Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

December 2013

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

Thursday 12 December Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Xmas Social / talk by
Anthony J Robinson "Dad had an engine shed" - an illustrated talk on the life and times of the son of a shedmaster at Mold junction shed. The speaker has a book published by Oakwood Press of the same title.

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

14-15 December Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

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

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

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'

Friday 31 January  Great Western Society North West Branch The Cowley Hill Colliery to the Runcorn Gap Railway.

Friday 28 February  Great Western Society North West Branch    Group Annual Meeting followed by Members Slides.

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
(Change of programme)
Well-known railway photographer Peter Fitton from the Fylde will be giving a slide show entitled "The Railways of the Fylde from 1961".

Monday 17 February  RCTS Merseyside, Chester & North Wales 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 Merseyside, Chester & North Wales ‘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.

10 December: North Wales Coast line Chester - Rhyl has re-opened. Conwy Valley still has a bus replacement.
Trial by Storm

The storms and high tide of Thursday 5 December had a dramatic effect on the section at Mostyn where the North Wales Main Line runs alongside the sea wall. As the picture above (courtesy of Arriva Trains Wales) shows, the waves broke down part of the upper wall, flooding the track ...

.... and scattering the large stock blocks around, as seen in the Network Rail picture above. The last train to run through the area, at about 12:00, was the 10:40 Holyhead - Cardiff, whilst the Rail Head Treatment Train had run earlier than timetabled and avoided being trapped. The 11:34 to Birmingham International was terminated at Llandudno Junction, and most of the rest of the day's trains were cancelled. Elsewhere, parts of Rhyl town were left waist-deep in water and several other coastal towns were affected.

Dave Sallery visited the scene after the waters had subsided, and sends this picture showing the breaches in the wall. The signals are 'off' because Mostyn signalbox is normally unstaffed and 'switched out.' The well-remembered, and more damaging, storm of February 1990, in which many people lost their homes, also breached this wall. British Rail repaired the breaks with concrete sections, which can be seen to have survived the latest onslaught. The broken sections are in the original London and North Western Railway walling. Dave's Penmorfa website has pictures of the 1990 damage.

A bus service was instituted between Chester and Rhyl, and is still running at the time of writing. Enough trains were available west of the blockage to run a Holyhead - Rhyl service and a Llandudno Junction - Llandudno shuttle by 6 December, with a bus link between Chester and Rhyl. Roly High took these pictures on 8 December with repair work under way.

Stone was being brought in to reinforce the sea defences.

The signalbox has not been refurbished with new windows like others on the line, and looks somewhat weathered. There have been no freight trains into the Mostyn Dock complex for some years now, and the shorter block sections it offers are not normally needed.

Several trains, including two Virgin Voyagers, became isolated west of the blockage. This is Holyhead on 8 December (Eryl Crump).

Also available for traffic was 150 258, also seen here at Holyhead (Eryl Crump). The Arriva website has a temporary Rhyl - Holyhead train timetable and a Chester - Rhyl bus timetable.

On the Conwy Valley line, the 11:46 Blaenau Ffestiniog - Llandudno ran (according to the Real Time Trains website) as as Tal-y-Cafn where it was terminated, as the line was washed out for some distance in the Glan Conwy area where it runs alongside the estuary. The branch train, 150 282, was moved to North Llanrwst for stabling, where Nick Gurney photographed it on 6 December.  A bus service was instituted between Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog. One wonders why this train has not been put into service between Llanrwst and Blaenau, perhaps refuelled by road as was done some time ago on the Cambrian Coast line.

Speaking of the Cambrian Coast, the problem with Briwet bridge near Penrhyndeudraeth, which is not not due to any storm,  still has not been resolved and the bus service from Harlech to Pwllheli now seems to be continuing 'until further notice.' (Timetable for bus service).

Santa Season

The Santa Specvial is now in full swing. Above, Holy War suitably decorated on the Bala Lake Railway (Bob Greenhalgh).

The Santa trains on the Llangollen Railway on 7/8 December have been hauled by the Standard tank 80072 and Black 5 44806 - replacing 2-8-0 3802 used the previous weekend. Above, the 11:00 departure ex Llangollen passing Berwyn with 80072 (George Jones).

Later 44806 is seen approaching Carrog (for Lapland) on the 11.55 from Llangollen (George Jones). All trains were well-loaded with passengers eager to get their photo taken with Santa under the 'Lapland' station sign (George Jones).

Arriva Trains Wales news

The winter timetable started on 8 December, and leaflets are available to download. A significant change is that the northbound 'Premier Express' will be departing Cardiff an hour earlier at 17:16. We understand that the express will be running between Cardiff and Chester during the current disruption.

Here is a cheery message from Arriva:

'December 2013 marks a special 10 year anniversary for Arriva Trains Wales. We are proud to have served you for 10 years and throughout that time, not only have we taken dramatic strides in improving punctuality and reliability, moving from 80% PPM (punctuality and reliability measure) back in 2003 to 94% today, but we have consistently out-performed the benchmarks set at the start of the franchise to become one of the top "right time" performing operators in the UK.

