© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2011
"Coast and Peak" was a rail-rover ticket available in the
1980s, similar in some respects to the "Rove-a-way" ticket I
had used six years previously. Instead of the routes to the
north of Manchester, however, this ticket gave access to the
lines further east - to Manchester, Glossop, Buxton and
Stoke. Once again, its southernmost point of access was
Shrewsbury - so I decided to "have a go".
3 August: Llandudno. My son, then aged 4½, decided to
accompany me... So we went for a ride on the Great Orme
Tramway - a wonderful 3'6" gauge cable-hauled system which
starts in the streets of Llandudno and terminates high on the
headland which overlooks the town. There are two sections to
the line, and two cars on each section, effectively counter-
balancing each other. My son thought the Great Arm (as he called
it) Tramway was Great Fun...
5th August: Liverpool, Manchester, Stoke and Crewe. (I had a day off
on the 4th...) I decided I needed to explore some lines I had not
previously travelled, so I took the former Cheshire Lines route from
Liverpool to Manchester, via Warrington, then from Manchester I took a
direct train (via Macclesfield) to Stoke, returning thence to Crewe and
home again. Illustrated are (left): 47 474 on a Euston train at
Shrewsbury; (right) a pair of 08s on the "Abbey tanks" - the oil train to
the sidings on the site of the former "Potts" terminus; a class 120 DMU
at Stoke, on a Crewe - Derby working; a class 85 arrives at Crewe from
the north; 86 248 leaves Crewe, northbound. The latter were taken very shortly after
the 1985 remodelling of the layout - shiny new ballast everywhere!
2 August: Manchester. A fairly gentle day, taking a ride to
Manchester and back (I wanted to explore some of the
photographic shops there). Illustrated are: 47 575 at Shrewsbury,
having arrived on a Euston train; 86 212 "Preston Guild" arriving
at Manchester Piccadilly with the "Manchester Pullman" and 304
016 on the through lines at Piccadilly, having worked in from
Altrincham (this was the post-MSJA, pre-Metro era).
6th August: Blaenau Ffestiniog and Holyhead. Since my previous visit to Blaenau, the
layout had been remodelled here too, the new joint station having been opened a
little to the south of the former LNWR station. Expecting a DMU, I was amazed when
47 445 rolled in with a lengthy rake of MkI stock. It was quite well filled too. This
was, as a result, a most comfortable trip, with substantial sound effects as the
gradients steepened above Bettws-y-Coed.
Returning to Llandudno Junction, I then took a ride to Holyhead.
The weather here was pretty dismal - the photos are not fit for
display!. I returned to Chester on the afternoon boat train,
feeling as though I was the only non-Irish person on the train -
until a small far-eastern gentleman sat beside me. He turned out
to be Korean, and was intrigued by the dual-language station
signs along the coast route. He was surprised to learn that I
didn't speak Welsh!
7th August: Dinting. Once again accompanied by my son, I
thought Dinting might make a suitable destination. In the 80s,
the South Wales - Manchester or Liverpool trains were worked by
class 33s, and on this occasion we had 33 023 (illustrated) to
haul us through from Shrewsbury to Piccadilly. We took a bite of
lunch here, before heading for Dinting on one of the class 303
units which had been drafted in - a former Glasgow "Blue Train".
In steam at Dinting was "Warrington", an RSH-built "Austerity"
saddle tank, works no. 7136 of 1944, rebuilt by Hunslet in 1969.
This loco operated the standard-gauge passenger service -
utilising an ex-SR bogie brake van. We took a ride, of course -
and on the miniature railway, which was using a small battery-
ppowered locomotive. Resident at Dinting at the time were
several significant locomotives, including LNER O1 no 63401, the
"Coal Tank" no 1054, LNER pacifics "Blue Peter" and "Bittern", and
LMS 4-6-0s "Bahamas" and "Scots Guardsman". None were
particularly easy to photograph...
8th August: Buxton. For my last "Coast and Peak" trip, I decided
on a trip to Buxton. I had never travelled on the steeply-graded
branch from Manchester, nor had I yet had a look at what the
Peak Railway people were doing there.
The former Midland site at Buxton is no longer occupied by the
preservationists. On the occasion of my visit, however, there was
a fair amount of activity. Peckett 2111 of 1949 (ex-Lytham
Museum) was in steam, operating a shuttle with a BR MkI brake
coach. Among the other locomotives on site were "Vulcan" (VF
3272 of 1918) and a couple of ex-Barry 9Fs.
It had become clear that the BR "corporate" livery was about to
decline, and at the same time, new trains were imminent. I had
seen one or two examples of the new livery during the course of
the week - today, on returning to Crewe, I saw my first "new
train" - in the form of 150 002, one of the BREL prototype
"Sprinters" - shape of things to come...