North Wales Coast Railway Notice Board 18 March 2024


Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

  18 March 2024


Contributions to the Notice Board are welcome, although they may not always be used, due to time constraints, especially if they don't follow the advice and file name convention given on the  Contributions Page.

Forthcoming events

Charter trains and meetings may be subject to cancellation or postponement. See our Calendar Page for club, society and tour operator details.

March 2024

21 March  Statesman Chester - Windsor and Eton Central. Pickups in North Wales borders.

April 2024

Thursday 4 April Pathfinder Reading - Pwllheli via Crewe

Friday 5 April  Clwyd Railway Circle Fond Memories - featuring some of my favourite times on the railway over the last 60 years. - Larry Davies Cancelled

Friday 5 April  Midland Pullman Plymouth to Llandudno

Friday 12 April. Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society David Beilby. "Transport around the World by GEC and its predecessors". A joint meeting with the Irish Railway Record Society Manchester branch.

Thursday 18 April Pathfinder Tours The Cambrian Coast Express East Midlands Parkway - Shrewsbury - Pwllheli

Thursday 18 April Midland Pullman Wolverhampton - Chester - Carlisle

Tuesday 23 April Midland Pullman Chester - Aviemore

May 2024

6 May  Statesman   Woking - Llandudno  via Bath Spa and Crewe for Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza

Thursday 16 May  Pathfinder Tours The Cambrian Coast Express Cardiff - Pwllheli

Saturday 25 May Railway Touring Company     Manchester Piccadilly  -  Llandudno and Holyhead Steam: 5596 Bahamas 

June 2024

8 June Vintage Trains     Dorridge - Blaenau Ffestiniog  Steam and 47 773  via Crewe. Diesel on Blaenau branch

21 June Northern Belle -  Crewe     Two tours - lunch and afternoon tea.  Round trip from Crewe via  pickups at Chester and Wrexham.

Saturday 22 June Midland Pullman Holyhead - Carlisle

Saturday 22 June  North West Rail and Transport Collector's Fair, Crewe Alexandra Football Club 10:00 - 3:30

Thursday 27 June Midland Pullman  Crewe - Chester - Wrexham - Paignton

July 2014

Tuesday 16 July Midland Pullman  Holyhead - Paignton

27 July    Midland Pullman    Crewe -  Paignton      

August 2024

14 August    Statesman    Telford Central - Carlisle
pickups Shrewsbury, Gobowen, Chirk, Wrexham General, Chester, Frodsham, Warrington BQ

September 2024

4 September  Statesman High Wycombe -     Blaenau Ffestiniog

Thursday 5 September Pathfinder Tours The Cambrian Coast Express Bristol - Pwllheli

Friday 6 September Clwyd Railway Circle The Denbigh, Ruthin and Corwen Railway in the Vale of Clwyd -  Fiona Gale

12 September   Pathfinder  Cambrian Coast Express Cardiff Central  - Pwllheli

Sunday 15 September Steam Dreams 'Welsh Dragon' steam-hauled London Paddington - Shrewsbury, then diesel through to Pwllheli.  For more on this and this and the next two entries see the Steam Dreams website.
Wednesday 18 September  Steam Dreams 'Welsh Dragon' steam hauled Bangor - Crewe, then diesel to Cardiff via the Heart of Wales line
Thursday 19 September - Steam Dreams 'Welsh Dragon'  steam hauled Cardiff to London Paddington via Gloucester and the Golden Valley line

21 September - Northern Belle    Telford - Carlisle pickups Shrewsbury,  Wrexham General, Chester.

October 2024

Friday 4 October Clwyd Railway Circle Wrexham’s Second Railway Mania -  David Parry

November 2024

Friday 1 November Clwyd Railway Circle  Chinese Steam in 2001 and 2003  - Phil Thomas

(see  our Calendar page for meeting venues)

North Wales Coast Railway website created and compiled by Charlie Hulme

805 008 on a test/training run passes Conwy Castle, 18 March. Picture by Gary Thomas.

