Wordless Wednesday 13th April 2022

Brynelin Viaduct
Posted in Countess, Cyfronydd, Heritage, locomotives, Photographs, railroad, railway, Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, wordless Wednesday | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Welsh Water For London

I have a relative who works in the water management industry, they have sent me a document that lays out the future demands for water in the London area. It then has a detailed proposal to create reservoirs on the River Banwy near Llanerfyl and Llangadfan and on River Trannon to the west of Caersws and pipe the water 200 miles to London.

I will point out that this article was created and posted on 1st April!! Everything about it is correct, however, it is important for the reader to check the details. In particular I draw your attention to the year of publication of the original document – 1895.

Map showing proposed reservoirs and the pipeline to England
Map showing what logically might be the first reservoir to the north of Llanerfly

The original document can be found at the link below. NB the original document is held in the library of the Welcome Institute.


Posted in Industrial Archaeology, Llanfair Caereinion, Welshpool | Leave a comment

Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway Strictly Informal Members Consultation On A New Carriage

Several months ago that was a proposal, and an appeal launched, to construct a new 1st class carriage for the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. At the time the concept for the vehicle was that it would be based on the Queens Coach that was built in the workshops of the Sierra Leone Railway for a visit by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (but due to a change in itinerary it was never used).

At the Members Forum in October 2021 questions were raised about the choice of design and if other options had been considered.

Two members of the W&LLR, both of whom have extensive professional experience in the design, manufacture and maintenance of railway rolling stock, have come up with some proposed outline designs.

If you would like to provide feedback please use the comments feature at the bottom of this article.

1.         Background

One of the written questions submitted to the forum last October regarding the so-called Queen’s coach was as follows:

‘It is stated that “the agreed prototype provides a number of advantages when considered against other options”.  Will the board now share with us precisely which other options were considered and against what criteria these were judged?  To my knowledge none of the members who have been involved in the rolling stock industry were involved in this consideration, which tends to underline these concerns.  However, presumably there is a document which lists the options considered and shows how they were scored?  The response goes on to state that the design will be “optimised” – presumably that means ‘changed’ – to suit our particular requirements: if it isn’t to be an exact replica then what on earth can be the justification for taking as a prototype one of the ugliest carriages in the world?

Regarding the first point, the response reported in The Earl Issue 66 refers to “a number of other prototypes” and specifically mentions “a Leek and Manifold and new/F&WHR-style carriage” but doesn’t clearly state if these were all the other prototypes considered.  So the question still stands: precisely which other options were considered?

The second point raised was: ‘presumably there is a document which lists the options considered and shows how they were scored?’  There was no response to this which is unfortunate since it would presumably also answer the question as to what is the justification for adopting the prototype in question.

Moving on, of course in the absence of a full response to the question we have no knowledge as to exactly what range of options was considered and whether or not a scratch design was included, and if it was, how it was ranked.  This is relevant since such a vehicle can be optimised from the outset to meet the business requirement whilst being designed specifically to suit the railway’s infrastructure.  And all this without bodging a prototype design that was never fully built, was never put to its intended use and which has no relevance to the W&L apart from the basic mechanical interfaces.

2.         An Alternative Approach for a First Class Coach

This is in the interests of exploring the views of members in general.  Starting with the business requirement we go back to what was outlined in The Earl special issue 62A and take the business requirements outlined there as a given.  This implies a first class seating layout, wheelchair accessibility, some form of catering provision (as yet unspecified), and here we infer at least the option of an ‘observation carriage’ end.

And so on to the vehicle itself.  On the W&L we can easily accommodate a carbody 2400mm wide; the SLR vehicles are just 7′ 3″ (2210mm) wide which precludes comfortable 2 + 2 seating in second class or 2 + 1 in first.  At lower levels we have to be careful with footsteps to avoid fouling platforms; this is one factor that makes our balcony ends so useful since these easily permit a comfortable stepping arrangement.  Compare these with the SLRs where the footsteps are directly underneath the doorway treadplates to understand this better.  Also important will be the provision of generous bodyside glazing with large opening windows.

Our MÁV vehicles are in line with the above although have a rather high floor height at 900mm above rail level (ARL) – in fact they need to be in order to accommodate the relatively massive bogies.  We wouldn’t propose using such a bogie again so now are looking at a floor height of 800mm ARL.  In combination with this we could adopt a slightly narrower balcony platform to further optimise the stepping arrangement.

In addition, with a custom-design vehicle we can consider a degree of future-proofing for wheelchairs such as a longer balcony, with wider gates, that would make it easier to board yet wider chairs than we see currently.

Taking the above points into consideration leads to an (arguably!) ideal first class layout as shown on sheets 1 & 2 of the accompanying drawings.  However, within the arrangement depicted there are yet further detail options possible, of which just a couple are noted.  Overall the length over buffer faces is 110mm more than the existing SLRs; just slightly longer again than the MÁVs.  Of crucial importance will be the design of the underframe and running gear: the investment here will be such, it is contended, that having made this the arrangement must be capable of being carried over with minimal modification to any subsequent builds – such as a second class variant – that may be similar though not identical.  The bodyside insignia shown is of course purely notional, but gives a flavour of what might be done to add interest to the appearance.

