Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

11 September 2017

John Hobbs in charge at the Helsby 150 event, 2013. Picture by Tony Robinson.

Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

September 2017

Thursday 14 September Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society  Dave Southern:  Wrexham Railways  

15-17 September Wels Highland Railway Super Power Weekend

16-17 September Penrhyn Quarry Railway Special event Cancelled as the Railway is closed

Saturday 23 September Welshpool and Llanfair Railway Diesel day

23-24 September Llangollen Railway Diesel Weekend

Saturday 30 September Steam at Chester Vintage Trains 'The Shropshire Express'  Tyseley Warwick Road - Chester. 5043: Tyseley - Wolverhampton - Crewe - Chester - Wrexham - Shrewsbury - Birmingham New St - Tyseley

October 2017

Friday 6 October Clwyd Railway Circle Les Nixon '55 Years of Railway Photography - Part 3' A selection of railway pictures which include genuine BR steam, a wide variety of mainly older modern traction along with industrials, some preservation and brief visits, worldwide, to nearly 20 countries.

6-8 October Ffestiniog Railway Victorian Weekend

Thursday 12 October  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Julian Birley MBE:  The Bala Lake Railway       

13-15 October Llangollen Railway Autumn Steam Gala

Saturday 14 October Railway and Canal Historical Society Clinker Memorial Lecture in Manchester 2:00 pm, Mechanics Conference Centre, 103 Princess Street, Manchester M1 6DD. William Fairbairn, the experimental engineer - a study in mid-nineteenth century engineering. Admission free to all. Mor information (PDF)

November 2017

Friday 3 November Clwyd Railway Circle 'Snowdon Mountain Railway' A presentation given by Mike Robertshaw Msc IEng MIED, Senior Engineering Manager of the railway.

Thursday 9 November  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society  AGM /  Clive Evans  Memories of North Wales steam and beyond in the 1950s

Saturday 18 November Steam on the Coast Steam Dreams 'Cathedrals Express' London Euston - Llandudno for the Christmas Market.  46233 Duchess of Sutherland: Crewe  - Llandudno and return

Saturday 25 November Steam at Chester Railway Touring Company 'The Christmas Cheshireman'
Bristol - Chester 70013 / 45305: Bristol - Hereford - Wrexham - Chester and return

Saturday 25 November Steam at Chester UK Railtours 'The Chester Christmas Cracker'
London Euston - Chester 60163: Euston - Chester and return

December 2017

Friday 1 December  Clwyd Railway Circle 'Members Night & Christmas Celebrations' Members are invited  to give a 15 minute presentation of their choice (any format). FREE tea/coffee & festive treats during the interval. Contact David Jones 01244 537440 to book a slot.

Thursday 14 December  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Xmas Social / Bill Rogerson: Roaming the Rails with Bill 

January 2018

Friday 5 January  Clwyd Railway Circle Mike Blackburn 'The Welsh Highland Railway (NWNGR)' A history of the North Wales narrow gauge and Croesor Tramway and the linking to form the Welsh Highland Railway, restoration and building of the new.

Thursday 11 January  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society   Ron Watson Jones:  Rails to Roads

February 2018

Friday 2 February Clwyd Railway Circle John Sloane 'From Vulcan Foundry to the Khyber' British built steam at work in Pakistan, It includes pictures taken on the spectacular line up the Khyber Pass to the Afghan border.

8 February  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Ellis Morey: The Penrhyn Railway

March 2018

Friday 2 March Clwyd Railway Circle Annual General Meeting followed by “Film Shows - Railways Past and Present”.

Thursday 8 March     Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society  John Cashen RCTS:  North West & North Wales Reminiscences in the 1960s   

April 2018

Friday 6 April Clwyd Railway Circle John Cashen 'North West & North Wales Reminiscences In The 1960s' The presentation will cover from Liverpool to Liverpool within an area bounded by Southport, Burscough, Standish, Warrington, Crewe, Whitchurch, Chester, Holyhead, Barmouth, Aberystwyth, Shrewsbury, Wrexham, the Wirral, Chester, Northwich and Speke

12 April Llandud and Conwy Valley Railway Society  Members Evening           

May 2018

10 May  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society  W. Gordon Davies:  A taste of Japan

2-6-4T 42647 at Birkenhead (Woodside) on 26 February 1967, awaiting departure with a Paddington train. Picture by John Hobbs, from our 20 March issue.

