Published 30th April 2013
The first official North Yorkshire Moors Railway train ran on May 1 1973 hauled by NELPG-owned J27 No. 65894 (NER P3 No. 2392) and Kitson 0-6-2T ‘Lambton Tank’ No. 29 – and it was a Royal train, with the Duchess of Kent aboard. However, an ‘unofficial’ first train actually ran on April 21 1973 during a Members Day in advance of the official opening. Over the following four decades the NYMR has carved out the right to call itself the world’s most popular heritage railway attracting 350,000 visitors each year.
The 2013 celebrations kicked off on April 21, which was a Volunteers Day aimed at attracting new working members to the NYMR.
A May 1 ‘Anniversary Special’ train will leave Whitby at 14.00 to run through to Pickering. The return fare of £40 includes a souvenir ticket signed by Chris Cubitt, one of the original Royal Train drivers, along with a glass of sparkling wine and a piece of celebratory cake. It will be hauled by K1 No. 62005, hopefully assisted by the ‘Lambton Tank’ (the loco originally worked at Lambton, Hetton & South Joicey Colliery) - but see below.
The festival proper runs between May 3-12 with locomotives in action selected on the basis of honouring motive power which has contributed to the NYMR’s history.
The principal special visiting attraction will be LNER Thompson B1 No. 1306 Mayflower while NELPG’s K1 No. 62005 and J72 No. 69023 Joem are returning to the NYMR from other commitments for the festival. Keighley & Worth Valley Railway-based 1871-built North Eastern Railway Directors Saloon (known as ‘The Old Gentleman’s Saloon’ from its ‘The Railway Children’ film role) is also visiting to run behind Joem. In addition, ‘Black Fives’ No. 44871 and No. 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier have arrived at the Moors Line to boost NYMR loco availability, will appear during the festival, and stay until the beginning of July.
In terms of re-enacting the opening day train 40 years on, J27 No. 65894 last ran in 2006 and there was never any possibility its current overhaul, which includes fitting a new cylinder block, was going to be close to completion for this anniversary, hence the K1 is booked for this commemoration duty. ‘Lambton Tank’ No. 29 is a different matter and it may be close to seeing what happens on the anniversary day itself!
The Kitson 0-6-2T has been out of service since around 2007/08. Its overhaul has been quietly progressed, and latterly pushed forward in the hope it might be ready for May 3. The boiler was hydraulically tested in the last week of March, steam tested in the first week of April (both out of frames) and the ambition was for the boiler to go into the frames around mid-April. There were mixed views over whether this would happen as this story was being prepared.
With ‘Black Five’ Nos. 44871 and No. 45407 (owned by Bury locomotive engineer Ian Riley) joining the NYMR’s resident ‘Black Five’ No. 45428 Eric Treacy the railway will be able to present a trio of ‘Black Fives’ in action.
Moreover, following its main line test run on May1 on the Carnforth to Hellifield test circuit, visiting B1 No. 1306 Mayflower will join The Thompson B1 Locomotive Trust’s B1 No. 61264, which arrived from Crewe at the end of December on completion of its overhaul and entered Moors Line service in March, enabling the NYMR to present the very rare sight of both surviving B1s in steam at the same line. It is thought this has only happened once previously in the preservation era.
Other motive power should include 4MT 4-6-0 No. 75029, SR S15 No. 825 and A4 No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley, which will hopefully be back in action on the main line during April following problems encountered during a main line operation last November and to return to the NYMR for the festival.
In addition to normal all-line NYMR trains, there will be Grosmont - Goathland shuttles and demonstration goods trains. Steam-worked trains will run on the Esk Valley line from Whitby and Grosmont to Battersby station on Saturdays May 4 and 11.
The Scarborough & District Railway Modellers will be holding a model railway exhibition in the Learning Centre on Platform 2 at Pickering station on May 11-12.
Written by Cliff Thomas