in Exeter: 18:30 (Full Schedule).
Another attraction on Saturday 28 September, as well as the steam charter from Carnforth to Chester (arr.11:40, dep.16:15) is the promised run of the 67-hauled 'premier express' train from Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog as a treat for attendees of the conference.
Larry Davies, Community Rail Officer, has kindly sent us some information. The ACoRP National Awards Dinner and Ceremony takes place at the Venue Cymru, Llandudno on the evening of Friday 27 September, and attendees will be greeted by a Narrow gauge 'De Winton' type loco Leary, probably in steam, on a plinth of track outside the main entrance, courtesy of the Ffestiniog Railway. This should be a first – a railway steam loco on Llandudno’s North Shore!
The following morning Arriva Trains Wales, Ffestiniog Railway and the Conwy Valley Rail Partnership are holding a special event which sees the loco hauled set leave Llandudno at 09:33 for Blaenau Ffestiniog conveying ACoRP delegates and invited guests. At Blaenau Ffestiniog there will be a display of narrow-gauge steam power in the shape of Lilla and Hugh Napier along with displays of slate splitting at the station and a walking tour of the industrial heritage of the town. The delegates will travel to Porthmadog on a service train and following a viewing of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway developments at Harbour Station, the tour participants will return to Blaenau on a special vintage train hauled by Palmerston and Taliesin. The standard gauge train return to Llandudno Junction at 16:15.
37s on Test Train
Sunday 22 September was a sunny day in North Wales, enlivened in railway terms by the visit of a Network Rail Radio Survey Train which ran from Crewe and visited Holyhead, and on the return journey, made an expedition to Blaenau Ffestiniog and back, checking the reception of the railway's cab-to-shore radio networks. Traction was provided by DRS in the shape of 37 607 and 37 259. We'll follow the train on it's travels, hoping the pictures are in the right sequence ... above, the train passing the slowly decomposing Rhyl No. 2 signalbox at 13:06 en route to Holyhead. Picture by Roly High.
A few moments later, just past the end of Rhyl's Down Passenger Loop (Stavros Lainas)
Returned from Holyhead, 37 259 in Platform 1 prepares to head up the Conwy Valley, where it had the whole branch to itself, as there now no Sunday service trains until May 2014. The National Rail Timetable has the footnote:
On Sundays from 15th September 2013 until 1st December 2013 a bus service is available at Llandudno Junction station to various destinations between Blaenau Ffestiniog & Llandudno, please contact Traveline 0871 200 22 33 for further information on these services or contact a staff member at Llandudno Junction upon arrival.We really can't recommend arriving 'on spec' on Sunday at Llandudno Junction hoping for a Conwy Valley connection. The Gwynedd bus timetable online offers only a bus (84) running from Llandudno via Llandudno Junction just three times on Sundays terminating at Betws-y-Coed, and the Arriva Trains Wales timetable booklet has nothing to say on the subject except that trains finish on 8 September. However, a PDF timetable amendment on the Conwy Council website shows a connecting bus (X84) running between Betws-y-Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog on Sundays and Public Holidays (except 25/26 Dec. and 1 Jan.) from 15 September. New bus times for the whole area apply from 27 October.
37 607 on the rear amongst the foliage at Llandudno Junction Platform 1, the 'Tamper Siding' in the foreground (Darren Durrant).
Emerging from the tubular bridge, with its support towers designed by Robert Stephenson and his team to match the 13th-century Conwy Castle (Garry Stroud).
Passing Bangor after visiting Holyhead, 37 259 leading (Rowan Crawshaw)...
... and 37 607 trailing (Rowan Crawshaw).
Glan Conwy, on the way to Blaenau Ffestiniog (Garry Stroud). Behind the loco is 'staff coach' 977969, originally built as Mk2b Brake Compartment First (BFK) 14112 and later converted to Royal Train Couchette coach 2906. The centre coach is one of the two Radio Survey Coach 977868/9, which were converted from Mk2e vehicles; at the rear is a Mk1-based generator van, converted from one of the 'full brake' carriages.
Crossing the river near Llanrwst at 16:12 (Stavros Lainas).
