Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

02 March 2015

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

March 2015

Friday 6 March Clwyd Railway Circle Annual General Meeting followed by an illustrated talk entitled Back to the ‘60s by Geoff Coward

Monday 9 March  Wrexham Railway Society: A view from a signal box window:  Adrian Bodlander       

Thursday 12 March Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society A view from a signal box window:  Adrian Bodlander 

Friday 13 March  Altrincham Electric Railway Society   John Sloane 'Chinese Steam in the 80s'. Colour Slide Presentation.      

Monday 16 March RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: A History of Railway Preservation in Britain. Robert Gwynne .Bob is the Associate Curator Rail Vehicles at the NRM in York

Thursday 26 March  Merseyside Railway History Group  AGM Members Slides

Friday 27 March  Great Western Society North West Branch Liverpool's Disused Tunnels, by Paul Wright.

April 2015

Thursday 9 April Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Railway enthusiasm - international: Phil Thomas    

Friday 10 April Clwyd Railway Circle The View From a Signalbox Window: Adrian Bodlander

Friday 10 April  Altrincham Electric Railway Society   Alvin Barker "A Selection of British Transport Films from the Steam Era". Digital presentation.    

Saturday 11 April. Excursion. The Great Western Express from Hooton to Worcester and Oxford The railtour is jointly promoted by the Chester Model Railway Club and Ffestiniog Railway Society Dee & Mersey Group. Full details can be found at the Chester Model Railway Club website.

Saturday 11 April Excursion Compass Tours by West Coast. The Wight & Sussex Express to
Portsmouth & Chichester with optional tour of Sussex and Hampshire.  Hooton, Bache, Wrexham, Gobowen, Shrewsbury, Wellington, Telford, Wolverhampton, Rowley Regis, Stourbridge, Kidderminster and Worcester SH.

Monday 13 April  Wrexham Railway Society: Back to the ‘60s :Geoff Coward

Monday 13 April Excursion Compass Tours by West Coast The North York Moors & Heartbeat Explorer. To Whitby, From Chester, Frodsham, Warrington (BQ), Wigan, Leyland, Blackburn, Accrington, Burnley, Hebden Bridge, Sowerby Bridge and Brighouse.

Wednesday 15 April Excursion from North Wales Compass Tours by West Coast The Royal Windsor Express. With an option of a longer break in London (alighting Kensington station)
From Holyhead, Llanfairpwll, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint, Chester, Crewe, Stafford and Lichfield TV to Windsor.

Monday 20 April RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: 21st Century Steam in China.  Geoff Coward. Geoff presents video and stills from his visit in 2002.

Friday 24 April  Great Western Society North West Branch Standard Gauge Railways of France and Germany, by Barry Rushton

Thursday 30 April    Merseyside Railway History Group  Geoff Coward  Quiz and informal evening

May 2015

Thursday 14 May    Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 6G locomen: personal reminiscences by A Guest Panel

Wednesday 20 May Excursion Compass Tours by West Coast The Cornish Explorer From Chester, Wrexham, Ruabon, Gobowen, Shrewsbury, Craven Arms, Ludlow, Leominster, Hereford & Bristol to Penzance. The train is routed via the scenic Welsh Marches line, South Wales, the Severn Tunnel, Bristol, Somerset, the Dawlish Sea Wall, Devon and rural Cornwall.

June 2015

July 2015

Friday 3 July Excursion Compass Tours by West Coast  The Conway Valley Explorer
Via the Scenic Conway line (with Ffestiniog Railway option). From Grantham, Peterborough, Stamford, Oakham, Melton Mowbray, Leicester, South Wigston, Hinckley, Nuneaton, Tamworth, Lichfield TV, Rugeley TV & Stafford to Betws-y-Coed & Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Saturday 4 July Excursion Compass Tours by West Coast  The Conway Valley Explorer From Lincoln, Newark NG, Grantham, Bottesford, Bingham, Radcliffe, Netherfield, Nottingham, Tutbury & Hatton, Uttoxeter, Blythe Bridge & Stoke to Betws-y-Coed & Blaenau Ffestiniog. (with Ffestiniog Railway option).

August 2015

September 2015

Wednesday 9 September Excursion Compass Tours by West Coast  The Conway Valley Explorer
Via the Scenic Conway line (with Ffestiniog Railway option) Sheffield to Betws-Y-Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog. From Sheffield, Rotherham Central, Swinton, Moorthorpe, Normanton, Shipley, Keighley, Skipton, Hellifield, Carnforth & Lancaster.

