Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

02 August 2021


Forthcoming events

(see also our Calendar page for venues)

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


197 001 passing Deganwy - see below. Picture by Gary Thomas.

Another 197

This week's special guest is two-car CAF-built unit 197 001, joining its sister 197 002 in the test programme.  On 29 and 30 July the test route included the Llandudno and Conwy Branches.  Greg Mape captured the newcomer passing Abergele on the way from Crewe on the morning of 29 July.

Passing Deganwy Quay on the way to Llandudno (Gary Thomas).

Against an increasingly black sky on its outward run to Llandudno, 197 001
passes Deganwy station at 08:32 (Garry Stroud).

Having visited Llandudno,  approaching Llandudno Junction on its way to Blaenau Ffestiniog (Garry Stroud).

Diagrammed for two visits to the Conwy Valley line to Blaenau, 197001
waits to depart Llandudno Junction awaiting its second visit. Alongside is 175 106 still in the old Arriva livery working the 10:27 Chester to Llandudno service and making a nice contrast of the different liveries (Garry Stroud).

Glan Conwy (Greg Mape).

Heading along the Conwy (Greg Mape).

Heading for Blaenau Ffestiniog (Greg Mape).

30 July was less conducive to photography, but Greg Mape was at North Llanrwst to watch the new train passing the 08:55 Blaenau Ffestiniog  - Llandudno service train in the shape of 150 230 ...

... and collecting the single-line token for the line to Blaenau in its leather hoop.  Is the sliding window a little higher than that of the 150? The second Conwy Valley trip was cancelled.

A short stay in the Heart of Wales  - with Richard Putley

I had arranged to stay in Llanwrtyd Wells for two nights from Friday 23 July 2021 as some friends on mine were staying there for a short break. I took the Friday off work and had leisurely drive to Llanwrtyd. It’s one of the few places in Wales I have never visited before now.

On the Saturday my friends decided they would like to visit Llandovery. But while both the 11:09 to Swansea and the 11:11 to Shrewsbury were shown as running, all other trains were showing as Cancelled. My friends nonetheless decided to chance their arm on TfW providing a rail replacement bus back in afternoon. But given their previous bad record in this field I preferred to stay in Llanwrtyd - Many of my friends had travelled down on Thursday night but their plans to visit Ludlow by train had been frustrated by the evening service on the Heart of Wales line also being cancelled.

The 11:09 and 11:11 duly both arrived on time and the crews changed over. The 11:11 to Shrewsbury came first and was worked by 153 303 in the new Transport for Wales livery, while 150 227 still in Arriva Blue
covered the 11:09 to Swansea (above).

My friends decided to catch the 11:09 to visit Llandovery but I didn’t like the thought of an expensive taxi ride back. In fact TfW did provide a rail replacement for the service which should have arrived at Llanwrtyd at 15:04 but it was half an hour late at Llandovery. Later on we did see another rail replacement running in lieu of the 20:30 to Shrewsbury reach Llanwrtyd at 21:40!

On Sunday 25 July I journeyed on to the Gwili Railway at Carmarthen.
I had booked myself on the 13:00 service on the Gwili Railway near Carmarthen so I drove at a leisurely pace from Llanwrtyd Wells as I had plenty of time to complete the 40 mile journey. As neither of the Gwili Railway's Termini are accessible by road or footpath, all journeys start and finish at Bronwydd Arms, their HQ. I arrived with plenty of time to spare and was delighted that visiting GWR Pannier Tank 5786 was running. Bought in October 1971 by the Worcester Locomotive Society from London Transport, in 2011 they restored her to LT livery as L.92. She will be ' be out of ticket ' at the end of 2021.

I photographed the train arriving from Abergwili, the southern terminus on the outskirts of Carmarthen, and captured the driver surrendering the token to the signalman at Bronwydd Arms (above).

My allocated seat was in a Suburban DMU coach marshalled next to the loco. The other two coaches were BR Mk1s in Maroon. The train ran non-stop to Danycoed, the Northern terminus. On the way I was able to photograph Taff Vale 0-6-2T 28 (currently in GWR Livery as 450) at Llwyfan Cerrig. Later on I was told they've raised their initial fund raising target of £32,000 to enabe restoration to start in September.

