Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

December 2015

Thursday 3 December. Trakz local history talk at St Michaels Hall, Llandudno Junction. Admission £1

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.

5-6 December Llangollen Railway 'Santa Specials'

5-6 December Manchester Model Railway Society annual exhibition. Barnes Wallis Building, former UMIST campus, near Piccadilly station.

Tuesday 8 December North Wales Railway Circle (note: second Tuesday) 'Christmas Bash' The informal evening includes a free buffet and members are invited to bring their own slides and videos to entertain.

Thursday 10 December Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Xmas Social / Christmas Treats and Bob Barnsdale: a Local Tribute

Friday 11 December  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Steam in Spain and Italy" a colour slide presentation by John Sloane. The slides were taken by John in the 1960s and 70s.

5-6 December Llangollen Railway 'Santa Specials'

5-6 December Cambrian Heritage Railways 'Santa Specials' (Saturdays at Oswestry, Sundays at Lynclys)

6 December Llanberis Lake Railway 'Santa Specials'

12 December Llangollen Railway 'Real Ale Train' 6.30pm departure from Llangollen Station 'Step on-board and soak up the atmosphere whilst enjoying the Real Ales on offer at our well stocked bar.  Double return journey – arrive back approximately 9.30pm.  Ticket price includes a free glass and pint for all pre-booked tickets.'

12-13 December Llangollen Railway 'Santa Specials'

12-13 December Bala Lake Railway 'Santa Specials'

12-13 December Llanberis Lake Railway' Santa Specials'

12-13 December Cambrian Heritage Railways 'Santa Specials' (Saturdays at Oswestry, Sundays at Lynclys)

Monday 14 December  Wrexham Railway Society, Annual General Meeting and Rail Review Entertainment, a mixture of members' slides, DVD's and other
interesting items.

19-20 December Talyllyn Railway 'Santa Specials'

19-20 December Llanberis Lake Railway 'Santa Specials'

19-20 December Cambrian Heritage Railways 'Santa Specials' (Saturdays at Oswestry, Sundays at Lynclys)

19-22 December Rhyl Miniature Railway 'Santa Specials'

20 December Llangollen Railway 'Santa Specials'

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.

22-24 December Llangollen Railway 'Santa Specials'

24 December Talyllyn Railway 'Santa Specials'

26-29 December Llangollen Railway 'Mince Pie Specials'

January 2016

2-3 January Llangollen Railway 'Winter Warmers'

Tuesday 5 January North Wales Railway Circle Member Clive Evans starts 2016 with a show of his own work starting back in the sixties.

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.

Friday 8 January  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "The History and Development of the National Tramway Museum" a colour slide presentation by Mike Crabtree.

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 29  January Great Western Society NW Branch W.J. Denning: The West Somerset Railway, a personal view. 

February 2016

Tuesday 2 February  North Wales Railway Circle 'The First Penrhyn Railway' Dafydd Gwyn, industrial archaeologist, author of The Slate and other publications and fireman on The Bala Lake Railway will be talking about the first tramway that served Penrhyn Quarry.

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   

Friday 12 February  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Prince of Wales, Britain's most powerful steam locomotive. The Project to build a new P2 Locomotive" a digital presentation by Graham Nicholas.

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 26 February Great Western Society NW Branch  Group Annual Meeting, afterwards possibly Members slides.

March 2016

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.

Tuesday 8 March North Wales Railway Circle 'Railways of Ontario' Chairman Brian Bollington shows a mix of slides and video he has taken of the railway scene in Ontario and Quebec, Canada.  Including main lines, short lines, preserved lines with steam and museums. Due to Saint David's Day bookings this meeting has been arranged for the second Tuesday of the month.

Thursday 10 March Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Alan Roberts: Railway signalling in the Conwy/Llandudno area

Friday 11 March  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "A Photographic Tribute to Alan Gilbert. Steam on the main line in the 1950s and 60s" a digital  presentation by Paul Shackcloth.

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.

Friday 25 March  Great Western Society NW Branch  Railway Images, Thirty Miles around Warrington, Barrie Rushton.

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.

April 2016

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.

Tuesday 5 April North Wales Railway Circle 'All Steamed Up' Mr Barry Wynne presents a selection of his work from his vast catalogue of photographs.

Friday 8 April  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Steam in the North West of England and Scotland in 1965" a digital presentation by Noel Coates.

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.

Friday 29 April    Great Western Society NW Branch    A tribute to Tom Lewis, Railway cameraman 1947-1970, Paul Shackcloth.

May 2016

Tuesday 3 May North Wales Railway Circle AGM and Photographic Competition.

