10 August 2015
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Sunday 16 August Stockport Railshow, Stockport station.
Sunday 16 August Excursion West
Llanfairpwll, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint,
Chester, Frodsham, Warrington, Preston, Lancaster & Oxenholme to
Tuesday 25 August Steam on the Coast. Railway
Company. Welsh Mountaineer. Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.
28-30 August. Bala Lake Railway: 'Winifred'
Friday 4 September Clwyd
Circle Geoff Morris: New Zealand Railways in 2011/12. A
digital presentation of visits to New Zealand in 2011 & 2012
showcasing mainline steam charters in the North & South Islands,
visits to preservation sites and a look at the rapidly-changing
Wednesday 9 September Excursion West
Railways The Conway
Valley Explorer Via the Scenic Conway line (with Ffestiniog Railway
to Betws-Y-Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog. From Sheffield, Rotherham
Central, Swinton, Moorthorpe, Normanton, Shipley, Keighley, Skipton,
Hellifield, Carnforth & Lancaster.
Thursday 10 September Llandudno
Valley Railway Society Larry Davies/Philip Evans:
Llandudno Junction: a railway town
Saturday 12 September Excursion West
Railways The Conway Valley Explorer Via the Scenic
Conway line (with Ffestiniog Railway option) Scarborough to
Betws-Y-Coed & Blaenau Ffestiniog. From Scarborough, Seamer,
Malton, York, Wakefield, Brighouse, Sowerby
Bridge, Hebden Bridge, Todmorden & Rochdale.
Monday 14 September Wrexham
Society, No Meeting
Monday 21 September RCTS:
Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North
Wales Branch. LNER an appreciation by John Feild. Local member and keen
follower of anything LNER John takes a look back at locomotives of that
company and of its predecessors including some of them at Chester
Friday 25 September. Great Western
Branch. P. Spilsbury. Steam
Friday 2 October Clwyd
Circle Tony & Barbara Griffiths The Fate of the Irish
Mail. This is a presentation in pictures, music and film, telling
the story of the Abergele rail disaster of 1868.
Thursday 8 October Llandudno
Valley Railway Society W Gordon Davies: American Wanderings:-
Saturday 10 October Excursion West
Coast Railways The
Conwy Valley Explorer Via the Scenic Conwy line (with Ffestiniog
Railway option) Hereford to
Betws-Y-Coed Departs – From Hereford, Ledbury, Gt Malvern, Worcester
Barnt Green, Walsall & Wolverhampton.
Monday 12 October Wrexham
Society, Diesels In The 1960's by Barry Shore, looking at
those rarely photographed trains and engines in the
1960s, those other than steam including the numerous and mostly very
unsuccessful types of the new motive power.
Monday 19 October RCTS:
Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch. Aspects of the
Chester & Birkenhead Line by John Ryan
To mark the 175th Anniversary of Railways across Cheshire former BR
Civil Engineer and local rail historian John looks at the more recent
rail aspects of this line
Friday 30 October. Great Western
Society NW Branch. Mike
Kenwright. Cutting of the Manchester Ship
Friday 6 November Clwyd
Circle John Hobbs: A Black & White Circle of North
Wales during 1963 - 66. A journey commencing in Chester and continuing
to Holyhead before retracing our steps to Caernarvon, Afonwen, Morfa
Mawddach, then a brief visit to Bala Junction before continuing through
Dovey Junction to Shrewsbury & Wrexham.
Monday 9 November Wrexham
Society, Building a Grange with Quentin McGuinness,
Chairman of the 6880 Betton Grange Society describing the enormous work
being undertaken to produce a new locomotive of the Great Western
Grange class at Llangollen, looking at the build so far and their
Steel, Steam & Stars fundraising events.
Thursday 12 November Llandudno
Valley Railway Society Ron Watson Jones AGM Class
Monday 16 November RCTS:
Society, Merseyside, Chester and
North Wales Branch. LNER, an appreciation by John Feild. Northern
Delights by Steve Batty. Steve our RO Branch News Editor and railway
author from Selby reviews
modern traction in Northern England 2002 2009.
