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22 September 2014
46233 at Roodee Junction, 20 September (Tony Thomas).
Duchess on the Cathedrals Express
The final North Wales Steam train for the year was the London - Holyhead 'Cathedrals Express' ruin by 'Steam Dreams' on 20 September, which featured the return of 46233 Duchess of Sutherland on the Crewe - Holyhead and return part of the trip. We pick up the train (above) on arrival at Chester. Picture by Peter Hanson.
Chester saw another steam loco that day, in the form of 60009 Union of South Africa working 'The Cheshireman', also from London Euston, but terminating at Chester (Peter Hanson).
60009 after arrival (Peter Hanson).
46233 leaving Chester past Roodee Junction (Tony Thomas). On you editor's humble opinion, streamlining is all very well, but this is what a powerful steam engine should look like.
Flint (Glyn Jones). The Duchess gained the British Railways green livery on its recent overhaul: apparently it will revert to LMS maroon next summer.
Rhyl (Roly High). Unfortunately the North Wales weather on 20 September was somewhat dull.
John Myers writes: 'Timekeeping seemed to be very good throughout this excursion's progress, which I'm sure the passengers appreciated given that it was a long day out for those who were travelling throughout. For those of us watching its progress from the lineside, the sight of the locomotive in BR lined green, running without a large headboard and with a rake of matching lined-maroon coaching stock in tow, made for a very satisfactory spectacle. During the morning, the sun stayed mainly behind the cloud cover and, with a marked breeze coming off the sea, this was useful when hoping to see the train un-obscured by the trailing exhaust. Therefore, this was the case (above) as it passed over the public foot-crossing at Belgrano to the east of Abergele & Pensarn ...
' ... it was good also to see 47237 bringing up the rear and making a pleasant change from the Class 57s that often are used as support traction on these workings nowadays.'
Abergele (Ken Robinson).
Taking on water at Llandudno Junction (Ken Robinson). Stopping the train short of the platform end is a good way to avoid any trespassing by photographers.
John Myers writes: 'At Conwy, the lineside vegetation is continuing to become more established as the years go by, such that even the classic view looking down on the passing trains from the hillside is now starting to become a challenge. Although the associated exercise of climbing up there again might have been a better option for me, I chose instead to watch the westbound train through a short gap in the bushes and from the side of the bowling green, where it was good to see a number of people of all ages making use of the facility. Most of them paused to watch and listen to Duchess of Sutherland however, and who could blame them?'
Larry Davies writes: 'Conwy, where I first set eyes on one. The green BR livery was a sight many of us of that vintage in the Junction area remember them by, and grew up with them in the early 60s when they regularly plied our route having been displaced by diesels on the West Coast. It is significant also that it is 50 years since the last withdrawals from service of the class in September, 1964. I recall very much that their passing at that time was a telling feature for us teenage trainspotters that, like it or not the world was changing. It was now English Electric Type 4s or Britannias on the principal expresses.'
Pen-y-Clip viaduct (Peter Basterfield).
Bangor (Ken Robinson).
Llanfair PG (Richard Fleckney).
Approaching Llangaffo Summit, Anglesey (Ian Pilkington).
At Holyhead, Virgin's London train was displaced into Platform 2, where it is seen 'on the blocks.'
For the return journey, see further down the page ...
Fifty Years ago with John Hobbs - Final summer with a Duchess
'Princess Coronation' 4-6-2 46243 City of Lancaster, which Dr Beet tried to preserve but the scrap man was not allowed to sell it on - they cut it up in front of him - passes Prestatyn with the relief 'Irish Mail' on 7 August 1964. This was the only occasion I was to see this locomotive that summer; it caught me by surprise and sadly it is in shadow under the road bridge which still graces Prestatyn station.
Another Duchess 4-6-2 in North Wales service. 46248 City of Leeds on train 3A34, the 12 noon Holyhead to Willesden stock train, also known as the 'Horse & Carriage' a name going back a hundred years or more when that was the traffic it carried, here approaching Bodnant Bridge, Prestatyn on 17 August 1964.
