© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2011 Many years ago, Wrexham was an unlikely outpost of the LNER, by virtue of the Wrexham, Mold and Connah's Quay Railway being taken over by the Great Central in 1905. At the other end of the GCR's empire lay Marylebone station. I'm not sure whether there were any through services... ...until late April this year, when the Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway Company* began its new service - no less than five trains a day in each direction (four on Saturdays and three on Sundays). Not a dmu service either - no less than a class 67 and Mk III rolling stock. The intention is to have a Driving Van Trailer at one end - but at present, there's a 67 at each end - wow! Not quite the power overkill that might imply - only one locomotive is used... Enough of the technicalities. With a saver return fare of just £40, we had to give it a go, and with a visit owed to London- based offspring, we did just that on the longest day of the year. With Telford departure time of 6.53am (first train out) and return 21.33 (last train back) we would have daylight all the way. Despite the few stops after Telford (just Wolverhampton and Banbury on this occasion - signalling cable theft overnight meant we wouldn't be going via Tame Bridge Parkway today) this is not a very fast service. I'm reminded of the stories an old colleague used to tell me of his trips from Sheffield via the GCR main line in the 50s - he always reckoned it was a steady run, but equally a smooth one - the kind where the soup stays in the bowl (until it's drunk, that is). But 3 hrs from Telford isn't bad - with no changes, there's no worry about potential missed connections either. And there are plans to speed the service up, I believe. With a full day in the capital, and lunch disposed of (the S&M, Islington. No, it isn't - I did check. Sausage and Mash - excellent too.) the question arose of what to do. "How about the LT museum at Covent Garden?". It's changed a bit since my last visit (1980) - as a display of vehicles arranged for photography, I'd have to say "for the worse". Less vehicles on display too. But as a museum, it's hugely improved (I'm not altogether sure that steam locomotives ought to be kept upstairs...) - much more to see and study than just vehicles, however interesting they may be. A highlight for me would have to be the beautifully-made mannequins, arranged variously as passengers / drivers / conductors / guards etc - eerily lifelike. One (the chap in the bowler hat in the padded cell) is apparently the museum's director - a replica of him, that is, not the real Sam Mullins. He even sounds like a Dickensian traveller, doesn't he? Some time later (I could have spent an hour - and a fortune - in the museum shop alone) we decided a breath of (relatively) fresh air was needed before our return trip. How about a walk along the embankment? - and there was another railway museum-piece (not immediately obvious...) - no less than the "Tattershall Castle", the LNER's 1934-built paddle steamer for the Hull - New Holland Pier services. Better have a photo of that too... So, eventually, back to Marylebone, where there were both time and facilities for a swift pint before departure - and a reminder of the harsh reality of London life. £2.99 a pint for the locally- brewed ordinary bitter! Makes the fare back to Telford seem even better value... ...which it was. Our coach was a (temporarily?) declassified first - real luxury! There were free cakes (I'm not sure this is a regular feature) for all on the return trip too, served by the polite, friendly and well-spoken staff. Spot on time all the way home too (four minutes early at Telford!). What a great service this is! We were most impressed - we'll be using it again, I hope, before too long. Highly recommended! *Trading as "Wrexham and Shropshire" Footnote: Sadly, the Wrexham and Shropshire service ended on 28th January 2011, unable to make a profit on the uneven playing fields of our brave new railway... 1829 horse bus (1929 replica) 1882 horse tram no. 284 0-gauge model of a GNR 0-4-4T 1923 Q23-stock driving motor car No. 4248 Interior of Q23 stock Metropolitan Rly No 5 "John Hampden" Rickmansworth train (1900 bogie stock) Lady travellers on the Rickmansworth train Steam! A-class no 23 of 1866 1911 bus and 1910 tram City and South London no. 13 of 1890 1939 Leyland Green Line coach Routemaster -  and a more recent replacement Altercation on the trolleybus Transport of delight... Sam Mullins in the padded cell Tattershall Castle - at rest on the Thames Ready for home - 67 017