60062 'Samuel Johnson' heads empties south through the girders of Hawarden Bridge on August 18th 1994. The bridge carries the line over the River Dee and was built by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (forerunner of the Great Central). It opened for traffic on August the 3rd 1889. The structure consists of one large span, which swung open to allow vessels to travel upriver to Chester, and two much smaller fixed spans. There is also a short brick built approach viaduct on the Shotton side. The bridge is now permanently closed to shipping. Interestingly this stretch of the River Dee is again being used by commercial shipping, see below.
Long since withdrawn Class 25 No. 25265 comes off the bridge and into Hawarden Bridge station on 12 September 1985. The Hydraulic apparatus to swing the bridge was formally housed in a large brick tower immediately behind the loco and it was demolished in 1980. The tall semaphore has also succumbed to progress and is now a two aspect colour light signal. The train is mainly formed of scrap wagons because at this time the old steelworks was in the process of being demolished.
On June 12th 2010 the Branch Line Society ran a special train on the line. It was top and tailed by 40145 'East Lancashire Railway' and 67018 'Keith Heller' and ran as far as Dee Marsh where the train reversed. This was the first loco hauled passenger train on the line since December 18th 1999. Photos by Tim Rogers, http://www.nedchester.fotopic.net/ . The last passenger train to traverse the line beyond Dee Marsh all the way to Bidston was on December 28th 1992.
56010 waits patiently in the station for the preceding passenger train to clear Penyffordd on 21st April 1995. The train is returning steel wagons to Port Talbot and the three wagons behind the loco contain steel shavings from the coating process. This scrap steel was later carried in bogie box wagons with detachable roofs.
37698 in Loadhaul livery at Hawarden Bridge on 4th November 2001 while working a freight to Warrington Arpley. Few passenger trains now stop here although, when Shotton Steel Works was in its prime, it was one of the busiest stations on the line.
67004 "Post Haste" is seen at Hawarden Bridge hauling a Merseyrail class 507 unit from Birkenhead North depot to Eastleigh for refurbishment on the 8th of March 2004. Such workings became commonplace until recently as the entire Merseyrail electric fleet was put through works.
The Serco test train visited the line on 8th September 2004. It was top and tailed by 67019 and 67030.
66127 passes Dee Marsh Junction signal box on 8th September 2004 with wagons from Shotton Paper. This traffic, to Irvine in Scotland, has since ceased.
The signal box panel in Dee Marsh box in 1992 when the line to Mickle Trafford was still in use. In the centre is the "main line" from Penyffordd to Bidston with the Mickle Trafford line shown above it. The connections to Dee Marsh yard are further to the right and above them the siding to Deeside Titanium. The connection to Shotton Paper is at the extreme right. Compare the almost level gradient profile of the Mickle Trafford line with the Penyffordd - Bidston section. There were once three signal boxes here controlling a triangular layout. Amongst some of the many changes since this photo was taken are: the closure of the Mickle Trafford line and removal of the Deeside Titanium siding. All signals are now colour light and the next box along the line is Merseyside IECC in Sandhills.
08954 stabled near Dee Marsh box, March 2004.
"Mitchell" of Marcroft Engineering brings steel wagons out of the Corus (now Tata) plant on November 4th 2001. The shunting contract is currently held by RMS Locotec and Class 08 shunters are used.
The Shotton Paper Mill, owned by UPM, opened in 1986. It is built on the site of the former blast furnaces and is served by a private siding laid on the remains of Shotwick Yard. Trains are propelled into the works using a brake van at the paper mill end. The works siding saw further trains between 2008 and 2010 but is once again out of use. The photo shows 08951 leaving the works in April 1993.
With a respectable train of loaded Ferrywagons and empty log wagons, 08951 returns to Dee Marsh having run round its train. The connection from Shotton Paper can be seen curving in in the background. The concrete supports above the third wagon once held a water tank used by the Class 9F 2-10-0 steam locos which brought the iron ore from Bidston to Summers steelworks. This was a hive of activity in years gone by with trainloads of Iron Ore, Coal, Oil and Limestone arriving around the clock. The extensive Shotwick shooting ranges are in the background.
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