Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

06 March 2017

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Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived issue. For full information visit our Calendar page.

March 2017

Tuesday 7 March   North Wales Railway Circle The Abergele Accident. Tony Griffiths gives a talk on the accident that occurred on 20th August 1868 at Abergele involving the Irish Mail and a part of a goods train that was being shunted. This meeting only, the venue will be Menai Bridge Memorial Hall, Water Street, Menai Bridge, LL59 5BT (opposite the Auckland Arms pub.)

Wednesday 8 March  Welsh Highland Railway North Wales Group compilation from John Wooden (The Ff&WHR  DVD man) of the various events, special trains and ordinary trains that he has filmed over the years.'

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

Friday 10 March  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society Lecture Eric Lomax, Railwayman of War and Peace. Images of steam in the UK before and after the Second World War with a few taken in India during the war; featured locos are a mixture of industrial and main line, mostly in Scotland A digital presentation of black and white images by Dr Michael Bailey

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.  Birkenhead Joint Railway.  Paul Wright.

April 2017

Tuesday 4 April    North Wales Railway Circle Bangor to Hong Kong by Rail. Adam Fetherstonhaugh gives an account of his epic journey by rail from Bangor to Hong Kong via Beijing and then on to Vietnam and Cambodia.

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.

Friday 7 April  (note: first Friday  of the month) Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society Lecture The Last Years of British Trolleybuses. A colour slide presentation by Brian Yates  

Wednesday 12 April Welsh Highland Railway North Wales Group Norman Kneale, Renowned railway photographer.

Thursday 13 April Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society Barry Wynne's Steam Odyssey.

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. The L&Y in BR days.  Noel Coates.

May 2017

Tuesday 2 May   North Wales Railway Circle AGM and Annual Photographic Competition.  The Annual General Meeting of The North Wales Railway Circle will be followed by the annual photographic competition.  Members are invited to submit their work in three categories, prints, slides and video.  Video to be kept reasonably short, approx. 5 mins.  In line with Circle rules all work should have been taken in the last 12 months.

Wednesday 10 May  Welsh Highland Railway North Wales Group Group’s AGM + John Ellis Williams - The Continuing Story.

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

Stanier 8F 48624 with the first train of the 'Along Birkenhead Lines' Gala at Garth-Y-Dwr on the Llangollen Railway, the 9.15 am non-stop Llangollen to Corwen on 3 March. Picture by Jeff Albiston.

A lot of steam this time: some current news items held over to next week.- Charlie

Electric failure cancels steam  - report by Robert Meredith
Passengers, not to mention steam enthusiasts along the North Wales Coast, were disappointed on Wednesday 1  March when the 'Cathedrals Express'  excursion London Euston to Holyhead was cancelled, due to a problem with privately-owned Class 86 loco 86 259 Les Ross which was to work the train London - Crewe and vice versa, with 'Jubilee' 45699 Galatea scheduled to haul the excursion from Crewe to Holyhead and return.

By 4 March the problem with 86 259 had been fixed; it is seen above approaching Crewe to pick up passengers travelling on the 'Winter Cumbrian Coast Express' from London Euston, and steam hauled Carnforth - Carlisle - Whitehaven - Carnforth by 45699 (substituting for 46115 Scots Guardsman) with the engine still warm following its light engine run to Crewe and back to Carnforth on 1 March following the cancellation of the Cathedrals Express. For those on the train and others viewing lineside, Galatea under the control of West Coast Railways Driver Steve Chipperfield along with his fireman (plus a batch of top grade coal) put up a superb performance climbing over the gradients of Tebay and Shap hills with ease, and without any diesel assistance arriving at Carlisle five minutes early.

45699 at Carlisle, ready to depart for servicing in preparation for return run back around the Cumbrian Coast back to Carnforth.

The reverse side of 86 259,  named Peter Pan and with its original number E3137 ready to depart Crewe returning the excursion to London Euston.

'Along Birkenhead Lines' Gala at Llangollen

Friday 3 March, the first day of the Llangollen Railway's 'Along Birkenhead Lines'  was very damp, with rain with mist shrouding the Dee Valley and thus gave some atmospheric scenes with steam lingering around the locos. Above, 43106 arrives at Carrog with the 'BR Suburban' non-corridor coaches augmented by an LMS bogie brake van. (Picture by Larry Davies).  Unfortunately home- based Black Five 45337 which was to masquerade as 45292 (of 8H days gone) suffered a failure and diesel D5310 deputised.

However the other visiting locos were in fine form and the highlight of the day for me was the recreation of the last passenger charter to visit the line in April 1967 when 8F 48697 worked the 'WM& CQ Railtour' to Llangollen Goods Junction. This time it was 48624 with the old headboards, seen arriving at a deserted Corwen East station (Larry Davies).

