CEC Tour August 2021

On Saturday 7th August members of the Crosville Enthusiast Club (1967) were able to enjoy the first tour since the onset of the pandemic.

The event was a ‘routes’ tour visiting a number of the old services that once operated between Bala, Dolgellau and Blaenau Ffestiniog.

A full report of this tour will appear in the CEC Review.

Tony Moyes painstakingly prepared the route and in addition on the day he produced a number of handouts to supplement his commentary. These were circulated among the travellers and they covered the various sections of the route travelled.

On the following pages are copies of these handouts. There are seven pages and they can each be visited separately by clicking on the link below. There is a link at the bottom of each page to visit the next page.

Also set out below are the notes of Tony Moyes which outlines a history of the routes of the area being visited. T%his was prepared as a handout to all participants of the tour.

In compiling these notes I have been heavily dependent on the research of David Cunningham, who has painstakingly gone through virtually all extant Crosville timetables from the company’s inception up to deregulation in 1986. Any errors in what follow are my responsibility.

Crosville had operations at Barmouth as early as 1924, with operations to Dolgellau and Blaenau Ffestiniog. A depot at the latter opened in 1926, but the company’s initial presence was not large in this area, in places blocked by the Great Western Railway. The GWR’s own bus services in north Wales were sold to BET and put under the control of their existing subsidiary Wrexham & District Transport (the old Wrexham tram operation plus bus routes they had subsequently developed) on 7/7/1930. The operations were merged and retitled Western Transport w e f 3/11/30. In turn, Western Transport was absorbed by Crosville Motor Services on 1/5/33. Unless stated, all services below that had originated with GWR went through this process at those dates. In what follows, Crosville’s 1947 and 1959 route numbers are given in brackets.

Wrexham-Llandegla-Corwen (318 1947 ; D9 5/7/59, then D6.)

From 30/4/1926 GWR ran Corwen-Bryneglwys – extended to Llandegla 1928. Ran from Wrexham on certain days by 9/2/31. To Crosville 1/5/33. Lloyd of Bwlchgwyn ran Wrexham-Bryneglwys (not via Llandegla village) till taken over by CMS 2/5/38. First diversions via Maes Afallen estate in Corwen w e f 24/11/60. Cut back to Corwen –Llandegla 4/12/66 ; withdrawn by tt 31/1/71 ; reinstated 1978 as D91 with connections into D8. Carried on till deregulation.

Corwen-Bethel-Bala : (352, D93)

Started by GWR 14/7/27 essentially as positioning journey for the Bala locals, Thurs only. To Crosville 1/5/33. By 1/10/34 Corwen terminus moved from the railway station to the Square. On 18/1/65 was absorbed in new D93/4 rail-replacement service Wrexham-Barmouth, along with several other previously thinner, disconnected services – see below.

Corwen-Llandrillo-Bala (352, later 359, D94)

Started 1/10/24 by CMS, passing to GWR under a territorial agreement 1/10/25. 11/7/27 GWR linked services at Bala to form Corwen-Dolgellau. To Crosville 1/5/33, who broke the service at Bala. Suspended 24/9/ 1939 ; reinstated as Corwen-Llandrillo TF and restored NSu Corwen-Bala 6/46. Became D94 5/7/59 ; subsumed in D93/4 18/1/65. For post-deregulation, see Wrexham-Barmouth.

Wrexham-Barmouth (D93/4)

Began 18/1/65 on closure of the Ruabon-Barmouth railway line, parts of which had already been closed following flood damage on 12th December. Crosville took on some ex-railwaymen and increased the allocation at Corwen. The railway had transported some 300-400 pupils daily from the Corwen area to Bala High School (a flow that still takes place). Gradually apart from school trips, the Bethel variant (D93) waned, D94 remaining at 7-8 e/w NSu, 1-3 e/w Su throughout. A limited stop version (L61) started 19/6/65, 2 e/w SO, summer ; last ran on 12/9/70. The schools services had their own route numbers, e.g. D98 : Gwyddelwern-Ysgol-y-Berwyn.

