Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

09 March 2020



Forthcoming events

(see also our Calendar page for venues)

March 2020

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.  Cancelled.

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.


Signs of spring as 175 009 passes Bagillt on the 12:52 Manchester - Llandudno, 2 March. Picture by Tim Rogers.

I'm experimenting with a new page style which should adjust to the resolution of your screen, and also be a little clearer to read. Apologies for any glitches. - Charlie

Conwy Valley update - by Geraint Rowlands

A tweet from Network Rail on Thursday 5 March has given some further clarity on the status of the Conwy Valley Line:

Chris Pearce, Network Rail's head of operations delivery for Wales and Borders and Bethan Jelfs, customer delivery director for Transport for Wales Rail Services, said:
The Conwy Valley Line is currently closed as a result of the recent storms the country experienced. Because of this period of extreme weather, and the subsequent damage and conditions on site, access to some parts of this line was only possible this week to ascertain the full extent of the impact. We are absolutely committed to reopening the line as soon as possible. We fully recognise the importance of the Conwy Valley Line and the vital role it plays in the communities it serves and the local economies it supports.

While we cannot give an exact date of when we envisage the line reopening, we estimate that the work we need to undertake will take at least eight weeks to complete. "We are organising alternative road transport wherever possible but, as always, we encourage all passengers to check before they travel. We will give updates of the Conwy Valley Line as work progresses."
In the meantime, Dolgarrog station has now been closed for nearly a year, since the flooding in March 2019 washed away the platform. Tragically, the rebuild of the station was nearing completion before the recent bad weather hit.

Here's the station pictured on the 14th of February, after storm Ciara had passed, and days before storm Dennis. The wooden object on the platform ramp is an anti-trespass panel that was located next to the level crossing; it had been washed out of position by the flood waters.

A photo from the other side of the level crossing shows the quantity of debris that was being washed along by the flood water.

Here's a photo of the station on 5 March, with everything back in place.  The pallet next to the information board carries three Rosehill Rail rubber anti-trespass panels which are probably for fitting at the far end of the platform. After that, it looks like all Dolgarrog station needs is an open railway!

The BRCW Bunny - Saturday 18 April

The Branch Line Society have announced another of their exotic railtours:

Operated by WCR, a Class 33 top & tail with a WCR Class 37. Rare track includes Penyffordd Cement Works, Hanson Padeswood Hall Sidings, Warrington Canal Sidings, Wrexham Up Bay No2, Oakleigh Sidings (and triangle), Latchford Sidings and from Warrington Arpley past Fiddlers Ferry to Ditton Reception Sidings. It also offers the exceptionally rare opportunity of a loco-hauled tour into Wrexham Central. A buffet car service of drinks and refreshments will be available, with a selection of hand pulled real ales; First Class passengers benefit from complimentary refreshments. Huge thanks to Hanson and DB Cargo for all their assistance with this project.

The BLS website has more details.

A Northern Day Ranger, Take 2 - by John Cowlishaw

Having taken great advantage of Northern’s newspaper offer on 1 February (see notice board 10 February) two more copies of Manchester Evening News were bought to collect the necessary tokens to enable Chris Coxon and I to have another day out at the end of the month, this time with mileage as an important criterion. 
Whilst awaiting the first train, 07:20 to Leeds, we noted the Avanti 07:17 to London with the plain-liveried 221 101 and the red 221 117 were coupled providing a serious over-capacity on this train – no wonder you can travel on it very cheaply.  We all know things are bad with the railways at the moment but the literal use of sticking plaster is really a sad indictment of their current state!

A plan was hatched to visit Scarborough (via Hull) but using the excellent screens inside the class 195 we were advised that the 09:16 Halifax -  Hull was cancelled, so ruining Plan A.  Some rushed internet enquiries produced the best option as using the extra hour to visit Bradford Forster Square station and enter Leeds from the Midland (Aire Valley) route.  We left 195 123 (seen above in company with 153 363 on the 09:36 local service to Huddersfield) at Bradford Interchange to walk between the stations.

