24 February 2020
Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page
(see also our
Calendar page for venues)
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.
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
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
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
46115 Grange-over-Sands - Carnforth -
Preston - Warrington Bank Quay - Chester - Wrexham
General - Shrewsbury - Hereford - Abergavenny - Cardiff
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)
Saturday 27 June Steam at Chester The Cheshireman
(Railway Touring Company). 60163 London
Euston - Chester and return.
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
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
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
for Wales to re-instate stops on the 17:16 from Bangor
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
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
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
Arived back at Llangollen, 7822 waits to run round and leave
at 13:00 with the next service to Carrog (Martin
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
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
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
Many of the railways I went on had an open carriage, which
kids and adults alike really enjoyed, but remember to wear
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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