Here is a quick rundown of news from the CRS and projects both associated with and those in the surrounding area. Anyone requiring news items for publication should contact Press & Publicity Officer and CRS Webmaster Gareth Evans via "gaz the jurno AT hot mail DOT com" [remove spaces etc]. Gareth writes full-time for a national weekly & also contributes items to several national transport titles.
NB. For captions relating to the photographs below, please pass your mouse over the thumbnails. For a larger view, left click your mouse.
NB. For captions relating to the photographs below, please pass your mouse over the thumbnails. For a larger view, left click your mouse.
# Regular Passenger Trains at Oswestry Next Year
It is hoped passenger trains will run on Sundays in Oswestry next year. Significantly, it is planned to use a restored section of platform outside the station building, with trains running the length of the old platform down to Middleton Road bridge - almost half a mile.
Services will be operated by 0-4-0 diesel locomotives ‘Telemon’, and ‘Scottie’, while passengers will be accommodated in the Society’s restored LMS brakevan M732435 - as pictured below.
With refreshments on hand at Buffers restaurant in the station building, visitors will also be able to buy a ticket from the restored booking office window inside. Visitors will then be able to walk round the free-to-enter Cambrian Railways Museum, which houses a delightful collection of artefacts from across the former Cambrian Railways system and which is often described as a ‘traditional’ museum. This will complement the restored fully functioning Oswestry South Signalbox, renovated in 2005/6, principally using volunteer labour.
In addition, joint ticketing with the Cambrian Railways Trust (CRT) at nearby Llynclys will be available.
Further details will be announced as soon as they are confirmed.
# Members vote in historic move
Members of the Cambrian Railways Society and Trust voted almost unanimously in favour of moves to bring the two organisations together at their respective EGMs on Friday 20/11/09. Members will automatically join Cambrian Heritage Railways, the new umbrella body charged with delivering a heritage railway to the Oswestry area.
A CRS spokesman said: “It is not a merger as yet. Members have voted to work towards closer integration of the two groups.”
# Alun Evans laid to rest
On Saturday October 31, family, friends and members of the Cambrian Railways Society, Cambrian Railways Trust and Ffestiniong and Welsh Highland Railways gathered to lay Alun to rest. Following a ride on the highly scenic Welsh Highland Railway, Alun's ashes were scattered at Beddgelert station.
Alun's brother Gareth, who is also CRS webmaster said: “On behalf of our family, I would like to thank everyone who came along. Alun would have been truly proud of the turnout.”
Donations in Alun's memory have led to a substantantial figure being collected, which as previously reported, will benefit the Cambrian Heritage Railways and the Welsh Highland Railway - two projects which were extremely close to his heart.
Meanwhile, on a separate note, Mark Walker, a good friend of Alun has kindly dedicated his website in Alun's memory. The pair became friends during their frequent meetings on rail tours. Check out Mark's interesting website at http://mark-walker.fotopic.net/.
# Trackside clearance continues
Volunteers from both CRS & CRT have continued the arduous of task of clearing the main line Oswestry to Blodwell. With the hoped-for return of passengers operations next year, efforts are currently concentrated at Oswestry.
New gates have also been made for our Oswestry site under the leadership of a former Oswestry Works Apprentice Carpenter.
# Volunteers are always welcome. Please call Ken Owen on 07802 880 263 for details.
>>>..Clearance work underway at Oswestry. For captions, please move your mouse over the photo or click it to get a larger view.
>>>..Clearance work between Llynclys Junction and Porthywaen. This phase forms part of 'The Branch Project'. The photographs below were kindly supplied by Colin of the 'Warrington Gang'.
Above left: Seen from the Blodwell end looking towards Llynclys Junction and Oswestry is the A483 road overbridge at Llynclys.
Above right: From the same loaction, albeit looking back up the line towards Porthywaen and Blodwell.