A rare machine on the North Wales coast, I only ever saw this once at Prestatyn; 46257 City of Salford on the 14:45 Holyhead to Crewe on 17 August 1964. A new book, 1964, The last Summer of the Duchesses by Alan Castle details an exceptional adventure of this locomotive in connection with the crowning of the Railway Queen at Belle Vue, Manchester on 26 September 1964. the same day as the "Scottish Lowlander" special train which marked the end of the class in traffic and which is repeated on 27 September this year (fully booked).
Cardiff Canton 50th - report by Steve Morris
I travelled down to Cardiff last Thursday to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of Canton diesel depot. The depot was full of activity with Pullman Rail carrying out overhaul of various bogie types and associated components alongside a number of Network Rail track renewal wagons. More staff are currently employed on the ex locomotive side of the depot than there were when I worked there in the 1980s.
In addition, with Colas Rail now owning Pullman Rail (since May 2012) locomotives of classes such as 37, 47, 56 and 60, once common to Canton, have returned to the area and can be found stabled on the site between duties. A number of ex Canton Loco depot staff still working on the site either for Arriva Trains Wales or Colas/Pullman Rail joined me (above, second from left) for a photo shoot alongside 60 087 CLIC Sargent along with ex-depot Manager Andrew Skinner (far left) who brought his replica Canton nameplate along as well!
56 113 was also on site that afternoon. Many thanks to Colas/Pullman Rail for the arrangements and hospitality shown during the visit.
Over by Christmas - report by David Parry
Railway stations often see commemorations of historic events, but perhaps the most ambitious yet has been Chester-based Theatre in the Quarter’s commemoration of the scenes seen at railway stations throughout the country during the early days of the First World War when many recruits to the armed forces bade farewell to family and friends to face hostilities on the Continent.
The theatre group has been touring stations in Cheshire and surrounding areas, presenting a choral commemoration of this historical episode in contemporary costume. I saw the presentations at Frodsham station on Friday 19th September. Cast members were already arriving as we reached the platforms, but most of the cast arrived (above) on the 11:07 train to Manchester Piccadilly, having just performed at Helsby.
The east-bound platform provided a stage – indeed a location that must have seen many such departures a century earlier. The audience, 100-plus strong for each of the two performances, viewed from the west-bound platform, suitably patrolled by Arriva Trains Wales staff to ensure safety. The commemoration was based on familiar popular songs from the period, words spoken by contemporary characters and some specially composed music. The piece was written by Helen Newall and Matt Baker, with a cast included actors, singers and musicians from across Chester, and formed part of the Imperial War Museum’s First World War Centenary Project. A flavour of the event is given by these pictures. Above, wrapped in the Union Flag, the singer urges young men to enlist.
News is delivered of the progress of the war. The title of the commemoration captures the misplaced optimism of the day.
This was an excellent event, putting the railway at the heart of the community, and Arriva Trains Wales and the other railway companies are to be applauded for their co-operation. Theatre in the Quarter and its players are also to be congratulated for their commitment to a travelling show that still has a week to run. Remaining performances are at Manchester Piccadilly 25 September (11:00, 12:00, 13:30), Hadlow Road preserved station on the Wirral Way 27 September (11:00, 12:30) Saughall, Vernon Institute 27 September (14:00), Poynton Station 28 September (11:00) and Macclesfield station car park (12:30, 14:30).
More details available on theatreinthequarter.co.uk.
Three 57s for the price of one
Following on from the Class 57 item in the last issue, it is worth noting that there is another operator of passenger 57s. First Great Western have their 57/6 locos for use on the 'Night Riviera' London - Penzance overnight train. The four locos were based on the the design of the prototype passenger 57, 57 601, which now works for West Coast Railways, but with a more powerful engine. They were rebuilt from Class 47s around the same time as the final four 57/3s for Virgin Trains, differing from them in that they were never equipped with the retractable couplers for hauling Pendolino trains. They also did not the have exhaust modifications which were made to the 57/3 type to prevent exhaust fumes entering the air-conditioning of the Pendolino.
