Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

29 February 2016

Last issue


RSS feed RSS

Link to this issue

Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived issue. For full information visit our Calendar page.

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.

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 Peninsula.  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.

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.

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
listed building.

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    

Sunny Llanfair PG, 26 February, with 67 001. Picture by Richard Fleckney.

Conwy Valley re-opens

Following repairs to damage caused by severe weather throughout December 2015, the line between Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog re-opened on Monday 22 February.  However, For safety reasons, trains are restricted to 20 mph over a 6-mile section of track until further works can be carried out.  An amended timetable has been in operation to allow for the longer running times, with some bus replacements.

Another Llandudno Junction interlude - with Larry Davies

At Llandudno Junction, passengers on 150 253 forming the 13:50 Manchester Piccadilly - Llandudno approach journey's end on Wednesday 23 February.  The two-hour journey must have been a test of endurance on such a unit.  On the same evening the 16:50 ex Piccadilly, normally loco hauled stock was formed of 158 825 and 150 235.


Sad to see the neglect on the holding sidings at Llandudno Junction as nature claims back what probably was once its own! Hardly a show-piece for Network Rail.


The Network rail HST Measurement train passes Llandudno Junction on 23 February en route from Holyhead to LNWR Crewe. 43 014 The Railway Observer nearest the camera.

The 'Irish Mancunian'

The 09:50 Manchester Piccadilly - Holyhead loco-hauled service is not officially dubbed 'The Irish Mancunian' although it should be, as it is the clear successor to the 'boat train' of that name which ran behind Class 37 power in the 1990s. It runs with the locomotive leading, and at a time very suitable for pictures, so here are some examples featuring the current regular loco, 67 001.  Above: Llandudno Junction, 15 February (Peter Lloyd).

Storming through Valley, 23 February (Richard Fleckney).

Warrington Bank Quay (Tim Rogers).

67 001 on the rear of the return working, 13:01 Holyhead - Manchester at Bangor, 16 February (Peter Lloyd)

Rhyl on 29 February: the 13:01 from Holyhead with the Driving Van Trailer 82307 leading (Roly High).

As spring is now with us, pictures of the same train on the 16:50 Manchester - Llandudno become feasible, and soon, hopefully, the other loco-hauled turn, the Premier Express. We look forward to seeing some.

Penyffordd's past - by Barrie Hughes

A recent item about Penyfford (15 February issue) mentioned the 'switchback nature of the line' near that station, as seen in John Mathers' picture, repeated above. This is is due to the line rising to go over the former Chester-Mold line. Hope Exchange platforms existed at the High and Low level at that point: see the Disused Stations website for details and maps.

The line then dropped a bit for the Cement works turnout then finally rose to Buckley Junction where the original Wrexham, Mold and Connah's Quay railway ran to the short-lived Buckley station at Drury. When the Hawarden Bridge line opened the passenger service to Buckley was closed, although the small platform and station building was visible when I was a teenager. Penyffordd (or Pen-y-ffordd) was originally known as Hope Junction due to the possibility of interchange traffic with the Chester-Mold line.

The recent removal of the crossover at Penyffordd (and presumably the siding access to the left in the image) cuts off the former direct route from Wrexham to Mold. Upon opening the Wrexham to Buckley line on 1 May 1866 an excursion to Rhyl and the North Wales coast ran over the chord to the Mold line (reversing at Denbigh) on 29 August 1866. Regular passenger services never ran over the chord despite the pretensions of the WM&CQ to have Mold in its title.

The south-to-west chord was used for the residual freight traffic from the Jones Balers works (makers of agricultural machines) at Mold, and finally only the Synthite chemical works. The small yard on the curve was used for storage of Castle Cement 'Presflo' wagons in the 1960s and regularly shunted. Above, in April 1979, a class 47 climbing out of the Mold Curve at Pen-y-ffordd with Tunnel Cement empty wagons from the storage sidings. Also visible is the now long-removed siding on the opposite side whence sprang the south-to-east curve., reached by a second trailing crossover and a single slip. It was all go that afternoon as a Synthite working followed up the Mold branch.

