Big Surprise on the Cards for Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway’s ‘Great Slate Quarry Fest’

Published 11th April 2012

Excitement builds as first visiting loco from North Wales confirmed for LBR ‘Quarry Fest’ weekend

The Leighton Buzzard Railway’s September 15-16 gala weekend, first revealed on this site as being dedicated to a Welsh Slate Quarry theme ( see original story) has been officially tagged ‘The Great Slate Quarry Fest’.

A return visit by Adam Barber’s 0-4-0VBT Iorwerth from Llangollen has been confirmed. The loco, which participated in LBR’s hugely successful ‘Coffee Pot Fest’ last year, will shunt wagons at Stonehenge Works.

Plans for some Page’s Park to Stonehenge passenger trains to be worked by locomotives with Welsh slate quarry connections are also emerging. These trains will include LBR-resident De Winton 0-4-0VBT Chaloner, but it looks as though there will also be two visiting locos. LBR sources prefer not to give identities until all paperwork is in place, but it looks increasingly likely these will be classic ‘Quarry Hunslet’ 0-4-0STs.

It is also becoming known that the event will unveil a big surprise on the loco front. Tagged ‘Project X’ at Page’s Park, lips are remaining sealed, other than comments to the effect that it will present something no enthusiast will want to miss seeing!

The invitation to owners of model locos based on types which worked in the slate industry, especially the ever-popular ‘Quarry Hunslet’ type, to attend ( see original story ) remains open. The objective is to produce a record breaking display of such models at LBR’s Stonehenge Works terminus.

Locos in 16mm scale or 5in and 7.25in gauges will be able to run, while the small scales will be shown in an exhibition space. For details contact the organiser, Alf Fisher, at or call 01923 770891.

Meanwhile – a small locos event at LBR

The Leighton Buzzard Railway’s June 2-4 Royal Jubilee event will centre on small engines. LBR locos 0-4-0VBT Chaloner, Baguley 0-4-0T Rishra and Kerr Stuart 0-4-0ST ‘Wren’ Pixie will be joined by two guests, Amerton-based new-build ‘Wren’ 0-4-0ST Jennie and Nick Williams’ Andrew Barclay 0-4-0T Jack.

The Saturday (June 2) is designated an enthusiasts’ day, while the remaining two days are pitched as a children’s event (‘Little Chuffers’) when the locos are likely to carry ‘special’ identities.

Pairings of small engines will also feature on Bank Holiday, June 5, passenger services.

Top and tail diesel trains see Feanor return to LBR passenger duties

The Leighton Buzzard Railway’s February half-term holiday trains are diesel-hauled and run only to Leedon rather than over the full line. Freezing conditions during January’s cold snap held up relaying of Leedon’s run-round loop, resulting in the unusual appearance of top-and-tail diesel worked LBR passenger trains for these operations, which commenced on February 12.

The scheduled motive power comprised 4wDM No. 80 Beaudesert (AK 59R/1999) and ex-Jubilee Line extension tunnelling contract 90hp Hunslet diesel No. 81 Peter Wood (HE9347/1994) – but on February 19 No. 80 Beaudesert refused to start due to a fuel pump problem.

The first two of the day’s trains had to be cancelled while 4wDM No. 18 Feanor (MR11003/1956) was brought to Page’s Park from Stonehenge Works, but the 12.00 service ran, with the 13.40 train, packed with a birthday party booking, similarly saved.

Feanor on a passenger service is something not seen in many years. The loco is a rebuilt 60S Simplex which acted as standby and low-season passenger motive power until this role was taken over by No. 80 Beaudesert, built for the railway in 1999 by Alan Keef Ltd specifically for this purpose. Feanor has subsequently received substantial attention including new bodywork, but is not thought to have worked on a passenger service in well over a decade.

Big Give promotion of Museum Gateway Project

The Leighton Buzzard Railway’s Museum Gateway Project now appears on ‘The Big Give’ online fundraising service. The project encompasses a new station building with community facilities at Page’s Park together with reconstruction of Platform 2 and associated trackwork plus other environmental improvements. LBR has applied for Heritage Lottery Fund support towards construction costs.

The LBR donation page can be reached at, or through the Museum Gateway section of the Railway’s website .

LBR’s first battery - electric loco makes its debut

Leighton Buzzard is famed for its fantastic locomotive collection - at the last count there were 14 steam and 51 internal combustion locos. Now, a battery-electric loco can be added to the number of operational LBR locos!

Baguley-Drewry battery-electric locomotive No. NG23 (BD 3702/1973) came to LBR in November 2010 as part of a batch of ex-RAF Chilmark locos, wagons and track from the RAF Museum Reserve Collection at Stafford. This included the ‘fire train’ comprising Ruston & Hornsby 44/48hp Class AMW No. 165 and wagons which were unveiled as a fully restored train last year.

Restoration of NG23 was set back when the batteries were stolen during a raid by scrap thieves. With the insurance claim settled, a new set of batteries were delivered to LBR’s Stonehenge Works where a contractor fitted and wired them in on March 21. The following day the loco was lifted to enable checks of each motor. This test being successful, the loco was then trial run between the works and Mundays Hill.

The underground area at RAF Chilmark in Wiltshire employed three locos of this type. They were introduced in 1974, replacing a trio of earlier Greenwood & Batley electric locos. The other two are also preserved, NG24 at the Golden Valley Light Railway and NG25 at the South Tynedale Light Railway.

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