'Most importantly these improvements have been recognised by you, our customers, with overall satisfaction having risen over 9% from the start of the franchise to a record high of 88% today. Much of this has been made possible through close partnership working with the Welsh Government, Network Rail and our other important partners. We are grateful for the support of our customers over this period and to thank them have planned a number of special offers and activities throughout our anniversary year. You can find more information here.'

Chester at dawn

Two pictures taken by Mark Youdan on Thursday morning 5 December while waiting for the loco hauled train to Cardiff. 150 278 was stabled in the parcels bay wearing the new Arriva livery.

Over on platform 7, 158 837 & 158 828 were waiting to leave with the 07:12 to Manchester Piccadilly via Warrington and 142 009 waits on platform 6 with the 07:35 to Stockport. This is one of two peak-hour trains on the Mid-Cheshire line via Northwich which terminate at Stockport as there is allegedly no capacity for them on the Stockport - Manchester section since the increase in frequency of Virgin trains services.

News from the Vale of Rheidol line - press release

The Vale of Rheidol Railway’s efforts to repaint an entire seven-carriage train in full 1920s Great Western Railway Livery are nearing completion. Summer car No.9, originally GWR No.4151, is one of the second batch of open-sided summer carriages built for the VoR by Swindon Works in 1938. No.4151 is the sixth carriage to receive the full GWR treatment from the VoR’s dedicated staff in Aberystwyth, each repaint taking on average 400 hours. The attention to detail has even included returning the communication cord flags to their traditional white from the red inherited from British Railways. Other work has included replacing door frames, end bulkheads, flooring and side panels as well as attention being given to the unusual reversible tramway-style benches.

The VoR will have an entire GWR train set available for the 2014 season, complete with three summer cars, two closed carriages and a first class observation carriage (No.4995, pictured above), so if the Great Western, or Welsh narrow gauge railways are something that interest you, and you're in mid-Wales, make sure to pay the VoR a visit.

Meanwhile the Vale of Rheidol Railway’s ambitious project to restore its historic stations to their former glory is rapidly progressing. Many of the stations are being restored with replica buildings and traditional fencing to give visitors a flavour of how the local railway appeared in the 1920s. New raised platforms and an enlarged picnic area at Aberystwyth Station will also improve the railway experience for its passengers. The picture above shows Capel Bangor as restored.

The project is being funded through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013. The railway is on the look out for any local donations of Vale of Rheidol, Great Western or British Railways railwayana from the public to adorn the newly restored stations. Much of the work, from construction to gardening, is being undertaken by volunteers from a mix of backgrounds, so it’s a great chance to get involved if you’re interested in doing something different! Get in touch at or by phone on 01970 625 819.

RCTS meeting

The Railway Correspondence & Travel Society (RCTS) meets at the Town Crier opposite Chester railway station on Monday 16 December at 7.30 p.m.

The meeting has Nantwich resident David Maidment O.B.E. talking about his early days in different aspects of railway management having started out as a Western Region traffic apprentice in 1961 and later having been Chief Operating Manager of the London Midland Region from 1982 – 86.  He was also rewarded for his work for the Railway Children charity by having his name placed on the side of Colas Rail diesel locomotive 66 850.  This will be another opportunity for members and visitors to see scenes of 1960s railway operations.

Visitors will be most welcome to attend on donating £2 to help defray meeting expenses.

Holyhead signal ....and TPO - report by Jim Johnson

Further to the item (last issue) about the LNWR signal post at Holyhead, here are three shots I took of it in action on 6 February 1979. Above, 47 537 departs with the 12:48 to London Euston.

The signal is lowered for 47 529 on the 13:20 to Euston. The narrow clearance between tracks requiring the short arm is clearly seen.

A few seconds later, and a Travelling Post Office (TPO) carriage come into view on the left.

Three days later, on the bitterly cold and very windy night of Friday 9 February, 1979, the Bangor - Crewe and Crewe - Bangor TPO made its last ever run. The 'up' train is seen above about to depart Bangor with 47 529 in charge, and the two Post Office Sorting vans behind the loco being loaded. Post Office staff travelled in them, sorting the main en route. At Crewe, bags of sorted mail would then be transferred to other mail trains as appropriate.

Above, an envelope I posted to myself into the letterbox on the side of the train with relevant postmark applied by the on-board sorters.

Ediitor's notes: Specially printed 'covers' were also posted on the train and sold: an example appears on the TPO page of the 2D53 website. The train continued to run for some time after this date, carrying passengers, and parcels consigned by the railway. an in the 1990s, a TPO was re-instated, running until May 1994 - see the Penmorfa website for more about this later train.

Steam meeting at Chester

Saturday 30 November brought the unusual sight of two steam trains at Chester station. The 'Cathedrals Express' ran from London Euston via Crewe, hauled by 44 871 & 45 407 replacing 70000 Britannia which was 'unavailable' and was to stable in Chester from 13:01 to 16:40. The 'Christmas Chesterman' from Bristol via Hereford and Wrexham was to call at Chester (12:58 - 13:05) before continuing to Crewe, calling at Chester again for water on the way back, and featured 70013 Oliver Cromwell. As to be expected, there were a lot of photographers about.

