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06 February 2016
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Monday 8 February Wrexham Railway Society Steam in the East Midlands in the 1950s 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.
Saturday 13 February Railway and Canal Historical Society North West Branch - From Pit to Market: Moving Cheshire Minerals by Rail & Water by Paul Teather. This illustrated talk will describe how industrial railways were used to move minerals (coal, salt, stone, clay, etc) extracted in Cheshire to either a processing plant, canal or a main line railway. The review starts with the 18thC tramway & canal era and then through the period when narrow & standard gauge systems served the national rail network to their demise (at Winsford) some 200 years later. This journey in time will be illustrated with analysis, maps, contemporary photographs and some views of what can be
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.
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.
Saturday 12 March Railway and Canal Historical Society North West Branch - The London & Dublin Railway: Surveys & Parliamentary Influences by Derek Cobby & Brian Dotson. Realisation of the inadequacy of the port of Holyhead and the increasing pressure for improvements coincided with the development of railways. Plans prepared for the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway included a route from Worcester to Porth Dinllaen on the Llyn Peninsular. Vignoles and Brunel favoured developing Porth Dinllaen route rather than Holyhead which would avoid crossing the Menai Straits. Vignoles direct route on standard gauge to connect with the Grand Junction Railway did not attract sufficient finance leaving Brunel's second broad gauge direct scheme as an alternative to
developing the route to Holyhead.
Monday 14 March 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.
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 phtographs.
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.
Saturday 9 April Railway and Canal Historical Society The Presidential Address: The LMS
School of Transport, Derby by Graham Wild. The speaker will tell the fascinating story of the school. The talk starts with the reason for the building and its location, moving on through a description of the building to the successful fight to save it and subsequent developments with what is now a
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.
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
60 039 Dove Holes at Arpley Junction, 30 January (Greg Mape). Dove Holes is a village near Buxton and a large limestone quarry served by rail.
An extra issue with a couple of items that needed some work to organise - hope you enjoy it. Thanks to everyone who sent pictures. Note: the next update will be a day later than usual on the evening of Tuesday 9 February. See also the 01 February issue - Charlie
The Mersey Weaver
A train which attracted much attention from enthusiasts was Pathfinder Tours' Mersey Weaver excursion on 30 January, described by the organisers as 'an easy ramble':
Derby - Burton-on-Trent - Tamworth - Water Orton - Landor St. Jn - Camp Hill - Lifford Curve - Selly Oak - Birmingham New St. - Aston - Tame Bridge Parkway - Bushbury Jn - Stafford - Crewe - Acton Grange Jn - Walton Old Jn - Arpley Jn - Latchford Football Field Sidings (reverse) - Walton Old Jn - Acton Grange Jn - Helsby Jn - Ellesmere Port Up and Down Goods - Manisty Wharf Branch Dock Road (reverse) - Ellesmere Port - Frodsham Jn - Frodsham Curve - Runcorn Jn - Folly Lane Branch NR Limit (reverse) - Runcorn Jn - Weaver Jn - Via Up Slow Hartford Jn - Hartford CLC Jn - Northwich West Jn - Middlewich - Sandbach - Crewe - Stafford - Bushbury Jn - Tame Bridge Parkway - Perry Barr and Soho Jns - Birmingham New Street - Water Orton - Whitacre Jn - Tamworth - Burton-on-Trent - Derby.Attractions for many were the chance to to travel to the 'Football Field sidings' at Latchford, the Frodsham - Halton Curve, the Ellesmere Port Manisty Wharf branch, and to the Network Rail limit on the Runcorn Folly Lane branch. At Manisty Wharf, the train was allowed by owners Peel Ports to enter Manchester Ship Canal lines, resulting in a donation to their preferred charity.
Our picture above by Greg Mape shows the train approaching Arpley Junction behind 60 039 Dove Holes on its way to Latchford, as 60 054 waits in a siding. The old-style signalbox remains in use here, despite the proximity of the large 'power box' at Bank Quay station.
Crossing the Mersey with 60 039 Dove Holes leading (Greg Mape).
The train made into the 'Football Ground Sidings' at Latchford, track much desired by 'track-bashers' apparently, as 60 054, having emerged from its siding, prepares to couple to the train for the return towards Walton Old Junction. Coal trains to and from Fiddler's Ferry use the lines to the left to reverse and run the loco round the train. Until the 1980s that line continued through Lymm to Skelton Junction near Altrincham.
Passing Arpley Junction and heading for Helsby and Ellesmere Port (Greg Mape).
Arrival at Helsby from Latchford with 60 054 leading (Charles Allen).
Roly High travelled to Ellesmere Port, where 508 114 was waiting in Platform 2 to return towards Liverpool.
Once the passenger train has departed, the the 'Mersey Weaver' was able run through the station to the junction for the branch ...
... with 60 039 on the rear.
60 054 at the 'limit' marker on the Manisty Wharf branch (Roly High). As had been advertised, the train could not proceed to the end of the branch due to curvature too tight for coaching stock to negotiate. The Manisty Wharf line is not in use for coal traffic to Fiddler's Ferry at present; the sand trains from Middleton Towers are still running to their unloading point on the line in the background of the picture, even though the connection to the new sidings close to the Quinn Glass company between Helsby and Ince & Elton was noted as complete by railtour passengers as complete. Does anyone know the status?
