13 July 2020
(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
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
Shortly afterwards, the 08:50 Avanti service from Crewe
rolled in, formed of 221 142 (formerly Bombardier
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
I remember my Dad taking me out one Sunday on a Mystery
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
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
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
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
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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