NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:NOTICE BOARD
Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd
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30 October 2017
56 105 and 56 087 bring the Carlisle - Chirk logs through Helsby on 18 October. Picture by Tim Rogers.
The Conwy Valley line has suffered from the weather yet again and is closed until mid-November. Inspection after after 'ex-Hurricane Ophelia' and 'Storm Brian' revealed a structural pillar inside Ffestiniog Tunnel had suffered damage from the excessive rainfall which had caused more water than usual to enter the 140-year-old structure. The picture released by Network Rail shows the site - the opening to the left is thought to be the original pilot hole for the tunnel.
On the Cambrian Coast line, Network Rail is carrying out improvement work to the River Artro viaduct near Pensarn station (shown above in our archive picture from 2006). The innovative Ł1.4m project will 'jack the tracks', to carry out repairs to the timber viaduct underneath. This method will save time and minimise disruption to passengers. The technique will, it is said, also be used during the upcoming refurbishment of Barmouth viaduct although we are still being told that there won't be a long closure.
Network Rail announced on their website that a bus replacement service would be provided between Pensarn and Llanbedr during the half-term holiday between Saturday 28 October and 5 November, but if practice it appears that the buses are running the much longer route between Barmouth and Pwllheli.
We asked for innovative viewpoints for Rail Head Treatment Train, and Greg Mape responds with this 27 October view between Conwy and Llandudno Junction taken from the tower at the top of Plas Mawr Elizabethan Town House. Greg notes: 'The train getting so dirty it is becoming a silhouette!'
56 096 approaching the Britannia Bridge on 27 October (Peter Basterfield).
56 113 leading, with 56 096 bringing up the rear on 28 October. Location is Sandy Lane crossing just to the west of Prestatyn station. Picture taken from within the fenced and gated approaches to the crossing by Trefor Thompson.
Bagillt, 18 October (Tim Rogers).
Northwich Revisited - by Barrie Hughes
The steam feature about Northwich got me thinking of my two trips there in 1981. My initial schoolboy photos on my mum’s Brownie 127 from a North Wales Ranger in 1967 have been lost in history and I have no clear memory of steam (was there any?) but starting January 1970 I had a Halina Paulette for Xmas and decided on taking slides after being impressed by a slideshow. The quality of slides improved slightly with the purchase of a Zenith E SLR in 1975 and then an Olympus OM10 in 1980.
I was visiting my parents near Chester for the weekend on 31 January 1981, a cold misty day, and decided to go to Northwich to view the freights. Sadly not much moved on a Saturday but the shed had several locos.
The view above shows 40 135 one of only 20 Class 40s built with a 'split-box' route indicator to accommodate the little-used nose gangways. Today, this loco is a remarkable survivor of the 1980s cull of BR’s diesel locos and, after withdrawal on 11 January 1985, the loco saw further use as Departmental Loco 97 404 during the Crewe remodelling before final withdrawal 16 December 1986. The loco was then purchased by the Class 40 Preservation Society for use on the East Lancashire Railway and arrived at Bury in 1988. After a period in green numbered D335 or just 335, the loco is now back in BR blue, running on the ELR after attention at Barrow Hill last year.
40 090, another loco with cab doors, but this time with disc headcode markers. This loco was not so lucky and was withdrawn on 13 November 1983 and scrapped a year later at BREL Doncaster.
08 669 has arrived from shunting the ICI sidings to the east of the station. This loco is another remarkable survivor. Over 90% of the 996-strong Class 08 class have been withdrawn and only 74 survive on the National Rail network today according to recent TOPS reports, (although others are in preservation or industrial use). The loco was initially withdrawn 23 May 1989 and sold to Trafford Park Estates, who gave it a green livery and used it as part of their project to revive rail traffic in the Park. Wabtec purchased it in 2000 and reinstated it on TOPS on 27 April 2001. It now carries a black livery with Bob Machin nameplates and operates as Doncaster Works pilot.
The first visit to Northwich on a Saturday was a bit of a disappointment so I went back again a few weeks later on 24 February 1981, a snowy day (where have those cold snowy Winters gone...Global Warming?) hoping to see some freight action. This westerly view shows the depot area with 40 022, another disc fitted loco, on the freight loop. This loco was withdrawn on 11 March 1984 and cut up that Autumn at BREL Swindon. A Class 47 (extreme left) and a 25 are also seen on shed.
This easterly view shows 25 115 light engine passing the station with the ICI works in the background. This loco was withdrawn on 2 October 1983 and cut up two years later at BREL Swindon. Also visible are a Class 08 shunting the ICI sidings and a Class 40, probably 40 022 seen earlier.
This westerly view shows a Manchester-bound Class 108 DMU calling at Northwich. The facilities on the westbound platform were much sparser than the eastbound!
