Merseyside, Chester & North Wales

Meeting Reports

Monday 19th December 2016
North Wales in Black & White
John Hobbs

Local member John Hobbs gave an extremely interesting and nostalgic b&w presentation in Chester on 19th December to an attendance of 28 depicting the North Wales scene (1963-66). Starting at Chester he got to the extremes of Holyhead and Barmouth and points in between via the Dyserth, Amlwch and Brymbo steel works branches. It was notable how much freight traffic, especially meat and cattle, came from Holyhead and, how on one down morning parcels the locomotive, previously returning the following day, now returned that afternoon when deputising for a Cl.40. Anecdotes mentioned were when photographing 44276 at Chester, the fireman also took a photograph of him and of a trip on the 17.16 Chester to WR parcels with a friend, who should have had a tea trolley on the previous passenger, managing sales to PW staff on the two days covered; they complained it was missing the following day! He desperately wanted a colour shot of a “Duchess” in 1964 so bought a colour film (7s6d - 37.5p equivalent) for 46245 in red on a parcels, and paid 2s9d (14p) Prestatyn-Chester when he only earned £2.2s101/2d (£2.14) per week, although he got a bonus with green 46237 – oh for digital!

Wednesday 7th December 2016
The 8D Association
Paul Wright

The Liverpool meeting on 7th December saw an attendance of 25 entertained by Paul Wright of the 8D Association, who related how from a handful of people in 2010 with an interest in the history of railways around 10/15 miles of Widnes shed, a thriving local society exists today with a membership approaching 80.

Paul then expanded on its development before tracing the southern half of the St. Helens & Runcorn Gap Railway, opened 1833, to provide a rail link for freight to a purpose-built dock at Widnes, with a connection to the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. Passenger trains, ultimately known as ‘The Ditton Dodger’ ran between Widnes and St. Helens, 1833-1951, and unadvertised miners’ trains operated by LNWR/LMS from Shaw St., 1919-1930, which split near Clock Face where colliery locos took them forward to Sutton Manor and Clock Face collieries. Passenger diversions still used the line until 1981.

This was the start of Widnes becoming an extremely busy railway area and Paul, as usual, supplied innumerable obscure facts, e.g. Widnes Goods depot still had horses up to 1962 when the last one was transferred to Deansgate – that wasn’t reported in the RO transfers!

He then traced the extension in 1852 from Widnes down to Garston Dock, a station which in 1858 boasted a passenger service of through coaches to King’s Cross, operated by the GNR. Latterly it was the southern terminus of a service to Lime St. competing with that of the CLC into Liverpool Central

Tuesday 6th December 2016
Observation at Stafford

On a cold and dull 6th December eight members visited Stafford, brought forward from 13th, although unfortunately two Committee members were absentees because of illness. The mince pies, as usual for this pre-Christmas visit, were in full flow and our thanks go to those who supplied such offerings. Apart from the usual freights and succession of Pendolinos, Voyagers and Cl.350s, also seen were the ‘yellow peril’, which included our named 43014, an RHTT working – regular for this time of year – 387139/138, the day’s highlight, on a Wembley-Crewe and return test run and ECS 323240. The only event of note occurred at 08.40 when 350103 was failed whilst working the 07.34 Lime St.- New St. after it hit a pheasant en route, causing wheel slip sensor problems. This blocked platform 4 until 10.30 when it left for Crewe with other trains having to use platforms 1 or 3, or travel via the ‘up through line’. Our thanks also go to Alan Turton for arrangements even though one of the absentees, but now back in service – must have been overdue an exam!

Some photos taken on the day by Peter Hughes & Roger Thomas, together with a list of sightings complied by Alan Turton, can be found here.

Monday 21st November 2016
Sixties Steam on Shed
Barry Shore

25 members and visitors braved the atrocious stormy weather on 21st November to attend the Branch’s meeting at Chester. As a result of Brian Arman’s unfortunate necessary cancellation, and the branch hopes he has a speedy recovery, Barry Shore kindly deputised at relatively short notice to give us a presentation entitled “Steam on Shed”. With his usual attention to detail and information relating to the locomotive classes Barry produced a very informative evening looking back at motive power, both steam and some of their now not so modern replacements, which he saw and photographed whilst he covered many miles by bicycle travelling all over the country to both lineside locations and locomotive sheds and workshops.

His presentation reminded those present of just how many different classes and installations existed, especially during the early 1960s, something which is a lot scarcer on our rather stereo type railway today. It also reminded us that visiting railway depots then held an excitement as to what we may find hidden away in some corner, either awaiting its fate or even possibly still in use after many years of service and his return in the future is awaited.

Tuesday 8th November 2016
Observation at Doncaster

A drop in temperature to a cold 6C meant this was a day for several layers of clothing. A number of the usual attendees were unavailable due to illness & work commitments however the attendance was still an encouraging 8 Members including 2 from the Humberside Branch.

