Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

30 March 2015

Last issue


RSS feed RSS

Link to this issue

Share this issue

Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters, and especially the rail staff of North Wales.

Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page. For the current list visit our Calendar.

April 2015

Wednesday 1 April: Talking Trakz Larry Davies. "Llandudno Junction—A Railway Town"Maelgwyn pub in Osborne Terrace, Llandudno Junction, 19:30. Free admission.

Wednesday 8 April: Talking Trakz Anne Jones. "A fast moving night train experience" Maelgwyn pub in Osborne Terrace, Llandudno Junction, 19:30. Free admission.

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.

Wednesday 15 April: Talking Trakz Cllr Vicky Macdonald. "The men who crossed the Conwy" Maelgwyn pub in Osborne Terrace, Llandudno Junction, 19:30. Free admission.

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.

Welsh Highland Railway Garratt 87 is in charge of the 10:45 from Porthmadog, south of Rhyd Ddu, on 25 March. Picture by Alan Crawshaw.

The Road to Wembley - report by Eddie Knorn

Wrexham FC supporters had the option of a special train from Wrexham General to Wembley on 29 March for their ultimately abortive attempt to win the FA Trophy Final for a second time. The train was formed of the 'Gerald' set but with an additional standard class vehicle. The full formation list for 'CF01' set was: 67 002 - 12176 - 12181 - 12178 - 12177 - 10249 - 82307. Booked to depart from Wrexham at 08.15, the train had built up a fair speed to pass Ruabon at 08.22.

Following ultimate defeat in the 'sudden death' penalty competition, Wrexham's supporters (at least some of them) had the prospect of a comfortable ride back home. The next day, Wrexham FC's manager faced an uncomfortable dismissal.

Chester coincidence - report by Bob Greenhalgh

Chester on 25 March, and 67 001 arrives with at 11:08 with the 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead.

A few minutes later, 68 001 Evolution appears on the scene, engaged on a Crewe - Chester crew training run.

Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland scenes

Martin Evans travelled on the Welsh Highland Railway from Porthmadog to Caernarfon and return on 25 March, which turned out to be an excellent day weather-wise. Above: Ffestiniog Railway Double Fairlie Merddyn Emrys departs Porthmadog for Blaenau Ffestiniog with the 10:10 service from Porthmadog.

At the same time, Belgian-built Garratt loco 87 was running around its train to form the 10:45 service to Caernarfon (Martin Evans).

87 is seen preparing to run around at its destination of Caernarfon and will depart at 14:15 returning to Porthmadog (Martin Evans).

Garratt 138 brings the 10:00 from Caernarfon away from Rhyd Ddu on 25 March (Alan Crawshaw).

Beyer-Garratt loco 138 (built in Manchester in 1958) was passed at Rhyd Ddu, waiting to depart for Caernarfon (Martin Evans).

On 28 March, the 14:15 from Caernarfon behind Garratt 87 was photographed by Peter Basterfield at Aberglaslyn.

Dave Sallery encountered the Ffestiniog Railway's works train at Minffordd on 29 March, with diesel loco Harlech Castle, a Baguley-Drewry 0-6-0 diesel-hydraulic built in 1983 to an order from the Mozambique Sugar Institute which was cancelled before the loco could be delivered.

The train was returning from a work site near Tan-y-Grisiau (Dave Sallery).

Dave Sallery's Cambrian Rail Cruise website has now been updated for the 2015 season, and tells you all you need to know to make the circular journey round North and Mid Wales using the economically-priced Ffestiniog Round Robin ticket. This day ticket is ticket available for travel from stations between Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Crewe, Chester, Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog in an anti-clockwise direction or Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Crewe, Chester, Shrewsbury, Machynlleth and Porthmadog in a clockwise direction, plus a single journey on the Ffestiniog Railway, and onward travel back to the station of origin.

Welsh Highland Railway Society Group news - by John Wood

The North Wales Group of the Welsh Highland Railway Society meets at 19:30 on the second Wednesday of each month at the Mountain Rangers club, Cae Gors, Rhosgadfan, Caernarfon LL54 7ET.

On 8 April, Graham Nicholas of the P2 Locomotive Company will be giving an illustrated talk on the work done so far in re-creating one of Sir Nigel Gresley's 2-8-2 locos. All are welcome: there is plenty of parking space at the club,, and there are beers, real ale and lagers available at reasonable prices.

