Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

16 April 2020



Forthcoming events

(see also our Calendar page for venues)

Note:  we have removed all entries up to the end of May as the events are cancelled.

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.


47 732 Restormel passes Mold Junction with 1D87 07:20 Euston to Holyhead, 20 April 2002. Picture by Tim Rogers.

Another extra issue - next update on the evening of Tuesday 21 April.
Recent issues:   02 April  | 6 April  |  13 April

Cambrian corner - looking back with Trefor Thompson

Dovey Junction on 21 May 1977. A Pwllheli train formed of a 'Park Royal'  Class 103 unit is awaiting departure while a refurbished Class 101 on an Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury train departing in the distance as passengers from Aberystwyth to the Coast line make thir way across.

A Machylleth-bound refurbished Class 101 at the foot of Harlech cliff, past the deserted beach, between Harlech and Llandanwg on 16 March 1978. Note the yellow line marking  a first-class compartment;  surely not valid on this line.

A Pwllheli train, with a class 101 leading,  crossing the Artro Bridge and approaching Pensarn station on 20 June 1979.

25 305 shunting at Penrhyndeudraeth yard, serving the Cooke's explosive works on 18 May 1978. Two 'gunpowder vans' - distinguished by their lower height than other vans - are in the consist. Behind the loco are two engineers' 'Grampus' wagons with their ends lowered, carry what appears to be a large rock.  For coastal protection work, perhaps?

25 282 on the weekly pick-up goods returning from Pwllheli through Penychain on 16 October 1979, including empty 16-ton mineral wagons which will have carried domestic coal. Freight workings ceased when locomotives were banned from Barmouth bridge in 1980 following the discovery of damaged caused by marine woodworm, and has never returned, except for infrastructure trains.

A northbound  Class 108 unit rolls off Barmouth bridge, 20 June 1979.

On a misty day in  April 1985 a Class 120 'cross-country' unit (with centre car replaced by a class 101 vehicle to save weight) arrives at Pwllheli with Pwllheli East box in the distance.

A year later in April 1986: 150 112 forming a Down train to Pwllheli at Barmouth shortly after the much heralded introduction of the 'Sprinters' to the Cambrian lines in place of the 'Heritage' units seen above.  150 112 passed to Central Trains at privatisation, and today, like all the Class 150/2 (no end gangways) fleet, works for Northern Trains, and is now itself 'heritage'.

Recalling the  Blaenau Ffestiniog Branch- by David Pool

The 'Derby Lightweights' were an immediate success in North Wales, with the excellent visibility from the seats and the view through the driver’s cab.  Power Twin M79184/79189 is near Tal y Cafn on 9 May 1962 with the 08:40 Blaenau Ffestiniog North to Llandudno. Both cars carry the first version of the BR crest.

Later that day I visited the Ffestiniog Railway, by then running to Tan Y Bwlch, and saw 41235, a Llandudno Junction (6G) locomotive, on freight duties in the sidings at Blaenau Ffestiniog North.  At that time the connection to the ex GWR station was only a disused narrow gauge track.

 On 15 April 1968 the 09:30 from Blaenau Ffestiniog North to Llandudno Junction was provided by Class 103 unit M50397/56152, not yet repainted in BR blue, photographed leaving Roman Bridge station.

27 April 1974 was a particularly busy day on the branch.  The first visitor to Blaenau Ffestiniog North was a six car Special from Southport, comprising three2-car Class 108 units M56276/51908, 56279/51419, 51420/56495.   [Note the cattle wagons in the siding.]

The next train due was the 10:55 Llandudno to Bleanau Ffestiniog North, so I decided to see this emerging from the tunnel near Llechwedd  Quarry.  It was another 108, this time M51566/50929.

The Special from Southport had vacated the single platform at North station and moved onto the new track which led to the Trawsfynydd line from the site of the GWR station.  The Ffestiniog Railway had not yet laid new track, and the new BR/FR  station on the site of the GWR station had not yet been built. Note the “Southport” destination!

