Published: 22nd August 2014
The North Norfolk Railway’s August 29-31 Grand Steam Gala kicks off the standard gauge gala season with an event more ‘late summer’ than autumn, but it should be a cracker – NNR events always are!
GWR 4-6-0 No. 7820 Dinmore Manor arrived in early August by road from its present Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway base to handle some summer services in advance of the gala. It will be joined by ‘Black Five’ No. 45305 Alderman A. E. Draper, due to arrive via the national network over Sheringham’s level crossing a week prior to the event.
The guest pair will join David Shepherd’s 9F No. 92203 Black Prince (which returned to the NNR in July after a major overhaul undertaken following its withdrawal in spring 2013), ‘Black Five’ No. 44767 George Stephenson, B12 4-6-0 No. 8572, 4MT 2-6-0 No. 76084 and Hunslet 0-6-0ST (HE1982/1940) Ring Haw.
The star visiting loco for the Llangollen Railway’s August 29-31 Autumn Gala will be Ivatt 2-6-0 No. 46521 from the Great Central Railway. Tagged ‘Along Western Lines’, the concept is to recreate trains to Barmouth - the guest loco gels with this theme, having worked over Cambrian metals in its pre-preservation career.
Further gala interest comes in the form of The 26B Railway Company Ltd’s ‘Black Five’ No. 45337 which should return to service to appear at the event following attention, including a boiler lift, at Llangollen. It has been out of action since a steam leak developed (apparently around an old BR days repair) earlier this year while it was on hire at the Nene Valley Railway.
For many years viewed as an East Lancashire Railway-based loco, No. 45337 is now officially based at the Llangollen Railway. While now included on Llangollen’s boiler insurance schedule with engineering support provided by Llangollen, No. 45337 does not necessarily become part of the Llangollen regular operating fleet.
If required, and not committed to hire elsewhere, it will handle LR services, but the arrangement does not commit Llangollen to an agreed number of operating dates. The loco is most likely to undertake hires at other heritage lines. Although no longer ‘officially’ an East Lancashire loco, its owners have made it clear it could visit the ELR if requested.
The gala fleet will be rounded off by resident locos GWR 2-8-0 No. 3802 and Standard 4MT 2-6-4T No. 80072. The latter returned to Llangollen service in mid-July following a ‘shed repair’ to replace four defective stays. The stay problem emerged during a routine early May boiler washout when two copper stay heads fell off and another two stay heads were discovered to be in similar condition.
Further examination identified a large number of suspect stays which appeared to be made from non-arsenical copper. This relates to the same issue which arose last year when it emerged that copper not conforming to the correct specification had been used for stays fitted to No. 70000 Britannia.
The stays in the boiler of No. 80072 were fitted, as were those in No. 70000, at LNWR Heritage Limited in Crewe using copper supplied with apparently appropriate documentation but in reality not meeting the required specification.
The ‘shed repair’ solution was agreed following ultrasonic tests and discussions involving a number of parties. While No. 80072 has been running in recent weeks without further problems becoming apparent, requests for it to visit other lines have been declined since a potentially significant underlying issue remains. Following the gala a boiler lift will almost certainly be undertaken to replace further stays (probably made from the same non-conforming metal) although who is responsible for financing this costly work remains a matter under discussion.
Unfortunately, the anticipated return to service following overhaul of 5199 Project’s 2-6-2T No. 5199 will not happen in time for the gala. In mid-August it was very close to being back in action, but would definitely not be ready for the event. Since five locomotives are required to work Llangollen’s gala timetable it looked as though a diesel would be rostered to cover duties which would otherwise have been handled by the Prairie.
During the gala there will be a photographic and railwayana display in the tea room at Berwyn station covering the route of the original line between Ruabon and Barmouth. This will include maps, original engineering drawings, historical paperwork and a photographic record of the stations along the line.