Published 30th April 2012
The preview day for Barrow Hill’s ‘Fab 4’ gala was reported by rail.co.uk here .
So what was happening during the public days of the gala? Steam locomotives everywhere one looked is the simple answer. Once again the team led by the driving force behind the saving of Barrow Hill for preservation and its transformation into a vibrant heritage centre, Mervyn Allcock, working with Martyn Ashworth who has led the steam department at the Roundhouse since 1997 and secures the steam loco attractions, delivered a terrific show.
True, there was some concern a month or so prior to the event when it became clear the NRM’s A3 No. 4472 Flying Scotsman would not be present as anticipated. After all, the original concept centred on gathering an A1 (No. 60163 Tornado), an A2 (No. 60532 Blue Peter), an A3 and an A4 (No. 4464 Bittern) to produce the event title derived from the tag applied to John, Paul, George and Ringo when they took the pop music world by storm.
Initial concern maybe, but very quickly replaced by determination – supported by the NRM – that this was going to be a fantastic show. And that is exactly what it was, producing one of the largest gatherings of LNER locomotives ever seen in the preservation era.
The line-ups included a pair of blue streaks with full valances, Bittern being joined by speed record breaking A4 Mallard (more usually displayed in the NRM’s Great Hall at York) accompanied by V2 No. 60800 Green Arrow, also from the NRM.
This presented (depending which loco was in action on the running line) the terrific sight of serious steam comprising the static A2, A4, V2 trio joined by (in steam) another A4, an A1 or a K4.
Inside the Roundhouse another NRM loco, Ivatt C1 4-4-2 GNR No. 251, was on the turntable having arrived after a period on display at Bressingham before moving on to York.
As if the amazing display of static motive power were not sufficient, no less than eight locomotives were in steam on the running lines, these being:
A1 No. 60163 Tornado
A4 No. 4464 Bittern
K4 No. 61994 The Great Marquess
Hunslet ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST ‘No. 68030’ (HE3777/52)
LNER N2 0-6-2T No. 1744
J72 0-6-0T No. 69023 Joem
NER H Class (formerly Y7) 0-4-0T No. 1310
Manning Wardle 0-6-0ST Sir Berkeley
Larger locos took turns appearing at the head of the principal carriage rake worked top-and-tail on Barrow Hill’s main passenger line from ‘Roundhouse Halt’ out through the site gates for a taste of the surrounding countryside.
This train was periodically alternated with the gorgeous combination of NELPG’s J72 0-6-0T No. 69023 Joem and the Middleton Railway’s NER H Class (formerly Y7) 0-4-0T No. 1310 at each end of the 1871-built North Eastern Railway Directors Saloon (widely known as ‘The Old Gentleman’s Saloon’ from its role in the film of ‘The Railway Children’) LNER No. 21661 visiting from the Keighley & Worth Valley, this combination working on to the main line from the other halt platform road.
The third ride offered was aboard a brake van from beside the signalbox over a length of line behind the main sidings which leads towards the national network connection.
Attendance was well up to expectations, pleasing Barrow Hill and event sponsors The Railway Magazine, with the site appearing less packed than past major events by virtue of the continuous developments at the Roundhouse enabling people to spread out around the range of attractions and displays. Less than a handful of advance ticket purchasers (we understood two) wanted to cancel when Flying Scotsman dropped out of the show, perhaps not a wise decision as things transpired!
Over the last 15 years there have been a total of about 85 different steam locomotives on-shed at the Roundhouse. With the figure edging towards the 100th loco to appear Martyn Ashworth confided after the event he will do “something special” when that landmark is reached. We can hardly wait to see what he does to top this event!