Betws-y-Coed (Darren Durrant). 37 607 seems to have a 'very shiny nose.' The coach is the background are the Buffet Coach Café.
Back at Llandudno Junction (Peter Lloyd)
37 259 prepares to lead the train back to Crewe, this time in Platform 3. 37 259 has had a varied career since it was built in 1965, as its history on the Class 37 Locomotive Group website reveals.
Passing Rhyl as the sunlight fails (Roly High).
Re-starting after being held at Rhyl's starting signal (Roly High).
Ffestiniog Society moves
The Ffestiniog Railway Society Dee & Mersey Group has decided to move its meeting venue back to The 'Cross Keys' at 2 Duke Street, Chester CH1 1RP (on corner of Lower Bridge Street and Duke Street). Meetings for the rest of the year at The Cross Keys at 7.40pm are: Wednesday 25 September 'The Penrhyn Quarry Railway' with Eric Foulkes; Wednesday 30 October 'Birkenhead Tramways & The Wirral Tramway' with Rob Jones; Wednesday 27 November 'George England Locomotives' with Chris Jones. For more information contact Geoff Lake, dandm[at]ffestiniograilway.org.uk.
Past Times with John Hobbs - Diesel Days
On Whit Sunday 17 May 1964, Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon-built Bo-Bo (later Class 27) D5406 heads over Prestatyn water troughs with train 1T27, an excursion from the Leicester area. The locomotive would have been quite a rarity in the area both then and since. This loco became 27 042 and spent much of its working life in Scotland before returning to its Leicester roots to be scrapped. The train is formed of LMS stock including at least one Kitchen Car.
A classic and regular (at the time) steam/diesel combination; English Electric Type 4 1Co-Co1 D317 and LMS Class 5 4-6-0 44873 leave Prestatyn with the 1.05 pm Llandudno to London(Euston) - formerly the 'The Welshman' on Friday 10 July 1964. This train still carried a Restaurant Car from Holyhead, although this started life as part of a Manchester service and was detached at Bangor before forming the 12.50 portion from Bangor. The portions from the Cambrian Coast had been discontinued by this time.
'Peak' 1Co-Co1 Type 4 (later Class 46) D163 Leicestershire and Derbyshire Yeomanry leaves Prestatyn with a down Special, 1T11, on Sunday 2 August 1964. This was unique event at the time and Class 46's have never been commonplace on the North Wales Coast; a nice rake of LMS vehicles follows behind. [The name is now carried by preserved Class 45 loco D123.]
Diesel Day at Llangollen, 21 September - pictures by Martin Evans
Class 26 D5310 waits to depart Llangollen with the 12 noon service to Carrog.
On arrival at Carrog it has run round and now waits to depart with the 1pm service to Llangollen.
Class 08 shunter 13265 was at Llangollen station giving Driver Experience rides within the station limits.
Wirral Bus and Tram Show
An interesting event on Sunday 6 October is the Wirral Bus and Tram Show centred on Birkenhead's heritage tramway. A four-tram service will be in operation for most of the day. Highlights include the appearance of the Frodsham Silver Band on an open top tram. Some 45 visiting buses will be in the Cheshire Lines car park with around 40 classic cars on show at Woodside. A free heritage bus service will be in operation, travelling to parts of Wirral including New Brighton and around the dock area. Sales stalls, exhibits and refreshments will be available at the Transport Museum in Taylor Street.
Great Western Society news
Peter Hanson sends the above picture of the only 'Manor' class loco the Editor ever saw in BR service, 7812 Erlestoke Manor at Fisherman's Crossing with the 15:50 departure from Llangollen on 31 August, and informs us that the Great Western Society North West Branch meets at 19:30 at St Hilda's Hall, Latchford, Warrington on the last Friday of each month, except December. Details have been added to our Calendar: the next meeting, on 27 September, is a presentation by Colin Ellis, entitled 'The first 25 years of my Railway Photography.'
Nantwich, Logs and Western - by Chris Morrison
Some Cheshire scenes from 21 September. Above: 150 230 departs Nantwich with the 13:20 Crewe - Shrewsbury past the signalbox which is doomed to close in October; various items related to the forthcoming new signalling can be seen.
