13 June 2016
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Wednesday 15 June Steam Dreams
THE EMERALD ISLE EXPLORER (Day 1 of 9) London Euston-Holyhead
Steam loco 60103 Flying Scotsman: Crewe - Holyhead. (Electric
Euston - Crewe).
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
Sunday 21 August Railway Touring
THE NORTH WALES COAST EXPRESS Crewe - Manchester - Holyhead
Steam loco 45690 or 46115: Manchester - Chester - Holyhead and return
Sunday 4 September Railway
THE NORTH WALES COAST EXPRESS Crewe - Manchester - Holyhead
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
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.'
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.
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).
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
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
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
warning 'flashes' on this engine, which lasted another five years until
withdrawal at the end of 1964, Birds at Long Marston, doing the
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'
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).
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
67 002 at Greenfield propelling the 13:07 Holyhead to
Manchester (Tim Rogers). Unfortunately, unpredictable
replacements of this service by railcars continue to frustrate
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
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
tramcar no 37 Ozzy Osbourne on its way to
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
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.
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