John Hobbs

We are saddened to hear of the death of John Hobbs, one of our more regular contributors, after a short illness.  He was a stalwart member of the North Cheshire Rail Users' Group, playing an active role in their campaigns including the re-opening of the Halton curve; it's good that he lived to see work actually starting on that project, and to unveil a plaque recognising his support for the railway as a means of transport. Our sympathies are with his wife Kathleen and all the family.

Tony Robinson writes: 'John served an engineering apprenticeship commencing in 1964 at Hawker Siddeley Aviation, Chester. We were apprentices together in the days when he was out 'photting' the last of the steam workings in his spare time. He was employed in later years as an insurance investigating engineer for British Engine and  specialised in cranes and heavy lifting devices.

Above, and below, are a very small selection of John's pictures, with his original captions,  from our website archive. For many more, select 'archive' from the options in the left column and search the page for his name (Ctrl-F in Windows).

At Chester on 29 February  'Grange' class 4-6-0 6839 Hewell Grange is also getting steam up, ready to leave with the 2.30 to Paddington the 'Inter City'. This train would inevitably pass the combined 12.50pm Bangor / 1.05pm Llandudno to Euston on the curve outside the station; this was due to arrive at 2.32pm, so there were two London-bound trains progressing in opposite directions, the former due in Paddington at 6.59pm and the latter in Euston at 6.27 pm.

It looks like the 'rot set in' earlier on the ex-Western Region depots as the 'Grange' is quite scruffy though still with cab number plates and nameplates. A Western Region  brown & cream liveried Mk 1 brake leads the formation while the iconic towers of the Italianate station building can be seen in the background with the tall chimney from the lead works looming in the distance.

Collett 0-6-0 2236 at Morfa Mawddach waiting to work light engine to Barmouth to collect a failed BR Standard Class 4 4-6-0, which it then took to Machynlleth, on 21 November 1964.

LMS-built Class 5 4-6-0 45395 at Prestatyn, on 29 June 1964. The old ground frame in the coal  yard still existed at this time and the yard is in use for wagon storage; four tracks of main line were sustained by the summer traffic.

Ivatt Class 2 2-6-0 46509 from  Chester (6A) shed  runs into Ruabon, past the large 'Running in Board', with the 8.45 am Chester to Pwllheli on 21 November 1964. It was a foul day and I do wish I had gone there again after this, in better weather, as the line was beached by flooding shortly after and my rumour mill said it was closed. Unbeknown to me there was a bus from Llangollen to Bala and a train from there to Barmouth until 16 January 1965.

The Cheshireman

On Saturday 9 September  Railway Touring Company excursion - The Cheshireman' worked from Norwich to Chester with A4 class steam locomotive no 60009 Union of South Africa. The journey to Chester took an interesting route, commencing at Norwich then via the Ely line to Wymondham, Attleborough, across the fens to Thetford,and Brandon, before bypassing Ely to March, Peterborough, cross country to Stamford, Oakham, Melton Mowbray, Leicester, and Nuneaton, joining the West Coast main line to Crewe and finally Chester. Above, 60009 passes through Chorlton towards Crewe.  Picture by Robert Meredith.

A sequence of views taken by Roly High at Chester. Above: the train arrives.

Once the passengers had alighted the whole train (which had no assisting diesel loco) was reversed by means of the triangle west of the station before (above) running into one of the goods loops opposite platform 7.

Close-up of the nameplate and the single-slide-bar motion.

To move to the short siding where a coal lorry was waiting alongside, the locomotive had to be uncoupled, a tricky job for a crew member, with the steam-heating pipe needing some caution, especially when not wearing the recommended heavy-duty gloves.

Setting back past Chester signalling centre, which is destined for oblivion under plans to control everything from a few remote centres. 60009 has the corridor tender devised by Sir Nigel Gresley to allow crew changes while a train is in motion during the long non-stop journeys which were in fashion in the 1930s. The tiny circular window provides some light to the corridor, in daytime at least.

