Heritage Steam News December 2011

A round up of November news from heritage railways.

Biggest and Best Ever Mid-Hants Gala

The Mid-Hants Railway’s October 28-30 Autumn Steam Spectacular broke all records for a ‘Watercress Line’ steam gala.

Four visiting locos: No. 70000 Britannia, A1 No. 60163 Tornado, A4 No. 4492 Dominion of New Zealand (a.k.a. No. 60019 Bittern) and LNER N2 0-6-2T No. 1744, joined Ropley-based 9F No. 92212, No. 850 Lord Nelson, ‘West Country’ No. 34007 Wadebridge, ‘Black Five’ No. 45379 and U class No. 31806.

Six Steam for East Lancs Gala – With Big Names Lined up for Early 2012 Events

NRM-owned LNWR ‘Super D’ No. 49395 and ‘Black Five’ No. 45231 The Sherwood Forester topped the bill for the East Lancashire Railway’s October 22-23 gala.

The star guests were supported by the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust’s 4MT 2-6-4T No. 80080, Hunslet ‘Austerity’ WD132 Sapper (HE3163/1943) – both of which are presently on hire to the ELR and will remain so through next year – and Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T MSC No. 32 Gothenburg (680/1903) and Chris Beet’s Peckett 0-4-0ST May (1370/1915).

No. 71000 Duke of Gloucester had been expected for the event but it did not arrive as anticipated following its appearances at the Nene Valley Railway.

Tunbridge Homecoming for M7

LSWR M7 0-4-4T No. 53, owned by Drummond Locomotive Ltd, visiting from its Swanage Railway base was the star guest for the Spa Valley Railway’s ‘Westerham’ themed October 28-30 Autumn Steam Gala.

The gala theme was inspired by the 50th anniversary of the October 28 1961 last train over the Dunton Green – Westerham branch (M7s based at Tunbridge shed 74D, including BR numbered No. 30053, sometimes worked Westerham branch trains when an H class tank was not available) and SVR stations were ‘renamed’ to recall Westerham branch locations: Dunton Green (Eridge), Westerham (Tunbridge Wells West), Chevening Halt (High Rocks Halt) and Brasted (Groombridge).

Moreover, in BR times No. 30053 worked over the Tunbridge Wells-Eridge route of today’s Spa Valley heritage line. It was even allocated to Tunbridge Wells West shed (75F) in 1963, making this visit something of a homecoming. The M7 ran with a headboard with similar wording plus a union flag to echo the adornments carried by H class No. 31518 on October 28 1961.

More Autumn Steam

Other autumn steam galas included the Bluebell Railway’s November 4-6 Vintage Trains Weekend featuring seven locos in steam, the 2ft gauge Bredgar & Wormshill Light Railway when six locos were in action (see separate reports covering these events) and five in steam – including Dubs 0-4-0CT (4101/1901) - at the Foxfield Railway’s October 15-16 Autumn Steam Spectacular.

The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway’s October 1-2 gala featured all of the 15in gauge line’s locos other than 4-6-2 No. 9 Winston Churchill (which is under heavy overhaul and due back in 2013) plus Exmoor-built 0-4-0T No. 312 St. Egwin visiting from the Evesham Vale LR.

£1.65 Million RGF Boost for MCR Rail Revivals

Moorland & City Railway has been successful in its bid for £1.65 million from the second round of the Regional Growth Fund, subject to a process of due diligence. This seems to be the only rail project in Britain to have been backed by RGF money.

MCR was set up to revive the rail network from Stoke to Leekbrook Junction, Cauldon Lowe and Oakamoor, principally for the carriage of freight. This includes reinstating the link with the national network near Fenton in Stoke. MCR works in conjunction with the Churnet Valley Railway, the heritage line which links Oakamoor with Leekbrook Junction via its operating railway between Froghall and Cheddleton. From Oakamoor, the line to Alton Towers is also projected for revival.

The £1.65 million investment in MCR’s plans to reinstate some 30 miles of sustainable rail transport links largely relates to the potential creation of 1,000 jobs at locations which will become rail served. There are also likely to be around 50 direct jobs relating to running MCR’s trains.

MCR has already reopened the eight mile line from Leekbrook Junction to Cauldon Lowe. Clearance of the trackbed of the disused line from Leekbrook Junction towards Stoke has been completed as far as Endon with assessment of track condition and required refurbishment work in progress. MCR hopes to reopen this section in early 2012.

Cob Widening in New Year to Enable FR Harbour Station Re-Modelling

Work has started at the Ffestiniog Railway’s Harbour station towards widening the Cob along a 200 metre length on the seaward side. This will enable additional tracks to be laid at the Porthmadog end as part of the re-modelling of the station to handle FR and Welsh Highland trains simultaneously. The present single platform layout precludes a direct interchange between FR services from Blaenau Ffestiniog and WHR trains from Caernarfon.

