NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:NOTICE
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04 November 2013
221 103 Christopher Columbus ready to depart from Chester as the 11:28 to London Euston on 3 November. Picture by Roly High.
Coast Line Scenes
97 303 and 97 302 at Colwyn Bay on the 3S71 Rail Head Treatment Train, Monday 28 October. Picture by Jack Bowley.
A pleasant new addition to the furniture at Colwyn Bay station: note the nostalgic locomotive livery. Picture by Jack Bowley who writes: 'Not too sure what it's trying to replicate, either way it's very good!'
37 602 and 37 606 with one flask head into and out of Llanfair PG station at 09:05 on 1 November (Peter Basterfield).
57 008 and 37 606 head back to Crewe with the 6K41 flask train through Llanfairfechan about 30 minutes ahead of booked time on 29 October (Peter Basterfield).
Network Rail's track assessment unit arrives at Bangor where it reversed to return east, 31 October (Alan Crawshaw).
Due to engineering works on the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Warrington Bank Quay on Sunday 3 November, Virgin services from Birmingham New Street to Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley were diverted through Chester. Here 221 113 Sir Walter Raleigh has come off the line from Crewe and prepares to reverse in Chester Platform 4; on the left is the 09:20 from Birmingham New Street to Edinburgh Waverley (Roly High).
Mystery Solved - No. 1
Another look at the 'mystery' painting reproduced in the 21 October update. Correspondents agree that the location is Betws [or Bettws] Garmon on the Welsh Highland Railway. The little church on the right is dedicated to St Garmon, and the train is heading for the bridge over the the Afon Gwrfai, which until its recent replacement was a plate girder structure of 50 feet span with a curved top as the artist has shown. Betws Garmon station, which has not re-opened with the railway, is obscured by the tree in the left foreground. The mountain behind is Moel Eilio (726 metres). A caravan park now occupies the area where the artist set up his easel.
This link to Bing maps aerial view shows the area.
This section of railway opened in 1877 as part of the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways line from Dinas to Rhyd Ddu. In the 1920s it was extended through Beddgelert to meet the Ffestiniog Railway at Porthmadog, and became the Welsh Highland Railway. It carried local slate products, and was popular with tourists for a while, but it eventually fell into disrepair and disuse, and much material was removed during World War II. The trackbed remained intact, and after years of proposals and discussions, followed by a great deal of work by volunteers and contractors, trains ran again through Betws Garmon in 2003.
The Welsh Highland Railway website has an interesting history of the line. Thanks to Adam Barnard and Ian Wright for solving the mystery. Adam believes he has seen a version of this picture on display, possibly at Porthmadog station. Can anyone confirm?
Remembrance at Llangollen
Visitors to the Llangollen Railway during Remembrance weekend 9/10 November will be able to view progress with the exciting project to built an example of the 'Patriot' class of express locomotive to be known as The Unknown Warrior.
The basic frames of the locomotive have been erected in the Llangollen Railway's engineering workshop for some time now but, with additional parts made and fitted, the locomotive is beginning to take shape. When the main driving wheels are fitted in a few weeks time and it will be recognisable as an example of the 'Patriot' class as built by the London Midland & Scottish Railway in the 1930s. Visitors taking part in escorted tours of the workshops during the weekend will be able to see the fitted out frames with the smokebox attached to the front end.
The intention is to have the locomotive completed in time for the centenary of the Armistice in 2018 when it will be presented as the National Memorial Engine. The biggest item still required to complete the project is the boiler and an appeal to raise £400,000 is being promoted by the LMS-Patriot Project to finance this essential part. Details of the Project will be on show at Llangollen station throughout the weekend as an appropriate theme to the annual Remembrance commemoration. The prospect is that a really impressive piece of engineering will be on display later in November when the rolling chassis of the new Patriot is taken for display at the NEC Birmingham, during the Warley National Model Railway exhibition on 23/24 November.
During the weekend the Llangollen Railway will be operating steam train services departing Llangollen at 11am, 1pm and 3pm on both days when members of the Royal British Legion and Army Cadet Force will be on hand to promote the annual Poppy Appeal and the steam locomotive heading the train will be wearing a 'Remembrance' headboard.
As part of the weekend's activities, on the Saturday evening The LMS-Patriot Project will be running a special steam-hauled fish 'n chip fund-raising special. This will leave Llangollen station at 6.30pm with one round trip to Carrog. The fish and chips will be served shortly after departure from Llangollen. A booking form is available to download.