Thursday 12 May   Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Ray Bailey: Steam into Holywell.

Newcomer on the flasks: 68 003 Astute and 57 305 Northern Princess at Valley on 26 November; the train crew expressed their pleasure that 'their' new loco was getting so much attention from photographers. Picture by Eurwyn McMahon.

Another Coast line fiasco

On Monday 30 November when the 05:33 Holyhead - Cardiff express, propelled by 67 002, 'broke down' (in National Rail Enquires parlance) before reaching Bangor, with a suspected software problem on the locomotive. 67 029 Royal Diamond which had travelled from Crewe to rescue the train, was photographed by Peter Basterfield passing Bangor at 09:55.

67 029 crossed to the Up line before departing Bangor so it would be able to haul the ailing train back. No eastbound trains ran between Holyhead and Bangor until after the train was eventually moved at around 11:20 and taken by 67 029 non-stop to Chester (what happened to the passengers?).  Some services east from Bangor were provided by turning back trains arriving from the Chester direction.

The evening northbound express from Cardiff on Friday 27 November had arrived at Holyhead 35 minutes late with 67 022 being assisted by 67 029, which spent the night at Bangor before returning to Crewe on Saturday morning (pictured at Abergele by Roly High), leaving 67 002 at Holyhead ready for Monday's express. Was there a known problem with 002?

We'll leave readers to make up their own comments...

68 on the flasks

26 November saw the first revenue-earning run along the Coast line by one of the new Class 68 diesels. Peter Basterfield was up and about in the morning to photograph the westbound train at Llanfair on the way to Valley in the morning with 68 003 Astute leading 57 305 Northern Princess and one flask wagon.

Assorted data, including the Spanish builder's plate, and some pictographic labels. What's the one on the right? Note that the maximum speed is 100 mph, not the 125 of their Class 67 cousins (Jim Johnson).

Backing out on to the main line at Valley for the return run (Jim Johnson).

Alongside the A55 near Abergele (Tim Rogers).

More steam troubles - but some trains run

On 24 November the Government's regulator, now called the Office of Rail and Road, was reported on the Rail magazine website to have issued a statement (although the text is apparently not on their website) as follows:
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has temporarily prohibited West Coast Railway Company Ltd from operating steam trains on the main line rail network, to protect the safety of its staff, volunteers, passengers and members of the public. The enforcement action follows an initial investigation into an incident near Doncaster on October 2 2015, which found staff on-board locomotive 45231 had turned off its Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) isolation equipment, designed to apply an emergency brake if the driver makes an error. ORR will not allow the company to run trains where there are not effective controls in place for key safety systems. The regulator is working with the company to make the required improvements before services resume.
This is, of course, the very same offence that led to their being banned in March 2015, although in that case the result were a much-publicised 'near miss' whereas what happened near Doncaster on 2 October seems to have escaped the gaze of the public. That day, 'Black 5' 45231 ran from West Coast's depot to sidings at Doncaster where it was to take over the next day an excursion to Carlisle which would start from Cleethorpes behind a diesel.

However it transpires that the ban only applies to locomotives which the ORR consider to have insufficient arrangements to prevent unauthorised isolation of the AWS/TPWS equipment. B1 class 4-6-0 61306 Mayflower and 'Black 5' 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier are judged to have that protection, and were called upon to run two of West Coast's planned tours over the weekend of 28-29 November.

One of these was the 'Christmas Cheshireman' on 28 November which was entrusted to 45407. Starting from Bristol, it has been originally intended to go to Chester - hence the name - and run on 21 November, but the final version ran on 28 November and was truncated to Shrewsbury, as the line from there to Crewe was not available (see next item) and probably there was no path available on the Wrexham route due to diverted service trains.

Our pictures were taken by Chris Morrison at Shrewsbury and show the empty-stock arriving in the station, and the loaded train departing.

Farewell Gresty Lane

As mentioned above, the line from Shrewsbury to Crewe is closed for engineering work from 28 November to 6 December, with some trains diverted and others replaced by buses, and is scheduled to continue until 6 December.  To quote Network Rail:
The scheme will see the signal box at Gresty Lane in Crewe taken out of use, with signalling control moved to Crewe’s central control centre. The new signalling equipment will connect with the modern signalling system already in use at Nantwich and Crewe.
Gresty Lane box (formerly Gresty Lane No.1) was built in 1899 by the London and North Western Railway, and controls the junction between the Shrewsbury - Crewe main line and the various goods and 'independent lines' which give access to Basford Hall marshalling yard and access to the Manchester, Liverpool and Stafford lines allowing freight trains to by-pass Crewe station. 

