Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

08 May 2017

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Forthcoming events

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May 2017

Tuesday 9 May (change of dateNorth 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 

On 18 April, Welsh Highland Railway NG/G16 Beyer-Garratt No. 143 heading the 12:55 from Porthmadog through the Aberglaslyn Pass. Picture by Michael Baker.

Good weather + all sorts of events = a deluge of excellent contributions! Thanks to all, and look out for an extra update on Friday morning. - Charlie

68s on the Flasks

DRS locos 68 016 Fearless and 68 017 Hornet provided superpower for the Flask train on Monday 8 May; Roly High photographed the westbound train for Valley coming off the Down Platform Loop. Apparently it is this pointwork that is out of order at present, preventing use of the Down Main line. It is being reported in Branch Line News that the problem is not to be repaired, possibly because the track layout is soon to be revised anyway as part of the current improvement plans.

A sunny afternoon for the return train passing Bangor (Rowan Crawshaw) ...

... and Talybont (Alan Crawshaw).

Quirks and Curiosities II

Alan Crawshaw reports on the events of Saturday 29 May:

After travelling to Tan-y-Bwlch on the 09:00 Victorian Train we saw Moel Hebog (above) arrive with a demonstration crane train. Moel Hebog was named after the mountain near Beddgelert (783 metres / 2,569 ft) and forms part of the Infrastructure Department locomotive fleet. Built by the Hunslet Engine Company of Leeds in 1955), it is a 0-4-0DM flameproof 'Mines' type, with a 70hp Meadows engine. It had worked underground at Shaw Cross Colliery near Dewsbury but came to the railway in 1969 and was stored in a dismantled condition at Minffordd Yard. In autumn 2016 Moel Hebog was repainted into its current livery of green with a cream stripe.

Double Fairlie David Lloyd George and the veteran Prince took us to Dduallt where we watched it depart and lingered for photography.

Next up was former Penrhyn Quarry Railway 2-4-0ST Linda, seen here ascending the spiral.

A single and double Fairlie combination, Taliesin and Merddin Emrys, calls at Dduallt halt.

We returned to Porthmadog with Linda for a pint of Banks's Mild in Spooners then toured Boston Lodge works where some of the curiosities were gathered.

The 'Steamplex' is a 1937 Simplex diesel locomotive that has had a single cylinder steam engine and a boiler from a steam launch fitted. It is kept at the Groudle Glen Railway on the Isle of Man.

The Goose is a replica of one of the 'Galloping Goose' rail cars of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad of the 1930's. It was built on a Morris commercial chassis and belongs to the Statfold Barn Railway.

The skip train passes Boston Lodge Halt, double-headed by Chuquitanta and Diana.

Chuquitanta was built by Couillet, a Belgian locomotive manufacturer, in 1885 to 500mm gauge for the French pioneer of lightweight industrial railways, Decauville. The engine was sold as that company’s No.36, making this one of the oldest surviving Decauvilles in the world. It was supplied to Enrique Ayulo & Cie (Decauville’s agent in Peru) for the Rodriguez sugar cane plantation. The loco was named Chuquitanta due to its small size and weight of only 3.5 tonnes. The locomotive was discovered while on static display inside a restaurant which had been built on the site of the sugar cane plant. It was brought to the UK from Peru for full restoration in 2004 and returned to steam in 2016. Chuquitanta is now based on the Richmond Light Railway in Kent.

Diana has an impressively Welsh CV, having served the Kerry Tramway in mid-Wales, the Oakley Slate Quarries in Blaenau Ffestiniog and the Pen yr Orsedd Slate Quarry.

Back at Porthmadog, a party of Frenchmen in military uniform were operating a World War I  Fairbanks-Morse speeder 'Rail-Runner'.

Dave Sallery visited the event on 30 April. At Minffordd station, 158 832 is working a Pwllheli - Birmingham International service, while Ffestiniog Railway diesel Criccieth Castle is on the shuttle from Minffordd station to Minffordd Yard.

Ryam Sugar Co. No.1, a visitor from the Statfold Barn Railway, at Porthmadog Harbour station on 30 April (Dave Sallery).

Ben Bucki was also on hand to record the oddities on 30 April.  Above: railbus 'The Goose' and  Ryam Sugar Mill No. 1 (built by the Davenport company in Iowa) amusingly traverse the street-running section of track on Britannia Bridge, Porthmadog, with a shuttle service on to the Welsh Highland Railway.

The French 'Locotracteur' (a First World War-era design, built by E.Campagne) waits in the sidings at Porthmadog Harbour (Ben Bucki).

Veteran diesel Moelwyn ,built for service in the First World War, and subsequently a member of the Ffestiniog Railway loco fleet prior to preservation, sets back into the Welsh Highland platform with a rake of vintage stock at Porthmadog Harbour. Sitting on the loop line is another interesting machine, a replica of a home-built conveyance from the early preservation days. The original was constructed by teenage volunteers working on the extension of the line, to enable them to reach the work-site (Ben Bucki).

Palmerston, built by the George England company in 1864 pulls out of the platform at Porthmadog Harbour with a train of heritage stock (Ben Bucki).

