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Tim H

Cambrian Lines in the mid 70s

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The Cambrian lines in the early 70s seem a good subject for a "Mini-module" style layout inspired by Sir Madoc's work, inspired by family holidays in the area in 1974 and 75.

 

I've got as far as acquiring a Farish class 24 and a couple of blue DMUs, which prompts some other questions on rolling stock.

  1. Most photos of the coast line freight have shown the signature gunpowder vans, plus 16t minerals and Vanfits. Were any other wagon types common? I once saw cattle wagons marshalled between the loco and the gunpowder vans, presumably as barrier wagons, though I'm told that was exceedingly rare.
     
  2. When did the Aberystwyth oil traffic go over to trainload operation, and what wagon types were used before and after? For that matter, what was the motive power? Class 24s or something else?
     
  3. What was the formation of the Aberystwyth to York mail? Memory suggests two Mk1s (SK + BCK?) plus a few assorted pre-nationalisation vans.
     
  4. I remember class 101, 103 and 108 two-car DMUs, with four coach trains made up of two sets a common formation. Were three-car sets ever used?
     
  5. Did class 40s ever run up the coast on Summer Saturdays? Only ever remember seeing them east of Machynlleth, with pairs of 24s on the coast services.

I know my main British outline interests is Cornwall, but everyone needs at least one side-project.

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Hi Tim,

 

Yes, I've seen various pics of 40s at Aberystwyth in the mid 70s.

 

Try going on to google, Flickr and similar picture sites and typing in Aberystwyth 1970s pictures etc. There are loads of pics on the net to answer your questions.

 

Dave

Edited by Torr Giffard LSWR 1951-71

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A useful shot of the 'York Mail'- http://www.flickr.com/photos/irishswissernie/6666341443/in/set-72157628695545435/ The 4-wheel vans are ex-Insulfish 'SPV', which I think Dapol might do in N

A three-car Swindon Cross-Country :- http://www.flickr.com/photos/irishswissernie/6626783321/in/set-72157628695545435/

A couple of ex-LNER steel highs, then what might be a cattle van:- http://www.flickr.com/photos/irishswissernie/6626802179/in/set-72157628695545435/

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I'm sure the mail loaded to more than 2 coaches from Shrewsbury on Friday nights/Saturday mornings in 1970/1. It was certainly more than two vehicles from Crewe so there may have been a BG on it as well or that was detached at Shrewsbury (whilst I was asleep).

 

I don't recall seeing any 3 car DMUs although I invariably only ever travelled north on the first from Mach on a Saturday morning - returning by bus via Bangor on a Sunday night. And I only ever recall seeing class 101s.

 

The first Pwllheli train stood for 30 minutes at Barmouth - long enough for me to decamp and wander into town to get something for breakfast - a pasty! I also think that it was scheduled to divide at Barmouth with a unit returning south on Mons to Fris for school traffic. I think I recall one Saturday trip with 2 x 2 units but I think they both went through, with onea replacement for a failed unit at Pwllheli. However, it is 40 years ago and I have trouble remembering the day of the week now so anything more taxing from that far back could be subject to correction.

 

I believe that Barmouth bridge was the limiting factor on the Pwllheli line although I heard a tale of a (diesel) driver who reputedly took a restricted (by weight) loco north of Barmouth, realised he shouldn't have done so, phoned Control and told them he couldn't take this restricted loco back and Control are alleged to have told him that he'd darn well taken it north over the bridge so he could darn well take it back south again. Not sure how true that story is/was.

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I'm sure the mail loaded to more than 2 coaches from Shrewsbury on Friday nights/Saturday mornings in 1970/1. It was certainly more than two vehicles from Crewe so there may have been a BG on it as well or that was detached at Shrewsbury (whilst I was asleep).

 

I don't recall seeing any 3 car DMUs although I invariably only ever travelled north on the first from Mach on a Saturday morning - returning by bus via Bangor on a Sunday night. And I only ever recall seeing class 101s.

 

The first Pwllheli train stood for 30 minutes at Barmouth - long enough for me to decamp and wander into town to get something for breakfast - a pasty! I also think that it was scheduled to divide at Barmouth with a unit returning south on Mons to Fris for school traffic. I think I recall one Saturday trip with 2 x 2 units but I think they both went through, with onea replacement for a failed unit at Pwllheli. However, it is 40 years ago and I have trouble remembering the day of the week now so anything more taxing from that far back could be subject to correction.

 

I believe that Barmouth bridge was the limiting factor on the Pwllheli line although I heard a tale of a (diesel) driver who reputedly took a restricted (by weight) loco north of Barmouth, realised he shouldn't have done so, phoned Control and told them he couldn't take this restricted loco back and Control are alleged to have told him that he'd darn well taken it north over the bridge so he could darn well take it back south again. Not sure how true that story is/was.

