NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:NOTICE
|Home | Notice Board | Travel
Info | Calendar | History
| Route Guide | The
Trains | For Railfans | Links | Contact
28 October 2013
Thursday 24 October, and the late running 6V75 Dee Marsh Margam steel train hauled by 60 079 passes Hawarden at 11:22 (Stavros Lainas).
North Wales Coast locomotives, 22 October
22 October saw a remarkable variety of diesel locomotives make way 'along the coast' with various duties. A Network Rail Ultrasonic Test Train from Crewe to Derby via Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog featured push-pull traction with loco 31 233 and Driving trailer 9708. We pick it up at Rockcliffe Hall heading west, with the driving trailer leading (Bob Greenhalgh).
Bagillt (Tim Rogers).
A look at the vehicles in the train, courtesy of Tim Rogers. 62384 is the vehicle containing the ultrasonic equipment testing for flaws in the rails. It still carries its original number from when it was the motor coach of a Southern Region 4-CIG electric unit. It had been acquired for preservation on the Great Central Railway, but was then sold in 2011 to RVEL for conversion to its present form
977985, which acts as staff accommodation, was at one time part of the Structure Gauging Train, and has been reallocated to this duty.
977986 is classed as 'support coach.' It's main function is to provide enough brake force for the train to run at the necessary speeds. Note the old version of NR yellow.
At Deganwy on the way back from Llandudno, 31 233 with its Christmas-tree festoon of lights, is it the lead (Darren Durrant). Unfortunately the day's weather was not ideal for photographs.
In the dark at Blaenau Ffestiniog (Jack Bowley).
Then there was an appearance by the Nuclear Flask Train, for first for a few weeks, featuring two different classes in the form of 20 303 and 37 038. The return train is seen above on Pen-y-Clip (or Penmaenmawr) viaduct between Llanfairfechan and Penmaenmawr. This unusual structure was built in 1847-48 after attempts to build a solid stone-walled structure to carry the line had failed. The part-built embankment was destroyed by the force of the waves, and after discussion it was decided to built a viaduct 550 feet long with cast iron girders on 13 piers, to let the breakers pass through.
Digression: this postcard dates from the 1930s. It is said that engineer Robert Stephenson later regretted choosing the coastal route rather than a long tunnel through the Penmaenmawr headland.
Llandudno Junction (Peter Lloyd).
Colwyn Bay (Darren Durrant).
Beeches Farm (Bob Greenhalgh).
Other loco workings were 67-hauled the Holyhead - Cardiff Premier Express which runs in darkness at this time of year, and the Rail Head Treatment Train with its 97/3s which seems to have evaded our contributors on this day.
Cambrian Nostalgia - by Stephen Hughes
The attached photograph, whilst not in any way acceptable for its quality or framing, does nonetheless provide a glimpse into an aspect of the life of railways in North Wales that has almost totally disappeared and for me provokes memories of holidays in North Wales to visit my Nain (Granny) in Pwllheli. Once again I did not have any details at all about the photo, nor any personal memories, having only recently had my fourth birthday, but have been able to piece together from my father's notebooks the information below. Spelling of place names and times were those commonly in use when the photograph was taken on Saturday 16 May 1959.
The location is the north end of Barmouth station. The two locos on the right - ex GWR 'mogul' 2-6-0s 5378 and 6357 behind, both of Croes Newydd shed - have just come off the long train on the left, which had departed London Paddington at 9am, calling at Birmingham Snow Hill, Wolverhampton Low Level, Shrewsbury and Ruabon where the moguls replaced 'Castle' class 5047 Earl of Dartmouth (which had already replaced 5046 Earl Cawdor, presumably at Snow Hill). Ten minutes were allowed at Ruabon for the change of locomotives, and it then departed at 1.13pm for Barmouth, calling at Llangollen, Corwen, Dolgelley (water only) and Barmouth Junction, before arriving at Barmouth at 3.27pm. Here only six minutes was allowed for the locomotive change, the moguls being replaced by 'Manor' 7806 Cockington Manor for the journey to Pwllheli. Stops were made at Harlech, Portmadoc, Criccieth, Afon Wen and Penychain, the Pwllheli arrival scheduled for 4.50pm. Even though it was only early summer the train must have been heavy as a banking engine was required between Penrhyndeudraeth and Criccieth.
I surmise that the two 2-6-0s would have waited for the train to depart, and then come out of the bay, reversed to Barmouth Junction, turned on the triangle, and then headed back to Barmouth to await a return working to Ruabon or Chester. Whether 5378 was feeling poorly I don't know, but 1959 was to be its last summer, as it was withdrawn from Croes Newydd at the end of the summer season in September after a working life of 40 years.
Also in the bay, awaiting the departure of the train and the 'moguls' was the 3.45pm all stations to Pwllheli, with small prairie 4575 (or 4549) on the front. The water column in the foreground clearly shows a brazier that would hopefully prevent the water from freezing in a severe winter.
