Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

15 December 2020


Forthcoming events

(see also our Calendar page for venues)

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

158 819, looking in need of a wash,  passes Rossett on 9 December with 1L14 09:23 Holyhead to Shrewsbury (Tim Rogers).

This update is shorter than planned after Microsoft, without a buy-your-leave, or any warning, decided to copy my files into their 'One Drive' servers, the resulting frantic disk activity making the PC virtually unusable for over an hour. We'll catch up on Monday. Then Google started blocking my Gmail address for no clear reason and putting up a screen that I couldn't close  ... Ah well, soon be Christmas. Keep safe, and don't miss the 11 December extra. - Charlie

Northern Belle

On 9 December the West Coast Railways 'Northern Belle' train worked a 'Christmas Lunch' charter (1Z10) 11:42 Chester to Crewe via Shrewsbury & Stafford). Tim Rogers photographed the train at Rossett with 57 601 Windsor Castle ...

... and 47 854 Diamond Jubilee.

The consist included two 'genuine'  Pullman cars, one of a fleet built in 1961 for the Pullman Company (like the contemporary 'Midland Pullman' sets, by Metro-Cammell) for East Coast Main Line service. These two originally were 325 and 326 and were classified as 'parlour cars' and had luxurious 1 + 1 seating, later altered to 2+1.

175 101 at Shrewsbury on 9 December with the 1W56 Carmarthen to Manchester Piccadilly departing from platform 4 to make way for ....

... the Northern Belle, seen  passing Crewe Junction signal box on 9 December and approaching the platform 4 home signal.  Plenty of signage on display at the end of platform 3! (Graham Breakwell).

47 854 on the tail. The empty stock ran as 5Z10 from Carnforth Steamtown to Chester to pick up passengers from there, Shrewsbury and Telford Central. A circuitous route via Bushbury Junction, Crewe, Stockport, Denton, Miles Platting, Manchester Victoria, Earlestown, Runcorn East and Helsby to return the passengers to their pick up points. A bargain at £289 per person including a sumptuous seven-course festive lunch accompanied with a glass of champagne and half a bottle of wine;  no jeans or trainers allowed. The empties continued to Carnforth as train 5Z11. 

Looking back: Ffestiniog 1980s - by David Pool

25 August 1982 was the day the Ffestiniog Railway returned to Blaenau.  The inaugural train was headed by Earl of Merioneth, the most recent Fairlie, having been built at Boston Lodge in 1979.  The change from the appearance of the original Fairlies to a more angular shape was not liked by everyone, and I am not surprised that there is no intention to perpetuate this shape for future builds or rebuilds.  The train is approaching Penrhyndeudraeth station.    

This view of Tan y Grisiau shows Blanche leaving for Blaenau on Boxing Day 1984, and is of particular interest in showing the remains of the incline from the Cwmorthin Quarry tramway down to the Ffestiniog Railway.  The Ffestiniog line snakes round the hillside on the right of the train.

The Ffestiniog Railway was celebrating 150 years of operation in 1986, and on 19 April a demonstration 'Gravity Train' was running.  It had gathered speed as it approached Minffordd, and the horn was being put to good use.  Note the white handles of the brake levers on several of the wagons, the remaining wagons not having any brakes.

“Steam 125” was the title of the Gala in 1988, and a shuttle service to Boston Lodge was provided on 30 April by Conway Castle.  This Hibberd “Planet” diesel was originally from the Royal Naval Armament Depot in Ernesettle in Devon, and was regauged on arrival at the FR.  The badge on the front of the radiator was given by Conwy Town Council, being the seal of the town, with an inscription in Latin.

On the same day the main attraction was the visit of Russell, from the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway.  The height of the locomotive in comparison with the FR coaches is apparent, and would clearly prevent any travel far up the line.  The height restriction would not apply to the current Welsh Highland Railway, and “Russell” has ventured to Beddgelert in recent years.  Thankfully the relationship between the WHHR and the FR has improved greatly after some difficult years, and cooperation will benefit both organisations.

On 23 August 1989 I followed the route of the Ffestiniog Railway from Tan y Grisiau towards Dduallt, alongside the Reservoir.  Mountaineer was on the upper section of the Deviation, and with a low water level in the Reservoir it was possible to see the route of the old line towards the original Moelwyn Tunnel.  Trawsfynydd Power Station can be seen on the top left of the picture. 

Merddin Emrys with matching maroon and cream coaches is leaving the shared station at Blaenau on 3 September 1989.  The standard gauge line here is a relative newcomer, dating from 1963 when the Conwy Valley line at Blaenau Ffestiniog  North was extended to meet the then disused line to Bala from Blaenau Ffestiniog Central station, thus providing rail access to Trawsfynydd.  The narrow gauge line survived these upheavals, allowing the rebuilt Ffestiniog Railway to regain its original route.

Photographing the Ffestiniog Railway in Coed Hafod y Llyn near Tan y Bwlch is not as easy as it might seem.  The railway winds through the woods above Llyn Mair, and from the lakeside the train may be heard and glimpsed through the trees.  The challenge is to find a path which will give access to a good viewpoint.  Trees in this region seem to grow very quickly, so if you return several years later a previous view may be impossible!  On 14 October 1989 I managed to find a gap in the trees, and Prince with a train of period coaches made an excellent scene.  Sunshine in this location would have been too much to expect!

From Dave Sallery's archive

47 410,  one of the batch of 47s built new with electric train heating ability and known cooloquiially as 'generators'  passes Mostyn on 24 November 1986 on a Bangor - Newcastle service passing loaded sulphur hoppers in Mostyn sidings. The wagons will be sheeted over before their trip to the Associated Octel plant in Amlwch.

37 428 David Lloyd George in the stabling sidings, about to be transferred to Scotland to work on the Kyle of Lochalsh line. Also a nice collection of Class 108 railcars.  Shrewsbury, 20 January 1991,

43 022 and  43 128 Abergele on a London service, 16 May 1992. The 'swallow' Intercity livery looked good in a complete train; Locomotive Services Ltd are reviving it, but so far only on loco-hauled coaches.

Summer fruits at Westbury, 2019. A vanishing delicacy. What trains still discharge onto the track? Remaining Pacers, some 150s and HSTs plus private excursion trains with their Mark 1s, Northern 319's maybe.  A deadline for the complete replacement of 'hopper' toilets has apparently  been moved from 2020 to 2023.

Midland Pullman (sort of)

The circular trip from London to London via Stockport  on 12 December which was the passenger-carrying debut of the new 'Midland Pullman' train formed of an HST repainted in the Nanking Blue of the original 1960s version. Photographers were out on force, including the usual idiots who think the best pictures are taken from off the end of a platform. Jim Ikin was safely on the platform at Romiley station to see the train on its way back to London.

Soon afterwards, passing the rural station at Strines (Greg Mape). Like the original, the seating is all in First Class (£310 each for this trip including lavish food) . The train is owned by Locomotive Services Limited; the locos (or power cars) are 43 046 and 43 055.  Sadly, North Wales is not in the current plan of excursions for 2021.

Here's a glimpse of the original version, passing Cheadle Heath in 1965 (J.W. Sutherland / Manchester Locomotive Society).

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