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.

Photos taken by:

George Jones

Paul Reynolds

John Bearne

John Rutter

Phil Carson

Julie McNamara

Bob Gwynne

Peter Jump

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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


Work on the site by the volunteer workforce continued through the summer and into autumn tackling various aspects of the work as weather conditions allowed.

Starting at the western end of the site, the head shunt was extended out onto the end of the embankment at Green Lane, Corwen. This entailed building up the ground and the construction of a retaining wall to support the stop block/buffer stop, then laying one and a half panels of track from the end of the points for the loop line. The job was finished in early September when the Muscleman track lifting machine made several runs to bring the track into an initial alignment, pending top ballast and tamping when the track work is fully complete. The end result as seen from the road is a clear sign the railway has reached the end of the line, but the missing element is the Gap back at the former Welsh Water Access road and it will be a while before this is tackled as it remains the access point for the site.

Also tackled in August was the delivery of a redundant mobile classroom from St Asaph which was brought to site and installed adjacent to the subway access. It is currently receiving remedial attention to the roof and sides to make it water tight and will be refurbished as the station building once planning permission has been obtained from Denbighshire County Council. Meanwhile it is in store.

The main thrust of the work has been the creation of the signalbox base in a crater dug out from the northern side of the Embankment. Foundations were laid by the volunteers before contractors came in to build the base and sides using shuttering for a reinforced concrete structure the size of a mini-nuclear shelter, as some might visualise it. This took several weeks of activities as the project developed in stages but eventually the completed box was revealed in mid September.  After damp proofing the area around the front and sides, the void was in filled with some 800 tonnes of spoil to establish the widened embankment in the area where the points for the loop and siding will be eventually installed. The signalbox base has now gained a roof of concrete beams and blocks incorporating three RSJ beams which will provide the anchor points for the eventual installation of the signal lever frames. The result of all this effort is the provision of a basement room which will provide for locker space.

Costing some £30k, the base will be largely invisible to future train passengers as they enter the station but the back will remain obvious when viewed from the Water Treatment plant. To mark the completion of this challenging construction when the local Welsh Assembly member Mr Ken Skates visited on a tour of inspection he was encouraged to cut the tape to gain access to the new room which still needs fitting out. The actual signalbox remains in store at Carrog awaiting restoration if grant aid can be found to pay for the work.

Elsewhere the subway access up the platform level has received two flights of stairs with shuttering installed by contractors and concrete poured during early October. The question of providing disabled access is being assessed to allow for wheel chairs to be accommodated via the subway, an installation which will involve some added expense.

On platform 2 work has been progressing to lay the platform edging panels as recovered from redundant railway sites and about half the length is currently complete, whilst infilling of the area between the end wall at the western end has begun. Excavation of the footings for platform 1 is likely to be a task for the autumn. However the building of the water tower base at the eastern end of the site will be tackled next with the water connection from the borehole. A shelter for the borehole installation and pump is under construction utilising the recovered remains of a former lamp hut.

The challenge for the winter is to construct the island platform once the platform 1 wall is in place. This will involve the movement of upwards of 10k tonnes of spoilt as infill to create the platform area with provision for drains and cabling already being installed.

To continue all this work through to a completed terminal station requires resources – financial, materials and manpower and we continue to seek all three, although the financial aspect is the most relevant to a successful conclusion of the project in 2018. Support for the Llangollen Railway PLC’s Big Push share promotion will help; otherwise donations are gratefully received as detailed in the section below.

George Jones