Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

13 June 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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived issue.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.

June 2016

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

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

46115 brings the Holyhead - Paddington special through Flint, 8 June Picture by Derek French.

Cambrian Coast Express in North Wales

The return leg of the 'Cambrian Coast Express' (see last issue) required the train to be hauled empty to Holyhead ready to collect its passengers to return to London, who had travelled out via the Cambrian Coast. Above. 47 580 County of Essex and 46115 Scots Guardsman  are seen in front of Chester signalbox on the evening of 7 June, having arrived from Carnforth earlier in the day. (Eurwyn McMahon).

Early morning of 8 June at Llandudno Junction, and 47 580 is towing the empty stock from Chester (dep. 05:57)  to Holyhead...

... with 'Royal Scot' 46115 being dragged at the rear to avoid using the triangle at Valley to turn (Larry Davies).

Returning with its passengers as the 09:40 Holyhead - London Paddington, passing the ancient signalbox (retained only to operate the level crossing) at Llanfair PG (Alan Crawshaw).  The 'Cambrian Coast Express' had re-named itself the 'Cathedrals Express.'

Near Spinnies Nature Reserve east of Bangor. Picture by Ben Jepson.

Emerging from  Penmaenbach Tunnel (Ian Pilkington).

 After the Llandudno Junction water stop, 46115 heads through Gwrych cutting (Ian Pilkington).

Rhyl (Roly High).

Flint (Glyn Jones).

Bagillt (Tim Rogers).

Beeches Farm bridge (Bob Greenhalgh).

Following a pathing stop at Chester, 46115 thunders past Hargrave with the temperature around 25ºC (Ian Pilkington).

Crossing the Shropshire Union Canal at Nantwich (Robert Meredith).

60103 Flying Scotsman, which took over at Crewe, heads away from Wrenbury, where a severe platform speed restriction was in force (Ian Pilkington).

Peter Lloyd was dispatched by Arriva Trains Wales management from his normal base at Llandudno Junction to look after the expected crowd at Craven Arms station. 60103 was 'blowing off' from its safety valves after being held in the loop there. It is remarkable how this loco seems to captured the imagination of the general public to the point of causing problems for the railway operators.

The picture illustrates the fact that if there are lot of people doing it at once, a decent picture from a platform is hard to achieve without getting others in the view. We'd strongly suggest that people looking for a photo-spot for 15 June's run of 60103 along the Coast and back consider a suitable bridge as a viewpoint, or a wider view such as that from the road across the water from Conwy Castle.  Safer for all concerned, and a better picture to boot.

Patriotic 47 580 on the rear at Craven Arms (Peter Lloyd).

On arrival (right time) at London Paddington to an enthusiastic welcome. Picture by Roger Carvell who notes: 'I have noticed an increasing national trend for females to get their cameras out too. Most welcome.'

Paddington is not an easy place to photograph in, the west side is particularly poorly lit from overhead, so the autofocus struggled a bit. The public was well behaved and even British Transport Police were taking photos of the engine! (Roger Carvell).

Fry's Chocolate Train explored

We've been in libraries following up the story of the Fry's Show Train which featured in pictures taken by Stephen Hughes' father at Caernarfon (9 May issue).  This train entered traffic at an inauguration ceremony at Fry's chocolate factory in Somerdale, near Bath on 30 May 1933. The intention was explained in the Railway Magazine:
Although J.S.Fry & Sons have showrooms in in most of the principal towns in the country, there are many places of fair size which do not justify a permanent display, and this train is really a travelling showroom to exhibit the firm's latest lines to their trade customers throughout the country. Although essentially a trade exhibition, at each stop a limited number of invitations to inspect the train will be distributed to the public.
The train, which it seems was attached to appropriate service trains, with co-operation from all four major railway companies, to reach its many destinations, comprised three vehicles, created from existing stock by the Great Western Railway.