On tendering following deregulation in 1988 the broad tt was retained but at first Williams Bala and Bott, Abergynolwyn won much of the work and Crosville Cymru was left with very little. After a short while order was restored, with Crosville Cymru winning it all back. Arriva Cymru withdrew from the route on the closure of Dolgellau depot w e f 23rd December 2013. Rebranded as T3, it was won by GHA. On the collapse of GHA on 14th July 2016, Lloyds Coaches took the route over entirely, outstationing 2 vehicles at Vauxhall, Ruabon.

See also entries for Bala-Dolgellau below.

Bala-Cerrig-y-Druidion (352B, D95)

GWR began it 14/7/27 as Bala-Cwmtirmynach, extended in stages to Cerrig-y-Druidion 28/9/29. To Crosville 1/5/33. Journeys in loaded direction diverted via Llangwm Village 1/6/37. Withdrawn late 1967 but reinstated 5/1/69, w/d again by 13/1/71 and later covered by Uwchaled Community Bus (see below).

Bala-Llidardau Bach (352C ; D96)

GWR began it 14/7/27 as Bala-Talybont; to Western Tpt 3/11/30 ; extended by them in stages to Llidardau Bach 13/8/32, to Crosville 1/5/33. Operated till deregulation then incorporated in a tendered package of Bala local services (69) from the 1990s (see below).

Bala-Arenig (D97)

A service to part-replace the Bala Town-Blaenau Ffestiniog railway. Granted to CMS 6/1/60, 2 e/w NSu ; withdrawn 31/1/71 ; reinstated by 7/5/72. Latterly to Tryweryn Dam only. Post-deregulation incorporated into Bala local services (69) from the 1990s.

Bala-Llangower-Llanwchllyn (D99)

New 18/1/65 - allied to closure of the Bala-Dolgellau section of the railway ; Operated by Commer minibus SCP 2 (always?) ; withdrawn by tt of 31/1/71. Incorporated from time to time in the 69 package from the 1990s, but not currently.

Bala-Parc-Dolhendre Bridge (D98)

New 4/54 ; short out-and-backs off the Bala-Llanwchllyn road, Fair, Sale Days and Saturdays. Withdrawn by tt of 31/1/71. Y Parc incorporated in the 69 package from the 1990s on new route.

Bala Local Services (69)

These first came into being through Gwynedd CC policies from the late 1980s to bring buses to unserved communities, often with minibuses in mind. In the process, some older routes were reborn but there were some exciting new links. For many years they were tendered as a package, on the shoulders of school contracts. The winner of the tender could judge whether to add more timings (e.g. publicly-timed positioning journeys). The package tended to be won by a different operator at each round, each with their own finesse on what could be added ; at least six operators can be identified : Williams, Bala ; Johns, Blaenau Ffestiniog ; Crosville Cymru (1998) ; GHA ; Lloyds ; and Express Motors. In more recent years the work has been split into two : a Bala-based element involving a Llidardau-Arenig circular, a Parc circular, and at times a facility to Rhosygwalia. More recently various Bala taxi operators have run this element, the current one being Biscuit Travel, including a demand-responsive cover on the Bala-Bethel-Corwen axis as far as Glanyrafon. There is a Dolgellau-based one numbered 33 (Dolgellau-Llanfachreth extending in a loop serving Brithdir), Dolgellau-Aberangell-Machynlleth and a newish Dolgellau town service 33A, now all worked by Lloyds, mainly with Solos based at Machynlleth though originally with a specially-bought Primo.

Bala-Dolgellau (629, S32)

The Great Western Railway singled out this section of line in the interwar period for several new halts that probably repressed the development of the bus service on the adjacent road. In geographical order these were (with opening dates) : Glanllyn (14/9/31), Llangower (10/1/29), Llys (4/6/34), Garneddwen 9/7/28), Wnion (5/6/33) and Dolserau (8/2/35). All officially closed 18/1/65.

