Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

24 February 2020


Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

(see also our Calendar page for venues)

February 2020

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

Tuesday 3 March North Wales Railway Circle Barry Wynne and Steve Morris. Another show from Barry's superb collection.

Friday 6 March Clwyd Railway Circle Annual General Meeting - followed by a Film Show

Thursday 12 March Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society plan to have a visit from a representative from Transport for Wales. More details later

Friday 13 March Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society Wheels on Reels. Transport Films – taken with a cine camera and shown using a cine projector. Geoff Lomas presents a selection of his Films in the traditional manner.

Monday 16 March RCTS Chester "The Lever Brothers Railways Of Port Sunlight" Mike Lister Telling the story of Levers’ railways. The soap factory was constructed in 1888 and its railways covered 54 track miles and the talk will describe the railway within the soap factory and other factories at Bromborough.

Saturday 21 March Steam at Chester The Cheshireman  (Railway Touring Company)     6233 Duchess of Sutherland  London Euston - Crewe - Chester & return

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

Wednesday 1 April RCTS Liverpool "L&Y Engines At Work" Paul Shackcloth. Paul Shackcloth is the photographic historian for the Manchester Locomotive Society who have a large collection. This talk will show 'Lanky' locomotives at work over the whole of the ex-L&Y network, including Liverpool Exchange.

Friday 3 April Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society Great Named Trains. (note: first Friday) featuring postcards of named trains and video of the engines which hauled them and survive in preservation. a digital presentation by Society President Nick Dodson

Saturday 4 April Excursion Settle & Carlisle Luncheon Circular (Statesman Rail) Pick-up at  Bangor (08:50),  Llandudno Junction,  Colwyn Bay,   Rhyl,  Flint , Chester  and Frodsham  to  the Settle-Carlisle line   - Carlisle Upperby curve  - Shap - Preston and return to pick-up stations.  (Note:  fully booked.)

Tuesday 7 April North Wales Railway Circle Richard Sant, Secretary of the LMS Patriot Company. Progress on The Unknown Warrior

Thursday 9 April Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Trams in Llandudno (Including L & CBER and Great Orme Tramway) John Davies

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.

Monday 20 April RCTS Chester  Martyn Hilbert - "Network Northwest - Past and Present"

Wednesday 22 April Steam at Chester  Great Britain 2020: Day 6 (Railway Touring Company)
 46115  Grange-over-Sands - Carnforth - Preston - Warrington Bank Quay - Chester - Wrexham General - Shrewsbury - Hereford - Abergavenny - Cardiff Central .

May 2020

Saturday 9 May Steam on the Coast Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza (Vintage Trains)  7029 Dorridge - Llandudno

Tuesday 12 May North Wales Railway Circle AGM and Photo Competition.

Wednesday 13 May Steam on the Coast The Moors & Mountains Explorer: Day 7 (Steam Dreams). Holyhead  - Chester - Preston - Shap - Upperby Curve - Settle and Carlisle - (to be confirmed)

Thursday 14 May Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Evening Train Trip to Betws-y-Coed, where we will spend an hour in the Gwydyr. (Times will be confirmed later)

June 2020

Saturday 27 June Steam at Chester The Cheshireman (Railway Touring Company).    60163 London Euston - Chester and return.

July 2020

Sunday 19 July Steam on the Coast North Wales Coast Express (Railway Touring Company)  LIverpool - Manchester - Holyhead (15:05 - 17:40).

Tuesday 21 July Steam on the Coast The Welsh Mountaineer (Railway Touring Company) Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog and return

August 2020

September 2020

Saturday 5 September Steam at Chester 'The Cheshireman' (Railway Touring Company). Norwich to Chester. Loco 6233 for part of the journey.

After a long absence, Arriva blue 67 001  has made an appearance on the Coast passenger service, seen above on the 13:07  Holyhead to Manchester Piccadilly service at Llandudno Junction, 18 February.  Picture by Ryan Lloyd.

Understandably in the bad weather,  not many contributions received this week, so lower down the page we have ventured a little further from the Coast than usual. Enjoy the sunshine.- Charlie

Petition Transport for Wales to re-instate stops on the 17:16 from Bangor

Stormy weather

The weather has continued to wreak havoc on the railways of Wales, with blockages on the Conwy Valley line  (above), the Cambrian line and the Marches route south of Shrewsbury, as well as several routes in South Wales. 

