Corwen Central Progress – 9 March 2017

Tremendous progress has been made with several aspects of the terminal station project, so a summary of recent work at the terminal station site in Corwen is appropriate.

Station platform

News that the grant aid application from the Welsh Government's European Regional Development Fund has been progressed to the point of receiving an Initial letter to ‘Proceed at Risk’, allowed the volunteer work force to begin construction of the island platform walls.

The method of construction is to use pre-caste concrete Easi-Blocs as a modern and economical means to allow speedy progress and the supplies on site have been purchased from donations received by the Corwen Central Development Project. 

The first section of two layers was laid alongside the Downside track on footings which are already in situ next to the subway access unit - this serves to illustrate the height to which the platform level must eventually reach.

Weighing in at three-quarters of a tonne, (and measuring in Imperial approx 4ftx2ftx1.5 ft) each bloc requires carefully handling with assistance from a hyab crane and time has been spent in trial positioning and gauging to ensure correct alignment. By 28 February a total of 259 blocs representing length of approximately 520 ft, have been laid to complete the base of the Down platform designed to accommodate an eight coach train length.

Progress was restricted at times by the need to take delivery of further supplies of blocs, itself a time consuming effort as they are off loaded and stacked ready for installation.

Some 460 blocs are needed to provide both platform bases, to be followed by a mix of other blocks and edgings to build up the necessary profile. Within a total length of 160 metres (526 ft) the space between the two walls will require some 1000 tonnes of spoil infill. Additionally, there is the need to prepare the footings for the Up platform, so that the work is going to take the volunteers the next several months to complete.

The make-up of the platform walls is illustrated in a jpeg, with the void represented by the red balls, each worth £10, as part of the Tenner for a Tonne appeal to fund the infill.

Whilst news of the grant aid application for £128K is expected shortly, it comes with the inevitable need for Llangollen Railway Trust to find match funding and donations from supporters and well-wishers remains necessary to see the project completed.

Welsh Water Road

Adjacent to the northern boundary of the station site, the new access road to the Welsh Water/Dwr Cymru Waste Water Treatment Plant was opened without ceremony on 2 February when all service road traffic was diverted to use the new entrance from Green Lane. This has allowed closure of the former access via the breach in the railway embankment, for long seen as the major obstacle in extending the railway from its present railhead at Dwyrain Corwen East into the terminal station site. The new road has been engineered to provide a graded access up and down into the plant. The finished product, as seen from the main road entrance, belies the amount of civil engineering it has taken contractors for Welsh Water to create a fit for purpose access route.

The road represents a considerable investment by Welsh Water to provide a facility more appropriate to the 21st century in terms of traffic accessibility and consequential environmental benefits.

The route from the summit where it crosses the former Ruthin branch shows how the original Great Western line embankment has been extended to provide space for the terminal loop and island platform.


Finally, the search for an independent water supply to feed the planned locomotive refreshment facilities saw the commencement of a borehole on land adjacent to the railway embankment at the point where under bridge 31, the original access to the Waste Water Treatment plant, once existed. Local firm Dragon Drilling brought in their Italian made Comacchio MC30 drilling rig which was erected to a height of 60 ft on 23 January. In the course of six working days, the rig sank steel casings and extracted the pale grey clay of the Corwen Flood Plain.

Ground conditions proved to be more challenging than expected before a flow of water was detected at 30 metres (100ft). Completion of the borehole followed with the insertion of a slotted plastic lining tube to provide the rising main and the assembly is now capped, followed by provision of a submersible electric pump. The yield of the borehole must now be determined and the water obtained analysed for quality and, as of 27 February, test pumping of water commenced with a steady output now being maintained.

Further work in phases 2 and 3 will bring the water supply up to the water tower when this is built and erected at the eastern end of the platform.

Train service to Dwyrain Corwen East resumed as of Saturday, 11 February, with the temporary platform having an extended period of use pending opening of Corwen Central during 2018.

During the three day Gala event 3-5 March escorted access was available for visitors who wished to see the progress which is has been made with the challenge to create the new Corwen Central station. Further opportunities will be announced in due course.

 George Jones RT CCR 8 March  2017.



A review of the work undertaken by volunteers of the Llangollen Railway Trust engaged on the Corwen Central Development Project shows significant progress with the creation of a terminal station.

Good news is the near completion by Welsh Water/Dwr Cymru of a new road to access the adjacent Waste Water Treatment plant. Long seen as a major obstacle to the extension of the heritage railway into the site of a purpose build terminus station, the existing access to the treatment plant is via a breach in the railway embankment. This will be closed to service vehicles once the new road is opened by Welsh Water when completed early in 2017. Eventually the infilling of this breach will allow the railhead to be brought forward from its current buffer stop at the Dwyrain Corwen East temporary platform.

