Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

21 December 2015

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Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Pictures by Jim Johnson

Forthcoming events

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 Daveís 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 1990ís   

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.

45031, a Chester engine from June 1963 to March 1967, runs into Chester (General) on a very cold 15 January 1966, with a very late running 07.40 Shrewsbury to Chester. Staff are on hand to free the points; the wind is bitter. LNWR signals decorate the scene. Picture by John Hobbs.

Our best wishes for Christmas and New Year to all our contributors and readers, and of course - all the rail staff of North Wales.


The Arriva loco-hauled workings have been somewhat on-and-off recently, but since 15 December 67 014 has re-appeared on the Manchester turn. Above, on 17 December the 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead passes Llanfair PG. Picture by Richard Fleckney.

Later that day, 67 014 has terminated at Manchester Piccadilly platform 13 at 15:53 having propelled the 13:01 Holyhead - Manchester. There's quite a small gap between the loco's buffer beam and the platform (Charlie Hulme).

A few minutes later, the train heads for its its sojourn at the Longsight excursion platform before returning to become the 16:50 to Llandudno (Charlie Hulme).

In the aftermath of 11 December's fire on a Chiltern Railways train in Marylebone station, Arriva Trains Wales coaches 12182 has joined driving trailer 82306 in operation with sister DB company Chiltern Railways, in their 'Banbury suburban' set which unlike their Birmingham express rakes does not have power doors. The fire is being attributed to a faulty air-conditioning unit.

Meanwhile. from the ASLEF website:
ASLEF drivers at Arriva Trains Wales have voted overwhelmingly for strike action after management reneged on an agreement we had reached. 81.7% of members voted Yes, and 18.3% voted No, on a turnout of just over 80%.
We understand that 4 January is the appointed day for the strike, followed by an overtime ban. Will there, yet again, be a last-minute agreement when passengers have gone to the trouble of changing their travel arrangements? Who knows.

A flask train from Valley on 18 December saw 66 302 and 66 415 double heading ...

... one FNA wagon (Jim Johnson).

Voyager across the Conwy - picture by Peter Basterfield

In a rare period of sunshine on 17 January, train 1A43 12:52 Holyhead - London Euston emerges from the Conwy tubular bridge, ignored by the grey herons on the shoreline.

Community Rail Officer retires

Larry Davies writes to tell us that he is retiring from the Conwy Valley Rail Partnership, after nearly eleven years, at the end of 2015. He will be much missed; we wish him well for the future.

Shotton scenes 16 December - by Tim Rogers

175 108 arrives at Shotton on 1H88 12:53 Llandudno Junction to Manchester Piccadilly, 16 December, past the 'Do not Alight' signs. The original platforms which serves the former 'slow lines' can be seen on either side of the line here.

37 612 leads a track recording train comprising ex-Gatwick Express Mk2f BSO 9512, Mk2f Brake Force Runner (also ex-GatEx) 72616, Mk2f Plain Line Pattern Recognition vehicle "PLPR1" (also GatEx) 72631, and Radio Survey Train Test coach 977997, with ...

37 610 TS (Ted) Cassady on the rear. The train was 1Q30 10:55 Derby R.T.C.(Network Rail) to Crewe C.S. (LNWR Site) via Holyhead, running 17 minutes late.

175 009 is the 1D37 12:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Llandudno.

Baguley, 21 December: 66 753 EMD Roberts Road with another load of 'biomass' from Liverpool bulk terminal to Drax power station (Greg Mape). These trains now run three times every 24 hours. For more on biomass, see the Drax website.

Holyhead Breakwater memories

The breakwater, begun in 1845 and completed in 1883, north of the port of Holyhead is a remarkable structure, at 1.7 miles the longest of its kind in the UK. It was constructed mostly of  rock quarried from the nearby Holyhead Mountain, and a railway, initially broad-gauge, was built from the quarry and along the breakwater for construction and maintenance purposes. The line was converted to standard gauge in 1913, but was never connected to the the main line railway at Holyhead.

