Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

13 July 2020


Forthcoming events

(see also our Calendar page for venues)
Note:  we have removed all entries up to the end of August as the events are cancelled.  The Railway Touring Company North Wales trains in July are no longer being advertised.

September 2020

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


67 025 and Mk4 coaches stabled at Holyhead. Picture by Peter Basterfield.

Travelling by Train

The First Minister of Wales is keen to encourage tourists to visit Wales, but can they come by train? There seems to be some confuson about this, as at the time of writing this Transport for Wales is still promoting the 'essential travel only' policy, in line with the  Welsh Government's document on the subject, although it does suggest that travel restrictions are likely to be lifted in the near future.  On essential journeys, we are told we must wear a 'three layer' face-covering.

Some other companies, including Northern and Transpennine, have amended their rules to allow non-essential travel subject to the use of face coverings (number of layers not specified), keeping  social distance where possible, and avoidance of peak times.

Meanwhile the five-mile travel restriction within Wales has been lifted, to the relief of people living in remote villages -  and the residents of Coast towns where much of their allowed area was in the sea.  Indeed, it is also now possible for Welsh residents to visit England, and vice versa, but apparently not by rail, unless (perhaps?) you use an Avanti train.

Meanwhile, the GoNorthWales tram continues to wander the Manchester Metrolink network, seen here on 7 July on the recently-opened Trafford Park line with the 'intu Trafford Centre' in the background (Greg Mape). The 'intu' organisation is currently in administration,  so a change of station name may perhaps be expected .  Metrolink, like Northern, has relaxed its 'essential'  restriction,  so any visitors will be able to take a ride; current service is a shuttle from Cornbrook.

Holyhead,  13 July - pictures by Greg Mape

Greg Mape made his way to Holyhead on the morning of 13 July, in time to see the arrival of the 08:52 from Manchester Piccadilly formed of 158 829 and another 158.

Shortly afterwards, the 08:50 Avanti service from Crewe rolled in, formed of 221 142  (formerly Bombardier Voyager).

In the sidings, nor much activity ...

... with 67 025 and its Mk4 coaches, currently furloughed, reputedly due to lack of drivers.

A curious sight at Holyhead is the Woolworth's sign which nobody has bothered to remove since the store closed in 2008.

Bangor, 9 July

37 410,  unmistakable in its rail blue livery, stands in the old platform 4 at Bangor on 8 July, having arrived from Crewe (via Holyhead) in the early morning at 04:51 after a  (Peter Basterfield). 158 829 departs for Holyhead.

At the other end, driving trailer 9703. (Jim Johnson). This carriages is in the fourth phases of its career: originally built as in 1974 as  Brake Standard Open 9517, it was one of ten modified and re-numbered in 1979 for to work with class 47/7 locos push-pull services in Scotland.  In the 1980s it was transferred to the London - Norwich service, and after ex-Virgin Trains stock displaced by Pendolinos took over that route,  it was one of five purchased by Network Rail.

175 002 departing as 1D34 09:53 Manchester Piccadilly - Holyhead (Jim Johnson)

'Keep your distance' (Peter Basterfield).

The train departed for Crewe at 21:39, destination Cardiff Canton (Peter Basterfield).

Looking back: Oswestry area - by David Pool

In 1964 the branch line from Oswestry to Llanfyllin was not yet closed, so I travelled from Merseyside via Chester, Gobowen and Oswestry to photograph the line before it was too late.  On 30 May 1964 Ivatt 2P 46511 was running round the train at Llanfyllin before returning to Oswestry.

In order to celebrate the 80th birthday of the well known railway photographer W. A. Camwell, the Stephenson Locomotive Society ran a special train from Wolverhampton on 18 October 1986.  Between Shrewsbury and Chester the Webb Coal Tank 1054 was the motive power, and is at Weston Rhyn following a photo stop at Gobowen.  A rare occasion, but not the first,  that this locomotive worked a train on a main line without assistance: it worked a series of 'Wilson's Brewery Specials' out of Manchester Victoria in 1984.

By 1987 the only rail movements in and around Oswestry were the infrequent trains between Bescot and Blodwell Quarry, where ballast was loaded.  The signalmen at Gobowen were always helpful in advising whether the train was running, and I was lucky on 26 March 1987, although less fortunate with the weather.  The crossing on the A495 near Llynclys provided a good opportunity to photograph 31 161.  The high-vis jacket  might be seen by the traffic, but the red flag was less obvious.