November. Great Western Society NW
Branch. John Hobbs. A Black & White presentation, North Wales
Circular 1963 - 66 (Steam)
Friday 4 December Clwyd
Circle Members Night & Christmas Celebrations.
Members are invited to give a 15 minute presentation of their choice
(any format). FREE tea/coffee & festive treats during the interval.
Contact David Jones 01244 537440 to book a slot.
Thursday 10 December Llandudno
Valley Railway Society Xmas Social / Christmas
Treats and Bob Barnsdale: a Local Tribute
Monday 14 December Wrexham
Society, Annual General Meeting and Rail Review
Entertainment, a mixture of members' slides, DVD's and other
Monday 21 December RCTS:
Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch. Arriva Trains
Wales. Last 10 years going forward with
Davies. This is an opportunity to hear about more about one of our
local Train Operating Companies from one of its locally based officers.
Friday 8 January Clwyd
Circle Dave Sallery Dinorwic Slate Quarries - Part 2 This
is the final part of Dave’s fascinating journey around the quarry.
Monday 11 January Wrexham
Society, Woodhead - The Lost Railway by Stephen Gay
describing the former Great Central main line from Manchester to
Sheffield across the Pennines via the Woodhead tunnel closed in 1981
with photographs along the route of the former railway.
Thursday 14 January Llandudno
Valley Railway Society Dave Southern: Chester -
Pwllheli - days long gone
Monday 18 January RCTS:
Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch. BRANCH
A.G.M followed by Back to The 60s with
Coward. Geoff highlights photographs in various locations of the last
few years of steam (1964-1968), including early diesels, mostly in the
North West of England.
Friday 5 February Clwyd
Circle John Sloane: Chinese Steam in the 1980's This is
drawn from the first part of a tour in the winter of 1986/87 and
centres on railways in what at one time had been the Japanese occupied
area known as Manchuria in the north east of China. This was still a
busy steam operated railway with plenty of variety and steam locos were
still being built at that time.
Monday 8 February Wrexham
Society, Steam in the East Midlands in the 1950's by Fred
Kirk. Local Member and keen cyclist looks back at
previously unseen pictures of those main lines accessible from his home
city of Leicester ranging from the East Coast Main Line at Stoke to the
Western's line to Birmingham Snow Hill, also the West Coast, Midland
and Great Central lines.
Thursday 11 February Llandudno
Valley Railway Society Geoff Morris: Welsh
Wanderings in the 1990’s
Monday 15 February RCTS: Railway Correspondence
and Travel Society,
Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch. "American Wanderings
- Heading East" by Gordon Davies.
Gordon, our RCTS National Chairman gives a digital presentation
the American railroad scene in the eastern states depicting diesel
locomotives working passenger and freight trains as well as electric
locomotives, light rail and preserved steam in operation on
Friday 4 March Clwyd
Circle Annual General Meeting followed by: Dave Southern, A journey
from Chester to Pwllheli in colour looking at the closed lines both
standard and narrow gauge including closed steam sheds and some goods
Thursday 10 March Llandudno
and Conwy Valley Railway Society Alan Roberts:
Railway signalling in the Conwy/Llandudno area
Monday 14 March 2016 Wrexham
Society, Railways Of Wales in the 1980's - Geoff Morris
describes a trip through Wales in a decade during which livery
variations started to appear and steam re-appeared on a scheduled basis
along the Cambrian & North Wales Coasts
Monday 21 March RCTS:
Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch. "20 Years Of The
Privatised Railway - What Does The Future
Hold?" by Bob Casselden. Bob, a retired former B.R. manager looks at
the changes to Britain's privatised railway over the last twenty years
and reflects on what the future might bring.
Friday 1 April Clwyd
Circle Denbigh Film Club. Railway Enthusiasts Film Night A night of
nostalgia and fun with a selection of films old and new to end our
season in great style.