Crosville had begun thin services between Dolgellau and Bala in 7/24, and the GWR followed in 1/25, but following agreement, CMS withdrew to a few short workings at either end. By 11/7/27 GWR were running through from Dolgellau to Corwen. After Western Transport was absorbed by Crosville, the two timetables were synthesised though apart from high summer there were no through services. They were suspended in September 1939, short workings reinstated on 26/1/1940 but not fully reinstated until 6/1946. Numbered 629 in 1947, renumbered S32 1959. In some winters ran on fair days and Saturdays only. Subsumed in D93/4 with effect from 18/1/65 and greatly increased.

Dolgellau-Llanfachreth (626, S33)

4/6/27 GWR started Dolgellau-Llanfachreth. To Wrexham & District then Western Transport 3/11/30. Extended from Dolgellau Station to Eldon Square by 2/33. To Crosville 1/5/33 9/9/56 last journey of day extended to Hermon, gone by next tt. Ran after deregulation ; remains as part of Gwynedd’s Bala-Dolgellau package above, route 33.

Dolgellau-Hermon (628)

W e f 19/3/32 started, uniquely, by Western Transport ; suspended 24/9/39 ; reinstated 24/1/40 ; formally surrendered by 2/1/57 but had ceased the previous October with Suez cuts.

Dolgellau-Foot of Cader Idris

Begun by GWR 7/29 for walkers. Ran seasonally and continued by CMS from 1933. Suspended in 9/39 and never resumed. The 14-seater used was the last bus bought by the GWR as an operator.

Dolgellau-Oakeley Arms-(Porthmadog) (531B, R36, 2, X32, T2)

Started as extras on Dolgellau-Blaenau Ffestiniog via Maentwrog rather than via Bontnewydd 28/5/30, connecting with Blaenau Ffestiniog-Pwllheli at the Oakeley Arms. Assumed number 531B 1947, R36 5/7/59. Subsumed in gradual build-up of long-distance connecting services in stages : Aberystwyth-Dolgellau on 9/5/76 ; Caernarfon-Dolgellau 2 after deregulation ; absorbed into X32 Bangor-Aberystwyth in 2/05. Arriva lost this 24/9/12 mainly to Express Motors : re-branded T2. Lloyds took it on with many other Express routes from 2/1/18, and remain in charge.

Long-distance through coach services preceded the X32 by many years but were all summer seasonal, usually SO. Pwllheli-Aberystwyth service started in 1939 but lapsed ; restored 11/7/53 as X62,spurred by the development of Butlins Camp near Pwllheli. From 1962 the rebuilt A4212 road from Bala permitted other seasonal services including Macclesfield-Pwllheli by NWRCC and Bostocks ; to CMS 1972. On 1/6/1979 came the first TrawsCymru service (700: Bangor-Porthmadog-Dolgellau-Machynlleth-Newtown-Cardiff, one e/w, FSSuM) that via several mutations survived as 701 Bangor-Aberystwyth-Swansea-Cardiff daily until the second generation X32, X40 replaced them in 2/2005.

Dolgellau-Blaenau Ffestiniog (531, R35, R36)

By 28/5/24 Dolgellau- Bontnewydd-BlaenauFfestiniog ; extras via Maentwrog 28/5/30 ; 1947 531A via Bontnewydd ; 531B via Maentwrog, becoming respectively R35 and R36 in 5/7/59. On development of 2, later X32 and T2 became rather demoted, the remnants labelled 35 and with the Bontnewydd variant reduced to College Days Only. Restricted to sd by low bridge in Llan Ffestiniog.

Blaenau Ffestiniog-Porthmadog (528, R26/7, 1, 3B)

Began 1924. Depot at Blaenau Ffestiniog (behind Bowydd Buildings) opened 1926, accessed through an arch thus restricting it to sds. But Porthmadog- and Pwllheli-based dds able to work into Blaenau from the Oakeley Arms. New Blaenau depot opened 1964 on railway land. On deregulation route split at Porthmadog and extended to Caernarfon and numbered 1; at first shared by Express, Maldwyn Jones and Crosville Cymru. New Blaenau depot closed 1994. On demise of Express, Arriva Cymru recovered the route and held onto it, run from Pwllheli outstation, until 12/2020. Now Lloyds.

