A round up of upcoming special steam events on heritage lines.
The Great Central Railway is laying on what it says will be one of its biggest ever events over January 27-29 with 10 locos in steam.
Headline locos for its ‘Festival of Steam’ will be the return to the GCR of NRM-owned ‘Britannia’ No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell (which was returned to steam at Loughborough and has been away working main line tours), a first-time visit by LSWR M7 0-4-4T No. 53 (owned by Drummond Locomotive Ltd and based at the Swanage Railway) and the GCR debut in steam of The Loughborough Standard Locomotive Group Ltd’s LMS 2MT 2-6-0 No. 46521 following a major overhaul. The latter may be running for the first time in Leicestershire but years ago achieved TV fame as 'Blossom' in the BBC series 'Oh Doctor Beeching'.
The gala should also feature the NRM’s GCR-based Robinson 04 2-8-0 No. 63601, which celebrates its 100th birthday just days prior to the event and will be withdrawn for overhaul before long. Other locos in steam are expected to be SR ‘King Arthur’ No. 30777 Sir Lamiel, LMS 8F No. 8624, GWR ‘Hall’ No. 4953 Pitchford Hall, BR Standard 2 No. 78019, GNR N2 No. 1744 and LMS 3F No. 47406.
At Quorn station two locomotives will be on static display and available for cab tours and the GCR’s new turntable will be demonstrated. Saturday evening at Quorn will feature a ‘twilight show’ with freight trains and a night time non-stop TPO mail drop.
Footplate passes for the event will be available costing £40. To register interest call 01509 632315. Full timetables and fares will be available at www.gcrailway.co.uk closer to the event.
The Chasewater Railway has expanded its January 1 ‘New Year Specials’ date into an event to say farewell to Hawthorne Leslie 0-4-0ST 2780/1909 Asbestos. The loco is owned by the railway and been at Chasewater for over 40 years. This will be its last steaming prior to expiry of its boiler ticket. Around £30,000 will be needed to overhaul the loco and it could return to steam in around three years.
RSH 0-6-0T 7684/1951 Nechells No. 4 is also expected to be in steam on January 1.
The Churnet Valley Railway, in association with Moorland & City Railway, has confirmed it will be holding a February 25-26 winter gala. This will star ‘Black Five’ No. 44767 George Stephenson, which has already arrived at Cheddleton and been out working trains, supplemented by a visit by the Mid-Hants Railway’s ‘Black Five’ No. 45379.
The gala will also feature Greg Wilson’s USATC S160 2-8-0 No. 6046 making its debut in service plus the final appearance at the CVR of Large Prairie No. 5199. After the event the GWR 2-6-2T will return to Llangollen where it will receive a BR black livery prior to appearing in the April ‘Steel, Steam & Stars III’ event. No. 5199 will remain at Llangollen until expiry of its boiler ticket in September.
The February CVR/MCR gala will run on the existing CVR and MCR’s Cauldon Lowe line. Although the mothballed line from Leekbrook Junction to Endon has been cleared, it will not be ready for operational use. Opening of this section is likely in early April and will be marked by a celebration rather than gala event.
There have been further changes to the expected line up for the North Norfolk Railway’s March 9-11 Spring Steam Gala. Six locos are still expected to steam – but not the same six as previously reported!
Doubts have now arisen as to whether ‘Black Five’ No. 44767 George Stephenson will arrive in time for the event. It is presently at the Churnet Valley Railway and due to appear in that line’s winter gala, but new crown stays are to be fitted before it leaves Cheddleton. It will be at the NNR in 2012, but it is unclear if it will cross from national network metals at Sheringham prior to the March gala.
The gala will feature a ‘Black Five’ – in the form of No. 45337, not No. 45305 as previously reported. The 26B Group’s No. 45337 will leave Llangollen at the end of January/beginning of February and go direct to the NNR for a visit which will encompass the gala and continue until the end of April. On or around May 1 it will depart and return to the East Lancashire Railway (where it ran prior to going to Llangollen) for the start of a 12-month hire deal. There are indications this agreement could well be extended later next year, confirming the ‘Black Five’ as a long-term ELR resident.
