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WELSH METALS

The details and photographs on this page cover the branch and main lines of Wales
during the "glorious years" up to the present day steam specials.
The photographs have been supplied by various photographers and the usual copyright rules
of this site apply, so please email me through the email link on the HOMEPAGE,
if publication of any image is required.



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COMPILED AND EDITED BY GEOFF POOLE
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January 16th 2010.

One of the main contributors to this website is John Powell.
In 1957 John was on national service in Germany, and while he was on leave from the army
he decided to take a trip on the Land Cruise train from Rhyl.
John wrote an account of his trip for the Northern Railfans club sheet of August 1972
and his nostalgic recollections are reproduced below along with a selection of photos of this great train.


Land Cruise Through North Wales June 19th 1957.
 
by John Powell.


 

The morning of June 19th, 1957 was very bright as I arose at 7.30 am. Just the sort of day I thought to have a rail trip
on the " North Wales Land Cruise"  which had just commenced for the season from
June to September.
First introduced in 1951, they soon proved very popular with holidaymakers,
and
of course the local residents.

Arriving at Rhyl station at 9.10 am, I was very fortunate to find that there were a few vacant seats on the train as
accommodation was limited, and usually seats should be booked in advance.
 
The train
was waiting in the bay platform at the west end, and consisted of six coaches of the open saloon type with armchairs.

Motive power for the journey of over 150 miles of mostly single track was to be provided by Standard Class 4mt 4-6-0 No 75034.

An observation of Rhyl Locomotive depot (6K ) showed 2-6-2T No 41276, ex L & Y 0-6-0 No 52162, 4-4-0 2P No 40675, awaiting duties,
and
Standard Class 4mt No 75039, which was to haul the second land cruise train after it had arrived from Llandudno.

Passing through the station on an up freight was Stanier Class 5mt No 44800.
Shortly after 9.40 am, we commenced our journey, and were soon passing on our right the Marine
lake which had a
minature railway running around it, trains being hauled by four Bassett-Lowke
engines.

After we had crossed the iron bridge that spans the River Clwyd, we headed South at Foryd Junction along the
Denbigh branch line that ran through the beautiful Vale of Clwyd.

 

The 700 year old castle of Rhuddlan could be seen on our left, and the Cathedral of St. Asaph was soon passed on our right.

After passing Trefnant, the branch line from Chester & Mold, (Opened in 1869) was seen joining us on our left,
ex L & Y 0-6-0 No 52119 was outside the
locomotive depot as we entered Denbigh station.

Here we crossed a local train to Rhyl headed by Class 2p 4-4-0 No 40580.
 

After leaving Denbigh, we had a fast downhill run for five miles or so, through the closed station of Llanrhaiadr,
and started to climb until very soon we arrived at the small station of Ruthin,
and it
was here that all passenger trains terminated from February 1953.
 

Beyond Ruthin, the line, which was used for freight traffic only, ran through some very scenic countryside,
after climbing a gradient of 1 in 50, the County of Merioneth was entered.

The line then ran downhill again to cross the River Dee, and came to a booked water stop at Corwen
to enable the tender of 75034 to be topped up.
 

Leaving Corwen, the River Dee could be seen alongside us as the train passed through Llandrillo and Bala Junction,
where I caught a glimpse of the line to Blaenau Ffestiniog on the right.

The beautiful four mile long lake of Bala was passed on our right, the calmness having attracted quite a few fisherman.

A steady climb of 1 in 60 followed, and it was little effort to our 4-6-0 which was in very good condition.

Cader Idris mountain ( 2927 ft ) was to be seen as the train began to descend the winding gradient of 1 in 51,
and on to Cambrian metals as we entered Penmaenpool.
Here we crossed a Barmouth to Ruabon train hauled by G.W.R. 2-6-0 No 6380.


With Penmaenpool now behind us, the yellow sands of the Mawddach Estuary were soon seen below as we entered
Barmouth Junction, here we joined the line from Aberystwyth, and went slowly over the lengthy estuary bridge,
and through a short tunnel into Barmouth station, where we could spend one and a half hours to look around the town,
or relax on the sands. I myself settled down to chicken sandwiches on one of the chocolate coloured Cambrian iron seats.