It should be noted that the first class variant shown in sheet 1 with at least 24 seats has a 50% higher capacity than our existing first class SLR coach No.1207, with just 16 seats, or an alternative design based on the narrower SLR coach dimensions.  Just for information a strict replica of a Leek & Manifold type would also be only 7′ 3″ wide and therefore limited similarly to the SLRs.  Hence a vehicle based on the dimensions shown on Sheet 1 would have an appreciably higher revenue earning potential; an important consideration for any railway vehicle.

If you click on the images they will open in a lager format. Use your Back button to return to this article.

Railway carriage side view

3.         Observation Coach Option

Moving on, to cover all the bases we now consider what would be involved in providing a first class saloon with an ‘observation end’ and here things start to get somewhat trickier.  In our consideration here we start with the assumption that, for inclusivity, wheelchair access must be provided into the observation end.  This determines a requirement for a wheelchair accessible doorway either immediately inboard of, or directly into, the observation end.  The former would involve structural complications if we are to have the same comfortable stepping arrangements as at the balconies.  The latter, as illustrated on sheet 3, is intended for wheelchair access only having no step although can also double as an emergency exit for all.  It is also shown reasonably wide, again to provide some future-proofing for ever larger wheelchairs.

The arrangement shown is very loosely based on the Devon Belle observation car; one alternative which also avoids an Airstream caravan appearance might be similar to the LNWR design for the Blaenau branch, with a bluff end.  But all this does prompt the question: given that the majority of our other vehicles have balconies, is it really worth the trouble of designing and building one unique end to accommodate extremely few people in this fashion, as well as creating inevitable shunting complications?

4.         Second Class Variant

Sheet 4 illustrates how, with little adaptation, the design for a first class saloon might be adapted for second class, with either more basic upholstered seating or wooden slatted seats, much as in the Zillers.  At least the latter have the advantage that they are effectively wiped clean each time someone sits on them!

5.         A Different Appearance?

And finally.  The final two drawings on sheets 5 & 6 give an impression as to how, with a slightly different roof shape, a few bodyside lines and a little fancy wrought ironwork at the balconies, the ‘basic’ carriage might be given an appreciably different appearance.  Importantly though, the fundamentals remain unchanged.

If you would like to offer constructive feedback please use the comment box below this post.
Please note that comments will be acknowledged but not made public.
Commenting will close on 31st March 2022


Posted in Carriage & Wagon, Heritage, railroad, railway, train, Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wordless Wednesday 15th December 2021

Vandyke Ridge
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Wordless Wednesday 17th November 2021

Knocking Off The Sleepers
Loading Rails
Looking From Cavalry Horse Crossing
Eastern End Of The Bridge Site
Looking Towards The Eastern Portal
Posted in demolition, Heritage, LBNGR, Leighton Buzzard, Photographs, railroad, railway, track | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wordless Wednesday 27th October 2021

Ready To Unload
Unloading Railway Sleepers
Unloading Railway Sleepers
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Wordless Wednesday 6th October 2021

Last Train From Welshpool
The Earl at Sylfaen
Running Round At Castle Caereinion
Running Round At Castle Caereinion
Coupling Up
Castle Caereinion
Inside The Cab
Posted in Castle Caereinion, Heritage, Photographs, railroad, railway, Sylfaen, The Earl, train, Welshpool, Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holding Back The Waters

King Canute Woz 'Ere

In the 12th century King Canute demonstrated to his courtiers and advisors that even the ruler of the land could not exercise command over the tides and by implication the other forces of nature. Water is ubiquitous and without it life is impossible but in the wrong place it can cause harm and or chaos.

So when it is necessary to repair a wall that is normally submerged beneath the murky waters of a canal how might you go about creating a suitable environment for the bricklayers ? One solution would be to simply drain that section of the canal. Well in the case I have in mind the next lock is 2.8 miles (4.5km) further along. A rough estimate of the amount of water that would have to be drained  is 158,000 cubic metres, or to use that term beloved of journalists, the equivalent to 63 Olympic size swimming pools. Then there is a matter of all the fish and other life that calls the waters of the ‘cut’ ‘home’. Even the next nearest bridge where there may be ‘stop board’ slots is around half a mile away.

The logical solution is to build a dam so that only a small section needed to be drained. The traditional method would be to use steel sheet piling hammered into the bed of the canal. To install this you need a suitable size crane or excavator equipped with a piling head. After the work is finished the piles have to be extracted and then hope that the clay lining of the canal bed has not been so disturbed as to create a leak into the ground below.

Repairs Needed

At Lock 27 on the Grand Union Canal there is currently (February 2021) a ‘stoppage’ to allow the replacement of the bottom gates and to undertake repairs to the masonry.

The canal has been dammed using an innovative method consisting of some metal supports and a heavy duty tarpaulin.

