Issue Number 1280 (Items 931 - 1021I&ssuMeRN7u0m-bMerR18216)8 (E-BLN 56 PAGES) 6 May 2017
BRANCH LINE NEWS
Published twice monthly by the Branch Line Society (founded 1955)
Membership Enquiries: [email protected]
22 Treemount Court, Grove Avenue, Epsom, KT17 4DU. 01372 728677
British Isles news from members;7a2n8i6n7te7rnational section is also available.
Opinions herein are not necessarily those of the Compilers or the Society.
BLN 1281 is dated Sat 20 May;Scoocniettryi.bSuotciioentys. must be received by Wed 10 May
Date Event Details BLN Lead Status
Sat 6/5/17 Scunthorpe Steel Wks 09.30 - 18.30 internal tour 1275 PS2 ENQUIRE
Sun 7/5/17 The Vallum Hadriani Tracker, PAY ON THE DAY AVAILABLE 1277 JE OPEN
Sun 14/5/17 ROUTE DESCRIPTION AND NOTES AVAILABLE WITH E-BLN SP OPEN
Sun 14/5/17 SP OPEN
Moreton Park Railway 11.00 Track & Traction Tour 1276
Titley Junction Railway Afternoon Track & Traction 1276
10 to 15/5/17 Jordan Hejaz Railway Bookings are now closed 1272 IS CLOSED
1265 KA *FULL*
18 to 21/5/17 Long weekend - Dublin / Republic of Ireland 'mixed' gauges
Sat 3/6/17 Preston trackbed walk 11.20 Bamber Bridge 1278 PS1 OPEN
Sun 4/6/17 EMU Railtour Track tour, date for your diary TBA TBA Claimed
Wed 14/6/17 Rudyard Lake Railway 10.30 Track tour - new layout 1276 JC OPEN
1277 JC OPEN
Wed 14/6/17 5½ mile Trackbed Walk 17.30 after Rudyard Lake Railway
Thur 15/6/17 07.30 Stafford, DRS loco hauled tour; Lime Street 15.45 1278 KA OPEN
Sun 25/6/17 Middlesbrough Goods, BLS/PLEG track and traction event 1279 JE *FULL*
Mon 26/6/17 Guided Signal Box visits Northeast England TBA TBA Claimed
Wed 28/6/17 Kennet Service Train Tracker, guided group day out 1275 TG OPEN
27 to 30/7/17 Scottish Minor Railways UPDATE SEE BELOW 1272 TV ENQUIRE
Fri 4/8/17 Northumberland (Park) Nocturnal Navigator 23.59 - 05.30 1279 KA OPEN
Sat 2/9/17 The 565 Special, Three Class 37s NW England - SW Wales 1280 KA *OPEN*
Sat 9/9/17 Burton-on-Trent to North London, track & traction tour TBA TBA Claimed
Fri 22/9/17 Swindon & Cricklade Railway 12.00 Track & Traction tour TBA TBA Claimed
7 & 8/10/17 BLS Animal tracker: Minor Railway weekend Beds & Bucks TBA TBA Claimed
IS-Iain Scotchman, JE-Jill Everitt, JC-John Cameron, KA-Kev Adlam, PS1-Paul Steane,
PS2-Paul Stewart, SP-Stephen Phillips, TV-Terry Velvick, TG-Tom Gilby.
931] Scottish Minor Railways, Thu 27 - Sun 30 Jul: (BLN 1272.6) Terry Velvick advises that the first three
days are now FULLY BOOKED. Our Sun 30 Jul morning special train at the standard gauge Fife Heritage
Railway (MR p10), previously known as the Kingdom of Fife Railway Preservation Society is confirmed.
There will be private ride/s over as much of the former Kirkland Yard lines as safely possible with loco
'River Eden' and the 'Shark' brake van (BLN 1233.MR63). Public steam-hauled rides in the Norwegian coach
will then be available at 11.00 at normal fares if required. A few places remain on this visit only; pay on the
day but must be booked. Expressions of interest/queries with an A5 SAE to: Terry Velvick, 'Hatherton',
75 Castle View Gardens, Westham, Pevensey, East Sussex, BN24 5HS.
ABOVE: 'The Emperor's New Clothes' or running very early? Colas 37219 on test train duty near Corby
13 Feb 2017. Hopefully there will soon be an overhead line to inspect! (John Rudd via Murray Brown)
932] The 565 Special, Sat 2 Sep: With new charity railtour promoter '565 Railtours' and the West Coast
Railway Co (two Colas Class 37/0 locos and possibly a West Coast Class 37). First Class has First Class
Plus with complimentary light refreshments or Premier Dining and, as requested by passengers in a
recent survey, the option of booking a 'table for two' (as available). A circular tour from Lancaster to
Carmarthen via Crewe, Chester, Shrewsbury (last pick up), Cardiff and the Swansea Avoiding line.
Return is via the Central Wales line. Track includes the Up Goods south of Wigan, Bamfurlong Goods
Lines, the recently redoubled Saltney Jn to Rossett Jn (both ways), Hereford Down relief (middle line),
Cardiff Down Main (middle line) and the Swansea Avoiding Line. Details in the booking form with BLN.
933] Northumberland Nocturnal Navigator, Fri 4 & Sat 5 Aug: Thanks to our Victoria Line friends
(including a member who works on the line), all available Victoria Line running lines (except Seven
Sisters P3, easily done in service); a rare chance to do both Northumberland Park Depot staff
platforms - Roads 19 & 60, also crossovers and sidings with 2009 Victoria Line Tube Stock. The tour
has to be at night due to the daytime frequency. Walthamstow Central 23.59 Fri 4 Aug; for 00.30
start; finish about 05.30 P4, Sat 5th at Seven Sisters. Includes a Northumberland Park Depot toilet
break. NB: THREE STEPS NEED TO BE NEGOTIATED DOWN (AND BACK UP AGAIN); there are no other
station stops. Members £50, non-members £62; includes stocklist, souvenir map & ticket. No junior
discounts, all proceeds to Railway Children. Bookings to our tour organiser Kev Adlam per back page
(please mark the outside of the envelope 'Victoria'); cheques/CPAs 'Branch Line Society' with email
address/SAE. Please help this tour to be a big success - then there might be more on other LUL lines….
934] Date for your diary, Sat 6 Jan 2018: Our next Scunthorpe Steel Works railtour is booked. A good
day for access as the railway tends to be quiet after Christmas and there are unlikely to be any clashes.
935] BLN and e-BLN: Although usually nominally dated on a Saturday, the aim is for paper BLN to
be delivered to most UK addresses on the Friday but, as BLN 1279 demonstrated (arriving Saturday),
this is subject to the vagaries of the Royal Mail. It was posted at exactly the same time and place as
usual. The aim is for e-BLN to be sent out on the Thursday evening (at no particular time) BUT this
may vary according to circumstances and other commitments of all the volunteers involved.
The latest updates, corrections and fixtures news will be in e-BLN. Please allow a few days (rather
than a few hours or minutes) at least before chasing them up... Non-receipt of paper BLN should be
reported by email or post to Dave Monger (per back page) or, if this is not possible by text or phone
to the Editor. Non-receipt of e-BLN should be reported to the distribution team by an email to
[email protected] or the link here at the bottom of all previous e-BLN emails. This does
not apply, of course, if non-receipt is due to subscription non-renewal (due 1 May each year - hint!).
When necessary, please update your email/postal address to Alan Welsh (see top of front page).
This month marks the fourth anniversary of e-BLN which began with BLN 1184 (11 May 2013).
It is hoped eventually to make all past editions of BLN (going back to Oct 1955) available on our new
website (currently under development). The first to be available are expected to be 1184 to date.
936] Introducing your new Committee member: We are delighted to report that Jill Everitt has been
co-opted by your Committee as a member, particularly to assist with fixtures booking. Jill writes:
Not wishing to repeat myself, I wrote an article 'A Birds Eye View' (BLN 1242.1828) about my interest
in railways dated 3 Oct 2015 on page 15… so that's it folks! [Signed copies available on application for a
fee.] In summary I have been interested in railways since my mid-teenage years. Howard and I got into
trains together starting with 'Merrymaker' days out from Euston or St Pancras. These were really good
value excursion trips. Moving on from doing our own thing, we joined various groups on spotting or
unusual track excursions. These were run by Termini Enthusiasts, the London branch of Railway
Enthusiasts Society Ltd, Lea Valley Railway club, Thompson B1 Society, DAA, Monmouthshire Railway
Society and last, but certainly not least, in 1984 the Branch Line Society.
My involvement with fixtures came about as I had spare time and having been a member for 30 years
offered (I was always told never to volunteer!) to help the FS with some of the bookings and CPAs.
What an eye opener! The vast majority of people are very polite but I was not prepared for the small
minority who are not. I was tempted to provide examples of some of the emails I have received but
instead I would just ask people to read their mails before pressing 'send' and consider how they would
feel to be on the receiving end. As for the legibility of booking forms, some of the writing can be quite
a challenge. Everything considered I am pleased to support the Society in my recently allocated role.
[This is greatly appreciated by all those whose own arrangements are hugely helped by Jill's work - Ed].
1280 HEAD LINES
937] IOM, Manx Electric Railway, Ramsey stop: (BLN 1279.905) TCP past 17m 63ch (Parsonage Road
Level Crossing just south of the former stop); last services Sun 30 Oct 2016, to construct a 'transport
interchange'. The stop has been relocated from north to south of the crossing, shortening the line by
3½ch for the season which began Thu 9 Mar 2017. On 23 Nov 2016 demolition of the former car shed
here began and its access points have been plain lined. This was followed by demolition of the stop's
Goods Shed. Reports on how trams now 'run-round' trailers (previously by gravity shunt) appreciated.
938] Manchester, Heald Green North Jn - Heald Green South Jn: (BLN 1280.817) Remained TCA in this
(Up) direction since 12.17 on 30 Mar due to a points failure at the former. A local member has noticed
the significantly increased freight diverted via Stockport (the Down line did ROA 10 Apr 2017).
BELOW: The temporary Ramsey tram stop looking northwest; Parsonage Rd Crossing is right, behind
the trams; the old stop beyond. The carriage shed was behind the photographer (MER Online 25 April).
939] Certas Energy, Lairg Oil Terminal: (BLN 1279.820) The final working cleared the discharged oil
tanks on Sat 1 Apr. Traffic (and at Fort William) has been lost to road; 400 lorry movements annually.
940] Sevenoaks (excl) - Hildenborough (incl) - Tonbridge West Jn: TCP/A Good Friday 14 to Easter
Monday 17 Apr 2017 (incl) for major drainage work in the 1m 1,693yd Sevenoaks Tunnel.
941] Midland Metro, Bull Street (excl) - Grand Central and Corporation Street stop: TCP 14 to 17 Apr
(Easter) for work on the extension to Centenary Square and repaving around Grand Central stop.
942] Immingham West Jn - Killingholme (2m 01ch): (BLN 1279.824) The first working in recent years
was a Class 60 light engine forming a combined test and route learning special on Fri 21 Apr 2017.
Freight is expected to resume week commencing 21 May initially from Bow and later Kellingley also.
943] Shenfield new bay P6 (Down side): This was due to open for testing/route learning Mon 1 May;
first train 09.40 (ECS) from Brentwood arriving 09.45. Many were booked until 5 May. The first booked
passenger departure is Sun 7 May, 06.44 Shenfield to Liverpool St, (the 00.55 or 06.35 from Liverpool
Street the first arrival). The Brentwood to Shenfield bus replacing most TfL services ends after 19 May.
944] Shenfield P4/5 (incl) - reversible Southend Loop - Mountnessing Jn 21m 32ch: (BLN 1279.876)
ROP was due Wed 3 May 2017 after TCP/A (except Engineer's trains) from 7 Nov 2016. The 00.15
Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria on Wed 3 May was the first booked use, then intermittently in
the early hours during engineering work. From Sun 22 May (new timetable) nearly every Shenfield to
Southend Victoria/Southminster is booked to use the line. With Crossrail using P5 or new bay P6, the
Down Southend trains can now cross from Down Main through 2255 crossover to P4 as a parallel
move. The Southend Loop is then booked for use in the Up direction (facing crossover at 21m 32ch) by
the 04.00 & 04.30 (SSuX) Southend to Liverpool Streey when not affected by engineering work.