Coaling in process.  On the return run the loco was to come off the train at Peterborough, where a diesel would take the train on to Lincoln.

DRS action at Crewe, September - pictures by Martin Evans

An old favourite made an appearance at Crewe on 8 September, in the plain-blue shape of 37 422, once part of the 1990s North Wales passenger fleet as Robert F. Fairlie, and now in use by DRS.
Along with 37 609, it worked from Crewe Gresty Bridge to Chester at 11:41 and returned at 13:08 08 from Chester to Gresty Bridge.  Topping and tailing the locos were Network Rail 'Independent Snowplough' vehicles ADB965580 and ADB965581 on a test outing.

These vehicles were creating using the bogies from Class 40 diesel locos. At the right-hand end the aperture for the original unpowered carrying axle, which was needed on the Class 40s to keep them within the permitted weight per axle.

37 605 with coach 6173 (one of the Cumbrian Coast fleet, for works attention) waits for the road at Crewe.

37409 Lord Hinton has just brought 68 024, 68 025 and 68 023 from Gresty Bridge into Platform 10 to await departure for Barrow Hill, where they are to be temporarily stored; there is a surfeit of 68s at present as the requirement for two on Greater Anglia services has ceased and the TransPennine Express operation, for which these are earmarked, awaits the delivery of the carriages from Spain. reports that 37 409 was on its way to Loram, Derby for a routine examination; it was detached there and 68 024 Centaur hauled the other two 68s for the remainder of the journey.

68 024 awaits departure with the consist.

Free bus travel at Weekends

At very short notice back in July, the Welsh Government instructed the various operators that travel on the TrawsCambria long-distance bus network would be free to all passengers at weekends, including  Bangor - Dolgellau - Aberystwyth route T2 run by everyone's favourite company Express Motors (Full information.)

It's not obvious what this experiment hopes to achieve; there's an obvious risk of overcrowding, which apparently has led to more than one bus having to be used. At 201 minutes running , assuming on-time running the Bangor - Aberystwyth journey is competitive with rail.

Has anyone tried it?

New signals at Flint - report by Roly High

The installation of the new signalling system is starting to gather pace. At Flint,the new signals have been installed and covered. Of interest is the sign for a 10-car Voyager stop; I thought the platform length could not take a train this long, but I stand to be corrected. This view is from the Down platform, looking back towards Chester. As can be seen, the signal is ready with 'feathers' for when the new crossover is installed.

175 115 arrives at the 11:36 from Manchester Airport to Llandudno. If this was to have been a proposed Chester/Flint shuttle, the train would then depart this platform, and then crossover to the Up Line back to Chester.

Departing for Prestatyn.

This and That

43 062 John Armitt passes Bangor with the 1Q30 track recording train toward Crewe on 7 September (Rowan Crawshaw).

175 111 passes Stoney Bridge, Timperley on Sunday 10 September with the diverted 13:36 Chester - Manchester service (Greg Mape).

150 229 stabled at Chester, 9 September (Roly High).

Corwen: rails reach the buffers - report by George Jones

A brief update from the Llangollen Railway following last issue's report. Despite another rainy week, the rails for the headshunt at Corwen Central have gone in are are connected up with the buffer stop. On Saturday 9 September, the first rail vehicle travelled to the buffers when the Muscleman machine (below) made an initial alignment of the new track pending the ultimate top ballast drop and eventual tamping.

Notice how the sleepers change from wooden for the points to concrete for the headshunt: sleepers under pointwork have to vary in length.

This concludes work on the western end of the Corwen site and attention can be concentrated elsewhere on the station site. Track work to complete the terminus will involve the installation of the east end points for the loop and finally connection through to the current railhead at Dwyrain Corwen East. That will involve the challenge of the infill of the gap in the embankment which, in the meantime, remains open for delivery of materials etc.  Much more civil engineering remains to be done on site before that can happen, of course.