Observation for one hour was very interesting: a northbound freight was headed by Standard class 2-6-0 No 78007,
" Manor " class 4-6-0 No 7801 on a Pwllheli to Ruabon train.
Standard class 2-6-0 No.78005 on a local to Machynlleth, a double-headed freight, southbound behind GWR No's. 2204 & 2255,
and the arrival of the second Land Cruise train headed by 4-6-0 No 75039.


Our departure from Barmouth was slightly delayed as an elderly lady had "lost" her husband, who had, we found out later,
been trying to discover a shop that sold his particular brand of tobacco.
 

Six minutes later, we were heading northwards, and soon passed Harlech Castle towering high above us,
through the stations of Penrhyndeudraeth and Minffordd, and on towards Portmadoc,
where we had a wonderful view of the Snowdonian range of mountains.
At that moment, I was thinking what a pity that we could not see the mountain railway which starts at Llanberis,
and climbs to the peak of Snowdon. ( 3560 ft )
 

At the seaside resort of Criccieth, we could see the castle to our left high on a hill, the countryside was flat as 75034 clattered
on towards the remote station of Afonwen.
Here we passed Standard class 2-6-4T No 80087 on a parcels train.


After leaving Afonwen, we were back on L.N.W.R. metals as we branched away from the Cambrian line that ran to Pwllheli.
A long climb of 1 in 58 followed as we passed through Chwilog towards the summit of Pant Glas,
and then descendered at 1 in 48 to 1 in 70 after passing Groeslon, and on through Llanwnda and Dinas Junction.

The single track from Llanberis ( for Snowdon ) was to be seen on our right, and the castle of Caernarfon loomed up
on our left as we ran under the city walls, and came to a water stop in Caernarfon station.
2-6-2T No 41200 was on shunting duties, and 0-6-0 No 44445 had arrived with a small freight train.


With Caernarfon now behind us, we headed eastwards along the Menai Straits where yachts could be seen,
past Port Dinorwic, and very soon a brief view of the Brittania Tubular bridge,
( destroyed by fire on May 23rd, 1970 ).


We came to a signal stop at Menai Bridge station to allow a London to Holyhead express headed by a " Royal Scot " Class 4-6-0
to pass through on the main line, then after negotiating the crossing at the East end of the station,
75034 opened up for a fast run to Bangor.


After passing through Belmont tunnel, we came into Bangor station passing the locomotive depot (6H) on the right
with its 2-6-2 & 2-6-4Ts simmering in the afternoon sun,
then on in to open countryside, and through llanfairfechan at a steady 60 mph.


The quarry at Penmaenmawr could be seen as we entered the station, and it was here in the early hours of August 27th,
1950 that"Royal Scot " class 4-6-0 No 46119 " Lancashire Fusilier ", heading the up " Irish Mail" packed with
holidaymakers from Ireland, crashed into a light engine, class 2-6-0 ( Crab ) No 42885.
As a result six people were killed, and thirty five badly injured.


We started to slow down on the approach to Conway, past the historic castle on our left,
and after crossing through the tubular bridge over the Conway estuary,
a brief view of the locomotive depot (6G) was seen before we entered Llandudno Junction station.


Here 0-6-0 No 44389 was on shunting duties, and 2-6-2T No 40133 was waiting to take a local train through the
very pictureesque Conway valley line to Betws-y-coed.

This branch line could seen on our right as we very slowly started on the last lap of our journey to Rhyl.
 

After passing a freight train held at signals, the regulator of our 4-6-0 was opened up,
and Colwyn Bay was passed at a good speed.


Hundreds of holidaymakers could be seen on the sands to our left enjoying the sunshine,
whilst we were plunged into the darkness of Llandulas tunnel, and on past Gwrych Castle to our right,
contrasting strangely with the holiday caravans to our left as we entered the small station of Abergele & Pensarn.


On the 20th of August 1868. this station was the scene of the worst accident on the Chester & Holyhead Railway.
A down freight had just reached the top of the incline at Llandulas, when a number of wagons,
believed to have contained paraffin, broke free and rolled back along the main line for three miles,
straight into an express that had just entered the station. As a result, thirty four lives were lost.