Richard Putley writes: ' On 15 September I was up early to catch the 05:54 train to London Paddington from Chippenham. When when I got to Paddington the 'up' Night Riviera was in the station, double-headed by 57 310 Pride of Cumbria (top picture - on hire to First Great Western from DRS) and 57 604 Pendennis Castle still carrying 'proper' Great Western livery which it acquired in 2010 to mark the 175th anniversary of the GWR. '
Taking the empty coaches to Old Oak Common, instead of a Class 08 shunter, was 57 605
Llanuwchllyn reunion - note by Eryl Crump
A reunion of former railway workers on the Ruabon to Barmouth Junction line is being held at Llanuwchllyn next week. The line fell victim to the Beeching cuts and closed in 1965 but former workers have kept in touch.
Organiser Eryl Edwards says: 'We hold an annual reunion and this is a very popular event. People come from far and wide to attend, some as far away as Chester, Crewe, Coventry, Worcester and Taunton and of course the Bala area. Sadly the numbers get smaller each year but we always welcome wives and widows to the reunion,” and reminisce about the Golden Age of the Trains.'
A former booking clerk at Llangollen, Mr Edwards is from a family of railwaymen. His father and grandfather were both station masters. Although closed parts of the line are still in railway use. The Llangollen Railway runs trains to Carrog while the Bala Lake Railway runs to Llanuwchllyn. The section from Dolgellau to Barmouth Junction is now a very popular walking trail.
This year’s event is being held at the Eagles Hotel, Llanuwchllyn on September 25. Further details from Mr Edwards on 01678 540601. He would like all who wish to attend contact him by 23 September.
Severn Valley Gala- report by David Hennessey
In a slight distraction from Duchess of Sutherland and Union of South Africa's visits to Holyhead and Chester respectively, I made a visit to the Severn Valley Railway on Saturday 20 September, for their annual Autumn Steam Gala. Above, LMS/BR 'Flying Pig' 43106 runs round its train at Kidderminster. This was one of the first locos to run on the preserved line, having travelled under its own steam from Lostock Hall depot in August 1968, a few days before the 'end of steam' on British Rail.
This year's Autumn show had something of a Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway theme, with three out of four visiting locomotives representing the type typical of BR days. The Midland Railway Centre's BR Caprotti Standard Five 73129 and the West Somerset Railway's S & DJR 7F loco 88 (BR 53808) made up the theme, and the Swanage Railway's Southern M7 0-4-4 tank 30053 also got a look in.
The Keighley & Worth Valley's LMS 4F 43924 (believed to be away from the KWVR for the first time ever) pulls away from Kidderminster with a service to Bridgnorth, adorned with a 'Pines Express' headboard. The 'Pines Express' ran between Manchester and Bournemouth via the Somerset and Dorset line until 1962; the name was inspired by the pine trees growing in The Chines in the Bournemouth area.
Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway 7F 88 (BR 53808) in S & DJR blue, arrives at Kidderminster with a service from Bridgnorth, appropriately adorned with a (different) 'Pines Express' headboard. These locos were built for the S & D line by the Midland Railway, joint owners of the route.
BR 'Standard Five' 73129, one of the sub-class with shaft-driven Caprotti valve gear, gets going from Kidderminster with a service to Bridgnorth.
34053 Sir Keith Park rolls into Kidderminster with a service from Bridgnorth, adorned with the 'Atlantic Coast Express' headboard. This 'resident' loco also formerly operated on the Somerset and Dorset line.
Resident GWR Small Prairie tank 4566 at Kidderminster, running round ready to work a short local train to Bridgnorth.
Southern Railway M7 tank 30053 running round at Kidderminster, ready to work another train to Bridgnorth.