Since freight movements through the Station are now much reduced we were determined not to miss freight & light engine movements using the Bridge Jnc - Hexthorpe Jnc curve south of the Station. Several were missed when we last visited in July so on this occasion we were more attentive than ever before and as a result did not miss any.

Freight levels were broadly similar to our earlier 2016 visits in March & July. Timekeeping was generally good.

Some photos taken on the day by Chris Dilley, Peter Hughes & Alan Turton, together with a list of sightings provided by Alan Turton, can be found here.

Monday 17th October 2016
Sheds : Part 2
John Sloane

Following on from John's first visit in December 2014, he returned with another superb show. We began at Heaton Mersey & Stockport Edgeley before moving to Cromford, Sheep Pasture & Middleton Top. There then followed an in depth study of Derby Shed & Works accompanied by detailed maps & drawings. John recalled an RCTS Branch visit in 1956 when the party witnessed an 8F falling into the turntable pit at the south end of Derby Shed. Reference to the July 1956 RO confirms this to have been on 10/6/56 the culprit being 48153 of 17A. Pictures were shown of various locations in & around Derby including St Andrews Goods Yard with stored Claytons awaiting repair prior to entering service. Frustratingly most did not carry numbers. Another at the G.N.R Friargate shed showed the stored ACV/BUT lightweight Railcars [nicknamed 'Flying Bricks'] ex the St Albans Abbey - Watford Junction service. There then followed a detailed study of Toton then Nottingham with a rare picture of Arkwright St Shed. John concluded with a visit to Stratford again supported by many detailed maps & drawings. It was a fascinating evening with John who is a great authority on all matters associated with Locomotive sheds & depots. We look forward to his next visit.

Tuesday 11th October 2016
Observation at Nuneaton

Although on this occasion double figures were not attained, the 9 Members who attended were delighted with an above average number of loco movements & freights. A total of 33 different locomotives was indeed a good return. The weather was generally cloudy however it was not cold & the sun did appear in the afternoon.

Inevitably much banter ensued with discussions about football [inevitably], the American elections, Brexit & the respective merits of 1970s bands Slade & The Sweet! Indeed one Member acquired the name of one of The Sweet's hits from 1972.

Some photos taken on the day by Chris Dilley, Peter Hughes, Richard Neale & Alan Turton, together with a list of sightings provided by Alan Turton, can be found here.

Wednesday 5th October 2016
Railways in a Cornish Landscape
Stephen Gay

35 attendees at Liverpool saw Stephen Gay's presentation 'Railways in a Cornish Landscape' on his return to the branch on 5th October. He gave us part one of his rambling tour around the county with his faithful dog Wrawby. He showed us views of viaducts and stations starting on the Gunnislake branch, seeing a 1958 Bristol Lodekka bus and an 1890 GW carriage, now a home, then down the main line to Truro, via all the branches. We saw an HST heading west towards the setting golden sunlight working, appropriately, 'The Golden Hind' and St. Blazey roundhouse. There was a mix of power with the occasional freight including one at, what is probably the most popular railway view in Cornwall, Golant, plus a weed-killing train and a derailment. Stephen related his weekend stay in an ex-GW Broad Gauge TPO, now a camping coach alongside St. Germans up platform and, of the practice at Liskeard where passengers on a through Looe-Plymouth service, had to detrain at Liskeard branch platform and re-join the train at the main platform, whilst the unit ran around the curve linking the two. He ended at Carnon Bridge crossing on the long closed Redruth & Chacewater Railway, where in 1899 an accident involving the death of a namesake occurred, whilst the crossing keeper on duty was the casualty's mother-in-law. His return with part two is eagerly awaited.

Monday 19th September 2016
Diesel Diaries - The Sixties
Barry Shore

Long standing member and supporter of the Branch, Barry Shore, gave an attendance of 25 at the Branch meeting in Chester on 19th September a talk entitled 'Diesel Diary: The Sixties'. With his usual attention to detail and information on locomotive and unit classes, he showed us black and white photographs of the diesel scene during the 1960s which were taken whilst on his journeys by bicycle or train. We were treated to shots of all the classes of main line locomotive which were a common sight at that time but virtually all now disappeared and, also to most of the diesel multiple unit classes and shunters, which we would then see on our journeys around Britain, as we saw not only the local scene but activities as far apart as Perth, Newcastle, London the south west and Wales.

He even showed us electric units working on the Manchester-Hadfield and Altrincham services and one of the Southern Region DEMUs. Also to appear were a few relatively uncommon sights, such as a Class 33 at York, having worked in on the Cliffe to Uddingston cement train, and a Class 9F inside a CL.25 on a tank train. It certainly was an evening of nostalgia for all, especially the diesel enthusiast.

