Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

02 March 2020


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Forthcoming events

(see also our Calendar page for venues)

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.

Train 6V41 14:14 Padeswood cement sidings - Avonmouth hauled by 66 708 Jayne has just crossed Hawarden Bridge on Sunday 1 March. The train has been running up to three times a week and the Sunday departure is early enough (Dee Marsh dep. 15:48) to be photographed after its run-round at Dee Marsh Junction.  Picture by Paul Shannon.


On 26 February, with Driving Trailer 82308  leading and 67 001 propelling, the 13:07 Holyhead - Manchester passes Holywell Junction signalbox, an LNWR type 4 structure built in 1902, fitted with a 54-lever frame to control the access to the industrial sidings which existed in the area.  The box, which like all boxes between Chester and Llandudno Junction, is redundant, replaced by a person at a computer screen in Cardiff, but looks in remarkable good condition. The windows have been protected with some transparent material. A former station platform is just visible on the left; once it had four through platforms -  and a bay for the strange little branch to Holywell Town. There have been proposals for a 'North Wales Metro' service from Chester to Flint (where a crossover has been provided) calling at new and re-opened stations,  but this does not seem to have found favour.

The view from the other side of the bridge. There is still industry behind the trees on both sides, in the form of a business park and other modern businesses, but railway freight is not among their requirements at present.  To the left is 67 001 is a surviving abutment of the bridge which carried the original Holywell  Railway  on its way to Greenfield harbour. The Disused Stations website tells the interesting story of the complex railway history of this area.  Both pictures: Peter Laithwaite.

67 014, a former Wrexham & Shropshire-liveried loco, has gained the eye-catching TfW livery, as seen propelling the 13:07 Holyhead to Manchester at Bagillt.  on 2 March (Tim Rogers). The extra connector for the forthcoming Mk4 coaches is present on the cab end.

Beeches Farm (Bob Greenhalgh). Perhaps some branding for the sides of  locos is still at the design stage.

'Q trains'

The New Measurement Train with 43 014 and 43 013 passing through platform 3B at Chester on 27 February working from Derby RTC to Crewe via Holyhead  (Ryan Lloyd).

37 116 passing Penyffordd, 25 February (Bob Greenhalgh).

Cement traffic

Another view of Sunday 1 March's cement train to Avonmouth, this time on its way to Dee March to run round, passing Buckley (Bob Greenhalgh).

Thanks to Penyffordd worker  Martin Peters, a view of the loading point in the factory complex,  taken at 13:00 on Thursday 27 February. The train had arrived the previous day at 18:49 (booked time 19:21) as 6M42 09:20 from Avonmouth.  The loaded train left at 17:03 as 6V41, passing Wrexham at 19:22, so many more photo opportunities will become available as the year proceeds.

In passing, we note that GB Railfreight, unlike some other companies, are not afraid to disclose on the Realtime Trains database the reporting numbers of trains and even the locomotive number of their trains. 

First, last and 30 years ago - by Dave Sallery

The first Class 158 seen on the on the North Wales Coast was 158 714 on a nationwide gauging tour, seen passing Prestatyn on its return journey.

Excluding the nuclear flasks, which were not really a proper commercial service, the last freight train on the Coast line west of Saltney Junction was 66 232 and this train of empty bogie bolsters from Anglesey Aluminium to Tees Yard in 2011.

101 653 on 3 March 1990 works a Llandudno - Manchester Victoria service passing Mostyn, erroneously showing Llandudno on the front.

Llangollen Railway news

Early in February Llangollen Railway wrote to all members and shareholders seeking support for a cash injection of £100k to help the Llangollen Railway Trust and the Llangollen Railway PLC through a difficult financial position. Thanks to generous support, the issue has been resolved.

The General Manager, Liz McGuinness, has issued the following statement:
Firstly, I would like to thank everyone for their support and donations; we have had a fantastic response from both members and shareholders. We are fortunate to have received the finance we require through various donations, this means we are now in a much safer position and do not need to put the company in a company voluntary agreement. We will not be selling or raising funds against either of the locomotives Jennifer or Austin 1

This has been a very difficult time for the Railway, which has been due to historic issues that have come to the surface over the previous 24 months; we now have process in place to prevent this happening again. I hoped we can move forward and continue to make the railway a great place to visit, work and volunteer.'
Contrary to assorted rumours that may have been circulating, trains will continue running at Llangollen and the Corwen project will continue to a conclusion.

By way of illustration, the  picture by George Jones  shows the BRCW Class 104 DMU awaiting departure at Llangollen as the 11am to Carrog on 24 February in a week when a two-trains-a-day service operated for the second week of half-term - this was more than sufficient for the patronage in a week of mixed weather. Now over 60 years sold, the 104 has been with Llangollen Railcars for 27 years and is a true heritage item appreciated by those visitors who say they went to school on the type. [Yes, done that, and to work for 15 years -  C.H.]

