Favourite photo-spots: Abergavenny

Spending a few days in Abergavenny while on a walking trip in the Brecon Beacons with family and friends meant another chance to capture locomotive action and lower quadrant semaphores at this southernmost outpost of mechanical signalling on the Marches Line.

After being rather unlucky with the weather on my previous (October 2021) visit, I was particularly keen to check out the scope for photos from what is called Caederwen footbridge, north of the station, as well as a road bridge some distance beyond.

67008 approaches Abergavenny station with 1W96 from Cardiff Central (17.16) to Holyhead

As I wrote last year, Abergavenny is a delightful spot to see and photograph trains, with a view looking south from the station footbridge of the GWR timber signal box dating from 1934 on the east (left) side of the line, with many of its 11 semaphore arms in view from this point.

DB 67010 passes signal AY5 on 25 May 2022 with 1W96 from Cardiff Central (17.16) to Holyhead

Abergavenny’s semaphores comprise four on the up main line, four on the down main, with two controlling entry to a loop on the up side of the line and one controlling exit from a refuge siding on the down side of the line, just south of the signal box.

175113 passes Abergavenny Signal Box with 1V48 from Manchester Piccadilly (15.31) to Carmarthen

Apart from up (northbound) outer home AY2, which is on a bracket with a signal controlling access to the up goods loop, and down section signal AY42, all can be seen from the station and in the case of down outer home AY51, from Caederwen footbridge.

Colas Rail 56113 approaches Abergavenny with a trainload of logs from Baglan Bay to Chirk

Passenger services passing at Abergavenny comprise hourly services between Manchester Piccadilly and either Carmarthen or Milford Haven and two-hourly services between Holyhead and Cardiff Central.

175006 passes signal AY51 with 1V33 from Manchester Piccadilly (06.31) to Milford Haven

Most services are formed of Class 175 units, but with occasional appearances by Class 150/3/8 units and also by DB Class 67 locos powering trains comprising four MkIV coaches and a driving van trailer (DVT).

67010 powers away from Abergavenny with 1W96 from Cardiff Central to Holyhead

On the first of three days I was able to spend some time seeing passing traffic (24 May 2022) the important evening loco-hauled service 1V96 (17.16 ex-Cardiff Central) was cancelled, but my luck was in when I was able to photograph it from Caederwen footbridge the following day (25 May) and at the station on 26 May.

67010 approaches AY51 with 1V91 from Holyhead (05.33) to Cardiff Central

The only freight action I had seen on numerous previous visits to the Marches Line had been the daily working from Dee Marsh to Margam, so it was good to be able to see something different, when I was able to photograph Colas Rail 56113 hauling a trainload of logs from Baglan Bay to Chirk on both 24 and 25 May.

158837 approaches AY51 with 1V97 from Holyhead (14.34) to Cardiff Central

Caederwen footbridge stands immediately south of down outer home signal AY51 but also offers a good view of northbound trains as they pull out of the long and curving up platform and pass up section signal AY5.

Colas Rail 56113 on 25 May 2022 with its train of logs from Baglan Bay to Chirk

The signal post carrying AY51 clearly once had both home and distant signals, with the single remaining arm in what would have been the position of a distant arm.

67008 (+DVT 82216) depart Abergavenny with 1W96 from Cardiff Central (17.16) to Holyhead

For a better and front view of AY51 it is worth venturing to the Asylum Road (B4233) over-bridge a little further north, from where there is the chance to photograph southbound trains as they approach the signal and round the left hand curve towards the station. But endless noise from the nearby A465 makes listening for the sound of an approaching southbound train something of a challenge!

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