Firstly, please accept sincere apologies from your webmaster for a lack of updates in recent weeks. As previously reported, my brother Alun, stalwart volunteer & photographer for the Society passed away in tragic circumstances in the early hours of August 31. The cremation and service in celebration for the life of were held on Saturday September 19. Donations have been gratefully received, which will be distributed between the Welsh Highland Railway and the Cambrian Heritage Railways in due course.
Stalwart society volunteer Paul Mottram has been taken ill and is awaiting surgery.
On a brighter note, with the establishment of joint working parties, it is pleasing to report ever closer links between the Society and Trust. In a move that was started by the late Alun Evans, it has been decided to advertise sessions together, thereby maximising the benefit to the overall Cambrian Heritage Railways Project.
Clearance work on the branch continues, with current efforts being concentrated on the eastern edge of Dolgoch housing estate (between Porthywaen & Llynclys) and the A483 bridge at Llynclys. It is pleasing to report that the line between Llynclys Junction and the A483 level crossing at Maesbury Road on Oswestry bypass is now largely clear. Efforts are soon expected to be directed from Dolgoch housing estate west towards Blodwell, which will link up with that already cleared at Porthywaen.
# # For details of working parties, please call Ken Owen on 07802 880 263 or contact Brian Rowe via Llynclys station.
Alun Evans' funeral - date set.
Funeral arrangements for the late Alun Evans have now been confirmed for Saturday September 19. As previously reported, stalwart volunteer Alun, who was aged just 24 years, passed away in the early hours of Monday August 31 in tragic circumstances.
A cremation service will take place at Emstrey Crematorium, Shrewsbury (London Road, Shrewsbury, SY2 6PS) at 1100hrs, followed by a service of thanksgiving for the life of at Llanfyllin parish church at 1400hrs (2PM).
No flowers by request but donations if desired to the Cambrian Heritage Railway Project and the Welsh Highland Railway – both of which were very close to Alun’s heart.
Gareth Evans, Alun’s brother said: "As a family, we would like to stress that it is open to all. A private affair it most certainly is NOT. Please feel free to attend either or both services. A funeral tea will be available after the service in St Myllin's church vestry."
Any queries should be made to Gareth Evans, via "gaz the jurno AT hot mail DOT com" [remove spaces etc].
# End of the line for 'Alun The Spray'
Tributes paid to stalwart volunteer who worked tirelessly on the Cambrian Heritage Railways Project
It is with great sadness that we report the untimely death of stalwart volunteer Alun Evans. At just 24 years of age, Alun passed away in the early hours of this morning.
He acquired his nickname during his enthusiasm and dedication for weedkilling the track on the Cambrian Heritage Railways, which he felt was essential, if the efforts of clearing the formation were not to be wasted.
Alun's brother, Gareth, who is this site's webmaster writes:
We as a family have been deeply touched by all the tributes and messages of condolence – it means an awful lot in what seems like a living nightmare.
As a journalist I write obituaries all the time – it’s part of the job, and without intending to sound sick or cold in any way, you almost detach yourself from it all, particularly when you’ve never met those concerned, but when it’s your own brother it’s an entirely different matter..
However, as his big brother, as ever I’ve got to look after him. Therefore, in the interest of Alun, I put the following together for him:
‘Paying tribute, his brother Gareth, two years and two months his elder said: “We’re all absolutely devastated. We just can’t believe it.
“He’s touched the hearts of so many. We’ve been helped by the invaluable support from friends, family and the local community. Dyfed Powys Police have been exemplary – I can’t thank them enough.
“Alun’s extensive photographic and video archive detailing his involvement with both the Cambrian Heritage Railways project and the Welsh Highland Railway serve as a memorial in itself.
“Alun was a member of a very close-knit family. Not a day will pass where we will not remember him.”
