Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

12  July 2021


Forthcoming events

(see also our Calendar page for venues)

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


67 017 at Colwyn Bay on 6 July with the 11:13 Holyhead - Crewe training run.  Those trees have grown! Picture by Michael Pearson.

Chester events - by Geoff Morris

A random perusal of Real Time Trains just after lunch on 8 July showed light engine movements between Tuebrook Sidings and Penyffordd Cement. As these were GBRf operated the locos being used were displayed on RTT. 66 774 first ran from Tuebrook to Penyffordd where it replaced 66 779 which then headed to Tuebrook. Of course 66 779 is a “celebrity“ loco having been the painted in lined Brunswick Green livery and named Evening Star. I was too late to see 66 774 but as I had never seen 66 779 I headed out to Chester Locks to photograph it.  [See further down the page for another Evening Star.]

Last week a number of engineering trains were scheduled to run from Basford Hall to Ellesmere Port bringing the unusual sight of freight trains between Chester, Hooton & Ellesmere Port. I assume that there was track renewal between Ellesmere Port as Helsby as the sparse rail service between them was bus substituted. These two photos were taken about an hour apart on the afternoon of 7 July. 66 550 came through first and is seen passing through Bache station on the 13:43 Basford Hall Sorting Sidings  - Ellesmere Port.

66 566 followed about an hour later and is seen passing the Alstom depot at Chester North Junction on the 1443 Basford Hall Sorting Sidings  - Ellesmere Port. Presumably the route learning trips over these lines that Freightliner undertook a few weeks ago were to provide the route knowledge for crews to operate these duties.

Cambrian Corner

 Ken Robinson: writes: 'This is 37 431 approaching Talsarnau on Saturday 6 July 1991 with the 09:36 Pwllheli - Birmingham New Street. This was 37431's last known working on the Cambrian - it was transferred to Eastleigh the following day! 37 431 had previously carried the name'Sir Powys/County of Powys but had been named Bullidae on 31 May 1991. The loco was disposed of at Wigan CRDC on 14 August 2000...

... and as a comparison, I attach a photograph of 158 827 approaching Talsarnau on Saturday 10 July 2021, with the 09:34 Pwllheli-Birmingham International! '  [Note that this section still has jointed bullhead rail.]

Some Cambrian scenes from 10 July from Greg Mape. Above, Barmouth viaduct.

158 818 makes its way through Criccieth.  It sees unusual to see half-barrier crossing at a location much used by pedestrians, but no doubt it has been proven safe.

On the Fairbourne Railway: The 'Darjeeling-Himalaya' loco in action.


This picture of D213 passing Beeches Farm on 1 April was missing from the last update due to an editorial error, so here it is. Apologies to photographer Bob Greenhalgh.

In addition to the training runs, a TfW loco-hauled set ran daytime 'relief' trains on Saturday 3 July - did they also run on 10 July? Also the training run on 7 July failed near Craven Arms, causing delays and the evening express from Cardiff was cancelled due to loco problems.

On the same subject, we hear that the two 37s on the Branch Line Society railtour (last issue)  both became failures during the following day's itinerary, and were left at York,  and 37 716 and 37 424 were sent to York on 5 July to return them to Crewe, although only 716 was used to return the locos to Crewe.


Rhosymedre at 10:15 hours on 7 May, DB loco 66 101 in DB livery powering south towards Shrewsbury with the steel empties from Dee Marsh (Martin Evans).

66 721 Harry Beck between Deansgate and  Skelton Junctions in Timperley this afternoon on  the Liverpool - Drax Biomass train. Mr Beck was the main who in 1933 created the diagrammatic London Underground map; the loco is one that worked on a contract to deliver ballast for work on  the Underground lines (Greg Mape).

From Dave Sallery's Archive

31 270 and 37 242 top and tail a ballast train at Blaenau Ffestiniog. The train had just arrived back from the Trawsfynydd branch. 14 November 1993.

37 429 Eisteddfod Genedlaethol passing the 1871-built signalbox at Llanfair PG, one of the oldest in the UK.  By the time of the picture it had been reduced to operating the level crossing gates and remains so today.  Notice the borrowed InterCity guard's/parcel van in the consist.  1 August 1999.

The Welsh Borderer

Following our recent items about the Wirral Railway Circle 'Welsh Borderer' brake van tour on Saturday 25 May 1969,  we now have more information. Steve Morris writes to remind us that a fine colour photograph of the train at Minera (reproduced above) taken by the late T.G. Dentith appears in his recent book Sulzer Power - North Wales and Cambrian lines, stll available from the Class 40 Preservation Society bookshop: proceeds to apport the Society's work. From this we can confrm that the loco was D5075. See also the Derby Sulzers website.

We have also been given access to a copy of the intinerary for the tour and images of the Map and Timings are now available to download.  This tour must have been an endurance challenge for the participants travelling in the brake vans which provided minimal seating and few 'creature comforts'

The timings show a departure from Wrexham General at 10:15, and a return to Wrexham Exchange at 19:55, with no pause of more than 10 minutes as the train visited the various freight-only lines in the area involving several run-rounds by the loco and some propelling from the rear.

Clive Briscoe, who was on the train, writes: 'We didn't make it to Cadbury's Pickhill, we went down the line from Wrexham Central as far as the ground frame for the branch. John Ryan, the Permanent Way Inspector acting as Pilotman for the tour got down off the loco and walked about 100 yards down the long-grass overgrown branch and shook his head ... Too
risky, couldn't see the state of the track ahead, so we were propelled back to Marchweil where the loco ran around to haul us back to Wrexham Central and continue the tour.