48624 climbs to Berwyn Tunnel with the 'WM & CQ' tour (Jeff Albiston).

Severn Valley Railway-based 43106 powers through Berwyn Station with a demonstration freight at 11:20 (Martin Evans).

Great Central Railway-based LMS 8F 48624 departs from Llangollen  with a demonstration freight to Carrog (Martin Evans).

Great Western 4-6-0 6960 Raveningham Hall powers out Llangollen with the 12:10 departure for Carrog (Martin Evans).

Nor ideal conditions for the staff, especially when running tender-first (Tim Rogers).

Picture by Tim Rogers.

Stand-in D5310 at Carrog working 12:55 Llangollen to Corwen East (Tim Rogers).


There was some sun first thing at Carrog on Saturday 4 February.  Here are 6960 and 7822 having just arrived on a 'light engine' movement as the 08:45 from Llangollen Goods Junction (Ken Robinson).

43106 leaves Glyndyfrdwy with the 10:20 from Llangollen (Ken Robinson). The 'Flying Pig' was due to be on freight duties on the Saturday, but as the 'Black 5' had just gone through repairs literally hours earlier, the Llangollen Railway decided it would be 'safer' for the Black Five to be on freight duties.

48624 waits at Glyndyfrdwy with the 11:20 from Carrog (11:00 from Corwen East) whilst suitably weathered 45292 enters with the 11:05 freight from Llangollen (Ken Robinson).

7822 Foxcote Manor at Llangollen (Anthony Robinson).

Appropriate buses for the period were in attendance. Birkenhead Corporation 10 (FBG 910) a Leyland PD2/40 with Massey bodywork, and Crosville Lodekka DFH 157 (4227 FM) a Bristol FS6G model of which Anthony Robinson, who took the picture, happens to own a model (inset).

Raveningham Hall at Garth-y-Dwr with the 12.10 to Corwen. The loco is wearing 'The Zulu' railtour headboard which ran exactly 50 years to the day (Jeff Albiston).

43106 at Fisherman's Crossing (Jeff Albiston).

Ty Newydd, with 45337 as 45292 on the freight train (Jeff Albiston).


Llangollen station on Sunday 5 February, with resident 2-6-2T 5199 (Phil Clarke).

Trains crossing at Glyndyfrdwy (Phil Clarke).

80072 runs round the suburban set at Carrog (Phil Clarke).

6960 re-creates the 'Ian Allan Birkenhead Flyer' (Phil Clarke).

As usual on these occasions, a selection of appropriate headboards was on display, as was re-numbering of motive power. The part of '44680' was played on this day by 45337 (George Jones).

50 Years Ago

As mentioned above, 4 March 1967 saw two railtours visit the Birkenhead lines to commemorate the closure of this route as a main line, and contributor Mike Sheridan's uncle J.A.Sheridan was at Chester to photograph them arriving. Both were hauled by preserved 'Castle' class 4-6-0 locos. The 'Birkenhead Flyer' (above) featured 4079 Pendennis Castle. The train started from London Paddington behind a diesel; 4079 took over at Didcot and ran via the Great Western route to Chester where the train reversed and Standard Class 5 4-6-0 73035 took over for the run to Birkenhead Woodside and back, where 4079 returned the train to Didcot. The train is passing Chester No.4 signalbox, which controlled the junctions at the west end of the station until 1984.

The other train, 'The Zulu', also from London Paddington via High Wycombe, was hauled by 7029 Clun Castle from Banbury to Chester and back, with 73026 working the Birkenhead section.

'The Zulu' being admired at Chester. Picture by Anthony Robinson, who tells us that he has written a detailed article on The Great Western in Wirral' which will appear in Backtrack magazine later this year.

The Birkenhead Flyer passing Johnstown (David Pool).

The 'Zulu' at Gresford (David Pool). Why the odd name? The Llangollen Railway's souvernir programme tells us 'On 1st July 1880 a new prestige express service was introduced. This left Paddington at 4.45pm for Wolverhampton with connections onto Birkenhead Woodside. It was unofficially called the ‘Northern Zulu’ to differentiate it from the Zulu express to the West of England, which had been introduced the previous year.' Presumably the Ango-Zulu War of 1879 had something to do with the name.

Two more specials, chartered by the Stephenson Locomotive Society, ran the following day, 5 March. David Pool photographed 44680 ...

... and 7029 at Bebington (David Pool).

There's also an interesting set of pictures from the day on Andrew Naylor's Flickr site. Our thanks to Ivor Bufton for finding this.

Birkenhead Woodside station closed on 5 November 1967. David Pool photographed the real 45292 on 7 October.