The first step is construction of a temporary crossing over the track with an access ramp to the beach, to be completed in December. Starting in January, plant and around 5,000 tons of fill material will be moved to the work site before the station reopens in March for the start of 2012 FR services, although stone deliveries will largely be suspended during February when half term week services run.

With re-shaping of the Cob completed, additional tracks will be laid next summer, with new platforms to be built in the winter 2012/2013 together with remaining track and signalling.

Good News, Bad News, for Swanage Bulleids

SOUTHERN Locomotives Ltd’s 'Battle of Britain' No. 34070 Manston suffered damage to its valve gear on October 14. A combination lever and two union links were bent but the full extent of the damage has yet to be investigated. This will determine whether repairs can be undertaken at Swange or whether Manston will have to be moved by road to Herston Works.

Meanwhile, at Herston, the boiler of SLL’s ‘Battle of Britain’ No. 34053 Sir Keith Park has been hydraulically and steam tested and is expected to be lifted into the frames by the end of November. The loco, resurrected from ex-Barry condition, is likely to be completed this winter and moved to the Swanage Railway early in 2012.

Automated Crossing Required for Welshpool & Llanfair

The 2ft 6in gauge Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway is facing having to finance the installation of an automated crossing system with lights and barriers where its line crosses the B4385 road adjacent to Castle Caereinion station.

Trains are currently flagged over the road after railway gates (which do not swing across the road) are manually opened. Ostensibly a quiet country road, although it is said locally that cars are sometimes driven at some speed in the vicinity, the crossing location does has very limited visibility hence the pressure from ORR to upgrade the nature of the rail crossing. The installation must be undertaken within 12 months to avoid the possibility of the railway being prevented from crossing the road and thus severed.

The cost could be as high as £150,000 if full NR standard is required, although there are hopes a solution similar to that employed on the Isle of Man Steam Railway will be approved, carrying a considerably lower price tag.

The line has no budget provision for such an installation and has launched a £100,000 appeal. Financing this work also means other projects will be delayed. These include an interpretation centre (museum) at Raven Square and a workshop extension at Llanfair.

Listed Footbridges go to Heritage Lines

THE Mid-Hants Railway has secured the footbridge formerly at London’s King’s Cross station which will be erected at Ropley. The foundations are presently being dug with the tower elements likely to be in place around the end of November. The bridge components were delivered to Eastleigh on October 12 for shot blasting and painting. The bridge should become operational next year, linking the picnic area to the motive power depot yard after appropriate footpaths have been completed.

The Midland Railway footbridge at NR’s Loughborough station, which is to be replaced by a new disabled-accessible bridge, is being donated to the Midland Railway – Butterley. With financial assistance from NR and the Railway Heritage Trust the bridge will be erected at Butterley. This station never originally had a dedicated footbridge (the adjacent road bridge linked the platforms) but this project, likely to be completed during 2013, will enable the possibility of bringing the MR-B’s platform 2 back into use.

Duchess of Sutherland Ready to Return

The Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust’s No. 6233 Duchess of Sutherland is on the verge of making initial post-overhaul runs over the Midland Railway-Butterley main line.

The boiler was returned to the trust’s West Shed at Butterley following overhaul by LNWR Heritage, Crewe on October 11. Progress on reassembly of the locomotive has been very rapid. The boiler was in the frames just days after delivery with the cab then being fitted on October 21.

Test runs over the MR-B line in late November/early December will be followed by the ‘Princess Coronation’ receiving further attention, with running in turns at the MR-B anticipated in early January.

No. 6233 will be painted BR green during the winter. This colour choice achieved 51% of the votes in a poll run by the trust, beating LMS crimson lake (31%), BR blue (15%) and LMS Ivatt black (3%).

Locos at West Somerset’s Williton

Rebuilt ‘West Country’ No. 34046 Braunton, stopped at the West Somerset Railway after a tyre was found to have slipped on a driving wheel, will be sent by road from its Williton base to Riley and Sons (E) Ltd in Bury. While new tyres are being fitted it will also be equipped with air braking for main line running. Braunton will return to the WSR, which will be its principal base for all main line and preserved railway operations.

GWR ‘Modified Hall’ No. 6960 Raveningham Hall, the overhaul of which has been completed at Williton, made several test runs around the station over the last weekend of October. After weighing and some further minor attention it will be painted, probably at Minehead.

HLF-Backed Whitehead Development Progress Confirmed at K2 Launch

The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Dublin & South Eastern Railway K2 2-6-0 No. 461 was officially launched back in to traffic at Whitehead, Northern Ireland, on October 13 following overhaul.