In the meantime, major work activity on the station site during 2016 has seen the old embankment re-engineered from a single track width to an area capable of taking a twin track loop and an island platform. A subway access constructed from the Corwen town car park into the elevated area of the platform earlier in 2016 was a major investment in the project by the Llangollen Railway Trust.  During the autumn, working from the western end volunteers have laid 9 track panels alongside what will be platform 2 of the terminus and begun the building of the loop line into the area of platform 1.

The building of the island platform awaits a decision on a grant aid application for funds from the Welsh Government. When built it will provide an area of 980 square metres and volunteers are seeking donations to a fund to provide for the spoil to infill the space with a ‘Tenner for a Tonne’ Appeal. Once the platform is in place, the remaining side of the loop line will be constructed with a point to be installed at the eastern end.

An exciting development for the new year will be the installation of a borehole below the embankment to provide a water source for the replenishment of steam locomotives from a to be build version of a parachute water tank.

Project Leader, Richard Dixon-Gough, said, ““Completion of the terminus at Corwen Central remains aimed at 2018, although it is too early to offer any specific target date.

In the mean time we are well placed to continue development of the terminal station during 2017. The over-riding need to complete the work is for finance to buy materials and employ contractors to speed some aspects of the work.

To finance what is a £0.5M project Llangollen Railway intends to re-issue a Prospectus for the sale of shares in Llangollen Railway plc, whilst also backing donations to the Llangollen Railway Trust.”

George Jones

Llangollen Railway Trust

Corwen Central Development Project

24 December 2016


Press release: 22 November 2016


Completion of work during the late summer/autumn has provided an impressive subway entry to the intended island platform, as built by contactors KM Construction of St Asaph.  Building this involved the excavation of 120 cubic metres of spoil and the completed structure represents a volume of 50 cubic metres of concrete, to create an internal area of 61 cubic metres. Back filling has restored the embankment profile. The elevated exit now stands one metre tall on the track bed to give some idea of the height at which the platform will be created.

The work undertaken so far represents an investment of some £120,000, by Llangollen Railway

Trust, plus countless hours of volunteer input by the project team members. In terms of value the

volunteer input equates to another £100,000 of contribution as calculated by Welsh Government


An artistic impression of the public access to the completed station was recently unveiled by local

artist Julie McNamara, when her painting of the subway entrance relative to the elevated platform

 was donated to the Project Team. Her work is being used on merchandise to raise funds for the

 project. A scan of the painting is attached.

Following completion of work for the installation of the access subway and footings for the island  platform, track laying by volunteers has commenced working from the head shunt at the western end of the site.

As of mid-November, four panels of track have been laid on the downside formation and a further four will complete the length of the eight coach platform.  A fifth panel will reach the site of the point for the start of the station loop. The actual construction of the island platform awaits the outcome of a grant application, but the plan of the facility shows it as occupying an area of 980 square metres. The upside platform will be capable of accommodating a six coach train, but the foLLANotings for this have yet to be dug.

Attached picture shows the volunteer work force aligning one 60ft panel of track on the lead into the platform area.

Below the embankment, on the area of the Corwen flood plain, volunteers have been preparing a site for contractors, Dragon Drilling of Corwen , to install a borehole. Sunk to a depth of 25M, an electric pump will be installed to provide the supply of water for replenishment of the locomotive.  Funds continue to be raised to pay for the construction of a parachute water tower to be located at the eastern end of the platform. It is thought that this borehole construction may be a first for a heritage railway – confirmation or advice as to others having been constructed will be welcome.

Re-engineering of the embankment for the station area continues and the need of infill for this and the platform area is the subject of further fund raising with the announcement of the Tenner for a Tonne Appeal by Project Treasurer Paul Bailey. £10 buys a ton of spoil which equates to one cubic metre of infill and some 10,000 tonnes are required. Cheques made out to Llangollen Railway Trust (CCRD) should be sent to Paul c/o Llangollen Railway, The Station,  Abbey Road, Llangollen LL20 8SN.

On the northern side of the station embankment, contractors for Welsh Water/ Dŵr Cymru have all but completed the new access road from the water treatment plant. The graded access climbs up and over the former Ruthin branch embankment and, as of this date, awaits the formal connection with the highway at Green Lane. This involves the building of a protective concrete bridge over the gas main but, in the New Year, the Corwen Central Project Team expects the Welsh Water service vehicle traffic to be diverted to the new entrance.  Entry to the works via the breach in the embankment will then be closed, although, for the foreseeable future, vehicle access onto the embankment will remain for delivery of railway supplies.

Project Leader, Richard Dixon-Gough said, “Completion of the terminus at Corwen Central remains aimed at 2018, although it is too early to offer any specific target date. The over-riding need to complete the work is for finance to buy materials and employ contractors to build the platform. To finance what is a £0.5M project Llangollen Railway intends to re-issue a Prospectus for the sale of shares in Llangollen Railway plc whilst also backing donations to the Llangollen Railway Trust.”