Special to Liverpool Road - pictures by Vince Chadwick
We have reported in the past that the building of the new 'Ordsall Chord' line between Manchester and Salford will almost certainly require disconnection of the siding connection into the Museum of Science and Industry (MoSI), which occupies the historic site and buildings of Liverpool Road station, opened in 1830. As we mentioned, this link has been very rarely used by trains carrying paying passengers, and it would be good if some more trains could use it before the link is lost. On Sunday 3 November, this came about, in the shape of the Branch Line Society's 'Power Haul Tracker' charter (1Z62) from Carnforth and Preston. Vince Chadwick, a volunteer worker on the Museum's internal railway, was there with his camera.
The train was supplied by West Coast Railways: 37 706 (above) led four Mk 1 coaches, tailed by 47 760, over the Irwell river bridge into the museum, with a member of the Museum staff in the cab to act as 'conductor driver' ...
... 47 760 on the rear of the train ...
... while resident loco Agecroft No.1 and train of replica 1830s coaches waited on 'LR2', one of two loops in MoSI. The special was routed in onto LR1 (the other through loop) and the 37 was detached from the front and stabled in front of the power hall.
The 47 then propelled the train into the MoSI platform so the passengers could exit. We hear that it was not confirmed until the day before that this train would run into Liverpool Road, as Network Rail had concerns about the state of the track. Well done to those who made it happen, and let us hope there will be more.
It then drew forward and the train was split. Two coaches went onto an adjacent line in front of the Power Hall next to the 37, the other two and the 47 were stabled on LR1 while the passengers explored the museum ...
... allowing Agecroft No.1 to operate the normal train rides for visitors using line LR2. For days of operation of these rides MoSI's fine collections, see the MoSI website.
These scenes may seem familiar, as earlier this year we reported that a West Coast Railways 47, 47 500, visited MoSI in rather different circumstances, being placed there out of the way after derailing and catching fire on the main line at nearby Ordsall Lane Junction. (See the 4 February Notice Board). 47 500 was later taken away by road, while Train services through Manchester were disrupted for several days. The Rail Accident Investigation Branch began an inquiry into the causes, but no full report has yet appeared.
Beyer Peacock built loco no 822 The Earl had just arrived at Llanfair Caereinion on the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway with the 11.30am service from Welshpool, 30 October (Martin Evans). This line has now gone into hibernation until the Santa Season.
Two old friends of North Wales train-watchers, 61994 The Great Marquess and 46233 Duchess of Sutherland, made guest appearances at the East Lancashire Railway steam gala on 19/20 October. Peter Basterfield captures them double-heading past Burrs Country Park.
46233 now wears British Railways green livery with orange and black lining based on Great Western Railway styling, and still wears its crown applied after it hauled the Royal Train. Picture by Darren Durrant.
61994 at Rawtenstall: note the enlarged water space in the tender (Darren Durrant).
In the Dee Valley, 3802 departs from Berwyn on 3 November (George Jones).
Mystery solved - No. 2
Our 7 October update included three pictures sent by Stuart Broadbent, believed to have been taken by his father on a cycling tour of North Wales circa 1956.
John Hobbs writes: The first picture(reproduced above) is definitely Denbigh. 'The tall building with a castellated tower is the gas works; the station spire can be seen in the distance, also it was in 1956 before the new signalbox was built in 1960. The arriving train is signalled for the loop, which has no platform, it will set back behind the train standing in the platform which was normal practice at Denbigh. In the second picture the engine has probably been to Ruthin or run around its stock.
In the last picture (above) the engine is standing in the bay at the north end of the station. The gas lamps and brackets are appropriate to Denbigh and the water column was adjacent to the signal post. In later pictures the flowers are in barrels raised off the platform. All can be seen in the book on Denbigh & Mold Line by W.G. Rear.'
Past Times with John Hobbs - Horse Boxes
The picture above shows GWR 0-6-2T 6611, on pilot duty at Chester on 25 May 1964. At this time a GWR 0-6-2T spent the day on pilot duty at Chester (General); it is playing with an LNER style Horse Box in the sidings adjacent to the Wagon Works. I only ever saw horse boxes going to Holyhead on passenger trains; in the reverse direction they were usually in the formation of the afternoon Holyhead to Crewe / Manchester / London Broad Street non-passenger carrying stock train. The pilot engines at Chester were always busy shunting horse boxes about the station adding and detaching them from trains and the images which follow illustrate this past operating practice.
Horse boxes, a throw back to the earliest days of the railway; from these early years of the railways the 'Gentry' wished to convey their carriages and horses by the new fangled transport system. Therefore carriage trucks, originally flat wagons on which horse drawn carriages could be placed featured on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. These eventually became covered and were known as 'covered carriage trucks' (CCT), to keep the dirt from the locomotives off the upholstery on the horse drawn carriages. Eventually these vehicles had end loading doors and ramps at each end; the horse drawn vehicles carried could be driven through several of them and on to end loading docks which were provided at most stations. Later builds of these CCTs lasted until the end of smalls delivery traffic on the railways as they also had side doors and that made them very versatile vehicles. New CCTs were being built as late as 1960, but they were all withdrawn by 1988.