Two of them, 590 and 593 were bogie vans (telegraphic code 'Monster') originally used to carry scenery for travelling theatre companies, chosen because of their 'liberal head room' : one (above) was the mobile showroom, and the other contained kitchen, staff accommodation and a 110 volt generating plant powered by a Lister diesel engine, complemented by a 150 amp-hour battery of 52 cells.

Marshalled between them, connected by gangways which had been added to the two vans,  was the 'Tea Lounge', GWR number 9502, a pre-grouping clerestory-roofed restaurant car which had been converted at some stage to a 'café car'. The livery chosen was royal blue with a gold stripe.

The train is believed to have toured the country every year between June and September until 1938, possibly 1939. The plan for the 1933 tour, resting usually for one or two days at each, was:
Hastings, Canterbury, Peterborough, Newark, Mansfield, Chesterfield, Gainsborough, Barnsley, Harrogate, York, West Hartlepool, Bishop Auckland, Durham, Consett, Carlisle, Workington, Whitehaven, Barrow, Kendal, Lancaster, Wigan, Macclesfield, Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent, Hanley, Rhyl, Caernarvon, Colwyn Bay, Chester (five days), Wrexham, Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Leamington, Hereford.

Fry's issued a postcard for souvenir purposes, an example of which is shown above. The locomotive has the look of an LMS 'Royal Scot' 4-6-0: a version of the picture published in the July 1933 Great Western Railway Magazine (at the head of this item) is clearly the same view but with the loco deleted by the re-toucher's brush - the Photoshop of the 1930s.

The itinerary varied over the years, as references from later years have been found in newspaper archives for - among many others - Gloucester (1934) , Motherwell (1934  - £2500 was collected for unemployed charities), Dundee West (1935), Glasgow (1936), Sheffield (1937), Portsmouth (1938),  and Exeter (1939).  It must have been photographed many times: does anyone have any pictures, in North Wales particularly, in their family collections, especially showing it in transit between sites?

The Gloucester example illustrates the train's ancillary charity activities, which seem to have played a larger part as the decade progressed. The wording on the reverse of the postcard says that more than a million people have seen it on its 10,000 miles of travel, visiting 254 towns, and nearly £5,000 had been raised for local charities.  The Glasgow event had an added attraction in the shape of weekend excursion by rail to Somerset to view the Fry's factory and enjoy a 40-mile coach tour of the delights of Somerset, travelling overnight in both directions. Participants had to pay the train fare.

The same idea was also taken up in 1934 by the HMV Record and Gramophone company, whose 3-coach Show train also toured Britain ...

... but that, as they say, is another story.

9Fs, Iron Ore and Lamp Brackets - continued

Above, 9F 2-10-0 92203 at Dee Marsh Junction on 6 November 1967. Picture sent to us by Glyn Jones, who writes: 'I was a junior  clerk at the time, and  given permission by my boss to take time off to witness the arrival of the last steam hauled iron ore train from Bidston to Shotton Steelworks. At the controls was the Chairman, Sir Richard Summers, a former director of the LMS Railway.  92203 was specially turned out for the occasion and the revised position of the lamp brackets can clearly be seen. The photograph was given to me by the works photographer a few days after the event.'

Not long afterwards, the loco was bought for £3000 by David Shepherd and and as Black Prince and is still with us today. Mr Shepherd recently sold the loco which will be based on the North Norfolk Railway. The iron ore traffic itself ended in 1980, and a number of the hopper wagons from this service were also sold on, to Tunstead Quarry in Derbyshire where they joined the ICI fleet for the well-known Tunstead - Northwich limestone trains.

This picture sent by Roger Carvell shows something of the sort of thing that the re-location of brackets was meant to avoid.

Roger writes: 'I have dug out a dramatic illustration of a Western Region fireman "putting the
bag in" to take water on a Prairie tank at Crewe, just about three feet from the 25kV overhead writes, which were certainly energised by this date. 4120 was a Wellington-shedded 2-6-2T at the time of the photo  (photographer not known), 22 August 1959. There are no electrification
warning 'flashes' on this engine, which lasted another five years until withdrawal at the end of 1964, Birds at Long Marston, doing the scrapping.'

