Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

08 June 2020


Forthcoming events

(see also our Calendar page for venues)
Note:  we have removed all entries up to the end of August as the events are cancelled.  The Railway Touring Company North Wales trains in July are no longer being advertised.

September 2020

Saturday 5 September Steam at Chester 'The Cheshireman' (Railway Touring Company). Norwich to Chester. Loco 6233 for part of the journey.


The big news of the week was the appearance on the Coast line on 3 June of a DRS flask train from Crewe to Valley and back.   Ryan Lloyd was at Llandudno Junction to see and hear two of 'our' classic 37/4s again in the shape of 37 401 Mary Queen of Scots and 37 407 Blackpool Tower on the outward journey.

Next update: Friday 13 June
37/4s on the Coast

Some more views: above, the return trip at Bangor...

... and heading back to Crewe (Jim Johnson).

Bagillt (Tim Rogers). this was a 'pathing run' by DRS to keep the path open for future use. It was also an opportunity for DRS to give 37 407 a test run after receiving recent repairs.

Portrait (Tim Rogers).

Beeches Farm (Bob Greenhalgh). The  DRS Class 37/4 locos  would appear to have an uncertain future, as they are rarely seen in action at the moment, although the fact that 407 has see repairs is perhaps a good sign.

Engineering scenes

The Blaenau branch saw its first service for quite a while on 2 June when Colas locos 70 802 and 70 812 worked from Crewe with a train of JNA wagons for removal of old ballast and spoil from engineering works between Tal-y-Cafn and Llanrwst.
Garry Stroud photographed the loaded train with 70 812 leading departing Llandudno Junction ...

... with 70 802 on the rear, heading back to Crewe.

The same two locos appeared again on 4 June, seen near Glan Conwy by Garry Stroud.

56 113 and 56 094 with new ballast in 'autoballaster' wagons for the Conwy Valley departing from Llandudno Junction on 8 June (Ryan Lloyd).

Making a smoky entry to the Conwy Valley branch (Garry Stroud).

Petroleum 47s - remembered by Richard Spruce

The Crewe Diesel-based class 47 petroleum sector locos were regulars
on Stanlow refinery trains for a short time in the late 1980s. I have added some supporting text with specific info on each loco taken from the Class 47 website.

47 010 Xancidae is pictured above at platform 4 at Helsby, awaiting clearance to head towards Warrington Bank Quay.  This was one of a fleet of class 47s allocated at the time to the Railfreight Petroleum sector and could be regularly seen heading through Helsby taking TEA or TTA tank wagons to or from Stanlow oil refinery.  Almost all of the locos carried bespoke Shell-branded nameplates and were named after various gastropod molluscs.  This photo must have been taken between May-October 1989 as the loco only carried the name Xancidae during this period.

47 085 Conidae is repeating a similar journey around the same time in 1989. It held these plates for a further couple of years and didn't quite make it to the turn of the century, being disposed of in September 1999.

47 119 Arcidae, again travelling light engine past platform 4, I suspect in the late spring of 1989 judging by the elderflower behind it!  Like its compatriot, 47 010, it only carried these plates until October of that year.  In May 1992, the loco suffered serious damage to one end in a collision with a road tanker on a level crossing at Billingham, Teeside and was never repaired, being cut up three years later.

47 190 Pectinidae - I've included this photo mainly as it captures the co-acting signals that are still is operation at Helsby today.  Growing up in Helsby I never realised their rarity and it was only years later I understood how lucky I was to see semaphore signals in operational use.  I was even fortunate enough to be invited into the signalbox on occasion and taught some of the bell codes used between the neighbouring boxes at Mickle Trafford, Frodsham, Norton (Runcorn East) and Helsby West Cheshire Junction (the latter of which sadly burned down in 1991).

47 193 Lucinidae carries an empty set of TEA tankers through Helsby junction
towards Stanlow.  47 193 remained operational until August 2000 when it was
seriously damaged by a fire in its main generator.  It was disposed of in
December 2004.

47 195 Muricidae takes charge of a loaded set of TEAs towards Warrington. This loco only remained in service for another couple of years before being withdrawn in November 1991.

47 196 Haliotidae and two others of its class head towards Warrington. 47 196 also didn't have too many more years left in her, being withdrawn from service in March 1994.

47 233 Strombidae and 47 190 Lucinidae head light engine towards Warrington.
47233 carried the incorrectly spelt Stombidae for five days after being named at Crewe in October 1988 before staff realised their error.

47 276 (the only unnamed example?) and 47 125 pass through a damp Helsby in
autumn 1989.

47 278 Vasidae glides through platform 3 with some TEA and TTA empties bound
for Stanlow.

47 324 Glossidae hauls Shell-branded TTA tankers towards Stanlow. Unfortunately 47 324 derailed in April 1992 at Castleton while working a similar service and was never repaired.  It was cut up in January 1994.

47 368 Neritidae takes further empties to Stanlow.  This loco may be the only one listed that hasn't been disposed of.  However from one account I saw online it is now stored at Carnforth and will eventually be cut up once it has been cannibalised for spares.

From Dave Sallery's archive - no-heat 37s

37 131 on 17 July 1998 found itself on a Virgin Trains service, seen passing Rhyl.

12 July 1999 and 37 298 works a First North Western service through Prestatyn. For a time in 1999 the normal Class 37/4 locos were taken out of service after one had suffered a bogie problem.

21 June 1999, 37 379 also substituting for a 37/4.

37 191 in so-called 'Dutch' livery on passenger duty, 30 May 1998. This loco worked a full day on the Coast, on that day only. The following year it was taken out of service.

