Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived issue.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

2-4 September Llangollen Railway Autumn Steam Gala.

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  - Barry Wynne 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 

67 013 departs Bangor with the 09:08 Holyhead to Chester additional on 27 August 2016. Picture by Rowan Crawshaw.

Passenger assortment - pictures by Tim Rogers

4965 Rood Ashton Hall at Birmingham Moor Street on 21 August 2016 Birmingham Moor Street with 'The Shakespeare Express' returning as 1T51 12:41 Stratford-upon-Avon to Birmingham Snow Hill.  Tim writes: 'I was hoping to photograph two steam locos, but only caught one as the Scots Guardsman failed to make it onto the North Wales Coast,  but as I was in Birmingham on a stag weekend I had time to kill and stumbled on The Shakespeare Express.

Moor Street station looks good in its Great Western Railway styling.

Bagillt on 22 August, with 175 007 on 1V97 14:34 Holyhead to Cardiff Central.

Bagillt again, with 158 824 1H91 15:08 Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly. This service was cancelled between Chester and Manchester Piccadilly  due to 'unknown cause' - it was 25 Minutes late due to the late running of the unit's outward working 12:36 Manchester Airport - Llandudno which from the timings available seems to have had a power problem. Notice also the open windows in the leading car, symptom of an air-conditioning failure. It appears that a replacement unit was provided at Chester which departed Manchester at 16:25  as 1T91.

24 August at Sandycroft, and 221 118 coupled to 221 110 James Cook are 1A48 13:58 Holyhead to London Euston. Ten coaches, each having a 750 hp Diesel engine and each weighing around 55 tonnes due to its engine and transmission and the tilting equipment fitted for use on high-speed sections.

Hawarden on 24 August.  150 213 calls with 2J71 17:45 Bidston to Wrexham Central.

Holywell Junction on 25 August.  67 015 on 1D34 09:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Holyhead.

August Bank Holiday Saturday 27 August saw the Cardiff Express set brought into use (note the first class / buffet in the consist) on an additional diagram to handle the crowds: 09:08 Holyhead - Chester, 11:34 Chester - Llandudno, 13:00 Llandudno - Crewe, 16:05 Crewe -  Llandudno, 17:58 Llandudno to Chester and 19:52 Chester - Holyhead. Above, 67 013 passes Saltney Ferry on the 11:34 Chester to Llandudno.

Clearly it was a busy day, as the 09:36 Manchester Airport to Llandudno was terminated at Llandudno Junction running 35 minutes late due to what the system decoded as an 'unexpected number of passengers joining/alighting the service.' Virgin Trains were having problems too: the 07:17 Chester - London was terminated at Milton Keynes 'due to a problem with the traction equipment' and 09:10 London to Holyhead started from there.

The locomotives 'Hawarden' - by Glyn Jones

With reference to the picture and notes on the loco Hawarden in the  22 August issue, I can clarify the story.  The Hawarden preserved at Penrhyn Castle never worked at the Shotton steelworks. It came from the John Summers 'Globe Iron Works' at Stalybridge where it spent all its working life.

The Shelton Iron and Steelworks, Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent home of the other Hawarden, was also a subsidiary of John Summers. Strangely enough, both locos were named after the Company's main site at the Hawarden Bridge Steelworks, Shotton. This took its name from the railway bridge opened on 3 August 1889 by Mrs Catherine Gladstone, wife of the then Prime Minister at the time, the family seat being Hawarden.

I present two photographs, one (top) of the Shelton  Hawarden at The Foxfield Railway taken by myself in 2006, and one (below) of the Stalybridge Hawarden which was built in
1899 by Hudswell Clarke, works number 526.

This was cosmetically restored at Shotton prior to being moved to Penrhyn Castle by low loader;   the picture was given to me many years ago by the works photographer.

Fusible Plugs - by Vince Chadwick

I enjoyed the report in the last issue on the trip by Scots Guardsman. However, the reference to the consequences of running out of water and the role of the fusible plug [since amended] perpetrated the myth that if the plug core melts, boiler water will squirt onto the fire and disable the locomotive.