945] Maidenhead - Bourne End: (BLN 1279.881) The final through London service is on Fri 19 May, the
08.28 to, and the 16.42 from, London Paddington; the latter is booked non-stop to Maidenhead P5.
However, in the new timetable from 21 May the 07.21 & 15.37 from Oxford and 19.48 from Reading
(all SSuX) are booked via Maidenhead Loop giving P5 overlap traversal with the branch shuttle trains.
946] Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, Laverton: (BLN 1279.835) The ¾-mile passenger
line extension north towards Broadway ROP Fri 27 May2017 (Cotswold Festival of Steam, first day,
then timetabled trains); it includes (but is longer than) the section that is TCP and last ran 1 Jan 2016.
947] Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, Hayles Abbey Halt (10m 38ch*): (SP 0469 3075)
(BLN 1273.149) Ceremonial OP Mon 5 Jun 2017 (not a public running day); GWR loco 1450 with auto
coach W238W on a special train; OP (public) Tue 6 Jun. (CP 7 Mar 1960). *From Honeybourne East Jn.
948] Nine Elms Jn - Linford St Jn; 'Waterloo Curve': NRU (OP 14 Nov 1994 Eurostars, CP 13 Nov 2007);
TROP 29 Aug to 1 Sep 2017 (incl), half-hourly Waterloo P21 to Ramsgate service diverted from Charing
Cross station due to Thameslink engineering work. Drivers will be conducted to/from Denmark Hill.
1280 BLN GENERAL
949] Points & Slips: ●BLN 1279.822] The landslip on the Maryhill line with collapse of the retaining
wall at 6m 71ch was actually west of Possilpark & Parkhouse station. ●868] With thanks to the one
member who spotted this, the EMU pictures in e-BLN at Heaton Chappel was actually on the Up Fast
line heading away from the station towards Stockport. ●886] Regarding the GWR Pullman Dining; in
the BLN table 'service' is used in the catering sense referring to which section of the journey the dining
service is available rather than the full passenger service of the trains concerned as one member
correctly pointed out. The source was GWR and the ambiguity was unintentional.
●914] 'The Mother of all Boobs': In the report on our 'Bound for Craigy' railtour the e-BLN picture of
86229 was at Motherwell, the lunchtime set down for those joining the 'Balloch Basher', and not
Paisley. This tour did terminate at Paisley Gilmour Street for participants to then rejoin the main tour
back to London. The downside of the 'Basher' for the author was that his wife had electric loco haulage
to Wemyss Bay and back, something unlikely to be repeated. He did have 85024 from Ayr to Glasgow
Central on 29 Jun 1988. Then the Up 'Royal Scot' started from Ayr and was re-engined at Glasgow
Central. The 1968 fare of 7 guineas (£7.35p) for the Flying Scotsman trip from King's Cross to
Edinburgh is worth £117 now. ●927] The North Norfolk Railway dining specials from Sheringham to
Cromer and Holt via the main line connection, give no indication of the time involved on the website.
However, a member can report that his tour last September took from 17.00 to 19.45, (2hr 45mins).
950] Ideal for Clairvoyants and Soothsayers we Predict: https://goo.gl/OWF1aT TPE now allows
advance ticket booking six months ahead. Beyond 90 days, a prominent notice warns: Extended Period
Bookings: You have chosen to make a booking with a travel date outside of the normal booking period.
The time of your…. train cannot be guaranteed and may….change. You will be notified if this occurs.
At 2 May Virgin Trains East Coast accepted bookings up to 13 Oct, excluding weekends which were
available to Sun 27 Aug. Caledonian Sleepers can be (sleeping) bagged 12 months in advance (unless
timetables are being 'finalised' on specific date/s). Interestingly Cross Country allow free alterations to
any train operator's advance tickets bought via their website but only allow them to be purchased up
to the traditional 90 days ahead (the same time scale that information is available on the National Rail
Website). So you pays your money and you takes your choice (or not as the case may be).
951] Quick Quiz Answers: (BLN 1279.839) (1) The classical example of a NR station on a through
passenger line which only has passenger services terminating from and starting back in one direction
only is Chathill. There is one arrival from/departure to the south each morning and evening (SuX).
2,574 passengers (the total arriving and departing) are shown for 2015/16, an average of 2 per train,
or more likely 4 to Newcastle in the morning and returning in the evening. At Bedwyn the majority of
services terminate or originate there unsurprisingly from/to the London direction (Bedwyn facing
crossover and reversing siding anyone?). There is also an 06.05 (SSuX) from Frome, 11.54 from Exeter
St Davids and 15.19 from Taunton (both SO). The Down service is (SSuX) 18.27 to Westbury, 19.26 to
Frome and 11 minutes later 19.37 to Exeter (Plymouth FO). Saturdays it is at 09.16 to and 11.54 from,
Exeter with a 13.13 to and 15.19 from, Taunton. Route 21 bus 'on behalf of GWR' also terminates at
Bedwyn to/from Marlborough. In contradistinction, at Pewsey station services are all long distance.
(2) The Coryton branch has trains scheduled to take one minute (Coryton to Whitchurch and Ty Glas
to/from Birchgrove), two minutes (Whitchurch to/from Rhiwbina then to/from Birchgrove), three
minutes (Ty Glas to/from Heath Low Level), four minutes (Cardiff Queen Street to Cardiff Bay - 06.40
SSuX arrival), five minutes (Heath Low Level to/from Queen Street & Whitchurch to Coryton) and six
minutes (Cardiff Central 05.49 departure (SSuX) to Queen Street which is a through train to Coryton).
Between Glasgow Queen St HL and Anniesland most of the intermediate DMU timings are 2 minutes.
(3): The shortest end to end scheduled journey is three minutes; Stourbridge Junction - Stourbridge
Town. Second (at four minutes) is Cardiff Bay - Queen Street and Hove - Brighton, then there are
Exeter St Davids - Central five minute journeys and also from 21 May Cambridge North - Cambridge.
952] Quiz for High Flyers: How many airports in the British Islands (a 'legal definition' that excludes
the Irish Republic) have scheduled passenger flights and which ones are rail served?
1280 EAST MIDLANDS
953] Leicester: (BLN 1279.845) Knighton Jn sidings are being reopened to replace those at Market
Harborough, to be abolished under the remodelling scheme there and the site used for a new car park.
954] Loughborough: The station car park is to be extended by 50 places to 230 by the end of August.
955] Spalding: Since Sep, volunteers have been helping environmental group 'Spotless Spalding' clean
up the station front, removing litter such as cigarette packets, planting flowers (very appropriate at
Spalding) and painting one of the platform shelters. To show off the progress made, Spalding and
Peterborough Transport Forum, who led the project, invited members from the Market Rasen station
adoption group to see the station in its revamped state. Also present was the local MP, John Hayes.
956] Toton HS2: Architect Weston Williamson & Partners (WWP) and engineer Aecom have won the
contract for the East Midlands Hub, on the Birmingham to Leeds 'branch' (sic). WWP is also involved in
designing Old Oak Common, Manchester Piccadilly/Airport stations. The HS2 platforms will be 415m
long to take 400m trains, each able to carry 1,100 people at up to 170mph. At peak times six trains will
stop hourly in each direction. The station will have a two-storey building with an overbridge,
concourse access to HS2 and National Rail platforms, car parking, bus, taxi and tram service facilities.
957] Scunthorpe: (1): New benches, said to be the 'ultimate in comfort', have been installed as part of
TPE's £75k investment. They are ergonomically designed by that well known UK firm Zoeftig (of Bude!).
(2): British Steel is the first manufacturer in the world to produce and deliver ultra-long corrosion
protected rail. NR requested longer lengths to speed up installation. The 216m Zinoco® rails are
protected with a unique award-winning corrosion-resistant coating system developed at Scunthorpe.
The first installation of five lengths was recently completed in Inverkeithing Tunnel. The longer lengths
of rail avoided over 50 on site welds during installation - a considerable saving of time and cost.
958] Lincoln: (BLN 1272.36.2) Despite being recommended for approval by planning officers, the latest
plan for a city centre railway footbridge was rejected on 26 Apr by the local Planning Committee.
This was on the basis of it not being accessible to disabled people. NR's steel and concrete bridge over
the tracks in Brayford Wharf East was proposed without lifts to reduce the cost, but they could be
added in future if funding became available. The crossing is used by around 10,000 pedestrians and
4,500 road vehicles daily. The barriers are down for as much as 20 minutes an hour, causing frustration
to the crossing users with a high level of misuse and abuse of the crossing on an almost daily basis.
1280 GREATER LONDON
959] Edgware Road: (BLN 1265.1834) From 21 May the reversing arrangements will be swapped over,
with District Line trains reversing in P2 and Circle Line trains in P3.
960] New Bermondsey: (BLN 1231.739) The building of the proposed new station between Surrey
Quays and Queens Road (Peckham) has been delayed indefinitely while issues involving a Compulsory
Purchase Order at the associated development site are resolved.
X.59] BLS Neasden Depot Visit, 18 Mar 1989: (BLN 1278.701) The organiser, Don Kennedy recalls that:
Arrival at the depot was on an ECS move, as mentioned - significantly via the long diveunder from
Wembley Park P1, as he had requested. The 25 participants then walked over a footbridge to the
permanent way sidings, where there was a trip up and down his notebook has simply 'all-line trip' - sorry!
[Can't get the staff, and when is the repeat? - Ed.], with loco battery L36 and personnel carrier 855. Don
too would be interested to see if any other participant can supplement this. He recalls that, in the sidings,
attention was briefly distracted by A4 'Sir Nigel Gresley' passing on a northbound special. Our great London
Regional Editor can add: PW siding nearest to depot to its Neasden end - to siding second from back
(presumably at the Wembley Park end) - to siding second from back at Neasden end - to PW road nearest
to main depot as far as signal to depot. Does anyone have a plan (hand drawn or marked up) of the route
they can share please? ABOVE: The tour in the Engineers' Sidings on the northwest side of the depot.
PAGE ABOVE, LOWER: In the non-electrified high level sidings. ABOVE: Nearby, an unusual dual
loading gauge for both surface and tube stock. (All Ian Mortimer 18 Mar 1999.)
961] Victoria Line: (BLN 1256.897) A new WTT will be introduced on 21 May with trains scheduled to
operate every 100 seconds (36tph) for a period of about 90 minutes in each peak. The remainder of
the peak service will continue to operate every 105 seconds (34tph). The Saturday afternoon 'peak'
service of 30tph will be revised to start three hours earlier and will operate from 13.00 until 19.30
962] Crossrail: (BLN 1277.625) Crossrail Depot Line 1 between Ladbroke Grove and Kensal Green East
Jn was commissioned from 24 Apr.
1280 NORTH EAST
963] Shell Teesport Refinery: Opened in 1968 and closed in Dec 1984. Both the 1969 and 1979
Sectional Appendices show the refinery branch as a single line with no token, 1m 1,025yd (1m 47ch)
from Grangetown SB to the notice board at the Exchange Sidings. The line curved NW and the
exchange sidings ran NW/SE. A further branch, the property of Shell, ran SW from the exchange sidings
to the refinery, which lay NW of the then exchange sidings for Tees Dock. There is no mention of Shell
Jn (BLN 1272.3166), which indicates that it was created after 1979. The layout was rearranged to give
the short section of quadruple track, with double track crossovers in each direction at Shell Jn, not the
single leads that exist today. Shell Jn was in existence by the time of the Society's series of industrial
visits to Teesside on 5 to 7 May 1989 but the refinery branch had been lifted.
