Update - November 2023
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the opening of the original horse tramway. We celebrated this in great style with our Museum fully open with extra displays, stalls and guided tours of the Coal Wharf. Our highlight was the vintage bus link using two vintage buses kindly laid on by the Chirk group. In total we exceeded 350 visitors over the weekend – this may have been higher but for a day of ‘solid’ rain! Thanks to all the group who helped with this.
Prior to the gala, the work-gang led by Pete C did a major job of building a new picket fence round the Crane and pushing on with the track-laying with 2 of the 3 points now in place – this work going on through yet another rain storm. Also, is three generations of the same family working together on track unique? Many thanks to Pete, ‘H’, Adam, Charlie and Matt for this.
Over the past four years, Edwin has indexed and cross-referenced the entire document and photo collection. This is a vast resource now available in the Museum and a big step towards full Museum accreditation.
Meanwhile, on the Coal Wharf, a vast amount of ‘tidying’ and repairs to the buildings has taken place. These are now watertight and secure providing a home for our latest artefacts!
The largest is a 15ft long 2½ ton lathe from the original Hendre Quarry workshop. Normally used to turn wagon wheels, the machine dates from around 1850 and was used in the late Ned Beal’s workshop. Ned was the last surviving Hendre Quarry worker. In addition, we have been donated another three artefacts comprising the original sluice gate mechanism from Hendre and a piece of original GVT equipment from the engine shed in the form of a manual pipe-threading machine used for steam and water pipes. The third item is a Pelton Wheel from a local farm. We are very grateful to the donors and any further relevant artefacts would be very welcome!
Many other smaller artefacts have been donated. To view these, the Museum is open Saturdays 10am-4pm. If you would like to visit at other times, please contact Edwin, the Manager, on 01691 712842, or Eunice via email. If you would like to get involved, please email Eunice or drop in on Saturdays!
I would like to thank you for following the website and apologise for the gap.
Wishing you all a Very Happy Christmas and New Year.
Update - July 2022
Since the last update, much has taken place at the Museum. Please note the new phone number 07483 121475. This is saving us several hundred pounds per year.
The first piece of news is on track. The images are on our Facebook page. We are laying track as per the planning consent very close to the original layout with three sets of points going in. The first set is in place, eventually linking up the siding to the engine shed. All track is being laid flush with the car park surface for safety. The work is taking place during the week to avoid disruption to the museum. The work is being done to a very high standard by Mal, Harry, Peter and Adam with Arwel on his digger.
The second thing is; in June we started our Ruston locomotive for the first time. This was possible due to a Ruston specialist spending the day with us. Having fitted new filters, cleaned the fuel lines and adjusted the valves, it started on the second go. After the initial fog had cleared it ran very smoothly once it had settled down. It was tested in all three gears successfully which showed that it had been well cared for during the past 68 years.
Another imminent arrival is a 15ft, belt-driven wheel lathe. This came from the machine shop of a deceased member. During its working life it was used for turning quarry truck wheels. It is our first machine and will go in the larger shed on the Coal Wharf.
Changes have taken place in the group as Riv has stood down as Treasurer due to health problems with Linda taking over. Norman and Judith have taken on the Magazine – “Two Foot Four and a Bit” – to take some pressure off Keith and Eunice.
Norman has built a 'horse' as a “Flat Pack” to go with our replica slate wagon. Rumours of sponsorship by a well known flat pack furniture manufacturer are, sadly, not true! We have not decided on a name for our horse yet but, if you E-mail your name choice, the winning entry gets a non-cash prize. We have not ruled out a real horse for special events but ours does not produce “rose fertilizer” and does not need feeding , watering etc.
Many thanks for your interest in our website. You can join the group by using the the membership form on the Membership [Get Involved] page (don't forget to fill in the Gift Aid form). Remember, even if you have no spare time or live too far away, you are helping to preserve the history and memory of our wonderful and unique tramway.
Update - September 2021
Since the last update, we are now getting up to speed, our visitor numbers are rising steadily as more people take holidays in North Wales and the Borders.
To welcome our visitors we now have a 'new' attraction; well, it is 150 years old, the original horse-tramway crane. I will not elaborate, as the pictures speak for themselves. But a big thankyou to Pete C, 'H', Keith, Gwilym and Ralph, who put the machine together with much help from Eifion with his JCB.
In a further development, work should be starting in the next few weeks on extending our existing track next to the boundary fence. We already have planning concent for this, so we laid out the 50lb rail, which we bought 4 years ago, just prior to lock-down. This means that we are putting back the original siding next to the crane. Eventually, we will restore and install the iron fence panels to link up with the surviving ones on site.
There is more exciting news as we now have a case to buy some rail and points which are available at another preservation site. There is enough rail to lay the full ¼ mile length of the Coal Wharf, subject to planning and legal requirements. If you feel able to help practically or finacially, please contact Keith and Eunice.
We have been able to welcome the local MP and his wife to the Museum. They were very impressed to the extent that they have both joined as members!
Our Magazine, 'Two Foot Four and a Bit,' has continued to appear during lock-down thanks to Keith, Eunice, Norman and Judith, featuring previously unknown pictures: this leads on nicely to the next bit of news.
During lock-down, Edwin, Linda and David have have been beavering away at the archives. Edwin has now catalogued, indexed and scanned at high resolution over 500 original documents and 530 images. Several unknown pictures and share certificates from 1886 are among the 'gems.' Most are now available for study in the Museum, however more continue to appear from group members and local people, all of which have to be conserved, catalogued and recorded. Edwin has been very careful with copyright law! The earliest documents deal with land purchases for the Horse Tramway and run up to preservation in the 1970s.