About Shotton Paper Mill (last issue)

Ivor Bufton writes:  Mentioned to a friend of mine (Railway Archivist) the recent story of the Unimog at Shotton, below is his reply:

Thanks for this, very interesting as it is the first time I have seen a picture of this Unimog with rail gear. In 2005 it was arranged for me to visit Shotton to photograph it.  By this time the rail gear had been removed and it was being used as a site run-about.   The story I was told was that this was actually the second road/rail unimog they had used.  The first was delivered in 1986 and carried road registration D672 NWX, I'm not aware of any pictures of that one.  In 1988 it had an accident and was replaced by this one which carried road registration F612 VFR.  I was told rail traffic ceased in 1998 and as a result the rail gear was removed from the Unimog. I would be very interested in any other pictures of the Shotton Unimogs.

On the subject of Unimogs, you didn't by any chance go to Transpo '73 held
in the docks at Trafford Park in 1973 or know anyone that did.    Apparently on display and working was a road/rail Unimog which might have been the Procter & Gamble one featured in a 1970 Railway Magazine but could have been another one.   I actually went and have a few pictures but nothing written down.  I'm particularly interested in which locomotives, carriages and buses were present as well as the Unimog.
From Andy Hyde: The recent photos reminded me when I was sent to Shotton in the late 1980s to install telemetry equipment at the then new Shotton Paper power station. The mill was completed by then, with a rail connection, there was an 08 shunter located there, of which I only remember the name Bescot which I thought was a long way from its base, any suggestions as to which loco? The livery may have been BR green.

Another item of note was that most of the chairs (all bullhead rail) used in the new rail connection to the paper mill had “GCR” cast into them, I’m guessing recovered from the old exchange yards at Shotwick.

Looking back with David Pool - Frodsham and Halton

The Cawoods coal trains from Ellesmere Port were always worth photographing.  At first the Class 56s would be used, but the Coal Sector heavyweight Class 37s could also be seen on these workings.  37 894 is passing through Frodsham on 13 June 1992.

With the benefit of hindsight, I should have made a note of which train this was.   47 467 is approaching Runcorn East on 30 May 1994 heading towards Chester.  It appears to have been a private charter from Manchester Victoria to Llandudno; the loco was replaced at Chester due to a train heating failure, replaced by 47 779.
The 'The Victoria 2000'  headboard  is a mystery Any ideas, please?

In the late afternoon the sun would have been facing the camera at the usual location, so the photograph of 37 219 in Mainline blue livery was taken from the North side of the high level footbridge.  The cars were Opels (not Vauxhalls) from Ellesmere Port, heading for Garston and presumably for export.

In 2003 there were several excursion trains from the North Wales Coast to the Settle and Carlisle Railway.  6201 Princess Elizabeth was stopping at Frodsham to pick up passengers, an unusual occasion which brought out many spectators on 12 April.  The train was 1Z62, the 0852 from Bangor to Carlisle.

Not  a steam working, but possibly a more interesting selection of motive power, the 08:10 from Llandudno Junction to Carlisle on 16 August 2003 had two Class 31 Fragonset diesels, 31 459 and 31 128.  The Railtour Files website shows this as 1Z73, so my notes at the time which identified it as 1Z47 may be incorrect.

The classic shot of the bridge over the River Weaver at Frodsham is particularly suited to short trains, and Network Rail’s 950 001 is a good example of this.  The window modifications to the basic Class 150 design are clearly evident.

The downside to the River Weaver bridge is the sudden appearance of roosting pigeons.  The birds are usually undisturbed by the diesel multiple units, but the sound of a steam locomotive can be guaranteed to persuade them to take flight.  I managed to get a reasonable shot of K4 61994 on 1Z90, the 07:40 Preston to Blaenau Ffestiniog on 21 August 2012, but steam photography is never easy here.

The upgrading of the Halton Curve between Frodsham Junction and Halton Junction near Runcorn has led to regular daily services, and not just the weekly “Parliamentary” train from Chester to Runcorn.   Possibly the second steam working over this line since the 1960s, Jubilee 45690 Leander, currently in black livery, is emerging from the tunnel at Beechwood, with 1Z76, the 10:55 from Liverpool Lime Street to Holyhead, on 21 July 2019.

Notes on the last issue - by Ken Robinson

The Ynyslas Coach: I found some photos of a visit there in 1999. The said coach  - used, I believe, as a Permanent Way stores at the time.

20 314 and 20313 (DRS) passing the site on 16 May 1999 with Eagle Railtours' (remember them?) 'Cambrian Mountain Express' from Birmingham New Street to Aberystwyth.

Also, the 'East Lancashire Railway' nameplate - here's a shot of 37418 entering Chester station on 16 August 1996 with a Holyhead-Crewe working.

Around Chester, 2009 - pictures by Tim Rogers

1 June 2009 Promised Land Lane, Rowton

221 106 Willem Barents on 1A53 16:35 Chester to London Euston

175 004 1K14 16:55 Chester to Crewe.

37 609 and 37 602 with wagons 550024, 550009, 550051. 6K41 4:58 Valley to Crewe

1 June 2009 Hare  Lane, Chester

57 305 John Tracy, 6J37  FX 12:51 Carlisle to Chirk

1 June 2009 Saighton Lane, Waverton

57 313, 1W91 16:17 Cardiff to Holyhead

Shipping News - by Jim Johnson

Amadeus Amethist collecting decorative state chippings from Port Penrhyn, Bangor, on the morning of Thursday 4 June.

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