Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

12 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..

66 070 makes an eye-catching sight passing Shotton with 6M86 10:29 Margam to Dee Marsh on 9 August. Picture by Tim Rogers.

Looking back with Barrie Hughes - North Wales, 14 June 1995

I started my journey at Chester  behind 31 229 about 10:22 and passed 158 755 at Conwy...a sign of the modern traction DMUs to come.

31 229 was one of several seen on the line in Engineers ‘Dutch’ livery. The loco ran around its train in platform 2  ...

... and shunted to the platform 3 siding. This loco lasted in service  until 10/8/01 and was cut up at the end of that year at Kingsbury.

The much modelled 37 429 Eisteddfod Genedlaethol in Regional Railways livery then arrived, a North Wales stalwart for many years.

For a while the two locos posed side by side on platforms 2/3.

37429 then shunted to platform 1 before departing for Crewe at 12:23 as train 1K65. 

This loco lasted until 31/12/2007 and was cut up a couple of months later, again at Kingsbury.

47715 turned up on the 1D86  09:03 London - Holyhead InterCity train departing Bangor at 12:44.  The loco was  still carrying its Haymarket name from previous use in Scotland on push-pulls, however the Network South East livery showed the loco had seen use in the London area , working out of Old Oak Common depot on Waterloo - Exeter services.

This train was booked into Platform 1 at Holyhead. The loco ran round  (note in the distance the brake van now preserved by the Cambrian Heritage Railways) ...

... and was soon hooked up to the Driving Van Trailer, ready to work 1A55, 13:38 to London Euston as far as Crewe where an electric loco would take over.

Withdrawn and later reinstated a couple of times by British Rail, it was eventually sold in 2004 to short-lived firm 'Fragonset'  who painted it in their black and red livery and renamed it Poseidon.  It world for another now-defunct operation, Cotswold Rail, for a while, and  in 2008 it found a new home in preservation at the Wensleydale Railway where it had been repainted in revised NSE livery and regained the Haymarket name.

Platform 1 had direct access to the Sealink ferry terminal seen in the background, and close to the the ships, and as such received upgraded facilities when the old hotel was replaced by the current office block, but unfortunately the ferry company later decided to move their operation from the inner harbour to another ferry berth which need to bus shuttle to reach it from the station.  The footbridge shown in the picture still stands, disused, although some Virgin's London trains are still booked to use Platform 1.

While 47 715 was hooking up,  37 407 Blackpool Tower in the colourful but short-lived TRANSRAIL livery had arrived at 13:40.  The loco ran round to depart at 13:57 on a five-coach Regional Railways rake from platform 3 (formerly 4), the platform of choice for the loco-hauled sets that still use Holyhead. This loco had only been recently named on 20 February 1995 from Loch Long, a name it carried in Scottish use after being rebuilt as a 37/4 in 1985.

37 407 was withdrawn in March 2000 but after a period stored in preservation at the Churnet Valley Railway, it was sold to DRS in 2016 and restored to mainline use on Norwich - Yarmouth trains in 2018 carrying heritage 'large logo rail blue'  livery.  That working should have been replaced by new multiple-unit stock in May 2019,  but 37 407 i(with 37 419) s recorded still in action at Norwich on 10 August.

I took that train back to Rhyl where I intercepted 37 429 returning from Crewe.

After a ride behind 37 429 to Bangor it was back to Prestatyn with 37 418 where I intercepted 31 144 in 'Engineers' livery where the little permanent-way shed reminds us we are in Wales, and returned to Bangor.

The loco was made as a Hornby model in this livery, but was withdrawn 30/9/11 and cut up shortly afterwards at Moveright International, Wishaw.  At Bangor (above) the loco ran round and reversed into Belmont tunnel before pulling into platform 1 for the 18:30 run back to Crewe.

Chester. The 31/1 sub-class were never fitted with electric train heating facilities, so could only be used in the summer.  37s were the 'booked' traction on all these North Wales trains, but there must have been a shortage at the time. Was it the time when 37/4s had to be take out of traffic after a defect was discovered?

The sun came out as I was leaving Chester, and 43 164 and 43 166 arrived with a London - Holyhead service around 20:00.

Bangor,  10 August 2019 - pictures by Jim Johnson

10 August's extra Eisteddfod shuttles to Llanrwst North brought 150 285 to Bangor, seen above arriving 'right time' at 09:18 as 2D86, 08:33 ex-Llanrwst North.

Moving past the calling-on lights into Belmont Tunnel, as empty-stock 5D86.

Onto the Up main, to park, awaiting passing traffic, viz...

175 101, 1W90 05:21 Cardiff Central to Holyhead ...

... and 158 824, 1G32 09:23 Holyhead to Birmingham International.