Above, LMS Class 4 2-6-4T 42242 shunts a pair of Horse Boxes through the centre of Chester General on 25 March 1964. They also developed in the early years of the railways, and unlike their contemporary passenger vehicles changed very little; they usually had a place for the groom to ride with the the horse, a store for fodder and a place to store saddles. The British Railways Standard Horse boxes could accommodate three horses as well as a toilet for the groom and the other facilities mentioned. Horse boxes to LNER design standards were built at Earlestown as late as 1954, and 115 BR Standard ones were also built there from 1958; some were allocated to the Southern Region and carried SR green livery and the well-known branding "NOT TO WORK BETWEEN TONBRIDGE & BATTLE".
Most stations had a goods loading dock associated with the end loading dock, and horses were loaded and unloaded through the wide side doors. Finally, horse traffic ceased during the late sixties due to road competition and the vehicles went for scrap. Hornby-Dublo produced a splendid model of a British Railways standard horse box in both maroon and green liveries; it also had opening doors and a plastic horse; earlier models had been made in tinplate.
LMS 4-6-2 46254 City of Stoke-on-Trent leaves Prestatyn with the 11.20 London (Euston) to Holyhead on 23 June 1964; the train is conveying three Horse Boxes and perhaps the loco is a 'Duchess' because it could provide steam heating to the horse boxes in the train; by this time this train was usually an English Electric Type 4 diesel.
On occasion whole trains of horse boxes could be seen and these ran at express speeds to and from Holyhead. Above, LMS Class 5 4-6-0 45466 heads a Horse Box Special through Prestatyn on Monday 27 July 1964, heading for Holyhead and travelling at speed. Regrettably not the best photograph I ever took, but the only time I managed to capture one of these elusive trains. The train is led by a Brake Composite coach for the grooms, or perhaps the owners and there are at least three designs of Horse Box in the consist.
Horse Boxes had a long wheelbase and could be worked at express speeds and were branded "XP", though this usually limited speed to 80 mph. The North Wales Coast saw a constant stream of these vehicles working to Holyhead. This was for race horses and at the times of 'Classic' races vehicles could be seen at the front of passenger trains, as they came on with the locomotive and received priority treatment, even above that afforded to cattle trains, as some 'Blood Stock' horses were obviously very valuable.
There were also Special Cattle Vans (SCV) for carrying prize cattle, they had three axles and I presume they could also carry horses but I do not know for certain. One of these and one Horse Box are preserved at the National Railway Museum, and several preserved railways also have horse boxes on their stock lists. Above, BR Standard Class 5 4-6-0 73131 heads 'Down' the coast into Prestatyn with the what I think is the 5.10pm Liverpool Lime Street to Holyhead; the first vehicle is a Special Cattle Van (SCV), 24 April 1964.
LMS Class 3F 0-6-0T 47371 shunts GWR-design Special Cattle Van ('Beetle', in GWR code) W 760 W at Chester on 25 March 1964; what mighty and valuable beast may it contain? Note the three axles and the "XP" branding, One of this type, W 752 W, is preserved by the Great Western Society at Didcot, awaiting restoration, and a similar vehicle, but to a Southern Railway design with only two axles, S 3733 S belongs to the National Railway Museum, and is currently at Locomotion, Shildon.
An interesting note is that Cae Mawr sidings, on the 'down' side of the line outside Llandudno station, have been cleared of vegetation and will be back in use by Spring 2014. Apparently the crossover between platforms 1 and 2 which allow locomotives to be released from arriving trains is now unserviceable and will also not be compatible with planned new signalling systems. Excursion Trains etc. will be stabled in the sidings and locos will be able to run-round trains there as happened in the past.
In the shorter term, the departure of the evening 'Premier Express' from Cardiff to Holyhead is being changed from 18:21 to 17:16 in the new timetable which comes it to effect on 8 December. This seems a much more sensible time, especially in terms if the meal service in First Class. It is rremoured that Arriva are considering following Chiltern's example of 'Business Class' instead of First, with a pay-on-train supplement. Cynics say this for the benefit of politicians who are not allowed to claim First Class fares as expenses, but if it increases usage, why worry?
This is perhaps also a suitable place to remind over-55s that the Arriva Trains Wales 'Club 55' special fares are still available until 30 November: see the ATW website. It's a shame, however, that new weekday morning restrictions in the 'small print' this year have greatly reduced the opportunities for long trips withy this ticket without additional expense.
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