A never-completed north-to-west curve at Pen-y-ffordd is visible. An east-to-south chord was completed and one track laid of a proposed large yard early in 1888 then abandoned when Piercy, the railway’s owner, died later in 1888. The fourth side (north to east) was never planned. The Ffrith Branch, Coed Talon to Padeswood section, was closed on 29.7.34 after a freight train derailment at the foot of the 1 in 40 bank from Coed Talon down to Pontblyddyn.
Padeswood and Buckley station closed from 6.1.58, the Hope Exchange stations closed from 1.9.58 and  the Chester-Mold passenger service closed from 30.4.62.

One day in August 1978 I followed the progress of the Class 25-hauled freight trip to the Synthite works, which was just west of Mold. Above, it is heading west past the site of Padeswood & Buckley station on the former Chester-Mold branch. The trackbed of the former Ffrith branch junction can be made out on the right. This steep freight branch came down from Coed Talon but was replaced by a Coed Talon - Mold branch after frequent runaways and accidents.  Following the closure of Mold Junction to Hope junction on 2.2.1970 all traffic to Mold, including this train. had to travel via the Penyffordd curve from Wrexham.

This is Llong level crossing, next to the station of the same name. All level crossings were operated by the second-man except for the Automatic Half Barrier crossing on the A541 Mold Bypass just west of Mold station.

This is Mold station (my only picture with a train) - the site is now a Tesco. I had managed a steam hauled brake van ride there in 1965/6 in a GWR van during a shunt ... sadly no camera. Notice the similar brickwork to Rhyl station. The sidings visible beyond the station feature a substantial yard which  once handled coal traffic from the Coed Talon branch and Jones Balers.

Here the Class 25 shunts wagons in the Synthite sidings as seen from the A541 road bridge. This was the end of the operational branch with a run round loop on which a steam loco derailed onto its side in the mid-60s. The end of the weed-killed section is clear. Track beyond to Rhyd-y-mwyn had been used until 1974 for deliveries of pipe for the now disused Rhosgoch tank farm (Anglesey) - Stanlow oil pipeline that passed along the Wheeler/Alyn Valley. When the line from Rhyd-y-mwyn to Mold Synthite was pulled up, demolition wagons left for the weekend ran downhill to Mold and almost reached Llong, demolishing the automatic level crossing in Mold!

The class 25 returns light engine to Wrexham passing Penyffordd box. [The Synthite works, which produces Formaldehyde, still flourishes, but ceased to use rail transport in the early 1980s and the line was abandoned.  An interesting aerial view appears on the Britain from Above website.]

Footnote: On 23 February 2016,  DB Schenker loco 66 145 failed at Hawarden Bridge which hauling freight train 6V75, 09:30 Dee Marsh Junction to Margam. A rescue loco 66 105 was sent to the rescue, and in consequence of the recent removal of of the crossover at Penyffordd it had to travel on 'wrong line' or 'bang road' in railway slang - all the way from Wrexham to attach the the front of the train, which eventually passed Penyffordd at 13:29, 226 minutes late.  The 09:31 passenger from Bidston was trapped behind the failure; passenger service did not re-start until the 14:31 from Bidston, and the 15:32 from Wrexham.

Hello Tiger

Colourful Colas Rail track machine DR73108 Tiger, a Plasser & Theurer 09-32-RT continuous action tamper, spending the time between night shifts in Rhyl's engineering sidings, 29 February.  Picture by Roly High.

A scene from the previous night at Llandudno Junction. Peter Basterfield writes: 'A quick nocturnal visit with my coffee cup revealed that it was all quiet on the station front with the Colas Rail machine ready for its overnight duty. Strangely there was a lady walking her dog on the deserted platform.'

Oswestry station appeal - press release

Oswestry-based Cambrian Heritage Railways (CHR) has launched a £20,000 appeal to help further return the Shropshire market town's restored historic station to its heyday of the 1950s. The appeal will cover the refurbishment of the former Down platform, reinstatement of the three lines that once ran through the station – a significant feature of the site – and the addition of further railway features, furniture and landmarks to the station area.

