Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

15 August 2016

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived issue.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

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

Friday 2 September Clwyd Railway Circle The Resurrection of Llangollen Railway from the early days to present times, Alun Williams tells the story of how this fabulous railway was brought back to life.

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

Thursday 8 September Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society Arriva Trains Wales - What’s next? Ben Davies   

Monday 19 September RCTS Chester   Barry Shore Diesel Diary - The Sixties. Barry lives on the Wirral and his thoughtful presentations are always looked forward to. He is a long standing Branch member.

Friday 30 September Great Western Society North West Branch. Steam in Black and White. Peter Spilsbury.

October 2016

Wednesday 5 October   RCTS Liverpool Stephen Gay - Railways in a Cornish Landscape. Stephen is from Sheffield and a celebrated photographer. He returns to the Branch to give one of his presentations based on his walking tours covering the past and present railway scene.
Friday 7 October Clwyd Railway Circle Ron’s Wanderings for Main Line Steam. A collection of film clips covering main line steam and preserved lines by Ron Watson-Jones

Thursday 13 October Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society 6 G - Fifty years by the Committee

Monday 17 October RCTS Chester John Sloane:  Sheds Part 2. John, from Parbold, is a member of the Lancs & North West Branch and is also the LCGB North West Branch Chairman. His nostalgic shed shots are accompanied by an insight into how each shed operated.

Friday 28 October Great Western Society North West Branch. Railway Personnel. Paul Shackcloth.

November 2016

Friday 4 November Clwyd Railway Circle Development of German Electric Locomotives. An illustrated description of the principal designs from the Siemens Demonstrator of 1879 to the latest members of the Eurosprinter & TRAXX families, covering their inception, technical features and service history by Ian Mainprize

Thursday 10 November Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society AGM and Members Miscellany       

Monday 21 November RCTS Chester Revd. Canon Brian Arman: Railway Roundabout. Brian, the Society’s President, is from Bristol and another man of the cloth who is a railway enthusiast. His presentation starts and finishes in Gloucester via Bristol, Bournemouth, London and Birmingham.

Friday 25 November Great Western Society North West Branch. GW Steam in S. Wales and S West. Alf Storey

December 2016

Friday 2 December Clwyd Railway Circle Members' Night & Christmas Celebration

Thursday 8 December Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society Christmas Social / An evening with Norman Kneale        

Wednesday 7 December RCTS Liverpool Paul Wright: The 8D Association. Paul is Editor of the Association’s Journal.

Monday 19 December RCTS Chester John Hobbs:  North Wales in Black & White.John lives in Warrington and is well known for his presentations covering the final years of steam in North Wales and around the north west. He is a member of the Branch and is actively involved in railway preservation.

January 2017

Friday 6 January Clwyd Railway Circle The Ffestiniog Railway. A short history featuring FR steam locomotives and a trip up the line using photographs from the 60's onwards. By Geoff Coward

Thursday 12 January Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society My favourite memories of preserved steam on the Coast by Ron Watson Jones

Monday 16 January RCTS Chester AGM - Followed by John Feild with a slide presentation Non-members are welcome after 20.15 hours for John’s presentation which will
cover our Branch’s 2016 outdoor visits and other topical items. He is a long standing RCTS member and now President of the Branch.
Friday 27 January Great Western Society North West Branch. North of Preston Barrie Rushton

February 2017

Wednesday 1 February  RCTS Liverpool  Mark Youdan. North West Railway Photography, 1995-2015. Mark, a Branch member, is a Driver/Trainer for Arriva Rail North and held the same position with Northern Trains.

Friday 3 February Clwyd Railway Circle BR Steam - The Splendid Years (1959-65 in B&W) Steam around the regions in the early 60’s by John Sloane.

Thursday 9 February Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society Snowdon Mountain Railway, by Mike Robertshaw

Monday 20 February RCTS Chester Fred Kirk: Leicester Area Steam Days. Fred, from Leicester, spent a lot of his time bicycling around with his camera at the ready to various locations on all the main lines within reasonable reach of his home.

Friday 24 February Great Western Society North West Branch. Group AGM

March 2017

Friday 3 March  Clwyd Railway Circle Amlwch Branch Line and Annual General Meeting Chairman of the Lein Amlwch - Central Anglesey Railway Company, Walter Glyn Davies  will give a presentation on the progress of the lines revival. The talk will be followed by the Annual General Meeting.