Now things must have been interesting, with a Class 40 arriving at Blaenau Ffestiniog North with a Ffestiniog Railway Society Special run in conjunction with the Society’s AGM.  I had meanwhile gone to Dduallt, where Upnor Castle and Mountaineer were handling the afternoon train, but returned to Blaenau to see the departure of the Class 40 with the Special.

40 107 had run round, and was due to depart at 17:32.   The boiler for steam heating was blowing off as the stock pulled into the station, and the locomotive stopped appropriately near the water tank.  Altogether a very interesting afternoon!

Past times miscellany

Two pictures taken in 1989 or 1990 by Richard Ellis-Hobbs while waiting for the passage of the steam-hauled 'North Wales Coast Express.' Above, a Class 31 in 'red-stripe railfreight' livery heads west through Prestatyn with what is probably a summer-only  service to Llandudno.  The 'Down Slow' line between Prestatyn and Rhyl, seen to the right of the train, was retained until 1992 when it was removed, along with the siding and crossover.

Another such working, seen on the Llandudno branch.

153 361 at Blaenau Ffestiniog on 29 October 2007, still in First North Western colours with an 'Arriva' sticker. It later passed to Great Western, and has now returned (on a temporary basis) to Transport for Wales where it can again be seen on the Conwy Valley branch. Picture by Trefor Thompson.

A look at 'Chester No.6' signalbox which was built by the London and North Western Railway in 1903 to control the junctions to the west of Chester station. (Glyn Jones).  It was built in the overhead style as there was no available space on the ground. The lines under the box were the 'slow' lines carrying trains on the Shrewsbury, while North Wales trains use the two tracks to the right of the box. Curving away at the far side is the 'fork' line which allows running from the west to the LIverpool route without reversing at Chester, and also facilitates the turning of steam trains which terminate at Chester.  The signalbox was removed in the 1984 re-signalling.

Leaking steam from almost everywhere, 'Jubilee' 45668 Madden awaits departure from Chester (Glyn Jones). Entering service  in December 1935, and named in 1937, it was withdrawn on on 21 December 1963. Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles Madden died in June 1935, while his wife died in 1964, outliving the loco. One of the nameplates sold in 2019 for £5100.

MV Arklow Ruler docks at Raynes Jetty, 2007 (Greg Mape).

Preserved BR standard 4MT 2-6-0 76079 runs round its train at Barmouth in 2008 (Greg Mape). This loco worked the summer specials on the Cambrian for several years, until sold by owner Ian Riley to the North Yorkshire Moors line after the 2009 season. Steam operations ceased after the 2010 season as steam locos could not work under the new ERTMS signalling system as it requires special fittings on the loco.  As ERTMS is planned to eventually extend to many other routes, and there is (as yet) no solution, it would appear that steam specials on the main line will become scarce.

Double-headed 37s - by Eryl Crump

It was not unusual to see Class 37s double-headed to haul freight trains but passenger turns were relatively rare. On the North Wales line, for a time in the 1990s, they were a regular feature on the Sunday evening service from Holyhead to Birmingham. One of the afternoon trains from Chester would not immediately return east and would be shunted into the siding, the loco waiting in one of the through roads and await the arrival of the next inbound service.

These pictures were taken on 4 July 1999, at a time when there were troubles with the normal Class 37/4 locos, and freight locos 37 371 and 37 057 substituted on Sunday trains 1G81 18:22 Holyhead - Birmingham New Street and 1D99 23:30 Birmingham NS - Holyhead.

The loco would run round and join with the waiting loco and then shunt the earlier train rake of five coaches onto the rake in platform 1 and depart. I think it was scheduled to depart at about 18:30.

The 'shunting shuffle' was a popular spectator sport and usually gathered a crowd on Black Bridge as well as on the platform itself.

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