Volunteer-run CHR is currently busy extending its running line at Oswestry, which it is expected will see passenger trains running to Weston Wharf, on the southern edge of the town by Easter 2018 – a distance of one and three-quarter miles. There, the railway will provide a valuable public transport connection to the visitor centre operated by popular local micro-brewery, the Stonehouse Brewery.

CHR Chairman Robert Williams says: 'Since CHR gained access to the Gobowen to Llanddu railway line in 2009, significant progress has been made with the Oswestry station area. We were greeted with a site that was almost completely derelict. One of the two through platforms had been removed, the other was overgrown – and fly tipping had taken place, with almost all features of a working railway wiped away. Since that time, we have cleared the site, completely reinstated one platform, refurbished the track, reinstated signals, a water column, signs and started regular passenger train running again over a short distance to Middleton Road bridge. The work to date has been funded by CHR, donations, gifts and small grants. This has created an operational station again, which is used for passengers and a growing list of special events, becoming an important asset to the local community.

CHR has to hand a significant quantity of material needed for the Oswestry station area and is also in receipt of offers to sponsor aspects of the work. To take full advantage of the materials and the offers of sponsorship, we need funds to make the CHR contribution and allow the work to take place. This is why we have now launched the 'Oswestry Station Revitalisation Project Appeal' to raise £20,000 for this phase of development. Donations are being sought in any size, and every bit will help make this appeal a success.

Philip Bradley, who has recently been elected to the CHR Board says: It's a really exciting time to be involved with this project. We have so much going on – from preparations for the new running season at our Llynclys and Oswestry sites (which starts on Easter weekend), to the development of the heritage railway from Oswestry to link with Stonehouse Brewery visitor centre at Weston Wharf. This appeal will allow us to further enhance what CHR has to offer and supplement the Oswestry to Weston restoration project. New volunteers are always welcome to join us.'

For more information, visit or call 01691 728131.

Freight views

37 602 and 57 305 Northern Princess bring 6K41 14:58 Valley Nuclear Electric to Crewe Coal Sidings (DRS) through Mostyn 48 minutes early on 22 February (Tim Rogers).

The Penyffordd cement works coal train, which now starts from Killoch Colliery,  passing over Green Lane crossing, Saltney, at the civilised hour of 09:45 on 17 February. Much better for photography that than the 07:20 previously scheduled (Bob Greenhalgh).

Round the Britannia Bridge - with Peter Basterfield

The Network Rail HST heads towards the Britannia Bridge on 23 February, watched by the Marquis of Anglesey.

The 1G60 Holyhead - Birmingham International heads across Britannia Bridge, worked by 158 826.

Events at Llangollen

After mid-week running during half term week with the class 108 DMU,  steam returned to Llangollen Railway services in somewhat wild weather on Saturday 20 February, the Pannier tank 6430 again providing the haulage for trains that were surprisingly well patronised given the damp condition. The train is seen above passing Berwyn with the return 10:40 ex Llangollen.

A significant occasion during the week was the departure of the 'Elizabethan' buffet coach to York for display at the Flying Scotsman exhibition.  Built LNER at Doncaster in 1947, the Lounge Buffet Car, 1706, was one of two intended for a new ‘Flying Scotsman’ set. In 1953 it was included in the 'Elizabethan' express which ran non-stop between London and Edinburgh and featured in the famous 1954 British Transport film 'Elizabethan Express' with its rhyming commentary.

The Railway's Spring Steam Gala will take place over three days from Friday 8 April to Sunday 10 April on the theme of the Cambrian lines. Headlining the event are two very special guests: 4-6-0 No. 7820 Dinmore Manor and Small Prairie class 2-6-2T No. 4566. The gala should also feature the return of  resident 4-6-0 7822 Foxcote Manor following a major overhaul, supplementing locos from the LR's home fleet: 5199, 6430 & 80072. Expect to see double headers, express workings and an intensive timetable recalling the sights and sounds of the Cambrian routes in the 1950s and 60s.
A gala programme including timetables will be available free from stations when purchasing tickets - while stocks last. It can also be downloaded from the website in PDF format.
Highlights:  It's the first time two BR unlined black Manors have run together in preservation. There'll be re-created named trains and railtours of the 1950s & 60s, including the 'Cambrian Coast Express'. It is the first visit of No. 4566 to Llangollen in 25 years. There's a Community railway film screening by New Dot Cinema (Friday evening only) in Llangollen town hall, and an illustrated talk 'A History of Railway Preservation courtesy of the National Railway Museum (Saturday evening only).

