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24 August 2015
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28-30 August. Bala Lake Railway: 'Winifred' gala.
Friday 4 September Clwyd Railway 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 everyday scene.
Wednesday 9 September Excursion West Coast Railways 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.
Thursday 10 September Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Larry Davies/Philip Evans: Llandudno Junction: a railway town
Saturday 12 September Excursion West Coast 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 Railway Society, No Meeting
Monday 21 September RCTS: Railway 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 Northgate station
Friday 25 September. Great Western Society NW Branch. P. Spilsbury. Steam Miscellaneous.
Friday 2 October Clwyd Railway 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 and Conwy Valley Railway Society W Gordon Davies: American Wanderings:- heading East
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 FS, Droitwich, Barnt Green, Walsall & Wolverhampton.
Monday 12 October Wrexham Railway 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: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, 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 Canal.
Friday 6 November Clwyd Railway 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 Railway 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 and Conwy Valley Railway Society Ron Watson Jones AGM Class 40’s remembered
Monday 16 November RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel 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.
Friday 27 November. Great Western Society NW Branch. John Hobbs. A Black & White presentation, North Wales Circular 1963 - 66 (Steam)
Friday 4 December Clwyd Railway 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 and Conwy Valley Railway Society Xmas Social / Christmas Treats and Bob Barnsdale: a Local Tribute
Monday 14 December Wrexham Railway Society, Annual General Meeting and Rail Review Entertainment, a mixture of members' slides, DVD's and other
Monday 21 December RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch. Arriva Trains Wales. Last 10 years going forward with Ben 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 Railway 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 Railway 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 and Conwy Valley Railway Society Dave Southern: Chester - Pwllheli - days long gone
Monday 18 January RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch. BRANCH A.G.M followed by Back to The 60s with Geoff 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 Railway 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 Railway 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 Great
Western's line to Birmingham Snow Hill, also the West Coast, Midland and Great Central lines.
Thursday 11 February Llandudno and Conwy 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 showing 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 preservation lines.
Friday 4 March Clwyd Railway 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 yards.
Thursday 10 March Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Alan Roberts: Railway signalling in the Conwy/Llandudno area
Monday 14 March 2016 Wrexham Railway 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: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, 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 Railway 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 Railway 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 historian.
Thursday 12 May Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Ray Bailey: Steam into Holywell
158 828 makes its way across Barmouth Bridge on 15 August as walkers enjoy the stroll across the bridge; will this path be available in future? See below. Picture by Ron Davis.
Forty minutes at Chester Locks - with Tim Rogers
Chester Locks at 18:05 on Thursday 20 August, as 67 014 passes with 1D31 16:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Llandudno.
A few minutes later, 158 819 heads into Chester on the 1H93 17:10 Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly. The Class 221-operated 16:10 London Euston - Bangor should have appeared on the scene next, but had been terminated at Milton Keynes at 16:40 'due to a problem with the on-board safety systems.'
175 110 takes the Up Fast line at Roodee Junction at 18:19 as 1W95, 15:21 Cardiff Central to Holyhead which has travelled via Wrexham, and will reverse at Chester and pass this point again in the opposite direction ten minutes later.
At 18:22 175 109 on train 1V98, 16:50 Holyhead to Cardiff Central has reversed at Chester and heads along the Down Fast line.
60 085, one of several Class 60s recently bought from DB Schenker, is at the head of 6J37 12:58 Carlisle Yard to Chirk Kronospan log train passing at 18:41. This train reaches Chester via the Settle-Carlisle line, the Hellifield - Blackpool line, Wigan North Western and Warrington Bank Quay.
Propane problems, part 2 - report by Eddie Knorn
As mentioned in the last issue, the 'Propane-powered barbecue' on the M56 rather messed
things up on 10 August. A report from a work colleague who lives near Frodsham was that the loco-hauled set departed Platform 14 at Piccadilly at 17:50 and went as far as Warrington Bank Quay, where it was taken out of service and sent straight to Crewe.
At the same time, Platform 12 at Manchester Piccadilly hosted the pair of 2-car 175s that would normally work the 17:50. The automated announcer implied that this would run as booked, except for the first stop being Chester. The train waited in Platform 12 and the doors were released, but then a 'farce' ensued as the Guard would not let anyone board. Near the back of the bus garage, just outside Piccadilly, the 17:55 Pendolino for London via Crewe overtook the both trains heading towards Stockport, but the Arriva service was empty. We suspect that although the driver was familiar with the Cheshire Lines route via Northwich, the Guard was not. The Guard on the 17:50 is normally from Holyhead or Llandudno Junction, and few if any of the Guards there are familiar with that route.
Barmouth Bridge nonsense: Gwynedd Council's idea to help their savings target by cancelling the £30,000 per annum paid to Network Rail for maintenance of the pedestrian/cycle path on Barmouth bridge over the Mawddach estuary, which would mean the closure of the path has, quite understandably, met with disbelief among local residents and people (including your editor - pictured above in action by Joanna Hulme) who use the bridge on holiday. The alternative route for walkers and cyclists to and from the Mawddach Trail (former railway to Ruabon) involves a detour using the the busy and dangerous A470 road. Residents of Arthog and Fairbourne will no longer be able to take the healthy walk across to Barmouth as an alternative to the infrequent train or 18-mile bus ride.
An e-Petition against the proposal has gained a remarkable 23,189 supporters at the the of writing this. If you have used the bridge and agree that this is a misguided idea, You are encouraged to add your name to the petition: follow this link.
For no particular reason, here's a picture by Joanna Hulme from summer 2008 with 55 022 Royal Scots Grey crossing the bridge on the 'Snowdonian' railtour. Such a scene can, it seems, never be repeated, as the new signalling system requires one of the Network Rail Class 97/3 locos (see below) to haul of pilot every train not comprising an Arriva Trains Wales Class 158....