Several contributions have been held over to the next issue due to lack of time and energy, plus various distractions. Watch this space. - Charlie

News Pictures

Two more views of 805 008, at Llanfairfechan on 18 March ...

... and Sunny Rhyl (Gary Thomas).

66 779 Evening Star brings steel-carriers past Croes Newydd on its way to South Wales. The livery and name of a famous 9F-class 2-10-0 steam loco which was the last steam train to be built for British Railways - 66 779 is the last Class 66 to be built (Gary Thomas).

On the subject of steam trains, we read that new-build loco 60163 Tornado has been fitted with ECTS equipment which will allow it to operate on lines with ERTMS signalling, including the Cambrian Coast. There are to be overnight tests on the Shrewsbury - Machynlleth section.  'They said he couldn't do it ...'

37 405 returned to Coleham depot from duties in the Derby area on 15 March. Here are some images – 405 just doesn’t seem to show the dirt! Above, arriving from Derby and passing Sutton Bridge Junction.

Crossing over at the junction...

Approaching the “calling on” signal, just visible past the bridge.

After reversing into the Coleham shunt neck, making way for 158 824 on 1S40 the 12:27 from Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury, the driver changed ends.    Pictures by Graham Breakwell.

67 025 with coach set HD03, now in 5-car formation, seen at Crewe on 13 March working the 10:52 Cardiff-Manchester (Greg Mape).

56 051 Survival  is seen approaching Prestatyn Station 22 minutes early at
08:34 on 17 March while working 6C97 06:50 Gaerwen to Bescot Up Engineers Sidings after dropping rail between Valley and Gaerwen (Ivor Bufton).

The return DRS nuclear flask working from Valley to Crewe on 12 March. These trains run every few months to keep the paths and keep drivers the knowledge of the route 68 005 Defiant and 68 018 Vigilant (Geoff Morris).

Fourteen of these DRS Class 68s are now locos are looking for work since TransPennine has abandoned its loco-hauled trains. It's rumoured that the coaches will go to Chiltern to replace their ageing Mk3 Coaches, but they won't want the locos as they already have Class 68s.

Blue Peter on test for Locomotive Services at Crewe, 13 March (Greg Mape).

This Network Rail drone view shows the extent of the landslip nrat Oakengates which closed the Wolverhampton - Shrewsbury  line on 8 March. More than 5,000 tonnes of material slipped beneath a 50-metre section of the railway after persistent heavy rainfall over the winter months had weakened the earthwork beneath it. More information on the Network Rail website.

A foggy Sunday at Holyhead - by Eryl Crump

A visit to Holyhead's railway station on a foggy Sunday morning revealed a number of trains, some old and some new. Idling in platform 1 were a pair of Avanti West Coast Voyagers, 221 104 and 221 111 ...

...while stabled in one of the sidings was 805 008. There was no-one around to ask but it was probably on a training run. Just leaving platform 2 were a pair of 197s (197 015 & 197 051) operating 1V90 to Cardiff Central.

Seen from the bridge that links the station with the town centre was a Mk4 set of coaches and a DVT ...

 ...  and a trio of ex-TfW 175/1s. I don't know the identity of the units as they've been chopping and changing in recent weeks.

By the way, a notable landmark in the Holyhead area is due to disappear later this week. The former Anglesey Aluminium site is being cleared by new owners Stena Line and this will see the 450-foot chimney being dismantled in an explosive manner. The planned day for this is 20 March, between 10am and 4pm.

Chaos at Crewe (again) by Chris Scott

A day out at Stafford started at Whitchurch at 07:09 on 13 March, waiting for the loco-hauled Manchester train only to discover that it was running late and was now a two-car unit. Perusal of Real Time Trains showed it had reached Shrewsbury and was not moving.

