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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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Investigation continues into oil pollution along Cleddau estuary

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NATURAL RESOURCES WALES (NRW) is looking into the cause of a pollution incident that has affected several areas along Milford Haven waterway.

Several organisations responded on Friday (Dec 7) including NRW, Pembrokeshire County Council, The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), and Port of Milford Haven (PMH), after reports of oil at Burton Ferry.

Several tonnes of contaminated seaweed and strandline debris were removed on Friday while NRW sampled the site.

Clean up and investigation work continued over the weekend after more oil was reported at Llanreath, Pembroke River, Hazelbeach and Llanstadwell.

It’s thought that the pollution is a fuel oil, the source is being investigated.

So far, around 55 birds lightly contaminated in oil have been sighted but no fatalities or distressed birds have been reported. The RSPCA have checked the area.

Robert Phillips, Team Leader for Pembrokeshire Natural Resource Management for NRW, said: “Protecting Wales’ environment and wildlife is a huge part of the work we do which is why we are contactable 24/7 in case there’s an incident we need to attend.

“The oil pollution in Milford Haven is affecting a few areas and we’re working hard with our partners to find the cause.

“The recent weather should help break up the oil but in the meantime, please report any pollution incidents to our 24/7 incidents line on 03000 65 3000.”

Investigations into the source of pollution are ongoing.

Adam Grogan, Head of Wildlife at RSPCA, commented: “RSPCA Cymru officers are standing by in case any oil affected birds or other animals are brought to our attention so we can provide the appropriate assistance.

“We urge if anyone spots any bird or animal in distress to contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 as they are animals that need specialist care and treatment.

“We continue to liaise with Natural Resources Wales on this.”

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Huge response to PATCH appeal

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“WE’RE going to need a bigger van…..”

That was the first reaction of Tracy Olin – manager of the County-based charity PATCH (Pembrokeshire Action To Combat Hardship) – when she saw the mountain of food products and household items assembled in the reception area of County Hall, Haverfordwest.

For the past few weeks, the headquarters of Pembrokeshire County Council has been utilised as a collection point for goods donated by employees of the local authority to be distributed to needy adults and children this Christmas.

“There was so much I quickly realised that the van we had brought was not going to be big enough,” explained Tracey who quickly made arrangements for a second van to turn-up.

“All I can say is ‘wow’ – and thank you to all the Council people who donated. Their generosity will make Christmas a little more enjoyable for many needy families.”

Council Leader David Simpson – pictured among the donations with Tracy – said that he was proud of the kind-heartedness of Council staff.

“Their response has been amazing,” he added.

All the goods have now been taken to PATCH in Milford Haven for distribution around Pembrokeshire.

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Stereophonics to play Swansea gig

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ONE of Britain’s best live bands Stereophonics has announced a special performance at Singleton Park, Swansea on Saturday, July 13, 2019.

The stadium rockers will perform in their south Wales heartland to celebrate 20 years since the career milestone show in Swansea at Morfa Stadium to 55,000 people and the release of ‘Performance and Cocktails’.

It will be the band’s first time back in south west Wales since their Morfa Stadium show in 1999. This now iconic album, which was the band’s second studio release, gave Stereophonics three straight top five singles in the British charts with ‘The Bartender and the Thief’ reaching No.3, and both ‘Just Looking’ and ‘Pick a Part That’s New’ reaching No.4.

Over the past two decades, Stereophonics have played at some of the biggest venues to fans all across the globe, amassing over 10 million album sales in that time.

More recently in 2018, the band performed to sell-out crowds across the globe, including a huge 15-date arena tour, summer homecoming gigs in Wrexham and Cardiff plus headline shows at Kendal Calling, Y Not Festival and Victorious Festival.

Speaking about the latest announcement, Kelly Jones said: “Performance and Cocktails put us on the world map, and also on the TV and the Radio, which meant a lot of people went back to discover Word Gets Around and made our first album platinum! Morfa Stadium was where we set Performance and Cocktails alight, and it was a one off day that can never be beaten. It was perfect. I’m not a man that likes to go backwards, this event is merely a birthday party, so come along and help us blow out the candles.”

Stereophonics are Kelly Jones (vocals/guitar), Richard Jones (bass), Adam Zindani (guitar) and Jamie Morrison (drums).

Tickets go on sale on Friday (Dec 14) at 10am via www.myticket.co.uk.

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