Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

30 November 2020


Forthcoming events

(see also our Calendar page for venues)

Note:  we have removed all entries relating to meetings as the events are cancelled.


On 25 November 2003, 43 122 leads the 13:20 Holyhead to Euston past Holywell Junction signalbox,  The 'Duke of Lancaster' in the background is almost the only thing in this picture that remains the same in 2020. Picture by Tim Rogers.

Covid-19 note: there are currently no restrictions on travel within Wales, but travel into Wales is not allowed without a 'reasonable excuse', for example travelling for work purposes.

News images

Working alone without a rear-end loco, 56 096 seen at Llandudno Junction on 24 November (Ryan Lloyd).

Looking east from Llandudno Junction as 158 840 departs with 1L18 11:47 Holyhead to Birmingham International on 27 November (Tim Rogers).

Still solo on 27 November, 56 096 passes Llandudno Junction with Rail Head Treatment train 3S71 02:46 Shrewsbury Coleham to Shrewsbury Coleham, via Welshpool, Craven Arms, Bidston, Holyhead and Crewe.

175 011 with 2D36 12:58 Chester to Llandudno, 27 November (Tim Rogers).

From Dave Sallery's archive

37 255 approaches Holywell Junction with a load of ballast,  18 February 1998.

In the days when Holyhead depot was suppled weekly with locomotive fuel by rail from Stanlow refinery, Speedlink-liveried 37 107 passes Rhyl with the returning empties, train 6F39, on 24 June 1995.

Sulzer Power in action  as 45 116 heads  west near Abergele on a Manchester - Bangor working,  4 July 1984.

New book for Christmas

Steve Morris, a long-time supporter of our site and proprietor of Ty Mawr Publications, has compiled another of his hardback photo albums. This one is titled Sulzer Power! North Wales and Cambrian Lines, and is well worth adding to the collection of any fan of classic diesels, as well as anyone interested in the railway operations in the chosen area

Steve has access to the collections of a number of well-known railway photographers to fill the 112 pages with nearly 150 images, many in colour,  with detailed captions illustrating the activites of classes 24, 25, 33, 45, 46 and 47 over the years on all kinds of service. Of particular interest is the section on freight traffic, which today is non-existent on the lines covered.  Indeed in many cases - notably live cattle -  the traffic has disappeared from the whole UK network, as have the majority of the locomotives. The book is in 245 x 190mm format, and is a limited edition of 500.

The book is to be sold by the Class 40 Preservation Society through their website, and 100% of the money raised will go towards the upkeep of their three Class 40 locos. It's expected that copies will be available before Christmas. The price is £19.95 plus £2.90 postage.


Steve Vaughan writes: The 'InterCity Swallow' liveried  Mk3 coach in the HST set (Tim Rogers' picture - repeated above) is almost certainly 40619. This was the last HST vehicle in Swallow livery and was the spare catering coach towards the end of HST operations on West Coast. It eventually transferred to Network Rail and is now part of the New Measurement Train.

Steve also reminds us that 'Enterprise' as a brand for wagon-load freight was (contrary to our comment in the  last issue) created by the Transrail freight company, one of the three carved out of British Rail's freight sector with the intention of selling them to private firms. In the end, all three companies were sold to Edward Burkhardt's American operation and merged into a single firm, English Welsh and Scottish Railway. Burkhardt at one time had some idea of 'bringing back freight to every branch line' but in practice 'Enterprise' was forgotten and 'block' trains became the norm. Since 2007 the company  has been owned by the German state railway DB.[

A look again at John Wilkinson's story (9 November issue) from 2004 about two Class 50s travelling to Llandudno Junction. to rescue failed 47 750. Jim Scott writes:  'I've asked the driver in the pictures, "Tonto", what he was doing at the time and he tells me they were testing the newly fitted TPWS [Train Protection & Warning System] on the 50s and they used the trip to collect the errant class 47 at the same time. '

November 2003 - pictures by Tim Rogers

Shotton, 27 November 2003: 66 512 6K22 10:40 Penmaenmawr to Crewe Basford Hall. Loaded Ballast.

47 799 Prince Henry, 1D65 10:30 Crewe to Holyhead.

Bidston, 27 November.

Looking back:  Narrow Gauge miscellany - with David Pool

The Miners’ Tramway at Llechwedd Slate Caverns was opened in 1972.  On 24 March 1973 the BEV battery-electric locomotives were taking the tourist wagons about 800 metres into the mountain.   Eventually a funicular railway to the “Deep Level” was opened, and the Tramway closed in 2014.