You may be wondering about our recently aquired Ruston loco; well, work has been going on with changing oil and cleaning filters and injectors. This is being done by Gwilym, the village 'mechanical wizzard.' After resetting the valves and some work on the fuel tank, she should be ready to start up.
Many thanks for your interest in the website, if you would like to get involved you can now 'on-line.'
With best wishes until next time.
Update - December 2020
Sadly, in common with all museums in Wales, we have been closed for much of the year due to Covid restrictions. However, in spite of this we have some really good news: so here goes - -
In my last report I mentioned the last project under wraps; all can now be revealed. At the start of September we took delivery of our first locomotive and three wagons from the Netherlands. The loco is a Ruston Hornsby LBT No 371932, built in 1954. What makes it special is that it was only the second LBT built and is the only survivor. The 3 ½ ton machine is powered by an RH 3VSH engine delivering 30hp. Drive is taken through a hydraulic three speed box with chain delivering to the axles. She was supplied to the Royal Netherlands Airforce ammunition complete with two other, later LBTs, all of which survived into preservation in 1998. The Group bought her from a private collection in the Netherlands but could not move her to Wales until we were open.
The loco is in really good condition and is a real credit to her owners in preservation. We are now looking into the HSE and Insurance requirements and planning permissions for further track laying and running the machine. More details are available in the latest issue of Two Foot Four and a Bit, which can be purchased from Eunice Roberts, details on the website information page.
Turning to other matters, the Ellis Crane components are being painted and should be ready for assembly. Keith and Ralph have been working on this.
During lockdown, Edwin and Linda have been at work indexing and cataloguing the archives. These have produced several 'gems' from the 1850s. So far, some 250 items have been fully recorded. This will provide an original reference point for future historians. It will also help us towards Registered Museum status.
In my last report I made a mistake, well it was 11:30 pm! I mentioned that the Winn threading machine was used for threading boiler tubes when they are, in fact, expanded not screwed into boiler tube plates. Many thanks to John Milner who, besides writing wondefull books on the GVT, is also a fantastic model engineer, for pointing this out.
I would like to finish by saying a special thank you to John Rutter, our webmaster, who has the unenviable task of translating my scrawl into website quality text.
Many thanks for visiting this site and I hope you have a peaceful Christmas and a good new year.
Update - August 2020
Welcome to the latest update on the website, it is difficult to know where to start due to the impact of the pandemic on the group and its activities; so, here we go!
First, some positive news; I can now confirm that the Museum site ownership has now passed to us. The project has been funded by very generous donations from group members and the general public. I would like to say a very big thankyou on behalf of the group.
Secondly, a piece of the original shed equipment has come to light on a local farm. The hand-powered Winn screw threading machine was used to thread the loco boiler tubes and was bought in the closure sale. Following some conservation work this will return to its original home in the museum.
Whilst the lockdown has been in place, Norman and Judith have been busy getting more information about the Baldwin parts. This has sparked a global interest in the project with articles in both National and Group railway press.
Sadly, I have to report that someone took advantage of the lockdown to smash windows in the Coal Wharf shed. The matter is now under investigation by North Wales Police who have been very helpful. Our local members are keeping a close eye on the buildings.
The lockdown meant that Museum donations stopped but we still have utility bills and insurance premiums to pay! Luckily, Keith and Eunice were successful in getting a resilience grant from the Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales, for which we are very greatful.
With the Museum out of use, Edwin has got on with scanning and indexing all known photographs of the Tramway from 1872 to 1935, giving a grand total of 536. In addition to this is a subject and location index of some 37 books containing images of the Tramway and information. These documents will be available when the Museum reopens. The next bit Edwin and Linda are doing is a complete register of original documents held by the group, which is ongoing.
With the lockdown in force, we needed to keep our members updated so the group pooled resources and produced issue No6 of our journal on time. This is a great credit to everyone involved and has had great feedback from members who are isolating.
I would like to finish on a positive note. The Museum has reopened as from the beginning of August. All the usual Covid-19 precautions are in place – markings on the floor; hand sanitiser; etc, and a request for contact info will be made of everyone visiting for Track and Trace in the unlikely event of someone testing positive.
Thankyou for following this site; please stay safe and visit us soon.
Update - April 2020
Christmas gathering had a good turnout with free refreshments at Pontfadog and the Museum. Many thanks to Ralph for looking after the Pontfadog building.
Over the winter Peter and Mal have been cleaning and restoring the components of the 1873 Horse Tramway crane. These have returned to the museum. The plan is to reassemble them in time for its 150th birthday in 2021.
On the same day we managed to cut, move and stack 80 sleepers ready for tracklaying as permitted by our existing planning consent, Keith also delivered 1000 rail spikes bought by the group. Many thanks to the regular volunteers, also to Ralph and Gwil for sleeper transport.
We also tackled moving the Baldwin side tanks into the right position using jacks and the sleepers we had just stacked! The difference is remarkable as it now looks like a locomotive, though chimney and boiler fittings are next on the list. Thanks to Simon, Gwil, Keith, Jamie and Norman who requested it for a commissioned article.
The site purchase is moving steadily forward thanks to Gwilym, his solicitor and very helpful council staff.
Edwin has been doing talks all over North Wales and has shown groups of up to 40 round the shed. Keith and Eunice are working hard dealing with the flood of paper and emails that keep things moving, as well as doing craft work to sell for funds. Pauline and Linda are following up local grant eligibility. Norman and Judith are making a ½ sized replica name board to go with the 'road coach.' Malcolm has done more work on the RNAD underframe for new rolling stock.