 

37s were regular into Pwllheli into the 90s, I can recall double headed engineers trains as well but can't remember if that was 2x 37s or 2x 31s (or both). A Weak bridge West of Porthmadog put paid to that circa 94. Long after the period being modelled anyway so probably doesn't help much!

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A useful shot of the 'York Mail'- http://www.flickr.co...57628695545435/ The 4-wheel vans are ex-Insulfish 'SPV', which I think Dapol might do in N

A three-car Swindon Cross-Country :- http://www.flickr.co...57628695545435/

A couple of ex-LNER steel highs, then what might be a cattle van:- http://www.flickr.co...57628695545435/

 

Thanks - Those ones are very useful. Dapol do make the SPV in N (I've actually got a couple of them). I think the coaches are SK, BSK and CK.

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Guest Phil

Sorry Tim.

I wrote an answer to each question in turn, but it won't allow me to post it due to opening and closing tags. I decided to copy my whole entry and paste it here, but I don't appear to be able to paste it either. There is an reply to you when RMweb allows me to post it !!!! Suffice to say I went to Tywyn Secondary 1973-1978 and worked at Machynlleth 1978-1980

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Guest Phil

The Cambrian lines in the early 70s seem a good subject for a "Mini-module" style layout inspired by Sir Madoc's work, inspired by family holidays in the area in 1974 and 75.

 

I've got as far as acquiring a Farish class 24 and a couple of blue DMUs, which prompts some other questions on rolling stock.

  1. Most photos of the coast line freight have shown the signature gunpowder vans, plus 16t minerals and Vanfits. Were any other wagon types common? I once saw cattle wagons marshalled between the loco and the gunpowder vans, presumably as barrier wagons, though I'm told that was exceedingly rare. I went to Tywyn Secondary between 1973 and 1978, then started at Machynlleth in July 1978 after leaving school. So can tell you a little of what I remember. The "coast goods" was always a Sulzer type 2,which originated from Bescot just after midnight, and worked in and out of Coton Hill. The timetables tended to change slightly from year to year but the coast goods was generally most productive on a Tuesday when the Up train brought explosives out of Cookes at Penrhyndeudraeth. You are correct about the wagons, but the odd 21 tonner coal wagon appeared. Vanfits generally conveyed basic slag, and other fertilizers.
  2. When did the Aberystwyth oil traffic go over to trainload operation, and what wagon types were used before and after? For that matter, what was the motive power? Class 24s or something else? The Aberystwyth tanks were still wagonload when I started in 1978, and I think may still have been in 1980 when I left. There was a conflict of brakes because the Stanlow-Aber' tanks were air braked tanks, whereas "our" Esso tanks for Bates & Hunt at Machynlleth were vaccy brake TSVs and TTFs, and the majority of other traffic (little as it was) was still vacuum braked. This often meant that the Stanlow-Abers formed the brakeforce for the train and the rest of the train was "loose". Pretty sure the block oil workings started up in the early 1980s - probably as a result of the reduction in general freight on the Cambrian. IIRC the Stanlow was class 25 hauled for a period, before switching to pairs of 20s, then 37/4s. Not sure if class 31s ever worked the oil train.
     
  3. What was the formation of the Aberystwyth to York mail? Memory suggests two Mk1s (SK + BCK?) plus a few assorted pre-nationalisation vans. I'm afraid that was before my time. The service had become a 3 car DMU by 1978. The Down direction was often a Swindon three car Cross Country unit with a tail traffic van. The tail traffic was 90% a BR CCT, but I recall ex LMS 50' BGs, Southern Utility vans and once a BR GUV.
     
  4. I remember class 101, 103 and 108 two-car DMUs, with four coach trains made up of two sets a common formation. Were three-car sets ever used? There many many formations although out of season the coast trains were practically universally 2 car sets - whatever Chester gave us. The overwhelming majority of two car sets were power+trailer units, but we did get the odd Derby twin power car unit which Chester had a small allocation of for working the "GC" (Wrexham-Bidston). During my time at Machynlleth the Down Mail formed of a 3car+van discharged the coast parcels onto the down platform, then departed for Aber. The previous night we had formed up a 3x2car unit which dropped into the platform to upload the coast parcels. This formed the 0655 to Pwllheli and detached off the rear at Barmouth (can't remember if just the one 2 car came back). The Shrewsbury-Aber service was generally 3 car units which sometimes worked through to Wolverhampton, Chester or Crewe. The 1042 ex Shrewsbury was diagrammed a 5 car, the rear 2 car detaching and running up the coast.From memory one year, the Aber portion departed at 1218 and the coast portion following it to Dovey Junction at 1228. Unusually, the corresponding Up Mail in the evening, round about 1946 from Machynlleth was formed of (I think) 2x2 car - a portion from Pwllheli and a portion from Aber' I've been racking my brains to try and recall how the CCT off the Down mails returned to Salop.
  5. Did class 40s ever run up the coast on Summer Saturdays? Only ever remember seeing them east of Machynlleth, with pairs of 24s on the coast services. Not sure how many class 40s worked service trains - none from my memory, but they were a useful class for the numerous charter and Adex trains. They certainly worked to Barmouth prior to 1979. Back in the 70s class 24/0s were technically banned from beyond Dovey Junction but photo evidence shows they got through.

