Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

23 February 2021



Forthcoming events

(see also our Calendar page for venues)

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


Philip Macey writes: '230 007 seen from the public road during my daily walk on Thursday 18th February 2021, on the North Wales Coast line at Chester Northgate locks with an empty stock working from Wrexham to Chester for refuelling at the Alstom Depot. It is taking the Up Slow line before going left on the Chester triangle toward Birkenhead and reversing into the depot.'

67 015 in action

Holyhead to Crewe training run seen coming off Roodee Viaduct with 67 015 in charge, 23 February (Bob Greenhalgh).

Engineering views

Gary Thomas writes: 'I had been hoping for a Network Rail liveried class 97/3 or two on 22 February at the iron bridge in Dwygyfylchi, but instead I had to make do with Colas Rail's Plasser & Theurer 08-4x4/4S-RT Tamper No. DR73935, heading from Shrewsbury to Bangor...

... A quick look at Realtime Trains suggests some track work going on at Gaerwen overnight.  But it at least it was warm and pretty sunny!

Graham Breakwell has been having more success  on the 97/3 front:  Above, on 20 February, 97 304 John Tiley hauling the  the 10:26 Crewe to Machynlleth 'Autoballaster' wagons at Harlescott Crossing, north of Shrewsbury.

97 302 Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways on the 12.32 Crewe to Machynlleth at Redhill, on the single track to Welshpool - newborn lambs not the slightest bit interested!

A friendly wave from the secondman!

The auto-ballasters returning to Crewe on 20 February though Meole Brace, Shrewsbury with 97 302 as the 13:00 Machynlleth to Crewe.

97 304 on the 15:00 from Machynlleth. A third service returning the empty rail wagons ran as the 17:00 from Machynlleth with 97 303, the same train that formed the 21:26 from Crewe on the Friday. 

On other duties on 16 February,  seen  from the A540 overbridge of the Bidston to Wrexham line just south of Heswall station, 97 302 leading a measurement train, with driving trailer 9703 on the rear (Alastair Graham).

Chester Freight - recalled by Peter Neve

BR Standard class 5 4-6-0 73125 (with Caprotti valve gear) passes light engine under the footbridge leading to the Hoole Road entrance at Chester General station on 10 April 1968, just four months before the end steam on the network. 73125 will progress a little further before reversing back into the goods yard complex, where there appears to be considerable activity, to pick up a train of freight wagons.

In its relatively short life of 12 years the locomotive was allocated to two sheds only, Shrewsbury and, for the last ten years, Patricroft (9H), from where it was withdrawn in June 1968.

With the trap points at the exit of Chester MPD set to the escape road, Mirfield-based Stanier 8F 2-8-0 48202 makes an impressive sight as it emerges from Hoole Lane bridge with a train of hopper wagons bound for Crewe in April 1965.

Bala Lake Railway appeal

As briefly mentioned in the last update, The Bala Lake Railway is urgently in need of donations for an important project.

Natural Resources Wales are carrying out urgent essential flood mitigation works at Bala where the proposed railway extension is planned.  They are prepared to accommodate the Railway's Bala extension in their works, provided the Railway can guarantee the funding.  After an urgent fundraising appeal, the Railway is £20,000 short of the amount needed, which has to be raised by the end of February.

The donation page is here.- PayPal accepted.

First 31 at Llandudno (?) - by John Wilkinson

D5824 (based at 41A, Darnall depot)  photographed at Llandudno carriage sidings, 23 June 1963.  I wrote on the back of the photo that this was the first visit of this type of diesel loco to Llandudno, although this time steam B1 class locos often visited Llandudno from Sheffield on summer weekends. A visit to '6G shed'  on Sunday morning sometimes found a B1, I think it would go back to Sheffield on Sunday. 

Does anyone have details of the 31's working, or know of an earlier appearance? At that period, the 'X' in  the headcode signified an inter-regional excursion, which Sheffield to Llandudno certainly was.

The loco was fitted with electric train heating equipment in 1974, and became 31 415; It was withdrawn in 1995, and eventially scrapped in 2009.

Borderlands engineering - report by Graham Breakwell

Regarding John Brierley’s question (last issue) about what work was being done on the Wrexham-Bidston line - I don’t have much detail but did note a lot of action through Shrewsbury on 12, 14 and 15 February. I was unable to witness any of it myself though some contributors may have more to add.