Monday 11 April 2016 Wrexham
Society 'Days Gone' A Nostalgic Look Back at the 1960-90's
by Larry Davies, looking at the enormous changes which have taken place
on the railways in North Wales during the last four decades of the last
century illustrated, mostly by Larry's own work.
Thursday 14 April Llandudno
and Conwy Valley Railway Society 1960/70s North
Wales Railway Recollection Barry Wynne/Steve Morris
Monday 18 April RCTS:
Railway Correspondence and Travel Society,
Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch. One Mans Rubbish is
Another's Treasure by Russell Hatt.
Russell presents a selection of historic railway photographs that
whilst too poor for publication are of interest to the railway
Thursday 12 May Llandudno
Valley Railway Society Ray Bailey: Steam into
Under the rainbow: the classic view from above Old Colwyn on the
morning of 10 August. Picture by Greg Mape.
60 040 The Territorial Army Centenary passes
Johnstown, between Ruabon and Wrexham on 6M86 Margam - Dee Marsh on 31
July (Tim Rogers).
The same train approaching Hawarden Bridge (John Mathers).
60 024 Clitheroe Castle passes Vauxhall foot
crossing near Ruabon with 6V75 Dee Marsh - Margam on 3 August (John
Approaching the Dee bridge at Shotton on 6 August, 66 148 with 6M86
09:23 Margam to Dee Marsh (Tim Rogers).
Both the loco and the recently-refurbished bridge reflect the morning
sun on 7 August as 60 066 in special Drax Power livery brings
6V75 09:30 Dee Marsh to Margam empties across the bridge. The larger of
the spans was once capable of bring swung to allow shipping to pass.
Wrexham-Chester re-doubling date announced
Extract from a Network Rail notice of 28 July:
NR/LNW/084 – WREXHAM TO CHESTER RE-DOUBLING
OPERATIVE FROM MONDAY 16 NOVEMBER 2015
From the above date, the single line between Wrexham North Junction and
Saltney Junction, controlled from Chester PSB, will be redoubled
between a new junction near Rossett Level Crossing and Saltney
Junction. Permissible line speeds will be changed and additional
signalling provided in order to increase capacity and reduce journey
The Welsh Mountaineer revisited
Following on from last issue's report the
run of the 'Welsh Mountaineer' excursion, we have received first-hand
reports on the events on the Conwy Valley line, which reflect
considerable credit on the organisers and staff involved. David
Jackson, who was a passenger on the train, writes:
The loco, 45231, performed very well, and was pulling
hard and smoothly all the way up the Valley, through Betws-y-Coed, and
up the 1 in 36 to and beyond Gethin's Bridge. Once past that point the
adverse gradient is assisted by more severe curves, most with
check-rails which act as brakes binding on the back of the wheels (not
just of the loco but the coaches as well). All that was expected on
that line, but when the elements joined the fun it became a
Apart from the heavy rain, the water was dripping off
the trees onto the rail head - the sand dropped by the loco was being
washed off as fast as it was dropped. After several slips, expertly
corrected by the driver, speed dropped off until we came to a stand,
and attempts to restart caused further slips and the driver set back to
the level at Gethins Bridge, dropping sand as we reversed. A spirited
start took us almost up to where we had been earlier, but the slipping
started again, and with further severe curvature ahead the driver took
us back to Betws-y-Coed to contact Network Rail for permission to
propel down to the loop at North Llanrwst. The crew were also concerned
that the level of water in the tender was getting low, and on reaching
the loop a search was made for the nearest fire-hydrant.
Our pictures, by Larry Davies except where noted, record the
events. Above, at Betws-y-Coed, the train starts its 'setting
back' manoeuvre. The line alongside is the Conwy Valley Railway Museum's
Run-round in progress. Picture by Andy Hyde.
