Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

01 May 2016

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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    

June 2016

Sunday 5 June Steam Dreams THE CAMBRIAN COAST EXPRESS (Day 1 of 4)  London Paddington - Pwllheli (WCRC) Steam loco 60103  Flying Scotsman: Paddington - Leamington - Shrewsbury

Monday 6 June Steam Dreams THE CAMBRIAN COAST EXPRESS (Day 2 of 4)

Tuesday 7 June Steam Dreams THE CAMBRIAN COAST EXPRESS (Day 3 of 4)

Wednesday 8 June Steam Dreams THE CAMBRIAN COAST EXPRESS (Day 4 of 4) Bangor - Paddington. Steam loco 60103  Flying Scotsman:   Chester - Wrexham - Hereford - Bristol Parkway - Paddington

Wednesday 15 June Steam Dreams THE EMERALD ISLE EXPLORER (Day 1 of 9)  London Euston-Holyhead Steam loco 60103 Flying Scotsman: Euston-Holyhead.

Thursday 23 June Steam Dreams THE EMERALD ISLE EXPLORER (Day 9 of 9)  London Euston-Holyhead Steam loco 60103 Flying Scotsman: Holyhead - Euston

July 2016

Sunday 24 July Railway Touring Company THE NORTH WALES COAST EXPRESS  Liverpool-Holyhead (WCRC) Steam loco 45690 or 46100: Liverpool - Chester - Holyhead and return

Tuesday 26 July  Railway Touring Company THE WELSH MOUNTAINEER Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog . Steam loco 45305 or 48151: Preston - Chester - Blaenau Ffestiniog and return

August 2016

Sunday 21 August  Railway Touring Company THE NORTH WALES COAST EXPRESS  Crewe - Manchester - Holyhead (WCRC) Steam loco 45690 or 46115: Manchester - Chester - Holyhead and return

September 2016

Sunday 4 September Railway Touring Company THE NORTH WALES COAST EXPRESS  Crewe - Manchester - Holyhead (WCRC) Steam loco 45690 or 46115: Manchester - Chester - Holyhead and return

34052 (alias 34046) gets the road at Crewe on its loaded test run, 25 April. See report below. Picture by Robert Meredith.

Don't miss our extra issue dated 29 April.

The Cornish Explorer

West Coast Railways finally ran (after suspension last year) their trip from Chester to Penzance on Saturday, a little matter of 370 miles behind 57 315 with 57 313 tailing.  The journey down was superb as a path freed because of a late-running GWR down express allowed a 32-minute early arrival thereby adding substantially to the time in Penzance (and St Austell and Truro).  A basically non-stop journey from Bristol to St Austell was achieved with runs through Exeter and Plymouth.  The train was pictured by John Cowlishaw entering Wrexham General (at 05:31) ...

... and at the buffers at the end of the line (at 13:12).  The train returned a couple of minutes early. John writes: 'One thing to note was the number of younger people out photographing or videoing the train, so good so see the hobby being continued.'

Seen in Penzance bus station, a commemorative GWR bus - First Kernow 42860 (TT03TRU), a ADL Pointer 2 Dart - which is still running in the livery of the original Great Western Railway livery, applied in 2013 to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the Helston station - Lizard service, a very early example of a railway-run bus route (George Jones).

175 problems

Thanks to all who have written to answer our query about the Class 175 vehicles in the sidings at Chester.  At present 175 110 is running round minus its centre car. The 'half-unit' in the yard at Chester has no engine and needs the other 175 to help put it back on the depot when required. 

It seems there is a 'corrosion issue' requiring welding.  According to Modern Railways magazine. 'Discovery of corrosion resulted in four vehicles being temporarily withdrawn from service before
Easter. The corrosion affects window frames, stump pillars and solebars. It is believed to be the first significant corrosion in the post-privatisation DMU fleet ... ATW expects the repairs to be completed by September.'

It's fortunate (or good planning) that all the Arriva 150/2 units, which are being pressed into service on long-distance services, have refurbished interiors with 2+2 seating, as original 3+2 seats which are still in place on 150s used by the Northern company, would be less than enjoyable on a Manchester - Cardiff journey. Although trains including class 150 units are limited to 75 mph, Arriva say there is little impact on overall running times. There are also, it seems, corrosnion problems with the 150/2s, which are also being addresed.

Sadly for enthusiasts, Arriva there no plans to make more weekend use of the loco-hauled sets over the summer to compensate for the shortages.