RIP Alun. Rwyt ti yn ein meddyliau bob dydd o hyd / You’re in our thoughts every day, all the time :o(
On a brighter note, a selection of Alun's photographs can be found at http://alunsphotos.fotopic.net/, which acted as a type of blog. Alun was also a keen user of the YouTube video-sharing website. To see his videos, visit http://www.youtube.com/user/bradleymanor . The local weekly newspaper, 'The County Times' has also done him proud, with a front-page story, which has not been sensationalised in any way. Richard Jones, the writer, was most sympathetic and respected the family's wishes.
Not to be forgotten is that one of Alun's old school friends has created a Facebook Group entitled 'RIP Alun Evans'. Users have posted recollections of him - some of which make amusing reading (he was a character after all!), but which is also very poignant in itself.
# ~ # Details of Alun's funeral will be posted as soon as they are confirmed. However, it has already been decided that it will be held at St Myllin's Church in Llanfyllin, a stone's throw from the family home and another location where his vegetation-clearance skills were put to good use. It is also planned to hold it on a Saturday, enabling as many to attend as possible, without the problems of taking time away from work during the week.
# The wagon works
The wheels of wagon restoration projects continue to turn...
Two wagon restoration projects are currently underway at the Society's Oswestry town centre base - in the shape of a brake van and a 'plate wagon'.
Owned by the Cambrian Diesel Group [CDG], the 'BR Standard' brake van is numbered DB 95505 and was acquired from Shrewsbury. It was once something of a familiar sight for enthusiastically-eyed rail users passing through Shropshire's county town on the Aberystwyth and Cardiff lines for it resided at Coleham yard for a number of years, until being rescued by the CDG. A concerted effort is currently underway to return the vehicle to active service.
The other wagon restoration project was started a couple of years ago but was put on hold owing to more pressing priorities at the time, but has now thankfully recommenced. Numbered KDB 932335, the 'Plate Wagon' also arrived from Shrewsbury's Coleham yard, although it was obtained during the Railtrack era, having latterly been used by the Signalling & Telegraph Department. Owned by the Society, the wagon is currently used for the transport of ballast.
The following photographs were kindly supplied by CRS volunteer & photogher Alun Evans and illustrate the work underway. For the captions, please move your mouse over the relevant thumbnail, which can also be enlarged.
# Third diesel locomotive arrives to aid 'The Branch Project'
A third diesel locomotive arrived today, Monday May 18, 2009 at the Cambrian Railways Society's Llanddu compound to aid the re-opening the Llynclys Junction to Blodwell railway line.
The following photographs were kindly supplied by CRS volunteer & photogher Alun Evans and illustrate the unloading of the locomotive. For the captions, please move your mouse over the relevant thumbnail, which can also be enlarged.
The arrival of D1201 'Jana' completes the quartet of locomtives owned by CRS member Andrew Briddon currently based on CRS metals. Mr Briddon's other locomotives on site comprise Hudswell Clarke 0-4-0 'Claire', Hunslet 0-4-0DH no.9222 and English Electric no.D1230 'Kimberley'. A full history of the D1201 Jana will follow on this website shortly.
# Pointing in the right direction
'The Branch Project' continues to steam ahead...
The Society's project to re-open the Llynclys Junction to Blodwell railway line broke more new ground yesterday (Saturday), after a small group of volunteers spent the day cleaning the east (Oswestry) end point of Blodwel loop. The result is that the point has now been returned to operational condition, enabling its use by engineering trains in the not too distant future.
CRS photographer and track volunteer Alun Evans, who was one of those present explained: "The task was first started by myself and a few others on March 21, 2009. However, today (Saturday May 9) a different group of us were determined more than ever to completely clean this point out once and for all in preparation for eventual use by works trains. It took us a total of four hours to achieve as it involved a lot of hard digging, which at the same time had to be undertaken carefully to prevent damage to the components. There was lots of stone and soil which had been compacted into the lever frame during the several years that it was out of use. I must thank fellow CRS volunteers Andy Rudd, Ken Owen and Rob Williams for their efforts."
The eight photographs below were kindly supplied by Alun Evans and show how the task progressed. For the captions, please move your mouse over the relevant thumbnail, which can also be enlarged.