I will end this update by saying a big thankyou to everyone who has donated to the museum purchase. Many thanks for your interest in the site.
Update - November 2019
With Christmas coming an update was overdue so, here goes!
Firstly I am now, as promised, able to go public on the “big project.” At present, we hold a lease from Wrexham MBC for the Museum site. However, following two years of complicated negotiations by our Vice President, Gwilym, we have now been offered ownership of the site at a price the Group could afford. We have signed up for this meaning that once contracts have been exchanged the site will be saved for future generations. The result is a testament to Gwilym's perseverence and determination to see the project through. Wrexham MBC have put their faith in the project so now it is up to us to honour this trust by making the project a success.
Secondly, progress with the crane project has taken a big step forward as Peter has returned to do battle with the four and a half ton monster which is now planted in its permanent location. This was achieved by Peter 'H' Mal and Keith spending an exhausting day moving, positioning and levelling with the result that work can now start putting the 147 year old machine back together. The Group owes a massive debt of thanks to Peter and his team. Also, the project would have been impossible without the help of the Owen family and their skill with diggers and loaders.
Thirdly, conservation work has now started on the Baldwin components to initially prevent further deterioration.. This is a delicate task as the 100 year old steel is more like paper in places, so initial stabilisation has to be done, prior to rust prevention paint being put on. Norman and Judith are working on a long-term restoration plan which could form the basis for a grant application. Also they are looking at building a replica GVT brake van to provide some much needed site storage.
Meanwhile, over in Warwickshire, Keith and Eunice are working away producing craft work to sell in order to raise desperately needed funds. As well as dealing with emails, correspondence and membership matters. This is absolutely vital as without it the projects would not move forward.
Back in North Wales, Edwin has been talking to groups. These seem to average out at one per week. The groups are usually local history or museum organisations.
Simon has been hard at work on the Journal with help from Judith and Norman.
On behalf of the team, I would like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and say thankyou for your help and interest and hope you will enjoy a visit to the museum in the New Year.
Update - July 2019
Welcome to the latest update. I will start by looking at the museum area. If you look back at the restoration of the Engine Shed, you will see one of the major tasks was replacing the corrugated asbestos roof with slate. This was an expensive part of the project as the asbestos, being a hazardous substance, had to be removed by a specialist contractor and disposed of under council supervision. The new slate roof looked great and the slate is from the same vein as the Cambrian Quarry. However, it does mean that it is prone to cracking. This has happened to a number of slates near the apex. Whilst it was not leaking, it did look unsightly. Fortunately we received a donation to help with this so a local roofing contractor, Chris Hughes, did a great job for a very reasonable price. Chris has close links with the Tramway as his father was the foreman of the Cambrian Quarry, where most of the family worked.
Local member, Ralph has been looking for ways to help the Group. Normally, he looks after Pontfadog Waiting Room, he also runs the village tidy-up group. A friend offered some unwanted paving slabs to the village group. They did not have a use for them so could we use them? The smaller shed on the Coal Wharf has no floor so I helped him move 30 slabs up to the wharf. This will cover1/2 the floor area with more coming from other sources, we should be able to put a solid floor in as we already have sand there from a previous job so it has cost nothing.
Whilst on the subject of the Wharf, Scottish Power requested to change the transmission poles. With Edwin and Riv on site, they have been repositioned slightly to give clear access to the sheds.
We had a stand at the Bala Lake Railway Gala; this was a fantastic venue with thousands of people looking at our display over three days. We met many of our old friends and supporters there. One of the stars of the show was an exquisite model of Pontfadog which may visit the Museum at some point. Keith, Eunice and Simon did a great job with the stand. I covered the Museum so Edwin could have a day off. This is a rare event as he is there every Saturday, Bank Holiday and Wednesday in high season. He also shows booked groups round and does talks all over North Wales.
There at present four other major projects on the go, one being the restoration and reinstatement of the original Horse Tramway crane. The second is the replica coach project, this is moving forward steadily with new volunteers Norman and Judith recently getting involved with the project. They are also working on one of the other projects which is very exciting but has to remain confidential for the present. The fourth project is the largest but for legal reasons, has to remain out of the public domain for now. Both projects should be disclosed before the end of the year.
On a final note, the number of visitors has almost doubled and we are not yet half way through the season. Also more of our visitors are becoming members, often as a result of looking at the latest Journalon our sales counter run by Pauline and Linda. So, positive progress on many things, thank you for your interest in our website.
Update - March 2019
It’s now quite a while since we updated the website so here goes.
The big event was the Christmas gathering when we opened both the museum and the Waiting room. This year we had our largest number of visitors ever with over 100. We have come a long way since opening over three years ago and, at the time, worrying that we did not have enough artefacts and no-one would come.
For 2019, we had several group bookings of 20 or more visitors. If you would like to bring a party then please get in contact with Eunice via Email or phone. With two to three weeks notice we can open the museum on any day, Monday to Friday, if pre-booked.
Edwin has also been out on the road again with a new and greatly enhanced presentation and talk on the GVT. This has been given at several venues across North Wales and resulted in some group bookings and new members. If you would like to book a presentation, Edwin can be contacted through the museum phone number or email address.
We have now started to tackle the vast amount of historical documentation acquired over the years. Initially we started by cataloguing and indexing all known images of the tramway and its equipment. This totals nearly 600 items and once completed will allow visitors to computer source images of track, buildings, locomotives and rolling stock. The images themselves are protected by copyright; the catalogue will identify who is the copyright owner. This mammoth task is being undertaken by Edwin in accordance with registered museum standards as we are working towards this.
