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

Welcome to what I hope will be a regular update on progress at the GVT Engine Shed at Glynceiriog. The group has been successful in obtaining a grant from WREN, which was vital to allow us to tackle a project which would have been well beyond our ability.

Since the tramway closed, the shed was used as a garage and subsequently a council depot. Each of the different uses saw the building adapted for its role. For the garage caused the original railway pits were heavily modified. Bus storage resulted in changes to the land level on the road side of the building. When the Council obtained the site, the doorway was widened, steel doors fitted and the slate roof replaced with corrugated materials, losing the original smoke vents. A lean-to washroom and toilet block was added to the river side of the building.

So, where do you start with putting it back? Well, first you start with the floor. Due to changes in use, this has needed to have more work than was originally planned. As the building will be open to the public, it has to be level and safe thus, much rubble has been removed before new material could go in. However, it is not all bad news as many original bricks were found. These have been reused in their original locations.

With the floor sorted, attention turned to the doorway and wing-walls. One side was original and just needed some minor repairs, the other wall had been heavily modified to get lorries in and needed the missing sections to be rebuilt. This was achieved using bricks recovered from the floor. Due to the status of the building as a monument, this has been done in conjunction with CADW, the Welsh Monuments Group. Consequently, we had to use traditional lime mortar, which means the job takes longer due to the setting time. Luckily, Gareth our builder is well used to this material having worked on other heritage projects.

With the doorway nearing completion, the focus switched to the roof. The original slates, from the local Cambrian Quarry, were most likely removed due to becoming porous. This was reason why they were not favoured for roofing. They are soft, which makes splitting easier, thus allowing big sheets to be separated, which were then used for billiard tables, pantry shelves and flooring. Their use as roofing on the shed was due to being local and half the price of Ffestiniog or Penrhyn slates. The corrugated material is being removed by a specialist contractor. This will then enable Gareth’s joiner to make any repairs to the main timbers and put the framework back to support the smoke vents. After this, new roofing battens will be put on to fasten the new slates on to. The slates are from the same slate deposits as the originals.

While work is progressing with the roof, the brick layers are working on the back wall. Here we are faced with a problem. The original bricks used on the building were seconds, meaning bricks that went wrong in the firing in Dennis of Ruabon’s kilns. These were all right when originally used but, after over 120 years of frost and rain, on some of them the faces have split, meaning a loss of strength and water permeation. After discussion with CADW, we are replacing only the most damaged examples using original bricks from the floor.

Prior to starting work on the shed, GVT volunteers had been busy; Keith and Eunice cleaned the shed walls; Peter, Mal and myself stacked the stored rail and everybody else, including Harry, Richard, Joan and Riv helped to empty the shed and move the contents to the storage building on the Coal Wharf.

In the next few weeks, it is planned to start on the rest of the yard which will involve moving material around with a digger to re-establish the original yard level. Once this is done, we can then start putting the platform back and laying 2’ 4 ½” track both in the shed and along the platform, using original rail.

If you would like to get involved, please contact the Membership Secretary, Mrs Eunice Roberts, for details.

On a final note, please be aware that the shed is a Construction Site subject to HSE regulations, but progress can be viewed from the road. I will try to produce regular updates so please watch this space.

Chris Pendlebury 1st May 2015-05-02

1st May 2015 - by Chris Pendlebury Trust Members visit the new  Railway Museum in Corwen

As many web watchers of preserved railways will know, the past week has seen the well-known Steel, Steam and Stars IV take place on Llangollen Railway. Well, with such a big railway event happening in the next valley, we had to get involved, though we were asked if we could help with things of a narrow-gauge nature.

The gala, which is now in its fourth manifestation, being originally developed to promote the building of the new Betton Grange loco. Basically, you bring in a great diversity of locomotives and operate an intensive steam service for six days. This sounds simple, but the locomotives often exceed 100 tonnes in weight and have to come by road. They need secure covered storage and have a healthy appetite for coal. (No doubt due to being on holiday in North Wales!) You then have to have the rolling stock and track in good condition and the signalling and also the timetable! You get the general picture. So where do we at the GVT fit in?