Lee Andrew Davies visited on Monday 1 May: above, replica loco Samson visiting from Beamish pulls out of Minffordd yard.

The event culminated in a cavalcade of curiosities, seen here crossing the Cob.


Thanks as always for comments on the last issue. Mark Youdan wrote to remind us that the first version of the item about Eccles contained a couple of errors: the motorway alongside is still the M602 and has not been renumbered, and we got confused about the life and times of the Class 319 units. The 319/3 units now in service with Northern were built in 1990, and so are younger than the Class 150 DMUs which date from 1986/87. However, some 319/4's have now started appearing: 319 450 is in traffic and 319 448 is at Allerton and should be out soon. They were originally 319/0's and built 1987-8, so possibly were built at York at the same time as the 150s.

Our 'Northern Disappointment' generated some comments from friends within Northern to the effect that we shouldn't be disappointed because installing comfortable ATW-style 2+2 seating in Northern 150s was 'never the plan' - or possibly because an early plan was vetoed by the Department for Transport.  Seat-counting is the order of the day, it seems. Meanwhile Northern have issued to stakeholders a 'Consultation May 2018 timetable' which tells me that I will be able to get a train from my local station to Buxton, but most trains back from Buxton will pass by here without stopping ... and the off-peak return fare to Manchester will be increased again, making a 42% increase since summer 2016. But then there's no point complaining about Greater Manchester fares on this forum they are a bargain compared to North Wales Coast fares are absurdly high.

Trawsfynydd Revival Update - by David Herbert

As Chairman of the Blaenau Ffestiniog and Trawsfynydd Railway Society I'd  like to give you an update on how things are going.

Latest news:

We are still in talks with Network Rail to continue restoring the line to an operational condition for use as a heritage railway. We are still doing section-by-section clearing and review current track conditions as we progress.  So far we have complete clearance of section 1 (Blaenau Ffestiniog to Cwmbowydd Road crossing) to a high standard to show the full capability of the Society. Clearance of our headquarters site at Maentwrog Road yard was started on the 4 February 2017 and is 70% done. We are now waiting for the permission from Network Rail to continue with the clearance  to Trawsfynydd.

We have started a crowd fund appeal so we can buy a wood chipper to progress with the project quicker and have had some great news: we have been pledged £2,500 by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This  was dependant upon reaching a set goal of half our desired target of £5,000. We
only need a further £1,230 to reach our target. Thank you all who have donated so far.

Our goals are still to:
Clear and restore the operational capability of the line to run heritage services as a tourist destination.

Have enough sections cleared to run limited service. to raise funds and awareness of the project to the wider area. This would probably be between Trawsfynydd and Maentwrog Road using part of the original platform at Maentwrog Road and building a new platform with a run round loop at Trawsfynydd -  but I'm sure readers can appreciate this will be some time off yet.

Restore the line to its former days of steam from Trawsfynydd lake to Blaenau Ffestiniog.
As can be seen in the enclosed pictures of Maentwrog Road, the railway has  progressed well.
Please see our website for further updates and membership applications.

Victorian Llangollen 13/14 May - by Peter Dickinson

The Llangollen Railway's Victorian Weekend takes place on 13/14 May. Since it began in 2015, the event has grown from strength to strength and is supported by the local community and businesses all the way along the Dee Valley in North East Wales. The event is a unique opportunity to combine time-travel, steam-hauled trains and World Heritage for all the family to enjoy.

Re-enactors are more than welcome to attend in costume, with the eras portrayed ranging from the 1950s back to the Victorians.

A brand new feature for 2017 is our time-travelling experience; stepping back 60 years at a time. Llangollen station has been transformed to how it would have looked during Eisteddfod Week 1957, complete with live music. Climb on-board one of our historic steam hauled trains to steam back another 60 years to 1897 at Berwyn – Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Year. Take a look inside our Victorian station at Berwyn and discover what life was really like for a Victorian stationmaster.

A traditional Street Fair can be found at Carrog station, complete with rides, stalls and horse power! Learn new skills in the tented circus workshop and witness displays by our costumed street entertainers. Look out for Queen Victoria and her royal entourage as they make a special visit to the Dee Valley! Plus lots more……

For full details and to book advance discounted tickets online, visit the Llangollen Railway Website.

On the Downs Light Railway - with Richard Putley

The Downs Light Railway is a private 9½" gauge miniature railway at the Downs School in Herefordshire. It was built in 1925 by the school’s then headmaster, Geoffrey Hoyland who realised that such a railway would be a useful learning tool for the pupils. This remains its prime purpose and as such is seldom open to the public.

For a few years after Mr Hoyland's death the railway was unused but now a group of former pupils and parents have formed a 'Railway Action Group' to restore the railway. This has proved quite a challenge but at last they felt able to put on a gala weekend on Sunday 30 April and Monday 1 May 2017. Like many galas on the leading heritage lines this included visiting locos – from as far away as Switzerland – and a model railway exhibition. Their oldest working steam loco George, a model of a Great Northern Railway Ivatt Large Atlantic built in 1939, is seen above out on the line.