I'm not sure when through trains to Pwllheli via Ruabon ceased, but it couldn't have been long after 1959, as I am sure most readers will know that the line effectively closed in December 1964. It might have been an impending threat that led my father to decide to travel by this route rather than the usual 'Cambrian Coast Express' which I think left Paddington about an hour later, whatever the reason it meant that we had to travel to London from Bedford rather than our local station at St Neot's, presumably because there wasn't a train from the latter that would have enabled us to reach Paddington in time.
Nine of us piling into my father's old car with our holiday luggage was certainly something that would not have been allowed today, and what my Mother would have thought of my Father's whims is anyone's guess, but still, it's the sort of thing I might do today ... if there was as much to interest me on the railways. We continued to travel to Pwllheli each year on the 'CCE' until the through trains from London ceased, one year - 1963 - returning on 'The Welshman' via the North Wales Coast and Chester by which time I was able to scribble numbers in my grubby notebook held in even grubbier hands. Happy days!
(Negative digitisation by Transport Treasury)
Llangollen on Tour - report by Richard Putley
At this year’s Avon Valley Railway steam gala, held on the weekend of 19/20 October, the star guest was Llangollen Railway based GWR Manor 4-6-0 7822 Foxcote Manor. Due to other commitments I was unable to attend the gala, but I managed to get a ride behind it on 27 October. I caught the 12:15 from Bitton to Oldland (above), and then the 12:45 from Bitton to Avon Riverside. I attach some photos. With the loops at both ends you can almost imagine it's on the Cambrian.
It will also be running next Sunday, 3 November. More details at:www.avonvalleyrailway.org.
Recently, the AVR’s BR Class 07 diesel shunter, D2994 (above) has been re-painted into Rail Blue.
Also on display in the dock road at Bitton was ex-British Army Drewry 0-4-0 diesel loco Grumpy. Built in 1944 it was one of a number shipped to Normandy after the D-Day landings.
Past Times with John Hobbs - Where 'our' engines got to
It is interesting to reflect how, even in steam days, locomotives often reached places a long way from their home depot, here are two examples I stumbled across. Above, LMS Class 5 4-6-0 45312, a Shrewsbury engine (6D) at Glasgow Corkerhill (67A) having been overhauled at Cowlairs Works, on 29 March 1964. Locomotives were being sent to Swindon, even Inverurie, Darlington and Eastleigh as Crewe Works changed over to diesel overhauls. The buffer beam has been painted with the Shed name as was typical in LNER practice but not a typical LMS or Midland Region practice, this led to interesting errors as the shed code list held in Scotland was somewhat out-of-date which led to legends such as Chester (Northgate) appearing on locomotive buffer beams, as in this case. In addition, large LNER-style numbers are painted on the cab side.
Holyhead (6J) based rebuilt 'Patriot' 4-6-0 45530 Sir Frank Ree on shed at Farnley Junction (55C) on 13 September 1964, having worked an overnight Holyhead to Leeds boat train; typically at peak times the boat trains to Manchester were extended to Leeds(City) depending on traffic. At this late date, this may have been the last time this locomotive visited Leeds on such a working.
Cruising Birkenhead Docks - report by George Jones
The Daniel Adamson Preservation Society organised an unusual cruise of the Birkenhead docks system on Saturday 16 October. The weather proved better than forecast and whilst overcast initially, the sun came out later. The participants gathered at Seacombe Ferry terminal to be taken by bus to the dock to join the boat. Four preserved Atlanteans from the Merseyside Transport Trust provided the transport link, and I joined L835 (above) as a reminder of the type that took me to and from work for many years upwards of 50 years ago.
The ferry Royal Iris of the Mersey embarked passengers as it was tied up alongside the out-of-use Royal Daffodil in the East Float.
Departing at 12:35 the cruise headed for the West Float which required the Duke Street bridge to be lifted, a bascule bridge which once saw rail traffic connecting both sides of the docks system and well remembered as the route of the Wirral Railway Circle's Birkenhead Docks railtours 40 years ago.
In West Float a Russian freighter the Pavel Vavilov was seen unloading a cargo of Urea.
Further on, the German tanker Ellen Essberger was loading at United Molasses. One interesting fact revealed by the commentator is that traffic into the Birkenhead docks system is restricted by a lack of depth with the water level maintained at 10 metres.
Tucked away in a corner was Prince Charles' former command, HMS Bronington, now sadly awaiting destruction on account of asbestos content.
Another sad ship is the Prodromos which is awaiting departure after a period impounded for defects.
Returning to East Float, access was made into Vittoria Dock [this the correct spelling], former museum ship HMS Plymouth remains in store whilst its future is decided - possibly departing to a new base in the North East, although, surely, its true home would be in the South West if a base could be found for it.
The cruise through the docks served to emphasize what a vast stretch of enclosed water the system provides. To depart the docks system the remaining operational bridge on the Four Bridges road was lifted (above) ...