The Denbigh branch line, where we commenced our journey, was to be seen on our right as we began to slow down on the
approach to Rhyl, and came to a gentle halt in the station at 5.43pm,
and sorry that the journey had come to an end after such an enjoyable day out.

The locomotive depot was well stocked with an assortment of 0-6-0s, 2-6-4Ts, 4-4-0s and two Stanier class 5s
which had worked in with excursions.


A Manchester to Llandudno train headed by Stanier Class 5 No 45144 was entering the station as I handed
in my ticket and headed home for tea.

 

 

Radio Cruise Train passes Penmaenmawr hauled by 75033.  c1959.







Pwllheli land cruise train returns to Barmouth via Bangor. 1954.






Pwllheli land cruise train returns through Abergele on July 7th, 1954 hauled throughout by 0-6-0 No 3202.






North Wales Land Cruise Train. c1953.  ( 46430.)






Land Cruise Train leaves Caernarfon. c1955. 46435.
(PHOTO : Bill Rear )





Land Cruise Train enters Barmouth.  c1953.





Land Cruise train at Porthmadog..1953.



Land Cruise Train at Corwen.




Land Cruise Train at Afonwen.  1957.




Land Cruise train arrives at  Barmouth   July 1959.  75033.





Land Cruise from Barmouth to Rhyl leaves Denbigh. July 14th 1954





Conwy Castle. 1953.  46424. ( Land Cruise Train )





Ruthin Station. July 22nd, 1959. 75028.





North Wales Radio Land Cruise Train advertising poster.





BR. Standard class 4, No.75054 with the Land Cruise train at Pen-y-Groes on July15th 1960.






Land Cruise Trains.The Route.






Ivatt class '2',  2-6-0 No.46422 with the Land Cruise Train near Criccieth.  July 15th, 1954.





Afonwen Station, July 1954.  Another Ivatt class '2' 46428 waits with the Land Cruise train.




Foryd Junction where the Land Cruise trains began their journey through the Vale of Clwyd.




Another interesting detail is the coaching stock used for the Land Cruise trains for the 1953 season,
up to September of that year.

They were as follows:

M823M. Coronation Scot Club Car.
M816. L.N.W. 12 wheel Club Car.
M43251E. Cafeteria Car / Diner.
M9919M Open Saloon Brake.
M813.Club Car. Open armchair saloon.
M822M. Stanier Open Saloon with Armchairs.


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Gwenda from Pwllheli, who made the first enquiry about the Land Cruise trains and Ean Jones who got in touch recently,
  inspired John Powell to provide his above account.

Gwenda and Ean also had contact to share each others memories and I have published their emails to each other below.


Hello Ean,

Our Land Cruise left Pwllheli at about 10.00am Monday to Friday the route was through Criccieth, Porthmadog to Barmouth, up through Dollgellau into Bala and Corwen, then cutting across through Denbeigh to Rhyl arriving there about 1.30pm.there was a break of 90min in Rhyl, then the journey home was along the coast Colwyn Bay, Llandudno Junction, Bangor, Caernarfon, and back to Pwllheli arriving approx about 5.30pm. I only worked on it for a couple of seasons, I'm not sure exactly how long it did run for, anyway I enjoyed it. Those steam engines were great and we were a great team, engine driver, fireman, guard, DJ, and us two girls in the buffet car. I remember we wore a green overall (by the way our train was licensed, I can remember we had miniature bottles of alcoholic drinks)
 
Your mother worked on the Land Cruise about 10 years before me, I'm sure things must have been quite different then, I wonder which route did she work on?
 
I'm glad you got in touch, its been nice to reminisce. :)
 
Regards,
 
Gwenda.




Hi Gwenda,

I'm glad I got in touch, too.  I have heard my Mum's stories about the Land Cruise as long as I remember (I'm 47 now!), but since my Dad passed away last year I've started to learn to discover just how important these memories become.  I will probably enjoy telling her about having found another Land Cruise 'hostess' as much as she will enjoy hearing about it!

It sounds as though the Land Cruise you were on very much followed the pattern that was instigated in 1951.  The route was different (Rhyl to Barmouth along the coast, and back inland through Corwen) but the concept was basically the same - a booze cruise years ahead of its time!!