... such as 158 839, working 2G65 15:37 Pwllheli - Birmingham International on 18 August 2015, as seen from Morfa Mawddach station (Ian Wright).
Until a few months ago there was a toll to pay when crossing 'Bont y Bermo' in summer: 90p for adult walkers and £1.50 for cyclists. The couple who collected the money left and the Council did not replace them, on the ground that it was uneconomic. A Council spokesperson told the Daily Post on 23 August: 'A council spokesman said they are currently in "preliminary discussions" with Network Rail over a permanent solution to the matter, as part of wider discussions with Network Rail about upcoming maintenance work on the bridge ... a number of proposals will be considered before a decision is made to close the bridge.'
Another bridge on the Cambrian Coast line which has been problematic is Pont Briwet, crossing the Ddwyryd estuary between Llandecwyn and Penrhyndeudraeth, seen above on 17 August with a 158 unit forming the Pwllheli portion of the 10.09 service from Birmingham International (Trefor Thompson). The replacement of the old wooden rail/road bridge by a new structure was a long-drawn-out process due to various unexpected problems.
Looking at a Gwynedd Council document explaining some of the issues, were amused to read the following in the section on 'communications':
Requests have been made for more use to be made of social media. We do not agree that this is necessarily the correct forum for many discussions - project officers have already been the subject of some very aggressive, personal comments on a facebook page, which is of course both upsetting and unnecessary.Modern life in summary, we feel.
In an interesting development 19-20 August, Network Rail locomotive 97 303 made a return run each to Pwllheli and back, shown on Real Time Trains as a West Coast Railways service. Could it be that Network Rail have finally agreed to allow West Coast drivers to drive the 97/3s, or perhaps just route-learning for Network Rail drivers in advance of the return of excursion trains to the coast? Ken Robinson was at Porthmadog to photograph the northbound run on 19 August.
From the platform at Talybont station, Trefor Thompson pictured the return run, 0Z95 16:00 Pwllheli - Machynlleth. The path used was that of the much-missed steam-hauled West Coast Railways trains.
On 20 August's northbound run, 97 303 crosses 2G45, the 11:35 Pwllheli - Birmingham International at Porthmadog (Ken Robinson).
Crossing the river Glaslyn east of Porthmadog: this bridge retains its Cambrian Railways structure (Ken Robinson) ...
... quite a contrast with the new structures at Pont Briwet (or Traeth Bach viaduct), now fully open to both road and rail traffic as well as walkers and cyclists (Ken Robinson).
Zooming in closer to Ken's picture: the curious little lay-by at the north end of the bridge creates a chicane for cyclists. The track is ballasted with grey granite rather than the pink material now frequently seen in North Wales. The yellow devices between the rails are blades which pass into the ballast below to counteract any possible sideways movement of the track as trains round the curve; some of the rails also have their side painted white, in an effort to reflect sunlight and reduce the chances of buckling in hot weather. Milepost 116 stands on the bridge; mileages on this line are measured from Whitchurch by the long-lost direct route from there to Welshpool via Oswestry.
One of Ian Wright's pictures from his lofty viewpoint above Fairbourne, giving an idea of the spectacular scenery to be found in this area.
A fine study by Ben Bucki: Criccieth Castle on the skyline as Birmingham-bound 158 818 heads south from Criccieth on 28 July.
Save Bangor Railway Insititute building
On the subject of online petitions, our contributor Jim Johnson has created one for those who disagree with the proposed total demolition of the historic Bangor Railway Insititute building, 'The Railway Club' as it is known locally. Constructed by the London & North Western Railway in 1898, with a substantial extension added in 1905, it was purpose-built to accommodate the social, cultural and educational needs of its employees, many of whom lived in the adjacent streets and terraces.
The petition can be found on the Change.org website.
Down the Coast
The 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead at Shotton Low Level, 17 August, with 67 014 leading (Tim Rogers)
The same train crosses Llanddulas viaduct, 17 August (Greg Mape).
North Wales Railway Circle news
All meetings of the North Wales Railway Circle are held in the Victoria Hotel, Telford Road, Menai Bridge LL59 5DR, starting at 7:30pm. The 'Vic' is fully disabled-accessible, and sells a good range of beers including at least two cask ales at any one time. Excellent restaurant and bar meals are available, if you want to arrive early and have food.
The first meeting of the new season is on Tuesday, 1 September and features previously-unseen photographs by famous local railway photographer, Norman Kneale, who will present the show himself. Subsequent meetings will be held on the first Tuesday of the month. Visiitors are very welcome.
Alongside Bala Lake - report by Martin Evans
I visited the Bala Lake Railway on 20 August, where a trio of 'Quarry Hunslet' locos were on display at Llanuwchllyn (above): George B no 680, Winifred no 364, and Alice no 780. Behind is diesel Bob Davies, a Baguley-Drewry 0-4-0 originally built as 2ft 6in gauge for the Royal Navy at Fishguard.
Quarry Hunslet Maid Marian (no 822) waits to run round its train at Llanuwchllyn on 20th August to form the 12.45pm departure to Bala.
Ready to depart. The signal box was built for the Great Western Railway in 1896 when the station track layout was expanded.
George B (originally named Wellington) is undergoing restoration.
A close-up of Alice.
Maid Marian runs around at Bala (Penybont) station before returning with the 11.35am service to Llanuwchllyn.
Editor's note: This, the current terminus, is on the site of Bala Lake Halt on the former standard-gauge Ruabon - Barmouth line, a little to the west of the former Bala Junction station. The railway plans to extend into the town when sufficient funds are available. Online donations are welcomed.