It returned to the main line for the first time since 2001 on November 13 when it undertook a test to Carrickfergus and back with a van, followed by running from Whitehead to Belfast Central with four carriages. No. 461 entered RPSI’s care in 1977, being purchased by the society in 2005.

During the ceremonial launch it was announced that a design team to progress the £4million scheme to redevelop Whitehead had been appointed. The application for HLF funding towards this project secured a stage 1 pass in February. The plans envisage a new station building, a turntable, enhancing and enlarging the locomotive and carriage workshops and rolling stock storage facilities and a visitor reception area.

SDRE Starts Assembling Wheelsets for New ‘Patriot’

The LMS-Patriot Project reports that all parts needed to make the rolling chassis for new-build ‘Patriot’ No. 45551 The Unknown Warrior have now been made or ordered.

The six driving wheels have been sent to South Devon Railway Engineering at Buckfastleigh following machining and non-destructive testing of the 6ft 9in wheels at the Boro Foundry, Lye. SDRE will press the axles into the wheel pans, assemble the crank axle then fit and profile the tyres and add the newly manufactured crankpins to the quartered wheels.

Other components for The Unknown Warrior recently produced, include four frame stretchers, axleboxes, inside crank webs and spring hangar brackets.

Sir Archibald Sinclair Stopped with Firebox Problems

Bluebell Railway-based ‘Battle of Britain’ No. 34059 Sir Archibald Sinclair was withdrawn from service at the beginning of November with firebox issues.

It could be out of traffic for a while since the railway have decided it will not receive attention until two current projects at Sheffield Park have been completed. These are SECR H class 0-4-4T No. 263 (boiler in the final stages of work) and the Maunsell Society’s SR S15 No. 847 (work on the boiler in progress with chassis awaiting a slot inside the works for reassembly of the motion).

EARM Submits 10-Year Development Plan

The East Anglian Railway Museum has submitted an application to Colchester Council for outline planning permission covering developments contained within its 10-year plan.

Central to this is construction of a new 50metre by 30metre two-road restoration shed and workshops. This will replace the present restoration building which dates from 1980. The latter will be re-clad and converted to become a heritage centre and exhibition hall containing three 150ft roads with platforms. In turn, this new centre will replace the BDJ Walsh Heritage Centre, opened in March 2011 in temporary buildings on a recently extended 10-year lease.

Rail access to the planned new restoration shed will be via a zig-zag reversal since the new building lays at a much lower level than the main EARM site. The outline planning application also includes revised access arrangements to the EARM site in relation to the Network Rail platform at Chappel and Wakes Colne station.

The total development package is costed at £1.2million.

Joem to Work GCR(N) Santa Trains as No. 63 Approaches a Return to Steam

NELPG’s J72 No. 69023 Joem worked late season trains on the Great Central Railway (Nottingham) and is scheduled to work GCR(N) pre-Christmas Santa trains and possibly the line’s December 27-28 services. However, the boiler of the GCR(N)’s own ex-Corby steelworks RSH 0-6-0ST No. 63 (7761/54) was lowered into the loco’s frames at Ruddington on November 18 followed by positioning of the saddle tank. There are hopes the loco might participate in post-Christmas trains, with an appearance on a pre-Christmas Santa Special not ruled out.

Filming at Didcot and Stogumber

Didcot Railway Centre became a film location for the shooting of scenes for a Hollywood film adaptation of Tolstoy's ‘Anna Karenina’ during November, with further shooting expected in December. The film stars Keira Knightley and Jude Law, while Didcot loco shed will become a Moscow station.

GWR 2-6-0 No. 5322 will be repainted black and feature with various wooden-bodied coaches from the GWS collection, and the film company have constructed a clerestory body which will be placed on the chassis of Didcot’s GWR four-wheeled No. 290 – the body features a removable side to aid filming of interior scenes!

Sequences will include a railway employee being killed under a train and Anna Karenina (played by Keira Knightley) committing suicide by throwing herself under a train. Special effects will create a suitably winter setting.

The West Somerset Railway’s Stogumber station also became a filming location in mid-October. Sequences included the station building being soaked and shrouded in smoke on the evening of October 16 to replicate a rainstorm on a misty night, while the next day saw S&DJR 7F No. 88 and a couple of coaches arrive for further scenes to be shot.

V1 spotted at Levisham

EYEBROWS were raised as word spread that there was a V1 at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s Levisham station. The rumour was true, but this was no Gresley V1 2-6-2T, the last of the Class having been scrapped by 1962. It was actually a full size mock-up of a WW2 ‘Doodlebug’ rocket – complete with launcher - present for the NYMR’s October 14-16 ‘The Railway in Wartime’ weekend. Over £100,000 in ticket revenue was generated by the three day event.


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