12 September 2015 Excursion Compass Tours by West Coast  The Conway Valley Explorer Via the Scenic Conway line (with Ffestiniog Railway option) Scarborough to Betws-Y-Coed & Blaenau Ffestiniog.   – Saturday
From Scarborough, Seamer, Malton, York, Wakefield, Brighouse, Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge, Todmorden & Rochdale.

October 2015

Saturday 10 October 2015 Excursion Compass Tours by West Coast  The Conway Valley Explorer
Via the Scenic Conway line (with Ffestiniog Railway option) Hereford to Betws-Y-Coed
Departs – From Hereford, Ledbury, Gt Malvern, Worcester FS, Droitwich, Barnt Green, Walsall & Wolverhampton.

A Class 158, working the 15:37 Pwllheli to Machynlleth service, makes its way across Barmouth bridge, as seen from the Mawddach Trail on 26 February. Picture by Ian Wright.

'East Lancashire Railway' is back

37 418, a regular performer on North Wales trains in the 1990s while named East Lancashire Railway, is back in preserved service following a long period of inaction die to an engine failure.  It promised as one of the attractions at the railway's diesel gala on 7 and 8 March. See the ELR Diesel Grpup website for details.

Caroline at Large

Some railway managers had a nice day out on 25 February, aboard Inspection saloon 975025 'Caroline', from Cardiff via Shrewsbury, Wrexham and Chester to Holyhead and then back to Crewe. The saloon is equipped with a driving position enabling it to work on a push-pull basis with a loco, such as 37 419, used on this occasion. Caroline was leading as Martin Evans photographed the pair at Ruabon northbound (above).

37 419 Carl Haviland - one of the North Wales Coast passenger fleet back in the 1990s - propels the train through Ruabon station (Martin Evans).

After reversal at Chester, 419 headed the tour towards Holyhead, as seen by Tim Rogers passing Abergele. The replica LNWR-style windows, compared to the simpler replacements decently inflicted on  many other signalboxes, imply that this one is a 'listed structure' - listed Grade II since 1997, in fact. The nameboard seems to be trying to look like an LMS version,  but not quite making it.

But when all the signals on the line are controlled from Cardiff in just a few years' time, what will  become of this box? Hopefully not the dereliction already seen up the line at Rhyl No.2.

Heading for Holyhead (Tim Rogers). Notice that the platform line retains old-fashioned bullhead rail, in contrast to the modern flat-bottom style on the through route. Does the short length of rail between the running rails have some purpose, or is it just a piece of railway jetsam?

At Llandudno Junction on the return run (Peter Lloyd).

'Talking Trakz' Railway Talks in Llandudno Junction

There will be a series of five talks held on Wednesday evenings in March and April about the history of Llandudno Junction as a railway town. Each evening has its unique flavour. Some are illustrated, while others are not. One will be an unusual interactive presentation on railway history. With its position in the middle of the north Wales coast and its spur to the coastal beauties of Llandudno, the town grew thanks to the railway network. Visitors will be very welcome.  Talks start at 7.30pm, the venue is the Maelgwyn pub in Osborne Terrace, Llandudno Junction. Entry is free, but donations are welcome to support the 'Trakz Busking Festival', on 18 April, 'a Street festival bringing the local community, railway and businesses together for a fun, family friendly event' (More info on Facebook).

Programme of talks:

Wednesday 18 March: Cllr Phillip Evans. "Railway Reflections and other musings"
Wednesday 25 March: Cllr Terry James. "Social History of Llandudno Junction"
Wednesday 1 April: Larry Davies. "Llandudno Junction—A Railway Town"
Wednesday 8 April: Anne Jones. "A fast moving night train experience"
Wednesday 15 April: Cllr Vicky Macdonald. "The men who crossed the Conwy"

More information from Bill Chapman:

Not a 67

Anyone hoping for a ride in the 'DfT' loco-hauled train on 25,  26 or 27 February was in for a disappointment, as all that could be found to work the duty was a pair of Class 150/2 railcars - 'scruffy, draughty & noisy' according to Chris Taylor who took the picture after arrival at Holyhead on 26 February.

Richard Fleckney's view at misty Llanfair PG shows 150 242 and 150 260 heading for Holyhead as the 09:50 from Manchester on 25 February.

Our information is that there was no Driving Van Trailer available, as of the three allocated to Arriva Trains Wales, 82306/7/8, two were out of commission and the third was needed for the Cardiff service. Possibly one could have been borrowed from sister company Chiltern, but their services are currently disrupted by a blockage of the line due to a landslip between Banbury and Cheltenham Spa, so perhaps they were in no position to lend.

