Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

05 August 2019


Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

September 2019

6 September Clwyd Railway Circle meeting.

October 2019

Saturday 5 October Stephenson Locomotive Society. Manchester Centre. Bob Gwynne, Associate Curator, National Railway Museum ‘Snow White to Stephenson’. This is a story about the search for strategic minerals, climate change, religious conflict, immigration, integration and innovation. Overall a very modern story, although this one starts over 400 years ago and from it emerges the technology we call railways.

November 2019

Saturday 2 November Stephenson Locomotive Society. Manchester Centre. Geoff Stocker
‘Rebuilding the Welsh Highland Railway’ An illustrated presentation of the stage-wise re-construction of the WHR (closed 1936) on the abandoned trackbed, from 1995 to completion in 2010 & subsequent developments - including locos and rolling stock.

December 2019

Saturday 7 December Stephenson Locomotive Society. Manchester Centre. At Sale United Reformed Church lounge, Montague Road, Sale M33 3BU Including seasonal refreshments!
Owen Russell ‘Memories of the Woodhead Line’ The Woodhead line linked Lancashire, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and London. As there were shorter routes to London, express trains often comprised only 5 or 6 coaches. The line was a good place to see a variety of GC and, later, LNER engines, which had to work hard on the notorious gradients. Like many steam routes, Woodhead was a line of contrasts.

January 2020

Saturday 25 January Stephenson Locomotive Society. Manchester Centre. Centre AGM (brief) followed by: Christian Wyatt ‘21st Century signalling Control Centre – The Manchester Rail Operations Centre’ Christian Wyatt, a career railwayman with 38 years’ service, started as a signal box lad at Manchester Victoria and is now Project Operations Interface Manager for the London North Western route. One of his key responsibilities is the development of the Manchester Rail Operations Centre. Christian will describe the MROC from its build in 2012 to its present operational status.

February 2020

Saturday 22 February Stephenson Locomotive Society. Manchester Centre. Tony Wright
‘Aspects of the Origins & Development of Monorails including Behr, Lartigue and the Manchester to Liverpool Lightning Express Railway’ You may remember Tony’s excellent presentation on Mayfield Station. Don’t miss this intriguing meeting.

Tuesday, 25 February  18:30 Stephenson Locomotive Society. Manchester Centre. Joint meeting with the Newcomen Society, Location to be confirmed. Bob Gwynne, Associate Curator, National Railway Museum ‘Sticking with steam – an examination of why Britain’s railways stuck with steam into the space age’ This talk examines some of the complex history behind moving on from the steam age on Britain’s railways and attempts an answer as to why the UK’s love affair with the steam hasn’t ended.

March 2020

Saturday 21 March  Stephenson Locomotive Society. Manchester Centre.  Melvyn Roberts
‘Indian Summer of the Somerset & Dorset Railway’ The S & D was (and still is) many enthusiasts’ favourite cross-country railway. We will hear about its unusual history, but the main feature will be a slide show of its operations in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

April 2020

Saturday 18 April Stephenson Locomotive Society. Manchester Centre.  Tim Owen ‘The activities of the Furness Railway Trust’ The Furness Railway Trust has a collection of six steam locomotives, including Furness Railway No. 20, plus historic carriages. The illustrated talk will cover the work of the Trust over the past 30 years..

48151 and 45690 near Roman Bridge with the 'Conwy Quest', 3 August. Picture by Greg Mape.

Conwy Quest

The 'Conwy Quest' was a steam special sponsored by Transport for Wales and Network Rail to mark bother the start of the National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst and the complete of repair work on the Conwy Valley line following the activities of 'Storm Gareth'. 

The nine-coach train, provided by West Coast Railways,  ran from Chester to Blaenau Ffestiniog and back, necessitating a reversal at Llandudno Junction tender-first operation from Chester to the Junction and from Blaenau to the Junction on return.   Above, the special seen at Ffynnongroyw (Jeff Albiston).

At Flint, under attack from a buzzard (?). Picture by Glyn Jones. Motive power, in LMS style, was 'Jubilee' class 45690 Leander and 2-8-0 freight loco 48151, both based at Carnforth.

Approaching what has become the jungle at the eastern end of Llandudno Junction (Jim Ikin).

Liz Saville-Roberts (Plaid Cymru MP for Dwyfor Meirionydd) on the footplate of Leander  shortly before departing Llandudno Junction (Geraint Rowlands).

Approaching Glan Conwy, the first station on the Conwy Valley branch, with a good head of steam (Garry Stroud).

Climbing up the 1-in-47 gradient at Dolwyddelan (Jeff Albiston).

Leaving Llanrwst for Blaenau over the repaired section just outside Llanrwst (Brian Jones).

Nhadog Isaf, approaching Ffestiniog tunnel (Lee Davies).

1Z67's arrival at Blaenau Ffestiniog - almost on time (Ken Robinson).

48151 running round its train at the rusty headshunt (Ken Robinson).

 Then it was 45690's turn (Ken Robinson).

48151 and one of the Ffestiniog Railway's double engines (Ken Robinson)..

The empty stock being taken out of the platform road as train 5Z67 before being propelled into the loop (Ken Robinson).

Hunslet quarry loco Hugh Napier pauses between giving footplate rides (Lee Davies).

De Winton Chaloner,  diesel Moelwyn and Hugh Napier on their way back from operating footplate rides at Blaenau Ffestiniog, seen approaching Minffordd (Lee Davies).

Soon after departure from Blaenau (Michael Baker).

