Home News History Diary Dates & Events Location Membership
Home News History Diary Dates & Events Location Membership

Much has been happening since my last update. The most notable change has been the construction of the track in the platform area. Once we finished the platform face we wanted to start laying track. However, this was delayed due to the temperature hovering around freezing with rain and sleet of both vertical and horizontal variety. Also, the arrival of the guy in a red suit and beard could also be used as an excuse. Sadly, there were no 50lb points in suitable wrapping paper in the sledge but hopefully it will be on his list for next year.

So, onward and downward with a journey through time but to be more accurate the GVT trackbed. After more careful digger work by Adam, directed by Pete Cuttler, the original trackbed was revealed, we had not been too sure about sleeper spacing but there were the sleeper outlines clearly visible having been covered since 1936. All we had to do was put them back. When digging out we found some original rail spikes some we were able to reuse and then, on to the sleepers, we lifted our much valued original rails. So once we had gauged and slewed it, we put the original ballast back.

Before we could lay the loop, we thought a bit of a site tidy up was needed. So unused rail was stacked and stored, material placed in ton bags or on pallets and moved to a new storage compound we built at the end of the site. Whilst not the most exciting job, it was very important for site presentation.

The next thing to tackle was the “Great Wall of Glyn,” otherwise known as the loading ramp wall. This was built by the council in the 1970s to load gritting lorries. According to the digger driver who used it, it was useless as it was quicker to load from ground level. We now had to deal with it; at over eight feet in height and built of three ft long kerbing blocks laid in mortar, it appeared daunting. Also, to add to the head scratching, the adjacent bungalow’s fence was fastened to it. It was decided that it would be best to remove the top four courses, replacing with a concrete cap and purpose made fence panels to fill the gap. Using sledge hammers and crowbars, it came apart block by block which will be reused as kerbs. Mal and Peter are fabricating the new fence panels and brackets after discussion with the bungalow owner.

It was with some relief that the weather dried up, so back to trackwork. Peter, Simon and Noel got on with laying the loop track. The finished result was very rewarding but we had to infill by hand as it was laid originally. This gives you a great respect for the Victorian Navvies.

Whilst the work outside was going on, other tasks have been tackled. Last Saturday, 27th Feb, provided an exceptional working day as the full complement of board members were working on site with a great deal being achieved. Pete and Mal finished the platform fence, which was then painted by Riv, Richard and Noel. Inside the shed, Keith and Eunice sanded, cleaned and painted the pit boards whilst Linda cleaned right through. Simon and myself installed the lamp post and moved the dreaded kerbing blocks to a new location.

During work on site, more artefacts have been found, including a carriage and wagon spanner, a wagon hinge and a spring support from a coach. We are now on a deadline to complete several jobs before Easter ready for inspection by WREN and Building Control. Please do get involved if you are able to do so. Email or Phone the membership secretary, Mrs Eunice Roberts.

If you are able to help financially all donations will be very welcome.

So with best wishes from the GVT team and thank you for your interest.

Chris Pendlebury 1st March 2016

Progress Update on the Project 1st March 2016 - by Chris Pendlebury

Update 2nd February 2016

On 7th December, my telephone line failed. It has taken BT until 2nd February to reinstate it to anything like a usable condition, hence the delay in updating this website, for which I can only apologise.

I have re-zeroed the visitor counter to 1st January 2016. From the launch of the site until the end of 2015 3000 new visitors visited the site and a significant number have either made further contact or become members of the group. This is very encouraging, thank you to everyone who has viewed the site.

To explain the term ‘new visitor,’ a visitor is only counted on the first access of the Home Page, and repeat visit to the home page is then discounted for ½ hour avoiding any double counting as the website is explored.

Over the next week or so, I will be updating pages on the site where the story has lapsed due to my problem with BT.

I hope all our viewers have had a good Christmas and a Happy New Year and we look forward to seeing them at the engine shed in Glyn Ceiriog during 2016.