Closure of the refinery was announced on 26 Sep 1984 but the closure date for the branch is not
known. However, information has recently come to light that the last loaded train left the refinery at
00.30 on 29 Nov 1984. All empty tank wagons had been removed by the end of Dec 1985, by which
time there had been two trains of empty wagons inwards and five outwards. From 2 Jan 1985, the
exchange sidings were staffed only when required. The Private Siding Agreement was terminated on
9 Jul 1986 and this presumably denotes the formal closure date.
964] Nunthorpe: (BLN 1277.670) A scheme was put forward in Dec 1960 to abolish Nunthorpe East
Signal Box, where the Battersby and Guisborough lines diverged, and single the line to Guisborough.
Nunthorpe SB would then have become the actual junction, with the two routes running side by side
to Nunthorpe East. It never materialised, probably because BR decided to close the Guisborough line.
The closure proposal was published on 14 Jun 1963, the public enquiry held in Middlesbrough on
23 Aug and consent was given on 27 Nov. On 13 Feb 1964 the closure date was announced as 2 Mar
and the last passenger train ran on 29 Feb 1964. Guisborough CA 31 Aug 1964 and the line was lifted.
Surprisingly, Nunthorpe East SB was left as just one set of points, marking the start of the single line to
Whitby, until an unknown date in 1966, when it was abolished and the line from Nunthorpe singled.
965] NER Boxes named 'Junction' cont; Kirkby Stephen Junction: (NY767075) This controlled the
divergence of the lines to Tebay (OG 4 Jul 1861, OP 8 Aug 1861, CP 1 Dec 1952, CA 22 Jan 1962) and
Eden Valley Jn (for Penrith) (OG 8 Apr 1862, OP 9 Jun 1862, CP 22 Jan 1962, CA 3 Nov 1975 as far as
Warcop). In one direction it worked to Kirkby Stephen East SB and in the other to Ravenstonedale SB
on the Tebay line and Warcop SB towards Penrith. The box was west of the station but the two single
lines ran together for almost a mile before diverging. It appears to be a post grouping renaming as the
1947 LNER Sectional Appendix calls it 'Kirkby Stephen West'. A member remarked that it looked like a
BR nameboard. As the regional boundary was established east of Kirkby Stephen it may be that BR
London Midland Region lost no time in 'Midlandising' the former NER lines west of the boundary!
BELOW: The attractive Kirkby Stephen Junction NER signal box from a train heading east to Tebay on
Sat 8 Aug 1959. The line to the right was to Warcop, Appleby (East) and Penrith (Angus McDougall).
1280 NORTH WEST
966] The last Day of Railway Services in East Lancashire, Sat 3 Dec 1966: The 4 Jan 1965 was a bad day
for proposed railway closures as can be seen from this list from BLN 20 (dates subject to objections and
statutory procedures). Interestingly some lines and stations survived and have since flourished.
On 14 Sep 1966 the Minister of State for Transport, Barbara Castle, consented to the closure in East
Lancashire of: Rawtenstall to Bacup, Clifton Jn to Radcliffe North Jn, Stubbins Jn to Accrington with its
South Jn to West Jn curve. The Bacup branch had achieved notoriety as the first BR line to have all
passenger services DMU worked with a peak 30 min frequency and every 15 mins Saturday afternoons!
Posters announced that the closures would be from 5 Dec 1966; the final day would be Sat 3 Dec 1966.
Fresh from his successful railtours during 1966, and in particular the hastily arranged 'Cotton Spinner'
(BLN 1275) organized and run within a three week timescale*, our Member No1 arranged a meeting at
the Divisional Manager's HQ at Hunts Bank in Manchester to discuss his proposal to run a farewell tour
of the lines to be closed, and to incorporate other routes under threat of closure. Immediately after the
meeting with Harry Bolton from the BR Special Services section, a letter dated 25 Oct 1966 was
formally submitted, detailing the proposal as discussed and outlined at the meeting. It was the basis of
the 'Rossendale Forester' Railtour run by the Locomotive Club of Great Britain (North West Branch):
ABOVE: At Molyneux Jn where the LNWR met the Lancashire & Yorkshire (Paul Sackcloth, MLS).
Manchester Victoria - Castleton South Jn - Heywood - Bury Loco Loop Jn - Clifton Jn (rev) - Kearsley -
Moses Gate - Burnden Jn - Rose Hill Jn - Bury Knowsley Street (rev) - Bury Bolton Street - Stubbins Jn
- Bacup (rev) - Stubbins Jn (rev) - Accrington South Jn - Accrington West Jn - Church & Oswaldtwistle
(rev) - Rose Grove (rev) - Padiham (rev) - Gannow Jn - Stansfield Hall Jn - Todmorden E Jn - Victoria.
[*A railtour organised in three weeks? that could never happen nowadays in 2017! ….
…. on second thoughts it recently has, our Sunday 12 March 2017 'Class 442 Farewell' with Southern!]
ABOVE: The 'Rosendale Forester' at Bacup (Paul Shackcloth Manchester Locomotive Society archive).
On 27 Oct 1966 BR received the written proposal with a request from No1 to have outline approval on
1 Nov 1966. Believe it or not, approval dated 1 Nov 1966 was received on the 2nd; the map, itinerary
etc for this railtour is available with the current e-BLN. Particular thanks to Charlie Hulme for retyping
the itinerary himself (and other assistance, also to Paul Shackcloth of the Manchester Locomotive
Society). The original BR special notice is included but was amended on the day due to loco problems.
The charter charge was £250 for four coaches, but this had to be increased to five (an extra £50) due to
the overwhelming response in the first two weeks of publicity, which began on 1 Nov. Unfortunately
the LCGB Nov 1966 Bulletin had already been circulated so the NW Branch sent details to all interested
parties. Gordon Massey, who agreed to handle the bookings, was pleasantly surprised at the level of
support in the first week. The main club booking form eventually went out to members on 27 Nov, with
a note that some would have received details already, but participants could be accommodated at this
late stage. The tour had already covered its cost before the bulk of the membership had been notified!
No member was disappointed and the LCGB North West had again shown its very strong support base.
Pleasingly, the trip was advertised to our 204 BLS members at the time in BLN 69 dated 16 Nov 1966.
An unbelievable chain of events had led to the 'Rossendale Forester' being supported by 230 people.
Approval for the two sections of non passenger track had to be submitted to Ministry of Transport
(MOT); Burnden Jn to Rose Hill Jn and the Padiham (Power Station) branch. The letter with the tickets
sent out seven days before the tour, instructed participants to be at Manchester Victoria 15 minutes
before the departure time of 10.00am in case MOT approval was not obtained and an earlier departure
at 09.45 was needed, to reverse in Bolton Trinity Street. In the event MOT approval came through on
28 Nov. Looking back 50 years it is remarkable that a tour was planned, negotiated, agreed by BR and
MOT approval sought and achieved, and it ran successfully all in the remarkable time of five weeks.
The tour https://goo.gl/x1IDDw left Manchester Victoria P13 on time with five coaches, a 154 tonne
load reporting NoIT55. The requested locos were ex-LMS Ivatt class 2-6-0 and a Stanier Class 4 2-6-4
Tank. It was clear from the start that Ivatt No46437 was not in the best of condition and struggled
continuously until having to stop at Middleton Junction. An excessive amount of time was being lost
and the railway control decided to send for the second locomotive, Stanier 2-6-4 T No42644, to double-
head from Clifton Junction instead of Bury Knowsley Street. While the itinerary was maintained the
route taken differed from the initial specification due to timing and operating constraints.
It was as booked to Clifton Jn via Castleton South Jn, Castleton North Jn, Heywood, Broadfield, Bury
Knowsley Street, Bradley Fold, Darcy Lever, Rose Hill Jn, Burnden Jn, Kearsley to Clifton Jn. Here the
train was met by the second locomotive and left doubled headed at 12.02 over 60 mins late. Time
continued to be lost; Bacup arrival was about 80 mins late. This caused havoc to the (final day) 15
minute frequency Manchester Victoria to Bacup DMU service, should there have been a back-up plan?
BELOW: The tour at Bacup (Paul Shackcloth Manchester Locomotive Society archive).
ABOVE: At Clifton Junction station (now just
Clifton and still open). RIGHT: Also at Clifton
Junction, left is the Bolton line where the tour
had arrived from, and right is the direct line to
Bury Bolton Street via Molyneux Jn where it
was going next. Behind the camera is to
Salford Crescent and Manchester Victoria
(Paul Shackcloth MLS). There was a right
kafuffle here shunting between the two lines
which would not normally happen of course!
LEFT: An atmospheric shot of the tour taking water
at Bury Bolton Street station, thought to have been
for the last time in BR days (Richard Greenwood).
This tour was one of the most enjoyable Member
No1 organised; the help and co-operation of the BR
officers in Manchester made a fitting but sad
farewell to these lines in the East Lancashire area.
After the closures, the Stubbins to Haslingden
section of the line to Accrington was the original
focus of efforts by railway preservationists to try and
save the route for possible commuter and tourist trains. The Helmshore and District Railway
Preservation Society was formed but disbanded in 1968 when the East Lancashire Railway Preservation
Society was set up instead. In 1972 it decided to re-locate the growing collection of railway exhibits to
its present home in Bury and as they say the rest is history….
The surviving Bury to Rawtenstall CP 3 Jun 1972 after Minister of Transport Barbara Castle approved
the withdrawal of services and CG 4 Dec 1980 with the end of domestic coal traffic. Rochdale to Bolton
was not listed for closure in the 1963 Beeching Report but CA 5 Oct 1970. Incredibly now, the originally
third rail 750V d.c. electrified Bury to Victoria route was listed for closure but reprieved and has a good
future as part of Metrolink. It is now over 50 years since BR closed the services from Clifton Junction to
Bury, Rawtenstall to Bacup and Stubbins Jn to Accrington, and 44 years since Rawtenstall to Bury CP
(if only some had hung on). If it was not for the East Lancashire Railway from Heywood to Rawtenstall,
and Metrolink, between Bury and Manchester Victoria the area would now be devoid of railways.
967] Manchester Piccadilly: (TRACKmaps Vol 4 p45A - Aug 2013) On 26 Apr the 'Engine Siding' was
very rusty with its access points each end clipped OOU. It is a short electrified through siding (classed
as a goods line) with a 5mph speed restriction, located in between the Up Slow and Down Fast lines in
the throat of the station, originally used to stable light engines between turns. At the London end it
connects into the bidirectional Up Fast and at the Piccadilly end can access, or be reached from, P3 to
P12, both inclusive. Most unusually, and very fortunately, we traversed it on Sat 26 Apr 2014 (special
arrangements were required) at the end of our record breaking BLS Clyde Race Tracker Railtour with
TPE on return from Glasgow on a Class 350/4 EMU. This very rare move resulted in a special donation
from a very grateful tour participant of £25,000 to Railway Children on arrival at Manchester Piccadilly.
968] Ashton-under-Lyne: Turner Lane closes to road and foot traffic for 16 weeks from 13 May while
NR rebuilds the railway bridge next to Ashton-under-Lyne station.
969] Settle - Carlisle Day Ranger: Adult £15 adult (£30 from 21 May), Railcard £9.90 (16-25 after 10.00
SSuX) Child £7.50, from staffed stations/conductors. Leeds/Bradford FS to Carlisle, no time restrictions.
BELOW: Eden Brows after work costing £23M and just before reopening on 31 March (Network Rail).
970] Salford Central: (BLN 1279.825) LEFT: A
plan (which is thanks to Martyn Brailsford) of
the new layout, the dashed lines are the former
route, the dotted lines are the future route to
the Ordsall Chord. From Mon 24 Apr, after the
10 day line closure, the Up Chat Moss and Down
Chat Moss lines between Deal Street Jn and
Ordsall Lane Jn were slewed across, closer to
the Up Salford and Down Salford lines, to take a
route between disused platforms 3 and 4 at
Salford Crescent (as shown left). The trailing
crossover connecting the Up and Down Chat
Moss lines 30m 76ch was repositioned about
164yd closer to Ordsall Lane Jn, and will have a
permissible speed of 30mph. This is the future
Irwell Street Jn. On reopening the route was
initially not available to electric traction. The
Liverpool to Manchester Victoria Class 319 EMU
service was diverted to Oxford Road (some
using bay P5) until 2 May (interestingly shown as
'Pacer' 14x DMU worked in Realtime Trains etc).