Tuesday 13th September 2016
Observation at Leamington Spa

A double figure attendance was once again attained with Members from 3 Branches represented. One of the party stayed overnight in the Town and was on site from 07.30.

It was good to see our ex Branch Chairman Richard Neale for the first time since his transfer to Cheltenham. A toast was raised to Branch Committee Member Geoff Morris and his Wife Sue who were married in Llanelli during the day.

Nothing out of the ordinary to report on what was a very hot day with a recorded temperature of 29C which was something of a contrast to our previous visit. The good weather encouraged a fair number of the party to supply photos and so thanks go to John Cashen, Chris Dilley, Peter Hughes, Richard Neale, Roger Thomas & Alan Turton for their contributions.

A list of sightings provided by Alan Turton, can be found here.

Tuesday 9th August 2016
Nottingham & Toton

The party consisting of 9 Members met at Crewe Station in time to join 153313 working 1K07 09.07 to Derby. We arrived on time at Derby & then joined 170112 forming 1M92 07.45 Cardiff - Nottingham. At Nottingham the party split up with 4 Members choosing to ride Trams. The main party of 5 Members travelled on Tram 216 Dame Laura Knight. Upon arrival at Toton Lane [opened 25 August 2015] we walked to the hill overlooking Toton Yard & Depot via part of The Erewash Valley Trail. The hill affords a superb view & many locomotives were recorded including a considerable number of stored Class 60s. This was particularly useful to those Members whose interest in Railways had only been rekindled in recent years and consequently had never seen the majority of the Class 60s. Return from Toton Lane was aboard Tram 225 Doug Scott. There was then a short interlude at Nottingham before travelling on 170103 forming 1G46 15.41 to New St. Upon arrival at Derby we met the other Members & then travelled back to Crewe on 153313 [again] forming 1K21 the 16.42 departure. All were agreed that it had been a different day & one we intend to repeat in 2017.

Some photos taken on the day by Chris Dilley & Peter Hughes, together with a list of sightings provided by Alan Turton, can be found here.

Tuesday 12th July 2016
Observation at Doncaster

A warm cloudy day was enjoyed by 10 Members including our good friend, Gordon Stubbins from the Humberside Branch. Freight traffic was similar to our March 2016 visit but infuriatingly there appeared to be more freight and light engine movements on the Bridge Junction to Hexthorpe Junction route which we succeeded in missing! It is a question of looking towards the South at the right time and unfortunately we didn't! A debut for the Branch on our visits here was the appearance of two Class 68s, although only one Member saw the movement from Norwich Crown Point.

Some photos taken on the day by Chris Dilley, together with a list of sightings provided by Alan Turton, can be found here.

Tuesday 14th June 2016
Strathclyde Day Ranger

Strathclyde has a reputation for wet weather and it is therefore somewhat surprising that this annual Branch fixture to the area generally enjoys good weather. This was no exception which was rather fortunate since the weather in North West England was somewhat wet. The advance party departed Wigan North Western aboard 350403 [1S35 07.00 Manchester Airport - Glasgow Central] arriving at Glasgow Central 6 minutes ahead of the remainder of the party appropriately travelling on 390141 City of Chester [1S37 05.30 Euston � Glasgow Central]

We then travelled to Wemyss Bay aboard 380002 [1W33 10.57 Glasgow Central - Wemyss Bay]. Upon arrival return tickets to Rothesay were purchased and we then boarded Cal Mac Ferry MV Argyle dating from 2007. En route we passed sister Ship MV Bute which dates from 2005. Both vessels were built in Poland. The weather was beautiful however there was a sombre aspect to the trip as MV Argyle carried a hearse with a coffin. We concluded that the person had been born on Bute and was now returning home to be buried.

Rothesay is most a most attractive town. The main street contains many shops & cafes including Zavaroni's Cafe owned by the cousin of Lena Zavoroni who lived in Rothesay for 10 years before winning 'Opportunity Knocks' in 1974 and enjoying a successful but sadly brief career before she passed away at the tragically young age of 35.

We returned to Glasgow again on 380002 [1W26 13.57 to Glasgow Central] Upon arrival at Glasgow Central the party went their separate ways before meeting up later for the journey home aboard 390152 Virgin Knight [1M19 18.40 to Euston]. Arrival at Warrington Bank Quay was only 1 minute late thus bringing to an end another superb day.

Some photos taken on the day by Peter Hughes and Alan Turton, together with a list of sightings provided by Alan Turton, can be found here.

