Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

08 May 2021



Forthcoming events

(see also our Calendar page for venues)

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


Blanche at Porthmadog Harbour, 1 May (Greg Mape).

This is an extra catch-up issue: next update Tuesday 11 May. - Charlie

News update

The Monday - Saturday Penmaenmawr stone trains are in the timetable from 17 May: 
Crewe Basford Hall 18:44, Chester 19:32 -19:38,  Penmaenmawr arr 20:46.
Penmaenmawr dep 06:44, Chester 08:00, Crewe Basford Hall arr 08:43
Penmaenmawr dep 16:53, Chester 18:08-18:30, Crewe Basford Hall arr 19:20
There are indications that GBRf will be the operator, yet they have never run regular trains in North Wales before and don't seem to have done any route learning. We'll soon know, anyway.

The full-route Class 67/Mk4 coaches test run from Cardiff - Holyhead and back did run on 6 May as promised: does anyone have pictures? At present there are no public through services of any sort from Holyhead to Cardiff; passengers must change at Shrewsbury. There's no information at present as to when this will change and/or the loco-hauled train will enter public service.

Regarding the Llangollen auction, note that the English Electric diesel shunter included in the sale is the ex-ICI loco Davy, contrary to our assumption from the 'Type 13' label that it was the ex-British Rail example, partly because it says on the Llangollen Railway website that is owned by 'The Diesel Group'. We note that the auction description has now been corrected; bids have reached £7500 four days before the 12 May 14:00 deadline.

Train watching, RSPB style - with Geoff Morris

On 29 April my wife and I visited the RSPB reserve at Burton Mere. The railway line from Wrexham to Bidston runs past the reserve and so I managed a couple of shots while observing (and photographing) the birds.
150 253, one of the class 150/2s that have been refurbished and re-liveried, was in use and the photo shows it passing the reserve on the 12:34 Wrexham General – Bidston service. It is passing the shunter’s cabin where the siding into Shotton Paper diverged – the disused track can still be seen in front of the cabin.

A class 230 surprised me when it headed south on a crew training run from Birkenhead North depot to Wrexham General. According to RTT this was the 11:00 ex Birkenhead running about an hour late. Zooming in on the original photo suggests that the unit is probably 230 008 (but it may have been 06).

Class 40 at Shrewsbury revisited

Mark Hambly and John Dawson wrote to tell us that there is a story behind Graham Breakwell's picture of 40 013 at Shrewsbury in 1985.   A clue is that there are wooden 'scotches' under the pony wheels, and the Mark 1 coach does not appear to match any known Mk1 variant, although it does have a resemblance to the 'courier' or 'bullion van' conversions used to transport high-value loads.

The coach is one of British Rail's fleet of 'exhibition coaches', modified from a redundant Mk1 passenger vehicle. These were used to form exhibition trains, which firms, or BT itself, could hire - usually more than one coach, - which would be laid out as an exhibition to be toured around major stations which had a spare platform available for a few days, such as Shrewsbury's platform 3.

John, a former Public Relations Officer for BR LMR Birmingham, explains:

'25 May 1985 was after the loco was withdrawn (in Oct 1984 I believe). It was on display with an exhibition coach promoting "Shrewsbury Rail Weeks". At this time the BR Midlands Provincial Sector organised Rail Weeks at various location to promote rail travel. Somehow 40 013 was retained for use at these Rail Weeks. It was still there on 2 June when I took a similar picture.'

Welsh Highland 130 - by Ian Pilkington

The Welsh Highland Railway's newly restored Garratt no.130, built by Beyer Peacock, Manchester in 1951, made its passenger-carrying debut with a members' special  from Caernarfon to Beddgelert and return on Friday 30th April. Above, 130 stands at Caernarfon shortly after arrival with the stock.

F&WHR General Manager Paul Lewin presents a painting of the locomotive to owner Peter Best at Beddgelert.

After running round, the locomotive stands at Beddgelert ready to return with its 11 coach train.

130 ended a memorable day shunting the stock into the carriage shed at Dinas.

Before going on shed she pauses alongside the fine original station building.

Tractors on the Loose

Stephen Dennett writes:  'Here is a set of photos taken recently of my favourite engines - the Class 37s.'  Above, 21 April: 37 219 at Capenhurst with track-recording device.