Apparently a chap called John Downs (who my Mum thinks was an executive or project manager from LMS, but I think British Rail took them over about three years before, although they may well have still used the LMS brand in 1951) was the brains behind the project.  She was working in the tea room at Rhyl Station, got talking to John Downs, who apparently suggested that she should be 'decanted' to the new Land Cruise (I think it was called the Festival Land Cruise in its first year - the Festival Of Britain year) because he anticipated busier buffet sales, given it was aimed at tourists.  She did the first trial run, it worked, and she was given the job full time.

The first train they used only had a small, functional, serving area, and was unlicensed (I think it was a museum train brought out because of the the year it was).  However, in 1952 they used a new train with panoramic windows, seats actually facing outwards (!), and an entire licensed buffet car, including music!  My Mum remembers actually putting on the music herself and mixing it up with semi-classical initially, through to good old singalongs as the trip progressed!  

I think she proved rather popular, to the degree that she ended up doing Monday to Friday, and getting weekends off, much to the chagrin of her Rhyl Station workmates, who still had to work every other weekend.  She used this free time to travel to Stockport where here Mum worked at Stockport Station, met my Dad, and got married shortly after that.  Had they not met, it wouldn't have surprised me if she'd still been working on the train when you started, such was her enjoyment of the job, apparently!

I wonder whether it was the same train, just a different route?  The fact you mention the music (DJ! He he!  Sounds funny, doesn't it?), the fact it was still a steam engine, the licensed buffet car, probably suggests it was.  I must ask my Mum about the green overalls!

As for the driver, guard, fireman...well...my finger would drop off typing stories about them!  The guard she always refers to was called Jimmy Jones, and was always up to various tricks (legal, I must stress!) to get a few quid off the punters en route.

Ean.


Thanks to you both for these interesting emails. (Geoff)


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January 11th 2010.

A selection of unique photos sent in by Richard W. Roberts are shown below. Richard's father is Aled Roberts who many
site visitors will probably remember as he was a Bangor and Llandudno Junction driver.
These shots are rare memories that Richard and Aled wish to share with this site.

As some of the photos were slightly damaged I have used some digital manipulation to clean them up.
Aled and Richard are aware of this and are happy with the enhanced images.
The images are still a true reflection of the originals, as "digital repairs" only were carried out.


The first two photos show Black Five 45282 which was used as standby for a
Royal train some time in the 60's.
 
Bob Barnsdale, Ex-6G, remembers cleaning the engine for Royal train duties.
Bob remembers cleaning the cab roof and water scoop and remembers becoming very angry when he discovered
a beloved "club" engine was going to take second place to a diesel.


This first shot shows 45282 being driven by Aled with another driver Will Jim Davies on the left.




The shot below has the two drivers standing proudly in front of the Black Five.
Aled is on the left with Will on the right.





This classic view, from the lens of Norman Kneale, shows Aled doing what he loved best, driving a main line steam engine.






The next two photos show one of Aled's original drivers tickets. The definition is not very sharp but I
think they are of interest so they are shown below.





The photo below shows Aled driving "Britannia" class 70019 'Lightning' on shed at Bangor about to
leave to pull a Bangor to Crewe train.




This shot shows Aled (left) driving another "Brit" 70024 'Vulcan' with another driver Frank Hughes on the right.




The two shots below show Aled driving a DMU and a "Hunslet" diesel.





The shot below shows Aled (left) Peter Hughes (centre) and Ben Williams (right)
At Llandudno Junction with Conwy castle in the background.





The next photo shows Aled and a group of workmates at Bangor shed some time in the 60's.
The group are posing in front of Black Five 45247 which Aled recalls as the "Royal Train engine"
Aled would be pleased if anyone could confirm if his memory is correct and 45247
did actually pull a Royal train, some time in the 60's.

The group are from left to right:
Will Jim Davies, Aled Roberts, Dafydd John, Harold Blaine and shed boss Arthur Stone.




This is a shot of two of Aled's sons, Meirion and Richard, on the footplate of a push and pull engine around 1964.