In fact the plug is mounted in the firebox crown (not the wall) and extends upwards into the water space in the boiler above the firebox. If the water level drops to a dangerous level, the low melting point metal in the core of the plug will melt, and the resultant noise of high pressure steam issuing into the firebox will alert the crew, who will have to throw the fire out. If the firebox crown is exposed (water level in the boiler too low to cover it) it will collapse under boiler pressure, resulting in a catastrophic boiler explosion.

The water in a locomotive boiler is at a pressure of a couple of hundred pounds per square inch, and several hundred degrees centigrade. If it is released to atmosphere (for instance though a failed fusible plug) it will immediately flash to steam on being released from boiler pressure. This is
why little or no water will issue from the plug, only steam.

In short, the fusible plug is a last ditch warning device to the loco crew, not a mechanism for saving the situation. In reality a loco crew who have noted a low water level in the boiler shown in the lack of water in gauge glasses on the footplate, and unable for whatever reason to inject water into the boiler, will have thrown the fire out long before the fusible plug fails. It really is a last ditch warning if that happens!

Busy week for flasks

The Flask train from Crewe to Valley and back ran three times in the week 22-26 August.  Above, the train formed of FNA wagons 550040, 550039 and 550047 is seen passing Bagillt behind 37 605 and 37 059 (Tim Rogers).

On 24 August the train was formed of 37 606 and 37 610 T.S.(Ted) Cassady Peter Basterfield photographed the morning westbound working passing Bangor station ...

... and the afternoon return train crossing Conwy causeway, seen from Conwy Mountain by Peter Basterfield ...

... with 550032, 550052 and 550058 seen from ground level passing Sandycroft (Tim Rogers).

By 26 August, a run-round had occurred somewhere as 37 610 was leading 37 606, seen passing Conwy Castle westbound (Peter Basterfield).

Returning through Conwy station (Peter Basterfield)...

... and passing Rhyl Marine Lake with its mountain backdrop on 26 August: the two locos have swapped places since their previous run, and have just one wagon, 550045 (Tim Rogers).

On the Welshpool and Llanfair - pictures by Greg Mape

Some views taken on 25 August. Above, 832 Countess with train of Hungarian and Austrian carriages at Welshpool.

Out on the line. The Welshpool and Llanfair is a wonderful little line which is the nearest thing in the UK to the narrow-gauge lines of the Austrian Empire.

On static display, 0-4-4-0T Monarch, an articulated loco built Bagnall of Stafford in 1953, and given a name commemorating the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth, the last narrow gauge (2'6") steam loco built for British industry, Bowater Lloyd of Sittingbourne in Kent - the system partly preserved as the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway.  It was sold to the Welshpool & Llanfair in 1966, where it was never a great success. It was moved to the Ffestiniog Railway in 1992, where it was thought it might be re-gauged for use there or on the Welsh Highland, but in 2002 it returned to the Welshpool line where it has been cosmetically restored.

Freight scenes

Busy moments at Hawarden on 24 August as two freights appear at almost the same time. 66 099
on 6E41 16:56 Penyffordd Cement Sidings to Arpley Sidings, empty MEA coal wagons ...

...  and 66 044 with 6M86 10:29 Margam to Dee Marsh steel coil. Pictures by Tim Rogers.

Progress at Corwen Central - report by George Jones

After many months of preparatory work by Llangollen Railway Corwen Central Development project volunteers, assisted by contractors, the new station site at Corwen is beginning to take shape.

The site looking east. The black box marks the subway access point.

A summary of the work to date illustrates the effort to re-engineer the railway embankment to provide for a double track layout around an island platform.  The development requires the widening of the existing embankment, which dates from 1863, and the volunteer  team, assisted by contractors, have so far moved over 6000 tons of spoil to create an expanded surface area of 4000 square metres. The impressive subway entry to the intended island platform, as recently built by contractors KM Construction of St Asaph, is now complete.

