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27 November 2014
The last of the sun touches the mountain tops on 20 November as a Class 158 on the 12:09 Birmingham International to Pwllheli makes its way across Barmouth Bridge. Picture by Ian Wright.
This is an extra issue: for the events of busy Saturday 22 November see the 24 November update.
Autumn Gold - Steam in the Welsh Mountains - report by John Roobottom
I was lucky enough to be in Porthmadog on Saturday 15 November when the weather was particularly kind with clear blue skies and brilliant light. The 11:30 train comfortably loaded with families enjoying the Autumn sunshine. The picture above the shows double header with Linda and Taliesin back to back, which was a bonus to lineside photographers who always had a frontal view of the train approaching.
Cnicht (2260 ft) came into view immediately.
There was plenty of smoke visible as the train entered the Aberglaslyn Pass. It is hard to believe that Linda, Hunslet works no.590, first entered service in 1893 on the Penrhyn Quarry Railway.
She does not look 121 years old today, as seen immaculately turned out at Beddgelert station.
Taliesin at Beddgelert.
As my wife and I sat in Coach 119, the ticket collector was proud to tell us that the coach was the newest vehicle on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways; the interior image proves the point.
Above, taking water at Beddgelert.
There was a shaft of light on the return journey through the Pass.
On the road across the Britannia bridge.
After lunch at 'Spooners', the final shot shows the 2.15pm departure starting across the bridge.
Coast line locos
The Rail Head Treatment Train continues its water-jetting work. Chris Poole photographed it at Hargrave on 1 November with 97 303 leading ...
... and 97 302 trailing. The train was running 154 minutes early - 'A toast to Real Time Trains for that one!' writes Chris.
The eastbound RHTT appoarches Colwyn Bay on 18 November ...
... with locos 97 303 and 97 302, the latter complete with mis-spelled adornment. Pictures by Jack Bowley.
In Dawn's Early Light, the oubound flask train passes Bangor on 20 November. Locos 37 603 and 37 667 (Peter Basterfield).
Mold Junction on 22 November with 97 303 ...
... and 97 304 John Tiley (Chris Poole). The battery tail light is needed because the rear loco's engine is not running, so there is no guaranteed power for the built-in tail light.
The Madcap Looper - report by Bob Greenhalgh
Saturday 22 November saw a charter with a difference run on the Bala Lake railway. Organised by John Mathers of the WrexhamGen Yahoo Group it was hauled by Lady Madcap, Ruston & Hornsby 283512 of 1949. Starting at 11:15 from road 2 of the carriage shed Lady Madcap took the Penrhyn quarrymen's coach and the Dinorwic quarry 'yellow' coach filled with 19 people up and down the shed roads and headshunt before heading through Llanuwchllyn platform road to the end of the line past the water tower.
Then onto to coal siding and into Llanuwchllyn loop where Lady Madcap ran round her train. We then ran to Bala station with a photo stop at Llangower. At Bala our train ran to the stop block at the end of the line (picture above) before reversing into the head shunt. Then into Bala Loop where Lady Madcap again ran round the train.
After more photos it was off to Llangower loop, stopping on the way for photos at 'the sea wall' (above). After Llangower loop it was back to Llanuwchllyn and back to the shed where it all started. A hugely enjoyable trip. Rare track, rare coaches and a rare loco. The day could not have been better. Huge thanks to the Bala Lake Railway for running the trip and the refreshments. To John for its organisation, and to the participants for supporting the trip.
Last days, 50 years on - by Ken Robinson
5 December marks the 50th anniversary of the end of Caernarfon - Afonwen passenger services (also the Amlwch branch) - passenger trains finished on Saturday 5 December 1964 and although I travelled on this last day I have no photographs - for some inexplicable reason my late father did not take a camera with us on that very sad occasion. Above is a copy of the ticket which we asked if we could keep, but I'd like to make an appeal via the website please for any photos taken on that day.
I have searched many books and websites and there doesn't seem to be any - 'last day' photographs are usually quite common. Perhaps it was something to do with the fact that all services were formed of Derby Lightweight DMU's rather than steam?
[Contact us at the usual address if you can help: if you took a picture yourself we'd like to included it here.]
Past Times with John Hobbs - 'Wizzos' at Chester
"Western" Class C - C diesel (later Class 52) D1020 Western Hero waits in Platform 2 at Chester (General) with what could be the 2.55 pm SuO Birkenhead (Woodside) to London Paddington on 25 August 1963. The Western Region had recently lost control of the lines north of Banbury and the reign of these locomotives on the Paddington / Birmingham / Chester axis would soon end. This brought a return to steam on many trains north of Shrewsbury; this was to last until 5 March 1967 when through trains from Paddington to Chester & Birkenhead on this axis ceased.