971] Carlisle: (BLN 1239.1567) On a recent visit
to Kingmoor a member saw a planning
application on a lamppost about the Waverley
Line Eden Viaduct Project to convert a short
section of the former Waverley route into a
public footpath including the River Eden Viaduct
(NY383565) to form the basis of a new local
combined walking and cycling route network.
https://goo.gl/axCCCD has details, maps past
and present, photos and artists' impressions. He
also discovered the pleasures of the Kingmoor
Sidings Nature Reserve; the site of the former
steam shed and providing a view of the current
DRS depot on the opposite side of the line [so it
wasn't really the Great Blue Tits he was after!].
There is a map of the former shed layout, and
10 information boards around the site to remind
us of the heyday of steam. NEXT PAGE: One of
the (rather weather beaten) information boards
showing Kingmoor Sidings, north of Carlisle
station in the 1940s alongside the LMS (West
Coast Main Line). They would be dwarfed by
BR's subsequent Kingmoor Marshalling Yard
replacing smaller local yards. The ex-LNER
Waverley Route runs up the left and crosses
over the WCML. This bridge still has a single
track on it, to access Brunthill Cement Terminal
(the former RAF Depot) with occasional traffic
from Oxwellmains. (Graeme Jolley).
X.60] Navigation Road: (BLN 1279.870) ABOVE: A train from Chester arrives at Altrincham P3 from the
south; the two Metrolink platforms are on the right. BELOW: The signal at the north end of P3 here
with the 'feather' (OK route position indicator) lit for the facing (normally rare) crossover onto the,
fortunately, bidirectional Down main in the Up Direction being used by all trains to Navigation Road
pending repairs to the points where the NR tracks single. Metrolink is on the left (all John Cameron).
ABOVE: The view south from the level crossing south of Navigation Road station towards Altrincham.
The NR tracks are on the left and all trains have been using the bidirectional left hand line recently.
972] Manchester Mayfield: The latest scheme for this former station (CP 28 Aug 1960; Rail traffic
ended Apr 1987(?); OOU 1 Nov 1987) is a four storey event space with a food and drink market, craft
beer bar, and gig venue inside. 'Grub' - best known for their events at Alphabet Brewery - starts a
weekly food market on 19 May; four storeys of shipping containers with street food traders at ground
level; a community garden will be created over time next to the River Medlock. BELOW: Mayfield 10
Jul 1960 just before closure; the 10.08 steam train to Birmingham is about to depart (JW Sutherland).
1280 SOUTH EAST - NORTH (& EAST ANGLIA)
973] Shenfield: (BLN 1279.876) LEFT: A plan
thanks to Martyn Brailsford to make sense of
the new complicated layout described in BLN
1279 (see TRACKmaps Vol 2 p5B Oct 2016).
Crossrail trains will use P5 and the new bay P6,
releasing P4 for Down Southend Victoria trains
that then use the Southend Loop to diveunder
the main line. The divergence/convergence of
Shenfield Stabling Siding 1, 2 and 3 appears to
be two abutting turnouts as shown. Moves
to/from P5 and the Southend Loop and Down
Main are also protected from unintended
moves from these Sidings by catch or trap
points with two opposing switches. It only
remains to wish all our microgricers good luck!
974] Sheringham: Rail services from Norwich
could be extended to Holt (the station is
peripheral, about a mile from the town centre),
suggests Andrew Munden, NR's former route
director for East Anglia, now (since 1 Feb) North
Norfolk Railway general manager. His first
involvement with the line was on the
reinstatement of Sheringham level crossing in
2010. Earlier this year rail passengers called for
improved public transport between Holt and
Sheringham. Just 3 of 17 trains are met with a
(6 to 15 minute) bus connection to Holt, and
only one on Sundays. Passenger numbers have
increased 170% at Sheringham (NR) over the
last 17 years but bus connections are described
as 'pot luck'. The crossing is on a GP surgery car
park and is approved for 'occasional use'
originally defined in 2010 as 12 times a year.
975] Aylesbury to Princes Risborough line:
(BLN 1278.755) The final Class 121 operating
day is confirmed locally as Fri 19 May (the last
working is the 19.30 from Princes Risborough).
Chiltern are putting the units up for sale. In the
new timetable 'modern' DMUs are used and the
18.06 ex-Princes Risborough is withdrawn
976] Oxford: The Down sidings just south of the
station (63m 28ch) referred to as West
Midlands Sidings* or Cemetery Sidings have
been permanently taken OOU from 30 April for
later recovery. [*Originating from the West
Midland Railway (1860-63) later becoming part
of the GWR.]
977] Maidenhead: (BLN 1279.881) Overhead line equipment was to be energised from 30 April:
Maidenhead Sidings Roads 1 to 6, (24m 32ch) to (24m 59ch). Maidenhead (Down) Loop through
P5 in its entirety, (24m 3ch) to (24m 51ch). The Bourne End branch (24m 25ch) to (24m 39ch) that
connects off P5. The Turnback Line between the Up and Down Relief lines has been completed and
was also to be commissioned from 30 Apr. OLE is provided but the siding is initially blocked to electric
traction. Interestingly markers boards are provided for 2,3,4,5 & 6 car DMUs as well as 4 & 8 car EMUs.
978] More on Murrow: (BLN 1279.877) The BR south to west connecting link opened 2 Jan 1961
although the M&GN line from Dogsthorpe to Peterborough (Wisbech Jn) which the new curve was to
replace did not close until 27 Mar 1961. The curve was primarily to retain rail access to Dogsthorpe
and Eye brickworks (where there was a daily brick train to March) and Wisbech North (M&GN).
It allowed closure of the M&GN over the ECML north of Peterborough which required extensive repair.
ABOVE: The former BR built 1950 signal box (replacing one destroyed in an accident) at Murrow
diamond in late Jan 2017, looking much better than it did in Apr 1993 (BLN 1279)! BELOW: The new
extension under construction is (perhaps fortunately) mostly hidden on the front view. (Julian James).
979] Bishops Stortford - Braintree: The 'small 1865' design GER building at Felsted (ABOVE: Taken by
Julian James on 26 Mar 2017) has been renovated and extended, the single storey passenger facilities
being provided with an upper floor in matching style and correct red brick with black quoins attached
to the original two storey station house. The overall visual effect is dramatically changed, but
familiarity may make this acceptable. The property, advertised at £1.1M has recently been withdrawn
from the agent's web site. The site of the rail served sugar beet factory is a new housing estate.
The next station, Takeley, (ABOVE: Julian James 26 Mar 2017) retains its identical buildings, albeit of
opposite hand and unusually in cream brick throughout, and is in use as community offices. Platforms
remain at both stations, with nosings, original flush at Takeley and replacement overhanging concrete
at Felsted. A curiosity at the latter is that the station approach road faces Little Dunmow and away
from Felsted. Dunmow station (BELOW: On 31 Mar 1969 by Angus McDougall), of which nothing
remains, was actually in Great Dunmow. The line CP 3 Mar 1952. The station house at Epping, a 'large
1865' design with side pavilion for additional offices and in all red brick, was extended some years ago
by building in the same style a two storey residential extension onto the attached house, completely
changing the elegant proportions.
ABOVE: Dunmow, then the terminus of a 9½ mile freight branch east from Bishop's Stortford. A Class
31 on the final freight Mon 31 Mar 1969; the line then CG back to Easton Lodge from the following day
and Dunmow public goods depot closed. The loco had worked the 07.25 from Bishop's Stortford light
engine to pick up one van of seed potatoes here and then nine vans from Geest's Banana Depot at
Easton Lodge on the way back - the only other siding on the branch. Sadly Dunmow signalbox and
passenger station (CP 2 Mar 1952) on the left had been badly vandalised. Beyond the station track had
been lifted on the 2¼ mile continuation (CG 18 Apr 1966) to Felsted Sugar Factory. It was then still
served by a branch west from Braintree, traffic was infrequent the last train may have run 1 Apr 1969!
Bishop's Stortford to Easton Lodge CG 12 Feb 1972 but was used by a special passenger train on 27 Jul
1972. The first mile was retained for possible rail access to Stansted Airport but the track was
removed in 1974 (the present Stansted Airport station OP 19 Mar 1991 for public services).
980] Welwyn North: Railway Eye's 1 April contribution ('You are All Fool, but I like you') was the
unbottlenecking of the ECML. Should a government minister read this in more than one place its
adoption as policy may become almost a certainty; the private sector funding less so. In 2000 Railtrack
proposed widening Welwyn viaduct and boring new tunnels to provide four tracks. This plan is now
seen as politically unacceptable, not least by local MP Michael Green. An internal NR document
proposes a tunnel from the disused sidings to the East of Welwyn Garden City station, at its deepest
some 25m below the surface of the Mimram Valley and Welwyn viaduct before climbing to the surface
and joining the ECML by the North portal of the existing tunnel near Woolmer Green Jn. Engineering
studies are believed to suggest a tunnel built to the same maximum 2.5% gradient specified for HS2
would be feasible and less intrusive. At Crossrail tunnelling speeds it would take around a year to bore.
The proposed Thameslink timetable makes EMT and VTEC service enhancements almost undeliverable
and additional capacity is required. The construction of the tunnel would be independent of the
existing railway aside from the connections at each end, making it an ideal candidate for private
finance especially those with suitable tunneling machines released from current schemes.
1280 SOUTH EAST - SOUTH
981] Staines - Reading: (BLN 1279.883) The Egham London end platform extensions are now in use.
982] Maidstone East: At long last it apears that something is likely to be done to improve the rather
downbeat image of this ex-London Chatham & Dover station which had 1.33M passengers in 2015/16.
The county town is a large commercial and administration centre. There have been several recent
plans for redevelopment involving partnerships with a succession of well known retail businesses.
Unfortunately, none progressed, mainly due to the economic downturn. NR now plans to demolish the
disused and derelict Victoria Hotel between the Down end situated booking hall and Week Street, the
adjacent main thoroughfare. Maidstone East has never had a prominent presence and the entrance to
the booking hall is through a nondescript doorway off Station Road, a side street.
The plan is to build a modern glass entrance that will sit behind a public square. The demolition was
due to take place in April, but has been delayed until the summer as NR engineers are concerned that
both the hotel and booking office sit on top of the 98yd Week Street Tunnel (more cut and cover than
tunnel; perhaps it should be 'Weak Street'?). The scheme is estimated at £2M for completion by 2018.
The county and local councils have recently jointly purchased a large plot of land on the north side of
the station (part once a Midland Railway coal depot) and it is hoped to eventually redevelop the whole
area including station improvements. Apart from the provision of a new Down bay P3 in 1993 (one
booked train the 17.28 from Victoria SSuX) and repairs after the devastating derailment (driver drunk)
of a Speedlink freight train later that year, the station has received no attention apart from painting.
983] Maidstone West - East Farleigh: On the ex-South Eastern Railway Medway Valley line the site of
Tovil station (OP 1 Jan 1884; CP 15 Mar 1943) has seen NR erect a green coloured, mammoth (and
unsightly) metal footbridge with double ramps on both sides at least 150ft long to replace the original
station lattice footbridge and a foot crossing protected by a bell. All evidence of the long closed station
has now gone. During the work, what was probably the back of the brick Up platform was exposed.
