Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

29 May 2017

Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

[Details of events during the summer of 2017 are welcome for this space]

Two castles: 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe passes Gwrych Castle with the return 'Welsh Dragon' from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Tyseley, 27 May. Picture by Greg Mape.

Tales from the Keyboard

Slowly getting used to Windows 10, the trauma of having to give up the ancient version of Paint Shop Pro image editor which won't run on 64-bit - and the automatic caption generator can't even distinguish Rhyl from Llandudno Junction (sorry Roly) ... more seriously, what possessed Microsoft to drop the marvellous 'Camera and Scanner Wizard' which let you name a directory to create and add its name with a number to the individual image names when uploading from a camera?

Welshpool and Llanfair -  by Martin Evans

I paid a visit to the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway on 23 May  and found original Beyer Peacock loco 823 The Countess in traffic for the day, seen above at Welshpool.

Running round at Llanfair Caereinion. These are interesting times on the railway at present with many improvements destined for Llanfair station hopefully resulting  in a new loco shed and revamped facilities for visitors.

 At Llanfair Caereinion Locos 12 Joan and  822 The Earl were noted on shed.
Great Western Society  North West Branch

Peter Hanson writes: 'The North West Branch of the Great Western Society, as ceased to exist after 48 and half years. This has been brought about by the Treasurer and the Chairman resigning because of ill health matters, which left just two Committee members with no hope of recruiting further members.'

Race Day at Chester - report by Roly High

At 08:56 on 27 May, 175 009 arrives at platform 3b (via the mid-platform crossover) at Chester with as the 07:50 from Manchester to Llandudno, whilst 175 110 waits to depart from bay platform 1 with the 08:55 3-car shuttle to Crewe (strengthened to carry the race day crowds). In platform 3, 150 279 awaits the all clear to shunt into the parcels bay after working the 08:23 from Crewe.

Northern 150 110 (left) waits to depart from platform 6 with a the 08:59 to Manchester Piccadilly via Northwich. 508 138 has arrived from Liverpool James Street, which is the temporary terminus during engineering work on the Liverpool 'Loop' tunnel.

150 110 departs, passing 150 279 as it waits to move into the parcels bay.

150 267 stabled in the sidings.

150 150 (great number) departs as the 09:59 to Manchester, while 'Castle' class 4-6-0 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe arrives from Crewe with an excursion from Tyseley (Birmingham) to Blaenau Ffestiniog...

... heading for platform 3.

The train was scheduled to held at platform 3 for almost half an hour to enable a service train to proceed.

On the rear was class 47 diesel D1755, which would later will take the train up the Conwy Valley branch. Built in 1964 as D1755, over the years this loco has also carried the numbers 47 161, 47 541 and 47 773 - the latter being its current official number. It is part of the Vintage Trains fleet based at Tyseley, having been purchased from West Coast Railways.

The Earl on the Coast

At Llandudno Junction, the steam loco 5043, water-carrying vehicle and support coach were detached and ran west to Valley turn on the triangle there. Jim Ikin photographed the shortened train departing Llandudno Junction (above).

Passing Conwy Castle (Garry Stroud).

Passing Bangor (Jim Ikin) while returning to Llandudno Junction, arrival at 16:44, to take over the return train to Tyseley.

Meanwhile, the passengers travelled the Conwy Valley line by diesel. Greg Mape took this panoramic view of the train by crossing the river bridge at Tal-y-Cafn, turning right and walking along a long drive. at Blaenau Ffestiniog the diesel locomotive was detached and run round the train, a rare sight these days as most excursions that reach Blaenau have a locomotive at each end.

Bala Gala - report by Bob Greenhalgh

Sunday 28 May at the Bala Lake Railway gala weekend was an excellent day with well-filled trains all day and super weather. I was driver on George B. The model show and vintage show both seemed well attended. The picture shows Maid Marian crewed by Nick Talbot and Russel Prince heads for Bala as George B (driven by B .Greenhalgh) waits in the loop with its train for Llanuwchllyn.

The next Bank Holiday is the Steam Gala from 25 to 28 August celebrating George B's first season back in service with a steam gala where she will be joined by all the line' other engines in steam. A busy timetable is planned, featuring lots of activity, passenger and demonstration freight trains. Until then, there will be trains most days (except some Mondays and Fridays in June): download the PDF timetable.