'It was a fascinating trip, pity that the weather was against us - cold and a bit damp at times but being resourceful, at each stop to open crossing gates, everyone got down out of the brakevans and searched for loco coal dropped on the ballast. Quite a sight all those brakevans with smoking chimneys from the pot bellied stoves keeping us all warm!'

Looking back: Welsh Marches Pullmans - David Pool

After the very successful Cumbrian Mountain Expresses in 1980, the Steam Locomotive Operators Association expanded its programme of Steam Specials with a regular series of journeys along the Welsh Marches route, at first in 1981 between Shrewsbury and Newport via Hereford.  The trains were diesel-hauled from various starting points, particularly Crewe.  In 1981 most were designated as the Welsh Marches Express, with an occasional Welsh Marches Pullman. 

The steam locomotives were not selected from a small pool, as was the case in later years, and a wide selection of steam locomotives appeared.  By the Autumn of 1982 Chester was replacing Newport as a destination, and this arrangement continued in 1983 and beyond. 

It was a rather grey day at Dorrington on 20 March 1982 when 6201 Princess Elizabeth with a Welsh Marches Pullman headboard followed the 10:00 Crewe to Cardiff which had been hauled by 33 025.  The Railtour Files website for this date is rather vague, and I assume 6201 worked between Shrewsbury and Hereford.

One of my favourite photographic locations in 1982 was Bayston Hill, just South of Shrewsbury, where the locomotives were tackling the 1 in 127 gradient towards Church Stretton.  On 17 April the Welsh Marches Pullman was headed by 92220 Evening Star.  The Railtour Files webpage is incorrect, in that the train was not double headed by a Hall and a Manor, although 40 106 travelled light engine in front of the Pullman, and presumably had come off at Shrewsbury as listed. 

The “Flying Pig” from the Severn Valley Railway was a rare visitor to the Marches line, but on 5 June 1982 43106 double headed with 7812 Erlestoke Manor from Hereford to Chester and return.  The pair are Northbound near Park Hall, approaching Gobowen. 

On 23 October 1982 it was the turn of Black Five 5000 and 46229 Duchess of Hamilton.  The North Wales Coast Railway News of 27 April 2020 shows my photograph of 5000 heading North at Croes Newydd, and the Duchess took the train back from Chester to Shrewsbury, here leaving Northgate Street tunnels.  There is a photograph on the Railtour Files webpage for 23 October 1982 showing 46229 hauling an Anniversary Welsh Marches Pullman, but it is clearly not the train which ran on this date. 

The variety continued in 1983.  Back at Bayston Hill on 26 February it was 4930 Hagley Hall, this time on its own, having left Shrewsbury at 11:15.  Apparently 43106 and 80079 took over at Hereford and continued to Newport.

On 9 April 1983 I tried another location at All Stretton, still on the climb towards Church Stretton.  Castle Class 5051 Drysllwyn Castle (also known as Earl Bathurst) was making steady progress on this occasion and was unlikely to break any speed records.

The following week I went back to All Stretton, and this time it was “King Arthur” 777 Sir Lamiel.  Looking at the logs of the trains on 9 and 16 April, it was a few minutes slower than 5051 to Church Stretton, but had an additional coach.

I was nearer home for the Pullman on 31 August 1983, as it was my favourite 6000 King George V crossing the canal by the Water Tower in Chester.  The Class 40 on the slow line was being held at the signal gantry.  The two young lads had a good but precarious view, and I did not wait to see if they somehow managed to get down.

Llangollen Railway back in action - report by George Jones

Everything came good on Friday 9 July - the bridge work was signed off and the new Safety Management System approved, so the first train ran as the 11am Llangollen to Berwyn.

Loadings were adequate within the needs of social distancing on the train and at stations. Such loadings are economical with the railcars and provided a welcome revenue stream

The Llangollen station view where the footbridge has been enhanced with a former Llangollen running-in board as a promotional feature when viewed from the road bridge.

The Class 108 DMU with 51933 and 54504 operated six hourly shuttles to Berwyn and two evening jaunts on Friday. These allowed for a 15-minute stopover at Berwyn and opportunities to take in the Horseshoe Falls for those who wanted a walk and return on a later train. For some it was back to the pioneering days of 1985 when the first train, also a DMU  ran on the extension on the 19 October as part of a Transport gala.

Berwyn station house is encased in scaffolding for roof repairs and painting which limited photo options but other facilities were available to passengers.

The VIP for the occasion was local MP Simon Baynes took a ride to Berwyn and later said:

 “It was a great pleasure to visit Llangollen Railway today on the day that they have re-opened and started running their first trains since October. I went on the train between Llangollen and Berwyn with Phil Coles, the Vice Chairman of Llangollen Railway, where I also met Ben Jackson, the Station Master at Berwyn. I had the opportunity to meet with many of the volunteers who work so hard and with such commitment to the railway. It’s wonderful to see the railway back in operation and it’s a great tribute to the board members and volunteers who have dedicated a huge amount of time to make this happen. And I wish them a very successful summer season.”

At the end of the first day, Operations Director Mike Williams was able to say: “The first day of operations was something of a ‘shakedown exercise’ to ensure we had everything in order. In the event it was a fantastic day when everything went as planned as supporters and others came out to ride the trains. Thanks are due to all the volunteers who have worked so hard to allow us to reopen."

The Dee bridge as viewed from the train - new timbers with re-aligned rails and welded-up joints with  wooden sleepers leading on to and off the bridge to provide a better transition across for trains.

Trains depart Llangollen hourly, Fridays to Sundays, from 11am through to 4pm and allow a 15-minute stopover at Berwyn to enjoy the view of the Dee Gorge or sample the Chain Bridge. Other options for passengers are to visit the Horseshoe Falls or take the traditional walk back to Llangollen along the canal.

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