984] Brighton, Kemp Town: (BLN 1278.686)
RIGHT: Trains run for charity go back a long
way; our contributor wonders when the first
one was. On the final day of this 1m 32ch
freight only branch (OP 1869; CP 1933) on
26 Jun 1971 hourly running was advertised by
BR with all proceeds donated to the Southern
Railwaymen's Woking Homes. The return
adult fare was 25p, doubled on the last train
to 50p. The single track line included a
substantial 14 arch viaduct and a tunnel; in
the early 1900s it was served by 48-seat petrol
railcars. https://goo.gl/fVjzAk is an interesting
animation of Brighton's railway history (allow
it time to change). NOTE: The station was
known as 'Kemp Town' and the area of
Brighton was actually called 'Kemptown'.
ABOVE/BELOW: The end of the line, the
rather unkempt looking Brighton Kemp Town
(on 12 Aug 1968). The main traffic appears to
be domestic coal with the depot on the right
(see picture above). The former passenger
platform can be seen 35 years after passenger
services finished. The freight was generally
worked by a Brighton based Class 09 loco
which also shunted Brighton Low Level Goods.
Between 29 Dec 1970 and 9 Jan 1971 six BLS
freight train brakevan trips ran to both, each
with four of our members (Angus McDougall).
ABOVE: 1960 one inch 7th Series map. Brighton station is indicated with the pink arrow the Low Level
Goods branch (CG 29 Apr 1986) is to its right passing underneath the Lewes line viaduct. Kemp Town
(OP 1869; CP 1933) is circled (right lower); Hartington Road Halt (OP 1906; CP 1911), not shown, was
just north of the branch tunnel. The station shown as closed to passengers on the branch (top right of
centre just before Kemp Town Jn) was Lewes Road (OP 1906; CP 1933, 'Halt' added 1905). To its left is
London Road (Brighton) station. The closed station top left on the Brighton to Hove line was Holland
Road Halt (OP 1905; CP 1956). Bottom right can be seen the currently TCP Volk's Electric Railway.
1279 SOUTH WEST
X.61] Filton Abbey Wood: BELOW TOP: Fri 28 Apr looking south, 20189 & 20205 are dragging 47828,
45060 & 33035, the 11.00 from Bristol St Phillip's Marsh to Kidderminster Severn Valley Railway
working running 63 minutes late. The re-quadrupling work is progressing with cutting regrading to the
right; a fourth platform is planned at this station. BELOW LOWER: Looking north towards Bristol
Parkway and South Wales. This is Filton No1 Jn (round the corner out of sight is Filton No2 Jn) and
again there is evidence of re-quadrupling work, on the left (both David Guy).
X.70] Barnstaple - Braunton (BLNs 1266.1977 & 1275.419) FOLLOWING PAGE: The 'TawLink' six mile
light railway proposed by the 'Combe Rail Charitable Incorporated Organisation'. Much of it follows the
trackbed of the Ilfracombe branch (CP 5 Oct 1970). (Rotate clockwise by 90 degrees to see better.)
1280 WEST MIDLANDS
X.62] Great Malvern: ABOVE: A GWR all green HST for London has just passed your Editor's house on
the immediate approach from Malvern Wells to the station (BELOW); (Richard Putley 3 May 2017).
985] Midland Metro: (BLN 1224.20) The 1½ mile Bilston Rd street running section, (Wolverhampton St
George's to Priestfield) closes from mid-June for six months including 'The Royal' stop. Trams from
Birmingham will terminate at Priestfield (ECS shunt past the platforms) with a bus replacement service
(unlike last time). This is for 'track relaying' and road resurfacing, hopefully not the same section/s
from that done in 2014! It is anticipated that the line will re-open by Christmas [year not specified!].
986] Henwick: (BLN 1273.191) On 24 Apr the Up Refuge Siding ground disc signal was disconnected
and recovered in connection with the new Worcester Foregate Street Turnback facility. By 27 Apr most
of the former siding (which could take a full length HST) was lifted; the rest was being cut up. New
points have been installed in the Up line; the pre-existing facing crossover provides access from/to the
Down line - both lines are reversible on the Worcester side of the two crossovers.
987] Norton Bridge: (BLN 1279.893) Regular passenger use of the new East Chord here is expected to
cease with the Dec 2017 timetable change. A new London Midland (or successor) Crewe - Stoke -
Stafford hourly EMU service should operate via the flyover to New Street instead of Euston (becoming
one of the Wolverhampton to Birmingham local services). It may serve Barlaston - does anyone know?
This allows the Crewe to Euston via the Trent Valley 'semi-fasts' to be extended from 4 to 8-cars and
run direct to Stafford. Longer term an hourly New Street to Liverpool service may run via Cannock
after electrification. 'PSUL' route knowledge retention services may still run via Norton East Chord,
988] Penkridge: The substantial former Littleton Colliery branch is still visible for much of its 4 mile
length, though heavily overgrown and mostly on private land. From the bridge over the Stafford to
Wolverhampton line, south of Penkridge station at Bungham Lane (SJ 9197 1344) is the site of the two
exchange sidings on the Up side, marked by some dewired overhead line supports and a solitary buffer
stop in the trackside undergrowth. It is most unlikely that an electric train ever used the sidings in
anger and the MGR coal train sets (mostly destined for Ironbridge latterly) had to be split to fit in.
An overgrown curved cutting leads to the A449 overbridge (SJ 9195 1307),
through it and immediately left (north side of the line) was 'Boscomoor
Sidings' that then trailed in. These were a coal landsale depot (now Boscomoor
industrial estate) with a rail served Rowntrees (as in chocolate) distribution
depot supplied from York and shunted by the National Coal Board locos - of
which nationally there used to be many. Beyond the line is being turned into
back gardens for a new housing development. Where the line crossed
Micklewood Lane (SJ 93571193) just east of the M6, long metal level crossing
gates remain, one each side (the middle red circles each painted 'Private Keep
Out'). The triangular area of land adjacent to the railway alignment (right,
south of the branch) was sidings serving Otherton Wharf on the east side of the Staffordshire and
Worcestershire Canal, from which it is now isolated by the M6. The road overbridges (SJ 9551 1244)
carrying the B5012 and further east, Mansty Lane (SJ 9600 1257) are both in place still above a very
overgrown railway alignment. Cocksparrow Lane crosses over the track bed (SJ 9668 1275) just before
Littleton (or Littleton's) Colliery site (by the A34) at Huntington. Production ceased on 10 Dec 1993
and the site has been redeveloped with housing and an industrial estate. On the other side of the A34
one of the colliery's winding wheels is a feature next to a small picnic area with a small uninformative
plaque. Nearby The Littleton (formerly The Littleton Arms) has a colliery winding wheel on its pub sign.
X.63] BELOW: (BLN 1274.305 with map) Just south of Golds Hill Level Crossing, between Wednesbury
Town and Great Bridge (North) after the disused line crosses over the Tame Valley Canal. Work on the
Walsall to Dudley line to clear vegetation for the Midland Metro extension survey has uncovered this
trailing point in the down line and the single slip in the up that led to John Cashmore's Scrap Yard (left,
where many steam locos met their end). This connection had been missed by Quail/TRACKmaps but is
shown on Joe Brown's new Birmingham & West Midlands Atlas! (Peter Humphries 8 Apr 2017).
989] Stafford: A 1¾ mile stretch of the former Great Northern Railway route to Bromshall Jn (for
Uttoxeter via the North Staffordshire Railway) has been converted into a footpath/cycleway called the
'Isabel Trail', presumably after the former WG Bagnall loco once displayed outside Stafford station and
now at Amington. The trail starts north of the station at Doxey Road bridge (SJ 9151 2346). Surfaced
throughout (mainly tarmac), it keeps to the railway alignment until it reaches the A513 overbridge
(SJ930253) adjacent to the Stafford (former RAF) MoD, now a large site with 22 disparate units, where
steel fencing prevents further progress. The line from Stafford CG 1 Dec 1975 to the depot but was
retained until taken OOU 19 May 1985. A sign warning of 'falling masonary' (sic) is attached to the old
Sandon Road bridge, now pedestrian/cyclist only, which parallels the newer A513 road bridge. All road
overbridges remain as does a steel bridge over the River Sow and both platforms of Stafford Common
station (SJ 9216 2486) CP 4 Dec 1939. There is little trace of either the various private sidings around
the Common Road industrial area, or the short branch to the former Stafford Corporation power
station (now Gaol Square). The eastern end of the trail is close to the Bertelin Roadd bus stop (buses
11, 15 and 842) from various town centre stops (but none from Stafford railway station).
990] Albrighton: (BLN 1276.496) The station ROP as planned on 24 Apr but temporary fencing
surrounded the bridge parapet both sides and platform paving stones there still needed replacing.
991] Sheffield Tram-Train: (BLN 1279.897) NR installed a new double lead junction on the existing
Sheffield Supertram Meadowhall line north of Meadowhall South/Tinsley stop over Easter Sun 16 &
Mon 17 Apr when the tram line was temporarily closed. This is the new junction for the 400m 'Tinsley
Chord'. The track then singles to join NR at the new Tinsley North Jn (2m 61ch) in the single track
bidirectional 'Down & Up Tinsley'. Work also began over Easter on College Rd Bridge, Rotherham.
It will be demolished and replaced during the late May Bank Holiday to give electrification clearance.
X.64] Leeds: ABOVE: Looking north from Leathley Road, showing the route of the line into
Hunslet Lane Goods (a North Midland Railway passenger terminus 1849 to 1851 and CG 30 Apr 1983),
the site of which is now Crown Point shopping centre, just beyond the bridge ahead. Leeds City Centre
is on the horizon. In the opposite direction the site of Hunslet Goods Jn on the ex Midland line to
Normanton is just about visible from the next bridge (Jack Lane), partly obscured by foliage.
992] Leeds: (BLN 1271.3199) Ministers have now approved spending plans for the £173M originally
earmarked for the trolleybus scheme. This includes new stations, Park & Ride schemes and buses
(including to the airport). Despite the large amount of money being spent there will be no new track
993] Limerick: Provisionally no trains will run between 4 and 25 Jun for resignalling/commissioning.
994] Belfast Great Victoria Street (GVS): An unusual move is very occasionally available. (See plan
below.) If a train departing from P3 towards Adelaide conflicts with one arriving from City Hospital
into P1 or P2, the departure can be routed via 784 and 780 crossovers to avoid conflict. The strange
thing is that nobody except the signaller can tell this move will take place. The starting signal will only
display 'D' (for Dublin direction) in the route indicator. As all lines are 15mph the fact that the driver
has no crossover indication does not matter but it of course makes it impossible for a microgricer on
the platform to know about it! Trains are timetabled to avoid conflicts unless there is late running.
On 22 April the 15.15 Whitehead to GVS was slightly delayed and the 16.00 GVS to Portadown (with
your Ireland Regional Editor on board) made the 784-780 move. This was only the third time in over
21 years that he had done this route since the station opened on 30 Sep 1995. It might appear that on
Saturdays the XX.00 arrival from Whitehead would conflict with the XX.00 departure for Portadown
regularly but this was not the case when traffic has been observed twice on the 22 Apr and previously)
The diagram BELOW (which is thanks to Martin Baumann and Martyn Brailsford) show the routes.
The brown dashed line to P1 shows the route of the 15.15 from Whitehead on 22 April; the green
dotted line out of P3 that of the 16.00 to Portadown. Without any conflicting movements a train from
P3 in the Dublin direction would normally take the straight route to the Dublin reversible line.
995] Killarney: (BLN 1276.572) Normal working resumed from start of traffic on 26 April. The buffers
were returned to their previous location and the siding and run-round loop signed back into use.
996] Inspector Wexford: An inspection car ran from Waterford to Rosslare Strand on 28 Feb & 26 Apr.
A weedspray train is due to operate on 6 May leaving Waterford 09.00 to Wexford via Rosslare.
997] Dublin Luas: An incredibly detailed map (7MB) https://goo.gl/pME2gR shows the Cross City Line
extension now under construction. It is due to open 'late 2017' but no date has been confirmed.