Thursday 9 March  Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society    ... And we run trains too! Clare Britton (Ffestiniog Railway)

Monday 20 March  RCTS Chester    Paul Chancellor. A Colour-Rail Presentation. Paul, from Bromsgrove, is owner of Colour-Rail and will highlight the work of many fine railway photographers covering the better part of 70 years. He is also the RO Editor for the ‘Preservation and Other Railways’ section.

Friday 31 March Great Western Society North West Branch. (To be announced)

April 2017

Wednesday 5 April RCTS Liverpool David Rapson. Railways - The Digital Effect David, who lives in Connah's Quay, has worked on the railways for many years spending a lot of his life in Control positions and now works for West Coast Railway Company. He is also a Branch member and for those who read Rail Express will be aware of his contributions.

Friday 7 April Clwyd Railway Circle Railways of North Cheshire in Early BR Days Being a Manchester lad, Russell Hatt was able to capture the busy scenes around his home area.

Thursday 13 April Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society An evening with Barry & Steve  - BarryWynne and Steve Morris

Monday 24 April   RCTS Chester   George Jones : Onwards to Corwen.George lives in Wrexham and for many years has been an important publicist for the Llangollen Railway and certain of its locomotives. He will cover the railway’s reinvigoration of the line to Corwen and look at its future prospects.       

Friday 28 April Great Western Society North West Branch. (To be announced)

May 2017

Thursday 11 May   Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society   A tribute to the late David Jones, by John Myers 

Adjustments to the famous sign in progress as the High Speed Track Recording Train passes Llanfair PG on 11 August. Picture by Greg Mape.

Forthcoming events list has been updated - see left-hand column

Tim Rogers' week
(Added comments by Charlie Hulme)

Above, Bagillt on 9 August: Voyager 221 118 is train 1A43, 12:52 Holyhead to London Euston.

67 015 propels train 1H89 13:07 Holyhead to Manchester Piccadilly through Bagillt past the wildflower meadow between the tracks. Driving Van trailer 82308 leading.

Shotton Low Level on 9 August: 67 015 returns with 1D31 16:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Llandudno.

Freight on the high level line at Shotton:  66 080 on 6E41 16:56 Penyffordd Cement Sidings to Arpley Sidings,  an extra service of  empty coal wagons. Unusually the train consisted of a variety of wagons: SSA type (originally built to carry scrap metal) and MBA bogie opens as well as the usual MEAs.

The 'switchback' nature of the line at Shotton is evident as 66 149 heads north with 6M86, 10:29 Margam to Dee Marsh, loaded with steel for coating at Shotton works, which still continues production of coated steel products (including, it seems, the blue and yellow on the sides of a well known Swedish home furnishing store) amid the current uncertain economic climate. An item on the ITV website from May 2016 includes an interesting video report from inside the plant. The latest news is that owners Tata Steel are to invest in new equipment for what is said to be their only profitable works in the UK.

10 August at Saltney Ferry (Mold Junction) and West Coast Railways 47 854 Diamond Jubilee is in charge of excursion 1Z58, 07:11 Kidderminster to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

67 015 passes Saltney Ferry with 1D34, 09:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Holyhead.

Later that day, 67 015 makes its second westbound run along the Coast with 1D31 16:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Llandudno.  The white plate with a black line indicates that Signal CR 212 is an automatic signal, supervised from Chester signalbox. Such signals show a green light which only turns to red when a train passes, clearing to green again when the line is clear to the next signal. The green fence on the left was installed in First North Western days to stop people walking across the line.

The return excursion, 1Z59 16:09 Blaenau Ffestiniog to Kidderminster, passes Shotton with 47 854 (above) on the rear and 57 313 hauling from the other end.

10 August's 6E41 16:56 Penyffordd to Arpley empties in a jungle-like scene at Hawarden Bridge, with 66 206 and the usual MEA wagons, recognisable by their many-ribbed sides.  Over 600 of these were created from 1990 onwards by re-bodying HEA hopper wagons, which had become redundant with the collapse of domestic coal traffic, including that to Llandudno Junction.