A good shot of Bangor station in 1980 looking straight through the eastbound tunnel.




Aled is shown here on an unidentified diesel.





The last two photos are by Norman Kneale.

The first one shows a classic portrayal by Norman of Aled watching over Allan Cae Gregin driving through
Port Dinorwig with a Caernarfon - Chester train on June 2nd 1947.




This second one by Norman shows a more recent view of Aled driving a Class 25 at Blaenau Ffestiniog. (undated)





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December 7th 2009.
THE WRONG KIND OF LEAVES.

Remember the field day the press had with the above statement, released a number of years ago by Network Rail,
in defense of the criticism they received for late running and cancelled trains during the Autumn leaf falling season.
Well, although it did sound like a lame excuse to the public, it was however, a valid reason for the disruption.
When some types of fallen leaves settled on the rail head they formed a mulch which caused engine and
carriage wheels to slip and lose traction. This problem was addressed by the use of the Rail Head Treatment Train (RHTT).
Signalman Alan Roberts tells me that the RHTT or "Water Cannon" as it is also known, now runs during each
autumn leaf falling season between October and December. The train actually comprises of several tanks and a compressor unit.
The tanks contain water which is sprayed at high pressure on to the surface of the rails to remove the leaf mulch
which then provides better adhesion for locomotives and rolling stock. The whole procedure is controlled from a console
located inside the drivers cab.

During the last three years there has been a variety of locomotives in charge of the train including EWS class 37's and
DRS class 37's and 20's. This year it has been EWS (now DBS) loco 66108 which is shown at numerous locations below.



 


This first view shows the "water cannon" approaching Llandudno Junction with Conwy Castle in the background.
This shot was taken from the signalbox by Stéphanie Durrant earlier this year.





The next shot below, also by Stéphanie, shows the RHTT at Tan Lan, Old Colwyn during this years running.





This shot is taken at Bangor, again from the signalbox, on October 27th 2009 by Alan Roberts.




The next photo , by Stéphanie Durrant, was taken at Old Colwyn. Stéphanie makes a habit of catching the unusual
scene and here she freezes the flight of a seagull moving away from the oncoming 66108,
with the "water cannon" during this years running.




This last shot , by Stéphanie, shows the HRTT at Shotton, earlier this year.



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November 27th 2009.

A great shot  of  "Castle" class 5043 "Earl of Mount Edgcumbe" on June 6th 2009 approaching Llandudno Junction.
Photo courtesy of Stéphanie Durrant.



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October 24th 2009
An ominous shot of Black five 44686 in store at 6G on April 7th 1963.
Sent in by John Powell.



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October 6th 2009.
6233 is shown below waiting to leave the Valley triangle and reverse back in to Holyhead to pick
up her train for Leicester and the return leg of the "Welsh Dragon"on Saturday October 3rd 2009.
(Photo by Stéphanie Durrant)



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September 25th 2009.
John Powell says he can't remember taking this photo but thinks he was waiting for a diesel
special to return and got bored so he decided to snap the 47 crossing the A55 at Old Colwyn.
John makes the point that this is what the coast line lost out to when the freight liners
were stopped from Holyhead.
John says if he had tried to plan the shot of the lorry being in the frame at the same time as
the 47 it just wouldn't have happened.
The engine was 47367 and the date was April 25th 1985.


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September 25th 2009.
John Powell captured this dramatic mishap at Rhyl whilst driving through the town.
Alan Roberts has provided the detail on the incident below.

The incident occurred on Monday 2nd July 1979.
 
An empty stock from a day excursion stabled in the yard was doing a set back movement from the sidings to the down main towards the "H"Bridge. The driver misread the signal (ground signal) which at the time read to the Shunting Neck No1 following a previous shunt with the locomotive; the buffer stops being located near the footbridge. The coach hit the buffer stops and moved them towards the footbridge causing it to collapse. Luckily nobody was on the footbridge at the time. The old footbridge here was nicknamed "spider bridge" due to its steelwork construction. A new footbridge replaced it approx 6 months later.
 
Usually, this was a common move for an empty stock to be moved from the yard to form a return excursion going up line as it was all signalled move from Rhyl No2 i.e. all moves were protected and could be worked by signals. If stock went out via Rhyl No1 and set back into the up platform the signalman there would have to call him back by a hand signal.