It was one of the first signalboxes to be feature power signalling; the historic electro-mechanical power frame was replaced in 1978 by a modern IFS (independent function switch) control panel. It was omitted from the main phase of the recent Crewe - Shrewsbury line re-signalling, perhaps due to the complexity of the task. It is hoped to re-open the line from Shrewsbury as far as Nantwich by Wednesday 2 December.

Colas 37s appear

Colas Rail have taken over from DRS as traction providers for Network Rail's 'Infrastructure Monitoring' trains - or Test Trains as they are often known. We believe they actually took on the contract earlier this year, and have been hiring DRS locos, but on 24 November our area saw Colas class 37s on duty for the first time. Tim Rogers photographed the Plain Line Pattern Recognition train (above) at Wrexham General on 24 November, running 48 minutes late as train 1Q08 10:14 Longsight to Derby Rail Technical Centre via Northwich, Chester, Wrexham, Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton & Water Orton. 37 421 is no stranger to these pages, having been one of the fleet of North Wales Coast line passenger locos back in the 1990s, when it carried the name The Kingsman which at the name for a soldier of what in the 1990s was the King's Regiment which recruited its personnel from North West England. Regimental crests appeared above the nameplates; we wonder what happened to them when they were removed by EWS on re-painting.

37 421 was preserved at the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway, and had been repainted in 1990s Regional Railways livery, the only 37/4 to wear this evocative scheme in their 'second life' only to be sold and repainted.

At the other end of the train, 37 057, formerly Viking, which had the distinction of being the very first loco to be painted in the maroon and gold colours of English, Welsh & Scottish Railway.

This machine, which is from Harry Needle's fleet based at Barrow Hill, has at some time been restored to something like its as-built condition,  with a dark green livery, the skirts around the buffers which were removed from all (?) 37s in British Rail days, and a functioning headcode display.

37 421 on the rear near Mostyn on 25 November, now as 1Q30 10:55 Derby R.T.C. (Network Rail) to Crewe C.S. (L&NWR Site) via Holyhead (Tim Rogers). Notice the working tail lights, rather than a battery lamp seen in the view of 37 057.

Penmaenmawr (Peter Basterfield).

Although it spent most of its main line career on freight, 37 057 did make the occasional stint on the North Wales passenger turns, notably in Summer 1999 when the regular 37/4s were withdrawn for a time to rectify faults. Here's one from our vaults showing 37 371 and 37 057 at Holyhead on 4 July 1999 with the Sunday-evening train formed, as normal for that period, of two locos and two sets of coaches. Being summer, no carriage-heating was required so 37/0 types could be used.

Broken Rail causes problems - report by Jim Johnson

A broken rail on the Up line at Penmaenmawr threw the timetable into chaos on Friday 27 November. Some trains were terminated at the Junction, and some single-line working was enforced between Bangor and the Junction. Some replacement buses were laid on at Bangor, but couldn't cope with the numbers, initially. The pictures follow some of the events at Bangor: above, 175 001 was originally to form 1V95 10:40 Holyhead - Llanelli. It arrived at about 12:40,  sat in Platform 1 till 13:34, then moved off, wrong-line....

... past the seldom-used 'dummy' for the up loop, over the crossover onto the down line, and into Belmont Tunnel. [The crossover is not signalled in the 'facing' direction for trains carrying passengers, and the crossover points are not equipped with Facing Point Locks to prevent the blades being moved while a train is passing, so for total safety Network Rail staff had to fit 'clips' which are hand-worked clamps to ensure the blades are in place.]

Above, Network Rail operatives move over to un-clip the points on the crossover so it can be returned to its normal position. The train is moving away from them, despite the initial appearance of suicidal behaviour (Digital's poor rendition of red tail lights doesn't help.)

All credit to these workers for their efforts in the appalling weather conditions.

175 001 moves gingerly along the down main at 13:41...

... back through the station and off towards Llandudno Junction.

Minimal information on the display board. Also, during the three hours or so that I was there, not one announcement of any description came over the tannoy - an appalling lack of information for hundreds of very inconvenienced (and wet) customers.

One of the replacement buses, this one - N14 ARV - belonging to Arvonia of Caernarfon.

Correspondence corner

We've received some very interesting emails regarding items in earlier issues; thanks to all for taking the time to write.  Andrew Royle writes: 'Reading the item about the Ironbridge Power Station branch, I remembered taking this shot of 20 013 / 20 087 on 20 July 1989. It wasn't to be long before class 60s got approval to work on the network and these type 1s got laid up by the dozen, so I was lucky to catch these two. Having two tracks on (effectively) a branch line struck me as being rather odd as the traffic to and from the power station wasn't all that frequent so why not just have a passing loop somewhere?

