The summer peak is over and the autumn steam gala events have finished, but there is plenty of steam action to look forward to on Britain’s heritage lines.
For the first time in over 12 years there will be steam on the Northamptonshire Ironstone Railway Trust’s line at Hunsbury Hill this Christmas.
Santa specials are to be worked by Andrew Barclay & Son 0-4-0ST Sir Thomas Royden (2088/1940) which will be back in steam for the first time in 23 years following overhaul. The loco is normally based at the Rutland Railway Museum and appearing on NIRT metals is part of an ongoing joint working venture between the two charities. Visit www.nirt.co.uk for full details.
THE West Somerset Railway expects four locomotives to be in action for its December 28-29 Winter Steam Festival. These are expected to comprise GWR 4-6-0 No. 7828 Norton Manor (nee Odney Manor), WSR Mogul No. 9351, S&DJR 7F No. 88 and Pete Waterman’s ‘Small Prairie’ No. 5553. This will be one of, if not the, last appearances of the Prairie before it is withdrawn for overhaul.
The purchase of Rover tickets in advance of the event offers savings over booking office on-the-day prices.
Looking forward into 2012, the North Norfolk Railway is building up an exciting guest list for its March gala. Two big name locomotives are expected to arrive off the main line over Sheringham crossing for the event. One will be the NRM’s ‘Britannia’ No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell, while details need to be tied up before the identity of the other can be revealed – but it will be a good ‘un!
In addition, ‘Black Five’ No. 44767 George Stephenson, which will spend the whole of 2012 at the NNR (other than periodically leaving to handle main line tours) will arrive over the crossing prior to the gala and be present for the event. The gala should also see the return to service of the M&GNJR Society’s B12 No. 8572 following a major overhaul at Ian Riley’s works in Bury. Although this overhaul is now rather behind the originally anticipated schedule the B12 seems likely to run post-overhaul tests (in grey primer) at the East Lancashire Railway at the end of this year before returning to Weybourne for painting.
The North Norfolk railway is, of course, easily reached via the national network with an NR station on the Cromer side of Sheringham level crossing.
The Ribble Steam Railway has landed a visit by new-build A1 No. 60163 Tornado between May 26-30 2012. The mile and a half long RSR on part of Preston’s old docks network is more usually associated with industrial locomotives working its heritage passenger trains and handling commercial freight in the form of Lanfina bitumen trains to and from the national network.
It is the link to the national network over which the tanker trains are operated which is the key to the high-profile visitor for 2012. The appearance of the A1 has been arranged in the year of the Preston Guild, a civic celebration of great antiquity held every 20 years which draws huge numbers of visitors to the city.
Tornado is expected to work passenger trains during the four days it visits the RSR. The final day might see it work one of the scheduled bitumen tanker trains, although whether this would be restricted to the initial stage over RSR metals or continue beyond Preston Docks over the main line to Lindsey (near Immingham) remains under discussion.
Since being displaced from its original base at the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway The Furness Railway Trust has established a new base at the Ribble line. FRT’s magnificent 1863-vintage Furness Railway 0-4-0 No. 20 will be running on the RSR early in 2012, including Easter as part of the Preston Guild celebrations.
The Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway anticipates reopening over its full length on April 6 next year.
The last train to depart from Sittingbourne Viaduct station and traverse the concrete viaduct ran on December 26 2008. At the time it was possible this could have been the last SKLR train ever. Fortunately, the future of the railway was subsequently secured and public trains started to operate again in May this year, but only between Milton Regis (Asda) Halt and Kemsley Down. This was largely because significant damage had occurred to the viaduct station site during the closure period. Continuing work at the station means there will be no SKLR Santa trains this year.
The 2ft 6in gauge line’s Sittingbourne Viaduct station is a short walk from the national network station in Sittingbourne.
The Statfold Barn Railway is a private line but can be visited on selected Open Days during the year by purchasing pre-booked tickets – see www.statfoldbarnrailway.co.uk for details.
It is an amazing place full of interest with a main running line comprising 2ft and 2ft 6in dual gauge track, plus a garden circuit of 2ft and miniature track and a short standard gauge line. Open Days present 10 or more locomotives in steam (there were 12 in steam for the September event!) mostly drawn from the collection based at the farm, but often supplemented by a visiting loco.
The star of the March 2012 Open Day will be Bronllwydd, a loco purchased from Bressingham last year. Basically Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0WT 1643/1930, but fitted with a Kerr Stuart boiler (originally from 0-4-2ST Stanhope) at Penrhyn slate quarry, it has run in this much altered form for many years
Bronllwydd is being overhauled at Statfold, during which it will largely be returned to its original form, as built for Surrey County Council and used during construction of the A31 Guildford bypass up to 1934 when it was sold to Penrhyn.
See www.statfoldbarnrailway.co.uk for more information about this amazing collection and how to secure Open Day tickets.
And finally, although around a year away from returning to steam, it will be possible to view progress on the restoration of ‘Merchant Navy’ No. 35006 Peninsular & Oriental SNCo during November 5-6 Open Days at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s Toddington station.
The loco will be displayed in the car park looking largely complete with the boiler dropped into its final position and, hopefully, the cab in place.
The Open Days are intended to promote a push to complete No. 35006 while also boosting interest in the G-WR’s northern extension between Toddington and Laverton.
As outlined in the separate story (see http://www.rail.co.uk/rail-news/2011/gloucestershire-warwickshire-railway-news/ ) the railway needs all the income it can get with the financial pressures caused by the successive embankment collapses at Gotherington (now reinstated) and Chicken Curve, where drainage works have started pending full reinstatement.