Tuesday 10th May 2016
Observation at Newport

Double figures were attained with 12 Members congregating initially at Newport Station. In Football parlance it can be said that Teams go on good runs or bad runs and from a weather point of view the Branch is most definitely on what can be best described as a bad run with a day of overcast conditions & heavy drizzle. Fortunately the weather never detracts from the enjoyment we derive from these monthly trips. Freight traffic appeared slightly reduced as compared to our last visit to Newport in May 2015. Changes were apparent with Freightliner having taken over coal workings in the area from early April 2016. On the day it was decided a trip to Cardiff would be a good idea & we made sure we travelled by HST each way. Several of the special HST liveries were seen with 43187/43188 appearing in GWR green. 150247 was also seen in GWR green.

Some photos taken on the day by Chris Brown, John Cashen, Chris Dilley, Peter Hughes, Roger Thomas and Alan Turton, together with a list of sightings provided by Alan Turton, can be found here.

Monday 18th April 2016
One man's rubbish is another's treasure
Russell Hatt

Members at Chester on 18th April were entertained by Russell Hatt with a talk entitled One Mans Rubbish is Another Mans Treasure. Russell explained that for many years he had obtained transport photographs dating back to the end of the 19th century and, in some cases, had forestalled them from reaching peoples rubbish bins, hence the title. We were entertained to a selection of pre-grouping shots of locomotives, stock and station scenes including some of the smaller companies such as the S&DJR, Furness and North Staffordshire Railways, the latter being after some 0-6-2Ts were bought by the NCB at Walkden, Manchester. He also included a shot of a Liverpool Overhead Railway train taken overlooking Georges Dock between 1893 and 1898, prior to it being filled in where The Three Graces at the Pier Head are nowadays.
He looked at what were to become The Great Little Trains of Wales in the early 1950s prior to them originally ceasing operations and being saved by preservationists, in addition to some industrial scenes and a paddle yacht at Whitby. Some of the station scenes were particularly interesting with passengers in Victorian/Edwardian dress.
We also saw photographs of the original Barmouth bridge and Runcorn suspension bridge and some post-grouping and nationalisation shots with 10000+10001 at Moore troughs on the WCML, gas turbine 18000 at Swindon, a SNCF dynamometer car in a train at Bristol Temple Meads, a USA 2-8-0 at Cambridge and, even a first generation Wickham DMU before finishing locally to him around Baguley.
Amusingly French enthusiasts were viewed at the lineside with a table, bread, cheese and wine lucky them!

Tuesday 12th April 2016
Day trip to Edinburgh

On 12th April seven members travelled north on the 07.27 from Warrington Bank Quay or 07.38 ex-Wigan North Western on 390016 Virgin Champion. Two committee members had been due to travel on this train from Wigan but their train from St Helens Central, 319361, was failed there on arrival due to defective doors and they had to travel on the 07.17, now 17 minutes late, with 319383. Fortunately TPE allowed them to travel via the 08.11 on 350407, which allowed them to arrive in time for the planned trip to Tweedbank.
The party, now nine, travelled to Tweedbank on the 11.25 and returned on the 12.28 with 158710 providing power both ways. Units seen working the line during the day were 158709/710/715/719/728/730/786, 158871 and 170417 with some morning and evening services being extended to/from Glenrothes.
On the various journeys interesting observations were 175003 at Bank Quay which comprised of 79703+50705, 68020/1/3, all now DRS liveried, at Kingmoor, 08472/596, Wabtec livery, and 73966/9, Caledonian livery, at Craigentinny and at Edinburgh 68003/17 on the Fife locomotive hauled workings.
Upon arrival at Waverley the party split up to their own devices before meeting later for the return journey home aboard the special liveried 221106 William Barents on the 18.52 to the north west, where on time arrivals at Wigan/Warrington concluded an enjoyable and excellent day, even though the weather was cold, wet and miserable.

Some photos taken on the day by John Cashen, Peter Hughes, Gareth Thomas and Alan Turton, together with a list of sightings provided by Alan Turton, can be found here.

Wednesday 6th April 2016
Lancaster - Carlisle in the last 10 years of steam
Noel Machell

The opportunity to have afternoon meetings in Liverpool was fully justified when nearly 50 members and visitors sat down to enjoy Noel Machells nostalgic look back at the last ten years of steam between Lancaster and Carlisle on 6th April. That was not all for Preston was included as was the take-over by Cl.40 diesels on the route. We saw majestic shots of unrebuilt Patriots, Stanier pacifics and even of those Midland 2P engines known as Bicycles. Noel highlighted the array of the passenger services including the Liverpool-Glasgow expresses and of the Workington-Euston 10 hour marathons. Even more fascinating were the views of those by lines, stations and general railway infrastructure then still part of that railway scene. A RCTS brake van trip was portrayed coming off the Glasson Dock branch into Lancaster. Engineering work in pre H&S days meant that there were interesting diversions using that web of lines around Lancaster and Morecambe. The afternoon ended at Carlisle complete with LNER and LMS locomotive types.

last updated: 21/02/17