Please note - there is no public access to Llanddu, Blodwell or 'The Branch Project' at this time as the railway is still under restoration.
# Two diesel locomotives arrive to aid 'The Branch Project'
Two diesel locomotives have arrived at the Cambrian Railways Society's Llanddu compound to aid the re-opening the Llynclys Junction to Blodwell railway line.
They comprise English Electric 0-6-0 No.D1230 and Hudswell Clarke D1388 'Claire'. Owned by CRS member Andrew Briddon, the locomotives, which are both in working order, were previously based at the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway at Wirksworth in Derbyshire and arrived on CRS metals on Monday April 20, 2009.
In an interesting twist of fate, 1967-built 'Claire' has now returned to the county of Shropshire, having previously formed part of the Shropshire Locomotive Collection. Further details of the history of both engines will be included on this site soon.
However, the same low loader that delivered D1388 took Yorkshire Engine Company-built 0-4-0 diesel no.2675 to the Derwent Valley Light Railway at Murton, near York, where it was off loaded on Tuesday afternoon.
Please note - there is no public access to Llanddu or 'The Branch Project' at this time as the railway is still under restoration.
# 'The Branch Project' update
Formal lease now agreed. Work continues on Llynclys Junction – Blodwel branch restoration project
Restoration of the recently acquired track from Blodwel to Llynclys Junction has taken another step forward following receipt of the formal lease from Shropshire County Council. The news sets the lease agreement (see news March 19) in stone.
Ken Owen, vice chairman of the Cambrian Railways Society said: "I'm delighted. The news paves the way for restoration work to continue in earnest. There are exciting times ahead!"
Meanwhile, work on the ground has continued to steam ahead. A small team of volunteers led by CRS photographer & regular Alun Evans has started digging out the east (Oswestry) end point of Blodwel loop. The point has been buried under years of compacted ballast, leaf mulch, soil and greenery.
Alun Evans said: "Using handtools, we have unearthed part of the point mechanism, including the rodding. However more work is required."
Other work undertaken on the line in the Blodwel area has included cutting back dead brambles, an unglamorous yet necessary task.
>>..For further information about the project, visit 'The Branch Project' homepage, where a link can also be found to an illustrated 'Route Description'.
# The Nantmawr Branch - all is not forgotten
While the society may be focussing its energies on 'The Branch Project', the Nantmawr Branch has not been forgotten either.
Volunteers have recently been carrying out routine maintenance on the Nantmawr line, which includes clearing the ditches. The unglomorous yet highly important task is required to preserve the formation and restoration work already undertaken on the line by CRS volunteers.
For captions, pass your mouse over the thumbnails above. For a larger view, left click your mouse.
# Ex Shelton steelworks 'Warflat' wagon
The refurbishment of the society’s bogie 'Warflat' wagon has reached a further important stage.
As seen in this photograph taken by CRS webmaster and press officer Gareth Evans on Sunday March 29, 2009, the west end (Welshpool) bogie has now been placed back under the vehicle following restoration. Pictured left to right are Ken Owen, CRS vice-chairman, Andy Rudd and Rob Williams, CRS chairman.
The 1940-built wagon now awaits the re-fitting of its through vacuum brake pipe, together with the hand brake. The vehicle is destined for use on the restoration of the Llynclys Junction to Blodwel branch ~ see 'The Branch Project' homepage.
# Burma Ellesmere Port tank wagon no.101 (LMS 163100)
The CRS-owned former Burma Ellesmere Port tank wagon no.101 (LMS 163100) has now received an overall coat of primer paint. As previously reported here, the project is bring undertaken off-site by stalwart volunteer Noel Elstub.
# Lease Agreement signed for Trackbed
Plans for the Gobowen – Blodwel branch step up a gear with lease contracturally agreed
Members of the Cambrian Railways Society (CRS) and the Cambrian Railways Trust (CRT) are celebrating the culmination of many years of complicated negotiations, with the completion of their lease agreements with Shropshire County Council.