This work is the reason for all the GBRf road-learning.  Here is a summary from Real Time trains, taking advantage of GBRf's inclusion of loco numbers: -

Friday 12: six engineers trains from Bescot to Dee Marsh and one from Crewe, via Stafford and Shrewsbury

6G64. Dep 15:14 Bescot  66 780?
6G65. Dep 16:08 Bescot. 66 723
6G66. Dep 16:39 Bescot. 66 781 and 729
6G67. Dep 18:36 Bescot. 66 726 and 704
6G68. Dep 18:30 Bescot. 66 713
6G69. Dep 17:57 Bescot. 66 745
659K. Dep 21:10 Crewe. No info

Sunday 14. Three engineers trains from Wrexham General to Crewe via Shrewsbury and Stafford.
627Q. Dep 14:20 Wrexham
654Q. Dep 15:00 Wrexham
668Q. Dep 16:53 Wrexham

Monday 15. Six engineers trains from Dee Marsh to Bescot.

6G66. Dep 01:30 Dee Marsh. 66 729
6G65. Dep 02:00 Dee Marsh. 66 781
6G64. Dep 02:30 Dee Marsh. 66 780 and 723
6G67. Dep 03:00 Dee Marsh. 66 726
6G69. Dep 03:30 Dee Marsh. 66 704
6G68. Dep 04:00 Dee Marsh. 66 745 and 713.

From Dave Sallery's archive

There were various tales about how and why this power car, 43 028, acquired an alternative livery.  The one I like best is that it was secretly vinyled in Holyhead one night to represent the front of an Irish Rail train. The power car is seen arriving at Crewe off the Chester line in July 1997.  Needless to say, this variation was short lived.

'Mail by Rail' at Bath 25 years ago with 43 189 in attendance. Wasn't integration wonderful? The date was 15 June 1995.

43 101 The Irish Mail  making a smoky departure from Newcastle on a cross-country service on 23 November 1998.  Virgins brash approach to loco naming did not find favour, and was soon abandoned.  As 43 301 this power car is still in use with Cross-Country, albeit de-named.

29 July 1995: 31 462 at Bangor, featuring surely the dreariest livery ever? That is until they took a leaf out of Holland's railways and added a broad yellow stripe along the bodyside.

The lost village of Gerisim - by 'Skimpler'

I had an uncle pass away a couple of years ago and was just thinking of him a few days ago when something came up in conversation, he was born in Gerisim.

"Where?" is what I think most people would say.  Gerisim (also written Gerizim) I think would qualify as a village rather than a hamlet as it was built up around a chapel of the same name.  I don't know which came first as it is often hard to be sure in Wales.  It consisted of two terraces of quarrymen's cottages, a chapel and a shop and clung to the hill-side just east of Llanfairfechan.  I think it has long been assumed it was just Llanfairfechan really. 

Ordnance Survey, 1888, with yet another spelling.

It was razed from the landscape to make room for the four lane version of the A55 but the "old road" as it was, passed between the upper and lower terraces of Gerisim.  The chapel was built in 1863 and rebuilt in 1894; the cottages possibly dated earlier,  on the site of what had been a shanty-town populated by navvies during the construction of the Chester and Holyhead Railway.  The shanty town, having had a predominantly Irish population led to the area still being known by some local people, not that many remember it, as "Down Derry".

In a strange twist of fate, when it was demolished, a new "shanty town" of portable, modular office buildings of a cabin type ( I'm not using their common name as I think it is a trade-name) during the work on the A55.  During the mid to late 1980's when all this was going on, a friend and fellow enthusiast from Bangor, got a contract transporting fibre-glass litter bins manufactured by Ferranti's in Bangor (still going) to Doncaster Works for use in some unit re-furb programme.

Usually once a week, I'd take a day off work and we'd leave Bangor about 04:00 to get to Doncaster early for breakfast, un-load at the works, and then have a day's photography around the Yorkshire area.  One morning, as we passed Gerisim, the van over-heated, turned out to be due to a split in one of the radiator hoses.  We were a bit stuck really until I took a walk down into the site office area.  None of it was locked up. I found a kitchen knife, and several empty milk bottles.  We used the kitchen knife as a screwdriver to undo the jubilee clip on the hose, cut a piece off the end removing the split and then re-tighten the clip. The bottles were used to carry water to re-fill the radiator.  Returning the knife and bottles and then using the facilities to wash hands, we were back on our way in about 30 minutes.

