Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

21 December 2020


To all our readers and contributors, and of course the rail staff of North Wales.

Forthcoming events

(see also our Calendar page for venues)

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


On 20 December 2005,  57 313 Tracy island passes Mostyn with the 10:03 Manchester - Holyhead. Contrary to appearance, this was an Arriva service, which continued until August 2006. Picture by Tim Rogers.

From Dave Sallery's archive

HST leaving Chester for Euston, 20 May 1995

60 095 Crib Gogh on the Hope St - Penmaenmawr empty RMC hoppers passing Prestatyn, 15 May 1992. Crib Goch (red ridge)  is  a frightening ridge in the Snowdon range.


On 12 June 1987, 37 673 was captured passing Kinmel Bay on a test run from Crewe works to Llandudno and back, having been re-furbished and re-numbered from 37 132. The rake of withdrawn Mk1 carriages were kept at Crewe for the purpose. It worked for another two decades in this guise, being scrapped in May 2008.

Brought back from South Wales service to cover for the problematic new Class 175 units, 37 401 Mary Queen of Scots is seen by the unusual signalbox/waiting room at Ty Croes working the 15:40 Holyhead - Crewe  on 1 August 2000. Unfortunately, the loco was declared a failure at Llandudno Junction. Some hours later 37 426 was sent to take the train empty to Chester, while 37 884 worked the 17:19  Crewe to Holyhead starting from Chester.

27 July 1999 - by Barrie Hughes

On Tuesday 27 July 1999 I travelled behind 37 414 from Birmingham New Street (above) on the 10:07 to  Holyhead.  The loco was named Cathays C&W Works 1846-1993. It  was one of the first 37s to receive the Regional Railways livery;  the name was added when the livery was applied on 18 March 1993, to mark the formal closure of Cathays as a Class 5 Depot.

After arrival at Holyhead (scheduled for 13:11) the long-established run-round procedure was followed; the shunter can be seen in the background at the levels of the 'ground frame; which controls the points. The disconnected track in the foreground reminds us that the lines here once continued to a goods warehouse on the quayside.

37 401 was passed at Prestatyn at 11:59 heading east on the 10:48 Holyhead - Birmingham, while 37 610/12 were at Valley coupling up to the Wylfa nuclear Flasks.

In plaform 2, the 08:40 Virgin Trains train from London (due 12:56) led by 43 184 has arrived.  43 098 was on the other end, and would lead the 13:38 departure for London. Virgin at that period has two daily diagrams for HSTs and two for Class 47 locos.

Back in Platform 3, 37 414 is coupled up and ready to depart at 13:54 for Birmingham; the train would take the route from Wolverhampton via Bescot to avoid a run-round move at Birmingham.

After a period hauling the Rhymney locals early the next year, 37 414 was stored on 22 March 2000 and spent a period at the Weardale Railway from 27 October 2005. Going into preservation is no guarantee of an extended life as the loco was removed by road on 10 March 2009 and cut up three days later at Thomson’s scrapyard in Stockton.

By this date the number of 37-hauled trains has been reduced from the heyday of the mid-90s, but three locos were still needed each weekday.  37 401 Mary Queen of Scots arrived at 17:30 with the 14:23  from Birmingham.

Running round to form the 18:22 to Birmingham which I caught back to Birmingham   passing 37 414 at Talacre westbound at 19:06.

To regain the platform line, locos have to travel some distance to a point near the signalbox.

Ready for departure: 37 401 can be seen with non standard large front numbers on one end, for some reasin. The loco later joined the DRS fleet; in recent years (2015-18) it saw passenger duties on the Cumbrian Coast.

Judging my the shadows, the loco had suffered a mishap at some time.

[On this day, 27 July 1999, your complier was celebrating his 50th birthday.]

Looking back: Ffestiniog in the 1990s - by David Pool

When the Ffestiniog Railway preservation activities started in 1954, the Motor Rail Simplex Mary Ann was the only locomotive available.  It had been built for use in the First World War in 1917, and acquired by Kent Construction of Ashford (see the NWCR News 30 November 2020), who sold it on to the Ffestiniog Railway, where it remained at closure.  Although it was very useful in the early days of preservation, it was not suitable for the heavier trains, and saw little use in the 70s and 80s.  In 1985 the Ffestiniog celebrated 30 years of preservation, and Mary Ann was overhauled for the occasion, recreating the first train to leave Porthmadog for Boston Lodge in 1955.  The recently fitted cab roof had been removed for this event.