Wirral and North Wales Model Railway Club - report by John Rutter
The 'Bambury Shed' Model Railway won the Mayfield Crafts Trophy, voted for by the members of the Soar Valley Model Railway Club as 'Best in Show' at their Exhibition at Loughborough University over the weekend of 6-7 September. Left to Right back row; Graham Heald, Brian Chambers, Ray Reid, Paul Evans, John Roberts (Chairman). Front L to R; Chris Manners and Steve Littlejohn.
The model depicts the area around the real location of the locomotive shed at Banbury in Oxfordshire during the final demise of steam in the mid 1960s. Some artistic licence has been used to reduce the size of the shed area to fit in a reasonable space, hence the slight change to the name. Other details of the area, including the most southerly Midland Red Bus Depot are depicted.
The model was exhibited at the Doncaster show in February and over the months between then and September underwent a major overhaul to improve reliability and convert completely to Digital Command Control. This intensive work paid off with the awarding of the Trophy.
The model has returned to the clubrooms in Neston on the Wirral and parts will be rebuilt to the same design as these are life expired. Three more exhibitions have requested the presence of the model during 2016, which, although it sounds a long time, will be a squeeze to complete all that is necessary. It is also intended to commence the design of a completely new model which will incorporate the rear baseboards of Bambury Shed giving the potential to offer exhibition managers a choice of models.
As a result, the club is looking for more members. No previous experience is necessary; we are interested in all modellers from complete beginners to experts. We pride ourselves on running a friendly club where everyone has a say in decisions. If interested. Please contact our chairman, John Roberts on 01244 543 517. More information on the club website.
The club originated in Buckley, in St Johns URC Church Hall on the Common, as Buckley Model Railway Club. We moved to Broughton to have our own premises, however we lost them due to demolition and sale for housing. It proved impossible to source new ones at an affordable cost in the North Wales area, hence the move to the old schoolroom under the URC Church in Neston on the Wirral. Many members are still resident in the Buckley area however.
Duchess of Sutherland returns, 20 September
Talybont, near Bangor, with two ladder-wielding enthusiasts who may recognise themselves (Peter Basterfield).
Emerging from Conwy tunnel (Larry Davies).
Departing from Llandudno Junction after the stop for water, as seen from Queens Road bridge by Larry Davies.
Although following a slightly late-running 1H93 service to Manchester Airport after its water-stop at Llandudno Junction, 46233's progress seemed to be undaunted and the locomotive was working quite hard as it passed through Rhyl and onwards past Tynewydd Road overbridge, heading towards Prestatyn, Chester and Crewe (John Myers).
Near Belgrano Crossing (Ian Pilkington).
Rhyl (Roly High). Once again, thanks go to all who were involved it the continued operation of these special workings that bring much pleasure to all who travel aboard or watch their progress.
Duchess in Davenport
A 46233 curiosity. In 1959, the only turntable in Manchester capable of turning a 'Duchess' pacific was out of use, but they still sometimes arrived on trains from the south. The answer was to send them tender-first to Cheadle Village Junction on the Stockport - Altrincham line, forward over the so-called 'Khyber line' to Davenport Junction, then tender-first back to Manchester.
On 13 June local enthusiast J.W. Sutherland was no doubt pleased to photograph his namesake locomotive 46233 Duchess of Sutherland making this manoeuvre, seen above on the 'Khyber' line having just crossed the bridge over the Stockport - Crewe main line. This link was closed in 1966, and its route is now hard to discern.
Welsh Highland 'Superpower weekend'
Prince leaves Rhyd Ddu with the 13:15 to Porthmadog on 12 September during the Welsh Highland Railway 'Superpower Weekend' (Alan Crawshaw).
Prince at Porthmadog (Peter Basterfield).
Saturday 13 September, pictures by Ian Pilkington:
Merddin Emrys heads the 11:35 Porthmadog - Bedgellert through the Aberglaslyn Pass.