Steam scenes

On 20 April, rebuilt 'West Country' pacific 34046 (originally named Braunton), fresh from overhaul, ventured out on a 'light steam' test run,  making two runs from Crewe to Chester and back with its support coach.  It was photographed by Phil Clarke near Beeston. The loco has been renumbered on the cabside to represent sister loco 34052 Lord Dowding; owners Icons of Steam have decided to rename the engine to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, Lord Dowding having been Commanding Officer of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. Withdrawn from British Railways service in 1965, this loco spent years rotting i8n Barry Scrapyard, and later at Brighton where attempts were made to restore it, until 1996 where it was transferred to the West Somerset Railway, where it returned to service in 2008.

On 28 April, day three of 'The Great Britain IV' railtour, from Bristol to Grange Over Sands, sees  Black 5 locomotive 44871 passing through Nantwich station, with West Coast Railway Company 57 316 attached to the rear of the train (Robert Meredith).

The locomotive had failed near Stafford on  25 April with a bent radius rod on its way down to Southall, and was taken back to Crewe by diesel for assessment and repair.  On the afternoon of 17 April, following swift repairs, the engine, support coach and a diesel travelled via the marches route to Bristol, and so was able to work the railtour the following day, much to the delight no doubt of those travelling passengers on the train.

On 25 April 34046 made a loaded test run, Crewe - Chester - Shrewsbury - Bushbury Jn - Crewe It was photographed at Wrexham by George Jones who writes: '34046 came through Wrexham General later than scheduled thanks to the very late running log train to Chirk; when the West Country appeared it slowed for a red light, aiding photography, before getting away on a 'yellow'. With all the electric headlights it looked like a Christmas tree arriving in the dark.' Confusingly, the 34046 smokebox numberplate remained in position during these test runs.

66 099 was on the rear of the rake of empty coaches (Mark Riley). The time at Wrexham General was 22:22.

More steam locomotive movements at Crewe on 27 April, but sadly on the back of a low loader and still in an un-restored state: GWR 4-6-0 7027 Thornbury Castle leaving Crewe Heritage Centre for its new home at Peak Rail (Robert Meredith).

22 April saw 45690 Leander on the 'Salopian Express' excursion from Dumfries to Shrewsbury, the steam loco having taken over at Preston. Phil Clarke's picture was taken at Hartford.

Robert Meredith was stopped. looking and listening when he captured the return run at Newcastle Road crossing, Nantwich.

Remembering Ray Towell - by Robert Meredith

The headboard 'Matey' and wreath on 45690 were organised by Chris Beet, the engine owner, and West Coast Railways, in memory of the late Ray Towell, whom as many will have read in the latest issues of railway publications had recently passed away.  Ray previously worked at Steamtown Carnforth, the National Railway Museum, and also for West Coast Railways for a short time.

His funeral took place at a packed Oakham Church on the 21 April.  Ray was a popular figure well-known to many along the North Wales Coast route, and at the Llangollen Railway, having been in charge of a number of steam locomotives to visit the area over the years from the National Railway Museum collection.

Ray's larger-than-life character was to call everyone 'Matey' and the NRM named their class 08 shunter 08 911 after him. Above left: Ray at London Waterloo Station with 08 911; the engine was being used for the movement of locomotive and carriages in connection with the play 'The Railway Children' on 12 November 2011.

The 'Matey's Farewell' headboard was first used on a private charter train hauled by two class 37 locomotives from York to Scarborough, as a celebration to mark his retirement on the 5 May 2011.
Ray is seen (above right) at York Station on that day with his 'Matey's Farewell' headboard, standing in front of 37 706 & 37 676 Loch Rannoch. Ray and his family have been friends of mine for 36 years.

Glass sidings progress

Anthony Robinson send this view from the nearby hill showing the new rail unloading facility on the Helsby - Ellesmere Port line for Quinn Glass (now renamed "Encirc"). All tracks from the main line are now in place and work is proceeding on the hopper unloading/conveying facility from beneath the special bogie wagons that will make up the trains. We understand that an engineer's train of some description has been seen to enter the sidings.

Installation of these sidings has been a long-drawn-out process: we last reported on the project in July 2015.  When finished, the trains of sand which currently run to Ellesmere Port for delivery by road from there will serve this terminal adjacent to the works instead.

Coast line scenes - pictures by Tim Rogers

27 April at Mostyn. 37 610 T.S (Ted) Cassady and new 68 016 Fearless with FNA wagon 550045
on 6K41 14:58 Valley Nuclear Electric to Crewe.