In addition to all the activity on the main line you have additional attractions. These usually take the form of; shed tours, vintage vehicles, sales stands, book stalls and narrow gauge railways. The latter has featured in all galas, so this time we were asked to help.

In previous years, the Ffestiniog and Tal-y-Llyn have provided the motive power. This year it was down to Adam and his De Winton replica. This was fine in theory, but there was a slight technical hitch with the boiler in the middle of a major repair session. The engine unit having some heavy machining done, the other main components being in the four corners of the workshop undergoing repair work. This was the start of January, with the gala in March. Also, there was not track to run on, but we always like a challenge!

After a bout of tea swigging, biscuit munching and constructive debate, we decided on the following plan of action. Adam would work on getting his locomotive done with help from Noel and anybody else who had some free time, the rest of us, lead by the ever-versatile Pete Cutler, would build the track. So this is what happened.

Initially we went to look at the far end of Carrog Yard and worked out that we could fit a reasonable length in next to the main line, ensuring that we kept in to the safety clearances. Next task was to find lots of sleepers; here we were lucky as the LR were taking out wooden sleeper track and replacing with concrete as part of the upgrade. They were very happy for us to use the sounder examples, which were cut in half and carried to our available transport to take to Carrog. This went very well, though some turned out to be Jarrah, which does terrible things to chainsaw blades and drill bits, due to its silica content! Anyhow, all good healthy exercise and you don not have to pay for gym fees!

So you have a stack of 56 sleepers with a fairly level area of land to put them on. However, at this point a small problem occurred in the shape of some 15 tonnes of classic Ruston Bucyrus Crawler Crane being parked on our line of development. Now, tough we are all keen on vintage plant and machinery, it was in the way having been used for loading materials for the Corwen Extension. Peter then went in quest of he owner, Derek, who is a good friend of ours, who does love his RBs to the extent of establishing a “breeding colony” of them at Threkeld Quarry in Cumbria, though, at certain times of the year, they migrate down the motorway to North Wales building a nest next to the coal heap in Llangollen Yard and may be found roosting at Carrog.

So, Derek eventually appeared with two very heavy batteries, a cornucopia of different oils, greases and a bag of spanners. These, together with the proud owner, disappeared into the machine and the quiet of the Dee Valley remained so for the next 45 minutes after which there was the whirr of the starter and a cloud of black exhaust as the RB cleared its lungs of 60 years of smoking, then slowly, the swan-neck, sorry, jib lifted with a rattle of tracks, executed an intricate three point turn and tucked herself behind the P-Way hut. Derek, then spent the rest of the day on an RB pampering session as a reward for good behaviour; i.e., starting first time and nothing falling off!

SO now, Peter, H and Mal could start on laying out sleepers after doing some ground levelling. The sleepers were laid to the same spacing as the original GVT, but also, strangely enough, we used the same methods of fixing the rails down to them of screw fixings on joints and corners with spikes in between. Just to go one step further, we tried using out original GVT spiking hammer, which a local farmer donated several years ago, his grandfather having bought it in the infamous auction!

The big difference was the rail which, though only 30 lb/yd in weight, as opposed to 50 lb/yd for the original, though it did have a connection with the tramway as it came from Dennis’ Brick & Tile Works having seen service inside the tile kilns. The rail was transported by our good friends Phil Morrey, who owns a haulage business in Chester and is on the footplate at Llangollen.

Whilst the track, platforms and fencing were taking shape Adam had retrieved his engine components. After many back-breaking days, the boiler was inspected and passed, the frames turned the right way up and lowered on to their wheels. Adam then worked away until 11pm for the loco to be ready, then came the Friday at the start of the Gala. The track fencing and platform were ready, but would the loco? At 10:30 am, a familiar chimney appeared over the parapet of the bridge. Some careful manoeuvring up to the ramp, a gentle nudge from the group after removing the anchor straps, she was on her new track! The plan was not to fire her up until Saturday, however, within 30 minutes a gentle whiff of smoke indicated signs of life. Visitors started to make a direct line for her and asked many questions. Most knew about the GVT, many accepted leaflets and membership forms. The gentle sound of steam being raised was drowned out as her bigger, and older, sisters moved past or stopped next to her. Strangely enough, it was quite moving, almost like they were looking at a new little sister.