66 559 passes Nantwich signalbox with the 13:49 Basford Hall-Severn Tunnel Junction infrastructure train. Photo taken from a convenient footpath, using the camera's articulated screen to get over the palisade fence.
175 009 passes signal NH2 with a Manchester-bound train.
150 230 arrives back at Nantwich with the 14:24 Shrewsbury - Crewe. The triangular reflectors which mark the limit of the radar detector coverage can be spotted either side of the line.
Colas Rail loco 56 087 passes Chester Locks with the Carlisle - Chirk logs, running about 145 minutes late after a very late departure from Carlisle.
D1015 Western Champion, now back in action, and 47 773 arrive at Crewe with Vintage Trains' return 'Cumbrian Explorer' from Carlisle to Tyseley.
Cab view of D1015 at Crewe. Crewe Alexandra football club's main stand can just be seen in the background.
Side view of the Western at Crewe; it has been repainted into the BT coach maroon livery used on a number of the class, reportedly against the intentions of design stylist Misha Black who was responsible for the artistic body shape.
Robbery on the Irish Mail, 1963
Much has been written recently, especially in railway magazines, about the so-called great train robbery 50 years ago on the night of August 1963, including the fact that the bridge where the robbers stopped the loco and security coach, after assaulting the driver to make him take the controls, now has the official identity 'Train Robbers Bridge' shown on its 'emergency' sign. What were they thinking of?
Much has been written, but little or no mention is ever made of an earlier crime on the night of 20 February of that year, apparently by some of the same perpetrators. This had a strong North Wales connection, as the train was the diesel-hauled 8.40 pm London Euston - Holyhead 'Irish Mail' and the train crew involved were mostly based at Holyhead, having worked the night train from Holyhead to London the previous night. One member of that train crew, guard Arwel Roberts, who was attacked, tied up and at beaten by the robbers, has written a memoir of the events, with the help of his son, and published it as an e-book which is now available on Amazon, under the title The Forgotten Train Robbery.
The robbers travelled on the train from London, apparently planning to break into the van containing the mail while the crew were distracted, and escape when the train was stopped at a signal by a confederate at the lineside, but were disturbed, and mistreated the staff before escaping with little of value, at Hemel Hempstead station instead of their intended location after the communication cord was pulled.
Follow this link to buy the book, which is well worth reading, for £1.99 - you don't need a Kindle device, free Kindle programs can be downloaded from the Amazon site for most kinds of PC and Android devices.
Rhyl to Canterbury - with Roly High
The early morning sun on 9 September bathes 47 810 Peter Bath MBE as it brings 1Z50 the Compass Tours 'Kent and Canterbury Explorer' into Rhyl's platform 1.
I was a nice day until we reached Rugby where it started to rain. Above, the train upon arrival at a very wet Canterbury; this shot taken from the footbridge shows that the rear of the train was not in the platform.
The consist of the train included seven first class 'Great Briton' coaches...
... each named after a distinguished British person. The five standard coaches at the rear were ex
Virgin mark 2s.This train is operated by Riviera Trains from its Crewe depot.
47 810 drags the empty stock away under Canterbury West signal box.
47 501 Craftsman seen at the rear as the train moved away under the interesting overhead signalbox at Canterbury West. The Southeastern unit is stabled in a refuge siding
47 501 then brings the stock into the stabling siding.
Canterbury West station façade is in the classical style.
47 501, now the lead loco for the return journey, brings the empty stock under the signalbox and into platform 1. This interesting structure, now a grade II Listed building, was built by the Southern Railway in 1928 to replace two separate boxes, and has recently been repainted in traditional Southern Region green and cream.
Pulling into Ashford International alongside the 'Javelin' depot. These Hitachi Class 395 High-Speed trains run between London St Pancras and Canterbury; an interesting ride for anyone planning their own trip to the city.
An icicle growing out of some chimney pots - the Shard tower at London Bridge station. These charter routes across London enable a good view of the different buildings London has to offer. Great credit must be given to Network Rail, Compass Tours, DRS and Riviera Trains for getting us out and back across the capital's busy rail network with little delay.
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