I include two photos, taken from down by the sea wall, In the top one, 47 076 City of Truro is making for Holyhead with Freightliner 4D59 from Manchester Trafford Park, 27 June 1984.  This shows the lower terrace and just above to the right is where the shop was, closed by this time.

The second picture is taken from the end of the street by the lower terrace.  Just about visible beyond them is the upper terrace with its line of chimneys.  The date: 26 April 1986, 47 439 is heading up 1E53 excursion from Bangor to Scarborough.  Of note in this shot too is all the newly laid out concrete troughing.

[For more about the Chapel name: see Bible Archaeology]

Looking back: Llangollen (etc) 2006-2009  - with David Pool

The photograph of 48773 at Carrog on 9 April 2006 may be considered unexciting, but the history of this particular locomotive has been astonishing.  It was built in 1940 to the Stanier design by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow, intended for use by the War Department in France.  It never reached France before Occupation, so was loaned to the LMS, becoming No. 8233.  The WD took it back, and it worked to Iran, and later in Egypt, returning to the Longmoor Military Railway as WD500.  Its next move was to British Railways as No. 48773, and after use on three “Last Days of Steam” Railtours in 1968 it was finally withdrawn from BR service.

48773 then became LMS 8233 on the Severn Valley Railway, where it was photographed leaving Bridgnorth on 29 April 1972.  The more relaxed attitude to trackside safety in those days is apparent. Much more information on 48773 is on the SVR webpage.

I’m not clear why 48773 at Carrog was showing 1T57 chalked on the smokebox in the Carrog picture, but assume it was referring to the “Fifteen Guinea Special” of 11 August 1968.  For the record, the original 1T57 was not chalked on, and it was only carried by Oliver Cromwell and the “Black Fives”.  48773’s reporting numbers for its three railtours in 1968 were 1Z74, 1L43 and 1Z77.  The genuine 1T57 was photographed at Dent Head on 11 August 1968, being hauled by 44781 and 44871.

The Furness Railway Trust owns the ex GWR locomotive 5643, but it has appeared on many of the preserved lines in the UK.  On 20 April 2007 it was on the Llangollen Railway during the “Steel, Steam and Stars” Event, and was photographed at Berwyn.  I think this had been advertised as a non-stop run on this occasion, but I don’t know the significance of the SLS Railtour headboard.

More recently, 5643 has been on the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, where I saw it on 24 April 2019.  I confess that my visit was not to see steam, but to ride on the newly restored Electric Autocar of the North Eastern Railway.  In the interests of safety, it is powered by a diesel engine rather than the original petrol engine – electric motors and petrol is not a good combination on a railway vehicle!

The restoration of 46100 Royal Scot has been fraught with mishaps and setbacks, but eventually it appeared on the Llangollen Railway as LMS No. 6100, here photographed at Berwyn on 24 April 2009.  A month previously, a tyre on the road vehicle conveying it to a Gala at the West Somerset Railway had caught fire.  There was some uncertainty over whether it should have smoke deflectors, and only one is fitted on this occasion.

Royal Scot’s entry into Preservation was at a Butlin’s Camp at Skegness, but it then moved to Bressingham, where it was photographed on 16 April 1979.  The bell is a souvenir of a visit to the USA and Canada in 1933, when it swapped identities with the original 6100 Royal Scot, having previously been 6152 The King’s Dragoon Guardsman. The new Royal Scot was then rebuilt with a taper boiler in 1950, carrying the BR No. 46100, and is in this condition today.  The various appearances in Preservation as LMS No.6100 are not authentic, since it then would have had a parallel boiler.

Bringing Royal Scot’s story up to date, it is now part of the Locomotive Services fleet of main line certified locomotives based at Crewe, although owned by the Royal Scot Locomotive and General Trust.  On 4 April 2018 is was making a trial run on the North Wales Coast line for Saphos Trains (NWCR News 9 April 2018) and accelerating past the site of Mold Junction.

Travel by 'Halfex' - images from Mark Hambly

The two sides of a Western Region 'flyer' from 1958.  Would something like this bring back passengers after lockdown? A subject that comes up at every meeting of railway supporters (including the one that delayed or publication on 22 February).
Attractive  fares will surely play a part.

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