The Glyn Valley Tramway Blog
The latest news and information from the team at the Glyn Valley Tramway Trust based in Chirk.
The felling of the bigger trees has begun! A medium sized oak was 'soft felled' by GVTT volunteers on the trackbed last week..... so what does 'soft felling' mean?
Basically the tree is slowly cut to pieces from the top down. There are a number of reasons for this. Primarily one of safety both to volunteers and the general public and property, where there is a danger that 'hard felling' the tree ( and shouting TIMBER!!!) could potentially cause accidents, injuries or damage to property. Another primary reasonis one of sensitivity to wildlife. Any tree felled at this time of year has to be checked for nesting birds first. If, after the initial first check of the tree, soft felling does indeed reveal an active bird nest, the felling can stop immediately and the birds allowed to complete their nesting in peace, and the tree can then continue to be felled once the birds have finished. Hard felling doesnt allow this....
The Glyn Valley Tramway Trust in Chirk has been rather busy lately! Much progress have been made in resolving the drainage issues in Baddies Wood, with the previously completely waterlogged area improving significantly, though with much more to do. The trackbed has also been strimmed and old logs and stumps stacked up in wood piles for safe storage and also to increase habitat for wildlife...
On the 31st March, an Davies, Bernard Rockett and Emlyn Phennah of the Glyn Valley Tramway Trust attended the annual 16mm Garden Railway Show in Peterborough. The Trust attended the show last year and was very pleasantly surprised with the amount of support and enthusiasm that it recieved from members of the public. This year's was no different, a very busy day, we sold a number of books and other items and aquired several new members as well.....fantastic day!
The headline news is that our welfare facilities and compound are now established and were used for the first time for the Work Party. The facilities are centrally located for work on Phase 1 of the restoration. They comply with the minimum standards for future work under the Construction, Design and Maintenance Regulations, and provide a base for first aid facilities and future education activities.
The facilities were purchased with a grant from a local community volunteer organisation. They consist of a cabin equipped with washing, food preparation and drying equipment - the image shows the interior – and a separate toilet. The compound area has been surfaced with stone chippings to make deliveries by vehicle possible. Preliminary work on the compound , mainly vegetation clearance, went on for several days prior to the actual work party to ready the site prior to delivery of the cabin. On the day one gang started work on painting the exterior of the cabin and toilet (GVT green!) and trying to work out the mysteries of the electrical system. Although the electrics of the cabin had been thoroughly tested prior to delivery, as had the cookers, heater etc., connecting it all up to the generator such that nothing caused the system to trip out provided an entertaining couple of hours. It was obvious in the end but not at first!
The other gang carried on with work on the trackbed drainage. We were heartened that the previous work in the wet areas was showing signs of clearing the standing water and the weekend’s effort involved extending both the extent and depth of the drains.
An interesting old retaining structure which was clearly part of the original formation was uncovered (see image) and appears to have stood the test of time. So, two happy groups, covered variously in paint or mud, enjoyed the first ever lunch in the new cabin. A very satisfying day!
The dates for the forthcoming Work Parties are as follows: 14th April, 12th May,16th June, and 14th July. New volunteers will be made most welcome. Contact Ian Davies ( 07929 260962 or 01691 777985)
Finally - a guilty admission. Mrs Digger made a cake for the work party but in the excitement it got left at home. I can report that it is delicious and hence is unlikely to make an appearance in April!
The GVTT had a visit from David Jones MP, the Under Secretary of State for Wales on the 3rd of March, to discuss our project and the wider inpact it will have within Wrexham and NE Wales, combined with the Llangollen Canal World Heritage Site. It is wonderful to see that, not only are we getting real support and interest from the Welsh Government, but also now from national government as well. There is sense that the potential for Chirk and the Ceiriog Valley, as part of the WHS as a whole, to become a major tourism hub in the near future, is beginning to be recognised nationally and enthusiasm is rapidly growing to bring it to reality.
We've done it!!! The GVTT in Chirk has finally achieved planning permission from Wrexham County Borough Council to start Phase 1 of the reconstruction of the GVT in Chirk!!!
Now the real hard work begins! However, the GVT will not rebuild itself! Now that we are no longer just a dream buta reality, we will need all the help and support we can get to bring the sound of a Beyer Peacock whistle echoing done the Glyn Valley ...once again. It will not be easy, it may take some time and as we all know, money isnt flowing around at the moment. There will be cheers and tears in equal measure along the way we are sure....
Therefore, we urge everyone who has been following us along the way, and also those who have never heard of us before but are interested, to join us. Whether you live in the UK, US, Europe or even Antartica or anywhere else, your membership and any help you can bring to this great project will be most sincerely welcome, and indeed will be vital if we are to march forward and bring the last 'Great Little Train of Wales' back to life...
There will be some sore heads this morning you can be sure, but now the work really starts in earnest, so please join us and bring steam back to 'a little bit of Heaven on Earth'...
The day has arrived... later this morning, we are being interviewed by BBC Wales television and radio, and also by S4C television... then, at 6pm, we arrive at the Guildhall in Wrexham to face the councillors of Wrexham County Borough Council who will decide for or against our application to rebuild the GVT in Chirk.
On Monday, 6th February at 6.30pm, the Glyn Valley Tramway Trust in Chirk will go before the Planning Committee of Wrexham County Borough Council to have our Planning Application heard for the restoration of Phase 1 of the Glyn Valley Tramway....this is it...
Todays meeting with British Waterways has also gone very well indeed, they are happy with our proposals and the measures we have put in place to monitor any effects on the Chirk canal tunnel during the re-construction phase of the GVT, and are happy to see us gain planning consent...we are still getting there...