The railway's early history is complex, but at the nationalisation of the railways in 1948 it became part of British Railways who dieselised it in 1966 by transferring from Ditton Sleeper Depot 0-4-0 diesel ED6, one of  a small stud of 'engineering department' shunters built by John Fowler & co. in 1949. It appears not to have been a success, as it only lasted a few months before being replaced in 1967 by two small 1956-built Andrew Barclay-built diesel shunters, D2954 and D2955, from a batch of five very small locos with engines of just 153 HP, originally used at Stratford Docks in London. Allocated Class 01 in 1974 they were dutifully renumbered 01 001 and 01 002, although 01 001 fell in to disuse after 1971, probably 'robbed' for spare parts.

Latterly only the section between 'Soldiers' Point' on the mainland and the far end of the breakwater was in use, the stone for repairs being brought by road from quarries elsewhere.

This view shows the loco with its wagon at Soldier's Point.

Eventually a  turning area for lorries was created at the end of the breakwater, making the railway redundant.  Our pictures were taken by Trefor Thompson in 1978-79 not long before the line was abandoned in 1980 and the two locos were scrapped on site.

The railway had another traction unit, numbered TR23: a petrol-engined inspection trolley (Wickham & Co. 7516 of 1956). There had been a second one, TR33, scrapped in 1975. Wickham built many hundreds of these machines for many railways; in the 1950s they also ventured briefly into the market for larger rail vehicles, including four-wheeled railbuses and diesel railcars, one pair of which survives on the Llangollen Railway.

Today, the quarry site is part of the Breakwater Country Park, and the railway has reappeared in the form of a Dotto 'land-train'  which in summer plies between Newry Beach and the length of the Breakwater.

(Loco details from V.J. Bradley, Industrial Locomotives of North Wales.)

Steam in the Snow - pictured by John Hobbs

LMS 8F 2-8-0 48147 climbs through Croes Newydd yard latter on the same day, I had travelled up from Chester (Northgate) to Wrexham (Central)  because the timetable on the Western Region line was in a mess. Another 8F potters about further down the yard. The 8F's have replaced the 38XX 2884 Class 2-8-0's by this time and the 8F's would in turn be replaced by 9F's during the coming year.

A Special Mystery - by Barrie Hughes

I wonder if anyone can help with details of the Leicester Chronicle / Main Line Steam Trust 'North Wales Land Cruise'  Specials on 12 June 1977. There were two trains, one working clockwise from Kettering / Leicester to Minffordd (empty to Porthmadog/Pwllheli for servicing?) and one working anticlockwise from Melton Mowbray? / Leicester to Blaenau Ffestiniog where it stabled. I was on the clockwise working and recollect it went via Sheet Stores Junction freight line then Wichnor Junction. and via the now closed freight route via Anglesey Sidings to Walsall.

My train travelled from Kettering via Barmouth (picture above) to Minffordd, where we had a ride on the FR to Dduallt with Merddin Emrys, back to Tan-y-Bwlch and a coach link to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Here the anticlockwise train was waiting to take us home; the picture shows it entering Ffestiniog Tunnel.

While it was probably a Class 45 to Shrewsbury, two Class 25s probably came on the back there for the Cambrian section as my photos show them on the Barmouth Bridge. From Blaenau the train was hauled by 24 036 / 25 168 to Llandudno Junction where they detached (seen in the picture going 'on shed') and another pair of 25s attached to the rear for the run along the North Wales Coast, then probably Crewe / Uttoxeter, Sheet Stores Junction freight line to Leicester/Kettering.

The Railtour Files website has some sketchy details of this event, including the suggestion that 25 168 + 25 271 hauled the train along the Cambrian Coast. Does anyone have more information?

People and Pacer

The busy scene in Oxford Road, Manchester on 7 December as a Northern Rail Class 142 crosses, while a Stagecoach 'Magic Bus' sets down passengers. The curved building in the distance is the new '1 St Peters Square', a office block designed by Ian Simpson Architects of Beetham Tower fame.

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