There is a raffle, and sandwiches are available. Do come along find out what we do, how to join and be a volunteer - and who knows, you might end up driving a Garratt through the Aberglaslyn Pass or,  even more important than that, making tea for the 'Black Hand Gang'. We look forward to seeing new faces at the P2 show.

The Flask Chronicles

There's a tendency for the operators of loco-hauled passenger and freight trains find a loco that works well and use it on the same service every time until it needs maintenance. The good folks at DRS however, have other ideas: the Crewe - Valley (and return) 'as required' flask train can be expected to produce not just different locos, but often of a different class than the previous run. Class 66 locos are perhaps the least common type seen on this service, but on 25 March 66 432 and 66 301 presented themselves to Peter Basterfield's camera near Penmaenmawr on the early morning run from Crewe.

The return run, 6K41, passing Pringles' store on the approach to Llanfair PG, or to give it it's 'full name', Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, carefully transcribed for us by Tim Rogers who took the picture.

Penmaenmawr (Peter Basterfield). 66 301 is one of the five Class 66s acquired new in 2008 by  Fastline, a company created by a successful management buyout of Eastern Track Renewals from British Rail in 1996., and later sold to Jarvis PLC who used the name for a new freight operation. By 2011, Jarvis and Fastline Freight had ceased trading, and DRS took over the five 66s.

Beeches Farm (Bob Greenhalgh).

Friday 27 March, and a pair of ex-Freightliner Class 57/0 locos appeared, 57 002 and 57 004, photographed by Peter Basterfield passing the site of Brundetts siding. Llanfairfechan at 07:10.

Above: at Valley transfer sidings on 27, The DRS Trainman checks the tail-lamp and brakes on the solitary 'FNA' flask wagon, prior to the train being propelled to the point where the train waits, just
short of where the public footpath (from where this picture was taken by Jim Johnson) crosses the triangle entry/exit line.

57 002 and 57 004 awaiting permission to exit the triangle, which would be after the 13:58 double-Voyager to Euston (1A48) and the 09:21 Cardiff-Holyhead Class 175 (1W92) had passed and were at their respective safe distances. Picture by John Wood.

There were signalling/crossing barrier problems at Valley on this day. Above, Network Rail (S&T) Signal & Telegraph investigate the problem.

The signalman was having to leave his box every time the crossing barriers needed to be raised or lowered, to use the emergency control located by the down-side barrier. The down home colour light signal remained at danger, with trains stopping there, and then being given permission to proceed past the red aspect. The up home semaphore starter was unaffected, but the semaphore ground signal protecting the exit from the triangle remained at danger when flask train 6K41 was ready to propel onto the main line, and, again, the driver was granted permission to pass at danger.

The Valley signalman instructs his S&T colleague to lower the crossing barriers, using the emergency switch, for 6K41 to exit the triangle (Jim Johnson).

This signalbox was created a Grade II 'listed building' in January 1998, and the grounds that it 'forms a group with the station buildings', although the windows are clearly not in their original. London and North Western Railway style. In our 4 June 2012 issue we discussed whether the windows should therefore be replaced by LNWR look-alikes. This has not happened, on the ground that the original windows had already been replaced in a refurbishment before 1998, although it seems that our appeal for a 1997 picture had any result. Today, the place looks rather shabby: presumably it will be redundant, along with all the other 'boxes on this line, in a few years' time. What happens to the listed buildings then?

The driver and trainman keep a sharp lookout as the locos propel the train past the ground signal at danger, onto the main line. Picture by John Wood.

Propelling across the level-crossing, into the station. Picture taken from the platform by Jim Johnson. Despite the problems, delays to services were minimal, and train 6K41 departed at 14:19, 43 minutes ahead of its 'booked' time.

The return train descending the 1 in 105 gradient from the tubular bridge into Llandudno Junction, with Conwy Castle as a classic backdrop (Peter Basterfield).

57 002 leads through Mostyn (Tim Rogers).

News from Ty Mawr Publications - by Steve Morris

Class 40 Country: Wales is the first book produced by Ty Mawr Publications on behalf of The Class Forty Preservation Society (CFPS). The aim of this project is to raise funds for the continued upkeep of CFPS owned 40 135 and 40 145 with 100% of the sales income being used for this purpose. This is the fourth book to be produced by the CFPS and follows on from the three previous ones released a few years ago to celebrate 50 years of class 40 operation.

