Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

26 October 2020


Forthcoming events

(see also our Calendar page for venues)

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


The newest arrival: 230 008 at Gobowen on the evening of Tuesday 20 October. (picture by Chris Scott). The unit was being delivered to Wrexham, a day later than originally planned.  In other rolling stock news, a test run with a 67/Mk4 from Cardiff to Chester is planned for 28 October.

45231 on test


With autumnal colours starting to predominate, 45231 approaches Rossett Junction with 5 coaches and a class 37 diesel (37 521) on the drawbar, Tuesday 20 October (Peter Neve).


The following day, 21 October,  Sherwood Forester drifts past recently harvested maize fields at Marford before tackling the ascent of Gresford Bank (Peter Neve).

45231 catches the morning sunlight as it approaches Pulford Crossing on the third and last day (22 October)) of the series of runs. It appears the loading behind the locomotive has been reduced by one coach compared to the outing on Tuesday  (Peter Neve).

Green Lane Crossing,  Saltney  - the English side of the border! Picture from 22 October by Bob Greenhalgh.

RHTT news

Recent days have seen 56 113 'flying solo' with the Rail head treatment train, requiring a locomotive run-round, Above,  Bagillt, 23 October (Tim Rogers).

Llandudno Junction, 25 October (Ryan Lloyd).

56 096 in Holyhead station, 16 October (Alastair Graham).

Looking back: Vale of Rheidol, Part 2 - with David Pool

In 1966 the Vale of Rheidol line came under the Stoke Division of the London Midland Region, the Divisional Manager being Mr George Dow, an experienced railwayman.  He proved to be the saviour of the line, seeing its potential as a tourist attraction.  In the face of instructions that the line should be closed and the assets sold, he sought allies to help overturn this intent.  It so happened that the then Minister of Transport, Mrs Barbara Castle, was visiting Aberystwyth for a Rally in July 1967, and would surely appreciate a ride from Devil’s Bridge.  With a suitable welcome party arranged, the visit to the V of R was much enjoyed, and in November 1967 it was announced in Parliament that the closure plan had been withdrawn.  The immediate changes were to close the old GWR station and the nearby level crossing, and relocate the V of R line into the now disused platforms 5 and 4 in the main station.  The old steam locomotive shed was available for the locomotives and coaching stock, all to be carried out at minimal cost.  The appearance of the V of R trains in Rail Blue instead of GWR green was presumably to mollify the BR hierarchy!

On 25 May 1968 No.9 Prince of Wales was waiting to leave Aberystwyth for Devil’s Bridge with the afternoon train, the sack of sand ready for use.  A British Railways can may have been provided to facilitate the pouring of the sand!  It was not surprising that in the interest of cost savings no attempt had been made to raise the track level or lower the platforms, so access to the train was via a ramp from the main concourse. 

I returned to Aberystwyth on 5 April 1969, which was the start of the V of R services that year.  Named trains had that prestige value, so No.7 Owain Glyndwr was carrying “The Welshman” headboard for the 14:15 departure.  The name had been previously used on trains from Euston to North Wales. I assume the coach doors would be locked at the platform side, as the gap and the difference in height between the platform and the coach steps would be a hazard.

By 1980 the V of R was a successful tourist operation, settled in its new surroundings at Aberystwyth.  On 11 October the visible difference on No.9 was the lined blue livery, the cast double arrow insignia and the absence of a smokebox number.  A pair of class 25s were visible in the main line station.

 The next departure from Aberystwyth was a train hauled by 25 053 and 25 058.  I did not make a note of what working this may have been, but 11 October 1980 was a Saturday, and trains to Euston would have been double-headed as far as Shrewsbury.  The headcode blind is no help!

A few years laterm on 2 May 1983 the Rail Blue had finally given way to the V of R’s Great Western ancestry, and the coaches on this train were chocolate and cream with a green locomotive.  The headboard on No.7 Llywelyn commemorated sixty years of service, and there was a GWR roundel on the side of the cab.  The location is just before Capel Bangor station.

No 9 Prince of Wales also gained a new livery in 1983.  Sir James Szlumper had been the Engineer and then a Director of the V of R before it became absorbed by the Cambrian Railway and later by the GWR.  He apparently had a liking for the colour of Stroudley’s locomotives on the LB&SCR, and arranged for Brighton Works to send some tins of the “Improved Engine Green” for the first locomotives on the V of R in 1902.  A yellow-ochre colour had now been applied to No.9, although of course the locomotive was built in 1924 and never ran previously in this livery.  I had planned to photograph it at Aberffrwd, but allowed insufficient time on the narrow roads, and decided that Rheidol Falls Halt was a safer bet, since there would have been a water stop at Aberffrwd.  My map showed a fairly direct path from the road, but unfortunately that was as the crow flies, and I overlooked the closely spaced contour lines.   The hillside was exceedingly steep, but somehow I got to the Halt in time and got a photo which made it all worthwhile.  The 'Welsh Dragon' headboard reminded me of the Llandudno to Rhyl steam shuttles in the 1950s.