Another change concerns NNR resident, J15 No. 65421. This loco made what was anticipated to be its farewell appearance prior to overhaul at an October 1 M&GN Society Members Day. However, a re-think (and offer of 40 steamings on the NNR) has resulted in the society deciding to re-tube the J15 this winter to enable it to see out the remainder of its boiler ticket, which expires in July – so the J15 will be a gala participant.
Other gala locos will be the M&GNJR Society’s B12 No. 8572 (returning following overhaul), 9F No. 92203 Black Prince, GWR 0-6-2T No. 5619 and Pannier No. L99 (GWR No. 7715).
It is possible, but not confirmed as a definite arrangement, that NRM-owned LNWR ‘Super D’ No. 49395 might be added to the gala guest list.
The West Somerset Railway will not announce identities of guest locos for its March 17-18 and 22-25 Spring Gala until formal contracts have been agreed for them to appear. However, the railway has confirmed it does not anticipate hiring more than three large passenger steam locomotives plus a GWR auto-fitted small loco and autocoach for the event. Moreover, it will not be hiring in additional carriages, as has been done for WSR spring events in recent years, either.
A ‘wish list’ of guest locos became known in October but none of the possibilities then being looked at by the WSR’s Special Events Planning Team had at that time been booked.
There is an additional issue concerning both potential visitor numbers and availability of visiting locomotives in that three major spring gala events around the country will be clashing – the second weekend of the WSR event (March 22-25) coincides with galas at the Severn Valley and Mid-Hants Railways being held on March 23-25. Presumably this will present challenges for all three lines, each of which are major players in the heritage railway steam sector.
In advance of the major spring event, the West Somerset Railway now expects to steam six locomotives on each day of its December 28-29 Winter Steam Festival. These are rostered to be GWR 4-6-0 No. 7828 Norton Manor (nee Odney Manor), GWR No. 6960 Raveningham Hall, GWR 2-8-0 No. 3850, GWR ‘Small Prairie’ No. 5553, Mogul No. 9351 and S&DJR 7F No. 88. There will also be a diesel – performing ‘Driver for a Fiver’ duties at Minehead Station.
The WSR has also designated March 31 a Special Event day with a special timetable, this being the 150th anniversary of the opening of the original WSR from Norton Fitzwarren to Watchet. The principal stations along that section plan celebrations with details to be published as arrangements firm up.
The Severn Valley Railway has announced appearances by A4 No. 4492 Dominion of New Zealand (a.k.a. No. 60019 Bittern) and Strathspey Railway-based Caledonian Railway 0-6-0 No. 828 for its March 23-25 Spring Gala. The latter was hugely popular when it appeared at the SVR’s Autumn Gala in September. The loco has remained at Bridgnorth where the driving wheels will be dropped to enable fitting of new tyres this winter. Following the SVR event No. 828 will go to the Llangollen Railway to appear in April’s SSSIII gala.
The SVR’s March 23-25 gala is designated as a ‘large engines’ event (contrasting with the line’s September 21-23 gala which will be a ‘small engines’ affair) and the railway anticipates announcing further visiting locos although, as recorded in a separate story, these dates clash with spring events at the West Somerset and Mid-Hants railways.
The Bodmin & Wenford Railway will be celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Bodmin branch (at the time, Bodmin Road to Bodmin, now Bodmin Parkway to Bodmin General) opening throughout 2012.
The actual anniversary of the May 25 1887 opening falls conveniently to enable a May 25-27 gala celebration which will feature visiting locos. Details await confirmation, although a cavalcade of motive power typical of the area from steam days to diesel figures in the plans under development.
However, the May event is unlikely to feature two Bodmin-based locos currently undergoing overhauls. Pannier No. 4612 is at the Flour Mill stripped and projected for a summer return, while Pannier No. 6435 has been withdrawn for an overhaul which is being undertaken in-house with a June-July return anticipated.
With guest locos expected for the May event and two of its own fleet due back around the middle of 2012, the railway is planning to showcase its own fleet during the line’s September 7-9 gala. This should present six ex-BR locos comprising four GWR tanks (2-8-0 No. 4247, 2-6-2T No. 5552 and 0-6-0PTs Nos. 4612 and 6435), LSWR T9 4-4-0 No. 30120 and LSWR Beattie 2-4-0WT No. 30587 plus B&WR-based industrials.