During March the weekday service from Llangollen will operate with DMUs on Tuesdays-Fridays aimed at senior citizens and walking groups heading for the hills from stations through to Carrog. This service offers the 'get you out or back' travel option, as once provided by BR's Ramblers' Specials from provincial cities and is one way to enjoy the Dee Valley.

Looking back: Preserved Black 5s in BR days - by Peter Neve

During a school trip to Preston, Lostock Hall and Carnforth on 10 July 1968 I took about 34 photographs. Some of the engines in the photographs have been preserved, so here are three of them.  The camera used was somewhat better than the borrowed Brownie 127, which I used to take the last photographs I submitted!  Above,  45407 (with painted number on the smokebox door) simmers between duties in the summer sunshine at Lostock Hall MPD,  just a few weeks before the end of steam on British Railways. The engine is now a regular performer on the national network and carries the name of The Lancashire Fusilier.

45025 passes under the bracket signal at Carnforth on the same day and is heading for the coaling tower and watering facilities. 45025 is currently the subject of a major rebuild at the Strathspey Railway in Scotland costing in the region of half a million pounds. It is the oldest surviving Black 5, having been built at the Vulcan Foundry at Newton-le-Willows in 1934; it is due to steam again later this year.

45110 was photographed from a passing train at the north end of Preston Station and is waiting for the “off”. It is hauling a train of loaded mineral wagons. 45110 (named RAF Biggin Hill) is on static display in the 'Engine House' at Highley on the Severn Valley Railway, awaiting its turn for overhaul.

Class 5 and a half? - by Chris Magner

I'm pleased to see a picture (above, repeated from the last issue. Picture by Peter Neve) featuring the greatest member of the 842-strong Class 5s.  44917 was originally a Bath Green Park loco before transfer for a short while to Birkenhead.

44917's finest hours came in the early months of 1967 when a Chester based loco. At the end of February Driver Walter Bernard (Shrewsbury) ran the 18  miles from Gobowen to Shrewsbury in 16 minutes 15 seconds  start to stop on the 09:33 from Chester.  On 2  March, on his last day of steam, Driver Reg Cattle also of Shrewsbury and on the 09:33, ran the section in 16 mins 23 seconds start to stop.  On both runs speed exceeding 90mph.  If I could re-live 16 mins 23 seconds of my life again it would be with Reg Cattle on the footplate of 44917 on 2 March 1967.  When running from Gobowen it was on the final section in the UK where steam hauled trains were booked at a 'mile a minute'.

44917 had a further claim to fame.  On Easter Monday 1967 it worked the last (as far as I know - readers will correct me if this was not so) steam-hauled  passenger train down the Coast, having come on at Chester to a Manchester to Bangor train. I hope other readers will share their memories of this amazing loco - Maybe a five and a half!

Petition News

The petition to reverse the decision to remove some station calls on the peak hour return train used by commuters from Bangor is now closed. It gained 953 signatures, which a goof number but no enough to oblige the Government to discuss it, but we'd suggest readers do all they can to get this decision reversed.  Network Rail's timetablers seem to believe in the idea of missing stops, not just in North Wales, but it shows little respect to people who may have based their lifestyle around a particular journey.

From the Archive - by Bob Greenhalgh

Above:  47 326 on a Kenmira or UKF fertiliser train at Helsby for Warrington, October 1991.

Also in October 1991, a pair of class 20s pass through Helsby with a Point of Ayr to Warrington merry-go-round coal  train.

31 442 on a Chester to Blackpool train on 29 Septerber 1992,  seen at Mouldsworth.

On an unknown date,  Frodsham viaduct being inspected by the viaduct inspection train. If my memory is right I think the Llangollen railway once had a viaduct inspection railway vehicle.

Manchester area freights

70 003 passing through Timperley on 27 February with a Runcorn - Brindle Heath empty waste train. It looks like Class 70s have taken over this traffic from Class 66s (Greg Mape).

60 039 Dove Holes passes through rainy Altrincham on 14 February with a load of stone for Warrington Dallam freight depot.

On 27 February,  66 709 Sorrento wends its way through Manchester Oxford Road with the 14:12 Trafford Park - Felixstowe.  Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham says that 'something should be done' about these trains running through the congested infrastructure, but in the short term there isn't an obvious alternative route. In our experience, given a clear path they are not a problem, but if blocked by later-running passenger traffic they run into trouble.  The answer must be to reduce the number of passenger trains, and certainly avoid changing passenger crews at Oxford Road as happens at present.

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