Class 68s on flasks

Friday 26 May saw ultra-modern power on the Valley Flask train again on Friday 26 May in the shape of 68 005 Defiant and 68 020 Reliance. Rowan Crawshaw photographed the morning train to Valley passing Bangor as passengers waited for the 09:22 Voyager to London...

... and Greg Mape captured the return train approaching Colwyn Bay.

Corwen Central Funding Approved - by George Jones

The Llangollen Railway Trust is pleased to announce it has been successful with the application for Grant Aid from the Welsh Government to assist with the development of the new station at Corwen. The award of £128,000 is in respect of the building of the island platform on the terminal site where the disused railway embankment has been re-engineered to provide for a run-round loop. The grant is provided through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development programme 2014-202, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

Corwen Central Railway Development project leader, Richard Dixon Gough, notes that the total cost of the platform was estimated at £160k and that the availability of the funding from Welsh Government ensures that work on the site continues throughout the summer to provide a completed platform around which the loop can be extended.

As of the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, two extra panels of track had been laid for the Up side loop with a further two to follow shortly. With these aligned, the excavation of the footings for platform 1 can begin. In the meantime, the down side platform 2 wall continues to make progress as the volunteer work force proceeds with the laying of 520 oversail blocks to provide the overhang , plus a similar number of backing blocks, to allow for the installation of the platform edging.  The upper picture shows volunteers tackling the laying of the oversail blocks which weigh in at over 1cwt each and on a good day the practised team can position around 15 per hour.

Once completed, the same exercise with Easi-blocs as the base will be needed to build up platform 1 in readiness for the infilling of the area, a job likely to take all summer.
Provided resources for materials, manpower and finance continue to be available there is every prospect of the loop line being connected to the east end points during the autumn, but it will need to see the installation of the water tower and reinforced concrete support for the base of the signal-box.

Above: spreading of ballast to extend the Up side loop line.

Welcoming the Welsh Government’s financial support for the project, Llangollen Railway Trust chairman, Peter Lund, commented that the project will continue to demand additional funds if it is to see its completion by 2018. The Big Push Corwen share brochure has been well received and applications for shares in Llangollen Railway PLC are coming to hand, although further promotion of this fund raising initiative is required to raise the capital needed. The Shares brochure is available on application to the Llangollen Railway office; 01978 860979 during office hours.

Above: a  60ft panel of track nears completion. Picture by Peter Neve.

Corwen - Tony Robinson's view

Having visited the Llangollen Railway at Corwen East (above) on 23 May,  I really think the townspeople should "wake up and smell the coffee". They are about to become one end of a 'world class' preserved steam railway with superbly laid-out station and car parking; yet the town has just two pubs where you can't even get a beer and sandwiches mid-week. Think of the holiday makers from Barmouth area who will choose to start their journey from Corwen, never mind Llangollen!

Chester (6A) loco shed: 50 years since closure - by Peter Neve

With the approaching 50th anniversary of the closure of Chester 6A MPD, I wondered if the following selection of photographs would be of interest. They were taken in 1969, two years after the shed was closed and four years before the shed was completely demolished. The photographs are slightly under exposed and grainy, and I am not sure if the quality is good enough for inclusion on your website. [Yes it is. - Ed.] The water tank structure has virtually been demolished in the top view looking east. The coaling stage would have been to the left of the picture.

The internal remains of the water tank structure.

The main shed and foreman’s office building to the right hand side of the picture. This was one area to avoid when unofficially “visiting” the shed.

A close up of the main shed, with the footplate crew’s “bothy” centre left. Most of the metalwork had been removed by the scrap man by this time, although it would be another few years before the site was completely cleared.

The view looking east towards Hoole Lane bridge and Chester. A sole water crane has escaped the interest of the scrap man.

Another view looking east. In the distance can be seen the former lead works chimney and the outline of Chester Cathedral. The water tower remains to this day and supplies treated water to the residents of Chester.

 A general view of Chester 6A MPD from Hoole Lane bridge with a class 47 heading a train of tank wagons towards Crewe. The white house, centre right of the picture was the lock keeper’s residence on the Shropshire Union canal. The canal supplied the water to the main tank at the shed.

The scene on 22 May 2017 from almost the same vantage point, with the 11:55 departure from Chester to Crewe. The industrial landscape of 1969 has given way to a housing estate and children’s playground.

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