The GWR lamp bracket is still atop the smokebox, and would have been in use, as the code for a 'secondary passenger train' was a single lamp in the top position.


Dee Marsh - Margam steel wagons passing Craven Arms, 8 June with 66 162 in charge (Peter Lloyd).

On the Welsh Highland Railway on 9 June,  two Garratts running in South African style with a water tanker between the two locos on the14:15 from Caernarfon  (Nick Osborn).

Sunday diversions of Manchester - North Wales trains are common, but usually formed on Class 175s, making the appearance of Arriva Trains 150 252 passing Altrincham something of a rarity although Northern 150s use this line all day (Greg Mape). The new footbridge and lift towers contrast with the much older platform canopies. The red bike shelter contains 'Bike and Go' hire bikes, found on a number of ex-Northern Rail stations, but not always heavily used.

A positioning move from York to Crewe took 60103 and its support coach along the Stalybridge - Stockport route: this section through Reddish South is now single track, having once been quadruple. (Greg Mape). Attempts were made by the powers-that-be to prevent sight-seeing access to the platforms Reddish South and Denton stations, but they relented at Denton, while at Reddish South some fellow managed to make news by going on the track to rescue an injured cat.

67 002 at Greenfield propelling the 13:07 Holyhead to Manchester (Tim Rogers).  Unfortunately, unpredictable replacements of this service by railcars continue to frustrate enthusiasts.

Midland Metro and beyond: GW renaissance north of Birmingham - report by David Parry

With the Midland Metro’s extension to Birmingham New Street station opening on Monday 30th May (see 6th June 2016 edition), I took advantage of the new connection to sample its new Spanish-built CAF Urbos 3 tramcars and to see recent developments.  One of these was the city centre on-street section:  seen on Corporation Street (above), car 31 runs down to the present terminus at Grand Central (New Street Station).

My main aim was to explore the renaissance of the ex-Great Western Railway lines north of Snow Hill, once directly connected to North East Wales and Chester.    A new tram station has been opened at Snow Hill, though Bull Street is announced as the interchange for the main line station.    Snow Hill is at the start of the parallel section where the Midland Metro light rail runs alongside the Snow Hill-Stourbridge Junction-Kidderminster heavy rail line, as can be seen from this northbound view of car 28 departing the new station where construction work continues. 

The Kidderminster line diverges from the Metro at The Hawthorns, at which interchange between the two modes can be made.   The line’s main line heritage is evident from the massive over-bridge in engineer’s brick.    I caught up with newly named tramcar no 37 Ozzy Osbourne on its way to Wolverhampton.

Although the line passes through mainly built-up areas, as reflected in respectable off-peak loadings, the line-side is surprisingly sylvan, especially towards the end of the former GWR line at Priestfield.   Speeds and acceleration are impressive and an automatic departure announcement warns passengers to 'hold tight'.

The present northern terminus is at Wolverhampton St George’s, pending extension of the line from a point short of St George's to Wolverhampton Bus Station and the to-be-redeveloped Wolverhampton railway station.  Here car 33 waits to head back to Birmingham Grand Central. 

The interchange at The Hawthorns enabled me to explore the other ex-GWR line north of Birmingham.   Since my last visit, the class 150 Sprinter units that used to provide much of the service have been replaced by class 172 Turbostar units with gangway connections.    In the picture, 172 340 calls at the Kidderminster-bound platform, illustrating the investment that has been made in the station and rolling stock over the last 20+ years.

Finally, the trip would not have been complete without a trip on the Stourbridge Junction - Town shuttle, now provided by the innovative class 139 Parry People Mover.   This runs a 10-minute headway service on the steeply graded stub line to the picturesque modern Stourbridge Town terminus.    It is evocative of the days when branch lines often played host to unusual motive power, though in this case a modern vehicle.

North Wales Coast home pageArchive | Previous Notice Board