At long last the two bodies have possession of the eight-mile line between Gobowen and Blodwel. They can now make progress together on the project to create a major heritage railway, which is expected to bring up to 100,000 extra visitors per year to the Oswestry area. At a time when many local businesses are struggling, the heritage railway will bring many new opportunities and can play an important role in improving the town’s fortunes.
The Trust’s short line at Llynclys South will again see steam trains starting this Easter, and work is already in hand to secure funding for extending these trains into Oswestry by 2012. At the same time Society volunteers plan to run their trains from Llynclys Junction towards Blodwel, and links will be improved to the Montgomery Canal, the Llanymynech Heritage Area, and other nearby attractions. The County Council also plans to construct a cycleway and footpath alongside parts of the railway track.
Trust chairman Ken Ryder and Society chairman Rob Williams both said they were delighted that the uncertainty over the future of the line is now over. They want to convey their thanks to those in the council who have worked so hard to achieve this lease, and especially to Owen Paterson MP for his energetic support.
Rob Williams, Cambrian Railways Society chairman said: "Following almost two years of hard work from both the Cambrian Railways Society, Cambrian Railways Trust and Shropshire County Council, I'm delighted that we've reached this stage. It's a major step forward and it will allow initial restoration work to commence. This will include house keeping, such as maintaining the drains and inspecting the infrastructure. We hope to announce further details in due course."
The formal completion date for the lease is due on April 1, 2009.
The news comes only weeks after an histroic legal agreement was signed between the two neighbouring heritage railway groups to work together on the project ~ see separate below ~ .
>>..For further information about the line, visit 'The Branch Project' homepage, where a link can also be found to an illustrated 'Route Description'.
# Plans for the Gobowen – Blodwel branch step up a gear with signing of historic agreement
On Friday January 30, 2009, the chairman of the Cambrian Railways Trust (CRT) Mr Ken Ryder and vice chairman of Cambrian Railways Society (CRS) Mr Ken Owen signed an historic legal document confirming that the two bodies will be working together in restoring the railway from Gobowen to Blodwel. The significant event was witnessed by Shropshire MP Mr Owen Patterson in Oswestry’s Guild Hall.
The agreement between CRT & CRS is the legally binding document for the two heritage railway bodies to work together for the promotion of the project. The next stage is for Shropshire County Council (SCC) to issue the lease agreement, which is expected imminently, and which will pave the way for the issue of a formal lease.
Ken Owen, vice chairman of the Cambrian Railways Society said: “We are delighted to have reached this stage. Both heritage railway groups are now eagerly awaiting the lease agreement.”
As previously reported here, Shropshire County Council (SCC) announced in early July 2008 that it had exchanged contracts with Network Rail for the acquisition of the Gobowen - Blodwel railway line. Under the terms of the agreement, the CRT will operate the line from Oswestry to Llynclys, where it will meet its existing operation from Llynclys South to Penygarreg Lane, on the edge of Pant, while the CRS will run the remaining stub of the former Tanat Valley Railway from Llynclys Junction to Blodwel via Porthywaen.
While the two railway groups now await the granting of a lease from SCC, the council has granted permission for clearance work to be undertaken at various locations along the line. Indeed, volunteers from both groups have joined forces on several occasions to further the cause of their respective sections of line. To date, work has centred around Llynclys Junction, Porthywaen station and level crossing and also at Blodwel.
A prime example of the co-operation between the two groups came in November when volunteers made a start on tidying up the track through Oswestry station. Refreshments were kindly laid on by Andrew & Elaine Wilson of the CRT. Donations received for the latter on the day raised £30.30, which was presented to Andy Vance of the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).
It must be stressed however that the line is not open to the public as yet, with much work to complete over the coming months and years. Visitors are however welcome at the CRS museum in Oswestry town centre and the CRT premises at Llynclys South.