Andrew Royle also notes that  according to Railway Magazine, the Shotton Low Level re-opening seen in Barrie Hughes' picture (last issue and repeated above) was on 17 August 1972. On the same theme, Nick Jones writes: 'The gentleman facing us, behind the chap with the 'mayoral' chain, is the late Mr. Russell Pritchard. Mr. Pritchard was formerly a senior British Rail Operations Manager based at Crewe. He was a very popular figure with all grades of rail staff especially in the Chester/Crewe areas. I first met him when I joined the railway at Crewe 36 years ago.  I think he lived in the Caergwrle area. He used to drive to Chester and thence train to Crewe.'  Further research reveals that he was later awarded the MBE for his services. So who's the chap in the chain? Did Shotton have a Mayor in those days, or maybe a Chairman of the Council?

About loco 61306, Mike Stone writes: 'I cannot find the reference, but I am pretty sure the weather sheeting between cab and tender mandatory for steam locos when running under 25kV overhead wires.'

On Aberystwyth, from Gareth Marston:
Further to Barrie Hughes' shot of Aberystwyth station in February 1970, North Wales Coast  readers might like to view the collection of 24 Black and White photographs of Aberystwyth station also from February 1970 to be found on the Royal Commission on the Ancient for Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales website.

It would seem from the accompanying text that the 1925 canopies seen in Barrie's photograph were due to be taken down no doubt as part of the cost cutting measures of the era and someone decided to record the station buildings in their entirety for posterity. The "York Mail" is again captured waiting in Platform 2 for right away at 18:30, it arrived on Platform 1 - the one with the locomotive release points and run round loop and still used today - at 06:40 and was shunted into number 2 for its near 12-hour wait. Photos of the station from the early 1970s almost invariably capture the Class 24 sitting there.

The York mail went over to a DMU connection at Shrewsbury in 1975 and was withdrawn in 1988. Platform 1 previously Number 3 was used for the DMU service throughout the day, arrangements on Summer Saturdays varied considerably on summer Saturdays especially when there were excursions.

Aberystwyth was a crew signing-on point and overnight stabling location as well as having a manned signal box; however these were taken away and the track to Platform 2 lifted in April 1982 as part of cost-cutting measures. Points were then operated by ground frames; the Excursion Platform number 3 remained operational until the early 90s. The Sundays-only 'Cambrian Coast Express' used to depart from there in the late 80s. Subsequent arrangements have been to place excursion stock in the run round loop or occasionally to use the siding alongside Aberystwyth Rugby Club.  I can certainly recall one game between Llanidloes and Aberystwyth where the aim of Penalty kicks to touch became to still have enough distance on them to hit the Mk3 coaches of a HST set stabled 10 yards over the touchline!
Also, the green coaches in the background of Barrie's Aberystwyth view were, were it seems, not Camping Coaches but were used by railway engineering staff.

Another vintage view - by Barrie Hughes

The picture above is from rather grainy remaindered Ilford slide film dated Easter 1970. Any help with identification of the working would be welcome. It shows a Class 24  hauling a coal train (possibly empties) passing Shotton Low Level. The sleeper impressions of the recently removed slow lines are still visible and were to be covered by the new Low Level platforms in August 1972. In the background can be seen the signal box that controlled the end of the four-track section from Chester and access to Crump’s Wagon Works and the stub of the Connah’s Quay Docks Branch. There are photos of a Class 03 shunter on this duty in the 1960s.

This train was probably a working from Connah’s Quay power station (seen with steam from cooling towers in shot) to Bersham colliery, Wrexham (closed 1986), which, along with the Point of Ayr colliery (closed 1996) are believed to have provided the fuel for this small 180 MW power station (closed in 1984). The loco still appears to be accelerating away from Rockcliffe Junction where the exchange yard was located, a couple of miles distant. The Bersham traffic might have benefited from using the Wrexham - Shotton direct line (rather than reversing at Chester) and the Connah’s Quay Docks branch just before Hawarden Bridge to regain the North Wales Coast Line but this was closed by 1966 and the embankment, presumably built of coal shale, had an on-going underground fire problem.

I was at school at Hawarden Grammar School / Deeside Senior High / currently John Summers school (due to close 2017). At lunchtimes in the mid 60s it was common to see Irish cattle traffic passing on the four track section at Shotton but this stopped in 1972. Also 'Hymek' diesels on test from Crewe works as well as the frequently double headed Irish Mail / Emerald Isle Express. Unknown to me at the time 9F 2-10-0s were hauling iron ore trains from Bidston Docks to Shotton steelworks just a mile away too.

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