The Wrexham railway locomotive shed sat in the triangle of land formed by the Ruabon-Wrexham-Brymbo lines and was opened in 1902. It was actually quite unusual since it was the last of the old Great Western Railway ‘northlight’ roof designs.
These had a series of roof windows that were supposed to allow maximum daylight into the building, but the windows quickly became encrusted with soot and grime and were therefore soon opaque.
The gloom presented a wonderfully atmospheric picture to railway enthusiasts who were lucky enough to gain entrance, but was less attractive to the fitters who were expected to work on locomotives in the Stygian darkness.
Sheds in those days were designated by codes on cast-iron plates that were fixed to the smoke box doors of the locomotives allocated there.
For most of its existence Croes Newydd came under the Western Region of British Railways and the shed code was 89B.
In its final years the shed came under the control of the London Midland Region and was given the allocation code of 6C, which had previously been used by Birkenhead. The shed finally closed in March 1967, close to the end of steam operations in Britain.
It may seem difficult to believe now but there once was a time when trainspotting and railway enthusiasm in general were a hobby of choice for a whole generation of youngsters.
Perhaps surprisingly very few of them wore anoraks, the garments now said to characterise them; instead they were usually seen with a duffel bag containing a bottle of Tizer, a few sandwiches and their precious volume of engine numbers to be underlined.
These books were published by Ian Allan, a firm that also produced a little bible that gave directions to all the main line locomotive sheds in Great Britain.
The directions for Croes Newydd were as follows: “The shed is not visible from the main line. Leave Wrexham General station by the main exit. Turn left into Regent Street and right into Bradley Road. Turn right into Watery Road and a path leads to the shed over a boarded crossing from a gate on the left-hand side, just past the level crossing. Walking time 15 minutes.” What they didn’t add was, Heaven help you if the foreman catches you!