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June 2002
Founding of the LBR’s Schools at Wolverton
The Watford Tanks
LNWR Post Office Carriages (Part 1)
Royal Visit to Crewe 1913
Old Photographs
Monument Lane
Cast Iron Signs
Power and Reward 1922
A Run in the ‘Problem’
My very own train
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Don Rowland

One of the advantages of advancing years is that one has had opportunities denied to younger folk. In my case I was able to travel over many parts of the former LNWR system which are now lifted. Even so there are some lines over which I never travelled. The Heads of the Valleys line, for example, from Abergavenny to Merthyr. There was a superb farewell rail tour behind a Coal Tank Explain 'Coal Tank 0-6-2T Locomotive Class' and a Super D Explain 'Super D 0-8-0 Locomotive Class' but at the time I was an impecunious student living far away in Scotland and it was out of the question. On the credit side though it has got to the stage nowadays that there are very few remaining bits of the LNWR over which I have not made a train trip. The Amlwch branch from Gaerwen is one and the old Oxford to Bletchley line between Bicester and Claydon L&NE Junction is another. But so far as I am aware if it is a former LNWR, or LNWR Joint line, and it is still open to passenger traffic then I have been over it at least once, often many, many times. Move to the photographs page

West Midlands PTE caused a flutter a few years back when they re-opened first Walsall to Hednesford and then Hednesford to Rugeley Trent Valley to regular passenger services but both were soon attended to: I got two (for me) ‘new’ bits of line and my record was once again intact. Then, in May 2001 disaster struck. The villain of the peace this time was not Centro but First North Western. I was scanning through Table 81 of the


new summer timetable, Manchester and Crewe to North Wales when I noticed a little footnote: j; Runcorn Main Line. This proved to apply to a single train, the 15.33, Mondays to Saturdays, Chester to Runcorn, due Runcorn 16.00. And sure enough, if you look at the 2001–2002 System Map supplied with the timetable the connection from Frodsham Junction to Halton Junction is shown as having a limited service in one direction only. A move like that just could not go unchallenged.

So it was that a rather wet Saturday afternoon in August found me on Chester station searching the timetable posters in vain for the phantom 15.33. An enquiry of the booking clerk as to whether the said 15.33 would be running today produced the somewhat enigmatic response that he wasn’t sure and I should ask the station manager. This latter gentleman was more positive. Yes, he had a unit but until the crew turned up from Liverpool he didn’t know if it would run. At that stage it has to be admitted that with an odd duty like that, on a Saturday afternoon at the start of the football season things did not look good.

About 3pm a rather dodgy-sounding 150-22 arrived in Chester’s number 5 platform and was quickly vacated by the crew with the engines left running. Then at about 15.15 a Merseyrail electric arrived in Platform 7 and a North West Trains crew made their way along the platform to take over the unit. We had a

Story continues ...
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