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Pembroke Coast Express, huge success!

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GWR Nunney Castle leaving Pembroke Dock - Pic Gareth Davies, Hundleton

GWR Nunney Castle leaving Pembroke Dock – Pic Gareth Davies, Hundleton

THIS WEEKEND hundreds of train enthusiasts took  a rare opportunity to travel by steam train over the scenic branch line from Whitland through Tenby to Pembroke Dock. The “Pembroke Coast Express” recalled the 1950’s days of named steam trains on the former Western Region of British Railways. The train ran from London Paddington through South Wales to the Pembroke Coast. Enthusiasts have recreated this train hauled by ex-Great Western Railway Castle class steam locomotive No. 5029 “Nunney Castle”.

Neil Davies who travelled on the service said: “It cost me a fair few hundred quid to get me and my family on this train, but it was worth every penny. Its an experience that I will never forget.”

The “Pembroke Coast Express” left Bristol Temple Meads at around 08:04 on Sunday (Aug 31) hauled by Castle class steam locomotive No. 5029 “Nunney Castle”. It headed west through the Severn Tunnel calling to pick up further passengers at Newport and Cardiff before continuing into West Wales. The 1934 Swindon-built locomotive passed through Bridgend and Port Talbot and at Briton Ferry, and took the Swansea District Line to Llangennech. From Llanelli it ran by the sea wall most of the way to Carmarthen where the iconic steam locomotive was serviced. 

On lookers waved as the train passed through Kilgetty and Saundersfoot before stopping at Tenby to set down passengers who were spending time at the seaside resort. The train continued through Penally, with adventurers commenting on the fine views over the Irish Sea, to Pembroke Dock.

The train left Pembroke Dock hauled by steam locomotive No. 5029 and returned to Tenby to pick up passengers who left the train there. Continuing to Whitland, she rejoined the main line from Fishguard Harbour. Avoiding the terminus station at Carmarthen by taking the south curve, the train passed through Kidwelly and Llanelli before the steep ascent of Cockett Bank – a 1 in 50 gradient. The train avoided the terminus station at Swansea High Street and passed through Neath to join the main line at Briton Ferry. There was some ‘fast running’ en route to Cardiff, the first set down stop. The Pembroke Coast Express stopped at Newport to set down further passengers before continuing through the Severn Tunnel and onwards to Bristol, the journey’s end.

 

Mainline Career

Built at the GWR’s Swindon Works in 1934 to Charles Collets design, Nunney Castle was one of a 171 strong class designed to haul the fastest of the GWRs express passenger services.

Named for the castle near Frome in Somerset, 5029 spent much of her working life based at Old Oak Common depot in London. The engine moved to Worcester in 1958, then had spells at Newton Abbot and Laira before a final transfer in December 1962 took it to Cardiff East Dock, where it was to remain until being withdrawn along with other members of its class in December 1963.

The locomotive was used in many publicity and “life on the railway” type of photographs. During the first day of the World War II Evacuations the locomotive hauled trains carrying children being taken from London to the safety of the countryside. Nunney Castle was also used to haul the Royal Train in October 1957 from Paddington to Gloucester.

Preservation

Nunney Castle was sent in 1964 to Dai Woodham’s scrapyard at Barry, arriving in June where it was to languish for 12 years. 5029 was in fact the last steam loco delivered to Barry Scrapyard by rail. She was rescued in 1976.

The locomotive was restored from scrap yard condition at Didcot and returned to service in 1990. Since then it has been a regular performer on the mainline. In the late 1990′s the engine underwent its first overhaul, during this time she was fitted with dual air and vacuum braking. The tender was also modified to give a larger water capacity. Both of these modifications were made to enable 5029 to increase its operational capacity on the mainline.

She has continued to perform regularly on both the mainline and preserved railways and recently returned to mainline service from an intermediate overhaul.

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Protest over animal welfare concerns at Bramble Hill Farm

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LOCALS held a peaceful protest at the site of a Pembroke Dock farm, where over 200 animals were removed after a multi agency response to animal welfare concerns last month.

Around 100 worried locals from Pembroke and Pembroke Dock gathered at the entrance to Bramble Hill Farm last Friday (Feb 15) at 4pm. Those present believed the farm owners are still in possession of dogs, which they cited as the reason for the protest. Head of Environment and Public Protection at Pembrokeshire County Council, Richard Brown later confirmed that there were two dogs left on the farm, but explained they were elderly and looked after. Locals hoped the protest would mean the removal of any animals still left at the property and a ban imposed to prevent any further animals being kept at the property or by the owners.