John Rutter - Webmaster

I should start by giving my apologies for the long delay in the update due to health and other issues. Since the last update, the AGM has come and gone and progress on the shed and yard can only be described as incredible, so I will do my best to describe progress.

Following closure, the yard had many uses including a village garage, bus depot and finally a highway maintenance yard. Each use resulted in more soil and rubbish on site, so initial work centred around the removal of 75 years of accumulation, estimated in the order of 500 tonnes.

So, you start with the paperwork side of this job;’ you get a big JCB and a large dump truck. Add two skilled operators in the form of Mr Owen and his son and you start work. The Owen family have links with the GVT and have farmed in the valley for many generations, indeed his father and grandfather were responsible for recovering the tramway sleepers using the farm tractor back in 1936!

The first job was moving materials and stacking them neatly at the Chirk end of the yard then scraping off the weeds and grass. The track panels were carefully unbolted and resited for eventual laying next to the platform. Next was to move the heavy stone base of the crane. This was done very gingerly with collective sighs of relief when it rested safely on its new, temporary, site. Certainly, it gave me an even greater respect for the power of JCB hydraulics which are made in Wrexham.

The dump truck then arrived from Mr Morris, which allowed us to start the main job. Whilst this was going on, Peter, Noel and I filling the rubbish skip, much space being taken with weeds and brambles whose relentless invasion had only been halted by the digger bucket!

With the vegetation gone, the yard area appeared vast so the digging could start. Starting at the Chirk end, gentle scraping uncovered the base of the station siding. What was interesting was the original Hendre Granite ballast covered with a fine layer of granite dust, known as “Granomac” which was used in tarmac and was the main output in later years. The siding seemed to be on a slope but is actually level as the main line falls at 1:20 toward Pontfadog, allowing gravity working in pre-steam days.

This gave a useful datum point to work to as work moved on to removing a very large and unsightly kerb-built loading ramp, intended for gritting lorries, however, in practise it was found easier to use a digger at ground level. As the ramp gradually vanished, strange bits of rusty metal became evident. We thought that they might have been GVT truck parts, but closed examination showed them to be bumper irons, brake rods and suspension from cars. A visit to my next door neighbour, who is a vintage car enthusiast, showed a match with his 1936 Morris Minor. The brake parts were from a pre-war Ford, thus giving a possible date of late 1930s or war years. This information confirmed what we had been told by older residents that at least two cars were taken apart on the site, the latter information being backed up by bits of window trim and a hand rail section from small, front-entrance bus being found.

As final sections of wall were removed, we became more hopeful. Then, some six inches down, we found a piece of slate. A little digging by hand uncovered more, then using the narrow bucket and shovel, we uncovered the full length of the platform wall, so we were the first people to stand on it since 1936! Mal and Noel carefully recorded it. Thus, when Peter and I started to rebuild the wall using local slate, we were able to follow its original gentle curve. It also made you aware of how tight money was for the tramway as the material used was waste rock from the Cambrian Mine, backed with burnt brick ends from Dennis’ works and original scree from the site surface being fine granite powder, but sadly, no original sandstone slabs which were no doubt reused on closure. The wall is mortared in lime mortar, a feature we replicated on the restoration.

In the other areas of the yard, changes have been no less radical with levelling and grading of the site’s wheelchair friendly paths installed for our less able visitors. We have also continued the internal shed track a short distance outside. This may be used to display the replica slate wagon, but eventually, in the future, could link to a replica turntable.

Meanwhile, progress in the shed has continued apace with the completion of the brick floor in the first two bays by Gareth’s brick layers. A task made more complicated as the brick had to be sliced in half on a special saw. After a day doing this, the operator has become an overall brick red colour and left distinctive red footprints wherever he walked.

The workshop area is divided from the rest of the museum by a wood and glass screen with big double doors. This and all the new woodwork was done by Mark, Gareth’s foreman joiner. The screen and doors were made in the joiner’s shop and then brought to site. Mark was apprehensive if they would fit due to the shed not being square or level, however, with the use of wedges, spirit levels, blocks of wood and a sledge hammer and it suddenly fitted perfectly. Since this Mark and his assistants have installed the skirting and pit boards together with the laminate flooring in the museum area.