At North Llanrwst, the loco prepares to take water. The loco ran round
the train here, once a Network Rail manager had been stationed to
'clip' the loop points, as they are no longer operated from the
signalbox, being fitted with hydraulic 'spring' mechanisms which in
normal operation as a passing loop allow trains to take opposite lines
on arrival, and 'trail through' the departure points on departure,
which then re-set automatically for the next train. This means that
only the normal crossing of two trains can be made without manual
It was then agreed that the train could set back to the small station,
Llanrwst, opened in 1989 adjacent to Llanrwst town centre, so that
passengers could sample the facilities of the town, thus becoming what
was certainly the first steam train, and possibly the first loco-hauled
train, to call at this station. Certain Llanrwst pubs and 'chippies'
were then seen to receive an unexpected boost in patronage; one chip
shop apparently opened early, by popular demand!
Seen from the 13:01 Holyhead - Manchester train, 20 308 and
20 305 outside the flask-loading compound at Valley (Ian Wilson).
The vegetation is re-growing in Talybont cutting as 20 305 and 20
308 pass with two flask wagons (Peter Basterfield).
37 612 and 37 259 pass Bangor, 35 minutes early at 07:03 with the early
morning train to Valley on 31 July. Just one passenger waits for the
06:28 Holyhead - Cardiff train (Peter Basterfield).
The return train on 31 July ran 255 minutes late, leaving Valley at
18:55 instead of the timetabled 14:58. In fading light, 37 612 leads 37
259 under Beeches Farm bridge (Bob Greenhalgh).
37 612 and 57 301 head the Valley to Crewe train on
Monday 3 August, running 54 minutes early at Llandudno Junction (Larry
Shotton (Tim Rogers).
Arriva's rugby team train
As mentioned last time, Arriva asked the Government if they could use
the Premier Express train to chauffeur some rugby players. The
following gushing message arrived in our inbox on 10 August:
Today (Monday 10th August), the Wales Rugby squad
have commenced their only training session in Wales as part of the
build-up to Rugby World Cup 2015. In partnership with Arriva Trains
Wales they travelled by train from Cardiff Central to Colwyn Bay.
As described Premier Express set worked 1V90 04:25 Holyhead - Cardiff
on 10 August instead of its normal 1V91 05:33 which was run by a
railcar set; this service calls at Ruabon or Chirk, which may explain
the platform-measuring shenanigans we reported in the 27 July update ...
except that they involved the northbound train and platforms.
Arriva Trains Wales is delighted to be working with the WRU on this
exciting journey, made possible with the support of the Welsh
Government. The train being used for this historic trip routinely
provides an important connection for communities throughout Wales from
Cardiff, mid and north Wales to Holyhead, as funded by the Welsh
Today we are excited to be connecting the Wales Rugby squad to what’s
important to them and supporting their successful World Cup journey. We
wish them all good luck in the tournament ahead.
After a quick turn-round, the special ran on 10 August as 1W77, 09:35
Cardiff Central to Colwyn Bay, arriving at 13:15, then ran empty to
Holyhead where it will presumably remain until Tuesday's 05:33
departure. Our understanding is that the return working for will be on
Wednesday 12 August, 1V77 14:10 Colwyn Bay-Cardiff Central 17:55 (Timings).
just enough time for the Premier set to be used on the
18:21 Cardiff - Chester (then empty stock 21:35 Chester to Holyhead)
instead of its normal 17:21 to Holyhead. The 18:21 runs via
Crewe, so certainly won't be calling at Chirk or Ruabon.
The Anglesey Aluminium Metal works, mostly closed in 2009 and finally
in 2013, still stands forlorn. Ian Wilson, passing on the 13:01
loco-hauled Holyhead - Manchester service on 27 July, photographed one
of the former works shunters, Hunslet works no. 7183 of 1971, still
standing in the sidings.
The 'biomass power station and eco-park' planned for this site nearing
the end of the consultation stage: an article
Daily Post gives some idea. As far as we know, there is no
intention to involve the railway in the transport of materials, but
we'd be happy to be proved wrong.
Having brought in the 4.15pm from Llanfair Caereinion, 822 The
Earl basks in the afternoon sunshine sporting a BR shed code – 89A,
Oswestry. Picture by Glyn Jones.