Holyhead brake van wreck restored - report by George Jones

A vehicle which spent years as a burnt-out wreck at Holyhead saw a return to service at the Llangollen Railway Gala. Recovered from Holyhead in 2009 the ex BR (LMS design) guard's van B950231 was taken to the preservation site at Nantmawr where a team led by Paul Bailey (stationmaster at Glyndyfrdwy) have spent the past six years rebuilding it before it was brought to the LR's Carriage and Wagon facility at Pentrefelin for finishing off.

A look inside shows the interior restored to a fine standard, complete with stove giving off some welcome heat on a chill day.

A replica builder's plate shows the van was built at British Railways Derby works in 1950; BR later standardised on a version of the LNER's brake van for mass production. The van is a welcome addition to the railway's demonstration freight train and a fine example of a preservation effort by a private group.

Holyhead sidings in 2006, picture by Corrie from our archive. The brake van and two liner-train barrier wagons (modified 'Palbrick' brick carriers) were moved together to Nantmawr in 2009.

Setting the scene - pictures by Martin Evans

While at the recent Gala at Llangollen I took a couple of pictures which epitomises the efforts undertaken to recreate the past involving items which some enthusiasts may take for granted.

Indeed the number of enamel signs available may be diminishing. The pictures were taken at Carrog station.

Cambrian T&WA Order granted - report by Barrie Hughes

The Cambrian Heritage Railways (CHR) based at Oswestry received a boost on 28 February when  Transport Secretary Chris Grayling authorised their Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO), effectively transferring the right to operate a railway from Network Rail over the Gobowen - Oswestry - Llynclys - Blodwel Quarry line to the CHR where they have a 50 year lease (from 2014) from Shropshire County Council who own the trackbed. The Order also releases Network Rail from any obligations related to the land in which it no longer has any financial interest. See original document.

Passenger services south from Oswestry to Welshpool and Whitchurch finished on 18 January 1965, and the locomotive shed closed. A DMU shuttle service from Oswestry to Gobowen continued until 7 November 1966 when the station closed to passengers and the adjacent railway works closed. The line remained in situ as far as Llynclys and on to the Tanat Valley branch to serve Blodwel stone quarry at Nantmawr. The picture above, from 20 October 1980, shows a Class 25 loco passing through Oswestry station with empty stone hoppers.

The CHR completed purchase of Gobowen's bay platform in 2016, with land sufficient for a run-round loop, which clears the way for services throughout the route. Although BR’s commercial services from Blodwel Quarry stopped in 1988, the CHR's antecedent volunteer societies had struggled to develop the site until 2009 when the new CHR grouping was formed.  CHR commenced operations on 22 April 2011 from Oswestry over half a mile to Middleton Bridge.

Steam hauled brake-van rides operated on two-thirds of a mile south from Oswestry last season. The separate Llynclys - Pant operation, also owned by the CHR, has run since 2005 over a short section of track. The CHR is currently extending the line south of Oswestry to Weston Wharf where there is a micro-brewery tourist centre. When completed this section of line will be 1.75 miles long.

The Office of Rail and Road referred to its established policy that there should be no new (or reinstated) level crossings on any railway, unless there are exceptional circumstances. The CHR has accepted amendments to the crossings of the busy A5 and A483 trunk roads, north and south of Oswestry. Highways England to date has concluded that it would be feasible to accommodate a tunnel at the A5 crossing and an overbridge at the A483. Transport Minister John Hayes visited the A5 Oswestry Bypass on 2 March to hear local representatives concerns about the need to dual this bypass. The tunnel could be accommodated as part of these plans.

There will be further discussions about level crossings over the A495, and School Lane at Porth-y-Waen (seen on 10 October 1980 with Class 25 passing) under existing legislation but these do not require an amendment of the TWAO. 

Four local residents objected to the TWAO, mostly of a 'nimby' nature, but their complaints were summarily dismissed by the Secretary of State. The application was supported by Shropshire County Council, Oswestry Town Council and other local organisations.

In addition to providing a heritage operation south of Oswestry, the railway may provide a sustainable transport option for accessing the local Orthopaedic Hospital, just south of Gobowen on the branch line, with a Gobowen-Oswestry shuttle service. The CHR still has two issues to contend with not connected with the granting of the TWAO, namely the short link through the former Llynclys station to the new Llynclys station and the link to the separate Tanat Valley Light Railway Nantmawr branch, occasionally operated by a DMU.

A visit to Nantmawr - pictures by Barrie Hughes

A look at the current Nantmawr operation, which is run by a separate group known as the Tanat Valley Railway Company.  Above, the working DMU at Nantmawr temporary platform taken on 11 September 2016, an operating day.  The company owns five cars of Class 107, built by Derby works for service in Scotland as a steel-bodied version of the more common Aluminium-bodied, Class 108.

The 'Buffet car' - another Class 107 vehicle - at the new Nantmawr terminus on the same day.

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