A sculpture on the approach to Bradford Forster Square apparently showing how communications have evolved from steel rails to fibre optic cables – to me it looks like steel wire armoured cable!

A break of journey was undertaken at Shipley with many trains noted going to Bradford, Ilkley and Skipton including 322 483 and 321 903.  Leeds was its normal busy self but East Coast Main Line services were only reaching St Neots.  333 002 is seen at Leeds after arrival from Bradford Forester Square with its next working to Ilkley.

Hull was reached just after midday, the journey including the activation of a passenger alarm necessitating an emergency stop before Selby.  Hull is a grand station even if the left two train sheds no longer serve the railway.  Hull Trains’ services were baulked by the ECML closure and so two new 'Paragon' units were parked at the station.  802 302 is seen on the left.

Ex Scotrail 170 461 took us to Beverley, somewhat short of Scarborough but sadly this was result of the train cancellation at Halifax.  Wandered into Beverley and located the fish & chip shop recommended by the station staff – Sullivan’s -  and very good they were too.  Beverley is a delightful town with an active shopping centre.  It also has a lovely train shed in true NER tradition and 170 478 (pictured) was to take us to Sheffield as the 13:00 Scarborough – Sheffield.  Fortunately we avoided the crowd from the just finished Hull v Leeds football match!

Sheffield (above) was reached, and a cup of tea purchased, before finding a the 16:14 local Northern service to Manchester Piccadilly formed of 150 138

Darkness fell by the time Manchester was reached along with a big deterioration in the weather, gone had the sun and onwards the rain.  A ten-minute change at Piccadilly and onto a mid-Cheshire line train back to Chester with 150 214.  After a local service on the Hope Valley and the Cheshire Lines route, one was getting rather fed up of the poor ‘Sprinter(?!)’ acceleration.

Arrived at Chester. Again, a good day out, and a pity that the offer was so obscure and that the tokens were not in the Liverpool Echo as advertised.  300 miles for a tenner or £11 including the papers – very good value.

Class 70s on the Binliners - by Richard Boyd

With reference to the  picture 70 003 taken by Greg Mape on the 2 March Notice Board, indeed the class has taken over Runcorn to Brindle Heath waste trains from Class 66s. My records show that the first appearance of a Class 70 on a Greater Manchester waste train was 70 014 on Monday 3 February hauling the 09:16 Bredbury to Runcorn Folly Lane. The loco then worked the 13:30 return to Northenden and the 19: 07 from Northenden back to Folly Lane. The final leg of this diagram is the 21:14 Folly Lane to Bredbury.

The week commencing 10 February saw 70 016 on this diagram, whilst my first recorded sighting of a 70 on the 11:12 Runcorn Folly Lane to Brindle Heath working was 70 010 on Wednesday 12 February (although chances are the turn went over to 70s on the previous Monday). This diagram involves the loco working back to Folly Lane on the 19:30 ex-Brindle Heath.

Week commencing 17 February saw 70 016 on the Bredbury starter again and 70 001 on the Brindle Heath diagram, with 70 011 on the Bredbury turn and 70003 on the Brindle Heath on the week commencing on the 24th. The week beginning 2 March we have 70 020 on the Bredbury starter and 70 003 on the Brindle Heath turn. The picture shows 70 020 taken at Ashley on 2 March with the 0916 off Bredbury.

Appearances by Class 70s on the Mid-Cheshire route before this have been rare and restricted to light engine movements, crew training runs and some years ago, a Friday or Saturday morning Peak Forest to Basford Hall working which didn’t last long.

As a consequence of the use of Class 70s on the waste trains, there are now three traffic flows on the route which are wholly or largely in the hands of classes other than 66s: the Greater Manchester waste trains, the long running Tunstead-Lostock hoppers which are Class 60s and the Liverpool to Drax biomass trains, which are predominantly Class 60s. Somewhat ironically, the standard British freight locos, the Class 66s, are relegated to a supporting act on the line at the moment.

From Dave Sallery's archive

On 22 July 1984, 'Peak' 45 127 passes Gronant with an Up service.

13 May 1995, and 37 407 Loch Long powers the Regional Railways inspection saloon on the the Conwy Valley line near Dolwyddelan.