DRS Class 47s are rarely seen out on the line these days; an exception
is 47 818
which is the regular power for Network Rail's inspection saloon
'Caroline', as seen on 22 July passing Rhos Ddu, Wrexham as train 2Z02
London Marylebone - Liverpool Lime Street. Picture by John Mathers.
Peter Lloyd writes: 'Cycling to work on 6 August I stopped
at the Automatic Half-Barrier level crossing at Tremarl industrial
estate between Llandudno Junction and Glan Conwy and managed to picture
train 2D16, the 13:10 Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog with 150 253.'
Driver Jim Scott was recently permitted to capture the views
from Llandudno signalbox. The train above is approaching on the short
section of single line which was devised in 1978 to allow trains to
come and go from platform 1, 2 or 3 as needed with the minimum of
pointwork. To the right of the train are the Cae Mawr carriage sidings,
refurbished and returned to use in 2014 (at a reported £500,000 cost).
We have claimed on these pages that these have yet to see a train, but a clip on YouTube
dated 23 May 2015 shows steam loco 5043 and its water-carrying carriage
venturing in there, presumably to establish that it was possible.
... 175 101 departs Llandudno on 1 August under one of the last
(the last?) surviving semaphore signal gantries on Network Rail's
network (Jim Scott).
Cumbrian Coast Erratum
In the first version of the 31 July, we fell victim to what in media
circles is known as a 'factoid.' The true reason for the window bars on
the Cumbrian Coast line loco-hauled coaches is nothing to do with the
tunnel at Whitehaven. The limited clearances are on the old
Maryport and Carlisle company's line between Carlisle and Maryport
where the bridges were built to sub-standard width. There are no
clearance issues south of Maryport, so in theory trains could run
without window bars between Barrow and Maryport and vice versa.
Charter trains are allowed all the way round the coast with unmodified
coaches, but only on condition that either all door droplight windows
are locked, or stewards are present in all vestibules to forbid any
Class 67s in action
67 022 pushes the evening Llandudno - Crewe past Beeches
Farm, Sandicroft on 31 July (Bob Greenhalgh)
Warrington Bank Quay station is not an easy place to take pictures; but
here's an action shot by Jim Scott of the 16:50 Manchester -
Llandudno getting the 'right-away' on 4 August.
67 016 brings the Derby - Holyhead track recording train
into Llandudno Junction on 3 August, with 67 014 on the rear (Larry
67 022 passes a Network Rail staff access point at Guilden Sutton on 4
August with 1D31, 16:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Llandudno (Tim
67 014 leads the return working past the lagoons at Bagillt (Tim
Behind the loco is 5981, also known as PLPR2, one of Network Rail's
Plain Line Pattern Recognition vehicles fitted with advanced video and
computer equipment to report any anomalies in the track (Tim Rogers).
A look at vehicle 975091; originally created to check the status of
overhead electric lines, this now finds itself in general track
recording usage, while a new Mk3-based vehicle (977993, ex-HST trailer
guards second 44053) has taken on its role in the 'New Measurement
Train' (Tim Rogers).
10 August saw now-nameless 67 014 take over the 'DfT'
loco-hauled Manchester workings from 67 022. Jim Coates
photographed the train at Prestatyn on the first day.
Bangor Railway Institute
The Railway Institute building in Euston Road, Bangor, was built by the
London and North Western Railway, on a very awkward sloping site, in
1898, as a club for the recreation and improvement of its many
employees in the area. An extension was added in 1905, and in later
years the building was used as a public venue for meetings, music
events and so on - the North Wales Railway Circle met there for years.
In 2014 the building was put up for sale; it is now in the hands of a
property developer, Kingscrown Properties Ltd, who propose to demolish
it and build apartments for students, although the local council has
previously stated that no more such accommodation is needed. The
application details can be found on the Gwynedd
website, ref. C15/0533/11/LL. It is not a listed building, and is
not in a conservation area, and it is claimed in the planning
application that Heritage Wales say their is no merit in retaining the
existing building. However, locals with an interest in railway heritage
are concerned about the loss of this historic building, and invite
readers in the Bangor area to comment on the proposal through the usual
channels, and/or local politicians.