Feel free to try some more questions !!!!

Edited by Phil

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Guest Phil

Hi Tim.

Had another go at trying to edit it, to try and make it more legible and understandable, but the forum software seems control tabbing so that I cannot make any sense in it.

 

On very interesting operation on the Cambrian Coast involved the sea defences work. A ballast train would leave Gresty Lane Crewe on a Saturday evening formed of a pair of class 25s, the Crewe steam crane and vans, and a load of lowsided wagons each conveying a large lump of "blockstone". On arrival at Tywyn the Sulzers would split and one would run round onto the rear. The train would then go on towards the site where the stone was to be offloaded - between Tywyn and Tonfanau ("Ton-van-eye") during the periodI recall. The crane would then remove it's match wagons and deposit them by the side of the track, then it would start to offload the blocks. After each wagon was unloaded, it was picked up and swung round the crane to the opposite (Barmouth end), then rerailed. The diesels were both used to shunt the wagons the north end loco gathering the increasing number of empties, whilst the Aberdovey end loco pushed the decreasing loads towards the crane. On job completion the train moved back into Tywyn so that the train could be marshalled up to head back to Crewe.

 

Been trying to find any photographic references to this without luck, but I have to link this youtube clip for the thrash - even though the video quality is poor. The second part of the clip illustrates where some of the BR blockstone was laid.

 

 

Hope this helps

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Guest Phil

Finally !!! BarkingBills blast from the past showing a class 24/0 leaving Tywyn heading for Barmouth and Pwllheli. The Sulzer type 2s came in heavily overweight when built, so attempts were made to lighten them from the designated class 24/1.

 

Towyn Then & Tywyn Now

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I remember catching a DMU from Moor St to Tywyn in the early 70s I was going camping and to see the Tal-y-Llyn and of course paid little attention to the DMU. I now see the folly of not observing everything as it will sooner or later change.

Don

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Ive got an old instamatic photo on photobucket of a class 40 in barmouth on a railtour, i believe it was the late 70s or early 80s as at the time we lived in llwyngwril (i was only born in 1975 so i was more interested in squashing spiders and riding my tomohawk than trains)

 

EDIT: its the last picture in the first post of this thread

 

http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/22362-big-jims-1980s-instamatic-photo-collection/page__fromsearch__1

 

 

Edited by big jim
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When did the 25s replace the 24s on this line? Before or after TOPS numbering was introduced? Was there a period when both types worked at the same time?

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Thanks everyone who's contributed so far. Filled in a lot of the gaps in my own memories and research.

 

Another question - Can't remember the link now, but at one point the coast line freight ran via Aberystwyth. Did it do this in both directions, and where did it reverse? Back to Machy or run round at Dovey Junction? Seem to remember some sidings at Dovey Jcn back in 1974/5 and wonder what, if anything, they were used for.

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Guest Phil

Thanks everyone who's contributed so far. Filled in a lot of the gaps in my own memories and research.

 

Another question - Can't remember the link now, but at one point the coast line freight ran via Aberystwyth. Did it do this in both directions, and where did it reverse? Back to Machy or run round at Dovey Junction? Seem to remember some sidings at Dovey Jcn back in 1974/5 and wonder what, if anything, they were used for.

 

Tim - I doubt the goods would have run up the coast as well as Aberystwyth, on the same day, at least not in the latter 1970s anyway.

From hazy memory, prior to the final incarnation of the Bescot-Aberystwyth and Aberystwyth-Bescot services run by a single loco, the mails played a part. I believe the loco on the down mails worked the goods back east, whilst the down goods loco worked back on the up Mail.

 

As I said earlier, the goods ventured up the coast on a tuesday and wednesday in the latter 1970s, and I am surmising that Aberystwyth didn't get a service.

