Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived issue.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

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 

Bala Lake Railway Idyll, 31 July. Picture by Jim Ikin. For Bank Holiday gala, see below.

North Wales Coast steam (not)

46115 Scots Guardsman departs Crewe on 21 August with the 'North Wales Coast Express' steam hauled Crewe to Manchester Piccadilly - Helsby - Chester - Holyhead - Chester. The locomotive had a busy weekend. Having worked the previous day a 'Cumbrian Mountain Express' excursion from Preston - Shap - Carlisle, returning via the Cumbrian Coast line to Carnforth, it was called upon to also work the Holyhead train which had originally been scheduled for 45690 Leander. Picture above by Robert Meredith.

The train made a scheduled stop in the loop at Chelford to allow a Cross-Country Voyager to depart, during which a member of the crew was noted on the ground inspecting something in the front bogie area. Phil Clarke photographed the train departing the loop...

... and accelerating through Chelford station past a small group of locals.

On the rear, 47 760, seen at Chelford (picture by Steve Morris) was destined to play a bigger part in the day's operation that anticipated.

The Manchester Evening News (here's their report) sent a cameraman to Stockport station where the train made a pick-up call at slow-line platform 4, leading to some jostling against the anti-suicide fence for the best view. There's no longer any track at No. 4a Bay in the foreground, so not quite as worrying as one might think, but on the whole, photographing a train in slow line platform 4 is never an easy task. Clearly the policy of not advertising steam workings has had little effect, especially if the loco has a Scottish-sounding name...

Your compiler decided to cycle to the Bowerfold Lane bridge at Heaton Norris, where only a dozen or so watchers were assembled. The bridge has high parapets over the tracks and wires, but a lower section remains above what was once a siding serving an engineering works. Had the rain not stopped, and had not someone already taken the best place - slightly to the left to avoid the earth cables - this might have been a half-decent picture, but as it was, the result has to be listed as  'New Approach Shot.' Should have gone to Specsavers Heaton Chapel station.

We expected the usual plethora of pictures of the train in North Wales, but this was not to be. the train came to a stand at a signal on the approach to the West Coast Main Line at Winwick Junction, as (reportedly) the crew had become aware that insufficient water remained in the tender to carry on towards the planned water stop at Helsby. This is a dangerous situation, as the firebox will be damaged if it is not surrounded by water, and to prevent this, the loco crew will have to throw out the fire, and the train will have to rescued. If they not notice the problem, locos have a 'fusible plug' in the crown of the firebox which will melt and the resultant noise of high pressure steam issuing into the firebox will alert them.

The local fire brigade attended and supplied some water which allowed the train to continue to Helsby, where the planned water supply was waiting. However it seems to have been realised that it was leaking away, so the train was assisted in rear by 47 760 as far as Chester where 46115 was detached. Presumably the fault was fixed, as the 'Scot'  returned at 20:49 from Chester to Carnforth depot in the originally allocated path, the diesel taking the train on to Crewe.

As for the main train, this ran to Holyhead, arriving 69 minutes late at 16:21, and returned at the advertised time of 18:00, running without incident to Crewe via Manchester. Word of the lack of steam spread quickly among North Wales enthusiasts, but we do have some pictures: Greg Mape writes: 'I had a bike-ride out from the caravan and tried taking pictures from Pabo Lane that runs
the other side of the railway line near Llandudno Junction, not sure I will revisit the spot!'

Colwyn Bay. Picture by Jim Ikin, who writes: 'After finding out that this Sundays North Wales Coast Express was running 106 minutes late with no steam I decided to stay in Colwyn Bay anyway; whilst inspecting the remains of the bay platform at the station I heard a rumble, turned quickly and got the above image.'

Nor many other trains appear to have been delayed by this incident, partly because the Sunday service is so poor anyway. the main victim being the 11:56 Manchester - Chester which was held at Earlestown for 25 minutes. There may have been problems has the train stopped on the West Coast Main line, but that route was playing a 'farce' of its own after a ballast-regulator derailed near Carnforth during overnight engineering work.

News and notes - pictures by Tim Rogers

The log trains from Carlisle to Chirk have been somewhat sporadic over the last few weeks and
the week of 15-19 August saw them running on a re-timed slot. Above, on 15 August 60 002 is seen at Dunham-on-the Hill with 6J37 11:59 Carlisle Yard Colas Rail to Chirk Kronospan Colas Rail.

Colourful 67 015 has become the performer on the Manchester diagram, seen propelling 13:07 Holyhead to Manchester Piccadilly on 17 August.

A new (heritage?) adornment has appeared on the loco.

Caergwrle platform refurbishment is still ongoing:  66 047 passes on 17 August with 6E41 16:56 Penyffordd  to Arpley Sidings.

The footpath to the platform at Caergwrle offers a dramatic view of 66 005 on 6M86 10:29 Margam to Dee Marsh, 17 August.

150 282 arrives at Caergwrle on 17 August as 2J71 17:45 Bidston to Wrexham Central.

Class 150 units monopolise the passenger service on the Borderlands line, two each day being required to run the Wrexham Central - Bidston hourly service, and the 20:49 Wrexham - Shrewsbury in the evening when frequency reduces. That working is balanced by an 06:10 Shrewsbury - Wrexham service. The other unit normally spends the night at Wrexham General. A scheduled journey time of 57 minutes requires very short turn-round times at the termini: thanks to so-called 'padding' the timetable shows trains departing Wrexham Central terminus before they have arrived.