Our contributor Jim Johnson writes: ' Should permission be
granted for student flats (or any other purpose) it must be conditional
on retaining the external structure and façades, with demolition
confined to the interior alterations. This has been very successfully
achieved with the old British Hotel in the High Street, and numerous
old, redundant chapel buildings, to name but a few examples.'
The Institution itself - the organisation - still exists, and is
developing a new venue; the North Wales Railway
Circle still flourishes, holding its meetings at the Telford Road
pub in Menai Bridge.
Prestatyn bus contrasts - pictures by Jim Coates
Newly delivered to Arriva Buses Wales depot in Rhyl are five Alexander
Dennis 'Enviro 200' 28-seat single-deckers, 2151 - 2155, for Rhyl
- Prestatyn - Dyserth - Rhuddlan (and vice versa) circular routes
35/36. Above, 2152 at Prestatyn Bus Station on 4 August.
At the opposite end of the age range, the Prestatyn Free Bus Service is
in action again this summer. This year's vehicle, like last year's, is
a former London Transport Routemaster, but this one has been converted
to open-top. RM 1783 (783 DYE), built in 1963, was bought last autumn
by Wrexham company Routemaster-4hire.
surviving Routemasters, it has had a complex career,
chronicled in detail on the excellent Country Bus website.
Amongst other adventures, it was originally converted to open-top in
1986 for use at the Liverpool Garden Festival.
The service runs Tuesdays-only until 28 August, every 20 minutes from
11am to 4pm. Route
Isle of Man: Manx Transport Festival 2015 - report by David
Monday 27 July: Arrival day at Douglas, sailing in aboard
the Manannan from Liverpool. After checking into the Edelweiss hotel
(my digs for the week), it was off on my first spin for the year on the
Douglas Horse Tramway. With the proposed Promenade Redevelopment set to
go ahead, 2015 looks set to be the last season in its original
condition (running down the main promenade road as a double track
system). It is proposed to move the tracks from the road to the
walkway, with single line working and passing points in place, but what
will actually happen remains to be seen...
The redevelopment was originally scheduled to go ahead in late 2014,
but a delay to allow public consultation of the plans and further
discussions in Tynwald (the Manx Government), granted the horse tramway
one final operating season in its old form.
Tuesday 28 July: The day before the festival, but a day on
the Manx Electric Railway was in order. Apart from the usual timetable,
three charter workings by the Isle of Man 50 Group were in operation.
Charter number one from Douglas Derby Castle to Groudle consisted of
Unvestibuled Saloon Car 1 and trailer 47, charter number two from
Douglas to Laxey was handled by Unvestibuled Saloon Car 2 and trailer
60, and charter number three from Douglas to Ramsey was worked by
Crossbench Car 33, trailer 57 and open wagon 8.
Wednesday 29 July: The day that the festival commenced,
when Manx Electric Railway Unvestibuled Saloon Cars 1 and 2 (both
listed in the Guinness World Records as the world's oldest working
electric tram cars) did a parallel run from Douglas to Groudle and
Back, before the day's timetable started at 09:40 AM. Heading picture:
Manx Electric Railway Cars 1 & 2 pause at Howstrake between Douglas
Then it was off to Port Erin by bus to catch the afternoon service on
the Isle of Man Steam Railway. Beyer Peacock 2-4-0 tank No.12
Hutchinson was waiting with a return service to Douglas, and fellow
Beyer Peacock tank No.8 Fenella was also out and about on 'Driver
Experience' duties. Passing at Castletown, was Beyer Peacock tank No.13
Kissack (back in service earlier in 2015 after overhaul).
In the evening on the Electric Railway, Car 1 and trailer 51 worked a
special return trip from Douglas to Dhoon Quarry and back (later being
swapped with Car 2 for various evening runs from Douglas to Laxey and
back, supplementing the Summer Wednesday evening 'Groudle' services).