I had a wander around and viewed the extensive vegetation clearance that had taken place on the Shrewsbury bound side. I have heard that this may be to improve access to that side of the station. This work has revealed the platform edge of the original island platform.

In came the 158 now running 25 minutes late, it appears that the original 158 replacement was losing coolant and was replaced by another 158 at Shrewsbury. The ensuing chaos took place at Nantwich and Crewe.

I took a train to Stafford and remained there all day. During this time it became apparent that all Avanti trains for the North Wales Coast were being cancelled and not running past Crewe or Chester, the reason given was lack of train crew. I stayed until 4pm and nothing changed.

Something is seriously wrong with Avanti and it would appear that coupled with the withdrawal of the Shrewsbury to London service they are treating the residents of North Wales with utter contempt.

As regards TfW,  I noted at least six 197 units standing idle in the Coal yard on Crewe South. Two and three car units.

From Dave Sallery's archive

31 101 with its unique livery leaves Prestatyn on an up service, 10 August 1991.

31 101 is seen again approaching Rhyl with empty ballast wagons for Penmaenmawr, 19 March 1990.  The loco is now preserved on the Avon Valley Railway

31 107 is seen leaving Prestatyn on 16 September 1990 with the remains of the station footbridge. This was replaced with a larger one which has since itself been replaced with a fully accessible one.

31 119 and 31 512  at Prestatyn 17 July 1995.

For many more images visit Dave's Flickr collection.

Looking Back: The Coast in 2000 - Images by Tim Rogers

First North Western inherited eight Class 158 units, and used them on North Wales services until 2003 when the route was transferred to Arriva. They took over some of the diagrams from the Class 37-hauled trains  On 14 March 2000 Tim captured three of them, Above, 1D37 09:43 Stockport to Holyhead 'boat train' with 158 754 passing Holywell Junction.

158 758 on 1K61 10:22 Bangor to Crewe,  Holywell Junction retained a short section of quadruple track, the outer lines were retained as 'Goods Loops' and sidings.

158 756 on 1H38 10:38 Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly. The gold star livery was created for the short-lived North Western Trains company, and continued for older stock by First North Western.

43 094 and  43 098 1D87 08:40 London Euston to Holyhead. Virgin Trains West Coast had a small fleet, maintained at Mancheser Longsight for use on these workings.

Tim relocated to the Footbridge at Mostyn to see 37 426 on 1D67 10:07 Birmingham New Street to Holyhead.

37 429 Eisteddfod Genedlaethol with 1G97 10:48 Holyhead to Birmingham New Street.  The loco-hauled Birmingham services were interesting in that to avoid the loco running round to the other end of the train - not feasible in busy New Street station - they used a series of connecting lines south of Birmingham to re-gain the main line at Soho Junction with the loco and the whole train now pointing back towards Holyhead.

Looking back: Dobwalls - with David Pool

John Southern had an 00 gauge layout as a schoolboy, but the Dobwalls story started when his baby son was given a train set in the late 1950s.  This reawakened his interest, and eventually the layout took over the farm house and later the garden in the village of Dobwalls, East of Bodmin.  In 1965 he learned that a five inch gauge “King” class locomotive had been built by an elderly gentleman who now had health and financial difficulties, and John bought the locomotive in 1966, constructing a track in the garden.

Friends and family enjoyed riding behind “King John”, but then John was offered a larger 7.25 inch gauge LMS “Coronation” class locomotive, and the Dobwalls railway was born.  As a farmer, John had the land available, and the regauged track was laid on a four acre site.  He wanted a layout which would be exciting and challenging, with gradients and tunnels, and there would be public interest after the end of BR steam in 1968.  The new railway was opened in 1970, and was very successful.  In addition to the “Duchess of Sutherland” there were two diesels built by David Curwen, but the arrival in 1971 of a steam locomotive from him set the future direction for the railway.  No.488 General Palmer was based on the K38 class of the 3ft gauge Denver and Rio Grande railroad, and was then probably the most powerful 7.25 inch gauge locomotive in the UK.  My photograph of 488 was taken on 6 September 1985. 