Tanygrisiau-Llan Ffestiniog (529, 532, R37)

CMS by 20/5/25 ; Davies, Tanygrisiau began operating Tanygrisiau-Blaenau 10/28. By 11/5/32 Crosville withdrew from Tanygrisiau end. CMS acquired Davies 15/7/37. Service extended from Post Office to Dolydd Terrace 3/7/40. Rhiwbrifdir variant by 5/7/53. After deregulation service tidied up as Blaenau Clipa : all journeys extended at the town end to Eurospar, and at the other, occasional journeys to and from Dolrhedyn ; passed initially to Jones, Blaenau Ffestiniog, later Johns Travel, who still run it.

Blaenau Ffestiniog-Oakeley Quarry (529, R38)

Though quarry extras authorised for Davies 29/4/33, these do not go further than Duffwys Square. Not until 24/5/1959 did they go up to Oakeley officially

Blaenau-Oakeley Quarry /Talywaenydd (529A, R39)

25/9/49 Market Square to Talywaenydd, basically shorts on Llanrwst service ; still on at deregulation

Blaenau Ffestiniog-Stwlan Dam(R39)

21/5/77 start of Stwlan-Blaenau-Llechwedd-Gloddfa Ganol seasonal services ; CMS ceased to operate these after deregulation, carried on by Maldwyn Jones and Johns Travel for a while.

Blaenau Ffestiniog-Llanrwst (530 ; R34)

By 28/5/24 Manod-Blaenau-Llanrwst ; curtailed Betws-y-Coed-Llanrwst 1/10/35 ; suspended 24/9/39 ; reinstated by 4/44. Weekdays withdrawn 8/82 although a Sunday service maintained as the trains did not run that day ; these still run by successor companies. Weekday service restored by Express Motors as a through Blaenau-Llanrwst-Llandudno service X84, extending at times as far as Machynlleth and Aberystwyth before T2 was begun. Now T19, Llew Jones.

Corwen-Llanrwst (346 ; D90 5/7/1959)

As early as 15/8/1907 GWR began Corwen-Cerrig-y-Druidion, extended to Pentre Voelas 17/8, then to Betws-y-Coed 1/5/1908. Curtailed to Corwen-Cerrig in WW1, reinstated. A very complicated thin service : under CMS from 1/5/33 came the first of many diversions – Llangwm - by 1/10/34. There were variants for Corwen markets and fairs, Llanrwst markets and fairs, some related to Bala, and some school services for boarders. Further diversions to serve Cwmtirmynach by 6/46 ; Rhydlydan by 5/7/53 ; Yspyty Ifan double run by 18/9/55 ; Glanyrafon 5/7/59. Cut back to Watling Street in Llanrwst c.f. station 3/1958. Carried on thinly till deregulation. Off-line variants to some extent picked up by Cerrig-y-Druidion Community Bus from 1976, and by Conwy Council route 39 in late 1990s. From 31/7/2021 is part of new TrawsCymru T10 service, 2-hourly Bangor Railway Station-Corwen, shared by Llew Jones, Llanrwst and K & P, Bodffordd using Tempos owned by Welsh Government.

Llanrwst-Ruthin (402, M2)

First in the tt of 1/7/1922 : a thin but persistent service; Saturday shorts Ruthin-Cerrig-y-Druidion withdrawn 18/9/66 ; Ruthin Market & Fair Day service withdrawn 8/9/68

Liverpool-Wrexham-Corwen-Bettws-y-Coed-Bangor-Caernarfon (Service B, 128, X7, 867)

First evident in winter 1930/1 tt, all year round. Suspended 24/9/39 to 1/46. Restored as 2 e/w summer, one e/w FSSu winter. Became National Travel 867 1973.

AM 6/8/2021

Extra note

Corwen allocation October 1965 (ex CEC Review no 274, Oct 1990) :

CUG 303, EUG 335, SCP 2, SSG 604/5 ; SMG 395, 439/51/5 ; DKA 178 ; DLB 733/5/916 ; DFB 48.