998] IÉ Subsidies: When the Waterford to Rosslare Strand line sadly CP from 20 Sep 2010 it was said
to be covering 1% of its costs with revenue. Thus a €10 ticket (as your Editor was then charged for a
day return trip) would attract a subsidy of €990. In Aug 2016 Irish Rail published a detailed profitability
review, unfortunately no route made a profit. Example subsidies for each journey were given as:
Dublin DART EMUs: €0.90 Limerick - Galway: €44.00*
Dublin - Galway: €8.50 Limerick Junction - Waterford: €362.40
Dublin to Cork: €22.10 Limerick - Ballybrophy: €551.90
*Western Corridor (mostly ROP 2010) reported as carrying an average of 14 passengers per train.
999] Irish Rail visit 2016 Part 1: (Or: 'Come on in the Waterford is lovely!') The main reason for our
member's visit was the centenary commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising. He arrived at Rosslare
Europort at 06.30 on Sat 26 Mar on the 02.30 ferry from Fishguard. Stena seemed to be discouraging
foot passengers by keeping them waiting until all the vehicles disembarked then making them take a
bus to the ferry terminal (half mile walk to the current station). When our member asked the driver
how to get to Rosslare Europort station he kindly drove him specially, in time for the 07.20 to Dublin.
The pedestrian route from the ferry to the station has high palisade fencing each side and passes the
former loco shed, now a bus garage, and the turntable which still sees very occasional RPSI use. The
07.20 was a 22000 railcar and the journey was uneventful but the extremely scenic line has interesting
features. At Shelton Abbey no track remains at the closed derelict fertiliser factory. He had previously
travelled over these sidings on 18 Jul 1981 with an all line CIÉ footplate pass (those were the days!)
and an 'Overlander' rover. (Loco 003 from Dublin to Shelton Abbey and 030 on the return).
Later that day our correspondent purchased a Dublin area Day Rambler ticket for €11.40 [With a LEAP
VISITOR CARD the maximum daily fare is €10 although it is necessary to touch in/out periodically as
with London's Oyster Card - Regional Ed.] and proceeded to photograph most stations from Malahide
to Greystones and Howth that he had not photographed previously. CIE/IR are just as good as British
operators at mutilating Victorian stations and building spectacularly ugly new ones but some survive
such as Malahide and Sutton with GNR monograms on the Up platform canopy supports. On the
Rosslare line Greystones, Bray, Killiney, Dalkey and Glenageary as well as perhaps the gloomy Pearse
stations all have some Victorian buildings intact. OOU signalboxes survive at Greystones and Bray.
Attending commemoration events the next day, our member observed the construction progress of
the LUAS cross-city line at several locations. Grafton Street, which leads from the current Green Line
St Stephen's Green terminus towards the city centre, once had a double track 5ft 3in gauge tramway
but it is now considered too narrow for trams so the new line will not use it. An IÉ 4 day unlimited rail
'Trekker' was purchased starting on 28th, excellent value at €110 (£92.50p). [An 'Explorer' (€160 adult,
€80 child) gives 5 days in 15 days of unlimited IÉ travel; both are only available from ticket offices.]
Our member does not use the internet and was wrongly told at Dublin Heuston that train times were
(only) 'all on line'. There is no national timetable book but a pocket sized gloss paper leaflet is available
for every line (even Waterford to Limerick Jn with only 2 trains a day) at Connolly and Heuston at least.
Our traveller was frustrated to find the Western Rail Corridor still closed [not all, Ennis to Athenry was
open as reported in BLN - Ed.] due to flooding as its stations were among those he had not yet
photographed. Instead it was the 10.00 Heuston to Cork (taking advantage of the €22.10 subsidy -
previous item) and then to Carrigtwohill on the reopened Midleton branch. This is an entirely new
structure with two platforms, shelters and lifts and a long passing loop west of the stone overbridge.
The original station building, now in private use, survives east of the bridge with a short section of
platform. At Midleton the tastefully refurbished station building is red brick with grey platform
awnings. The box (Up platform east end) was in such good condition it looked like a reconstruction.
In fact it was built in 1895, became very derelict and was largely rebuilt to the same design in 2009.
Mallow was next where the signalbox still sports a slightly faded GSR white on black 'Mallow South'
nameboard in Irish and English and then to Killarney whose well maintained station buildings provide
an overall roof over P1. P2 is a little used bay. It is now the only station with an Irish GS&WR
nameboard 'CILL AIRNE'. A signalbox, a substantial iron water tank on a stone base and the unusual
track arrangements east of the station complete the picture. A bus station has been built in the former
goods yard but you cannot walk directly to it from the railway station and a 10 minute walk is needed!
He stayed in the adjacent Maldron Hotel, formerly 'The Great Southern' and railway owned until 2006.
1000] Forres: (BLN 1276.499) Enquiries by a member produced the following NR reply: Transport
Scotland and NR are currently exploring making an exclusion order* under Section 38 of the Railways
Act 2005 in respect of the relocation of Forres station. This process** was undertaken successfully for
the relocations of both Drumgelloch and Bathgate station as part of the Airdrie to Bathgate Rail
Improvement Project. Consultation has been ongoing for a number of months which has involved local
authorities, stakeholders and the community. The project remains on course to commission the
re-located station in Oct 2017. New points were installed on 10 Apr at Forres (119m 1,285yds) OOU
until 17 Oct 2017 (the Aberdeen end points for the extended dynamic loop). *To avoid expensive,
possibly time consuming closure procedures that could delay the project. **Not mentioned in BLN.
1001] Dunbar: A second platform and footbridge are proposed by NR. Preliminary works were carried
out on land at the station in 2015. Work on the second platform, which would be south of the ECML
beside Salisbury Walk, could be started as quickly as spring 2019. Planning permission would be
required but, if given the go-ahead, the platform could be complete by spring 2020. Talks have also
taken place about extending Dunbar station car park from 50 places to more than 100.
1002] EGIP: 28 May is the current date (unless there is a volte-face), for energizing: Glasgow Queen
Street High Level to Newbridge Jn. Greenhill Upper Jn to Greenhill Lower Jn. The Up & Down Perth
lines around Greenhill Lower Jn. The Up & Down Grahamston and Up North Loop at Polmont Jn.
1003] New stations: The Welsh Government has announced feasibility studies into no fewer than
12 potential sites for new or reopened stations. Bow Street (BLN 1272.115) has already been subject
to detailed scrutiny; of the rest, perhaps the most interesting, and the only one involving any new
track, is Llangefni, on the moribund Anglesey Central Line to Amlwch (CP 7 Dec.1964; last train
'The Mabinogion' Hertfordshire Railtours trip of 16 Oct 1993).
Others are Llanwern (CP 12 Dec 1960), Ely Mill/Victoria Park (CP as Ely Main Line 10 Dec 1962),
Swansea Landore (CP 2 Dec 1964), and Cockett and St Clears (the latter two CP 15 Jun 1964).
New suggested sites are at St Mellons and Newport Road/Rover Way (both in the eastern suburbs of
Cardiff), North and South Wrexham, and Deeside Industrial Park/Northern Gateway (Flintshire).
There is no mention of stations on the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line, the subject of separate
studies. Meanwhile, it is anticipated that the Gwili Railway extension from Bronwydd Arms to
Abergwili Junction will open later this year.
1004] Oswestry - Welshpool: (BLN 1278.MR55) At some time between the canal's legal abandonment
in 1944 and 18 Jan 1965 when Llynclys Jn to Buttington Jn CA, the skew bridge span by which the
railway crossed what is now known as the Montgomery Canal between Pant and Llanymynech was
removed and replaced by an embankment. The embankment is currently being removed in connection
with canal restoration; the bridge abutments have been unearthed and are in sound condition.
Ironically, restoration of the railway is also one of the long term objectives of Cambrian Heritage
Railways, so a replacement span will now be required if this is to be achieved!
1005] Porthcawl Branch (again!): (BLN 1277.668) A correspondent points out that the 1865 railway
did not entirely follow the Dyffryn Llynvi & Porthcawl (DL&P) tramroad alignment which it replaced.
The DL&P at Tondu had been at a higher level, and the railway followed a new formation as far as
Aberkenfig, where it joined the Bridgend Railway (another early 4' 7" tramroad) until reaching the
DL&P formation at the site of the present Cwmffoes crossing. There were further deviations between
here and the site of Kenfig Hill station, but the tramroad and railway were then closely aligned to
Porthcawl, albeit with a diversion at Nottage via a 63yd tunnel, which is still in existence. The short-
lived north-to-east connection to Stormy Mineral Jn on the South Wales Railway was regarded as an
interchange siding rather than a running line, and had been removed before realignment of the branch
to avoid the flat crossing at Pyle. The line between Pyle and Cornelly was realigned and doubled in
1924, and there were plans after the war to extend double track to Porthcawl; although work was
done in preparing the trackbed, the second track was however never laid. This work included
construction of a turntable pit at Porthcawl, which also was never installed (a triangle was available).
1006] Miskin: On 5 Apr, a 13.15 London Euston to Port Talbot Parkway football special, carrying
Tottenham Hotspur supporters for a match at Swansea, used Miskin Down Passenger loop. Both loops
were upgraded to passenger loops in Jan, and this was probably the first use of the Down loop since.
1007] Conwy Valley branch: Initially reported as blocked south of Llanrwst due to a tree brought
down by Storm Doris on 23 Feb, the real problem proved much more challenging as the tree had
brought down part of an unstable rock face. Rectification proved difficult due to the steep face, dense
vegetation, severe weather and lack of road access; the work involved use of explosives to remove
some 300 tons of loose rock and debris, prior to the line reopening on 10 April.
1008] Minera: Explorers of the upper part of the branch (CG 1 Jan1972) west of Wrexham can follow a
public footpath southwest from the site of Ruthin Road crossing (SJ 27538 52114) on the opposite side
of which was Coedpoeth station (SJ 2764 5221); through modern housing toward Vicarage Crossing
Halt (SJ 2716 5198). The crossing-keeper's house still stands, appropriately caled 'Ty Rheilffordd'
('Railway House'). Berwig Halt, (SJ 2662 5193) named after nearby Berwig Cottage, was the terminus
of the GWR rail-motor service (CP 1 Jan1931). A length of rail survives in the level crossing here.
The branch continued a further mile to Minera, a remote location with two GWR workmen's houses,
no doubt for staff of the yard for the limestone quarry and kilns. Beyond the yard was Minera Mineral
Branch Jn, where the eponymous branch trailed in; this climbed to Minera Lead Mine (narrow-gauge
track still visible) and the sidings of Tir Celyn Quarry; some surviving concrete 'padstones' suggest post-
war relaying, but the last private siding agreement ended in May 1959 and the track was lifted in 1962.
1009] The Line that Never Sleeps: (BLN 1279.912) One consequence of the retiming of the Fishguard
to Rosslare sailings from 21 May is that it will no longer be possible to keep travelling on the South
Wales Main line round the clock. Now most nights a train leaves Swansea about 23.45 (connections
from Paddington etc) arriving Fishguard Harbour 01.35 and reasonably connecting with the ferry
to/from Rosslare. It then returns at 01.50 to Swansea arriving there 03.28 and nicely connecting with
the first HST to Paddington (which SSuX is incidentally a PSUL between Margam East Jn and Margam
Moors Jn on the Ogmore Valley Extension - the jointed track gives it away!). With other early and late
Swansea HSTs there is always a passenger train on the go somewhere on the route and they connect.
After 21 May the last HST is booked to arrive at Swansea 02.47 and then there is a departure from
Carmarthen at 03.03 for Swansea to connect with the first Up HST. However there will be no night
trains at Fishguard and anyone on a rover wanting to maximise their mileage will have to spend
80 minutes or so at Carmarthen round 02.00 between the last Down arrival and the first Up departure.
1280 MINOR RAILWAYS
MR70] Pugneys Light Railway, West Yorkshire (MR p26) (BLN 1270.MR241): Situated within the
Pugneys Country Park, 1½ miles south of Wakefield off the A636 Denby Dale Road, WF2 7EQ, this 7¼"
gauge railway now has a new owner - Bob Brocklehurst. Running commenced on Good Friday, 14 April.