... to allow access to Alfred Dock, where we were joined by the tug Svitzer Sussex to await the opening of the gates into the river.This took rather longer than expected as the more usual exit via Alfred Lock was out of use due to repairs to the outer gate. Once out in the Mersey the cruise continued to the south on a fast flowing tide. Activity at Cammell Lairds was taken in with two Royal Fleet Auxiliaries, Gold Rover and Fort Rosalie, in dock and more evidence of the offshore wind farm industry.
The tanker Minerva Eleonora was at Tranmere oil terminal off loading North Sea crude oil; a ship that came and went in less than 48 hours.
Turning back at Bromborough we headed for Seacombe ferry, noting in-bound traffic for the Liverpool docks system whilst tanker Whitchampion exited and headed for the Manchester Ship Canal and Stanlow. Back at Seacombe, a little later than planned, the unusual cruise was over all too quickly and the next option for an unusual itinerary on the Mersey is eagerly awaited for 2014.
In pouring rain on Friday 26 October, John Roobottom took this image in the surrounding gloom as Beyer-Garratt 138 drifted down the Aberglaslyn Pass with the 14.30 Caernarfon - Porthmadog train alongside the River Glaslyn in full spate. Plenty of smoke to brighten the dreary conditions, though.
158 835 between the tunnels at Penhelig (Aberdovey) with a Pwllheli - Birmingham International train on 18 October (John Roobottom).
60 040 The Territorial Army Centenary powering through Gobowen with the 6V75 empty coil wagons to Margam taken on 14 October (Martin Evans).
GB Railfreight are now using Class 92 electric locos owned by associated French Railways subsidiary Europorte on Felixstowe - Manchester Trafford Park freights, the 92 hauling the train between Ipswich and Trafford Park as the Felixstowe branch is not electrified. Above, 92 043 Debussy heads through a wet Manchester Piccadilly (Greg Mape).
Freightliner's Trafford Park trains can also produce electric locos as a change from the Class 66 monopoly. Above, the interesting combination of veteran electric loco 86 622, which now wears the updated Class 70-style livery, and Railfreight triple-grey 90 044 waits for a signal on the viaduct (built in 1849) between Manchester Oxford Road and Piccadilly with the 10:18 from Trafford Park to Southampton, seen from the well-known viewpoint of the University car park. Note the strengthening bars added to some of the arches. It was in a building in Granby Row, alongside the viaduct that 'Vimto' was first made in 1908, and a nearby sculpture commemorates this.
The full length of the Manchester Metrolink branch to Ashton-under-Lyne is now in service. Above, car 3017 stands at Ashton station amid a completely modern-international array of buildings including Aldi and Ikea (Charlie Hulme).
A regular performer on Autumn services, 80072 at Llangollen with the 1pm service to Carrog (Martin Evans). A steam service will be operating on 29-31 October, and weekends 2-3 and 9-10 November. A diesel railcar service will operate on 1st and 4th - 8th November. The 'Santa Special' season starts on 30 November. See the Llangollen Railway timetable.
Autumn Gathering in York - report by Roly High
The Autumn Great Gathering at the National Railway Museum in York offers an other chance to see all six surviving LNER 'A4' pacifics together, until 11 November 2013. 10am - 6pm. Admission is free. I was there on the first day of the Gathering, 26 October, and a lot of people had come to visit, as the picture above shows. With my 15mm wide-angle lens it was possible, with a bit of a struggle, to get all six in the shot.
Six 'faces' in numerical order. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley and 60008 Dwight D.Eisenhower ...
... 60009 Union of South Africa and 60019 (LNER 4464) Bittern ...
... 60022 (LNER 4468) Mallard and 60010 (LNER 4489) Dominion of Canada.
In the Museum workshop, Flying Scotsman's boiler, proudly branded 'Riley & Son, Bury' is now back on the frames, and work on the tender is complete. The project leader has categorically stated, that it is a 'definite maybe' that the Scotsman will be running in 2015! Joking apart, one of the maintenance team gave me a run down of the condition of the loco when they bought it some years ago,and basically, on his view it was only fit for scrap.
He told me they did consider painting it in grey primer, but because Tornado was done in grey primer they have decided to leave it in wartime black until the rebuild is finished, then plan what colour to paint it. Certainly the loco is now getting the full attention of the Museum staff.
A North Wales related item on display: the headboard from 'The Welsh Dragon', the only named train ever formed of a steam-worked push-pull set powered by a small tank engine, at least in the British Railways era.
Here it is, attached to 2-6-2T 41320 at Rhyl in the early 1950s. Picture by Gordon Coltas, by permission of the Coltas Photographic Trust.
Face Transplant for Thomas
To clear up any possible confusion caused by erroneous editing in the last issue, these two pictures by George Jones shows his old face (above) and new visage recommended by the copyright owners (below) which we think you will agree looks more tasteful. Curiously, however, the illustrations on the Thomas and Friends website still show a face the same diameter as the smokebox, as indeed do the original Audrey book covers.
'Hmm, am I doing on a serious railway website?'
North Wales Coast home page | Archive | Previous Notice Board