by Phil Marsh

Early Winter preserved steam railway news

Published: 19 November 2013

Another preserved railway opens while the 50th anniversary of a closure is celebrated!

Aln Valley Railway official opening

The Duke of Northumberland officially opened the revived Aln Valley Railway on October 30. The day also saw the launch of the AVR’s ‘Let’s get to Alnmouth’ appeal. The railway is in the midst of constructing a new terminus at the Alnwick end of the line, known as Alnwick Lionheart station.

Platforms are being constructed with platform tracks laid and being ballasted. Two replica NER signals have been erected and concrete foundations for Lionheart signalbox have been laid with stone on site for construction of the base of what will be an NER-style ‘box.

Volunteers have been clearing the trackbed and cutting north of Lionheart ready for when the railway breaks out of the new terminus site - the original Alnwick station is extant but impossible to utilise for the revival project due to road construction since original closure. The cutting will be partially filled to adjust the four metre difference in level between the old trackbed and new Lionheart terminus site.

The first locomotive to steam on the revived line did so at Lionheart on September 10, a test in steam of Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T 1243/1917 Richboro which worked, with the AVR’s replica NER brake van, from the shed apron into what will become platform 2 at the new station. Proper water facilities for the steam loco are still to be developed.

Work continues on Mk. 1 SK 25020, a carriage purchased from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway in late 2012 which had been out of use for seven years.

Hayling Island branchline 50th anniversary of closure remembered - on the Isle of Wight

The Hayling Island branchline line from Havant was always fondly regarded by rail enthusiasts and ran along a 1000 foot long bridge making a scenic but slow journey until closure in 1963.

The trains were formed of even then what was regarded as vintage carriages and locomotives. It was closed 50 years ago and one of the line’s engines, ‘Terrier’ now numbered W8 Freshwater now works on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway (IOWSR).

This was used on the last train on the Hayling Island Railway, a special organised by the Locomotive Club of Great Britain called ‘The Hayling Farewell Railtour’. This train ran on November 9 in pouring rain and the following day in bright sunshine. It was double-headed with ‘O2’ No. W24 Calbourne from Havenstreet to Wootton and then ran top and tailed from Wootton to Smallbrook. These are very rare operations at the IOWSR.

North Norfolk Railway buys Chatham Steam business

The North Norfolk Railway has bought Chatham Steam Ltd. The steam locomotive boiler business, which latterly has been trading from Detling, Kent, has been acquired for a six-figure sum by the rapidly developing heritage line in a deal which includes the order book, expertise and machinery. The business will trade as NNR Engineering and be run under the overall charge of NNR managing director, Hugh Harkett.

For the time being the boiler business will continue to operate from its current site pending alterations at the NNR’s Weybourne works. When the works are able to accommodate the requisite equipment three Chatham Steam staff, including managing director Robin Monday, will relocate to Weybourne.

Robin Monday had already been considering moving Chatham Steam to a base on a heritage railway. His company has undertaken work on NNR-based locomotives (one of the current projects is overhauling the boiler of the M&GNJR Society’s WD 2-8-0 No. 90775) and this deal has emerged as a natural looking result.

Some major heritage lines already undertake contract boiler and locomotive work, the Severn Valley Railway being an obvious example. The North Norfolk deal bears echos of the mid-2010 acquisition by the South Devon Railway of boiler repair and engineering firm R.K. Pridham Engineering which has been assimilated into the South Devon Railway Engineering business at Buckfastleigh.

NNR Engineering will be able to undertake steam locomotive boiler and chassis overhauls and is aiming at both the home and potentially European markets. In addition to raising the profile of the NNR further, it means its own locomotives will not have to be sent off-site for boiler repairs and overhauls.

NYMR officially completes ‘Train of Thought’ project

During an October 15 visit to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway to celebrate the 40th anniversary of public services reopening, HRH The Duke of Gloucester officially opened the new demonstration signalbox ‘Pickering South’. This marked completion of the final element of the NYMR’s ‘Train of Thought’ project, which has included building the Learning Centre on platform 2 and reinstatement of Pickering station’s overall roof.

And finally, the Foxcote Manor winter blues

On returning to its Llangollen Railway base after visits to the West Somerset Railway’s Autumn Gala and the Avon Valley Railway (taking in the AVR’s October 19-20 gala) No. 7822 Foxcote Manor will be repainted into BR blue. The likelihood of this rather controversial livery change - Foxcote Manor was black when built and later painted green, but never blue (nor so far as is known was any other ‘Manor’) – first emerged around the beginning of this year.

Still, as is often observed, paint is there to stop metal going rusty and the colour can always be changed – again!

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