Rossett (John Myers).

Chester (Alan Haydock).

Near Beeston Castle on the way to Crewe (Ian Pilkington).

Another view of 70013 near Beeston Castle (David Rapson).

The 'Cathedrals Express' passes Stafford (Chris Morrison).

The two 'Black 5s' pass Beeston Castle (David Rapson). David writes: 'I was on duty with West Coast Railway Company until midday and found myself embroiled with the problems caused by a fatality at Stapleton Road, Bristol which resulted in delay to Oliver Cromwell's charter. Many passengers from the Bristol area could only board the train at Ludlow, having had their connections to Temple Meads cancelled. Arriva Trains Wales were very helpful in allowing passengers who ended up at Newport to travel on their services to Ludlow where the steam train made a special stop. A couple of hectic hours ensued but I think everyone managed to board the charter somewhere!'

Arriving at Chester (Roly High).

Kitchen Car (Roly High).

The two Black 5s shunting the stock at Chester (Chris Morrison).

The busy scene at Chester as 175 105 passes Chester Junction with the 12:38 Holyhead - Maesteg, Merseyrail 508 112 departs with the 14:15 Chester-Liverpool Central and the two Black 5s engage in the usual turning manoeuvre using the triangle of lines here (Chris Morrison).

Turned, and waiting in the sidings at Chester (Peter Basterfield).

70013 crossing Cafn Mawr viaduct (Peter Basterfield).

Oliver Cromwell arrives at Chester an hour late with the 'Christmas Cheshireman' (Chris Morrison).

The two trains seen from the car park, and some people in view who are where they should not be (Alan Haydock).

37 516 Loch Laidon on the rear of Oliver Cromwell's train (Roly High).

56 105 trundles through Chester running 133 minutes early with the 1208 Carlisle-Chirk logs (Chris Morrison).

The Black 5s run into platform 6 at Crewe with the return 'Cathedrals Express' to Euston (Chris Morrison).

44871 and 45407 drift through Stafford about 10 minutes early on the return from Chester- Euston.

Mad Chester - a view by Mark Riley

I send this picture to illustrate how sometimes you wish you had stayed away from all the madness and hadn't wasted precious free time. It was a bad decision to go to Chester to see the railtours on 30 November. There were almost chaotic scenes at the station and some irritable staff herding people like sheep through the barriers. The photo, taken legally from the car park, shows the mayhem on the station as 70013 departs for Crewe. I say legally, because from my viewpoint you can see the number of people with blatant disregard for bye-laws and their own safety. At least 60 people here are not just down the ramps but almost on the tracks  -and the train is moving. There's a fine line between enthusiasm and recklessness which some have crossed here.

There was a marked lack of British Transport Police presence and it showed! And in addition, despite part of the car park being fenced off, some 'photographers' moved the fences to access the area to get a better view. To top it all, people were obviously walking across the tracks as an angry station announcer stated that offenders would be ejected from the station. But, in defence of the younger generation, it is the adults who are setting a bad example.

Unfortunately, behaviour like this could damage the reputation of those of us who are law-abiding enthusiasts (or law abiding anyway!) Personally speaking I won't be going anywhere near Chester for any more steam photography because of this. It is too stressful and not enjoyable. Next time, a nice, quiet, lineside view, even if it means a 45-minute drive and costs more.

I saw this train at night at Chirk, but there I was foiled for photographs by an arrogant videographer who wanted me out of the way. Enough said about him.  Chirk is such a small station that tripods should be banned as antisocial.

Past and Present - with John Hobbs

Above, 'Britannia' Class 4-6-2 70051 Firth of Forth arrives in Chester (General) and runs into the through 'up' passenger line, on the  29th February 1964, with train 3A34, the  12 noon Holyhead to Willesden empty van train; this locomotive is fitted with a type BR1D tender, as were the locomotives which worked the 'Irish Mail' etc, but these locomotives had been transferred away by this time. The larger tender had the effect of making the whole  locomotive look larger.

In a new environment Britannia Class 4-6-2  70013 Oliver Cromwell arrives at Chester on Saturday 30 November 2013 with the 'Christmas Cheshireman' excursion  from Bristol. The smaller tender is evident but many preserved locomotive tenders have been subtly altered to increase water capacity.

'Black 5' 4-6-0  45072 trundles slowly into Chester's Goods Yard with a freight, containing some fine Brake Vans on 25 March 1964. The whole scene would be tidied up over the intervening years as seen in the next view.

Ian Riley's 'Black 5s' 45407 and 44871  move through the modern scene to take water in the former Chester Goods Yard on 30 November 2013 having arrived earlier with the 'Cathedrals Express' from London Euston.

Old and New Buffers

Aftermath of the recent mishap at Chester (see 25 November issue). Left, a relic of the buffers which failed to withstand a slow-speed contact by a class 221 Voyager, and on the right, the replacement in place. Picture by Peter Basterfield.

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