On 2 March 2006, 66 509 near Abergele with empty wagons, presumably to Penmaenmawr. Was this collecting ballast for Manchester Metrolink?

Britannia's progress

The 'White Rose' was a Saphos Trains excursion on 7 March from Shrewsbury to York via Manchester and Sheffield (outward only) featuring 70000 Britannia. Bob Greenhalgh was at Acton Bridge to watch.

Jim Ikin was at Romiley station on the Hope Valley route between Manchester and Sheffield ...

... passing Romiley's Midland Railway signalbox which closed in 2015. The train is leaving the 'Hyde Loop' line from Ashburys via Guide Bridge; on the left is the direct line via Bredbury to Manchester Piccadilly. There was another line from this junction towards Stockport Tiviot Dale station; one of the most misguided closures of all, especially since most of the infrastructure, including the site of the station in Stockport town centre, has since been destroyed.

On to Chinley and Sheffield.

Scotrail remembered

In other Saphos news, a Crewe - Chester - Shrewsbury test run on 4 March turned out to be Locomotive Services 47 805 and 47 712, the latter freshly turned-out in its 1990s Scotrail livery, a hybrid of InterCity and Regional Railways schemes,  and its 1981-applied name Lady Diana Spencer. Picture by Bob Greenhalgh.  47 712 worked the Shrewsbury - Crewe leg of the White Rose tour.

The naming history of 47 712 (ex-D1948, 47 505) is interesting. According to, back in Royal Wedding year 1981 it was to be named 'Prince Charles Edward' but it was changed by public demand to the 'people's princess'. In advance of privatisation it was one of the fleet bought by Peter Waterman,  who had ideas to run an operation not unlike today's Saphos.  It gained the name 'Dick Whittington' from 1995 to about 1998; it seems that was an idea to name it 'Sir Jimmy Savile', but fortunately this never happened.  By 2001 it had passed to short-lived operator Fragonset / FM Rail  (remember them?) and became 'Artemis'.  The next owner, DRS, called it 'Pride of Carlisle' for a while from 2008 before finally in 2016  restoring the Royal name.

Looking Back: Chester Festival of the Arts - with Peter Neve

For two weeks during July 1967 (2nd to the 16th) Chester organised the above event, which included a display of iconic steam engines in Chester General station. The two engines in question were Gresley A4 4-6-2 Pacific 4498 Sir Nigel Gresley and A3 4-6-2 4472 Flying Scotsman. On Saturday 1st July both engines were assembled at the former Chester 6A engine shed, which had closed to steam about three weeks earlier.

The photographs show the cavalcade (including Flying Scotsman’s second tender) in steam at Chester MPD. Flying Scotsman was facing west at the Chester end while Sir Nigel Gresley was facing east at the Crewe end. I think all other locomotives had been removed from the shed by then.

I assume the duo had come from Crewe, but would be happy to be corrected. I think this may be the one and only time that an A4 and A3 were seen together at Chester MPD. Just over a week later on 9 July Flying Scotsman headed the 'Chester Festival Flyer' from Chester General to Blackpool and return.

(This event has been mentioned on the Notice Board before on 2 July 2012 with a follow-up on 23 July 2012 showing what happened inside the station: an electric loco, E3036, was also present.)

The photograph of the live steam model of Flying Scotsman was taken on the following day (Sunday 2 July 1967) at a property in Mollington on the outskirts of Chester. The owner regularly gave rides to the public through the grounds of his extensive garden.

44917 revisited

A question arose in recent issues regarding the image by Peter Neve of 44917 in store (repeated above) was taken at Llandudno Junction depot rather than Chester.  However, David Hughes points out that the 'coal hole' by the loco in the photo is not Llandudno Junction as there was never a buffer stop by it. 44917 moved to Mold Junction 20-6-1959, Chester 23-4-1966 and Crewe South 10-6-1967; it was stored serviceable between 17-1-1966 and 18-7-1966, but where is not clear, as the Mold and Chester dates overlap.

Also, Peter Neve assures us that he never visited Llandudno Junction shed.

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