The first of this series covers an area that in many parts was a stronghold for the class throughout their period of regular use from the early 1960’s through to the mid 1980’s, Wales! Other areas I hope to cover in future years are Scotland, the London Midland and Eastern Regions. This will provide an opportunity for the modern traction enthusiast to put together a comprehensive record of the routine and more unusual workings covered by this popular class of locomotive throughout the country.

240 x 170mm in size, the book comprises 96 pages and contains 147 colour and 32 black and white images covering the period from 1959 through to the present day. The vast majority of the material used has never been published before, some of the images were taken by railwaymen during the course of their work in locations not accessible to the general public. All areas of
Wales are included with large sections covering areas not frequently photographed such as Deeside. There is also a comprehensive record of class 40 operation in South Wales, an area not usually associated with the class.

Priced at £14.95 plus £2.55 p&p, this publication is available from the CFPS by going to their website, and going to the "sales" section or visiting the CFPS sales stand at major events. The print run is limited so please get your orders in early!

Past Times with John Hobbs - Renaissance of the Club Train

22 March 1965 brought steam back to the 'Club Trains' the 7.40am Llandudno to Manchester and the 4.30pm SX and 5.35pm SO Manchester (Exchange) to Llandudno together with short workings of the stock on shuttles between Llandudno and Llandudno Junction before and after.

It seems those who paid for First Class season tickets from various North Wales stations to Manchester were not at all impressed with the First Class facilities provided by the BRCW DMUs (later Class 104) and must have prevailed on the management to reintroduce steam-hauled trains with their more comfortable coaches. The luggage racks of the DMUs were prone to rattle, and if anything the seats in the centre trailer car, in the three car set, provided the best and quietest ride.  Above: On the first day of the 'Return to steam', 22 March 1965, LMS Class 5 4-6-0 45285 leaves Prestatyn with the morning  'Club' to Manchester (Exchange).
Editor's note: By this time the service was not a true 'club train' of the kind seen in earlier years where special carriages were provided for members of an actual 'club', but the term survived for many years in staff and enthusiast parlance to refer to loco-hauled peak hour trains, such as the diesel-hauled trains of the 1990s to and from Blackpool and Southport as well as North Wales. The current 16:50 from Manchester - Llandudno is perhaps deserving of the title, although the powers-that-be have seen fit to start the morning equivalent at Chester instead of Llandudno, to the annoyance of North Wales commuters.

Pulling away from Prestatyn. The loco had been cleaned up for the occasion, and I found out recently that a young Larry Davies - now Community Rail Officer for the Conwy Valley line - was responsible for this initiative.

29 March 1965 , and 45285 (again) leaves Prestatyn on the 4.30pm Manchester (Exchange) to Llandudno on 29  March 1965 and runs into the sunset, in the going away shot, the first vehicle is an LMS Brake-second complete with roof boards proclaiming 'Manchester to Llandudno.'

Departure. Now there were three steam trains on the Coast and the short workings on the Llandudno branch, plus the 'Londons' but time was running out for steam. The steam 'club train' was to last until the end of December 1966. By this time the number of First Class season ticket holders to Manchester was much reduced and times were changing as financial markets moved into modern working practices. Managers were expected to be at their desks before 10.30am and after 4pm ... Lunch from noon until 2pm as well!

Saltney Junction layout

Our comments about single-lead junctions in the last issue prompted a reply from Dave Plimmer, owner of the superb North Wales-themed website to kindly forward a copy of the signalling plan from the time of the 1984 re-signalling scheme, when the junction was controlled from the new Chester Power Signal Box; we reproduce a small extract above. A fuller version is on the site.

Dave writes: 'Although BR did seem to have a preference for single lead junctions in the 70s and 80s (and according to the full diagram, the design of the Chester remodelling was done in 1977), Saltney Junction got pretty much the layout it's going to get again now. Points 717a and 717b are the crossover and 718 is the link from the down Holyhead to the down Wrexham (those 'downs' are in opposite directions of course!). As I understand it, when the Wrexham line was singled
the only change at Saltney was the removal of points 716. Points 718 were then used for both directions.'