'Bailing' at Groudle Glen on the way back to Douglas, a trip on the
Groudle Glen Railway from Lhen Coan to Sea Lion Rocks was made, with
the railway's resident Bagnall 2-4-0 tank Sea Lion hard at
work as usual, as seen (above) Sea Lion Rocks,
having made the short journey from Lhen Coan.
Thursday 30 July: Day two, and after a morning visit to
Howstrake on the Electric Railway (to record Crossbench Car 32 on a
charter to Ramsey with open wagons 8 and 10), another day on the Steam
Railway. Beyer Peacock tank No.4 Loch hauled a usual service to Port
Erin, but with a twist - After proceeding out of the station at
Douglas, the service was briefly brought to a stand outside the
workshops, to enable No.8 Fenella, a spare carriage and a selection of
goods stock (two open wagons and a van) to couple up to the rear. The
top-and-tail cavalcade then proceeded to Port Erin, crossing a
Douglas-bound service with No.13 Kissack on the way.
Isle of Man Steam Railway Beyer Peacock tank No.13 Kissack comes
round the corner from Castletown station, with a service to Port Erin.
At Port Erin, following shunting of the stock and servicing of the two
Manchester-built engines, the same train departed back to Douglas, with
Loch hauling and Fenella tagged on the back
again. Later on, I hopped on a Douglas service to Castletown, to visit
the small harbour town for a while. In the early evening, after
returning to Douglas with No.4 Loch, I recorded the evening
'Mash & Pie' train departing towards Port Erin. No.13 Kissack and
G.H Wood (which had been temporarily out of action, and
was fresh from running repair work and subsequent testing) double
headed the train, which consisted of some of the railway's corridor
stock offering a regular dining service.
Friday 31 July: The Electric Railway. A morning
trip up to Laxey was made (with Crossbench Car 33, trailer 51 and wagon
8), and a further journey on the Snaefell Mountain Railway (above). At
lunchtime, a shuttle from the redeveloped Laxey station, involving
trailer 51 and ...
... a small green Simplex diesel locomotive (seen with Mail Van
4) borrowed from the Steam Railway, was made to Laxey Car Sheds for a
visit. This contained a variety of stored 'motor' and trailer cars;
many having been out of service for a very long time.
On the horse tramway, double decker Car 18 made its usual daily and
solitary appearance. With the imminent end of the horse tramway many
will remember it for, a last ride with this car from Derby Castle to
the Sea Terminal was gladly taken.
In the evening on the MER, Crossbench Car 33, trailer 44 and
newly-restored mail van 16 ran a charter from Douglas to Ramsey,
organised by the web administration team at www.manxelectricrailway.co.uk.
the Goods' charter was an opportunity to learn about
the MER's freight carrying past (stone and mail were once conveyed); a
good and informative evening out, only tainted by the deteriorating
Saturday 1 August: Day four, and another charter organised
by the Manx Electric
Railway website was made. Green 'Paddlebox' Car 16 ran
between Douglas and Ramsey all day, on both the right and wrong side of
the tracks (literally!) Various photo stops were made en route, and
trailer 60 also came out to play as well. The charter was a great
success, raising some much needed funds for the Laxey & Lonan
Heritage Wagons Trust, since the trip was being run on their behalf.
Sunday 2 August: Final day of the festival, and an
'American' theme day at Laxey station, complete with flags, hot-dogs
and burgers, and a selection of American cars on show. Winter Saloon
Car 22 was on 'Motorman Taster' duty, giving punters the chance to
drive an MER car from Laxey to beyond Fairy Cottage and back
(naturally, the author of this report couldn't resist getting his hands
on the controls!).
On the Great Laxey Mines Railway, the replica Lewin 0-4-0 loco Ant
was giving rides with its single coach, from Laxey Sidings to the Mine
Entrances and back. Fellow loco Bee also came out, on test. I
also took the opportunity to go and see Lady Isabella (alias the Laxey
Wheel) in-between rides on the 18 inch gauge line.
