All the steam news for May
The Talyllyn Railway, the first railway to be taken over and run by a preservation society, celebrated its 60th anniversary on May 14. The first train to be run by the society set off from Wharf station on May 14 1951 after a tape cutting ceremony which effectively founded the preservation movement. The ceremony was re-enacted with the same locomotive - Fletcher Jennings 0-4-0WT Dolgoch (freshly back in service following an overhaul which included a new boiler built by the Severn Valley Railway) - and original TR carriages. The same ribbon as was used 60 years earlier (sewn back together for the occasion!) was cut by John Snell, who had fired Dolgoch for the 1951 first train
The Welsh Assembly Government has announced a £300,000 grant to the Snowdon Mountain Railway for the purchase of new carriages. They will improve visitor comfort and visibility while increasing high season capacity. Five of the SMR’s current eight carriages date from 1895.
Bedfordshire’s 2ft gauge Leighton Buzzard Railway has restored a complete fire fighting train. The locomotive, Ruston & Hornsby 44/48hp Class AMW No. 165 (RH 194784/1939) and wagons were transferred to LBR last November following storage in the RAF Museum Reserve Collection. The train was used on the RAF Chilmark system in Wiltshire up to the 1990s.
The LMS-Patriot Project, which is constructing new-build ‘Patriot’ No. 45551 The Unknown Warrior, has been offered the chance to buy most of the required motion components (spares from scrapped 'Jubilees' No. 45562 Alberta and No. 45697 Achilles stored at Tyseley since the 1960s) if it can raise £50,000 to complete the purchase and cover refurbishment costs. Although from ‘Jubilees’ the parts are identical to 'Patriot' motion components. The acquisition would save the LMS-Patriot Project a considerable amount in comparison with producing new parts. The aim is to complete The Unknown Warrior by 2018.
Catch Me Who Can, a reconstruction of Trevithick’s third locomotive, is being modified to enable it to become an operating steam locomotive capable of hauling a light passenger vehicle. The changes include a new chimney, adding a dragbox and footplate and fitting a braking system - the original did not have any brakes! Hitherto the reconstructed early locomotive has been steamed as a static exhibit only.
In mid-May the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s £1 million Emergency Appeal had brought in nearly £700,000. The line has been severed by landslips for the second time in two years with cash needed to finance repairs and get the railway’s finances back on their feet. The railway is presently being operated in two sections with DMU services running between Toddington and Laverton while steam features on the Winchcombe to Cheltenham Race Course section.
For the first time in preservation, Dennis Howells' 0-6-0PT No. 9466 is running in pre-1956 BR black livery with BR lion and wheel logo. It has always previously carried a green livery, the change being made to celebrate the loco’s 60th birthday. The new look was unveiled at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre’s May 1-2 Spring Steam Gala.
Bressingham’s A1X ‘Terrier’ No. 662 (Martello) was being repainted from LBSCR umber to BR black at Loughborough during May. It was expected to make its first appearance in the new livery at the Great Central Railway’s May 27-30 ‘Golden Oldies’ gala, then go to the Kent & East Sussex Railway to appear for that line’s June 11 re-enactment of the last train over the K&ESR prior to closure by BR.
The West Somerset Railway’s ‘Manor’ No. 7828 Odney Manor is to be unveiled following major overhaul on June 17 carrying the name Norton Manor. The re-naming, described as temporary (although this could be several years) is to honour 40 Commando, whose Norton Manor base backs on to the WSR line at Norton Fitzwarren. The ‘Manor’ will be in steam for the Minhead re-launch but not expected to haul trains. The West Somerset Railway carried 35,359 passengers up to the end of April – just over 1,000 up on last year.
Elsecar Railway-based Peckett 0-6-0ST Mardy No. 1 (known as ‘The Mardy Monster’) will visit the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway’s ‘Industrial Steam of South Wales’ themed September 17-18 Autumn Steam Gala. This will be the first time the loco has run in the South Wales valleys since withdrawal from industrial service in 1976. The P&BR’s gala, expected to feature five locos in steam, will be held immediately after the line’s new branch to the Big Pit coal mine attraction opens on September 16. The railway has had its best-ever start to a season with over 1,700 people carried, including almost 1,000 over four days of Easter trains.
The Kent & East Sussex Railway’s April 30 to May 1-2 Grand Steam Gala featured eight locomotives in steam. While the big visiting attraction was the NRM’s No. 3717 City of Truro, the event also saw the first public appearance of LBSCR A1X ‘Terrier’ No. 3 Bodiam in BR black livery as No. 32670. The event, the line’s best ever gala for passenger numbers and revenue, formed part of a year of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of BR’s closure of the original K&ESR and the formation of the Kent & East Sussex Railway Preservation Society.
Avonside 0-6-0ST Robert (2068/1933) has returned to its display location at Stratford station. It had been plinthed at Stratford since 1999 but was moved to the East Anglian Railway Museum in March 2008 while Stratford station received a £200 million facelift in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games. While at EARM Robert received a cosmetic makeover funded by the Olympic Delivery Authority.
NRM-owned ‘Midland Compound’ 4-4-0 No. 1000 was moved from its display location in the Severn Valley Railway’s Highley Engine House on May 4 to commence a move to Scotland. On May 17 it arrived at the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway where it will go on display in the Scottish Railway Exhibition buildings.
THE North Yorkshire Moors Railway held its most ambitious event ever between April 29-May 8 to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the first train to run from Whitby to Pickering. In addition to the two weekends, intensive operations continued on the mid-week dates with between 7 and 11 locomotives in steam each day. Visiting locomotives included replica early locos, the festival also marking completion of the project to reinstate the original overall roof at Pickering station.
Sharp Stewart 0-4-4T Dunrobin has arrived back in Britain after being at Fort Steele in Canada since late 1965. The locomotive has been repatriated following its purchase by Beamish. It is now at Bridgnorth where Severn Valley Railway Contract Engineering will assess the work required to return Dunrobin to steam. Beamish would like the loco to be working at its museum in 2013. Steam on Beamish’s Rowley station line is presently being provided by LNER Y7 0-4-0T No. 985 (BR No. 68088) following completion of its overhaul by the North Norfolk Railway.
The North Staffordshire Railway Rolling Stock Restoration Trust has launched a £75,000 appeal aimed at producing a two-coach North Staffordshire Railway heritage train for the Foxfield Railway. The line has secured two NSR carriage bodies which will be restored to run on modified underframes.