At Llangollen the Station Café Bar will be serving fresh coffee, teas, soft drinks & alcoholic beverages as well as freshly prepared sandwiches and cooked meals. The yard and shed will be open for a browse - check out the progress on our new build and under overhaul locos.
There's the well-stocked retail shop, and photographic display in the Henry Robertson suite on platform 1.

Berwyn, Glyndyfrdwy and Carrog also have tea rooms, and at Berwyn there is the oldest chain link bridge in the world which spans the river below the station, plus great photo opportunities from the lineside viewing area at Berwyn Tunnel (1/2 mile walk from the station).
Glyndyfrdwy has The Cambrian Bar - featuring a selection of real ales, a shop, and the former Barmouth South signalbox will be open as a photographic vantage point overlooking the station
Corwen East  has a large car park available adjacent to the station, and Corwen Museum featuring railway displays will open to the public (5 - 10 minutes walk). Free entry. There'll  be guided site tours around the under construction Corwen Central station.

Worth Valley gala - report by Bob Greenhalgh

On Saturday 27 February I crossed the Pennines to visit the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway WVR gala. Above, Nunlow - remembered by many from its days at the lost Dinting Railway Centre - at the head of the Keighley to Ingrow West shuttle train.

It was a very enjoyable day despite being rather cold. Sadly, due to weight restrictions on roads around Haworth and Keighley no locos can be moved by road and with West Coast Railways being in trouble (see last issue) nothing could be moved by rail so theer were no visiting locos. 85 and 43924 prepare to run round their train at Oxenhope.

A great day was still to be had with just home locos. 5820 USA 2-8-0 departs Keighley and picks up the token.

Stockport: freight hotspot - report by Charlie Hulme

Stockport station is gaining a reputation with enthusiasts as a place to see freight trains, and this was especially the case during the period between 13 and 23 Feburary when the line between Alderley Edge and Crewe was closed for maintenance work on the viaducts. Trains from Trafford Park which would normally travel via the Styal line amd Crewe were directed via Stockport and Macclesfield. These pictures were taken during a half-hour period on 22 February. Above, at 14:44, 66 742 Port of Immingham comes off Stockport viaduct with the diverted 14:18 Trafford Park - Felixstowe.

The biomass trains between Liverpool docks and Drax power station via Northwich are a regular attraction at Stockport, with one in each direction in mid-afternoon. Loading 25 of the specially-built bogie wagons, they are an impressive sight, although the eastbound trains tend to run through Platform 4, making photography difficult; eye-catching 66 718 Sir Peter Hendy is one of the GBRf locos specially decorated for a contract to mive materials for London Underground upgrade work. This was taken at 14:59.

I was expecting the westbound biomass train, but was taken by surprise when this cement train appeared on the scene hauled by 66 619 Derek W Johnson MBE at 15:05.

Hard on its heels at 15:11 was war memorial loco 66 715 Valour with the biomass wagons. 

An unusal thing happened to the morning train of biomass empties on Friday 19 February: the Stockport signallers mistakenly set the wrong route, perhaps in the belief that it was a diverted intermodal train, and the driver did not realise the junction signal at Edgeley No.2 was not showing the 'feathers' for the Altrincham liine until it was too late to stop, and the train ran past the junction by a short distance. 'Setting back' is not allowed in such circumstances, and after half an hour of discussions between the driver, GBRf, and 'control' during which other trains waited behind, it was suggested the train run via Hazel Grove to Peak Forest for the loco to run round. However, the driver did not 'sign' that route, so the train travelled along the main line to Etruria north of Stoke on Trent where the loco ran round in the loop and headed via Alsager to Crewe and the West Coast Main Line to regain its normal route at Hartford.

North Wales Coast home pageArchive | Previous Notice Board