Things are moving rather quickly at the moment....the Arboricultural tree survey is completed and ready to submit, the bat survey has already been submitted, and the Ecological survey will also very soon (within the next day) be submitted. Tomorrow we have a meeting with British Waterways to finally iron out any issues remaining, and it appears that the Highways Department are now happy and recommend consent...we are getting there...
Wilfrid is our very own 7 and a quarter inch gauge steam loco. Wilfrid is a direct replica of the DeWinton vertical boiler 'Coffee Pots', built in the late 19th century at the DeWinton works in Caernarvon, North Wales. Wilfrid was busy this year giving rides at various events for the general public, and we intend doing the same thing this coming new year.
Behind Wilfrid are replicas of the original GVT wagons, one tar wagon, a granite wagon and two slate wagons...
May we wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The Glyn Valley Tramway Trust.
During the weekend of the 3rd and 4th December 2011, the GVTT Chairman Dr David Carter and the Vice Chairman Ian Davies took part in the ongoing ShropshireUnion Canal Society (SUCS) restoration of the Montgomeryshire Canal near Llanymynech, Shropshire. Dr Carter is also one of the Project Managers of the canal restoration, and the weekend's task was the thinning and re-laying of the hedgeline that runs alongside the currently dry section of the canal in anticipation of the sections full restoration to navigation in the near future.
Ian Davies' role during the weekend was as a qualified chainsaw operator coppicing and logging the trees that are within the hedgeline to allow them them to regenerate for future relaying in the restored hedge.
One of the main philosophies of the GVTT is to co-operate with and assist other heritage based organisations within the area to further their own projects. The precursor of the SUCS, the Shropshire Union Railway and Canal Company, were one of the founders of the Glyn Valley Tramway in 1873, and also help to maintain the Llangollen Canal World Heritage Site in which the restored GVT will operate in the future.
Many of you will be be wondering how we are getting on, so here is an update of where we are at the moment...
Last week saw the start of the BS5837/2005 aborecultural tree survey. This has been asked for by Wrexham County Borough Council to assess the impact our restoration project will have on the surrounding trees, both on the trackbed and in its vicinity. The survey does not include the trees we are intending to fell, but those that we intend to retain, especially the older specimens of oak that will be a real feature of the GVT once it is back up and running. This initial survey should take around a week to complete, but it is quite extensive and will mean that we will probably be looking at January or February before the final report is ready, largely due to the Christmas break slowing things down. We must also sincerely thank all of those people who have generously donated money to us in order to fund this survey, it really has made a huge difference and sped the timing of the survey up considerably. Please do know that even a small donation brings the official re-opening ceremony of the GVT in Chirk that bit closer!
We were also informed this week that the ecology survey has finally been completed, and will now be written up and presented to us within the next couple of weeks. This survey has been very extensive, especially in the search for Lesser Horshoe Bats, and it will be an impressive document when it is published. Again, this has been for our planning application, and will all being well be one of the final keys to achieving the planning consent we require to proceed with the restoration of the GVT in Chirk.
On the 18th November 2011, the Glyn Valley Tramway Trust moved into a new era with the election of a new Chairman and Vice Chairman.
The previous Chairman, David Cooper, had signalled his intention to retire this year after 3 years of towering and tireless work to push the GVTT to the brink where it on the cusp (finally!) of achieving planning consent from WCBC to restore Phase 1 of the GVT from Chirk railway station to the Chirk Fisheries, a distance of 1.2 miles.
The new Chairman, Dr David Carter (right in the photo) was previously the Vice Chairman and is a Reader in Architecture at Liverpool University, having previously spent many years as a Civil Engineer in the construction industry. He is also a Project Manager on the Shropshire Union Canal Society's restoration of the Montgomeryshire Canal, and is currently part of the team overseeing the work progressing at the Crickheath section of the canal near Llanymynech.
The new Vice Chairman, Ian Davies (left in the photo), was previously the Project Manager of the GVTT, and continues in that role as well as the Vice Chairmanship. Ian is a freelance Field Archaeologist and recently qualified as a Green Badge tour guide for North East Wales, a position which may see him giving guided tours to visitors to the area in the very near future. Ian also works alongside Dr David Carter on the restoration of the Montgomershire Canal, and has a direct family link to the GVT as his grandfather worked on the GVT as a Fireman, and his father was named after one of the engines, 'Dennis'.
Hello again everyone, and welcome to our new website and blog. We may have appeared rather quiet over the past year but we can assure you we havent got quiet or even gone away, we have been very much busy and active...
So far, this year has been one of surveys for our planning application. Early in the New Year, after our planning application had been submitted to WCBC in November, further ecological surveys were requested by WCBC and the Countryside Council for Wales. In particular, they requested a bat survey along the whole stretch of our Phase 1, which is 1.2 miles. The survey was to look for Lesser Horseshoe Bat activity around the trackbed and surrounding area. There is an important colony of Lesser Horseshoe Bats in and around Chirk Castle, and it needed to be concluded what, if any, effect our restoration project would have on that colony.
Also, a further tree survey was requested by WCBC. This survey, which has the catchy title of 'BS 5837/2005', has to be done by a professional arboriculturalist, and is quite a comprehensive survey detailing what impact our restoration will have on the surrounding tree population (in simple terms), and what we need to do to mitigate against that, to whatever extent.
As you will realise, this has slowed us up considerably, but has not stopped us, nor have we failed and neither are we staring failure in the face. It has obviously been frustrating, but necessary, and the results of the surveys will actually enhance our restoration project once we have our planning permission and the ground work starts and the GVT begins to return.