Mr Brocklehurst intends to run every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday until the end of September -
weather permitting. Hours of operation are 11.00 to 17.00 with fares at £1 child and £2 adult.
When our member visited, trains were being operated by a class 47 (D1671) and Tinkerbell 0-4-2T
steam locomotive. Mr Brocklehurst has a Facebook page and can be contacted on 07885 930523.
Bus services from Wakefield Bus Station are 436/7/8 - hourly Monday to Saturday and two hourly on
Sunday, 443/4 half-hourly Monday - Saturday; the 444 runs through from Leeds City Bus Station.
MR71] North Yorkshire Moors Railway, North Yorkshire (MR p9): The following signalling alterations
have taken place recently in the Pickering area, controlled by New Bridge signal box. On the
19 December 2016 - a Route Indicator above ground position light signal 'A' located at the exit from
the Loco Spur at Pickering station was brought into use. When 'A' displays a proceed aspect the Route
Indicator either shows '1' for the route to P 1 or '2' for the route to P 2. The signalman may only clear
'A' when the train crew member has confirmed the hand point has been set to the correct platform.
During March 2017 the facing connection from P 1 line to the Beck Siding, approaching Pickering
station, which had previously been taken out of use, was removed and plain line installed.
The associated colour light signals, NB1 and the 'B' Route Indication on ground position light signal 17
for exiting and entering respectively the Beck Siding, were abolished. The position 2 Route Indicator on
Up direction 2-aspect NB18 signal remains in place. It was provided in the original Pickering signalling
scheme that envisaged the creation of a Bay platform but which never materialised and has therefore,
never been commissioned. During March, in association with track work carried out at New Bridge, the
redundant Detonator Placer was removed. On the 19 April a new Banner signal NB7BR was
commissioned on P 2 at Pickering station as a repeater for NB7 signal, and a new 'Right Away' indicator
was also commissioned above the subsidiary signal associated with NB7 signal. Due to these changes,
the number of spare levers in the New Bridge signal box twenty five lever frame has increased to six.
BELOW: A good picture for a BLN caption competition! How about: 'To be continued……'?
Lodge Farm Park Railway - definitely the current end of the line!
Met railway electric 'Marie Dadswell' can proceed no further (Peter Scott 17 Apr 2017).
MR72] Lodge Farm Park Railway, Greater London: This 7¼" gauge railway is being constructed by the
Havering Miniature Railway Club in Lodge Farm Park, off Main Road in Romford. The park lies roughly
mid-way between Romford and Gidea Park stations. Work started in 2016 and some running was
undertaken on temporary track, which has been slowly relaid as permanent track. This year a new
station has been constructed and was officially opened by the local Mayor on Easter Monday, 17 April
at 12.00. This effectively marked the completion of the first permanent section of the railway.
Our correspondent visited on this day, arriving just as the Mayor was performing the ceremony.
He had a ride on the new railway, after waiting for a while in a lengthy queue. Currently, the line is a
345 yard balloon loop. From the one platform station, Black's Brook, which is located on the balloon
loop around a children's playground, the line follows the stream on the western boundary of the park
and through some flower beds. Not long before the current end of line - at a yet to be built level
crossing over the main path through the park - there is a passing loop (with left-hand running). Beyond
the prospective level crossing the line will cross into a fenced area, where another return loop will be
built, along with a second station and stock shed. Two trains were in operation, one waiting in the
station until the other entered the return loop. In operation were: 0-4-0 'Lady Susan' with two sit-in
Mardyke coaches and No21 'Marie Dadswell' a BE Metropolitan Railway loco with two sit-astride
coaches. To the latter, to top-and-tail, was added 4wBE 'Jenko' - later replaced by a sit-astride BE tram.
Fares for over 3s were £1.50 with 'Lodge Farm Park Railway' titled tickets issued. Running days (11.00 -
16.00 according to the park website) are Sunday 4 June, 2 July, 6 August, 3 September and 1 October.
MR73] Leighton Buzzard Railway, Bedfordshire (MR p12) (BLN 1271.MR251): The new Page's Park
station building was officially opened on 29 October 2016. Over £250,000 of the £357,491.11 total cost
has been raised from within the Railway's 430 members and supporters. The rest came from housing
developer contributions to improve local infrastructure, in this case the inclusion of a function room to
provide a venue for community groups to use. The building was opened by Society Vice-President
Alan Moore CBE, an enthusiastic support of the project, and witnessed by guests including local MP
Andrew Selous, local councillors, society members and officers of the Heritage Railway Association.
MR74] Sandiway Miniature Railway, Cheshire (MR p13) (BLN 1209.MR69): This 5"/7¼" gauge railway
is operated by the Mid Cheshire Model Engineers and is located in woodland adjacent, and accessed
through, Blakemere Village - a collection of small craft outlets with café and activities. The railway is
formed of a simple circuit, around 290yd in length with a one platform station (Woodside) set off the
circuit on a loop line. BELOW: Hunslet Lady Joan in the station on a wet day (Peter Scott 16 Apr 2017).
There is also a five road shed served off a turntable along with a loading line and two steaming bays.
A signal box (moved from the Society's former site about a mile away at Pettypool) is in place off the
end of the station platform - now awaiting fitting out. A visit was made on wet, cloudy and cool Easter
Sunday, 16 April this year (typical Easter weather!). On arrival just before mid-day, it was raining - but
a train hauled by a 4w red-liveried petrol/diesel loco with two coaches was provided just for the two
visiting BLS members! Shortly after steam locomotive 'Lady Joan', an 0-4-0ST Hunslet came into service
and replaced the 4w loco. A ride is twice round, through the station platform - the by-pass line (the
original circuit at opening) is not used, as there is no easy way to work the facing points. No fares are
collected, but a donation tin is located by the platform entrance. A guided tour of the shed/workshop
was provided without request, as was a welcome cup of tea to stave off the damp and cold.
Public running is normally on Sundays throughout the year from 12.00. There is no entrance charge to
Blakemere Village; follow the road through the Village to the upper car park, which is right by the
railway. There is also an elevated much shorter 5" gauge track on site. This is complete, but passenger
rides are not yet given, as the Society has no suitable stock.
MR75] Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, Gloucestershire (MR p7): Winchcombe P1 and loop
have been lengthened at the south end, the work being completed prior to opening for the season in
March. This allows passing of the lengthened 8 coach trains, which will be in operation this year; both
platforms are bidirectional. As usual the railway ran trains for the Cheltenham Race Festival, two trains
each of 8 coaches. The result was 2,750 passengers carried over the 4 days (worth over £35k). Over
600 bottles of Champagne, 400 gin & tonics and almost 1,500 cans of Guinness were sold!
MR76] Epping Ongar Railway, Essex (MR p8): Half-term saw this line in operation and our roving
reporter attended on Sunday 19 February. 'Routemaster' bus RM1993 was running between Epping
and North Weald. 'Brush' diesel 31 438 with four ex-BR coaches and GWR 0-6-0PT 6430 formed the
10.30 from North Weald to Ongar from North Weald. At Ongar the diesel was taken off for the Pannier
tank to a do a return trip to North Weald. The 12.05 from Ongar was 'top and tailed' by 31 438 and
6430 to Epping Forest and back to North Weald. Ongar end crossover (near 0.0km) was being relaid.
MR77] Southend Pier Railway, Essex (MR p17) (BLN1275.MR33): Sunday 12 March 2017 saw our
roving reporter make his annual visitation to this 3ft gauge pier railway - the far end of which was only
just visible in the mist. 'Sir John Betjeman' with set A was operating the service at XX.00 & XX.30 from
the land end and XX.15 & XX.45 from the pier head. Single car 1835 4wBE was on the same track as
spare unit 'Sir William Heygate' (Train B), with the flat wagon at the pier head loaded with timber,
presumably for pier repairs. The child/senior return fare is £2.50. This compares with 15p adults / 10p
child in 1976 (£1 and 75p now with inflation). The pier museum had not yet reopened for the season.
MR78] Hampton & Kempton Waterworks Railway, Greater London (MR p17) (BLN 1266.MR193): Our
roving reporter visited this 2ft gauge railway on Sunday 26 March 2017. Operating was 4wDH HE9338
/1994 with one bogie coach. Three circuits were given for each ride, the adult fare is £2.50.
No3 'Darent' (AB984/1903) and 'Spelthorne' (HE9357/1994) were outside the two containers that act
as sheds. 'Hounslow' 4wPH (SPL No1/2008) was on the other side of the road viaduct. The frames of
4wDM MR4023/1926 were inverted and under the viaduct. A connection has now been laid in the
existing circuit towards the viaduct - this will connect to a deviation line, which will hopefully in due
course link to the original track bed. Operating days this year are every Sunday until 19 November
10.30-16.00, with special railway events: 18 June, 9 July, 20 August, 17 September (Diesel Day),
28 October (Ghost Trains - pre-booking), 29 October (Diesel Day), 18/19 November and Santa specials
in December (pre-booking). Museum event days with the Great (steam) Engine running are: 20/21
May, 17/18 June, 16/17 and 23/24 September, 21/22 October and 18/19 November.
BELOW: One for for our signal box experts….Sutton Model Engineers (Peter Scott 9 Apr 2017).
MR79] Sutton Model Engineers, Greater London (MR p17): This society has a track site literally in the
middle of a housing estate! There are ground level (5"/7¼" gauge) and elevated (2½"/3½"/5" gauge)
tracks. The ground level line is formed of a simple circuit, around 176 yards in length, with a platform
set off the circuit on a loop line. The line is fully signalled with track circuits and colour light signals.
The site is open to visitors on the second Sunday of each month from 12.00 onwards and a visit was
made on a beautiful sunny Sunday 9 April 2017. The location is not open to the public as such and it is
required to sign the visitors' book on arrival - a donation tin is adjacent. However, our correspondent
was made very welcome and given a guided tour of the signal box. Two trains were running on the
ground level line: 0-4-0ST 'Lathyrus' (7¼" gauge) and 0-4-0 'Lilibet' (5" gauge) - each with one
sit-astride coach. A couple of trains were also running on the elevated line. The site is not easy to find
and is not signposted. It is located off Chatham Close, which is off Woodstock Rise, which is a turn off
the B279 Sutton Common Road. The closest stations are St Helier and Sutton Common. Parking is very
limited, so if arriving by car it is recommended to park in the car park on the opposite side of Sutton
Common Road for the Recreation Ground and then walk the short distance to the site.
MR80] Bala Lake Railway, Gwynedd (MR p29) (BLN 1270.MR238): The railway has been awarded
£38,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to extend the covered accommodation for its rolling stock at
Llanuwchllyn. Disabled access and heritage exhibits will also be improved. Project Leader Julian Birley
said: The existing facilities have become increasingly overcrowded and do not allow us to expand,
particularly taking into account the increasing collection of historic locomotives and rolling stock.
MR81] West of Fife Munitions Railway, Dunfermline, Fife: The first section of this new 2ft gauge
railway is expected to open this year. It is being developed by members of the Shed 47 Railway
Restoration Group at the ex-Royal Naval Store Depot at Lathalmond - home to the Scottish Vintage Bus
Museum and an existing standard gauge line (MR p10) operated by the same group where there was
an excellent Society visit and railtour on 23 October 2015. In early 2016 the opportunity arose to
acquire some 2ft gauge track and a member then purchased locos and stock from a peat works near
Penicuik. Track for the new line started to be laid on 18 June 2016 - the new line is on part of the
original MOD standard gauge route adjacent to Gask Burn and the plan is to develop the railway to
carry passengers from east to west along the length of the site. There will be halts to provide
interchanges with heritage bus rides and a terminus station where the 2ft gauge and standard gauge
lines meet (and also cross on the level). The first test run https://goo.gl/nX5I5i 23 November 2016.