The trees in the newly planted forest were thriving, and by 1973 there was one mile of track for the Forest Railroad.  In 1974 No.818 Queen of Wyoming arrived.  This was based on Union Pacific’s FEF-1 class, and was built by Severn Lamb. In order to have comparable sizes on the same 7.25 inch gauge, the Rio Grande locomotives were built to a larger scale than the Union Pacific locomotives.  818 Queen of Wyoming was the first locomotive I saw at Dobwalls in 1981, and I was certainly impressed. 

The Union Pacific Railroad was associated with open country, in contrast to the forests of the Rio Grande line at Dobwalls, so it was decided to build another line to represent Sherman Hill.  In 1977 the remaining three acres of farm land became “Wyoming”, and Severn Lamb received an order for a “Big Boy” at a cost of £36k.  4-8-8-4 4008 William Jeffers was delivered in November 1978. Easter 1979 being the deadline for opening the new line.  The venture was an immediate success, and a month later another locomotive arrived from Severn Lamb – the Union Pacific DD 40X class Centennial No. 6908.   This class was the world’s most powerful diesel electric locomotive on a single frame, and a fitting successor to the famous “Big Boys”. My photograph of the two Dobwalls locomotives was taken on 6 September 1985.

Photography in the Dobwalls forest or cuttings was difficult, but 818 Queen of Wyoming has come from the Sherman Hill cuttings and is entering the more open country of “Wyoming”. 

More new locomotives were needed to cater for the increasing number of visitors.  In 1980 David Curwen supplied another Rio Grande 2-8-2, this being 498 Otto Mears, a class K37.

A year later another locomotive came from Severn Lamb, 838 Queen of Nebraska. This was the FEF-3 class double chimneyed version, the last steam locomotives built for the Union Pacific by ALCO in 1944.  These superb locomotives regularly ran at speeds up to 100 mph, and Union Pacific 844 is preserved in the U.S.A. for use on steam special trains. 

The Thorburn art gallery at Dobwalls was rebuilt, winning a national award in 1986, then in 1988 an Adventure Playground was built at a cost of around £300k.  Although by 1993 the site was getting 300,000 visitors each year, the cost of the Bank loans and the changing requirements of holidaymakers led to a steady decline in patronage.  Families happy to spend a few hours on the trains were less keen to have an expensive day in a theme park. 

Malcolm Southern became the new owner in 2005, and had plans for redevelopment which included Holiday Homes and a smaller railway, but the site closed in 2006 and the locomotives were sold by auction.  Several steam locomotives went to a hastily built Plowman’s Railroad in Dorset, but this closed in 2010.  Most of the steam locomotives and some diesels then went to Australia, and appear to be in private hands.  The Diamond Valley Railway near Melbourne had Big Boy 4008 for a while, and may have 488 General Palmer awaiting restoration, but up to date information is difficult to obtain.  If anyone can clarify the situation in Australia I should be most interested.

My photograph of 4008 at Dobwalls in 1981 gives some idea of its size.  You may be familiar with the Brookside Railway at Poynton or the Grosvenor Park Railway in Chester – these are also 7.25 inch gauge.  If you can envisage a 2 ton locomotive 21 feet long on this track gauge it will explain why Dobwalls was so special. 

Of course, the real thing is somewhat larger.  Big Boy 4012 was photographed at Bellows Falls, Vermont, on 19 October 1977.

I searched on line for a video illustrating Dobwalls, and the most comprehensive was “Locomotives of the Forest Railway Theme Park at Dobwalls” by Classic Traction, which has good photography and captions, but one hour and fifteen minutes is excessively long. The first 10 minutes show the Sherman Hill route, and the Forest Railway views between 38 and 42 minutes are interesting, but the assortment of short clips, often with continuity issues, for individual locomotives in the same locations could have been better edited.

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