This easterly view shows a Class 40, probably 40 022 again, hauling a train of BRT fuel oil tank wagons westbound out of the ICI sidings, probably empties for Stanlow refinery. The discs are set to what had been an 'express passenger' configuration, but lost their meaning when four-character headcodes were introduced.
This easterly view shows 25 136 in Northwich station with a crew change under way. This loco is hauling the venerable 1930s-design ICI limestone hopper wagons, all withdrawn by December 1997 after 62 years of service This is probably the empty rake returning back to the Peak District limestone quarries as the loco may have been too low powered for the loaded rake. 25 136 did not even see 20 years in service, succumbing to the mass cull on 27 March 1983 and being scrapped on 30 September 1986 at BREL Swindon.
The wooden depot offices were removed later in the 80s and were acquired by the Llangollen Railway who used them as their Glyndyfrdwy station building. The depot area was probably sold off about the same time and is now a housing estate with the unlikely railway related name of Pullman Drive. The Winnington works was sold to Brunner-Mond in 1991 and to Tata in 2006; it closed in 2014, but the Lostock Works, visible in the pictures, continues to produce Sodium Bicarbonate and related products, receiving limestone from Tunstead by rail, usually in three trains per week of modern air-braked hoppers.
A memory of Northwich - by Jim Ikin
When I was ten or eleven a group of us used to go up to Northwich to clean the 8Fs that were used on the ICI hopper trains with the full permission of the shedmaster.Toward the end of the day with time running out only the front and one side was cleaned. Smokebox hinges and buffer beams were repainted.
All this was to enable photographs to be taken as the trains rounded the curve at Skelton Junction on the fully loaded return trips. Imagine that being allowed now ...
Derby and Stoke - report by Tony Robinson
I took a trip to Derby on 28 October and stopped off at Stoke en route back to Crewe. 31 452 & 50 008 Thunderer were parked up outside Derby Midland station.
Unbelievable to think that it's almost 50 years (March 1968) since an apprentice's visit organised by John Hobbs and myself to the Vulcan Foundry at Newton le Willows revealed the last of the Deltics coming off the production line and the start of the Class 50's, bound I think for the Western Region.
A completely up-to-date East Midlands Trains 222 002 arriving with a St.Pancras - Sheffield working
I was able to take a close look at Stoke-on-Trent station on the old North Staffordshire Railway on the way home where we see, apart from the interesting architecture ...
... a Manchester - Euston Pendolino arriving ...
... and a Derby - Crewe train leaving formed of 158 783.
Tyseley Open Day - report by Jim Ikin
The 29 October open day at Tyseley works, home of the Great Western locomotives that are seen on North Wales excursions ffrom time to time. Left to right on the turntable (above): 4965 Rood Ashton Hall, 7029 Clun Castle, 5080 Defiant (awaiting overhaul) and 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe.
Star of the day was 7029, recently returned to steam and due to run on the main line next year. The railway's two oldest volunteers are seen unveiling the name...
... joined by the youngest volunteer, and Maggie Whitehouse, whose father Patrick bought Clun Castle in 1966 for Ł2400. She gave a re-dedication speech, and a bottle of champagne was ceremonially smashed over the front buffer.
We look forward to seeing 7029 in North Wales action.
Corwen Central progress report - by George Jones
The project to build the base for the Llangollen Railway's Corwen Central signalbox reached a conclusion when the concrete box on the northern side of the embankment received a coat of damp proofing. The challenge then was to infill the excavation at the front and sides of the base which took some three days of layering, compacting and rolling spoil to expand the embankment to the width of the required track layout.
With that complete, on 23 September, a visit by the local Welsh Assembly member Ken Skates provided an occasion for a cutting of the tape for the entrance to the locker room. The roof was provided by installation of steel beams, for the eventual signalling lever frame, concrete beams and blocks. This expensive item of infrastructure now awaits the eventual relocation of the ex-Weston Rhyn signal cabin which may be some time off, dependent upon funding for its restoration.
Subway progress: After the volunteers had undertaken the arduous task of creating the graded infill for the two level, work switched back to the subway access with the need to install the stairs up to the platform level. The job required the use of contractors to measure up the incline and install shuttering for the steps and the mid level landing for a concreting job which was completed as of 24 October.
In the meantime, two steel doors (above) for the entrance were made in-house by Llangollen Engineering and hung on Saturday, 21 October to secure the access to the subway.
A finishing touch for the subway project was the provision of security fencing on the elevated access when, by a happy coincidence, we saw delivery of the wooden paling sections as replaced at Gobowen station in a prime example of recycling. The platform level fencing will ultimately be replaced by traditional metal work as recovered from a station site at Burnham, on the Great Western Main Line, when the railings have been renovated.
The view from the top of the stairs shows the extent of the site which will form the major part of the platform area once the wall for the Up side platform is built - a task that now seems likely during the late autumn and through the winter period, subject to the weather. But first there is the need to install the pipework from the borehole and create the base for the water tower.
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