The display area has now been plastered. Unfortunately we did not have enough volunteer help to paint the walls and this has had to be paid for. Though much work has been done by Keith, Eunice, Richard and Riv during a recent working weekend, all being committee members with sometimes other roles as well. This is a difficult situation as, if certain tasks are not completed within the time scale, we may compromise our grant funding. But if we pay contractors, that money has to be found from somewhere. Clearly the solution would be to get more volunteers, but this has not happened. Perhaps, if you are reading this you would like to join us as your membership will help, even if you are not able to offer physical help due to distance or time availability. If you are a member – could you become a working one?

A further area of progress in the shed means that we now have a fully working ‘loo.’ A great advantage over the infamous “plastic tardis,” which was “teleported” into the yard at the start of the job, though without any evidence of taking its occupant back to the days of steam in the valley!

The shed has become very secure with both Fire and Burglar alarms installed, together with CCTV. The latter may seem an extravagance, but we have to have full insurance as we will eventually have unique historical artefacts on display. Also now installed is the kitchen area with both work tops and sink. We are not planning on venturing into catering, but if you are on site all day you have to have tea and coffee to function. As we will have the museum open regularly, this means someone on site.

So, to round off this update we are now in the final bit of the infrastructure. Now we have to start to work out where we put our carefully stored display cases, though quantity of contents is not a problem. The contents will need description and cataloguing. In addition to this it has to be safe and child-friendly.

I will finish on a positive note’; the GVT group started in 1971 to save something of “the Tram” it has gone on for many years as the Sleeping Beauty of Preservation. Perhaps now the long sleep is over.

Chris Pendlebury 18 Oct 2015 ©

Progress Update on the Shed Project 18th October 2015 - by Chris Pendlebury

I thought it was now very much time to put an update on the website as we do not stay still for very long.

Firstly, if you follow the group on social network sites, you will be aware that we had a working day on Saturday 18th June. The result was disappointing as no-one new turned up to help. However, it was by no means unsuccessful as Simon, Riv and Mal worked like Trojans and we were able to cross several jobs off the list. Contrary to what people who know me think, I am just occasionally organised and at present, of the 34 jobs to do, we have completed 17; however, lists have a strange life of their own and tend to grow longer over time. So; I will tell you what we have done.

Prior to the working day, one of our local members had treated the base of the building and pathways with weed killer. This is now starting to work, however, the flat area and slopes have not been treated as the grass and wild flowers, sown by Eunice and Keith, are now starting to get going. To continue on a horticultural theme, we needed to get the hedges trimmed. Initially, we were going to pay for a contractor, but as money is needed for other things and Simon had his petrol hedge cutter with him, we thought we would do it ourselves.

The result looked much better, with approval given by the local bird population as we uncovered a load of snails. This left the problem of cleaning up. Riv and I were brushing up when a horse box pulled up and out jumped Trevor Bates, the local Master Saddler, wielding a petrol blower. Having cleared the debris, he explained that he was passing earlier, so picked up his machine from home; a big Thankyou to him. Incidentally, the obituary for his late mother, Rhona, is on this site.

Whilst we were tackling the hedge, Mal was working on the windows. He has now installed new opaque glass in the toilet window and removed the polycarbonate sheets from the others, allowing David and his friend to clean them. Prior to this, Mal had tidied away the power cables on the platform ready for installing the lamp and external power supply. They presented a trip hazard and would have compromised our Health and Safety inspection.

Whilst this was going on, Riv completed glossing the platform fence which now looks great.

Prior to the planned working day, I decided to put the platform surface back to its original condition covered in stone grit. So, with much help from Riv and Simon, three tons of grit were spread and raked level. We know this was the right material as we found the original during platform construction.

