RELIVE THE GREAT IRISH MAIL TRAIN
Train that linked London to Anglesey for 150 years to be commemorated with special excursion this summer:
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Scot’, both former London Midland Scottish engines and which were seen regularly on the Irish Mail before they were withdrawn in the 1960s.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.
● 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