In other areas work has continued with getting ready for the new season. Building maintenance has been a priority with a new door for Pontfadog ordered from Theo Davies and built to the original drawings in John Milner’s book. Also a flood screen will be fitted to stop water from the road washing in. We have received a donation and some grant aid from the local council thanks to some serious form-filling by Pauline.
Some damaged slates on the museum roof will be replaced and we will be repairing the shed roof on the Coal Wharf to provide more storage.
Obviously, all this costs money in addition to the Insurance, Utility Bills and so on which always need to be paid. A big chunk of this money comes from membership fees and by selling things such as souvenir clothing, books and craft. The latter are made by Eunice who also doubles up as Membership Secretary. She works incredibly hard and without this we would be finding it difficult to keep running as we are not allowed, by law, to charge for admission. In fact, with Keith as Chairman, their home in Warwickshire has become the GVT power station!
Following on from this I would like to thank all our visitors who put money in the tins.
Moving on to our journal, the second issue is now out and has been very well received, a great credit to Simon and Roderick who are now working on number 3. Roderick is the Editor with Simon doing the compilation and technical element as he has a background in the printing industry. Roderick is a professional writer having had many books published. To help with the cost of producing the Journal, we now have a number of advertisers, many of whom are local Pubs, B&Bs, Hotels and Restaurants. This makes the magazine a useful reference if you are visiting us for the day or longer. The easiest way of getting a copy is to join the group. You can do this electronically through this website or pick up a membership form from the museum.
I realise that I have not provided news on the coach project, the crane or other activities. However, there are some important developments which are at a critical stage in negotiation. Also, most exciting of all is news regarding locomotives, however, all will be revealed in due course so please continue watching this website.
With many thanks for your interest in the NGVT and IHT.
Update - November 2018
Welcome to our latest update. In our last report I mentioned about making a new jib for the crane. Well, we now have the finished product on display in the Museum yard. The jib is nearly 17 feet long, hexagonal in section with a taper at both ends to fit the cast iron sockets. The best way to describe it is as a ‘masterpiece of wood machining,’ done in the Village Wood Yard by Pont Bell. Much information for the project came from John Milner, without whose invaluable help it would not have been possible. The jib was off-loaded by crane on to its temporary storage site thanks to Edwin and Riv. Meanwhile, Keith and Eunice have been hard at work restoring the castings.
Once the jib was on site, we started clearing the intended location for the crane and with help from Gwil and his Landrover, we moved the stored timber. The Owen family digger and dumper were then used to remove the 20 tons or so of ballast off site for storage. We will now be able to look at the ground to see what foundations will be needed to support the crane. Once we have the plans drawn up, we can submit them for planning consent. It is encouraging that there is a great deal of support locally to put back something that has been a feature of the village for 147 years. Hopefully it will be finished in time for its 150th anniversary and that of the Tramway opening.
The AGM of the Trust has now taken place with no change to the team. We were delighted to welcome Susan Ellen Jones MP as Guest of Honour. It is good to welcome several new members. It would be wonderful if a few of the new members could become active in the group.
As you are aware, we launched a new journal this year. Due to health and technical reasons, there has been a delay with the next issue, however this should be available shortly as Simon and Roderick have been working hard to make up for lost time.
The number of visitors has increased and is well past last year’s total. This proves that the whole museum project is a success and rewards the trust placed in us by WREN, who provided he grant for the work to be done.
As you can see from the website calendar, we have a big event coming up in December. I would like to issue and invitation to everyone who follows the website to visit us and see what we do.
On behalf of the group, I would like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and a Great New Year.
Update - June 2018
Having looked at the last update, I realise that I only covered the Christmas trees and the replica coaches. The Christmas Tree is seasonal, so an update on the coach project seems to be a good place to start.
Simon has now brought the wheel sets back from our contractor, re-gauged to 2ft 4 ½ ins. The journals have been polished and greased for protection. The next stage will be to move the underframe to a private site with workshop facilities so work can start in earnest. As usual, progress is dependent on time and money, so, if you can help with either (or both – Ed) of these, then please get in touch. Remember, if you do not have any spare time, you can help the project by joining the group using the PDF form on this site, or filling in a membership form from the museum.
This sends me on to another matter, the new journal, which has been well received. So, if you would like to get a copy, either join the group or we have a limited number left for sale in the museum – price £2. The great thing is that the standard must be kept up and, as the next one will have more pages, we are going to need more content.
You will notice that our webmaster, John, has put more pictures of recent museum interior changes and group visit pictures on to the site. We have broken our daily record of visitor numbers with the 58 shown in the picture, plus an additional 14 which takes us to 72. This has given us a terrific boost to our confidence and morale. It also made our treasurer, Riv, very happy as we received a very generous donation from the group, together with sales. Our visitors were very complementary and many are keen to make future independent visits.
There are changes to the displays in the museum as we now have proper document storage drawers. We have also started to upgrade some of the displays. This is to keep the museum interesting for our visitors.
The largest artefact the group has in its care is the original horse-tramway crane, one of only two surviving examples made by H. J. Ellis of Salford in 1870. We now have measurements and details of the original jib which is going to be made for us by a local joinery firm. Being nearly 16 feet long and hexagonal in section with a taper at each end, it is quite a challenge to make.
H.J. Ellis shut in 1886 so the crane survival is almost miraculous. The ironwork will need careful cleaning and conservation work, however, the repairs done during its working life are part of its history, so will be retained. The crane will never be used to lift anything again as it is too fragile and would be impossible to certificate in any case.
I hope this report is of interest and I would like to extend an invitation to you to visit our museum. Many thanks for taking an interest in the GVT and for viewing this website. Please keep visiting to see our latest news. If you have any questions, observations or criticisms, please get in touch.