Returning from a short holiday in West Wales I called into Aberystwyth on 21 October 1983 and was surprised to find No.7 in steam, having just returned with a freight working – probably a ballast train. The cleanliness of the wagons was remarkable, and it did not appear to have been a photo charter special.

David adds: 'I described last issue's second picture as 10 ASA Kodachrome, but it was in fact 25 ASA Kodachrome II, introduced in 1961'. 

Early digital days: 2002 - images by Eryl Crump

Some view taken in 2002 with my first digital camera, an Olympus. It was was not the best despite its price tag, but was used in much the same way as my phone these days i.e. always close by. It was too heavy to be always in my pocket. The zoom left much to be desired and it would think about it for a second or two before taking a picture and was unable to take more than one shot in succession. Above, in
November 2002 at Bangor, smoky 43 084 leading a Virgin Trains service from Euston to Holyhead;  43 100 was at the other end.

47 790 Saint David / Dewi Sant on hire to First North Western.

158 820 in original Regional Railways livery with 'Alphaline' branding, possibly working the once-daily Cardiff - Holyhead service.  This short-lived Wales and Borders franchise, which took over part of the original Wales & West version, was operated by National Express. The Welsh operations of First North Western were added in 2003 to create Arriva Trains Wales.

Now some images from  Chester in May 2002.  Above, First North Western 175  001 arrives from North Wales. 2002 was the first year that the whole 175 fleet has been accepted by FNW, following many teething problems. (Nothing changes: the Northern 195s have followed the same sort of path)

Merseyrail was operated by Arriva for a while: 508 138 has arrived from Liverpool.  508s remain in service today, although due for replacement with new stock built by Swiss firm Stadler.

First North Western operated the Chester - Crewe shuttle, see here in Platform 1 with 150 203 142 012, in the background, is possibly laying over between turns on the Chester to Manchester via Northwich route. 142s can be found on that line today beyond their planned withdrawal date, a few having been given a stay of execution to be coupled to a 150 to offer more social-distancing space. 142 012 no longer runs in 2020, however; last we heard it was at Landore depot in Souty Wales being cannibalised for spare parts.

Some First North Western stock gained the 'Greater Manchester PTE' livery; behind is glimpsed a 'Pacer'  in Regional Railways colours.

25 on the A55 - by 'Skimpler'

A couple more pictures following on from my last "before and during" pictures on the A55 re-building.  These were taken from Tan-y-Bryn Road bridge at the west end of Colwyn Bay, re-placed by a footbridge during all the works.  The first picture, from May 1992  shows 25323 on the up with a short permanent-way train and the hill has had its first bit of attention for the forthcoming works.  Also, the start of what passed in those days for site fencing, posts and sticks about 4ft high;  posts ahead of the train, the full fence behind it.

The second picture shows the same area two years later with work well under way.  25 276 is delivering some of Penmaenmawr's finest to the rest of the world.  The engine in the first shot can't have been far off where the yellow site dumper is in the second one but it is hard to be sure.

From Dave Sallery's archive

This curious scene from  12 April 1995 shows an afternoon Glasgow - Euston service passing Crewe, also acting as a 'Motorail' service. We believe the General Utility Vans (GUV) for cars were added at Carlisle. Parsimonious BR at its best!

On 20 March 1992 a Holyhead - Euston HST passes Norton Bridge station, which was closed some years ago. The signalbox has also now been removed following the building of a flyover at the junction.

20 187 and 20 075 on the second 'Trawsfynydd Trekker' railtour on 10th September 1994, with 31 238 and 31 207 at the other end of the six-coach train. The siding on the left was for the gunpowder traffic from Cooke's at Penrhyndeudraeth, although that had long finished by this date.

Cambrian Heritage Railways update - report by Gareth Thomas

Two pictures taken on 19 October  from the road bridge by Weston Wharf near Oswestry. The view above demonstrates the progress being made at Weston Wharf to the extension from Oswestry with a platform and run round under construction. It is hoped that services might commence sometime next year. increasing the the running line to around 1.75 miles from the centre of Oswestry. Next door to the site is the Stonehouse Brewery.

The view from the other side of the bridge towards Llynclys with the line crossing the Morda brook on a recently refurbished bridge and on to the crossing across the busy A483 road which might delay progress in the future.

Cement trains - pictures by Tim Rogers

66 704 Colchester Power Signalbox passes Hawarden 6V41 12:51 Penyffordd Cement to Avonmouth, 14 October.

23 October: 66 781 (formerly Freightliner 66 016) on 6M42 09:20 Avonmouth  to Penyffordd.

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