 

One thing I didn't mention was the shunting at Machynlleth. Theoretically, the down goods arrived punctually at Machynlleth, then went forward to Aberystwyth, the Salop crew off that working the 1010 Aberystwyth-Salop back. However, in the real world the goods often ran late and the Salop crew didn't get beyond Machynlleth, so Aberystwyth men had to work the 1010 up to Machynlleth and work the goods back late. This in turn cut down on the shunting time at Machynlleth late afternoon. The local manager from Bates & Hunt who had a small oil discharge plant wher the old cattle pens were, often came asking for a shunt because his siding could only accommodate two tank wagons (railcars) This sometimes meant that with a willing spare driver and DMU, the Bates & Hunt guy got his railcar turnover with a two car DMU. It has to be said that the power car used to slip a bit pushing about 90 tons up onto the pens !!!

 

 

Not seen this image before of a class 25 shunting at Tywyn. The train appears to have been backed down the middle road,so the the loco could pick up an empty 16 tonner. This could have been a wagon of coal for the adjacent Talyllyn railway, as the wagon is adjacent to the coaling plant, or it could have been from the merchant in the yard, on the other side of the bridge.

 

http://www.nwrail.org.uk/ar820913-freight-towyn-a.jpg

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Thanks again, Shunting with a DMU sounds interesting!

 

Never seen any photos of Machy goods yard. Guess the location meant it was difficult to photograph.

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Guest Phil

Thanks again, Shunting with a DMU sounds interesting!

 

Never seen any photos of Machy goods yard. Guess the location meant it was difficult to photograph.

 

 

Not at all Tim. There were 5 roads in the Up yard which you looked down into from the Up platform. There was a very unusual feature here actually. The stop blocks on the two roads nearest the platform, were old GWR Iron Mink bodies, filled with concrete. You could see the square holes cut in the roof where they poured the concrete in.

 

This yard was also the tranship yard for the Corris railway, which you could deviate the course of time and provide for in your layout. The Corris railway actually crossed the main road and went under the main station in an arch adjacent to the road (now bricked up), then ran down through the fields passed Derwenlas to Cei Ward, where coastal boats loaded the slate. The bridge from Dovey Junction over the river towards Aberdovey was openable, and the Dovey was navigable to Cei (Quay) Ward. Here is a shot of the bricked up arch which the Corris Railway Derwenlas branch passed through. The class 158 is running into the up platform from Dovey Junction.

 

http://s0.geograph.org.uk/photos/21/47/214759_f7e5d31f.jpg

 

You can see the nearest road to the platform in this shot, with what looks like some Stanlow TTAs at the top end of the yard. The pair 25s are dropping the token off at the box, and you'll note the typical GWR style signal placing - the down home signal is located just outside the signal box on the upside - giving the right hand drive engineman the visibiity. In the loop is a two car Met Camm, probably about to drop into the platform after the "loco hauled" had gone, to provide the coast service. Another unit is in the shed.

 

http://www.class25.info/photograph_pages/individual_photos/820703_25033_Machynlleth_A1.jpg

 

This image gives you a brief glimpse off the up platform down into the yard

 

http://www.railway-stuff.co.uk/_/rsrc/1334329352462/home/machynlleth/Scan%208.bmp?height=272&width=400

 

 

 

 

 

While I am about it - standard fayre on the Aberystwyth route in the 1970s and very early 1980s - Swindon Cross Country unit.

 

http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/uploads/gallery/album_99/gallery_5613_99_24793.png

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There was a local custom illustrated by the departure of the Up Evening Mail on 20 Sept 1975.  It was almost certainly the first and last time the custom was practiced since the end of steam on the Cambrian in March '67

 

If there was a newly wed couple leaving town by train, drivers would sound whistle SW continuously for several miles.  With newly-weds on board the driver of the said up mail 'SW'd with every imaginable permutation of two-tone diesel horn honks and did so pretty well continuously to the site of Ynys Las station.  Bystanders looked worried.  The question written on their faces appeared to be 'Was it an emergency?'  'Was this a runaway train?'

 

How do I know?  It was on my my wife and I's behalf that all the cacophony was in honour.  And we were escorted with solemnity by the Guard from Second to First Class.

 

The loco was a Class 24.  All I can remember for sure that it was numbered 24.0XX.  Something tells me 24.08X or 24.075 but I am no more than five percent confident!

 

Does anybody have a true record of the locomotive involved on that trip?

 

To answer your question, the train consisted of at least four MK1 vehicles; though on other occasions the Up Mail was a DMU pulling a fitted XP van.

 

I thanked the Driver at Shrewsbury where we changed for Chester.  He laughed and rocked on his heels.  He was quite a giant, standing at least six foot with a large frame.  If anybody can supply the Driver's name and the loco number that would be a tremendous bonus!

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Hi

I'm trying to find out the stock used on the Cambrian Coast Express railtour on 28 January 1978, powered by 24087 and 24133. Did anyone male a note of the coaches?

Thanks

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Yes that's all I could find too. Would be useful to know what types they were.

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