Now, the thing about grit is that you have to roll it in. There is a picture with a hand roller visible, taken in the early years of steam traction. Luckily, Simon inherited a Victorian roller when he moved into his present home. So, as I needed little encouragement to pop over to Corwen with him officially to get the roller in the truck, but really to look at his 7 1/4 “ gauge railway that also came with the house! It turned out to be most impressive with three bridges and a tunnel. Anyhow, back to the roller which, by virtue of its function, has to be heavy. So how do we get it in the back of a truck? The normal method is some stout timbers and a rope. Result – said roller developed a mind of its own and was off in the opposite direction narrowly avoiding a swathe of destruction to the 7 ¼ inch track!

On to Plan B, which involved two girders and a repositioned truck to reduce the slope angle. This met with success so, with the roller securely anchored we headed back over the mountain to Glyn Ceiriog. (Good job it was securely anchored going over that hill! – JR)

You may have wondered why they have ramps at platform ends. The answer is to unload heavy garden rollers! Simon was, by now, very enthusiastic and insisted on rolling the entire platform, watched by a somewhat disappointed shed cat who seemed to be under the impression that we were constructing a giant grit-filled tray for much more mundane purposes!

On the Wednesday following, I met my good friend Billy and his brother in law, Andrew, who just happens to have a large covered trailer and a tow car. Having introduced Riv in the shed yard, we trundled over to the Coal Wharf where the slate wagon had been hibernating for 18 months. With much careful positioning, we were able to get very close to the shed. Using steel bars, we are able to form a bridge right into the trailer. After a bit of oil on the bearings, it rolled in and was anchored in place. The load then moved at the regulatory GVT eight miles per hour to the loco shed. A couple of pieces of horse-tram rail were used to build a ramp so it just rolled out on to the shed track. We then took out the timber inserts and pushed it into the shed. My thanks to Andrew and Billy for their help and interest.

On Friday 1st July, we had the monthly meeting and were joined by Karen Murdoch, who is Collections Manager at Wrexham Museum. She has very kindly agreed to help with conservation advice for our artefacts and the registration process for the museum which is vital in order to have the loan of artefacts held in other museums. Wrexham Museum have already been most helpful with loaning the display cases which can be seen in the pictures.

The first weekend in July also saw Riv starting on moving two tons of soil into place. Initially, Simon, Noel and I got some concreting done. Once this was safely floated, we switched to soil moving which then carried on through Saturday. Whilst this was happening in the yard, over at the Village Centre, Eunice, Pauline and her sister were running the GVT stall at the Summer Fair to raise some badly needed cash selling anything from curtains to GVT caps to Pauline’s coat (well, almost. It was nearly sold by Eunice who, given the opportunity, would sell hiking boots to angels – and sign them up as members as well!)

So, now we come to Sunday. As you can see from the pictures, we met a very well known person in the form of Terry Waite. Terry has very kindly agreed to become our President. I think we are very lucky because he is one of the most genuine and sincere people I have ever met. With his vast experience of International Diplomacy and reconciliation he will be a real help to the tramway.

We met at the Christian Centre, who laid on a wonderful spread for our guest. Following this, Terry was presented with a special two volume signed copy of John Milner and Beryl Williams’ definitive history of the tramway. Sadly neither John or Beryl were well enough to be there however, to give some idea of the level of detailing the books, John started researching the GVT in 1952 and informed me that he is still finding new bits of information. He was also responsible for saving the two GVT coaches located at the Tal-y-llyn Railway, plus many other precious artefacts and documents. Because he started his project so long ago, he was able to talk to many of the staff of the GVT.

To finish this update, I would like to thank all the people who have helped us in any way, shape or form to keep the project running.

Best wishes until my next set of selected ramblings

Chris Pendlebury – Publicity Officer – NGVT&IHT

News Update 12th July 2016 - Chris Pendlebury

The shed on 3rd July 2016. Exhibits being collected together and put into display cases all waiting for final approval.

Photos - John Rutter