The Ghost on the Coast

Bagillt, Mold Junction then home

The surroundings were becoming less salubrious as we approached the industrial end of Deeside. Most of the heavy industry, principally coal mining and steel, has closed down and this is a depressed area.

Only the overgrown platforms remain of Bagillt station, just a couple of miles east, dating from January 1849, shortly after the line opened. Like the other closed stations we saw, it closed on Valentine's Day in 1966.

We took a quick look at Flint as we passed, arriving just in time to see 37 422 flash past on its way back to Holyhead but too late for a photograph.

We didn't have time to investigate the sites of Connah's Quay, Queensferry and Sandycroft stations and gave Shotton (re-opened in 1972) a miss as we were running very short of time. The road was unpleasantly busy now but got quieter as we turned onto the B5129 at Queensferry. After about a mile we were suddenly into pleasant rural scenery as the road skirted Hawarden Airport and along the Dee before we arrived at Saltney Ferry, otherwise known as Mold Junction.
These terraces were built for the workers at the adjacent Mold Junction motive power depot, closed in 1966.

Forty years ago the air would have been scented with the characteristic blend of oil, smoke and steam unique to the steam locomotive. The presence of a car in the street would have provoked interest, as the precursor to an entry in the births, marriages and deaths column of the local newspaper, while the rows of steam engines would go unnoticed. There was a station here too but we could see no sign of it.

Little remains now, only the distance of the signalbox from the lines and the redundant arches of the bridge we're standing on give clues that this was once an extensive rail complex.

We'd have liked to have stayed to photograph the return of the Virgin train to London but this would seriously have compromised our chances of catching the 15:47 at Chester. We had to cross the city centre to reach the station, which is to the north-east. As is the case everywhere, the road signs assumed all traffic is motor traffic and directed it around the ring road - no help to cyclists who need a direct route and avoid hostile ring roads.

We dismounted and headed into the centre. Eventually we found a pedestrian sign pointing to the station but by that time we were almost there, with ten minutes to spare. Had we missed it we'd have had a two-hour wait for the next real train though we could have gone for a unit and hoped no-one else had taken the two available cycle spaces.
But why pay good money to travel on plastic rubbish when you can enjoy a train like this for the same fare?

The throng of passsengers at Chester showed that the coast line is still flourishing despite the decaying scenes from the past that we visited. It was standing room only on the four-coach train as far as Bangor, though there were a lot of comings and goings at intermediate stations, and there were so many people in the brake van we had trouble unloading our bikes at Bangor. 37 420 The Scottish Hosteller stands under the footbridge at Bangor waiting to depart for Holyhead.

It was a rousing ride with all the windows and doors open to provide maximum ventilation for a packed train on a hot day as we swayed and rocked to Bangor. No chance of photographing Mostyn on this trip!

Thanks to

The North Wales Coast Railway by Peter E Baughan (pub. Martin Bairstow, ISBN 0 9510302 9 9)
for dates of openings and closings and general information.

Charlie Hulme's The North Wales Coast railway web site for news of events on the coast.

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