Coasting downhill to Roman Bridge (Jeff Albiston).

Leaving Llandudno Junction in the rain by Pabo Lane (Brian Jones).

Colwyn Bay (Greg Mape).

Colwyn Bay  (Jim Ikin).

Passing Holywell Junction on the final leg to Chester (Jeff Albiston).

Conwy Valley diesel extras - notes by Geraint Rowlands

In addition to Saturday's steam special and the usual six services to Blaenau  Ffestiniog, TfW put on a further six services operating as far as North Llanrwst  (whence shuttle buses ran to the Eisteddfod's Maes). This increase to six  plus eight services from Monday onward. The picture by Greg Mape shows 150 281 at Tal-y-Cafn on 3 August.

 From a look at the historic timetables on Dave Plimmer's fine site,  the last time the Conwy Valley had such a frequent service was in 1961, when the  Summer timetable had fourteen services a day (Sundays excluded), with most  operating through to Blaenau Ffestiniog. This required the use of four passing  places (Tal-y-Cafn & Eglwysbach, Llanrwst & Trefriw, Betws-y-Coed and  Dolwyddelen), as opposed to the one that survives today.

The best historical Sunday service also appears in 1961, with five return  services (but only to Betws-y-Coed). Last weekend's Sunday service, with three  trains to Blaenau and eight to North Llanrwst (less one cancelled due to a train fault) is surely a record.

150 257 was working the normal service on 3 August, seen amid the slate waste at the portal of Ffestiniog tunnel (Greg Mape).

Conway Crusader,  top-and-tail and other memories

Barrie Hughes's  piece about the 'Conway Crusader' railtour in the 26 July update has generated some very interesting feedback.

From Tony Flusk:

Chris Jones-Bridger (30 July issue) is indeed correct in his notes on the 'Conwy Crusader' Tour of Saturday 10 March 1984 in that 40 047 being used to assist with the shunting of the over-length railtour on its arrival. However, as a participant on said tour, it  was with some surprise that we found 40 047 standing on the run round line at Blaenau Ffestiniog on our arrival, it having been sent light engine from Llandudno Junction, ahead of the tour, for that purpose.

Above is the hand-drawn map of the tour itinerary provided to passengers.

We later found that 40 047 was only in the area, due to it working the 07:44 Manchester Victoria – Bangor service from Earlestown to Llandudno Junction that morning, due the failure of the original locomotive.

Picture: 40 029 while running round at Wrexham Croes Newydd.

To my mind, the re run of the tour (Conwy Crusader II of Saturday 21 April) was slightly inferior to the first, due to the working in tandem of 50 007 and 40 192 over the steeply graded Conwy Valley line in the down direction, rather than the single 50 018 and load 10 on the first.This gave a highly notable performance, not only on that leg, but also on the non-stop run  between Llandudno Junction and Chester.

From Stuart Cawthray, Signaller at Llandudno Junction:

My first ever 'Top-and-Tail'  as a Signalman was a sand train that ran to the newly laid Sand Siding on Conwy Morfa. This would’ve been around 1985/6 and the train ran from Penmaenmawr Yard to Conwy Morfa, I seem to remember ringing my old Block Inspector (Alan Bullimore) to get permission.

Around the same time Penmaenmawr signalbox was also turning back an empty-stock for the newly opened Conwy Station, about half a dozen (a day) extra passenger trains (locally known as ‘Ivor Specials’) would arrive from Llandudno Junction. Then they would work empty to Conwy to form the Conwy shuttle to the Junction. As Penmaenmawr only had a trailing crossover at the time it wasn’t possible to run as a passenger train from the down platform at Penmaenmawr.

Speaking of Conwy Station, when we had the High Output Track Laying train down a few years back. It needed to return to Crewe and not go to Anglesey due to some issue. The only place we could stable it without bringing the whole coast to a stand, as it was Driver-only,  was to send it to Conwy Station where the driver got off, walked though Conwy town  (got chips), and got back on the rear loco which was standing on the The Cob by LJ70 signal!

[After his retirement, Alan Bullimore volunteered as a signalman on the Llangollen Railway. His extensive photograph collection, focused on signalling,  has been digitised and can be viewed on this link. ]

Northern Contrasts - pictures by Martin Evans

Northern 'Pacer' 142 001 stands at Lancaster on 30 July waiting its next turn of duty.  Built in 1985, this is (we think) the oldest train in the Northern fleet. When withdrawn,  along with all its sisters - supposedly this year -  it is to be preserved at the National Railway Museum.

Watched by two generations of enthusiasts, 195 115, seen at Grange-over-Sands  on 30 July with the  09:29 Manchester Airport-  Barrow-in- Furness, is one of nine new-build Class 195s which (belatedly) entered service on 1 July. Built by CAF in Spain, there will eventually be a fleet of 58, 'replacing' the Pacers according to the publicity, although it is doubtful whether 195s will be found on many routes which currently see 142s. Of the 58, 25 will be three-car and the rest two-car.

Cambrian corner

A truly classic viewpoint on the Cambrian coast line is Harlech Castle, as seen in this image by Greg Mape taken on 26 July.

One of our own pictures from 1985 by comparison. The general scene changes little, except extra school buildings and a small business park on the old goods yard site, whilst on the railway the signalbox, crossing gates, signals, and Class 101 unit have all been swept away.

The view across the golf links towards the beach, 2019 (Greg Mape).

The acute angle of level crossing is still a hazard for cyclists.

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