Resurrected Volcano About to Erupt in Worth Valley This Year After Two Decades Slumbering

Published 21st March 2012

The first fire for 20-odd years has been lit in ‘West Country’ City of Wells after restoration

KEIGHLEY - Back in the 1980s when ‘West Country’ No. 34092 City of Wells was a regular performer on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway and the main line, it was famed for dramatic exhaust displays resulting in being nicknamed ‘The Volcano’.

City of Wells has been dormant for two decades, but its time is approaching once again. A fire was lit at Haworth on the evening of March 3 and the boiler warmed through over the ensuing couple of days. This was not an official steam test but the boiler, previously hydraulically tested and in the frames for this first post-overhaul raising of steam, was taken to near-full pressure. The test was a success, but with the main steam pipes not yet fitted there was no temptation to try moving the ‘West Country’ under its own power!

So, when can volcanic activity be anticipated in the Worth Valley? A spokesman would only say No. 34092 can be expected to ‘turn a wheel by the end of the year’. The remaining work includes general assembly, electrical wiring and a torsional test of the tender. City of Wells will effectively take the roster place vacated by Ivatt 2-6-2T No. 41241, the ticket of which expires at the end of 2012, but the time is clearly approaching!

While bringing the overhaul of City of Wells to a conclusion is the headline news, work at Haworth MPD continues apace on getting the K&WVR’s USA S160 2-8-0 No. 5820 ('Big Jim') back into traffic (anticipated during 2013) and the bottom end of the chassis of Taff Vale Railway 0-6-2T No. 85 is coming together with preliminary work on the boiler started.

What does the future hold for ‘Black Five’ No. 45212?

‘Black Five’ No. 45212 is owned by the K&WVR Preservation Society. Its last overhaul was undertaken at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway under a deal agreed in 1999 with Peter Best/Steam Powered Services Ltd which saw it return to steam in 2002 based at NYMR with periodic visits to the Worth Valley. It returned to the K&WVR in July last year to run through to the end of October 2011 when its boiler ticket expired.

Another ‘overhaul and use’ deal is possible, but not the only option. The K&WVR is also considering an ‘in house’ overhaul. Publicity has been given in some quarters to a proposal from Ian Riley, but both he and the railway view publication of such confidential discussions as premature and unhelpful. As with the same publication’s 100mph steam claim, it is thought to be a bid to dramatise news to boost declining circulation nfigures!

‘Flying Pig’ to star in October K&WVR gala

The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway has signed Severn Valley Railway resident Ivatt 4MT 2-6-0 No. 43106 (‘The Flying Pig’) as the star guest for its October 12-14 Autumn Steam Gala. The event will also be the final gala appearance of the K&WVR’s Ivatt 2-6-2T No. 41241 which will require extensive firebox work after it goes out of ticket at the end of this year.

K&WVR celebrates Golden Jubilee with founders reunion

The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society marked the Golden Jubilee of its foundation by holding a reunion event in Wetherspoon’s ‘The Livery Rooms’ in Keighley on March 1. When the original March 1, 1962 meeting was held, the location was called The Temperance Hall, which carries a degree of irony!

The first three members to sign up 50 years ago - David Mitchell, Victor Benson and Graham Mitchell - were reunited to celebrate the anniversary and Former MP, Mrs Ann Cryer, whose late husband Bob Cryer called the original meeting was also present. The anniversary proceedings included reading the Minutes of the 1962 meeting and current society chairman, Dr Matthew Stroh, presented a plaque to The Livery Rooms to mark the occasion.

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