A closer look at 68 016. The handrails on the cab ends, presumably to help window cleaners look like something of an afterthought, and photographic evidence shows some of the Chiltern-liveried 68s in service without them.

A sequence of pictures follows taken taken on 29 April at Sandycroft:

158 820  on 1G50 13:24 Holyhead to Birmingham International

221 117 The Wrekin Giant & 221 108 Sir Earnest Shackleton: 1A48 13:58 Holyhead to London Euston

175 104 1H90 14:40 Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly.

158 833 & 158 830: 1D14 13:09 Birmingham International to Holyhead

37 604 & 57 312 Solway Princess on 6K41 14:58 Valley Nuclear Electric to Crewe, wagons FNA 550049 and 550039.

Closer view of 37 604. This loco entered service with British Railway Eastern Region as D6707, 56 years ago in February 1961.  Sister DRS machine 37 601, ex-D6705 of January 1961, is a few weeks older. Two older 37s are still in existence: the first of the class, D6700 of 1960, is owned by the National Railway Museum, and D6703 is in the care of the Class 37 loco group (new members welcome).

Bangor station subway - notes by Geraint Rowlands

Like Alan Crawshaw (25 April issue) I too have wondered about Bangor's original subway in the past. It was at the eastern end of Francis Thompson's original building. The only surviving
evidence I know of is a suspicious looking area of concrete on platform 1, directly beneath the modern metal staircase up to the first floor.

As originally built, there was a pavilion (architectural term) at the eastern end, which formed the end of the canopy on the platform and entrance side of the building.  as seen in Picken's, 1850s lithograph of Bangor (above).

The 1909 postcard above shows the street side of the old entrance. There was an archway entrance on the platform side, but not on the town side. I believe this archway was the entrance to the subway.

This plan, said to dare from 1889, shows that there was a staircase leading down from the pavilion in two flights, and then up on the other platform in a further two flights. There also appears to be a ramp leading up to the station front, the exit of which is shown in the 1909 postcard, coming up to ground level behind the advert for Crossley's engines. A rectangle at the down platform end of the subway may be a goods lift. There was a separate stairway from the the station forecourt leading down to the road, near the Railway Hotel.

Editor's note: Although not shown in the plan above, a slightly earlier one from 1876 in the book A historical survey of Chester to Holyhead Railway Stations by Anderson & Fox does show the subway apparently extending beyond the island platform to the triangular area outside what was at that time the 'goods shed.' Maps and pictures from 1966 show the subway still in use, but only between the two platforms, as tracks (since removed again) had been laid across the area which was once the forecourt.  Whether any of this still exists and whether it would be suitable for cycling would probably need a geophysical radar survey. Does anybody remember what it was like in the 60s?

On the night shift - pictures by Clifford Carter

Late in the night of 27 April, Clifford Carter was passing Welshpool station as 97 302 and 97 303 were running round a set of auto-ballaster wagons to return to Bescot.

At one time these wagons were kept in good condition, but look at them now (Clifford Carter).

Graham Breakwell writes: 'The engineering work has been going on since January, as the section from Newtown to Talerddig is upgraded part of a plan to extend 90mph running to Aberystwyth eventually. Trains have been running from Bescot most week-nights top and tailed by 97s but 66s have appeared on some weekends during overnight possessions between Sutton Bridge Junction and Machynlleth. In late January both Freightliner and Colas 66s made their first appearances on the line, Freightliner 66 509 and 66 522 and Colas 66 850 and 66 849 topping and tailing autoballasters.'

Mystery Objects (1)

Alan Crawshaw writes: I've walked or cycled hundreds of times along Lon Las Peris on the trackbed of the former Caernarfon to Llanberis branch and only on 26 April noticed this milepost. Eight miles would be about right for the distance for Caernarfon so is this an original railway milepost that I've somehow never spotted? Oddly enough, when I mentioned this to my wife, she remarked that she'd spotted it for the first time just a few days ago and was convinced it must have been put there recently. But who would install a very heavy concrete milepost here, over fifty years since the line's closure? Can any readers shed any light on this?

Mystery Objects (2)

Roly High photographed this stone pillar on the up platform at Abergele station on which is carved the legend  'C-CREWE' - does anyone know its significance?

The pillar can be seen in place in the background of this picture of tamper DR 73115 passing on 14 April (Roly High).

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