Moving back into Belmont Tunnel, past the 'dummy' (ground signal) which is 'pulled off' for it.

Into Platform 1, in a seasonal downpour.

Departing right-time at 10:20, as 2D87, to Llandudno Junction, first call Penmaenmawr. (The 07:07 Holyhead - North Llanrwst ran non-stop through Bangor, again first stop Penmaenmawr. Maybe  Llanfairfechan  residents are not hardened Eisteddfodwyr?)


The flask train from Valley to Crewe has continued to run into August. Tim Rogers' picture above from 5 August shows 68 001 Evolution and 68 034 passing Mostyn with three new-style wagons  11 70 9229 005-7 / 004-0 / 022-2.

Waverton, between Chester and Crewe, on 7 August, with 68 004 Rapid and 68 008 Avenger
and wagons 11 70 9229 039-6 , FNA 550037 and 11 70 9229 015-6  (Tim Rogers)

9 August was electro-diesel day, with 88 002 Prometheus, 88005 Minerva and wagons 11 70 9229 016-4 / 55028 / 11 70 9229 021-4 (Tim Rogers).

Monday Morning 12 August's westbound service near Abergele with 68 001 again  and 68 004 Rapid

In October 2018 there were said to be 'less than 200' flask-loads to be shipped before the stations is completely de-fuelled, and the aim was to despatch seven per week, Clearly that target passed some time ago, although their original estimate was 'mid-to-late 2019'.


This image by Greg Mape offers a comparison between the space used by the double-track main line and the area occupied by a dual-carriageway road.

Club 55 no more?

Graham Bloxsome writes:  'I recently asked TFW whether they had plans to introduce a Club 55 offer, as Arriva previously did. This is their reply:
With regards to your query, we currently have not re-introduced the Club 55, however, we may introduce this in the future. I would advise to keep an eye on our website as any information regarding this will be updated there. I trust the above information has been helpful. If we can be of any further assistance please don't hesitate to contact us.
Our feeling is that we won't see it again, but the starting time restrictions latterly enforced by Arriva made it quite difficult to achieve a really long trip.

'Ivor Specials' - remembered by Chris Jones-Bridger

Stuart Cawthray's contribution (last issue) has certainly refreshed my memory from the early 1980s. The 'Ivor Specials' were a legendary piece of local initiative to deal with the fluctuations in demand on the North Wales coast. Based at Llandudno Junction,  Ivor was one of our relief supervisors in my day. With a depth of experience he was our go to wizard for magicking up additional capacity from the diagrammed stock and train crew workings. Two instances spring to mind affecting my world at Holyhead.

As a railway port Sealink had maintained the monopoly in Anglo-Irish ferry operations. This changed in the early 1980's when B&I were granted access to the port. While the number of foot passengers was not excessive, initially the train connection from the inbound ferry was non-existent. In order to cater for this situation an Ivor Special was conjured up by local arrangement. A 'spare' DMU was created and with a Llandudno Junction set of men sent empty to Holyhead to operate a relief service up the coast usually back to The Junction where it could feed the passengers into the more frequent passenger service.

The second instance was to cater for a demand created for day trips to Ireland during the summer season when Sealink deployed a second ferry, usually the St David, sailing from Holyhead at 09:00 and returning around 17:30 in the evening. In the days of duty free this offered an attractive rail/sail package marketed particularly at holiday makers in North Wales. Unfortunately for stations east of Llandudno Junction the earliest timetabled arrival at Holyhead was the 09:30 Crewe to Holyhead due around 11:45.

So having identified a demand an 'Ivor Special' was called for, arranged initially by local Area Manager arrangement (by this time the whole of North Wales was covered by Chester Area). Leaving Chester around 06:30 and calling principal stations a convenient connection was provided into the 09:00 sailing. In today's world of tightly specified franchises it just goes to show how responsive BR could be to changing demand, and the initiative deployed by
local staff to meet the customers needs.


67 014 passes Chester racecourse with the 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead on 5 August (Greg Mape).

On 8 August at Mostyn,  67 012 propels 1W96 17:16 Cardiff Central to Holyhead, (Tim Rogers).

On the same evening, 67 010 propels 1K68 19:37 Llandudno to Crewe (Tim Rogers).

A visit to Oswestry - with Martin Evans

On 3 August I travelled to The Cambrian Heritage Railways site at Oswestry and found 0-4-0ST  No 6 , Andrew Barclay Works no 2261, in steam. .Waiting to leave the shed with the Mark 1 coach.

Set back into  platform ready to depart to the end of the present line beyond Gas Works Bridge at 11:20. Clackmannan Coal No 6 worked for the National Coal Board (NCB) in the Fife coalfield. It was based at Bowhill Coal Preparation plant in Cardenden before withdrawal in the late 1960’s.