Kerr Stuart supplied many locomotives for use in the 1914-1918 War, and No. 3014 of the “Joffre” class had been built in 1916.  In the 1970s it was obtained for a proposed tourist line at Pen-yr-Orsedd Quarry, which did not materialise, and it moved to Gloddfa Ganol, at Blaenau Ffestiniog, where it was photographed on 15 March 1980.  I most recently saw it in 2018 at Apedale, operating under the care of the Moseley Railway Trust.

Nearby at Llechwedd an interesting electric locomotive was on display on 3 June 1983.  This had been built by W G Bagnall in 1895 as a steam locomotive, but was rebuilt as an electric locomotive by the General Electric Company in 1927, gaining the name “Eclipse” to commemorate the Total Eclipse of that year, and used at Llechwedd.  It later moved to the Ffestiniog Railway, where it was stored, and eventually reached Statfold Barn, where it awaits restoration.

The Teifi Valley Railway at Henllan was using a diesel locomotive during my visit on 13 September 1987.  Sholto was a Hudson Hunslet diesel built in 1941.  The use of the standard gauge trackbed meant that there were no problems with low bridges, and the height of the cab suggests that there must be some very tall engine drivers at Henllan!

Another Hudson Hunslet diesel was on display with a short rake of slate wagons in the centre of Blaenau Ffestiniog on 12 April 1998.  No.2207 was also built in 1941, and used in the Trefor Granite Quarry.  It has been cosmetically restored by the Ffestiniog Railway, and is under the care of Gwynedd Council.

The Penrhyn Quarry Railway at Bethesda was not an easy location to visit, being open to the public only on a few days each year.  On 20 September 2015 there was an Open Day, at which several visiting locomotives previously associated with Penrhyn could be seen.  Statfold Barn sent a couple of locomotives which would be in steam, plus Ogwen, an Avonside built in 1933 and used at the Penrhyn Quarry from 1936.  This locomotive had been exported to the U.S.A. in 1965, but came back to the UK in 2012.  It was sad to see it by the locomotive shed, looking neglected and forgotten, while the other locomotives were hauling passengers and admired by all.  I am pleased that Statfold Barn is now restoring Ogwen, and would be pleased to hear any updates.  The Penrhyn Quarry Railway has now ceased operations at Bethesda.

In 1957 Les Anderson built two four wheel coaches for the Severn Beach Railway.  In the 1970s he rebuilt the two coaches into a single coach for use on the Longleat Railway, and in 1983 this was modified by Norman Hayne into a battery electric railcar for use on his Blaise Castle Miniature Railway.  Eventually it came to the Rhyl Miniature Railway in 2004, where it has been used for trains when the passenger loadings do not justify the use of steam locomotives.  On 14 July 2017 the trains were being diesel hauled with very few passengers, and I asked if the railcar was available.  Jack and I were then treated to the exclusive use of the railcar on a trip round the lake, which was much appreciated.  It then gave me a photo opportunity as it made another circuit.  In comparison with the Teifi Railway diesel, the room for the driver – and for the guard – is decidedly restricted!

The Brymbo Heritage Centre had an Open Day on 29 July 2017, and a short narrow gauge railway was operating round the site, the motive power being a Motor Rail Simplex diesel provided by the Oswestry and District Narrow Gauge Group.  They had also brought another locomotive, which was much more interesting to me.  At the time I was unable to get much information about it, but the radiator marked KCEC 1926 enabled me to search the internet when I got home. 

The initials stood for the Kent Construction and Engineering Company of Ashford, who bought up many narrow gauge petrol locomotives and items of rolling stock from the Government at the end of the 1914-1918 War, providing them with a profitable business.  Most of the locomotives had transverse engines, but Kent decided that a longitudinal engine would be better, and in 1926 produced a design of their own.  One of the options was for a 10 h.p. petrol engine, and this may have been in the locomotive at Brymbo.  Immediately after this design, the firm was taken over by Hibberd, who produced locomotives of their own, leaving the locomotive at Brymbo as a rare and possibly unique survivor of the Kent design.  The most recent information I have is that it is at Weston Wharf, Oswestry, and due to be restored.

A visit to Maenofferen Quarry - by Mark Doran

On a sunny Saturday in the summer of 1975, after a short walk up a track from Duffws in Blaenau Ffestiniog, I was astonished to find narrow-gauge slate wagons still in everyday use. This was on the last surviving section of the Rhiwbach Tramway from the Maenofferen Quarry dressing mills down the No.2 incline to the lorry loading point, where these pictures were taken.  Above, a rake of empties waiting to be hauled up the incline

Partly-unloaded train at the transfer point; Incline in the background.

