08 May 2017
Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page
This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived
issue. For full information visit our Calendar page.
Tuesday 9 May (change of date)
Circle AGM and Annual Photographic
Competition. The Annual General Meeting of The North Wales
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
In line with Circle rules all work should have been taken in the last
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
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
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
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
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
(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
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
Lee Andrew Davies visited on Monday 1 May: above, replica
loco Samson visiting from Beamish pulls out of
The event culminated in a cavalcade of curiosities, seen here crossing
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
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.
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
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.
As can be seen in the enclosed pictures of Maentwrog Road, the railway
has progressed well.
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
Please see our website www.bftr.co.uk/
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
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
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
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
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,
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
the SLS website.]
Also historic is a North Eastern Railway 4-4-0 built in 1920 by Army
The railway’s flagship loco 2-6-2 James Boyd was in operation. Tubby,
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
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
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
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
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
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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