Rear Of Dam

A view of the rear side of the structure.
A series of closely spaced metal frames have been staked to the canal bed using standard scaffolding poles. The tarpaulin is anchored to the top of each frame and is presumably weighted at the bottom edge.

Dam Across The Canal

At the sides there is a significant wrap around.


This picture shows that the arrangement is working very well and that there is only a small amount of water present. I was also surprised at the small amount of debris, other than an old tyre waiting for an unwary propeller to pass by, most was natural  materials rather than objects thrown in.

Tug & Barge Laden With Pumps

There are two pumps on the barge, only one of which was running, and judging from the sounds it was making it was not really doing any work.


Posted in canals, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2020 Twelve Months Twenty-Four Photographs



A cormorant perched on a limb of a sumberged tree at Tiddenfoot Waterside Park on the 18th of January

Cutting Back Completed

On the 25th of January the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s Fence2Fence team cleared away vegetation from the side of the railway line to improve the visibility when undertaking shunting manoeuvres at Tanllan Carriage Shed .


Red Kite

A red kite seen against a clear blue sky while walking along the towpath of the Grand Union Canal on 7th February.

Banwy Bridge Upstream

On 16th of February after several days of heavy rain, delivered by Winter Storm Dennis, the River Banwy, which flows alongside the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway was in flood.

The chart below shows the water level in the River Banwy at the Llanerfyl Gauging Station that morning. There is a time lag between the peak water level being measured there and it arriving where the river runs alongside the railway.
Data obtained from <https://rivers-and-seas.naturalresources.wales/Station/2062?parameterType=1&gt;


Steam Test For Peter Pan

The diminutive steam locomotive Peter Pan, ‘Wren’ class engine, built by Kerr Stuart & Co Ltd in Stoke on Trent in 1920 blows steam out of the safety valves during a steam test being carried out for the insurance company’s Boiler Inspector on 3rd of March. It had just been overhauled and fitted with a brand new boiler and water tank.

Blackheaded Gull

Blackheaded gull seen at Wilstone Reservoir on 17th of March. This site is part of a group of reservoirs that supply water to the Grand Union Canal.


Sunset Through Branches

With Britain in the grip of ‘Lockdown’ this picture of the setting sun was captured on the 8th of April through the branches of a tree along side the main road near my house.


This was such a lucky shot and probbaly my best picture of the year. On the 8th of April I was using the garden shed as a bird hide to photograph sparrows using the feeders. I glanced up overthe top of the door and saw this goldfinch less than ten feet away.


The Likely Lads

A bright spring day, 6th of May, and two sparrows are sitting on the top of the garden hedge and waiting for an oportunity to get their turn on one of the brid feeders.

Horsing Around

Horsing around at Southcourt Stud on 17th May.


Black & White

Black and white modes of transportseen on the 7th of June.

Marbled White Butterfly

While out for a walk on the 9th 0f June I saw several Marbled White butterflies.


North Bucks, South westerly, 2, Showers, Good

If I leaned anything during this year it was how many footpaths there were so close to home. While wandering on 8th of July I was wondering if I was about to get a soaking.

Zillertal at Mill Curves

At last an oportunity to get back to Wales for a weekend working on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. The locomotive we have hired from the Zillertalbahn Railway in Austria is seen at Mill Curves on 25th July.


Countess Crossing Brynelin Viaduct

I had another couple of days at the W&LLR in August. On the Saturday 15th I took my car to Cyfronydd and then walked down to Brynelin Viaduct.

Swallows Feeding From The water

An early morning walk on the 8th of August and near Church Lock a flight of swallows were feeding from the surface of the canal. This one had created quite splash.



The sunset on 5th of September.

Powerful Moon

A faint moon seen through the wires of the electricity grid lines during broad daylight on the 6th of September.



On the 23rd of October a jackdaw was perched on our TV aerial.

Squirrels's Breakfast Time

Squirrel’s breakfast time captured on the 9th of October.


All Saints Church

The 5th of November was a bright and sunny day. All Saints Chuch, built of honey coloured stones stands tall among the surrounding buildings.

Mist In The Ouzel Valley

Early on the 22nd of Novmber I went out intending to photograph the sunrise. That was a bit disappointing but the mist laying in the Ouzel Valley provided some wonderful pictures.


High Spirits

There is a field near my home where a number of scruffy, seemingly dejected ponies live. On the 22nd of December someone had just arrived to bring them some food and this pair started romping around and having a game of chase.


A few minutes later at the same location a Class 88 Electro-diesel 88 004 ‘Pandora’ was seen heading north along the West Coast Main Line with a train of new cars and vans. Do you get the feeling that 2020 was the year we got too nosey and dared to lift the lid on Pandora’s box ?


Posted in bird watching, Photographs, train, vegetation management, Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, West Coast Main Line, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Wordless Wednesday (23rd December 2020)

Christmas 2020
Robin 2

Posted in bird watching, Photographs, The Earl, winter | Tagged | Leave a comment