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September 25th 2009.
An unidentified loco with a local train in this shot of Mochdre and Pabo signal box on June 3rd 1966
taken from the book entitled "Clwyd railways in old photographs" by Mike Hitches and
Jim Roberts, sent in by John Powell.


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September 25th 2009.
The shot below was taken by Alan Roberts from Llandudno Junction signal box in 1984. It shows
a very tidy station and down sidings in the days when weedkiller was still affordable.




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September 25th 2009.
Stéphanie Durrant of Chuffingoodpics website has kindly provided her photo of the iconic
Western Hydraulic diesel locomotive D1015 "Western Champion"
arriving at Llandudno Junction with the return leg from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Didcot
on Saturday September 19th 2009.




                                                                          
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September 20th 2009.

The following selection of photos are published by kind permission of Dave Wood of Rainhill, Cheshire.

Dave's father, Ken Wood, was a signalman at Bangor during the 60's.
He carried his camera with him most days, to photograph steam movements
around the Welsh area.

Below are some unique nostalgic shots of working steam over Welsh metals
that Ken  photographed himself, plus some he acquired from various sources.

Some of the details and dates are unknown so any help with the missing
details would be appreciated.


Ivatt 2-6-2T 41233 waits to leave Amlwch station - Món, on July 26th 1962.




Gaerwen station - Món, in 1963.





This class 24 with cattle trucks is possibly somewhere on Món, or even Caernarfon as the church
in the distance is still there by Morrison's which now stands on the old station.
Cattle were shipped over from Ireland and this photo may have been taken after the
Menai Bridge fire in 1970, when Caernarfon was used for Freightliner traffic etc.
The line was taken up after the bridge reopened.
(thanks to John Powell for the above detail)




An unidentified Black Five passes Penrhyn siding in this undated shot.




A very rare photo of the Mochdre and Pabo signal box which was situated to the
  west of Mochdre and Pabo station, looking towards the Black Cat roundabout.
The station and box stood on the site of the future A55 Expressway. The 4-track became 2-track
and moved way over to the right of this photo to make way for the new road which can be seen
in many of the photographs, by John Powell, on the A55 remodelling page.




An undated photo of Llanfairfechan station and signal box.



Fowler 2-6-4 T 42209 waits for a signal at Pen y Groes.




The Black Five (could be 45184) at the east end of Bangor station in this undated view.
With signals like that it is probably the mid-fifties and they would have controlled
trains from the bay platform for Llanberis via Bethesda Junction , and the engines
coming on or off the shed (6H).
(thanks to John Powell for the above observations)



This is a real puzzle! Who is this driver? Dave Wood says he found a scrap of paper among
the photographs with the name Arthur Pedlar on it, who Dave remembers his Dad mentioned
from time time. Could this be his name.
John Powell says that 46127 "Old Contemptibles" was a favourite "Scot" of his from 7C and 6J.
John thinks the driver could be ready to leave Holyhead with the "up" 'Irish Mail'.
Can anyone help with any more detail?


Alan Roberts tells me that the driver above is not Arthur Pedlar. Arthur was a signalman in Bangor.
He worked Bangor No.1 box for a while and when the box closed in December 1968 he was
transferred to No.2 box - renamed Bangor. Alan thinks he retired about 1978.
So who is the driver above?

 

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September 20th 2009.

The following photographs were provided by John Powell.

The first one is a classic shot by S.D.Wainwright of a Polmadie "Scot" to Holyhead,
46105 "Cameron Highlander" (66A) on September 13th 1964 at Shotton.




Unrebuilt "Royal Scot" 46165 "The Ranger (12th London Regt.)"  heads East at Colwyn Bay c1953.



A class 24 and class 40 stand at Llandudno Junction c.1980.



 70045 (before being named 'Lord Rowallan') with the "down" Irish Mail passing Talacre
on August 16th 1954.


A real nostalgic view of the famous location at Conway Castle, showing goods engine
No.2522 (LMS No. 8734) leaning into the 'curve' after flying through
Conway station in July 1936.


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