May 2018 Bank Holiday Monday visit from the Railway & Canal Historical Society, coach party of 58, who visited the yard and museum, had lunch in the Glyn Valley Hotel and a stroll on the coal wharf.
Update - March 2018
As we reached the end of another year in the valley the team put the finishing touches to the final events for the old year and pre-planned, if possible, for 2018
Firstly we had the battle of the Christmas Tree, no, we all get along great but trying to put up an exterior tree is difficult, particularly in a valley with its own micro-climate and winds. However, eventually, success and the lights worked so we had the group picture taken. By Wednesday the tree had blown over bending the steel tripod base: back to the drawing board. So, Saturday dawned and with much help from Simon, a new timber crib base was built, the decorations that had survived the valley hurricane were replaced and it stayed intact until the Christmas season was finished.
Apart from recalcitrant conifers, we have started preparatory work for the new coach. Yes, you did read that right! Many years ago the group acquired a steel chassis for the basis of this, however, up to now, no progress has been made. Initially, work centred on measuring and cleaning. The decision came down in favour of building a centre door coach. The reasons for this are practicality. It is simpler to construct and stronger with only one door. Secondly, they are not like anything else and thirdly, they were the earliest coaches of the steam era.
The steel underframe will form the core of the coach but will need changes to wheel base, springs and axlebox alteration. The first task was to check the wheel sets and bearings. This involved the use of jacks, timbers, spanners and an angle grinder as a last resort. Having removed the keeper plates from the ‘W’ irons, and checked the wheel set, we carefully jacked up the frame, following up with timbers, leaving the wheel sets on the track. We were pleasantly surprised as the condition was excellent with plenty of oil still in the bearings and minimal wear. Having photographed and measured them, we then reversed the process. By this time we were working by the light of the platform lamp and being kept from freezing solid by relays of tea from Pauline. The information we obtained was needed by the company doing the regauging.
We also visited Hendre Quarry to measure the flange clearances on the only surviving piece of GVT left after closure. Luckily this is part of a point with check rail and, with manual ‘mud-grubbing’ we found what we needed. So, after a heavy day we returned to our respective homes tired but happy.
The wheelsets have now gone to our contractors. Their return journey will not to be empty as we will, hopefully, have several sacks of rail spikes so we can make a start on putting the station siding back in. This is a project that will take place later in the year when the weather warms up. The initial trackwork will be putting original GVT rail from the engine shed to the edge of the turntable pit site.
We have made a start on clearing out the larger of the Coal Wharf sheds. Much unwanted material has been removed thanks to Mal, Pete, ‘H,’ Adam, and Noel, ably assisted by Roger with his Landrover and trailer. A further session should have the shed ready to start some urgent repair work.
I apologise for the delay with this update, as I have recently become a father for the first time. (I will have to talk to Eunice about family and junior membership!)
Update - October 2017
I will try and work through recent events that have taken place since the last update.
First was the unveiling of the NHRA Plaque. It was great to have a big turnout of board members from both organisations that spearhead railway preservation. I will let the pictures (below) do the talking. It is thanks to Keith, Eunice, Linda, Edwin, Simon, Joan, Riv, Pauline and David N. that we managed to beat 43 other entries and were able to do so before the museum was officially opened! Our visitors were amazed at the finished building and the artefacts we had on display.
The next thing was very much saving something from the original GVT in the form of the 1886 iron hurdle fencing. Having done the job for over 130 years, we thought it would be right to put it back round the museum yard, so far Simon and myself, with help from David Andrews, have put 10 panels back following welding and other repairs. We are gradually replacing the wooden fencing which is starting to rot. We are hopeful of getting enough to go round the site as we have located more in the valley.
Following on from this was the sheep-dog trial, this is the biggest event in the area as it is the Welsh semi-finals. So, having worked out how to put up a 6M marquee and staffed it by Keith Eunice, Linda, Edwin and Pauline, yours truly retreated to the museum where I had a constant stream of visitors. The stand generated much interest, some new members and an amount that brought a smile to Riv, our treasurer.
After a few weeks break to get ready for the AGM, which followed the coffee morning in the Institute and before the concert in the evening. The AGM was remarkable for the vast distances travelled by members to attend. There are no changes on the board and a much brighter financial situation. Also, membership has been going up and at the time of writing stands at 170. The financial improvement is largely down to the hard work put in by Riv, our Treasurer and the ’faithful few,’ who work incredibly hard to make sure our events work well.
To round off, I should mention that two months ago we received our 500th visitor to the museum. Much of this is down to Edwin who has opened up on Wednesdays during the season.
The other dramatic news is the very recent release of the cine film of the tramway, this being only the second to emerge in over 80 years.
One final point to finish, we are desperate for more working members of any age or ability. Please try and help us as we have achieved much but we could do so much more. Just turn up on a Saturday or contact Eunice.
Many thanks for your interest in our website, so please keep watching this space.
Update - July 2017
Much has happened since the last update, so here goes.
The good news I mentioned in the last update happened with the delivery of enough rail to lay 200 ft. of track with 126 full size sleepers, needing to be halved. This, together with transport was generously funded by our chairman, Keith. In addition, Joan, our secretary, very kindly provided the funding for the rail fixings as we already have fish-plate bolts. We just need to manufacture the plates so we can make a start on putting the siding back.
Transport was provided at cost by member Mark Chetwynd and unloaded by our good friend Roger Paine with his digger, assisted by David, Dan, and Keith. Mark loved the valley so much that he came back two weeks later with his family!