A southbound freight headed by 143 with 138 assisting in the middle, enters the Aberglaslyn Pass.
143 heads away from Rhyd Ddu towards Pitts Head summit with a southbound freight.
Sunday 14 September, pictures by Ian Pilkington:
K1 and Vale of Ffestiniog on the reverse curve approaching Rhyd Ddu with the 10:00 Caernarfon-Porthmadog.
K1 and Vale of Ffestiniog are seen threading through No. 3 Tunnel in the Aberglaslyn Pass with the 14:11 Porthmadog-Caernarfon.
Prince emerges from No. 2 Tunnel with the 13:35 Beddgelert - Porthmadog.
A northbound freight with 138 and 143 rolls away from Rhyd Ddu.
On 8 September a 'convoy' of three locomotives, 37 682, 47 805 and 37 667 ran from Crewe to Llandudno and back, for a reason which have yet to discover. Darren Durrant captured the train passing Colwyn Bay westbound.
Departure from Llandudno (Peter Basterfield).
37 667 leads the return working through Colwyn Bay (Darren Durrant).
On 11 September 20 308 and 57 010 haul two FNA wagons to Valley on the morning of 11 September. Taken at Puffin roundabout by Peter Basterfield.
Later that day, the two locos set back out of the Valley sidings into Valley station (Richard Fleckney)...
... and prepare to head for Crewe (Richard Fleckney). It has been the practice the whole train runs round the turning triangle at Valley so that the locomotive which leads the train westbound also heads it back to Crewe, but on this occasion 57 010 is taking over the lead role.
Sunny Colwyn Bay (Darren Durrant).
Manchester moments - with Charlie Hulme
The ad-hoc car park on the former BBC site in Manchester has become a something of favourite train-watching site for me, with its wide view of the line between Piccadilly and Oxford Road stations. On 18 September (above) a Class 142 makes its way along the viaduct as the 14:03 Manchester Airport - Southport service. The Lass O'Gowrie pub, favourite of students and real ale fans, closed earlier this year but has now re-opened.
Monday-Friday afternoons, a Freightliner loco runs from Crewe to Trafford Park to collect an intermodal train, passing this way about 14:30. 66 571 is seen against a backdrop of India House, built in 1906 as a packing warehouse, and now converted to flats. The loco is in the same position as the train in Adolphe Valette's 1913 impressionist painting 'York Street leading to Charles Street'.
After taking these pictures I went along to the consultation exhibition about the proposed improvements to Piccadilly and Oxford Road stations, which was based on the plans and digital impressions also available on the Northern Programme website. At Oxford Road, the 'listed' main station building will remain, but there will be new canopies, and a new footbridge with lifts; the through platforms 1-4 will be extended some way towards Deansgate, making one of the shortest rail journeys in the UK even shorter. Bay platform 5 will be abolished. At Piccadilly, there will be a new viaduct parallel to the one carrying Platforms 14 and 15, which will carry two extra tracks with an island platform. Part of the line between the two stations, including the part in these pictures, will remain double track, as there is no room between buildings to widen the whole way. Deansgate station will remain a double-track bottleneck before the Bolton and Liverpool lines separate at Castlefield Junction.
Oxford Road as it will look from the adjacent 'student castle' across the Medlock river. The wavy roof is, no doubt, intended to harmonise with the 1960s entrance building.
The aim is to allow longer trains, and provide paths for 16 trains each way per hour instead of the current 12. The Network Rail people would not be drawn on the intended use of these paths, but I understand from comments elsewhere that some trains will run from Yorkshire to the Airport via the proposed 'Ordsall Chord' and Victoria, some trains Liverpool via Irlam will continue through to Buxton, and there will be a second path each hour for a freight train. Not much gain for a huge expenditure and disruption, you might think. However the NR people assured me that most of the work will be carried out while daytime trains continue to run, and there will be just one 17-day 'blockade' to connect things up. All this by the year 2018.
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