BELOW: Y Triongl Gogledd Cymru - the prelude: During shunting manœuvres at Carnforth West Coast
Railway Company (WCRC) Depot to make up the tour train, it was discovered that the headlight on the
leading end of 47270 'Swift' was not working and so repairs were attempted, unfortunately without
initial success. Qualified ground staff are seen from the train in the sidings trying to remove the
working headlight from the rear end of the loco to swap with that on the front. A Bardic lamp was
used instead until the wayward headlamp decided to work! 04.30 Sat 22 April 2017 (Geoff Plumb).
BELOW: Carnforth P2 before sunrise; 47270 'Swift' leading (the bardic lamp replacing a headlight) and
47580 'County of Essex' at the rear. The tour is about to set sail for Holyhead at 05.40 (Geoff Plumb).
BELOW: One of the two very smart First Class West Coast coaches awaits passengers (Geoff Plumb).
1010] FIXTURES REPORT; Y Triongl Gogledd Cymru, Sat 21 Apr: (The truth, the Hole truth, and nothing
but the truth.) Modern railtours generally require a start to be made the previous day or by 02.30 at
the latest so rising at 05.00 seemed positively decadent as did actually catching trains all the way to
the departure station; again outrageous, as this by implication, meant one could get home by train
too! Thus began the positively sauntering tour that was the Y Triongl Gogledd Cymru, nothing to do
with Googling in Wales but with the different Welsh syntax, translates as The North Wales Triangle.
The name was actually a reference to, and one of the many nick names of, Type 4 member Phil Grint
who died last year at the age of 50. [For the record some stewards reported to Carnforth at 02.30 and
finished there at 21.45.] Seeing a Cockney Sparrow Silver Jubilee flag liveried Class 47 roll into Stafford
transported your reporter's mind back about 30 years, or more, (gulp!) to when a Class 47 would be
common, even boring! But all you need to convert anything that was base and banal into that which is
noble and uncommon is time. And so, decades on, the sight of a Brush on a rake of Mk1s gliding to a
halt definitely stimulated the memory banks and hit the nostalgia button. For some this tour was all
about travelling behind a preferably well thrashed 'Duff/s' but for most the currency of a tour's success
and value is rare track so we set off for pastures new and perhaps at least in recent decades unknown.
Your correspondent joined at Stafford P3, and the tour traversed the new Down Slow at Norton
Bridge, so transformed as to be almost unrecognisable from the familiar flat junction layout of
yesteryear. Then it was the Up & Down Loop behind P11 (the middle line between P11 and P12) at
Crewe before gaining the Down Chester and heading ultimately for North Wales.
Unusually, during the day the tour passed through Crewe (the organiser's home) four times, each on
different non-platform routes! Passing the Electric Depot numerous machines in middle age could be
seen dumped and rotting in the open air; considering there are operational electric locos in
Switzerland twice their age only emphasises the waste. Soon the wires were behind us and we easily
covered the flat Cheshire plain. At Chester itself we loitered (early) outside the station area while West
Coast made sure we followed the agreed route before gaining the convoluted route across the lines
from Manchester to the Down & Up Goods before traversing the Chester North Jn Down Goods Loop,
a pleasing collection of metalwork to gain so quickly. Our reversal point was the Hooton Long Siding
via the non-electrified Hooton platform with no number*. There was a song about the 'street with no
name' but has a pop song ever been composed to 'the station platform without a number'? This now
sadly rusted appendix was part of the former fast lines once carrying GWR Birkenhead to Paddington
expresses. This trip had a Unique Selling Point of traversing the left hand loco run-round loop and not
the traditional adjacent siding, so for many a bit of ink expenditure there! [For those wondering the
Long Siding was used by Stanlow Oil Refinery trains (things of the past) to run-round and reverse.]
*There is some evidence it's known as 'Platform 0' and also the 'Excursion Platform'.
Heading south again we veered right around the tight squealing single jointed track Chester North to
South curve and then diving onto the Down Slow (Goods Loop) awaited the passing of a Voyager on
the Down Fast (four trains were here including ours). The tour emerged to pass Saltney Jn recently
reinstated with double track towards, but of course not reaching, Wrexham. The next frisson of
excitement was Holywell Down Goods Loop with the former passenger platforms (CP 14 Feb 1966).
Slowing, the tour received a clear board for the loop almost nestling below and left of the Main Home
and we duly trundled over it previously with connections to other sidings now all rusted solid in the
grass. Once the steeply graded Holywell Town branch CP/CA Sep 1954 was reached by reversal. These
loops have a terminal prognosis and will be replaced by a new Up side reversible loop at Mostyn with
connections from/to the Down Main. This recently laid new track awaits signalling and commissioning.
BELOW: The (northwest) end of Hooton Long Siding headshunt reached via the run round side.
The Merseyrail lines are behind the train, the sunshine was typical of the day (WCRC via Kev Adlam).
TOP: Entering Holywell Down Goods Loop - note the siding on the left is OOU (Simon Mortimer).
ABOVE, LOWER: In the morning the tour heading ever west (away from the camera) passing the
former Holywell Junction station Down platform on the left, through Holywell Down Goods Loop.
The doomed signal box is between the Down Main and Up Main. The elusive Up Loop is further right
with an Engineer's siding far right. (A low resolution picture taken by our local member Roly High who
comments that it has been many years since he has seen a passenger train at the platform here!).
Next up was Rhyl Down Main... except it wasn't.... we had the position 1 feather and trundled through
P2 like every other passenger train here. A steward's enquiry revealed the points at the west end had
been damaged recently and (with resignalling) are not likely to be repaired.... At Abergele & Pensarn
we sampled at speed (blink and you'll miss it) the new ultra wide Bicester North type Down platform
which sits over the old platform loop. It has simply been extended out to the Down Main recently, so
that's one less thing to worry about. Llandudno Junction might have appeared quite regulation but
actually arriving into P4 is relatively unusual, most trains are concentrated on the island platforms and
P4 only sees a few trains a day when a coincidence of services forces the DMU from Blaenau Ffestiniog
to stay over and precludes the typical looping. But, where was Rodney? No, not the gypsy rover (only
four TOCs left to do) driver sat adjacent but the wooden locomotive and coach of that name which had
sat on P4 for years... gradually decomposing... (again no parallels with anyone adjacent)... it was gone!
BELOW: 'Rodney' as previously on the platform at Llandudno Junction (Simon Mortimer).
An enquiry revealed it was condemned as a trip hazard and
removed... I really do wonder (pause for a moment of
incredulity) if anyone EVER did trip over it!!?? Another
remarkable coincidence here was the presence of TWO
railtours (like buses but reassuringly much more expensive)
with a UK Railtour reversing to visit Blaenau Ffestiniog.
A remarkable chance for a group of railtour participants to
photograph another group of railtour participants as 66149
drew away up towards the junction. One wonders if in 2047
this loco will itself be preserved, hauling a nostalgia rake of
Mk3 coaches? (RIGHT: Another Jim Sellens' masterpiece.)
So it was finally the 'Merrymaker' section of the tour as we took the short hop to Llandudno itself and
this throbbing Victorian resort with no less than three take away food outlets directly opposite the
station, all closed! Obviously the mass catering arm of this jewel of North Wales' tourism (which at
least differentiates itself by having a greater ratio of brick built infrastructure over caravans than
elsewhere on the glorious Gogledd Cymru Riviera) had not yet built itself up to full seasonal frenzy of
activity, (availability). So a wider sortie in search of sustenance was in order. In fact a selection of
eateries was available a few streets away and a fish cooked to order with chips was whisked back to
the train now approaching departure. Back to 'The Junction' (as the local call it) alongside the gorgeous
Conwy estuary glistening in the sunshine with Conwy Castle across the waters it was... a tourist boat
from Beaumaris bobbed about no doubt laden with punters photographing our train and yearning to
be off their aquabash and back on the steelwork behind the vintage traction.
BELOW: Llandudno P3 at 11.54; note that to left of the train (on the west side of station) the former
P4 & 5 are now part of the expanded station car park (Geoff Plumb).
ABOVE: A great picture; after reversal in Llandudno Junction P1 and heading west over the very rare
trailing crossover near mile post 223¾. Top left is Conwy Castle with some Welsh mountains (i.e. over
2,000 ft) behind. Left is the facing access to the disused 'Quay Siding' ahead; off to the left middle was
part of the Glan Conwy Freight Depot, including a yard with seven through roads built as late as 1981
partly to replace Colywn Bay Goods, a site required for the new A55 road (Simon Mortimer).
Critically on return we entered Llandudno Junction P1, not because this is in the slightest bit unusual
but because of what it then dictates... we reversed and after gaining the Up Main took the rare trailing
crossover to the Down Main which despite having some booked services never sees them!
So onwards ever deeper into the true heartland of the Principality, threading the walls of Conwy Castle
(one of a job lot built by Edward I around 1280) and thundering through Bangor on the Down Main, a
sight the station now rarely sees (compare with the 15mph turnout for P2, the Down Passenger loop!)
and across Stephenson's masterpiece onto Anglesey. Ynys Mon, as the natives refer to it, is a mystical
place and still has a full time Druidic Community (with a website). Even the Roman legions were
terrified during their local conquests by the female warriors arrayed in the front line of battle clad in
animal skins and whaling incantations of terror and doom (backed up by those druids!). Scenes that
echo down the ages and can still be experienced even today in Llangefni every Saturday night.
We rolled into Holyhead P3 (BELOW: Geoff Plumb), a rarely used outer east side face notable for the
departure of the Assembly Special whose Class 67 rumbles out every weekday morning around 05.30
with a full catering crew cooking breakfast. After stopping at the stop board protecting the trailing run
round loop points, we drew forward to the buffers and for those moulded against the bulkhead of the
leading coach (and there were a few!) we made it over the point at the end of the run-round loop.
Those of a traction bent then bailed out leaving the track cognoscenti to sample some esoteric morsels
around the station area beginning with a reversal over the trailing crossover nearest the station and
down the carriage washer road, threading the silent brushes of the wash plant and tottering along the
rusty metals until the ATW pilot man decided we had gone as far as prudent. The train stopped well
past the station beyond the large stainless steel footbridge overhead. Although short of the buffers the
tracks looked very rarely used and it could only be described as sensible (BELOW: Simon Mortimer).
ABOVE: Looking the other way, tinkering (perhaps Timken-ing?) in Rural Wales trying to sort out the
faulty speedometer. Actually this was taken on Holyhead Carriage Wash Road - the longest residual
line. Those with good eyesight will see the buffer stops in front of the loco (Simon Mortimer).
With the train stationary in Holyhead Carriage Wash Road it was noted the crew were busy removing
the plate covering the speedo probe near one of the axles and it transpired this had failed. At this time
this did not matter as this 47 was now trailing but would ultimately necessitate a run round much
later. Retracing our tracks the carriage washer (which is quite new) burst into life and gave the train a
vigorous clean, this prompted a swift closure of the windows before each coach arrived in the shed but
it was notable even then a few trickles of water forced their way through. We should have used the
trailing crossover further out to shunt here but took the same crossover going back to P1; however the
missing one was requested on the departure but did not happen. [Answer: Ground signals only!]
RAILWAY LIONS: ABOVE & BELOW: (Geoff Plumb) Crossing the Britannia Bridge over the Menai Strait
returning from Holyhead with the mountains in the background. The original bridge, designed by
Robert Stephenson, opened in 1850 and had two wrought-iron rectangular tubular spans with a track
inside each tube. These were damaged beyond repair due to the tar-soaked wooden linings catching
fire after boys playing inside the bridge dropped a lit paper torch, temporarily closing the line here
from May 1970. A new arched span was built which reopened at the end of Jan 1972 with a single
railway track. The road bridge above was added in July 1980. The original bridge was guarded by two
lions on either side of the tracks on both the mainland side and the Ynys Mon (Anglesey) side; these
were designed by John Thomas and remain to this day, though now difficult to see The lions were
immortalised in a Welsh rhyme by the bard John Evans (1826 - 1888), born in nearby Porthaethwy:
Pedwar llew tew Four fat lions
Heb ddim blew Without any hair
Dau 'ochr yma Two on this side
A dau 'ochr drew And two over there