World's first rail water troughs

button link to welsh translationlink_to_french_translationSite of world’s first railway water troughs, Station Road, Mochdre

In 1860 the London & North Western Railway chose Mochdre to test a new technological concept for the benefit of passengers on the Irish Mail and other express trains. Long troughs were placed between the rails and kept filled with water. Steam locomotives were equipped with scoops which could be lowered to collect water on the move. This eliminated time-consuming stops for water replenishment from the schedules.

railway_water_troughsThe track at Mochdre was chosen because it was level and express trains passed at relatively high speed, as was essential to force the water up into the locos’ storage tanks. The water supply at Mochdre was unreliable, and in 1871 replacement troughs were installed at Abergwyngregyn, further west.

The photo shows a North Wales express of the LNWR collecting water from troughs in Hertfordshire.

Water troughs were installed on main lines across most of Britain, although there was a risk of passengers in trains on adjacent tracks getting soaked with water spraying up from underneath a loco which was collecting water! Some troughs even continued in use after diesel traction took over from steam, because early diesels had boilers to heat the coaches through a steam pipe. In 1870 the New York Central & Hudson Railroad was the first to copy the concept in the USA, where water troughs were known as track pans.

Mochdre’s Station Road once led to a minor railway station. Named Mochdre & Pabo, it opened in 1889 and closed in 1931. In 1904 two extra tracks were added between Colwyn Bay and Llandudno Junction, creating four parallel tracks. In the 1980s the remaining pair of tracks was moved northwards to enable construction of the A55 Expressway on the former railway bed.

Postcode: LL28 5EF    View Location Map

Other RAILWAY HiPoints in this area:
Llandudno Junction depot – locos and coaches were serviced where cinema stands
Colwyn Bay railway station