A new traffic to Ellesmere Port seems to in prospect in the shape of new cars to (or from?) DB Schenker's new 'Eurohub' terminal in Barking, London, according to a couple of entries seen in Real Time Trains database in mid-January.
A man with a road-rail vehicle was present, perhaps in case of any mishaps (Roly High).
Accurate information about the train which will pass Platform 4 at Helsby on its return from Ellesmere Port - although the train was not booked to stop (Charles Allen).
The return train at Helsby (Charles Allen). The first coach includes a generator to keep the passengers warm, as Class 60 locos are not fitted to provide heat to passenger carriages.
Nantwich signalbox moves (again)
Our picture above, taken from the footbridge by Robert Meredith, shows 43 014 The Railway Observer leading the 'New Measurement Train' through Nantwich on 25 January, a few days before Nantwich Station signalbox was removed on the night of 31 January / 1 February. The box, of LMS railway design, installed here in 1948, had 30 levers. It has been much altered in appearance since then, as originally the windows were deeper and stretched all the way along the front.
The was closed in 2013 along with others on the Crewe - Shrewsbury line: road users of the level crossing are now protected by radar- and laser-based obstacle detectors which are interlocked with the signalling so that if anything is 'seen' to be on the crossing, the automatically-operated full-width barriers will not lower and the rail signals will remain at danger. We understand that although the line and its signalling are now controlled from the new centre in Cardiff, there is no CCTV screen there on which operators can see if any problems arise, although further up the line at Wem, where the crossing is in the town centre, cameras are provided and the operators in Cardiff can over-ride the controls. Some locals in Wem were hoping to save their signalbox as a tea room or heritage centre, but it was demolished in August 2015.
The future of the signalbox has been the subject of much discussion and several suggestions, and 'Friends of Nantwich Signalbox' group a limited company, even - was formed. Network Rail offered it to anyone prepared the fund a move, and Morrisons supermarket in Nantwich, Nantwich Methodist Church on Hospital Street (Where there is already a miniature railway and a full-size signal), and Nantwich Marina on Chester Road were seen as possible locations; for more detail see A Dabber's Nantwich. Various problems, including the structural condition of the box, hampered these plans, and its eventual saviour has been OSL Rail Ltd, who offered a place on their site in Weston Road, Crewe, not far from the new car park entrance to Crewe station.
On 29 January, Robert Meredith photographed 57 307 Lady Penelope passing on a Virgin Trains route-learning run. The grey devices at ground level are the LIDAR scanners, which detect low-level obstructions by processing the reflected light from a laser. Radar scanners scan the whole area and are the main detection equipment. Signal SC 8464 is in the modern 'modular' style using an array of LED lights which looks rather odd to traditionalists. It can show red, yellow or green by using different parts of its array. ''Double Yellow' if needed would require an extra head. Apparently these signals are prototypes, and there will be refinements before they are used elsewhere, such as North Wales.
This signal being on the 'wrong' side of the line reveals that 'bi-directional' working in emergencies has been allowed for, although not yet fully implemented as far as we know. Signal 8464 was the subject of some controversy at the design stage, as it was noted by Arriva Trains Wales that its planned location might 'impede passengers using the station entrance'.
The scene on 1 February (David Peacock). Interestingly, this is not the first time the box has been moved. Before moving to Nantwich in 1948 it controlled the sidings for the US Army's Aston Park Ordnance and Munitions depot, built in World War II between Wem and Prees stations on this same route. Presumably the original Nantwich station box - of which we have so far been unable to find a picture - became unsafe or had to be replaced for some reason. Can anyone expand on this?
Part of the site of the Army base is now the Lower Lacon Caravan Park, whose owners have written some historical notes for their website. The concrete bases for the camp's Nissen huts are now the bases of the hard-standing for caravans. The remainder of the site is now the Wem Industrial Estate, and some of the original Nissen buildings still stand. Maybe it will be rail-connected again one day.
Sidelight: On 25 August 1964 an accident occurred on the Nantwich station level crossing. A Plymouth to Manchester passenger train passed signals at Danger and ran through the crossing gates at a speed of about 35 m.p.h into a road milk tank lorry going northwards and a line of slow-moving southbound vehicles. One of the occupants of a car which was crushed against a post died a few days later while another was badly injured. The train, headed by Class 47 loco D1697, was not derailed. The signalman was at judged fully correct in accepting the train from the previous signalbox before closing across the road the traditional swinging gates, and primary blame for the accident was attributed to the driver. The inspector, after the accident suggested that had the crossing been fitted - as it is today - with powered barriers accompanied by red flashing lights and warning sounds, the vehicles may not have been in the path of the train even it if it did overrun the signal. The Crewe - Shresbury line at that date was not yet equipped with the Automatic Warning System, which might well have prevented the accident, and the Inspector recommended its installation. He also noted that the 'fireman' then still carried on diesel locos despite having little to do except help look for signals, apparently failed to draw the driver's attention to the signals he was passing.
This picture is one of a series taken by Nantwich Events Photography during the night: there are many more on their website.
David Peacock went in search of the re-located box on 1 February, and found it in the evening already on a new base which has been prepared for it; the lower beams and panels were considered unable to withstand being moved. Mathew Conway, a director of OSL, told the 'local press: 'We want to use it with the Railway Exchange Training Academy ... which we are trustees of. It opens later in 2016 and so we want it to be ready for then. Network Rail has done everything it possibly could do to assist us and has worked with the Friends of Nantwich Signal Box and ourselves to make this happen.'
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