An intense timetable was also in operation on the MER, giving many rare
motor cars and trailers the chance to shine.
Monday 3 August: Departure day from the Isle of Man,
but not before one last spin on the Electric Railway. Crossbench Car 33
worked the first Ramsey service of the day, the 08:40 AM from Douglas
Derby Castle. Bailing at Laxey, I was in time to catch Paddlebox Car 16
and trailer 60 back to Douglas at 09:55.
Then, following a very last ride on the horse tram to the Sea Terminal
and a walk to the Steam Railway station, I recorded Beyer Peacock tank
No.4 Loch on a lunchtime departure to Port Erin. At the time of
writing, Loch (a regular performer on the Steam Railway) was due to be
withdrawn in a few weeks for overhaul.
All too soon, it was back aboard the Mannanan for a return
crossing over the Irish Sea to Liverpool, with the 2015 Festival in the
can. Will things be different in 2016? Time will tell...
A visit to Manchester - by Roger Carvell
Together with a Hertfordshire local as travelling companion, we visited
Manchester last Saturday, principally to try Metrolink to Rochdale. I
knew where the trams departed, from the 'basement'
of Piccadilly, so I thought I would set a test to see if my pal could
find the tram station first. He did struggle to find any useful
Metrolink direction signage on the concourse. Has anyone else had a
similar complaint? I must admit, to a first-timer, looking for an
onward tram connection, the trams are difficult to find. That said, we
enjoyed the 50-minute run up to Rochdale, where the heavens opened.
Nothing for it but adjourn to the excellent Java coffee shop on
Rochdale bus station and sit out the rain for a while and watch the
trams come and go.
Piccadilly is incredibly busy and there seems to be a train move every
few minutes although it is a sign of the times, not a single locomotive
was seen anywhere in revenue service, 175 002 has arrived two
minutes early at 10:08 from Carmarthen, having set off at an ungodly
05.04. It will return south on the 10:30 to Milford Haven and arrive
there right time at 16.44. A creditable performance for a very long
journey, there and back to south and west Wales.
Pacer 142 051 departs on time with the 10:17 to Chester, via
Northwich, as 156 425 arrives with a Manchester Oxford Road -
Hazel Grove service. Unfortunately, despite the shorter distance
compared to the Arriva train, arrival of the Pacer at Chester was 5
minutes late. (with thanks to Real Time Trains).
A concourse view of a typical summer Saturday at Manchester
Piccadilly. Look hard for any Metrolink signage! I couldn't find
Returning south, our pre-booked tickets had us waiting for the 17:41 to
Leeds. Unfortunately, there was a 'person-under-the-train incident at
Greenfield and services via Huddersfield were suspended. It didn't look
good, but then an announcement was made that the 17:25 TransPennine
service to York would run, but that intending passengers
alighting at Stalybridge and Huddersfield would have to go to the
station forecourt for onward coach travel.
We pondered and decided to leg it quickly to Platform 14 (above) and
try our luck with a York direct, calling at Leeds only. I am glad we
did for it meant, for me, a bit of new trackage. Heading west to York
out of Manchester the TransPennine unit stopped at Salford Crescent. We
had guessed which way we were about to go now. The driver passed our
window as expected and soon we were restarted for Manchester Victoria.
Incidentally, the electrification bases, with foundation bolts, are now
in situ on this eastward curve. We stopped at Manchester Victoria (it
seems very dark in there now) and buffered up to another TransPennine
unit and then set off for Leeds up Miles Platting bank and onward via
We were following a stopping train for Halifax, so progress was a bit
sluggish, but after the preceding train had cleared left for Halifax,
the driver 'turned on the taps' and a spirited run to Leeds across
Milner Royd Jct and through Batley had us both checking our watches to
see if we could connect with the pre-booked 19:05 to King's Cross.
Alas,a red signal stop outside Leeds saw the 19:05 gliding past our
train! Nothing for it but to get a brew and await the next
departure at 20:05, the very helpful information desk saying that it
was quite all right to board the next available Virgin East Coast
service. And so it proved.
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