Passing on 11 August at Flint, 175 105 on 1H88, 12:53 Llandudno Junction to Manchester Airport, and 158 835 on 1D13 11:10 Birmingham International to Holyhead.  The 90 mph limit extends for about 3½ miles before reverting to 75 or less for the rest of the journey to Chester. In what distance can a train reach 90 mph from a standing start at Flint station?

The High Speed Track Recording Train - 'flying banana' as Peter Snow and his excitable BBC mates insisted on calling it - passes Flint on 11 August, formed of 43 013 (above) coaches 975984 (Formerly Laboratory 15 "Argus"), 977994, 977993, 975814 and 977984 with  43 062 John Armitt on the other end, working 1Q30 10:53 Derby to Crewe via Holyhead & Liverpool Lime Street. 43 062 has replaced 43 014 The Railway Observer since our last sighting of this train.

Llangollen Autumn Gala preview - by Peter Dickinson

Preparations for the Llangollen Railway's forthcoming Autumn Steam Gala are under way.  The gala is being held over three days from Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th September. Our special visiting locomotive this time round is former L&Y 0-6-0 No.1300 courtesy of Andy Booth, making a rare trip away from the East Lancs Railway and its nominal base at the Ribble Steam Railway. The loco is currently in its LMS black livery as No.12322 and will be paired up with the line's Suburban rake and a demonstration goods rake at various points during the gala.

Alongside No.12322 will be the home fleet of 7822, 5199, 6430 and 80072. It is planned that 6430 will be in operation facing Llangollen and will be coupled up to just one autocoach (the carmine and cream one), making for some interesting photographic opportunities.

A preview copy (PDF) of the Gala programme is available to download from the Llangollen Railway website. The full version of the programme is scheduled to go live on Monday 22nd August, which will include timetables, what's on guide and other items.

Tampers etc.

Network Rail machines DR 77907 and DR 73117 stabled in Rhyl's Engineers Siding on 15 August after arriving from Carnforth, Complete with Seagull escort. Picture by Roly High.

Nose ends (Roly High). 73117 is Plasser & Theurer 09-3X-D-RT Tamper/Liner/DTS  and 77907 is a Plasser & Theurer USP 5000-RT Ballast distributing and profiling machine.

This curious vehicle is not a prison van, but Network Rail's Safety Training Demonstration Vehicle which is deployed for training purposes on NR sites (Roly High). With thanks to Chris Coxon for identifying it for us.

Plasser & Theurer 08-4x44 SRT No.1155 DR73914 Robert McAlpine of SBRail seen ticking over at a wet Chester on 2 August (Jim Ikin).

Steam at Oswestry

On 13 August the Cambrian Heritage Railways welcomed a new steam locomotive to Oswestry in the form of Barclay 0-4-0 no 6, works no. 2261 of 1949 from the Ribble Railway in Preston. It is expected to stay for 12 months. Above, no. 6 being steamed and awaiting departure from the shed at Oswestry (Martin Evans). Departures were due to commence at 11:00 but were delayed till 11:30 and continued to 15:30pm.

Approaching the station ready for the first departure to Middleton Road bridge (Martin Evans).

No.6 propels the wagon and brake van through the station to Middleton Road bridge (Martin Evans).

A scene from the Manchester Locomotive Society archive, taken by industrial railway expert  Harold Bowtell in 1971 at Blairhall, Fife, showing Barclay 2261 and sister loco 2260.

Charles Allen visited the Cambrian Heritage Railways' other location at Llynclys (above) for a ride over that section of the line with a shunter, Brake Second Mk1 Coach and 'Shark' ballast train brake van. This is Ruston and Hornsby 0-4-0DE Alun Evans" no. 11517, works no. 458641 of 1963. (The British Railways number is fictional.)

Charles then travelled up to Oswestry to enjoy the brake van ride with 2261.

Conwy Valley locos - pictures by Greg Mape

Wet weather in the Conwy Valley on 10 August greeted the passengers of the excursion from Kidderminster. Greg Mape braved the rain to bring us these pictures. Above, the view from the end of the line at Blaenau Ffestiniog with the train stabled in the loop line with one-time Arriva loco 57 313 which has brought the train from Llandudno Junction, and in the Ffestiniog Railway platform the connecting train with Linda and Lyd.

Departure from Blaenau with 47 854 hauling.

Having passed through Pont-y-Pant Upper Tunnel, 47 854 descends the gradient of 1 in 47 through Pont-y-Pant station, a place not often featured here ...