# The wagon works
The society’s bogie 'Warflat' wagon is currently undergoing refurbishment in preparation for use on the restoration of the Llynclys Junction to Blodwel branch.
Built in 1940 by the Birmingham-based Metro-Cammell Carriage & Wagon Co Ltd, the vehicle was acquired from Shelton steelworks in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire several years ago.
Refurbishment work has seen years worth of rust and grime removed from large areas of the vehicle, cleaned and painted. This has included the removal of both bogies for overhaul. As this update went to press, work was rapidly approaching completion.
# Scottie scrubs up
Cambrian-Diesel Group-owned Ruston & Hornsby 0-4-0 diesel shunter ‘Scottie’ (412427 of 1957) remains operational. The locomotive, which was formerly based at the Spa Valley Railway in Tunbridge Wells, has recently benefited from a tidy up of its bodywork. The work will continue over the coming months.
# Operation clean-up
Further work has been undertaken on improving the appearance of the society's Oswestry town centre site. In these pictures kindly supplied by CRS volunteer Alun Evans, the platform has been weeded, while more redundant material has been disposed of.
# The Gobowen - Blodwel branch
Negotiations are continuing towards the signing of the lease with Shropshire County Council (SCC). Further details will be announced once these are complete.
A spokesperson for the Cambrian Railways Society said: "Negotiations are currently in hand between ourselves, the Cambrian Railways Trust and Shropshire County Council for the signing of the lease. It would be premature to make any further comments at this stage in what is after all, a complex matter for all concerned."
# Neighbours work towards closer ties
As previously reported, closer working links are being forged with the neighbouring Cambrian Railways Trust (CRT) at Llynclys - the most recent example being the CRS coming to the aid of the CRT.
When the CRT's stalwart steam locomotive driver Brian Rowe fell ill, the CRT was left with the possibility of being unable to operate its regular steam-hauled service. However, CRS chairman Rob Williams duly stepped in, generating much goodwill between the two heritage railway organisations.
# The Cambrian Railways Museum, Oswestry
Efforts to improve the appearance of the CRS' Oswestry town centre site continue. Ex British Railways Mk1 BSK coach no.35342, destroyed in an arson attack on Wednesday August 30, 2006 and previously advertised for sale, has departed for pastures new. Similarly, ex British Railways Mk2 BFK (Brake First Corridor) no.14123 has now left Oswestry, along with the GWR Toad brake van. An information board detailing current society projects has also been affixed to the outisde wall near the entrance to the museum.
# The Nantmawr branch
A steady stream work has continued on the line in recent months. This has included regular track walks in addition to such tasks as ditch cleaning from White Gates level crossing to Llanddu Junction, using both manual and mechanical labour. Much of this work unfortunately lacks the glamour of some other tasks involved with railway restoration but is nonetheless vital to keeping the project quite literally 'on track'. The two pictures below have been kindly supplied by Alun Evans.
# The Gobowen - Blodwel branch
The story of this line has now entered a further stage. Following months of negotiation, Shropshire County Council (SCC) announced in early July that it had exchanged contracts with Network Rail for the acquistion of the Gobowen - Blodwell railway line.
The move was greeted with much enthusiasm in several quarters. However, the next stage is the completion of a lease from SCC to both CRS and CRT for operation of their respective sections of railway. The CRT will operate the line from Oswestry to Llynclys, where it will meet its existing operation to Penygarreg Lane, while the CRS will run the remaining stub of the former Tanat Valley Railway from Llynclys Junction to Blodwel via Porthywaen, where it will join the Nantmawr Branch.
A CRS spokesman said: "It would be premature to make an announcement at this stage pending the official handover, which is expected soon. All points of disagreement between the local authority and the two railway groups have been ironed out".
Much work on the project is being expended by CRS volunteers behind the scenes, principally in drawing up plans for the restoration of the line. The CRS therefore hopes there that some physical work will be able to commence once the lease from SCC has been obtained ~ Watch this space! ~