Wintertime Closure for Dwyrain Corwen East.

As of the 1550 departure with BR Standard Tank 80072 on Sunday 13 November, the temporary platform at Dwyrain Corwen East was closed for the winter period whilst maintenance work is undertaken to allow for the extended use of the facility during 2017. Trains during the festive season will terminate at Carrog and services to Corwen East will resume on 11 February 2017 in time for half term.

The lack of suitable wintertime facilities at Dwyrain Corwen East and a change in the management contract for the platform means that trains will temporarily run to Carrog until the start of the 2017 public timetable.

George Jones


21 November 2016

Why drill a borehole?

Steam Locomotives use more water in a day than coal. To avoid extracting water out of the River Dee, a borehole has been drilled to extract groundwater to feed a water tank and water crane for the locos.

Fundraising for the fabrication of the water tank is under way. It will be placed at the east end of the platform, by the signal box.


The building of the wall for platform 2 was completed as of 13 July with work on the return ends to mark the limit of the platform. At the western end the back wall for the section relative to the first (of 8)  coach position has had the back wall completed and infilling has begun.

Commenced on 5 January with the delivery of the first Easi-blocs, it has taken six months of part time endeavour.  It has been a mammoth project for the small team of volunteers who have worked on the building of the 510 ft long wall.

 Some statistics will impress:

The footings took 13 Readymix loads at 6 cubic metres per load = 78 cu metres

The base was formed by 261 Easi-blocs at 0.75 of tonne each = 196 tonnes

The overhang required 541 over sail blocks with some 3000 concrete blocks to build up the required level and backing.

Still to be installed are the heritage edging flags which will follow when the area between both platform walls is filled in – a target for the autumn perhaps when platform 1 is finished.

Project Manager Richard Dixon-Gough, said, “As a new facility the modern form of construction was appropriate within available resources and at considerably less expense and far quicker than a traditional brick built structure.  It may not be very heritage but to have been built in brick would have taken a lot longer and at greater expense.”

Nevertheless, all this comes at some cost and must now be repeated for a shorter length to create the wall for platform1, hence the need for the grant aid which will cover 80% of the estimated £161k cost.

Big Dig for the signalbox

The other major item of civil engineering work began with the big dig for the siting of the signal box on the northern side of the embankment. After a survey was conducted for the site at the bottom of the embankment, an excavation down to 10ft provided an area of approximately 325 sq. ft. in which volunteers laid the foundations comprising a porous membrane and geo-plastic grid mat topped up with a layer of crushed stone and a pouring of readimix.

Contractors then installed the rods and bars to provide the reinforced concrete base and, with shuttering installed, the pouring of a special mix of concrete took place on 8 July. Now the concrete is set, further work by contractors will provide for the reinforced walls which will make up the box to the level of the embankment.  This base will provide for a locker room on which the, as yet to be restored, signalbox will be sited. As of 6 August the shuttering and reinforcement rods were in place awaiting concreting.

It is a very necessary structure to stabilise the area. When all this costly work is complete, it will largely disappear from sight as the embankment is consolidated around it in readiness for the eventual positioning of the east end points for the station loop on the adjacent ground.

Final extension west

And as of 8 July, the final westerly extension of the Corwen project began with preparations for the lengthening of the head shunt. This required dismantling of the original ‘statement of intent’ stop block and surveying of the ground onto the grassy knoll which forms the remains of the original embankment out onto Green Lane and marks the limit of the 2010 Transport & Works Order.

With work on the site producing an ever more congested area and restricting wheeled vehicle movements, it was necessary to build a temporary road up the side of the embankment from the Welsh Water Road entrance to allow access for equipment to reach the head shunt area.

The ground level required building up by 2 or 3 ft tand as of 13 July a retaining wall was being built and will be followed by fencing and planting of  Pyracantha Orange Glow whose thorns will deter intruders. When completed and the land compacted ballasting will follow to allow for one and a half panel of track to be laid and the stop block re-nstalled aat the very end of the line.


The Project has been fortunate in acquiring 13 cast iron columns for use as the basis of the platform canopy. Obtained from the Pontypool and Blaenavon site the columns came from Blackfrairs station in London and are thought to be of LC&DR origin so are quite historic – if alien to North Wales!.

Another acquisition is a set of fencing panels and hand rails formerly installed at Burnham station, Slough for use at the platform subway access.


Supporters continue to respond to the Corwen Big Push appeal to buy shares in Llangollen Railway and to date £70,000 has been raised, plus donations for the various appeals for specific funds – Tenner for a Tonne and the Water Tower. Fund raising continues and as ever more is needed to ensure completion of the project in time for an opening in 2018. Copies of the Big Push share brochure remain available from Llangollen Railway, The Station, Llangollen LL20 8SN. Call 01978 860979