Members of the FOC helped Martin and Jeanette finish the station office and booking hall and also the building of the new toilet block and the corrugated sheds masterminded by Quentin. They completed the signal box and the waiting room on the downside platform, cleared the track bed, cleaned the platforms, rebuilt the fences and painted them. The wooden sleepers ready to lay on the track bed were stored on the platforms for a while to allow vehicles a free run on the track bed to bring in materials.
New electrical cables were installed from the supply points to the various station buildings, platform 2 waiting room, platform lights, station house and the signal box. At the same time water and electrical supplies were put in for the new toilet block, platform 2 toilet, garden watering standpipes and the signal box. The heavy ground-work was accomplished mainly by Peter Cornes using his company’s machinery, Martin and Jeanette manhandled the cables and pipes into their trenches (mostly at night when they had a clear run!) per Mick Compton’s plan for the new electrical supplies. Phil Coles carried out most of the electrical installation.. All cables were buried to avoid compromising the 1950s restoration period when little or no cables were apparent.
The FOC has in its group of volunteers a wide number of trades, skills and knowledge. The list includes builders, electricians, gardeners, joiners, pattern makers, plumbers, welders etc. Without the combined skills of these people the project could not have been accomplished. John Mason, a builder by trade, took on the task of reconstructing the signal box and waiting room. These were rebuilt on the original foundations from recycled materials as described earlier. The box had stood on the Shrewsbury-Chester ‘Welsh Marches’ route near Baschurch. Some members knew the demolition contractor who had been given the job by Railtrack, by then the owner of the signal box. FOC offered a hand and a free tipping site at Carrog. That alone saved thousands of pounds.
The extension from Glyndyfrdwy to Carrog took 2½ years to complete. Although the track bed remained, there was a lot of clearing to do with the vegetation the wild life (water rats, owls, many species of butterfly, rabbits etc) and farm animals that had taken over. The route had also been widely used by walkers. The clearing required many man-hours and heavy equipment.
The track formation from Glyndyfrdwy through Carrog Station was re-graded using a specially equipped bulldozer. The main line from Glyndyfrdwy to the Carrog Station approach was re-laid by the L.R. Permanent Way dept on concrete sleepers for durability and easy maintenance. FOC re-laid the track within the station area, yard, and head shunt. Wooden sleepers were used here for authenticity and to ensure quiet running in the residential area. ICI Runcorn donated most of the track. This had been dismantled, lifted and transported to Carrog by the volunteers. Derek Foster’s bucket grab crane was used to load hopper wagons with 1000s of tons of ballast, which had been delivered by road. The wagons hauled by class 03 locomotive no. D2132 distributed the ballast along the track bed through their hopper doors.
Winter 1995/6 was a hard one and many places suffered from bitter winds, freezing temperatures and heavy snowfalls. This was not allowed to impede the progress of restoration although it made it very hard.
By January 1996 work was on schedule for the opening and tarmac was just going to be laid on the platforms when on the weekend of 20-21st January the railway inspector arrived. Although he was quite satisfied with most of the work, he had some bad news: the platforms were sloping the wrong way! Before the tarmac could be laid the coping slabs had to be re-set and the prepared surfaces re-graded. Any wheeled vehicles such as luggage trolleys and wheelchairs had to run away from, instead of towards the edges of the platforms. A revised drawing was quickly prepared and approved by the HMIR. This change meant that water could not run off, so drains had to be laid to take it away. It was a major problem that could have been avoided! Only a few months earlier the FOC had cleared and profiled both platforms as originally built. However, with everyone rising to the occasion, about 150 tons of additional material was removed from the platforms, Martin concentrating on platform 1 (as this side involved the Station House freehold) using Peter Cornes’s mini digger and with Hugh Parker and John Mason doing the same on platform 2 the work was soon back on target.
On 28th April, Quentin organised a trip for all the FOC who had given their time towards the station restoration. It was the first official train to arrive for 32 years. It departed from Llangollen at 10:30 in the morning, hauled by No. 5080 – Defiant. After a day at Carrog the party returned to Llangollen, its passengers high on emotion. It had been a wonderful day despite the extremely cold weather and the morning showers. Coincidentally, on this day Carrog station got its ticket from the railway inspector.
On 2nd May 1996, at 12.00 noon a special train from Llangollen with 145 dignitaries and guests, double headed by Defiant and Foxcote Manor, cut the ribbon stretched between the platforms. On the footplate was the Duke of Westminster. This officially marked the victory against time for a determined team and the vision of one special member Quentin McGuinness.
The Duke of Westminster inspects the tape
in front of Foxcote Manor.
Neglect was erased and Carrog Station, where at one time over 20 trains per day used to pass, lived again. Also on this wet and very cold day, Jeanette opened the tea room that she and Martin had been working so hard to finish, and served her first tea.
And finally, this story would not be complete without a group photo. So under the Carrog sign some of the FOC members gathered. Unfortunately not all the members could be present for this memento to dedication and a common dream, but their effort will not be forgotten as long as trains arrive and depart from Carrog.
Friends of Carrog members at the station.
A dream, which started with Martin buying the station and house and starting the restoration. A vision, which helped the group stick to the original idea and restore the station to original condition. Not an easy task when money is short, opinions divergent and short cuts so tempting.
A dream which gave Quentin the courage to quit his job, supported by others to drive long distances and work long hours to reach their common goal:
To see steam rising again above Carrog Railway Station.
The Friends of Carrog team, Llangollen Railway volunteers and especially Macha Pumphrey who conceived this book and wrote the original script.