Officers from Dyfed-Powys Police were present, with the Herald reporter in attendance being told that the police were ensuring it remained peaceful and to keep traffic congestion to a minimum. There was evident hostility towards to the local authorities and RSPCA amongst the protesters, with many feeling that their concerns about the farm were not dealt with soon enough by the relevant organisations.

Speaking to the crowd, Richard Brown said: “So the idea of what we do is, we are proceeding with our enquiries and get the case together. If we get a successful conviction, it’s an opportunity to get a ban on keeping animals. Without that conviction we can’t get a ban.”

He was challenged numerous times on whether Sean Burns, owner of the farm, has been prosecuted for animal cruelty. Mr Brown then confirmed that ‘he has been prosecuted previously’.

He added: “We have to be careful not to prejudice any case. All of our interests is animal welfare. We can’t just go in and remove animals because people want us to. We don’t have those powers.

“There is a range of offences being investigated and a range of individuals being investigated.”

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Neyland woman imprisoned for driving while disqualified

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A 35-YEAR-OLD woman who was caught driving while disqualified twice in four days days has been sentenced to six months in prison.

Victoria Anne James, of College Park, Neyland, was stopped by Dyfed-Powys Police roads policing officers in Johnston on Friday, February 15. She was reported for the offences and her Alfa Romeo car was seized.

James was stopped a second time by police on Monday, February 18, for driving while disqualified while driving another car.

She was arrested and charged with two counts of driving while disqualified and two counts of driving without insurance.

She was convicted at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Courts that same day and received a six month prison sentence, and received a further 24 months Driving Disqualification.

Sergeant Justin Williams said: “Police intelligence led officers to stop Victoria Anne James on February 15 where she was reported for offences and her car was seized. For her to commit the same offence two days later shows her disregard for the law.

“I hope this targeted, swift work from roads policing officers and the courts, which has resulted in a prison sentence serves as a stark warning to James and others considering flouting the laws on our roads. We are monitoring our roads and we will take robust action to ensure we keep other drivers on our roads safe by upholding the law.”

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Boy took his own life after failure to refer him for psychiatric support

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THE INQUEST into the death of 14 year-old Derek Brundrett, who was found hanged at Pembroke School in December 2013, has found that there were individual failings in efforts to get psychiatric support for the teenage boy – who then went on to take his own life.

Derek had seven different social workers and record keeping by social services was in a “shocking state of affairs” leading up to his death.

Returning a narrative verdict, the Assistant Coroner, Paul Bennett, said: “That Derek Brundrett took his own life and intended to do so in circumstances where, despite efforts to refer him for psychiatric support there was a failure to do so.”

Although no systemic failures were found, the Assistant Coroner ruled that there was a failure to refer by a social worker, a failure by a GP to provide extra information when referrals in 2012 and 2013 were declined, and a further failure to provide the relevant information on the appropriate referral form of a Looked After Child.

Derek’s death was in the context that he had been returned to foster care and was concerned about a return to the Pupil Referral Unit.

Derek’s actions were not considered to be a cry for help but rather a deliberate attempt at self-harm, the Coroner’s report stated.

The inquest had previously heard there were numerous failed attempts to refer him to mental health services.

A social services referral plan was not completed by Derek’s social worker because “she believed him to be happy”.

The inquest also heard Derek’s GP had made “routine” referrals for mental health treatment in 2012 and 2013.

Angela Lodwick, head of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for the Hywel Dda University Health Board, said they had to “prioritise children with severe mental health disorders”.

She added requests for more information about Derek’s condition went unanswered.

But she told the inquest that, at the time, CAMHS was not proactive in seeking more information.

Ms Lodwick said CAMHS would have probably “taken him on referral and made an assessment” if they had known about Derek’s risk-taking behaviour and talk of suicide in 2013, such as when he climbed onto the school roof.

She told the inquest the system had been inadequate and “the position was that everyone sat on their hands waiting” but CAMHS has since made improvements.

A spokesman for the Pembrokeshire County Council said: “The death of a child is a profound loss and all the professionals involved in this tragedy feel great sympathy for Derek and his family and friends. We would like to repeat our sincere condolences to them at this time.

“Derek’s loss is deeply felt by those individuals who had formed close and caring relationships with him.

“We would like to thank the Coroner for his thorough investigation and consideration of the case.

“We will, of course, reflect upon all of the issues that have been raised during the Inquest, and consider what lessons can be learned with a view to continuing to ensure the safeguarding and well-being of all children and young persons served by Pembrokeshire County Council.”

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