Roaming the Cumbrian Coast line 5 – 7 September - by Richard Putley

I spent an enjoyable three nights at the Broadwater Guest House in Morecambe, arriving there on Monday 4 September. That day on my way north I'd seen 66 088 (above)at Helsby. Curiously it was with a loaded sand train on the Ellesmere Port branch. I wonder if there was a problem at the plant and they'd had to send the train back to Warrington? [I was running two hours earlier than the booked time of the empties.]

On Tuesday  September I purchased a Cumbrian Coast Day Range for £19.50. I took the 08:52 Morecambe – Lancaster. I saw the 05:15 Carlisle – Preston via Barrow arrive with 37 423 Spirit of the Lakes arrive at 09:15. But it was then held for 20 minutes, presumably due to a fault. I had intended to wait for its return working, the 10:04 Preston – Barrow. But as I thought that would probably be cancelled due to the fault, I opted to get the 09:47 from Lancaster (08:31 from Manchester Oxford Rd so that I would be able to catch the 11:40 train from Barrow to Carlisle which I thought would be formed by the other loco hauled set in use on the Cumbrian Coast line.

While 37 423 with the 05:15 ex Carlisle was held at Lancaster I saw the Northbound Daventry – Glasgow Tesco container train hauled by 66 428 (leading) and a classmate.

In the event not only did 10:04 Preston – Barrow arrive on time at Barrow but it then formed the 11:40 to Carlisle. I had expected the other set (above) which had arrived from Carlisle at 11:30 with 37 558 (37 424) Avro Vulcan XH558 to form the 11:40.

I took the 11:40 Barrow - Carlisle as far as Whitehaven where I decided to have a break for lunch. I then caught the 14:01 to Sellafield, where I photographed it passing 68 027, one of the two 68s stabled there. Next I re-traced my steps to St Bees before joining the 14:35 Carlisle - Barrow there.

I wondered if they had decided to send 37 423 and its set on to Carlisle to swap it with another but it duly returned with the 14:35 Carlisle – Barrow. At Barrow the service which forms the 17:20 to Manchester Airport was a few minutes late , worked by 185 127, so I was able to manage a 'minus 2 minute' connection and returned to Lancaster on the 17:20.

On Wednesday 6 September I decided to venture only as far as Carnforth. Once again I caught the 08:52 from Morecambe and again the 09:47. Again 37 423 worked the 10:04 Preston – Barrow and also 66 428 on the Northbound Tesco. Talk about deja vu! Most of the West Coast locos I saw at Carnforth were the same ones I'd seen when I called in on Monday. A line of 47s and 57s had 57 006 at the south end and 47 580 County of Essex at the north end.

Thursday before returning I went to Arnside to photograph the 10:04 Preston – Barrow on the Kent Viaduct. I got there in time to have a cup of tea in the Ramblers Cafe but the time the 10:04 appeared it was raining so I sheltered in a shop doorway to take the photo from.

[An editorial experiment in digital enhancement]

I had not seen any nuclear trains on the Cumbrian Coast line but on my way back south I pause at Craven Arms and saw a Bridgwater, Somerset – Sellafield flask train hauled by 68 003 (leading) and 68 018. This had been diverted from its normal route via Bristol Parkway and Gloucester due to a fortnight-long engineering blockade at the former.

Snowdon: what a difference a day makes - by Phil Clarke

Unfortunately not the photos I had hoped for this week ... I enjoyed with, great envy, seeing Gary Thomas's photos (last issue) from his walk up Snowdon on 2  September, with the great views, but what a difference a day makes! I was booked on the 2.00pm train from Llanberis to the summit the day after, Sunday 3rd. On arriving at the base station,on a wet, but calm day, we were told that Due to high winds, trains were not going to the summit and would terminate at Rocky Valley' and we would not be allowed to leave the train.  We were offered a full or partial refund (and go up to Rocky Valley), or to re-book another day. We chose to go to Rocky Valley. Big disappointment, no views and misted-up windows.

On returning to Llanberis, a trip on the Llanberis Lake Railway behind 1922-built  Hunslet steam loco No. 3, Dolbadarn, helped a bit.

Running round at Llanberis station.

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