In the 1930s one of the pupils at the school was James Boyd. He went on to become a leading expert on narrow gauge railways: as J.I.C. Boyd will be familiar to may readers  for his detailed histories of North Wales narrow gauge lines. After he retired in the 1970s he returned to the school and ran the railway up to his death in 2009. His history of the line, Don't Stand Up in the Tunnel! is well worth reading. He was also a long standing member of both the Manchester Locomotive Society and the Malvern Railway Club. I was very fortunate to make his acquaintance at that time. (He died in 2009 and his book collection is now held in the Manchester University Library.)

As well as Florian the Swiss loco (top picture), other visitors included a red Bassett Lowke Pacific and a green 0-6-0 Tank dating from 1936 .

[Note by Charlie Hulme: A particularly interesting visiting loco is Orion, a 1/6th scale model of a London and North Western Railway 4-4-0 (above) which was built by Richard Darroch, a premium apprentice at Crewe Works, and completed sometime around 1910. On his death in 1959 he bequeathed the loco to the Stephenson Locomotive Society who stored the loco at the Talyllyn Railway and later at the Penrhyn Castle Industrial Museum near Bangor. Eventually, with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund it was restored to working order and ran on the Downs Light Railway before transfer to the 'Locomotion' museum at Shildon. A fascinating detailed history can be downloaded from the SLS website.]

Also historic is a North Eastern Railway 4-4-0 built in 1920 by Army Apprentices.

The railway’s flagship loco 2-6-2 James Boyd was in operation. Tubby, an 0-4-0PT built in 1971 and used extensively in the following three decades was on display in the hall as she is currently out of ticket.

I visited on the Monday. George and the various scale replica 4-4-0s were just running on the loop line that runs round Brock Meadow playing fields. Trains on the 'main line', which joins the loop line with a triangular junctions and then passes through a tunnel under an ancient right of way which bisects the school’s premises after which it climbs up a gradient of 1 in 28 and a sharp curve to the DLR’s HQ at Hoyland Down, where being worked by James Boyd and a variety of diesel locos. We were told that the pupils have to learn to drive the diesels first, for which they are awarded a Blue Neckerchief, and only then can they learn to drive the steam locos. When they’ve passed their steam test they are awarded a Red Neckerchief.

Nowadays the school is co-educational and clearly a number of the girls enjoy working on the railway as we saw two sporting their Red Neckerchiefs!

The railway was very popular and we had to queue for an hour to get a ride. We let a couple of people queue jump so that we would be in pole position for James Boyd’s next working. This got delayed due to injector problems so we were looped and another diesel hauled train overtook. Just like things on the big railway sometimes! Despite this it was an enjoyable afternoon.

An FR/WHR picture selection - by Michael Lovatt

Ffestiniog Railway Double Fairlie Merddin Emrys slows to couple up to its train at Porthmadog Harbour Station on 15 April.

On the Ffestiniog Railway the George England-built tank locomotives Prince and Palmerston slowly run through the loop on the Welsh Highland platform, at Porthmadog Harbour Station on 15 April.

On Easter Sunday 16 April, Welsh Highland Railway no.143 crosses the River Glaslyn at Pont Croesor with a lunchtime service.

On the Welsh Highland Railway, No.143 climbs away from Nantmawr and heads for the Glaslyn Pass with a northbound train on 17 April.

On the Ffestiniog Railway the Double Fairlie David Lloyd George picks up speed away from the loop near Penrhyndeudraeth, with a north-bound service, 17 April.

On the Ffestiniog Railway the Double Fairlie Merddin Emrys slows for the loop near Penrhyndeudraeth, with a south-bound service  on17 April.

Noseying around Chester - with Roly High

Virgin Super Voyager 222 106 Willem Barents arrives at Chester on 27 April with the 10:10 from London Euston.

This unit still has Festival No.6 logos.

Nose ends of 221 106 and 175 005.  The 175 is parked in the parcels bay beyond Platform 1, an unusual occurrence. I recall being told that due to clearance issues, only Class 142 and 150 units  could be stabled there, and this is the first time I have seen it.

[Editor's note: The Network Rail 'Sectional Appendix' updated March 2017 does indeed says that 175s are 'Prohibited Chester Parcels Platform' although the ban on 158s, 221s and 222s seems to have been lifted since the 2013 edition. Does anyone know more?]

Merseyrail 507 016 arrives from Liverpool James Street (the Tunnel under the Mersey being closed for improvements)  into platform 7, as 175 105 arrives at the same time into platform 4. 175 010 waits to depart platform 3 with the 10.40 Holyhead to Llanelli.

Contrast in nose ends and livery concepts between 175 105 and 507 016.

175 005 in the parcel bay, 150 282 on the Crewe shuttle, and in platform 4 a 150 departs with the 11:44 from Llandudno to Manchester Airport.

A pair of Northern 'Pacers':  142 046 on the right in platform 5, and 142 056 about to depart Platform with the 12.59 service to Manchester Piccadilly.

The 'Up and Down Main' line getting some attention from a detachment of the 'Orange Army'.

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