Her safety valves lifted, she did a light-engine run, then we attached her two coaches and she spent the rest of the day making many people, young and old, very happy and helping people to know more about the little line that once ran in the next valley.

It would not have been possible to do this event without the help and enthusiasm of the Llangollen Board. Phil Morrey for haulage and loading and, especially to Dave, Fred and the P-Way lads for the use of hi-vis gear, tools, kettles and mess room.

Chris Pendlebury

Publicity Officer

Iorwerth at the Steel Steam and Stars 4 event  on Llangollen Railway.

GVT on Tour 17th March 2015 Progress Update on the Shed Project 26th June 2015 - by Chris Pendlebury

With recent developments at Glynceriog, I thought it was time to provide an update as there are now more pictures available.

Since the previous update, progress has been good on the shed with the front wall finished and the main doorway now back to its original form. Gareth’s joiner has now started work on the new shed doors.

The roof timbers have now been repaired by volunteers Pete and Mal, working with Mark the joiner. This has been signed off by the building inspector. As a result of this, the roof has now been fully slated, though we did get some complaints from local people about the ‘pink roof!’ This was due to temporary wood holding the plastic sheeting.

One of the most distinctive features of the shed which disappeared after closure was the smoke vents. Much discussion has taken place regarding these. As a starting point some of the original supporting timbers still existed inside the roof frame. This gave the base dimensions. By studying photos held in the archive we were able to work out the dimensions. As structures, they are remarkably big, much of the work being done by Peter and Mark. Once they had been fitted they looked just right (see photos).

Moving on to look at the floor! As I mentioned in the previous update this has involved far more work than originally intended. It can now be said this is back on course, with the main insulation and concrete work completed. Working with Mal and Pete, we have now laid rails to 2ft 4 ½ in gauge back in. This took all day as from past experience of standard gauge installation it is critical they are level in both directions. Any irregularities are far more noticeable than when using sleepers. All that is needed now is laying the bricks after the final skin of concrete, then putting in timber pit boards and spacers to look identical to the original, completing the brickwork will take time as the bricks will have to be cut to fit.

Recently the interior walls have been cleaned by Keith and Eunice together with Riv and Richard. This permitted the use of clear sealant to protect the brickwork and has allowed the required insulation to be installed in the area where the counter and display cases will be positioned.

Meanwhile at Pontfadog, Keith Eunice and Mal have repainted the building (see pictures) ready for the 80th anniversary of closure. It is evident that shortly the building will require some major structural work but this will have to wait until the shed is completed.

Turning now to look at what is going into the museum. We have several purpose made display cases which will accommodate the more fragile exhibits. The larger items, including the Cambrian mine wagon, tool and equipment from the GVT. Several items have recently come to light which were sold off in the closure auction to local farmers. These are now housed in safe storage.

Visitors to the shed recently will have noticed a metal framed Hudson chassis of 2ft 6 in gauge in need of major attention, however, it has been obtained as a source of components. The wheel sets are due for conversion to 2fty 4 ½ in being the right size and pattern for GVT rolling stock. We have some further examples in better condition stored away from site which will form the basis for GVT coach replicas which we intend to build. However, it seems most likely that the first new-build will be one of the brake vans or box vans as these will provide covered space for storage or selling things. There are two things preserved lines are always short of; one is money and the other is covered space!

If you have found these note of interest, perhaps you would like to join, which you can do using the on-line form. We are very short of working volunteers so please think about if you would be able to help, you will be very welcome.

Chris Pendlebury June 2015

AGM 26th September 2015

Ken Skates AM cuts the GVT 80th Anniversary cake

All Photos K&E Roberts

Simon Newton and Ken Skates AM with the display panel showing  the rear of a Glyn Valley Tramway Locomotive

The AGM also included Bring and Buy and Sales Tables for fundraising.