Normality returned on Monday 2 March, the train formed of loco 67 001, coaches 12184, 12183, 12185 and 12182 with DVT 82306.

Goliath on the Flasks

It's 'first light' at Rhosneigr on 25 February as 57 301 and 57 008 head for Valley with the flask train from Crewe. Picture by Peter Basterfield.

Possibly making its first revenue-earning journey in DRS livery after transfer from the short-lived Network Rail fleet, 57 301, now named Goliath, led the train on 25 February. Peter Basterfield captured the return run at Bridge 148 near Talybont running 53 minutes early. The last few trips of this train,  6K41,  have followed the 13:58 Voyager from Holyhead, but that does not mean they will do that next time...

57 301, formerly Scott Tracy, was accompanied by 57 008, and three wagons, as seen at Llandudno Junction by Peter Lloyd.

Passing Gwrych Castle near Abergele, former home of Winifred, Countess of Dundonald (Tim Rogers).

Official opening of the station at Dwyrain Corwen East - report by George Jones

The Llangollen Railway celebrated the official opening of the station at Dwyrain Corwen East  with a special train on St David’s Day, 1 March, for the conveyance of some 270 invited guests from Llangollen to Corwen. The five-coach Corwen Special left Llangollen with locomotives attached to the front and rear of the with No.3802 leading and 5199 on the rear.

Five ceremonial activities offered a public spectacle to celebrate the Official Opening day, as well as photo opportunities to record the occasion and media reporting of the event.

Vice Presidents Bill Shakespeare and Gordon Heddon unveiled the Dwyrain Corwen East station name board and the Chairman, Peter Lund, cut to ribbon to declare the station open.

Railway volunteers performed an enactment of fixing the golden fishplate to the last panel of track to mark the rejoining of Llangollen to Corwen by rail.

At a word of command the lead locomotive No.3802 eased forward and burst through the Official Opening Day banner which was stretched across the track. All this activity was conducted during a welcome brief spell of sunshine on a day which otherwise brought mixed weather fortunes.

The official activities were concluded when Llangollen Railway Trust Vice President Bill Shakespeare delivered a short speech acknowledging all the efforts which went into rebuilding the railway from Llangollen to Corwen over the past 40 years, and the need still to press on to complete the phase 2 of the project with a terminal station nearer Corwen Town centre. He unveiled a commemorative plaque which will be displayed in the station building. Above:  Mr & Mrs Shakespeare take a rest in the observation saloon.

Guests were then invited to view the site of the future extension and visit the new Railway Exhibition in Capel Goch in London Road.  The Llangollen Silver Band and the Glyndŵr Male Voice Choir provided music and song during the occasion and members of the Corwen Community are on hand to distribute complimentary miniature daffodils to guests. A good crowd of several hundred local residents assembled to see the activities and add their applause to the event.

The temporary station building now houses a selection of modern works of art commissioned by the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team, aimed at promoting the Dee Valley by train. These are well worth viewing.

The Special Train departed back at Llangollen at 3.30pm - in a hail storm - at the end of a highly successful occasion when the official opening was undertaken in some style.

Development of the Final Stage of the Corwen Extension

In providing guests with a view of the site for the further extension, project leader, Richard Dixon-Gough, pointed to the problem presented by the dip in the trackbed and the need to provide Welsh Water with an alternative access to the Corwen Sewerage Works. The project team now plans to construct a permanent island platform with a run round loop, to enable the Llangollen Railway to run steam locomotives into the centre of Corwen town. In providing a permanent terminal station the project will need to install the track layout, including points/switches, sleepers, ballast, and signalling, with a signalbox, plus subway access from the platform to the town’s main car park.

The intention to complete the railway extension project in accordance with the Transport & Works Order to Green Lane, Corwen is confirmed by the installation of a buffer stop at the far end of the site and the collection of material resources as are now visible. This further development is essential for Llangollen Railway to have the facilities to ensure continued operation of locomotive hauled trains into Corwen town, and the spin-off from these will benefit businesses in Corwen and improve the visitor experience.

All this is subject to detailed planning, permissions and the acquisition of resources, material, manpower and financial is essential. For a volunteer-led project the outlay will be modest compared with such work as undertaken on mainline railway construction sites and is estimated to come in at less than one million pounds. However the need for financial assistance will be obvious in terms of grant aid and donations, in much the same way as the work on the newly opened extension has been achieved. Further details about the formalised plans and fund raising will be announced shortly.