The Cambrian lines re-opened on 18 February: the first working along the coast was a 16:00  empty-stock run from Machynlleth to Pwllheli, photographed near Morfa Mawddach by Kate Jones who writes: ' Full marks for the engineers who have grafted to get things going again.'

The line through to Cardiff re-opened on 22 February, but the Conwy Valley needs more work.

Looking back:  Chester Steam in the 60s - by  Peter Neve

Ivatt 2-6-0 46505 leaves the coaling stage at Chester MPD and is heading towards the eastern end of the site where it will reverse back on to the ash pits. The 6A shed code plate on the smokebox door shows that Chester is its home base. The photograph was taken on an unrecorded date sometime during the summer of 1964.

Hughes “Crab” 2-6-0 42886 heads out of Chester and tackles the steep gradient up to Guilden Sutton. The headcode suggests the engine has been drafted in to help out with the extra summer holiday traffic generated in 1964.

The protective cover over the chimney of Stanier Black 5 4-6-0 44917 gives a clue regarding the status of this engine. It has been put into store and is parked on the siding adjacent to the water tower at Chester MPD. The fact that the tender is still full of coal suggests that the locomotive may yet be brought back into service, although the smokebox door 'darts' will have to be put back. The photograph was taken on 6 April 1966; the loco was transferred to Crewe South shed  in the following year, and officially withdrawn in November 1967 after just 22 years service.

Chester 1971

A collection called the 'KDH archive' contains some interesteing colour pictures of the Chester area in 1971: start with this link and go forwards.


A very wet scene at Manchester Victoria on 15 February as 195 117 arrives on a Leeds - Chester service (Richard Putley). We have been asked to point out,  following comments in an earlier issue, that toilet cleaning, along with the cleaning at all Northern stations, is now contracted out and not carried out by Northern staff.

Seen from the Metrolink footbridge on 3 February, a Llandudno-bound 175 passes Deansgate (Greg Mape).

Pretty in pink: Tram 3103 in Lower Mosley Street, 3 February (Greg Mape).

Steam returns  at Llangollen

Llangollen on Saturday 22 February. The railway were running their first steam service of the season and GWR Manor  7822 Foxcote Manor was in traffic  Above, the crew pose for pictures prior to departing with the 10:40  departure for Carrog (Martin Evans).

After arriving at Carrog the loco runs around (Martin Evans).

Arived back at Llangollen, 7822 waits to run round and leave at 13:00  with the next service to Carrog (Martin Evans).

The first steam departure was captured by George Jones from Green Lane Bridge.

7822 departs with the 10:40 to Carrog on the weekend steam service. Weekday services continue with diesel railcar service in the week beginning 24 February but, from 2 March, the service runs Tuesday to Friday only.  Ideal for those groups out walking in the Dee Valley and wanting to start their walk or return from at intermediate stations.

See the Llangollen Railway website for timetable details.

A visit to Northern Ireland - report by Greg Mape

Two Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) Class 3000 units were passing at Ballymena between the single line sections on the Belfast - Derry/ Londonderry route on 15 February.  Notice the politically correct destination indicator.

On 17 February Class 3000 and  Class 4000 CAF multiple units at Belfast Great Victoria Street Station.

A unit en route to Great Victoria Street station taken from the viewing dome of The Victoria
shopping centre. There was a half-term offer which we used as a family, anywhere in Northern Ireland on bus and train for £19, We got on at Ballymena and  used many Belfast Buses.

NI Railways Class 201 loco 8208 ready for departure from Belfast Lanyon Place to Dublin.

The view from the Larne - Cairnryan Ferry at Larne Harbour with Class 3000 DMUs present.

A close up of Larne Town station.

New Zealand journeys - report by Gary Thomas

Over Christmas and New Year I took a month off to travel to New Zealand, with a short break in a rather quiet Hong Kong on the way out, thankfully before the Corona-virus took hold. Here are some rail-related highlights from my trip.

Here are a couple of shots of Hong Kong's famous double-deck trams that run on Hong Kong Island. While they look old they're modern, though inside they're not that comfortable with wooden chairs. They're incredibly fast and frequent though. I also took a number of trips on the fast and efficient MTR metro services and a "cable car" (a funicular)  to the top of Victoria Peak to take in the classic view of Hong Kong island and Kowloon.

