Wrexham County Borough 26 - Bangor on Dee /Mr Beeching and the Wrexham to Ellesmere Railway/It could have been turned into a cycle track/long distance walk

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March 20th 2021
Published: March 23rd 2021
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Over the last twelve months and two weeks I have taken you all on local walks with the odd excursion out of the area . Covid had meant that my travels were within a few miles of home . Another case of more home than away. It is a lovely morning here with the sun just breaking through . There is a smell about the Spring and the sounds are Springlike . I have walked many miles around Wingerworth describing the houses ,. the gardens , the building styles and the things I see along my routes .

Moving to Wales has meant different walks . The river being the one constant . Fewer houses to describe . Fewer gardens to talk about . I honestly thought that I had been everywhere locally and that I had seen everything . I had wandered the streets and the tiny lanes . I was surprised to find a new walk today and you are going to come for the ride .

We are going to leave the house and head out towards the river Dee . In a slightly different direction today . We are not going off in the direction of the Racecourse . Nor up to Nant y Felin. Today we are avoiding the main road to Whitchurch and instead heading down Graig Lane . An unmade road with a few houses on the way. Workers are out early with their diggers . Making up a new driveway for the owners. I see no-one . Perhaps it is a touch too early .

I felt slightly happy as I walked as I felt in a few months I would be heading for Europe and travelling again . Little did I know that when I got home the news would be full of the story that the research team who advise Boris had told us that the average traveller would not be travelling this summer . How quickly news can change your mood .

Reaching the end of the lane I came to a private road . It looked on the face of it that I could go no further. However steps led up to a bank above the path . I climbed the steps and found myself on top of the bank . A bank that had been built to protect the houses below from the flooding of the River Dee. The flood defence system allowed the river to flood the fields to my left and then had to rise considerably before it breached the high bank . Across the gardens I could see bee hives . The path continued through a gate and into the next field. The river to my left was rushing this morning. I dont know about you but I love the sound of the river . The pussy willow was beginning to break out . A touch of white along the river bank . I didnt know where I was going . That is never a problem . All roads lead to somewhere or to nowhere . You just have to travel them to find out which. I could see the path meandering , through a gate and into another field . In the distance was a very large embankment . I had not quite got my eye in nor had my brain engaged or I would have known what I was looking at . Then it clicked . Across the field was a break in the embankment with a bridge crossing and a tunnel beneath . It was the old Ellesmere to Wrexham railway line or at least what was left of it . The embankment had long been colonised by trees and thick brambles . I headed towards the embankment and came across a wonderful structure . From a distance it had the shape of an Egyptian temple . On closer inspection it rose high above me . Sandstone blocks of varying sizes . Some monumental along the bottom . Every few feet the stones decreased in size . Across the river was an identical pier . I was looking the supports where the railway line would have crossed the river via a metalled bridge . Huge buttresses took the weight of the structure and I felt a sense of awe at Victorian engineering. The structure was both functional and beautiful . What a shame it had been left to crumble and decay. What a shame Dr Beeching saw fit to assume the car would be king and railways were uneconomical . This route was said to be one of the most picturesque in Wales . Now there was nothing left but this sandstone structure and a bridge further down the the track . The second bridge was an interesting structure built of the same sandstone as its bigger brother but lined with a vault of brick laid in a pattern to strenghten the roof . It must have worked for the rain did not come in and there was no sign of stalactyte on the roof . We would have loved as children to have stood and sat under the bridge in the rain . Listening to the trains overhead .

I left the bridge behind and headed for a road . I had guessed where it might lead but it took longer to reach the end that I had bargained for . Some of the houses were lovely . The usual type of house typical of Cheshire and the borders . Oak framed . I walked past large farms and equestrian centres and over a brook . It could have been the Wych Brook or the Emral . It was hard to say . I made the decision to retrace my steps . i stood under the old bridge and tried to find a way to the top of the embankment . The farmers protecting their cattle and sheep had fenced every bit off making it impossible for me to climb upwards . Sometimes you have to give up and I found my way back to the crossing point of the railway line . I imagined the work involved . How all the community hereabouts would have benefitted from the cutting and laying of the stones , from the carting that was required to bring materials to the site . It must have been a hive of activity before the line was opened in 1895. It closed in 1962 to passenger traffic but struggled on to 1981 as a goods line only . Finally closing in 1981. Great plans for the line never quite materialised but for a while stations and halts needed building . Station masters and porters appointed and life would have revolved around the small stations along its route. The first sod had been cut in July 1892 . The line took 3 long years to build and necessitated much demolition of dwellings in Wrexham to make way for the Central Station and the line . The 58 metre single span crossing of the River Dee was delayed by slow delivery of girders. The line was single track in most of its direction . Stations were built at Hightown , Marchweil , Bangor on Dee and Overton on Dee .

How I wished the train still ran . It was a shame now that it no longer existed and the only signs of it ever being here were hidden in undergrowth or incorporated into new buildings . The French would have retained it and turned it into a long distance walkway joining up small towns and villages along its way. Perhaps a cycle way would have been included and certainly the odd cafe or shop. An aire here and there wouldnt go amiss . Perhaps even a tram service . What a lot of ideas I had for this old railway line . Of course no-one would listen to me . It was just me musing and wishing for something different . It was time to return home . Back past the beehives , over the bank and finally down Graig Lane.

I thought I knew all the walks round the village . I am still learning .


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