The view from bottom of incline towards Blaenau.

Close-up of empty wagon. One of the few fitted with a handbrake!

By the following year a new road had been built up the hill and the line finally closed.

Snowy Welsh  Highland in 2010  - by Barrie Hughes

It's nearly December; here are some views from 10 December 2010 when a 'Santa Special' ran on the WHR in heavy snow. Firstly the Funkey diesel, Castell Caernarfon drew the rake out of the Carriage Shed while NG16 No.138 was fired up.

Garratt No.138 then shunted onto the rake.

The Funkey was taken along for' insurance'; here is a rare snowy view of Caernarfon with both locos in view, No.138 taking water.

The cowcatcher on the front of no.138 made a good snowplough!

Ready to depart.

The train passed Cae Moel just east of Dinas on the original WHR route.

No.138 was also snapped at Rhostryfan Road on the afternoon working.

No.138 was also diagrammed for the third working in the late afternoon with the sun dipping towards the horizon. Local lads with their sledges give a friendly wave as the loco storms up the 1 in 43 bank out of Caernarfon.

As far as we can tell,  the Ffestiniog and West Highland Railways are not running Santa Trains or Festive Trains over the Christmas/New Year period despite an income of just £1 million instead of £6 million anticipated for 2020. Among heritage railways in North/mid Wales, the Talyllyn appears to be the only one offering December trains, Santa Specials or Festive trains over the Xmas Holidays.

Views from England - by Greg Mape

Manchester United Football Ground station has been out of service for some time, for various reasons including problems with making security searches, and capacity at Piccadilly station. Its platform line remains very much in use, however, by trains serving the two intermodal depots.

DB Cargo loco 66 129 emerges from Trafford Park with the 13:17 Trafford Park - London Gateway.

Class 90 locomotives transferred from Greater Anglia to Freightliner have been engaged in driver training runs between Crewe Basford Hall and Trafford Park.  This is 90 008 The East Anglian. (With thanks to the excellent Class 90 Electric
Loco Group website

The Sunday (sometimes) diversion of the Doncaster Decoy-Liverpool Docks empty
Biomass wagons hauled by 60 085 passing between Stockport and Northenden
Junction on 29 November. Mostly they route the empty wagons through Manchester Victoria, whilst the loaded Biomass trains route this way through Stockport as It has lesser gradients, notably the climb from Victoria to Miles Platting.

 On the Cheshire Lines route near Hale, 66 616 heading for Tunstead with empty wagons from Hardendale quarry, Shap.

60 017 with a Peak Forest - Warrington Dallam stone train.

The quiet station at Styal is a good location to photograph the intermodal freights, a This is rather smoky 70 011 passing on 30 November with the afternoon Trafford Parl - Southampton.

Festival Land Cruise - by Jim Johnson

Following on from Mark Hambly's excellent article on a North Wales circular
tour, I offer the attached, from my collection. It is a North Wales Land Cruise handbill from 1951, the year of the Festival of Britain, and hence the naming of it '1951 Festival Land Cruise.'

Interesting enough in itself, but what makes it more so is the information handwritten on the back, obviously by a railwayman of the time. It reads:

'During the 49 days it ran in 1951, this train carried 6.922 passengers,
and the receipts were £3,500. The operating costs to the Railway Executive (i.e. excluding the costs of the buffet on train to Hotels Executive) were £35.0.0 a day or £1,700 for the whole period, with a net profit of £1,800. The engine used throughout was a 2-6-0 LMS Class 2 tender engine and six coaches which formerly ran in the "Manchester Club Train." Four of these coaches were saloons fitted with arm-chairs and settees.'

He has also attached an extract from the Working Time Table for the train, W662.

House for Sale - with model railway

BBC reports:  Enthusiast Cyril Aspley and his wife Mary are selling their house in Tywyn as they downsize due to ill health. But Mr Aspley is leaving behind his railway - complete with a waterfall and a suspension bridge. Estate agent Michael William said he had not "seen anything like it" when he went to value the house.

The model railway - which has 10 engines and up to 50 assorted rolling stock - has four loops and is capable of running four trains at once, with 32 sets of points.Mr Aspley started building it after falling in love with trains when the couple moved to the house about seven years ago.

The property is on the market for £220,000. The railway and associated items can also be sold separately.Enquiries welcome at the Estate Agent, Morris Marshall and Poole.

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