21 April: 37 521 near Flint.

21 April: 37 688 at Llandudno Junction

27 April: 97 304, Slack Lane

28 April: 37 422 at Acton Bridge.

Ffestiniog awakes: 'Woodland Wanderer' - report by Jim Ikin

The second day of timetabled trains of 2021 on the Ffestiniog Railway on  28 April saw the 'Woodland Wanderer' service from Porthmadog to Tan y Bwlch and return. Prince was in charge of the first train seen entering Tan y Bwlch (above).

waits for Welsh Pony to arrive before departing on the return to Porthmadog.

Welsh Pony takes water.

Prince passing Boston Lodge Works on the return journey ... 

 ... and on the outbound third trip of the day.

Trans-Pennine to Tywyn - by Mark Hambly

The introduction of the 'Trans-Pennine' (later Class 124) DMU sets in 1961 brought about a much-improved passenger experience on the route linking Liverpool and Manchester with Huddersfield, Leeds and Hull, with reduced journey times, a regular interval service, improved comfort and a highly regarded Griddle Car catering offer all serving to significantly boost passenger numbers.

An incidental benefit of the new trains to the North Eastern Region was the ability to run occasional high quality excursions for 250+ passengers on which the catering and the observation car-like qualities of the first class accommodation at each end of the six car sets were key marketing features.
There are at least three recorded instances of Trans-Pennine units reaching the Cambrian Coast in the 1960s. A photograph by John Roberts of a unit heading west at Llanuwchllyn in June 1963 has been published both in print and online, with slightly different captions giving the destination as Barmouth and Towyn (Tywyn) respectively.

On 21 June 1964 there was a trip from Leeds to Towyn for the Talyllyn Railway. Although the route to be taken through Wales was not specified on the red handbill, it is understood that the route on this occasion was almost certainly Stalybridge - Stockport - Crewe - Shrewsbury as a Birmingham Snow Hill to Aberystwyth excursion ran the same day (information courtesy Six Bells Junction website) and it would have made sense to make best use of having specially opened the signal boxes west of Shrewsbury.

A similar trip ran on 20 June 1965, by when the only route available was via Shrewsbury.

As described in the blue handbill, on this occasion the opportunity was taken to incorporate a trip on the Talyllyn and a coach tour within the overall fare, with the direction of travel on the Talyllyn and the coach being determined according to the colour of ticket held.

Did any reader photograph, see, or travel on one of these trains?

A May Day weekend in North Wales - with Richard Putley

Saturday 1 May: I drove from Chippenham to Porthmadog where was to stay for two nights. One the way I stopped at Barmouth and photographed the
14:55 service from there to Machynlleth formed of 158 833 approaching ... 

 ... and crossing Barmouth Bridge.

I checked into my hotel and then walked over to the Ffestiniog Railway station. No 5 Welsh Pony arrived with the last but one service of the day ...

...  and shunted the coaches into the siding.

After a meal at the Port Restaurant I returned to my hotel, on the way
seeing 158 834 depart with a service for Pwllheli.

Sunday 2 May: I had hoped that FR No 5 Welsh Pony would pull my train, the 11:05 from Porthmadog, but she was on the 10:00 service.  My train was hauled by No. 2 Prince. As we passed Boston Lodge (above).

0-4-0ST Hugh Napier was also shunting there. Also in steam were No 4
Palmerston and Blanche.

On arrival at Tan-y-Bwlch ...

... diesel loco 7011 ( formerly named Moelwyn ) coupled on to the back of our train. We then continued up the line to Ddualt, and round the Spiral. We stopped just beyond the bridge. Our train then reversed back down to Tan-y-Bwlch. After the next Up Train , hauled by No. 4 Palmerston had departed, the Diesel uncoupled and “Prince” then ran round and continued on to Porthmadog.

This is the first time I’ve seen all 3 “in ticket” George England locomotives running at the same time.

Monday 3 May:  I arrived at Llanfair Caereinion in plenty of time for the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway 13:00 service which I was booked on. I was disappointed to see that visiting loco ZB2 Zillertal was not running. I gather it's got a boiler issue at the moment. I saw it poking out of the shed next to Diesel Loco  Chattenden.

Trains were formed of a variety of carriages, hauled by Diesel  locomotive 17 Duck. I rode in an ex Sierra Leone Railways coach. The train ran only as far as Castell Caereinon and back, a round trip of an hour.

A 'Zillertalbahn' coach sandwiched between another Austrian coach and a Hungarian vehicle.

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