... with 57 313 on the rear of the train passes through the spectacular portal of 144-yard Pony-y-Pant Lower Tunnel.

Conwy Valley 1980 - by Barrie Hughes

Five slide scans from a rather typical wet day in Blaenau Ffestiniog dated 17 August 1980.  I'd visited Blaenau Ffestiniog the day before to view the Ffestiniog Railway construction works and had heard that there was a nuclear flask train running the next day so I returned. The train ran as booked from the now 'retired' Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station to Llandudno Junction yard where it usually would be combined with a train from Wylfa for onward transport to Sellafield Reprocessing Centre.

25 300 was hauling one flask and the brake van with security staff, complete with binoculars. At this time the new joint BR/FR station was under construction but the track followed the old GWR alignment through the station alongside the wall built to protect the then new school. A banksman was provided with a red flag to guide the train past the heavy earth moving equipment. The BR track was later slewed over to the new alignment on the left and the FR's new station occupied the former GWR site effectively swapping sides, as originally the FR had been on the left through the GWR station site.

Having eased past construction equipment the train proceeded down the steeply graded 1960s-built link to the LNWR station, seen here passing Dorvil footbridge.

The train enters the LNWR station at Blaenau Ffestiniog. In the foreground is the remains of the LNWR/FR exchange yard. The sidings and run-round were used for many years for stabling excursion traffic after freight traffic had disappeared. By 2016 the yard has disappeared and is an industrial estate. The train shunted into the sidings to await the arrival of the DMU from Llandudno Junction and I got a glare from the security staff on the brake van.

The layover allowed me time to climb the slate tips above Ffestiniog Tunnel and I perched on the precarious abutment of the former narrow gauge mineral line to a tip on the other side of the line. This view shows a refurbished pair of Class 108 sets emerging from Ffestiniog Tunnel, the longest single track tunnel in the UK. Sleeper impressions reveal the extensive yard that used to exist until the 60s requiring shunting into the tunnel. Also in view is the former FR Dinas branch under the train followed by an incline under the road up to the quarries to the right. The building is the hydro-electric station for the quarries.

After a while the train emerged from the sidings to run to Llandudno Junction and is seen here on the final section of the climb to the tunnel mouth. The slate tip on the left had recently been cleared in a land reclamation scheme. The FR's original Dinas terminus is to the right. I was carefully observed with binoculars by security staff in the brake van and gave them a cheeky wave!

Cambrian Corner

37 429 (see recent issues) and her sisters were not the first Class 37s to be seen on the Cambrian Coast, as Barrie Kelsall took the picture above at Barmouth in July 1966, showing D6912 (later renumbered 37 212) on an Up passenger train. The 'H' headcode suggests a Birmingham area destination, and we believe this is the 12:40 (Saturdays 16 July to 13 August) Barmouth to Birmingham Snow Hill, the return working of the 07:15 Snow Hill - Barmouth arr. 11:15. The locomotive was based at Landore (Swansea) depot at the time. Does anyone else recall this train?

Barrie recalls that 'Most of the passenger turns were in the hands of class 101 DMUs, but the week I was there what was left of the "Cambrian Coast Express" was alternated between BR standard 4-6-0 75002 and BR standard 2-6-0 76040 which also dealt with the daily goods.

Back to 2016, and here's a wet and misty Barmouth Bridge on 11 August. Ian Wright notes 'I was riding across and couldn't see the other side!'

On the subject of the bridge it has been pointed out to us that the people who collected the tolls until 2013 and lived in the toll house at the end of the bridge did not retire, as suggested by Geraint Rowlands in the last issue, and implied by the local press at the time, although the house has suffered from lack of maintenance.  Gwynedd Council did not wish to employ them further.

Richard W. Jones writes: This relatively new mural, photographed by a friend of mine, is on the side of the former Woolworth's store, now Home Bargains'.

Entitled 'New Tracks'  and installed in 2011 it is one of several murals now decorating the town centre. Created by artist Anna Roberts, the mural was commissioned by the community partnership. In 2015 it had to be repaired after workmen digging a cable trench piled rubble against it. The loco is not a bad representation of a typical Cambrian Railways 4-4-0, whilst the coaches are in LNWR, or possibly Great Western, livery.  Is it based on a known photograph?

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