Meanwhile after running round at Danycoed the train then returned to Llwyfan Cerrig where it waited for 20 minutes. During this time I photographed a Taff Vale 4 wheel coach undergoing restoration there.
Hopefully one day we'll be able to see TVR No 28 pulling it.

Aftewards we continued non stop to Abergwili. The loco again ran round and on our return to Bronwydd Arms I photographed it taking water.

Narrow Gauge miscellany

Vale of Rheidol Railway loco 8 running round its train in Aberystwyth, 31 July (Greg Mape).  The Llywelyn nameplates applied by British Railways in the 1950s have been removed to give an authentic Great Western look.

Making a smoke screen over Gilfach Ddu station on the Llanberis Lake
Railway on Monday 26th July, former quarry locomotive Elidir takes a rest
after working the 1st service of the day along the shore of Llyn Padarn, 26 July.

Amongst the many locos in steam at the Statfold Barn Railway for the Hunslet event on 21 July were ex-Penrhyn locos: Andrew Barclay Cegin (returned to steam on June 4th for the first time in 56 years) and Avonside Marchlyn. Both locos were exported to the USA in 1965.

On 20 July, Welsh Highland Railway Garratt 130 departs from Porthmadog.

In the background a Premier Inn hotel is under construction on the site of the former tax office. Rooms at the front will be in great demand (Jim Ikin).

Looking back:  Steam and Diesel 1991 - by David Pool

On 4 May 1991 46229 Duchess of Hamilton was heading the Ynys Mon Express from Euston, steam hauled between Crewe and Holyhead.  Anyone more familiar with the line today might not recognise the location as Mold Junction – much has changed in 30 years!

11 August 1991 will be remembered as the day the North Wales Coast Line enjoyed pairs of different classes of diesel locomotives, sponsored by Trainload Coal.  56 028 and 56 009 are passing through Flint, with a surprising absence of spectators – or of cars in the car park. 

One of the afternoon workings on that day was the 1445 Llandudno to Crewe, hauled by 20 151 and 20 059, with Mostyn Dock in the background.  Three weeks later the same pair was working the Llandudno to Derby service, illustrated by Martin Loader on his Hondawandera website. 

The Pilkington sponsored set of Mk1 coaches was certainly distinctive, if not to everyone’s liking.  On 17 August 1991 they were being used on the “Settle and Carlisle Dragon” Railtour from Llandudno to Carlisle.  This appears to have suffered Class 47 problems.  47 537 Sir Gwynedd/County of Gwynedd has just taken over from 47 550 at Chester, which had power issues and is in the right hand sidings.  47 537 was itself removed at Preston due to insufficient fuel, and replaced by 47 343 as far as Carlisle – see the Railtour Files website!  It may be of interest to Railway Modellers that Kernow are offering a weathered Bachmann 47 537 as a limited edition, but the weathering on the model is much heavier than was the case in August 1991.  

The steel trains fron Shotton to Llanwern or Margam were often worked by a Class 37, not necessarily one of the heavier 37/7 or 37/9 varieties. Railfreight Metals Sector 37 502 is leaving Wrexham with a morning train, very lightly loaded, on 31 August 1991.

Following the steel train was a Steam Special, probably heading for Hereford or Newport, although I have no details of the working.  60009 Osprey had been disguised as 60027 Merlin for the occasion.  The name was from the “bird” series of the A4 class, and not the Merlin of the King Arthur legends. 

Moving on to Welshpool, I photographed another Class 37 on a working from Shrewsbury, where it had taken over the 10:58 Birmingham NewStreet - Aberystwyth.  37 418 has had a remarkable existence.  In 1991 it was carrying the name Pectinidae, which apparently is a Scallop, being used on oil trains such as those between Stanlow and East Coast.  The Petroleum Sector branding could easily be confused with the Metals Sector as on 37 502 pictured earlier.

In the previous year 37 418 had been in Scotland, working out of Inverness on the Hebridean railtour trains.  On 2 July 1990 it was returning from Kyle with the Hebridean, and waiting at Dingwall to pass 156 477, which would have been going to Wick or probably Kyle.  At the time 37 418 was named An Comunn Gaidhealach, which is an Association promoting Gaelic culture and language, also known as the Royal National Mod. 

The coach immediately behind 37 418 is the Observation Car, converted from a Class 101 DTCL  The removal of the turntable at Kyle meant that the Observation Car could not be turned for the return journey.  37 418 later carried EWS and BR blue liveries, running regularly on the East Lancs Railway, but eventually regaining the large logo blue livery and Gaelic name.  It is now privately owned but hired to Colas Rail. 