D1045 Western Viscount leaves from Platform 13 with the 5.05 pm Suundays Only Chester (General) to Paddington on 1 September 1963. I was excited about these locomotives at the time, and it took me a little more time to realise that all the 'Counties' and 'Castles' had gone! Naiveté rules at 16 years of age!
D1036 Western Emperor crosses the canal locks and approaches Chester City Walls with the 5.05 pm Sundays Only Chester (General) to Paddington on 8 September 1963, the last day of the Summer Timetable. The next year I would be back on Sundays hoping for a now rare 'Castle' on the same turn!
D1065 Western Consort lurks in Platform 1 at Chester (General) while awaiting its next turn of duty, on 1 September 1963. This area, the former Mold Bay, is of course a car park today.There are rumours that capacity is constrained at Chester now; perhaps we will see rails in this area again one day?
News from Llangollen Works - by George Jones
Former Great Western Railway 'Large Prairie' 2-6-2T 5199 was back in steam and on test at Llangollen on 20 November following its overhaul by the Llangollen Railway team on behalf of the 5199 Project Group. After being saved from the famous Barry Scrapyard in 1985, 5199 was slowly restored until she finally steamed under her own power for the first time in preservation in February 2003 at the Llangollen Railway. Since then she has proved popular both on her home line of Llangollen and at the various railways she has visited throughout the UK.
Test running used the 'back road' link between loco shed and Pentrefelin C&W works. It was hoped that a Llangollen Railway main line load test would be undertaken if time was available between the track maintenance period and the 'Santa Season' starting on 6 December.
Also 'on shed' was the boiler of resident 2-6-4T locomotive 80072, being stripped to access the firebox and replacement of faulty stays. Another expensive job for which the 80072 shop at Carrog will be pleased to receive donations and stock sales during the festive season.
Commemmorative Garden at Runcorn East - report by John Hobbs
A Commemorative Garden has been created at the entrance to Runcorn East Station on ground which was formerly not receiving any maintenance. This work was facilitated by Arriva Trains Wales (ATW). The North Cheshire Rail Users Group (NCRUG) & Halton Borough Council (HBC), with the actual work undertaken by the National Citizen Service(NCS), and funded by grants from Ineos Chlor & granted through The Mersey Forest. Together with additional funding from ATW for the plants, wood chip and top soil.
We hope that passengers' passage through the station is enhanced by the work undertaken, which is part of a project to improve the environment for passengers at Runcorn East and also to reflect Commemorative activities based on the First World War Centenary over the next five years.
The Garden was submitted for the North West in Bloom Royal Horticultural Society its "Your Neighbourhood Awards 2014" and the North Cheshire Rail Users Group(NCRUG) was delighted to discover that the Garden has been short listed for an award in its category. Thursday 23 October saw two representatives from NCRUG and two from Halton Borough Council (HBC) attend the Royal Horticultural Society Awards Evening. Special thanks must go to Arriva Trains Wales for paying for tickets to go to the function. Many organisations from across the North West attended the event.
Earlier in the year, as noted above, young people form the National Citizens Scheme (NCS) from Halton Borough had been given the challenge of landscaping an area of derelict land by Runcorn East booking office. Geraint Morgan, Stations Community Relations Manager of Arriva Trains Wales agreed to budget the plants and about £300 was spent on Shrubs that were carefully selected by NCRUG members Ian Whitley and John Hobbs and Arriva Trains Wales Geraint Morgan.
The area took about two days to clear out and a day was spent planting up. The end result totally transformed the area and judges were most impressed when they came on site to inspect.
The event at Southport was well attended with many people people winning awards though the course of the evening. Hopes were high that Runcorn East would scoop its second award of the year after its success at Cheshire Best Kept Stations and we weren’t disappointed when it won a RHS Neighbourhood award in 'Level three developing'. Station Adopters Ian Whitley, John Hobbs, Kerry Fairchild (Community Development Officer) and Paul Wright of Halton Borough, all went on stage to collect the award.
To full fill the obligation as a Commemorate Garden for the First World War, which was the reasoning behind the creation of the garden, a wreath and crosses were provided by NCRUG with assistance from the British Legion and were laid on the 7th November in time for Remembrance Sunday and Armistice day.
With all the above happening ; NCRUG hoping for success, at Runcorn East, at this years forthcoming "Cheshire Best Kept Stations Competition 2014" , which will be held in Northwich on 13 January 2015.
Above: the garden area at Runcorn East before work was undertaken by the National Citizen Award team, on the 18 July 2014.
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