Return to Mouldsworth (1959-61) - pictures by Norman Jones
Captions by Anthony Robinson

Stanier 2-6-4T 42430 heads away from Mouldsworth with an all stations Manchester Central -  Chester Northgate train: note the ex-LNWR suburban brake composite with  its distinctive guard's windows next to the engine.

Stanier 2-6-4T 42459 starts away from the eastern end of Mouldsworth platform with a Manchester Central train, note the gable end of the (still extant) excellent local hostelry, The Goshawk to the left of the locomotive.

Stanier 8F 2-8-0 48406 backs slowly off the Helsby branch junction before proceeding tender first to Northwich. This loco would have worked a freight to Helsby West Cheshire Junction, perhaps the only place in the North West where locos of the ex-LMS, GWR & LNER -  not forgetting BR standards - could once be seen together on a daily basis sharing the same tracks.

Stanier 8F 2-8-0 48340, coupled to 0-6-0 J39 64717, running light back down the main line having just come off the Helsby branch. Both of Northwich (8E) shed.

BR Standard Class 2MT 2-6-0 78031 approaches the Junction home signal with an train from  Chester Northgate made up of the typical customary rake of five suburbans.

After 1959 the diesels arrived: here we see a pilotman instructing the driver of a Chester Northgate -bound Class 108 'Derby' Diesel Multiple Unit on temporary single line working up ahead. In these circumstances the appointed pilotman, usually a relief signalman, must wear the regulation red armband and either travel with the driver, or authorise him to proceed, once another train has cleared the single-line section.

The permanent singling of the line between here and  Mickle Trafford Junction did not take place until some years later when the Northgate station was closed in 1969. Mickle Trafford junction was then re-arranged for these trains to reach Chester General station.

Scenes by Stavros Lainas

The return empty log train from Chirk to Baglan Bay on 27 February, with double-headed 56 105 and 56 078 at Gobowen.

66 106 passing Bayston Hill with the Dee Marsh Margam steel train, 2 March.

97 302 pilots a tamper near Hadnall, 2 March. The machine is headed for Machynlleth for track maintenance on the Cambrian lines, so can only travel west of Shrewsbury if accompanies by a Class 97/2 loco fitted with the necessary ERTMS signalling equipment.

Past Times with John Hobbs - Steam in early 1965

We have seen previously how the Euston to Holyhead and Llandudno trains were running with steam traction in early 1965; with the introduction of English Electric Type 4's (Class 40 in later terminology) on the North Wales Coast, the utilisation of these locomotives was improved above that which was achieved with steam traction. For example, the locomotive off the 9.20 Crewe to Holyhead returned with the 14.45 Holyhead to Crewe and the loco off the down 'Welshman' (the 11.20am Euston to Holyhead) returned on the "Mail Bach" (the 7.40pm Holyhead to Birmingham).
It was almost  unheard of in the late fifties for a steam locomotive to do a return Crewe-Holyhead trip  in under 12 hours. However when steam was substituted on to diesel turns it became common for the steam locomotive to return on the diesel diagram; one supposes that there were fewer suitable locomotives for the these Class 7 & 8 turns than formerly, as the steam fleet was run down at Crewe and Holyhead.

Above: Britannia  Class 4-6-2 70053 Moray Firth, once a 'rare bird' in North Wales but allocated to Holyhead at this time, is in charge of the 12.10 Crewe to Holyhead on a rather murky 16 January 1965. This was one of the first turns in North Wales to go over to EE type 4 haulage, initially for crew training, in 1959.

9F 2-10-0's were always a bit rare in North Wales: this one crept up on me and I nearly missed it! When Birkenhead depot acquired them they became more frequent although still unusual; here 92050 heads through Prestatyn on 7 February 1965 with the 9.00am Sundays Only meat train from Holyhead to London (Broad Street) station, which was near Smithfield Market. The train consist is 'conflat' wagons loaded with refrigerated containers; such trains converged on Broad Street's goods depot from all corners of Britain, with fish for Billingsgate as well as meat for Smithfield. The depot was on two levels, linked by wagon hoists.

The 8.45pm Sunday Crewe to Holyhead stands in Prestatyn with the Sunday equivalent of the weekdays down 'Emerald Isle Express', but it stopped on a Sunday. The Pilotman gives instructions to the driver during single line working between Prestatyn and Rhyl due to an earlier derailment in Rhyl. This train was another which remained steam, although undiscovered my me for a while. The previous autumn this train had regularly produced Class 7 4-6-0's and their distinctive beat could be heard echoing over the town, at a time when they were becoming rare; this is 4 April 1965.

Cambrian sunset

Finally, another of Ian Wright's superb studied of Barmouth Bridge and the Mawddach.

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