On NewYear’s Day 1996 Sgt Murphy, a Kerr Stuart locomotive built in 1918, was soon to leave Boston Lodge for the Teifi Railway.  Originally an 0-6-0T, it worked for the Admiralty at Beachley Dock, near Chepstow, then moved to Penrhyn Quarry in 1921.  After a fatal accident in the Quarry in 1932, it was rebuilt and eventually withdrawn in 1955.  It was rescued and later moved to the Cadeby Rectory railway in 1976, then to the Conwy Valley Museum at Betws y Coed in 1977.  In 1992 it was again rebuilt, this time becoming an 0-6-2T, and arrived at the Ffestiniog Railway in 1993.

The FR’s celebration of Hunslet locomotives in 1996 illustrated the considerable variation in the designs.  On display at Porthmadog on 27 October were George Sholto, Lillian and Lilla, all of which operated at Penrhyn Quarry at some period in their careers.  George Sholto was built in 1909 for the Penrhyn Quarry (although some sources quote 1904)  and acquired by Alan Bloom in 1965, where it was restored and used on the Nursery Railway at Bressingham.   At one stage it was renamed Bill Harvey after the Shedmaster at Norwich.   The centre locomotive Lillian worked mostly at Port Penrhyn until 1955, and after restoration eventually arrived at the Launceston Steam Railway in 1983.  The story of the third locomotive Lilla will be told later.

Linda was one of the Penrhyn Quarry’s “Main Line” Hunslet locomotives before arriving at the Ffestiniog Railway.  During the Hunslet Celebrations it hauled the wagons of the “Gravity Train” up the line, passing the FR’s disc signal in the “clear” position and being used as a “Whistle Board” on the Cob.

Lilla has been on the Ffestiniog Railway since 1993, and has had a particularly varied life.  Built in 1891 for the Cilgwyn Quarry at Nantlle, it moved to Penrhyn in 1928 until abandoned out of use in 1955.  After restoration it ran on the Knebworth Park Railway between 1972 and 1987, then moved to the Museum at Kew Bridge, followed by a short time at the Bala Lake Railway, from where it moved to Boston Lodge.  On 27 October 1996 it was allowed its own train of vintage FR stock, leaving Boston Lodge for Minffordd.

By 1998 the diesels were to be seen on many FR trains.  A Funkey had been obtained from South Africa, but needed to be modified to fit the Ffestiniog Loading Gauge.  The changes, which include the fitting of a cab at each end, were supported by National Power, and the chosen livery matched that of the Standard Gauge Class 59 Diesels.  The name Vale of Ffestiniog followed the “Vale” theme of the Class 59s.  The viewpoint used on 12 April 1998 above Boston Lodge is today less attractive, since the  new carriage shed roof now dominates the scene.

A visitor for the 1998 “Mini Gala” was Covertcoat from the Launceston Steam Railway.  This is a Hunslet built in 1898 for use at Port Dinorwic and later in Dinorwic Quarry.  It was photographed at Boston Lodge Halt on 2 May 1998, the train being assisted by Palmerston on the rear.  Naming it after a racehorse was somewhat inappropriate!

Looking through my Ffestiniog slides, I thought at first that this was a push/pull set approaching Porthmadog, but then realised that being steam worked, it was heading up the line.  The signal was misleading, but was not in use.  My records later confirmed the set was hauled by Earl of Merioneth, and the date was 28 December 1998.

47s at Shrewsbury - pictures by Peter Hanson

47 647 Thor, one of the first 47s to receive the 'large logo' livery departing for Crewe passes the signal gantry at Shrewsbury, 24 May 1986.

10 September 2016: 47 580 County of Essex on  the approaches Shrewsbury Station with the empty stock of a steam special worked by 6201 Princess Elizabeth.

If only ... From Jim Johnson's collection.

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