In the museum, Mike and Margaret Rowan helped Edwin show visitors round. Edwin has been incredibly busy and has now labelled and catalogued the Wynne Collection and other exhibits.
More artefacts keep appearing at the shed including loco, coach and wagon parts also tools and items from different local quarries. In addition, more documents have appeared including letters from Henry Dennis which will eventually be stored and displayed in the museum.
The past weekend (1st & 2nd July) was the busiest in the group’s history. On the Saturday, Keith, Eunice, Linda and Joan had a stand at Wrexham Museum Festival, which generated much interest and some funds.
Last year our president, Terry Waite, offered to launch his new book and give a talk, for which we could sell tickets. So for the Sunday evening, we booked the Oliver Jones Hall at Dolywern, however, we had to set the hall up and produce enough food for 100+ people. Linda, Pauline and sisters, Joan, Eunice, Simon, Keith, Edwin, Riv, Dianne, Mike and Margaret all rallied round and the evening went really well. Terry Waite spoke about his many years as a hostage and how he survived in truly horrific conditions. After speaking for an hour, we had an interval for refreshments followed by a question and answer session. The evening finished with a standing ovation and a very happy audience.
To finish, I would like to welcome Roderick who has kindly offered to collate the quarterly magazine, also Ralph who is going to look after Pontfadog waiting room.
Thankyou for your interest.
TNGVT&IHT President, Terry Waite (2nd right) at the Oliver Jones Hall
Dolywern on 2nd July 2017
Update - April 2017
First I must apologise for the very long gap since the last update due to health problems, which are now on the mend.
The last year has been a roller-coaster with so many things going on. Finishing off the shed and platform, the tragic loss of our Chairman, Richard Andrews, his replacement by Keith Roberts. Simon, Pauline and Edwin joining the board; the formal opening of the museum by our Vice President, Geoffrey Kilfoyle; Terry Waite becoming our new President and finally the shock of winning the HRA award.
This last item needs some explanation as we were not allowed to mention it until after the presentation by the Transport Minister. Over 12 months ago Joan, our Secretary, showed us the forms, which we agreed to complete and send off. With so much going on, we thought no more about it.
I was painting the platform fence when two visitors turned up from the HRA. I showed them round and emphasised that we were a long way from completion. Having shown them round the museum, I took them for a walk along the trackbed at the coal wharf. Perhaps the weather and the valley helped as it was a hot day with birds zipping through the trees chasing insects over the dancing waters of the river Ceiriog. They enjoyed themselves and talked about the Tramway and their own Severn Valley.
A few weeks later, I was asked to show another judge around. Luckily, we had Simon with us, so we repeated the tour. However, this time accompanied by a clip-board and many, many detailed questions, including, strangely, the subject of wood screws. Apparently, this is rather important as the use of slotted screws is viewed favourably. Luckily for us, my late father was a woodscrew magpie so all of the jam jars of screws were used around the site to save the cost of new ones. Having “grilled” us in the nicest possible way, the judge left. Simon and I then wandered around the site looking at screw heads and deciding that we had “cooked our goose.”
Weeks passed and I was asked to show another judge around. Unwisely, I decided to look him up. All this did was to make me very anxious as I realised how knowledgeable and qualified our visitor was! Having mentioned my concerns to Edwin, he very kindly agreed to come round with us. I think it was largely down to Edwin and his vast knowledge of the Tramway that we did win the award, together with Simon and the whole team playing their part. In many ways, beating 43 other projects to gain the award is perhaps the best memorial we could provide to Richard, our late Chairman, as he would have been so pleased and happy with it. As you can see from the events table (on the ‘Diary Dates and Events’ page – Ed) we have many things going on this year. Our President’s book launch will hopefully raise some much needed funds, so please try and support it if you are able.
Other tasks are going on at present. Malcolm Draper is putting together information for a grant to tackle the Horse Tramway crane from information from our ultimate source, John Milner, who has produced drawings and photos.
We hope to have some good news with regard to track shortly. But one thing is certain, it will be 28 ½ ins gauge, so watch this space.
Related to this is the favourite visitor question, “When are you going to get a locomotive?” The answer, hopefully, is ‘not too far in the future’ with a number of options being looked into. Again, it will fit our gauge.
Lastly, as we now have the museum open, in future all workshop activity will have to happen elsewhere. With this in mind, we have started restoration work on getting the main shed on the Coal Wharf ready for use. This project will take time, but we have made a good start. If you feel you can help, either practically or financially (or both – Ed) you will be very welcome. Just turn up on Saturday - 10 am onwards at the Engine Shed.
Many thanks for your interest.
TNGVT&IHT Treasurer, Mrs Joan Andrews, receiving the Supporters Award from the NRHA
Museum Opening - November 2016
The Official opening of TNGVT&IHT Museum in the Old Tramway Engine Shed at Glyn Ceiriog was carried out on 17 November 2016.
What a great day. TEAM GVT Glyn Ceiriog pulled out all the stops to get the Old Tramway Engine Shed looking its best. Early in the day, the boys were outside battling with the weather trying to put the marquee up, the weather had other ideas. They could not believe their luck when the sun came out and stayed out for the ceremony.
Mr. Gwilym Hughes, Vice President, gave the welcoming speech, and invited the Past President, His Honour Geoffrey Kilfoil, to represent Mr Terry Waite, our current President who could not be with us, to cut the tape.
Once inside Mr Keith Roberts, our Chairman, asked The Mayor of Wrexham, Councillor John Pritchard, accompanied by the Mayoress, Ann Pritchard, to cut the cake.
The band (The Bushwackers) played on in the workshop part of the engine shed.