Sold for scrap to Thomas Muir's Scrapyard at Easter Balbeggie, it was saved for preservation, and after a ten-year restoration programme the locomotive steamed again on the Ribble Steam Railway where it returned to traffic in August 2013. In 2016 it was sold by its private owner and moved to the Cambrian  in August of that year.

Trains run at Oswestry every weekend this summer: see their website for details.

Long Weekend in Shrewsbury -  by Richard Putley

A friend and I decided we’d like to have dinner on the evening 'WAG Express'. We also wanted to visit a number of heritage lines near the Welsh Border. So we realised that Shrewsbury would be the ideal base for these visits.

Friday 2 August:  We duly caught the evening WAG Express from Cardiff Central which departed at 17:16 with 67012 hauling. The food was very good. we both had Smoked Salmon for starter and Sea Bass for the main course. Arrival at Shrewsbury was within 5 minutes of the booked time. It seemed so quick. Partly I suppose as the train ran non stop from Hereford to Shrewsbury. Back at Cardiff I’d observed two 66’s running light, 021 and 080. We then checked in at our hotel, Ye Old Bucks Head which is very good value.

Saturday 3 August: A later start than originally planned. We’d heard that an extra with the WAG set would start from Holyhead at 08:07 and depart Shrewsbury at 10:54.

We got to the station in time to see 158 825 depart from Platform 3 with the 10:29 to Aberystwyth.

We also saw 66 134 with a Southbound steel train.

After watching 67 012 bring the WAG extra in, we caught the 11:23 from Shrewsbury to Ruabon, then the bus to Llangollen.

At the Llangollen Railway’s 1960s weekend, the diesel hauled services were in the hands of BR Blue Class 47 1566. We arrived in time for the 13:00 departure (above) which we took to Carrog. We then walked to the nearby Grouse Inn across the Dee for a quick drink and then caught the 14:35 DMU service back to Llangollen.

This was a 4 car set that looked to be a mixed lash up. At the Carrog end was former 'Bedpan' (Bedford - St Pancras) Power Car 51618.

We returned from Ruabon on the 17:52 to Shrewsbury. We again saw 158 825 depart from Platform 3, this time bound for Wrexham and beyond. It had arrived coupled to another 158 still in Arriva Blue. This unit was uncoupled and departed in the Hereford/Aberystwyth direction from Platform 3.

Sunday 4 August: A leisurely start, catching the first train down the Cambrian Mainline, the 11:29 to Aberystwyth.

We took this to Welshpool so we could visit the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway and ride on their vintage train. It was hauled by one of the original locos, 0-6-0T Countess.

Also running was 0-6-2T Joan.

Monday 5 August: An early start so we could get the 07:23 to Tywyn, with the hope of getting the 10:00 service from Tywyn Wharf to Nant Gwernol. We arrived at Shrewsbury station to see the 07:39 Virgin Super Voyager depart for London Euston. Our train was formed of a single 158, 823. On arrival at Machynlleth we had to then cross to the other platform for the 08:52 to Pwllheli which departed punctually.

On arrival at Tywyn we decided to have the ''Broad Gauge Breakfast'. So instead of getting the 10:00 departure, which was hauled by No 4 Edward Thomas, we took the 11:05 which was hauled by No 2 Dolgoch. We returned to Tywyn with the return service.

 Other locos in use that day were No 3 Sir Haydn  (above) and No 6 Douglas, still sporting RAF Blue.

We returned from Tywyn on the 15:26 to Shrewsbury. This arrived over 20 minutes late. To make matters worse we were told we’d have to change at Machynlleth. Apparently due to 'major signalling issues at Shrewsbury' the previous service to Aberystwyth had been cancelled. We were a both surprised hear this as the 15:26 from Tywyn to Pwllheli had arrived on time. We had to walk along the platform and board another 2-car 158. Fortunately we did at least get seats. It eventually got to Shrewsbury 15 minutes late at 17:35.

97 304 in Coleham depot passed on the way into Shrewsbury.

Evidently any “signalling issues” had been dealt with by then as most services seemed to be on time. The 17:41 to Milford Haven, from Manchester Piccadilly certainly was. So we returned south on this train and thus ended an enjoyable long weekend in Shrewsbury.

Ffestiniog  scenes - by Michael Baker

I was the rostered Signalman at Rhiw Goch on Thursday 8 August, and had chance to take a few photos while I was there.  Above, the view of the box from outside.

Interior view showing frame and panel.

David Lloyd George arriving with the 11:55 from Porthmadog, with trainee Signalman waiting to collect the short-section token.

David Lloyd George paused with the 11:55  from Porthmadog, waiting to cross the 11:35 from Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Linda passing through with the 14:30  from Porthmadog, exchanging short-section tokens on the move.

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