The subway as seen from the car park. Creating this involved the excavation of 120 cubic metres of spoil and the completed structure represents a volume of 50 cubic metres of concrete, to create an internal area of 61 cubic metres. Back filling has restored the embankment profile. The elevated exit now stands tall on the track bed to give some idea of the height at which the platform will be created. This entrance from the Corwen town car park and bus interchange will provide easy access for passengers joining the train for the journey along the Dee Valley to Llangollen or, for those arriving by train, to visit the centre of the town with its shops and cafés. The work undertaken so far represents an investment of some £120,000, by Llangollen Railway Trust, plus countless hours of volunteer input by the project team members. In terms of value the volunteer input equates to another £100,000 of contribution as calculated by Welsh Government guidelines.

The new access road for Welsh Water will rise up on the left to cross the former Ruthin branch embankment - the west end headshunt is on the right of the picture above.

To complete the project the building of the island platform will follow when funding allows and grant aid for this is being sought. The platform has been designed to accommodate a locomotive and up to eight coaches and the length will be 160 metres, with a surface area of 900 square metres. The excavation of footings and then infill for the platform is estimated at the movement of over a thousand tons of spoil. The centre line for the platform has now been pegged out and the first footings have been dug.

The positioning of the terminal loop has been based on the head shunt and set of points now in position at the western end of the site. The track requirements for the loop within the platform area call for fifty lengths of rail and 600 concrete sleepers with several thousands of ancillary items to complete the installation, plus 220 tons of stone ballast. A length of siding is also to be provided to allow for locomotive/carriage stabling. In the meantime, efforts are concentrated on raising funds for the provision of a water tank with borehole and the restoration of a signal box to be installed within the station area. These will provide appropriate facilities for the steam engine to run round the train at the terminal in preparation for the return journey.  The foundations for the signal box within the embankment calls for the further excavation of 76 tons of spoil and the building of a retaining wall. The signal box will comprise the structure recovered from Weston Rhyn which has been in store at Carrog where it awaits restoration.

The view towards Dwyrain Corwen East showing the access to the treatment plant which can be recovered when the new road is completed at the western end.

In a major step forward, work has started on the provision of a new access road to the Waste Water Treatment plant at Corwen. Completion of this project by Welsh Water/ Dŵr Cymru will remove what is the main obstacle to the final extension of the railway into the Corwen terminal station. The new entry point from Green Lane, at the western end of the station site, will allow for the recovery of the breach in the railway embankment at the eastern end and for the eventual extension of the railhead to be brought forward from the Dwyrain Corwen East platform. The 200 metre length of new road will be graded to climb up and over the old Ruthin branch embankment into the treatment works and will provide an improved access for the service vehicles when the work is finished.

As always, the  key to this project is funding and the Llangollen Railway Trust continues to seek donations in support of the volunteer effort. To date this has contributed some £100,000 in terms of man-hours as calculated on the basis of Welsh Government guidelines.

Note: The Llangollen Railway's annual Autumn Steam Gala is taking place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday 2-4 September and offers fun for all the family. There will be five historic steam locomotives in operation, working an intensive timetable between Llangollen and Corwen, with many attractions and activities going on along the line. Visiting the line specially for the weekend is a Victorian-era steam locomotive, No.12322, which was originally built for the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway in 1896 and its normal base in Greater Manchester.

On the Sunday, two long-scrapped steam locomotives will be recreated. Resident No.7822 Foxcote Manor will be running as a sister No. 7811 Dunley Manor, which was based at Shrewsbury and Wrexham sheds for a time. The fiftieth anniversary of the closure of the much lamented Somerset & Dorset Railway will also be marked by the renumbering of resident BR Standard locomotive No. 80072 as former S&D stalwart No.80043. After the gala, No.80072 will be transported south by road to the former S&D station at Midsomer Norton, where it will be in operation on a restored stretch of the route.

Construction work on the railway's new western terminus at Corwen Central can be viewed on all three days of the gala. Guided tours will be on offer at regular intervals, with volunteers on-hand to discuss progress on the new station.

The Souvenir Guide for the gala, including all timetables, events and quiz, is available to download for free from the Llangollen Railway's website.

158 on the Bridge

'Something a bit creative' from Peter Basterfield.

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