I decided to wait for the return from Blodwell, hoping that the weather would improve.  It didnít.  The return working was 7J02, the 15:21 Blodwell to Bescot.  The train has just crossed the A483 between Llynclys and Oswestry.  Cambrian Heritage Railways have long term plans to reopen this section of track, but it may be necessary to have an overbridge rather than the original level crossing.

Hoping for better weather a year later, I returned on 29 March 1988, and photographed 31 248 with 7J02 passing the imposing building at Oswestry station   The industrial diesels were being collected by the group planning to reopen the line to passengers.

The end of the line was at Blodwell Llanddu sidings, photographed from the A495 bridge.  Pity about the power lines!  The Blodwell (Llanddu) quarry was on the right, and at the Oswestry end of the sidings a line branched off to Nant Mawr, where another quarry had closed in 1977.  This latter quarry is the site of the Nant Mawr heritage site.

Empty timber trains from Chirk have to head South and travel via Shrewsbury, since there is no Northbound access from the Kronospan Works.  A Colas 47,  47 339 Robin of Templecombe is approaching Gobowen with 6Z42, the 13:58 Chirk to Ribblehead on 21 August 2010.

The Nant Mawr Visitor Centre is well worth a visit, although not the easiest location to find.  The events list on the website is somewhat out of date, and you need to obtain local information to determine opening days and times.  A Heritage Weekend is often held in September, when a short rail journey is possible, and a fascinating collection of industrial monorail equipment may be on display.  The class 107 diesel unit SC 52031 (previously used on Clyde Coast services) was in service on 9 September 2016.

Penmaenmawr quarry scenes - by Ken Robinson

Some good news is the possibility of a freight contract for GBRf from Penmaenmawr quarry - here are a couple of photographs to remind readers of what it was like some years ago. Above, 37 154 on 2 August 1995 ready to leave with a short ballast working, in the days when ballast was delivered directly to a work site.

66 603 almost exactly nine years later on 26 August 2004, with a much longer working, probably destined for the 'virtual quarry' at Crewe Basford Hall. One of my first shots with a digital camera.

A Dave Sallery assortment

26 October 1984 was a rare wet day in Manchester. M 59404. built in 1950, leads a service from Hadfield via Glossop into Manchester Piccadilly. A few weeks later, these 1500-volt DC units ran for the last time, and the line was converted for use by 24 kV units. This unit was saved for preservation, and kept at the Dinting Railway Centre, then to a short-lived museum in Bradford and finally Butterley whence in 1995 it was sent for scrap, although one cab end is said to have survived.

LNWR signals and a pair of 'Black Fives', Chester General, 1965.

On the Cambrian Coast on 6 August 1991, with a Class 150/1 approaching the Friog avalanche shelter.

Llandudno on 2 September 1989. 20 080 and 20 135 back the carriages of the Derby - Llandudno summer service into the carriage sidings.

On 28 May 1986,  33 205 passes Prestatyn on a Up train to Crewe. This one of the batch of Class 33 built with narrower bodies to fit the structure gauge of tunnels on the London - Hastings line.  Built in 1962, this loco was withdrawn in 1992, and sold to the Harry Needle company who sold it on to DRS. It was eventually scrapped in 2003 (Thanks for data to to the Class 33 website).

A few memories of my train spotting past - by Derek French

In the late 50s and early 60s I lived in Widnes and our house backed on to the Cheshire Lines Committee Liverpool to Manchester line very near to Farnworth Station (later Widnes North, today Widnes. (Picture above by H.D. Bowtell from the Manchester Locomotive Society collection.)

Grand National day was really special, as lots of excursions came through,pulled by unusual locomotives:.B1s, V2s, Jubilees,etc. The first special I ever saw was pulled by B1 61026 Ouribi. A few of the specials were Pullmans including the observation car from the 'Devon Belle'.

I remember every Sunday waiting for the 9.45am Liverpool to Harwich Parkeston Quay which was always pulled by a 'Black Five'. In the summer there were often holiday  specials from Liverpool with colourful big round headboards that covered the whole of the smokebox door.  Most of the trains, though, were pulled by the very nippy Fairburn, Fowler or Stanier 2-6-4 Tanks (mostly from 27F Brunswick Liverpool shed) until the green DMUs started to replace them.

