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09 February 2015
67 001 propels the 13:01 Holyhead - Manchester past RAF Valley, 3 February. Picture by Peter Lloyd.
Valley, 2 February: Cold but Fine - report by Jim Johnson
A selection of stills from a video taken at Valley, on Tuesday 4 February. All taken from the public road or the public footpath adjacent to the triangle, using telephoto where necessary. The first two show train 1H89, the 13:01 Holyhead-Manchester Piccadilly speeding across the level crossing, DVT 82308 leading ...
... with 67 001 propelling.
The driver of 37 608 + 37 609 waits while the trainman changes the points at the eastern stub of the triangle, while running round the two flasks.
Voyagers 221 106 Willem Barents & 221 109 Marco Polo rush past the triangle with 1A48, the 13:58 Holyhead-Euston. The 37s have run-round their train, and are poised ready to propel it onto the main line once the passenger train has cleared the long section between Valley and Gaerwen.
The ground signal protecting the main line has been 'pulled off', and the 37s are propelling their train across the level crossing into the station.
The train is now held in the station at the semaphore starter. The signalman has opened the crossing gates for road traffic for a few minutes ...
... I don't know if the Police vehicle influenced this move!
The starter has now been cleared, and the driver of the 37s opens up with some gratifying 'clag.' Departure time was about 14:15.
Of dubious interest is that both locos, and FNA Flask wagons were consecutively numbered: i.e. 37 608 and 37 609 and 550045 & 550046 (both wagons built 1988 by Procor Engineering.)
RCTS Meeting in Chester
The Railway Correspondence & Travel Society (RCTS) holds its next meeting at the Town Crier opposite Chester railway station on Monday 16 February at 7.30 p.m. The colour-slide show is ‘Welsh Wanderings in the 1980s’ and is presented by Chester resident Geoff Morris.
Mr Morris says that his presentation will reflect on the livery changes that began in this decade as well as looking at the return of steam hauled special trains along the North Wales and Cambrian coasts.
Visitors will be most welcome to attend on donating £2 to help defray meeting expenses and further details can be obtained by telephoning 0151-608 4296.
Dun Laoghaire no more - report by Bernard Allan
On 4 February Stena Line announced the closure of their Holyhead – Dún Laoghaire ferry route this Wednesday, 4 February. See their Press Release.
The Dún Laoghaire – Holyhead route goes back generations and was the Irish Mail route. For many years it operated under Sealink and latterly transferred to Stena Line ownership. It was Stena Line who introduced the iconic Stena HSS (pictured above at Holyhead in 2014) dubbed the 'Concorde' of the Irish Sea on the route in April 1996. The route’s last conventional vessel, the Stena Hibernia (ex St. Columba) was retired from the route that September.
Above, Dún Laoghaire in 2014.
In its early years the HSS operated several round trips daily and the station platform in Dún Laoghaire (just across the road from the terminal) would be thronging with passengers around ferry time. In Autumn 2011 it was announced the route would only operate seasonally which was the case over the following years. A Christmas - New Year service was also operated during the last few years though the planned 2014-2015 Xmas/New Year services were cancelled for operational and commercial reasons.
Boarding under way at Dún Laoghaire.
Though not known at the time, the sailings of 9 September, 2014 were the last. The cost of fuel appears to have played a major part in the demise of the service. The route is interwoven with the history of the country and many people will either have passed through the port's Carlisle and St. Michael's Terminals or know someone who did.
Carlisle terminal, Dún Laoghaire.
It is particularly disappointing that the route got no 'send off' or ceremony befitting of its enormous contribution to Irish life (and indeed to Wales & England) over the last two centuries. The Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company are seeking expressions of interest for a replacement ferry service. Details are here. Dún Laoghaire port itself will not die, however. Cruise ships call there: it is estimated by the harbour company that Dun Laoghaire will attract 100, 000 cruise passengers and crew in 2015, with similar numbers expected for 2016 and 2017. There are also plans to create an 'Urban Beach' which will include a 'floating swimming pool.'
At the time of writing, the HSS is berthed adjacent to Holyhead railway station for readers who may wish to take some last photos. Skinner’s Monument, the Celtic Gateway Bridge and St. Cybi’s Churchyard are amongst the vantage points for such photography.
Seen off North Stack - pictures by Peter Lloyd
The afternoon sailings from Holyhead by the two competing companies head for Dublin Port past North Stack, Anglesey on 3 February. No mistaking who operates the MV Stena Adventurer, seen outbound from Holyhead. A slightly smaller ship than its rival, at 43,532 tonnes, she entered service in 2003. This is actually the second Stena Adventurer: the name was previously given in 1996 to the ship formerly known as Stena Hibernia, and before 1990 St Columba. After a period serving the Greek island of Santorini, that vessel is now the Masarrah of Namma Shipping Lines, plying across the Red Sea between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Above, Irish Ferries' Ulysses. This vessel, of 50,938 gross tonnes, entered service in 2001 and can carry 2000 passengers, 1342 cars and 240 lorries.
Pictures by Norman Jones - Helsby to Frodsham 1957
Captions by Anthony Robinson
Here are some more gems from the Norman Jones collection, all taken on the overcast summer Saturday of 17 August 1957. Above: Ex LMS Compound 41111 of Llandudno Junction Shed (6G) struggles with a heavy 10-coach Llandudno - Liverpool Lime Street train past Godscroft Lane block post; Helsby Hill dominates in the background. This photo appears in my book My Dad Had an Engine Shed incorrectly captioned as 'probably a Llandudno - Manchester' train but I was subsequently corrected by reader Andrew Mellor (Author of Cheese Butties & the 12.39 to Wigan - Silver Link publications) who was travelling on that actual train and on arrival at Lime Street, following a difficult time restarting the train after setting back several times at Runcorn Halton Junction, the engine was found to be "red with rust". It had clearly spent the preceding winter on the somewhat exposed 6G storage road!
