Llangollen to mark double 50th anniversaries

THE 50th anniversaries of the closure of the GWR route to Birkenhead and the last ‘Cambrian Coast Express’ are to form the theme of the Llangollen Railway’s March 3-5 gala.

Birkenhead Woodside station opened on March 31, 1878 and closed on November 5, 1967. Jointly owned by the GWR and LMS before Nationalisation, in its day it was the principal main line station in Birkenhead and the terminus of the route from Chester, Birmingham and Paddington. The station building was known to local rail users as “the wrong way round”, because for the majority of its life, its original rear entrance was used as the main booking hall, whereas Woodside’s ‘front’ entrance was mainly used for handling parcels. BEN BROOKSBANK/CREATIVE COMMONS

Titled ‘Along Birkenhead Lines’, the gala will recall the end of both the famous named train and the Paddington to Birkenhead (Woodside) expresses.

Three star visitors will be LMS Stanier 8F 2-8-0 No. 48624 from the Great Central Railway, GWR 4-6-0 No. 6960 Raveningham Hall from the West Somerset Railway and LMS Ivatt 4MT 2-6-0 No. 43106 from the Severn Valley Railway – the last BR steam locomotive to travel between Chester and Shrewsbury, on August 1, 1968.

The locomotive’s journey was carefully routed to limit movement ‘under the wires’ and travelled via Frodsham, Chester, Wrexham and Shrewsbury on its way to Stourbridge Junction for preservation on the Severn Valley Railway at Bridgnorth.

The home fleet in action will comprise LMS ‘Black Five’ 4-6-0 No. 45337, making its return after overhaul, BR Standard 4MT 2-6-4T No. 80072, GWR large prairie

No. 5199, BR 4-6-0 No. 7822 Foxcote Manor and Class 03 diesel No. 03162, a former Birkenhead shunter.

The gala will feature an intensive timetable of both passenger and mixed traffic trains with special attractions taking place along the line.

A railway spokesman said: “Work is in hand to make this gala one of the most historically accurate and authentic steam events yet achieved at Llangollen. Expect to see cameos, displays, re-creations and all the appropriate paper ephemera!”

A free advance information booklet on the gala can be downloaded from:

Read more News in Issue 225 of Heritage Railway – out now!

Enjoy more Heritage Railway reading in the four-weekly magazine. Click here to subscribe.