More Spring Heritage Railway steam events to look forward to

Published 19th February 2013

Severn Valley, Norfolk & Peak Rail feasts of steam on offer as the spring gala season approaches.

Six Standards for North Norfolk gala March 8-10 and 16-17

The North Norfolk Railway’s March 8-10 and 16-17 gala is believed to be the first time a heritage line gala has featured only BR Standard locomotive designs.

The central plank of the event is the public debut of The 76084 Locomotive Company’s BR Standard Class 4 No. 76084, restoration of which is in its final stages at the NNR’s Weybourne works.

An appropriately Standard cast (for a very non-standard weekend at the Poppy Line!) has been signed up comprising 7P ‘Britannias’ No. 70000 Britannia and the NRM’s No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell, Llangollen Railway-based BR 2-6-4T No. 80072 and Great Central Railway-based BR 2MT No. 78019. These guests join David Shepherd’s 9F No. 92203 Black Prince, a Riddles designed loco presently resident at the NNR.

That makes six BR Standards for the event. It was to have been seven but a visit by Caprotti valve gear Standard Five 4-6-0 No. 73129 from the Midland Railway – Butterley dropped out of the event in mid-January due to superheater problems.

Both Nos. 70000 Britannia and 70013 Oliver Cromwell will arrive off the main line over the level crossing at Sheringham. There are hopes that this can be arranged in such a way as they will come on to NNR metals facing in opposite directions with the idea of seeing the ‘Brits’ cross at the head of respective trains at Weybourne. If they end up actually facing the same way it will not really be bad news, they will make a better match for a double-headed operation!

Although the NNR main line will be the preserve of Riddles designs, the Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway Society’s Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0ST Wissington (1700/1938) might be in steam as station pilot at Sheringham.

While neither loco will feature in the ‘Standards’ gala (not being BR Standards!) the North Norfolk Railway expects to present no less than two ‘Black Fives’ in operation during its main season. ‘Black Five’ No. 44767 George Stephenson, the chassis of which is at Weybourne awaiting the return of its boiler, was already set to spend the season based at the NNR. In addition, it has been confirmed The 26B Group’s ‘Black Five’ No. 45337 will run at the NNR through 2013

Peak Rail ‘Austerity’ Gala March 9-10

Peak Rail, now with its link to the national network at Matlock and consequent easy access by rail, is holding its first steam gala for many years. That in itself makes this an event well worth supporting, but it is also going to be something very different from the norm – the March 9-10 event features J94/’Austerity’ type motive power.

In fact, the gala - billed as a celebration of 70 years of ‘Austeritys’ – could well be the first of its kind devoted wholly to this one-time industrial loco type. If it is not a ‘first’, enthusiasts are certainly struggling to recall when something similar was last held at a heritage railway!

Inspiration for the event arose as a result, for various reasons, of a trio of this breed of 0-6-0ST being at Peak Rail during the early part of the year. These comprise Peak Rail-resident RSH ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST 7136/1944 (which will probably appear as Warrington for the event) and Mike Thompson’s Hunslet 0-6-0ST 3883/1962 Lord Phil (which has latterly been based at the line) joined by Hunslet 0-6-0ST ‘Austerity’ HE3163/1943 Sapper (Road and Rail Steam Services Ltd) being at Rowsley South for a period before returning to resume its hire at the East Lancashire Railway.

To bring the total up to four ‘Austerities’ in steam, Andrew Goodman’s ex-Wemyss Private Railway No. 15 ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST (AB2183/1943) Earl David will be visiting specifically for the event.

A fifth ‘Austerity’, Hunslet 0-6-0ST Swiftsure (HE2857/1943), will be present, on static display having been bought in the latter part of 2012 by a Peak Rail member and brought to the line from its previous Strathspey Railway home.

Swiftsure was once a mainstay of Bodmin & Wenford Railway operations but as the B&WR developed its GWR loco fleet the privately owned ‘Austerity’ was no longer required and sold to the Strathspey Railway in March 2006. It ran initial trials on the Scottish line but as the season was about to open a firebox problem was identified and it never entered service and has been stored since. When repairs are completed at Rowsley South it will be tested over Peak Rail then made available for hire.

So, something very different coming up at Peak Rail and well worth seeing. Triple-headed ‘Austerity’ operations into Matlock perhaps? Do not rule it out

At least seven to steam in SVR Spring Gala – March 22-24

The Severn Valley Railway’s March 22-24 Spring Gala looks likely to present at least seven locos in steam. Booked to visit are GWR 0-4-2T No. 1450, BR 2-6-4T No. 80072 (from the Llangollen Railway) and the Mid-Hants Railway’s ‘West Country’ No. 34007 Wadebridge. SVR-based locos expected to steam are ‘Battle of Britain’ No. 34053 Sir Keith Park, Pannier No. 1501, Large Prairie No. 5164 and Small Prairie No. 4566.

The event was always envisaged as presenting locomotives at the smaller end of the size spectrum with the autumn gala to be pitched as more of a ‘big engine’ event. Following this concept, a pair of auto-trailers are also booked to accompany No. 1450, No. 238 Chaffinch (Pull Push Limited) and No. 178 (GW Auto Carriers) with a £3.00 supplementary fare applicable to each single journey in the auto-train.

Reinforcing the ‘small’ rather than ‘large’ idea, it had been hoped ‘Jinty’ No. 47298 (recently acquired by Ian Riley) would be present but the 3F is not now going to be available. It remains to be clarified whether a replacement guest will be signed up.

Before you ask, no, No. 34007 Wadebridge is not a ‘smaller’ loco, but the unrebuilt Bulleid Pacific will present an excellent comparison with rebuilt ‘Battle of Britain’ Sir Keith Park so the logic of signing it for the event is pretty straightforward!

All these three railways can be easily reached using the national rail network!

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