Shed-masters and their deputies were frequently hard-pressed to find suitable motive power for the many excursion trains twixt the North West and the North Wales coast as exemplified here in the next two pictures where an unidentified Fowler 4F "hammers the ballast" with at least 10 bogies in tow. The coaches are a typical excursion mixture: the first is a BR Mk1 Corridor Brake Composite, built for use as a 'through' coach which could be detached from an express and connected to a branch line train; the second is an ex-LNER Gresley-designed vehicle.
Just discernible up on Overton Hill to the right of the war memorial (see enlarged inset) can be seen the famous old helter skelter, now memorialised in a Frodsham pub of that name.
Intermediate block posts such as this one at Godscroft were once a common sight on busy main lines where there were long sections of track. Here we see Special Class Signalman Vernon Whitehead adjusting the tension in the signal wires before opening the box prior for the day's events. It must have been a cosy little place - note the carpet slippers!
BR Standard 2-6-4T 80049 'hoists the clag' as it heads westwards away from Frodsham.
An unidentified BR 75xxx Std Class 4 4-6-0 heads away from Helsby with excursion working W474.
Hawarden station on 4 February, with 150 237 arriving. Picture by John Rutter.
150 237 departs Hawarden bound for Bidston as 150 280 arrives for Wrexham (John Rutter).
175 112 departs from Wrexham General on time at 14:35 as train 1V96 Holyhead to Maesteg via Cardiff (John Rutter).
Colas Rail tamper DR73931 catches the sunshine at Talybont at 10:21 the morning of 6 February, having just begun its journey from Bangor to Craven Arms where it required for weekend work (Peter Basterfield).
The view from Heaton Chapel station, between Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly, on 3 February as the 03:10 Felixstowe - Trafford Park container train, hauled by 66 742 Port of Immingham, passes (Charlie Hulme). This train has since returned to its normal route via the Styal line, now that Manchester Airport station has re-opened after a temporary closure while the new fourth platform was connected.
60 019 passes Gobowen with the return train of steel carriers from Dee Marsh Junction to Margam on 9 February (Martin Evans).
The 'Northern Belle' train made an evening foray from Crewe to Holyhead and back on 8 February: Darren Durrant photographed it at Colwyn Bay with 57 312 Solway Princess in charge.
That Crab picture
Many thanks to everyone who replied to the question posed by Peter Dickinson as to the location of this picture of 'Crab' 2-6-0 42727 hauling the Stephenson Locomotive Society special train 1Z27 on 27 March 1966. Not all the suggestions offered the same answer, but the consensus is that the train has just passed Flint Water Troughs, passing Glantraeth Farm on the approach to Rockcliffe Hall tunnel; the signal in the distance is Flint's 'down' distant.
The scene looks rather different today, because fly ash from the old coal-fired power station at Connah's Quay was used to reclaim land from the river estuary in the background.
Incidentally, a picture of this same train has appeared here before, in the 18 March 2013 issue, on that occasion taken by John Hobbs.
Alan Haydock remembers 42727 well: 'When based at Aintree in the early 1960s, 42727 was the regular loco on the evening Liverpool – Southport line coal trip, along with 42845. This train called at all coal yards along the electrified line, usually delivering about six loaded wagons and removing the same number of empties. I used to observe the Waterloo operation from the St. John’s Road footbridge. On Fridays, the train was always longer and heavier for some reason, so generally a WD 2-8-0 appeared, usually 90101, first of the class. Once or twice we were treated to a “Super D”, in the form of 49432.'
Some Curious Coaches - photographed by John Hobbs
There were some interesting vehicles about in 1965/66: can anyone tell us more about them? , At the north end of Wrexham General (above) on 15 January 1965 is DW 29, a "Chester & District Plant & Machinery - Tool & Mess Van". Probably converted from a former GWR passenger vehicle it looks like it dates from the late 19th Century. There is a photo of the same vehicle still in use at Aberystwyth in 1967, in the book Scenes from the past:55 - The Cambrian Main Line by Derek Lowe.
British Railways applied the prefix 'D' before the regional code (W for Western in this case) to vehicles in 'Departmental' use fir the railway's own fraffic rather than revenue-earning traffic. Most number prefixes disappeared when coaches and wagons were merged into the 'TOPS' computer database.
DW80948 "Sleeping & Messing Coach - Shrewsbury District" this time at the south end of Wrexham (General) ; it is of similar vintage to the previous vehicle, in Lowe's book (see above) ; there is a picture of a similar vintage vehicle in passenger use in 1956 behind 78007 and at Pool Quay behind 2264 in 1957. So we were still using four-wheeled vehicles in 1957 before reintroducing the "Pacer" prototypes in the late 70s. This is 19 February 1966; a Crosvillle Bristol bus, surely nearing the end of its career, crosses the bridge.
The dropside wagon, DB460182, has the Departmental 'D' and a 'B' indicating a British Railways-built wagon.
A scene at Chester (Northgate) on 15 January 1966 showing a rake of rolling stock for services to Manchester (Central) which sometimes worked a turn in the morning peak with steam traction. The surviving half of the train shed can be seen in the background together with the station building. This vehicle is an ex LNER "Thompson" Numbered E82819E it is a non-corridor second and is branded to work from Bradford (Forster Square) to Skipton - it's a little off course!
Nujmbers of revenue-earning coaches to pre-Nationalisation designs had a prefix intended to show the Region to which they were allocated (Eastern in this case) and a suffix for the Region responsible for maintenance, normally reflecting a pre-nationalisation design.
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