I remember my Dad taking me out one Sunday on a Mystery Special,(nobody knew
where we were going) on one of the DMUs. We ended up at Scarborough, via York where it was so exciting to see my first ever A4 and lots of A3s. I joined  the North Cheshire Railway Club and went with them to York, Doncaster works, Derby Works, and  Crewe works.

I remember the first diesel Locos coming through, the first ones were goods trains pulled by a D5000 class at about 11pm and I used to watch them go through from my bedroom window. There was also a passenger train at about 2pm but I only saw this on school holidays. Near the end of steam, all sorts of locos came through all on goods trains, including filthy black 'Britannias' with nameplates missing and 9Fs.

The station today. Farnworth station is said to be the place where in the 1960s Paul Simon wrote the famous song  'Homeward Bound.'

Llangollen Railway awakes - report by George Jones

After four months of lockdown things have begun to stir in the Dee Valley. With weeds in abundance along the length of the line, a contractor's adapted Land Rover Defender road/rail vehicle was brought in on Monday 6 July as a weed-killer operation to spray the trackside in the course of an engineer's possession when the class 08, 13265,  was preceding the movement.

The need for the weeds to receive attention was amply evident at Glyndyfrdwy where the Down platform looks as though Dr Beeching had just been through . It will require a lot of hand pulling of weeds to restore it.

The weed-killer machine took water at Glyndyfrdwy in the course of which it demonstrated its ability at the level crossing to switch from rail wheels to road wheels for the purpose of a U-turn to reverse the direction of travel.

However, at Corwen, where the volunteer workforce was preparing the site for resumption of work, the 08 ran through the Down platform and became the first locomotive to travel from Llangollen to the end of the line at Corwen when it entered the head shunt.  An achievement at long last!

Killing the weeds is just one of the many tasks specified by the ORR to prepare the railway for a reopening if some sort of a train service is to be provided later this season, quite apart from efforts to complete the new station platforms at Corwen which are now four months behind schedule for the laying of 40,000 pavers.

Thunderbird gallery - images by Tim Rogers

In the heyday of the 'Pendolino drags', at Penmaenmawr on 21 June 2005: 57 304  Gordon Tracy passes on the 09:00 London - Holyhead.

On 27 Jun 2005 (above) 57 316 FAB 1 passes the Mostyn sea wall with 1R18 05:32 Holyhead to Euston. The 57/3 locos were originally designed to rescue failed trains or haul them on non-electrified diversions due to engineering works. London - Holyhead services should have all worked by Class 221 Voyagers, but it was felt by some high-profile users that their kitchen facilities were inadequate, so this 'dragging' from Crewe became a regular event. 57 316 was one of the four Class 47 conversions added to the original twelve when it was decided to use them in regular service.

57 314 Firefly, seen at Holywell Junction with 09:00 London Euston to Holyhead on 24 June 2005. After naming the first 12 locos after characters from the 'Thunderbirds' TV puppet show, there were no characters left, so the extra four were named after vehicles from the series.  Firefly is a fire-proof vehicle carried in Thunderbird 2 and used for demolition and fire fighting work.

'Dragging'  was an expensive procedure, as a driver had to be carried in the Pendolino to control its on-board systems. On 28 June 2005 near Connah's Quay, 57 309 Brains works the 08:57 London - Holyhead.  On an number of occasions, problems were encountered in coupling the loco, with its retractable coupler and complicated arrangement of pipes to the northbound Pendolino at Crewe.

Bagillt on 3 July 2005 with 57 313 Tracy Island working the 13:07 Holyhead to London Euston. The Pendolinos were a heavy load, and the loco also had to supply air-conditioning (etc) power to the train; the General Motors engines of the 57s could often be heard to be working hard.

All the 57/3s survive today, with DRS (302-304, 306-309, 311) , Rail Operations Group (301,  305, 310, 312) and West Coast Railways which has the four add-ons 313-316.

Electric at Llandudno Junction

Summer 2005 also saw locomotive-worked Virgin services. On 25 June 2005,  the staff at Crewe failed to detach electric loco 90 039 from the rear of the 05:35 Birmingham - Holyhead after attaching diesel 57 313 to the front, and it was towed all the way to Llandudno Junction where it was detached at left in the sidings for later retrieval.  The first and only time this happened? Picture by Tim Rogers.

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