Report from the Duke of Lancaster

It was February 2013 that we last reported on the efforts of the Duke Of Lancaster Appreciation Society (DOLAS) to save, and bring back to use for public events the former British Railways ferry Duke of Lancaster which is rusting away, in view from the North Wales line at Llannerch-y-Mor near Mostyn.  It was used as a public venue 'The Funship' for some years

An article in the Daily Post at that time described how Flintshire Council had rejected claims it has prevented the Duke of Lancaster, the old British Railways ferry that travellers see from the Coast line trains, from being brought back into use because of a weight restriction on the railway bridge at Glan-y-Don, pictured below, which would be needed as access for emergency vehicles.

The bridge was not an original structure of the North Wales line, and although now giving access to a water treatment plant, for many years it led only to the reclaimed land to the seaward side of the line. Perhaps vehicles carrying colliery waste passed this way at some time.

Ashley Gardner of DOLAS now writes tells us that the Office of Rail Regulation has confirmed the bridge can carry vehicles of up to 40 tons; however, the Fire Service now say they will not cross the bridge because '10 tons' signs are displayed.  So far, Network Rail are not willing to co-operate in amending the signage. Clearly DOLAS have more work to do.


67 001 at Abergele on 25 March with the 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead (Stavros Lainas).

With a splendid mountain backdrop, the same train passes RAF Valley (Tim Rogers).

Tim Rogers re-located to Llanfair PG for this fine cloud study as 67 001 propels from the rear of the 13:01 Holyhead - Manchester.

221 109 Marco Polo & 221 107 Sir Martin Frobisher near Mostyn on 27 March, working train 1A48, 13:58 Holyhead to London Euston (Tim Rogers).

Tamping machine DR79395 stabled the engineers' siding at Rhyl on 28 March, having travelled from Rugby the day before, in advance of weekend re-laying work in the Llandudno Junction area.

Green Lane Crossing, south of Saltney Junction on the line to Wrexham, on 27 March (Bob Greenhalgh). The re-opening of this crossing, after work related to the doubling of the track, has been put back again to 2 April. One of the workers told Bob that a large sink hole had been discovered next to the trackbed. which had taken 40 tones of ballast to fill. Hence part of the reason for the much delayed opening.

'Jubilee' class 4-6-0 45690 Leander on 28 March passing Acton Bridge on a Bishop Auckland to Shrewsbury special. Picture by Bob Greenhalgh, who writes: 'Sounded great as she passed us running about 10 minutes early, I'm guessing at about 70 / 75 mph'.

66 849 has worked 6J37, Carlisle-Chirk logs, for several months, seen here on Wednesday 25 March leaving Rise Hill Tunnel on the approach to Dent, Settle-Carlisle Line (Ian Pilkington).

The view from the beach near Fairbourne on the evening of 27 March, as a Class 158 climbs towards Friog Rocks with the 15:37 Pwllheli - Machynlleth (Ian Wright). We'd be happy to receive more Cambrian Coast line pictures.

The view from the road of Warrington Arpley's DB Schenker facility on 25 March, with 'sheds'  66 078 and 66 170 present (Les Burton).

Class 68s can now be sampled in passenger service on the Chiltern line.On 25 March, Richard Putley photographed 68 012 at London Marylebone with the 17:50 Marylebone - Banbury, which has been class 68-hauled since January. The Wrexham & Shropshire colour scheme lives on to another generation...

History at Hamilton Square

This picture by Richard Neale shows part of a mural at Birkenhead Hamilton Square station, which re-opened on 26 March after a four-million pound refurbishment scheme which lasted six months. While work on the platform and underground areas of Hamilton Square station has been completed, there is still work to finish in the concourse areas and entrance to the station. This will take place overnight, without disruption to passengers, and be completed by the summer.

The text explains that the posters were found underneath platform walls dating from the station's last upgrade, and date from the 1940s to the 1960s. They were to fragile to remove, so images of them taken by local historians have been incorporated in the décor of the new station. The 'Flypaper' poster advertised a historical series in the Liverpool Echo newspaper; the murderess in question was Florence Maybrick who in 1889 was imprisoned for poisoning her husband.

North Wales Coast home pageArchive | Previous Notice Board