This clock tower is all that remains of the old Hong Kong railway station that terminated in Kowloon. It recently featured in the first episode of Michael Portillo's "Great Asian Railway Journeys".

On arrival in New Zealand I met old friends who took me to the Glenbrook Railway about an hours drive south of Auckland. As you can see from this photo they did an excellent job of lighting up their heavily loaded Santa specials, with trains top-and-tailed with steam and diesel.

North of Auckland is the "Northland" region, which beautiful coastal scenery, especially the "Bay of Islands" on the east coast.

On may way up there (in my Chinese MG hire car) I stopped off at the Bay of Islands Railway to travel on their preserved line which passes straight through the middle of the town.

Many of the railways I went on had an open carriage, which kids and adults alike really enjoyed, but remember to wear sunscreen!

I headed back down to Auckland for Christmas Day, but Christmas Eve saw me reunited with my friends for a trip to the Museum of Transport and Technology  (MOTAT), to ride on the trams which had been lit up with festive lights. MOTAT is well worth a trip, it has trams from different New Zealand cities as well as Melbourne, Australia, a railway which runs every third-Sunday that includes both steam and diesel locos and a very impressive display of aircraft, including a number of seaplanes. Auckland has a a well developed (and growing) set of commuter rail-lines, which use relatively new CAF built EMUs.

On Boxing Day I took the first of my three "main line" train trips, having thankfully dispensed of my Chinese MG hire car! The first photo shows two DFB class Co-Co diesel locos at the head of my train, the Northern Explorer train from Auckland to Wellington, which also included an open-observation car.

 the original Auckland railway station, no longer in use. These days you get on at a rather austere single platform which includes a single building made from a shipping container!

Abive, the train at a stop in Hamilton. It took 11 hours to get to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand.

Wellington is a compact city, known for being quite windy. It has nice Botanic Gardens, accessible from the cable car (another funicular). As with Auckland it has quite an extensive commuter railway.

Having taken the ferry across the Marlborough Straits from Wellington to Picton the next train was the "Coast Explorer" from Picton to Christchurch. Here's the train, hauled by a single DXR diesel Co-Co at Kaikoura, about half-way through the journey. This line was damaged heavily by an earthquake in 2016.

Christchurch is a shadow of its former self, with recovery following the 2011 earthquake still in progress.  Here are three photos of trams  ...

... that make a circular trip around the city centre ...

 ... having had their duties reduced significantly after the earthquake.

My third and final main line train journey was a day-trip on the Tranz Alpine from Christchurch to Greymouth and back, via Arthurs Pass at the heart of the Southern Alps. The  photo above shows the train headed by two DXC Co-Co diesels before departure back to Christchurch at Greymouth.

The height at Arthur's Pass.

Another DXC diesel which banked us up to Arthur's Pass. The scenery on this line was particularly good, but all three "Kiwi Rail" lines had their own unique beauty.

On return to Christchurch I picked up a camper van for the remaining two weeks, taking in Queenstown, the Franz Josef Glacier and Nelson on the South Island, before returning to the North Island by ferry, for a drive back to Auckland via Napier, Rotorua and the Cormandel Peninsula before returning back to Auckland. To finish this article here are three photos of rail-related attractions I took in on the way back to Auckland. The first at Shantytown, a recreation of a gold rush town with L508 (built in Bristol in 1877) heading a train on the "Historic Bush Tramway".

Back on the north island, the second photo shows Hunslet DSA 0-6-0 no. 551 (built in Leeds in 1954) at the Goldfields Railway. 

The final photo shows a  home-grown "rail car" at the Driving Creek Railway, a narrow gauge line, built almost exclusively by the late potter Barry Brickell to transport clay for use in his pottery. It is now a very popular tourist attraction.

This concludes my whistle stop tour of Hong Kong and New Zealand. New Zealand was really lovely and reminded my of the UK back in the 1970's and 80's (I don't go further back!). They take great pride in their heritage. I would have loved to have gone down to Dunedin and the Taieri Gorge railway, but on balance I'm happy with what I was a able to see and experience.

Between the hire car, trains, boats and camper van I traveled almost 5,000km in New Zealand. Crazy!  On reflection I should have taken things easier and also hired a car on the south island and stayed in hotels - far more comfortable and not much more expensive than the camper van. Now it's time for a rest.

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