Obituary - October 2016
Richard and Joan joined the GVT group in 2003 after they bought a GVT wagon kit and became interested in the history of the tramway. Shortly after joining, they helped to provide the funds to secure the purchase of the coal wharf. Regularly travelling from their home in Surrey they joined the GVT Board with Joan becoming Secretary and Richard dealing with press and publicity. As a working volunteer, he worked with Peter and Mike on the battle to keep the loco shed waterproof whilst the hunt went on for funding. When the Chairman stood down for health reasons, Richard became acting Chairman and continued in this rôle to the end. He also became well known for his talks to local groups on the Tramway. Indeed, it was on one of these where he met Terry Waite, who became out president. Richard saw the group through the maze of grant and planning applications though, sadly, he did not see it open to the public.
As a person, Richard had a real dislike of conflict and aggression. Often, in meetings, he would attempt to find common ground. I only remember one occasion when he criticised me when I inadvertently called called Pont Fadog a ‘station’ on the web site, when it should have been a ‘waiting room.’ This showed his meticulous side which stemmed from his working life as a Chartered Mechanical Engineer.
When travelling to meetings, he would always bring a tool kit with himin order to fix domestic appliances at Riv’s house. This related to his other great interest at Brooklands Racing Club after taking VIPs for a trip round the remains of the circuit in his beloved Morgan. At his funeral, many of his friends from Brooklands came with their cars and paid respect forming a cortège, something he would have loved.
Richard died suddenly at home less than two weeks prior to the AGM. He had a number of physical health problems that could have contributed to his death. An hour before he died, he was talking to Joan about the AGM and looking forward to the concert afterwards. Following his death, some members felt that we should cancel the AGM as a mark of respect but Joan wanted it to go ahead as planned.
At the funeral, the Tramway was represented by Keith Eames and Martin Rowan with other long-standing members. Following the funeral, a collection was taken to be equally divided between us and Brooklands.
Richard and Joan always worked together and were a very close family. This makes his loss in some ways greater but, in other ways a little easier as the family can gain strength, support and comfort from this strength of family.
I am sure the members will join me in offering our deepest condolences to a man of peace and a friend to many.
Update - October 2016
Sadly, I must start with some bad news. Our acting chairman, Richard Andrews, died suddenly at home shortly before the 2016 AGM. I’m sure followers of this site will join me in offering condolences to Joan and the family at this difficult time. I felt it would be best to write a separate obituary and would like to leave you with a happy memory of Richard.
Some six months ago, his car broke down so he had to drive all the way from Sussex in his beloved Morgan. The smile on his face would have shamed a Cheshire Cat and remained in place all day.
Turning now to other matters, we have now completed the remaining jobs on the loco shed and yard. The last job was the surface. This was done using Mr Owen’s JCB and much shovelling and raking by Simon, Riv and myself. To keep the use of weedkiller down, the track area has had a plastic membrane put down which seems to be working. I realise that putting gravel down is not authentic but is a compromise as we have to comply with regulations for trip hazards in public areas. Also, it is readily moved in the future should we need to.
With this completed, we were able to have the Planning inspection passed, together with Fire and Health & Safety. With this paperwork in place, we are now able to open the site to the public. The formal opening, by invitation only, will take place in mid-November at the request of our grant-providers, WREN, who were very pleased with the project on their inspection and have been great to work with.
We are looking to have an informal members and public opening in the spring when the weather is better.
So, moving on to look at the AGM and other activities, we had our regular meeting on 16th September, which was difficult due to Richard’s death and Joan, the Secretary, not being available. Richard filled many roles in the group and we had to sort out cover for these. Keith Roberts has agreed to become acting Chairman. It was very much ‘in at the deep end’ as he had to run the AGM the next day.
Joan has agreed to stay on as Secretary, with assistance from David, Norman and Linda Hughes for cover when she can’t get to meetings. The Press and Publicity is divided between Mal Draper, who hosts the Facebook Page, Simon Newton, who has been heavily involved with our project and yours-truly, who is a declared computer-phobe, who thinks a mouse should eat cheese and an email should have a stamp on it! (And don’t I know it –JR)
The big day of 17th dawned with Eunice, Pauline, Linda and Keith hosting a sales stand and raffle in the Institute. Meanwhile, yours-truly aided and abetted by Simon and Edwin showed a constant stream of members around the shed. Or, in my case, bored them senseless with my own personal theory of why the track-gauge was 2ft 4 ½ ins!
After an enjoyable morning chatting to and sometimes scaring off members, we locked up the shed and moved up to the Institute for the AGM, where according to John Milner’s empirical work, the original GVT company held its AGMs. As we include the original company within the group, is this unusual, if not unique, in preservation.
The meeting went on somewhat longer than usual as there was much to discuss and debate. After closure, we then had to prepare for the concert. At this point and explanation is called for.
In the summer, my good friend Billy and his brother in law, Andrew, helped move the slate wagon back to the museum. At the time, Billy offered to bring his band over to do a concert for us to raise funds. I though that this was a great idea but did not get round to doing anything about it. The following week, Billy contacted me and said his friend had a band, had been to look at the Institute, and wanted to join in. At this point a couple of my few remaining grey cells fired so I suggested a concert on the evening of the AGM as we had the use of the Institute all day.
Time was short and we did not realise that we clashed with the Gardening Society’s Annual Show at the Caernarfon Centre. Not a problem – but gardening is a very popular pastime in the valley so we were in competition with titanic tomatoes, mighty marrows and prodigious potatoes. (Are these all competing bands? – JR)
The result was that by the evening, many local people had been out all day and did not come. We are very grateful to those who did. The general feedback was how good the bands were and, had we known, we would have got our friends and relatives to come – and please don’t let it clash with anything else.
