RE­LIVE THE GREAT IR­ISH MAIL TRAIN

Train that linked Lon­don to Anglesey for 150 years to be com­mem­o­rated with special ex­cur­sion this summer:

Bangor Mail - - Front Page - Eryl Crump

ATRAIN that linked Anglesey with Lon­don for more than 150 years will be com­mem­o­rated with a special ex­cur­sion train this summer.

The Ir­ish Mail was an ex­press train that ran from Holy­head to Lon­don Eus­ton sta­tion from 1848 un­til 2002. It con­nected with ferry ser­vices from Ireland and re­placed the horse­drawn stage coaches that op­er­ated along the A5 be­fore the rail­way was built.

The first Ir­ish Mail was op­er­ated by the Lon­don & North Western Rail­way on 1 Au­gust 1848. It was sub­se­quently op­er­ated by the Lon­don, Mid­land & Scot­tish Rail­way, Bri­tish Rail, In­ter­City and Vir­gin Trains.

Be­cause the Bri­tan­nia Bridge had yet to be com­pleted, the first ser­vices ter­mi­nated at Bangor and recom­menced at Llan­fair­p­wll­gwyn­gyll.

It op­er­ated twice daily in each di­rec­tion, although this was re­duced to daily dur­ing World War II.

Although no­tion­ally an ex­press ser­vice, with the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the West Coast Main Line, from the 1960s the ser­vice stopped for a lo­co­mo­tive change at Crewe.

It has been in­volved in a number of high pro­file in­ci­dents over the years. One ac­ci­dent at Abergele

led to changes in safety on the en­tire rail­way net­work while the ser­vice had a part in the in­fa­mous Great Train Rob­bery of 1963.

Although the ser­vice con­tin­ued to op­er­ate, the name was dropped in June 2002 as part of a pol­icy by Vir­gin Trains to not op­er­ate named trains.

In 1998, Vir­gin Trains named Class 43 pow­er­car 43101 The Ir­ish Mail 1848 - 1998 to com­mem­o­rate the ser­vices’ 150th an­niver­sary.

The special ex­cur­sion train, on Satur­day, Au­gust 3, will be hauled from Lon­don to Crewe by a veteran elec­tric or diesel lo­co­mo­tive.

At the Cheshire junc­tion the loco will be ex­changed for a re­stored main line steam loco.

Or­gan­is­ers have yet to ros­ter the loco but it could be 70000 ‘Bri­tan­nia’ or 46100 ‘Royal Scot’, both for­mer Lon­don Mid­land Scot­tish en­gines and which were seen reg­u­larly on the Ir­ish Mail be­fore they were with­drawn in the 1960s.

An­other en­gine, for­mer South­ern Rail­ways 34046 ‘Braun­ton’ could also be used.

The train is planned to run non-stop from Ch­ester to Llan­dudno Junc­tion where the loco will take wa­ter. Af­ter stop­ping briefly at Bangor the train will cross the Me­nai Strait on the Bri­tan­nia Bridge be­fore ar­riv­ing at Holy­head.

At the Anglesey ter­mi­nus the train’s pas­sen­gers will have a three-hour stopover while the loco is ser­viced.

It will be turned on the Val­ley tri­an­gle and take on coal and wa­ter for the re­turn jour­ney.

Pic­ture: ROGERS JONES & CO

● The Ir­ish Mail train tak­ing in bags at Col­wyn Bay

● Bri­tan­nia class no. 70004 Wil­liam Shake­speare thun­der­ing through Bangor sta­tion with the Eus­ton bound re­lief Ir­ish Mail

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