Llangollen update - by George Jones

The Llangollen Railway is now running trains six days a week,  from Tuesdays right through to Sundays, using our heritage railcar which gives a great driver's-eye-view of the line and the Dee Valley. We are running between Llangollen and Berwyn.

Services depart Llangollen every hour from 11:00 until 16:00, and from Berwyn every hour from 11:25 until 16:25. Return tickets cost £8 for adults, £7 for seniors and £4 for children. Tickets are available to purchase on the day.

Subject to completion of engineering work, hope to extend services further up the line in the next few weeks, more details will be posted soon!

From Dave Sallery's archive

60 071 on a loaded Merry-Go-Round coal train from Point of Ayr to Fiddlers Ferry passing Bagillt, 26 November 1991.

37 425 Concrete Bob under the gantry at Abergele , August 1997.  On the rear is a coach hired for the summer from Riviera Trains.

59 years ago - pictures by Bevan Price

On 4 August 1962, the Railway Correspondance and TravelSociety did a traffic survey along the North Wales Coast.  Here are some photos I took between Shotton & Connah's Quay. Above, 61166 (B1 class) with the 11:15 Llandudno - Sheffield Midland (Load 10 coaches)

LMS pacific 46206 - Princess Marie Louise in its heyday - with 12:20 Llandudno - Euston  (Load 12 coaches).

'Brttannia' pacific 70047 on the 10:00 Portmadoc - Euston ('The Welshman') Load 14 coaches including portions from Llandudno and Pwllheli.

Dolgarrog dilemma

Mention of Dolgarrog beings to mind its peculiar situation as a newly-rebuilt station - having been annihilated by flood waters in 2019 - with all the necessary 'mod-cons' (and a heritage bench) serving a village which is impossible to reach from the station. (PIcture by Greg Mape).

The station had the honour of being the first 'Beeching Closure' to be reversed: it was closed to passengers in 1964 and opened again in 1965, recorded in the Railway Modeller magazine of the day.

The bridge over the Conwy River, which once carried a branch line, built in 1916,  to the aluminium works which was the reaon for its existence,  and was the only way to reach the village from the station, has been  closed by its owners, Welsh Water (it carries two water mains) for safety reasons due to the poor condition of the wooden walkway which has never actually been a public right-of-way.

The closed aluminium works and its reservoir have been turned into a visitor attraction in the form of a surfing lake and 'adventure park' which would surely have attracted some custom to the railway.  The far end of the old  works branch survives as a short heritage line, the Dolgarrog Railway, which will open to visitors in due course.

This is a ridiculous state of affairs - surely some sort of agreement and funding can be found?

This map from the 1960s appears to show two separate  bridges.

Locomotives in Action

Log trains from Baglan Bay in South Wales reverse at Chester to reach Chirk as the siding at the Kronospan factory there can only be reached from the southbound line.  Ian Pilkington's picture from 29 July shows 56 105 and its train in the 'middle road' at Chester having  competed the move. The train arrived at Chester at 21:07, an hour early.

On 29 July, making a rare appearance for a TransPennine loco-hauled set at Stockport,  a Gascoigne Wood - Longsight via Alderley Edge empty stock working – 68 024 Centaur with set 05.   Gascoigne Wood was  part of the Selby colliery complex ;  today its sidings are being used for train storage.

After 160 years, it's been found necessary to tell people to keep off the track.

A few years younger than the station is the tower of the Stockport Armoury, built in 1862 for the Cheshire Volunteer Corps and today an Army Reserve Centre.

66 715 Valour runs round its train at Coton Hill sidings, Shrewsbury on 29 July. Stone from Batsyon Hill quarry is delivered by road to the yard and loaded into trains using a large front loader, GBRf services run on an “as required” basis but have increased recently as demand in the construction industry has risen. The empties arrive from various parts of the country and usually enter at 15.50, as soon as train halts the water sprayers go on, the loading begins and the loco runs round and recouples to draw the train forward two wagons at a time...

... Loading of the 20-or-so wagons continues non-stop as departure is scheduled at 19.58. These photos are of the 10:50 from Tinsley Yard, Sheffield empties forming the 19:58 to Humberstone Road, Leicester. Pictures by Graham Breakwell.

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