Billy and his friends enjoyed it very much and are itching to do another one, so we are thinking of a dance and buffet, planned well in advance.
Another comment was: We need a drink! This is a little tricky as the Institute was established by a Temperance League, so a bar is out! But, the Glyn Valley Hotel is just down the hill and the Oak is a few doors up, so we want to support these two institutions.
The money raised has gone to pay Certification Fees for the Engine Shed.
You may be aware that we have now been loaned the contents of the Wynn Quarry Museum, which closed in 1990. This loan has been made by the executors of the late Angela James, with the condition that they remain in the village and can be displayed in the shed or the Institute. After 25 years storage in a damp building, the condition of the artefacts has deteriorated.
Having had three months storage in an insulated container, they have dried out. Following the meeting on Friday, we moved a selection and have been carefully cleaning and treating them with a thin coat of oil, which is the recommended conservation technique. I will look at these in more detail in my next report.
I would like to conclude by welcoming Pauline and Edwin to the Board, both of whom live in the village. Edwin has been a member for over 30 years and is well known in preservation circles having illustrated over 200 railway books.
Pauline is now Eunice’s local representative and is learning the finer points of selling hiking boots to angels, etc.
I would like to finish by thanking all the regular group for their hard work, dedication and great sense of humour. Please join us as we have many great things just around the corner, which will appear in my next report.
Update - July 2016
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
Obituary - May 2016
Mrs Rhona Bates
It is with great sadness that I have to report the death of Rhona Bates, who passed away peacefully at her home in the village of Glyn Ceiriog following a period of illness.
Rhona was born and spent her whole life in the Glyn Ceiriog district. She grew up and spent most of her life on Plas Lleucu and Chwarel Farms, both of which bordered on the Cambrian Slate Quarries. I remember her describing to me in great detail, the noise of blasting and the cloud of slate dust which hung over the village afterwards.
She was a hard-working member of the Village Community for many years, holding the post of Clerk of the Parish Council as well as being a committee member and subsequently chairman of the Ceiriog Memorial Institute. She was a contributor to, and a distributor of the ‘Glyn News’ as well as being the local news contributor to the ‘Oswestry Advertiser’ newspaper. In addition to this she was a member of the Friends of Chirk Hospital and a very active member of Saron Baptist Chapel in Nantyr.
With so much involvement and dedication to local activities, it is no surprise that she found out about the GVT Group and became involved sometime around 1980. Subsequently she became a much-valued member of the committee with local knowledge that can only be described as phenomenal. Combined with this was a very accurate memory for detail. She loved to know what happened in GVT meetings right up to the end of her life.
With Rhona’s passing, the village has lost a true pillar of the community whose like we are not likely to see again and the GVT one of its most dedicated and loyal supporters.
I am sure that people reading this will join us in expressing their deepest sympathies to her three sons and their families in the valley who continue to work the two farms.
Update - April 2016
I was reminded by our Webmaster, John Rutter, that it was time for another update to the site. I will be honest and say that I had not noticed that nearly 6 weeks has gone past, so here goes.
Since the last report I can say that we are rapidly nearing completion of the site work. The track is now laid on both the platform and loop, and looks as though it has always been there. Once again, we found the original sleeper indentations on the loop line as with the platform line, so we know they are in the right place. We have now run out of sleepers although we still have some rail left. However to put more track down we need three sets of 50lb/yd points. They do not need to be in good condition; scrap ones would be fine!
So, after completing the tracks we moved on to the wall parallel to them. After removing three courses of concrete kerbing blocks we then had to provide suitable shuttering to form a tapered concrete cap. Two tons of sand, ten bags of cement and a lot of hard work later we had this completed. Of course, someone has to come and say why did you not use ready-mix? The answer is cost. We need our limited funds to pay for essential things like fire equipment and insurance for the site. So Peter, Simon, Mal and I had a couple of weeks exercise. Malcolm now has a new nickname as he had to put the stone grit on the wet concrete. He is now known as “Mr Sprinkle.” Once the shuttering came off the result looked great.
Whilst this work was going on, I had a new patio built in order to retain domestic harmony! As a result of this, an eight cubic yard skip was in my drive for a week, so, not wanting to waste an opportunity, a ton bag of rubbish was cleared from site and went into this skip.
We had a visit arranged for 16 retired railway personnel and their families to look around the site. Mike, their group organiser, had been to see us last year. I did warn them that we were not open officially and did not have much in the way of exhibits for them to see, however with help from Simon, Linda and Riv, we put something together for them. Also Linda opened the Institute. They arrived on the regular bus service with GHA specially providing a bigger bus. Having seen the site and shed and been shown round by myself and Linda, they visited the Institute and rounded off their visit with tea, coffee and cakes in Christian Centre with some having the excellent breakfast cooked by the Spar. They seemed to enjoy the visit, made a generous donation and took quite a lot of membership forms with them. Thus we have involved three other village groups in the visit and helped to sustain the local bus service.
So, when we are open, this would seem to be the way forward.
Update - March 2016
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.
Update - October 2015
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.
AGM - September 2015
The Trust's AGM on 26 September 2015 commemorated the 80th anniversary of the closure of the Glyn Valley Tramway with a special cake cut by guest Mr. Ken Skates AM, and a new display panel made by Simon Newton representing the full-size rear of a GVT Beyer Peacock locomotive.
Update - June 2015
With recent developments at Glyn Ceiriog, 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.
Update - May 2015
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.
GVT on Tour - March 2015
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.