Bala Gala

Friday 26 to Mon 29 August is the Bala Lake Railway Gala. Details are on the railway's web site under special events with the 4 day timetable under times. The home fleet of Diana, Maid Marian, Holy War, Alice and Winifred will be joined by Velinhelli from Launceston whilst King of Scarlets, Triassic and George B will be on static display. Should be a great weekend.

Photographs  by Jim Ikin, 31 July.

RCTS Afternoon Meetings - notes by Geoff Morris

The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society's Merseyside Chester & North Wales Branch Committee ran three afternoon meetings in Liverpool during the 2014/15 season to gauge whether there was genuine support for such fixtures.  Attendances were sufficiently encouraging for four afternoon meetings to be scheduled for the 2015/6 season and the continuing success of these meetings means that four further meetings are scheduled for 2016/17.

Although slightly outside the traditional area covered by this website, these meetings are held in the afternoon, lasting approximately from 14:00 to 16:15, at the Haig House Social Club which is virtually adjacent to Liverpool South Parkway station and easily accessible by public transport. The meetings are open to anyone who is interested : a £2 donation is suggested for non-members.

Further details can be found on the 'Forthcoming Events' and 'Calendar' Page sections of this website or on the branch website.

Out and About with Martin Evans

I travelled to Llangollen on 16 August and took my grandson for a trip to Corwen East. The 10:40 from Llangollen,  which we travelled on, was very busy and included a coach party from the Caribbean Princess cruise ship, docked at Liverpool. This resulted in a delayed departure due to queues at the ticket desk, eventually departing at 10:57.

The loco in service was GWR Prairie no 5199, seem on arrival back at Llangollen from Corwen; it would then form the 13:00  service back to Carrog and Corwen.

On 18 August BR Standard tank 80080 takes on water at Ramsbottom with the 13:00 departure from Bury to Rawtenstall. Included in the train is the 'observation saloon' W150266 which is used for wedding parties etc. Built by the GWR in 1925, it was originally a restaurant car (W 9580 W) before being converted  in 1960 to become Western Region Signal and Telegraph department Inspection Saloon KDW150266.

80080 runs around the at Rawtenstall in order to return with the 14:05 service to Heywood.

Nearer home at Gobowen on 22 August. At 10:20 66 110 approaches with train 6V75, steel wagons to Margam from Dee Marsh.

Class 40 at Barmouth - pictures by Ken Millward

The Cambrian Coast line could produce interesting traction back in the 1970s, as these pictures, believed to date from 1978 show. Class 40 locos were never common, but did appear on charters on occasions. We believe that the picture above shows is 40 025 on 25 June with a 'Merrymaker' from Stalybridge on 25 June 1978. Booked Departure from Barmouth was 18:15.

Also to be seen that day, which was a Sunday, were a pair of Class 25 diesels on another special. 40 004 had worked a Bristol - Porthmadog railtour the previous weekend, but that was formed of Mk1 coaches.

The leading loco's number can be quite clearly read on the original scan as 25 299, which was allocated to Bescot depot at the time. This could be train 1A51, 17:45 Barmouth to London Euston, which was booked for a pair of 25s from Barmouth to Wolverhampton. However the very detailed website lists the locos on that day as 25 259 and 25 153, whilst the Bashing Years website has 25 259 and 25 301. Can anyone out there set us right? It's only 38 years ago,  just the day before yesterday really! Can anyone assist with information about these events?

Peter Basterfield's view

16 August's 13:06 Holyhead - Manchester sees 67 015 propelling the Holyhead- Manchester over the viaduct at Talybont.

Photoshopped Voyager at Bangor (undated).

Wednesdays 1D34 with 67 015 now leading the 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead from the right side of the fence at Talybont.

On visit to the WCML on Tuesday 16 August, I captured a favourite from North Wales the 1A48 Holyhead - London Euston double Voyager heading south at Slindon, with 66 432 heading a Bescot - Crewe engineers train.

A visit to Foxfield - with Charles Allen

Readers may be interested in visiting the Foxfield Railway by rail as I did on Wednesday 17 August. The Foxfield Railway is a 20-minute walk from Blythe Bridge station on the Crewe  - Derby line. It is a small operation limited to Sundays through the summer makes  getting there by rail awkward as the Sunday timetable on the Crewe Derby line is poor with no service until 2pm.

[The loco in use was a Bagnall 0-4-0 saddle tank, works no. 2842 of 1946, built for the Kent Electric Power Company. Also preserved at Foxfield is another Bagnall loco: Hawarden, 2623 of 1940, from the nearby Shelton steel works; this not the Hawarden once used at Shotton (Hawarden Bridge) works, which is preserved at Penrhyn Castle museum. Does anyone known why the names was used for the Shelton loco? Connection with William Gladstone perhaps. - C.H.]

A ‘red’ timetable offers 3 departures (12:00, 13:30 and 15:00) on Wednesdays in August (just the 31st to go!) To travel to Foxfield from North Wales, the 07:15 Holyhead to Crewe arrives at 09:37 giving half an hour before the 10:07 East Midlands Trains service to Derby arriving at Blythe Bridge at 10:45. This gives plenty of time to get up to the railway centre, make use of the café and have a look around the museum before buying tickets for the first train.The 09:35 Virgin Trains service from Chester also connects with the 10:07 (arr 09:56) so it doesn't require too early a start for those from Wrexham or the Wirral. Fares are reasonable with an Off Peak Day
Return from Chester just £15.10.

Information is available at

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