by Jimmy James

Richard Trevithick, George Stephenson and Isambard Kingdom Brunel in live radio steam debate in Cornwall

Published: 26th October 2014

News roundup from the UK’s heritage railways

Early steam at Bodmin Victorian Weekend

In mid-October BBC Radio Cornwall presented a live debate (in the broadcasting sense!) between Richard Trevithick, George Stephenson and Isambard Kingdom Brunel about the relative merits of their engineering feats. The novel discussion formed part of the local news media interest surrounding the Bodmin & Wenford Railway’s October 11-12 Victorian Gala.

Motive power comprised the working replica of Stephenson's 1829 Rocket, 1874-built Beattie 2-4-0WT SR No. 3298 (BR No. 30587) and Drummond T9 4-4-0 ‘Greyhound’ No. 30120 which dates from 1899. The trio, all owned by the National Railway Museum, graphically demonstrated the remarkable progress made in the development of steam locomotive design and technology over the seven decade span they represented.

Rocket and its wagon-like passenger carriage provided half-mile rides up and down Bodmin General yard, while Nos. 3298 and 30120 top-and-tailed a five-coach service train. The latter worked three departures from Bodmin General each day over each of the B&WR’s branches, to Bodmin Parkway (with a cross-platform connection to the national network) and Boscarne Junction. The passenger rake included the GWR Special Saloon built in 1881 for the personal use of the then Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.

Passengers were encouraged to wear Victorian dress by a 50% fare discount, an offer many took up, while a local theatre group and B&WR staff provided Victorian characters to welcome the public to the railway.

Accompanying B&WR images courtesy of Jimmy James.

Great Central ‘Last Hurrah’ steam gala

The Great Central Railway’s final steam gala for 2014, unsurprisingly tagged the ‘Last Hurrah of the Season’ Steam Gala, over November 22-23 will feature five locos in steam and over 30 movements each day in and out of Loughborough. Locos set to appear are 8F No. 8624, N2 0-6-2T No. 1744, Ivatt 2-6-0 No. 46521, LMS 3F No. 47406 and 2MT No. 78019.

West Somerset passenger numbers rally after difficult start to 2014

West Somerset Railway passenger figures to the end of September stood at 161,914. The total for the month of September was 21,886 while the Autumn Steam Gala attracted 4,675 passengers during the four-days compared with 4,773 for the 2013 event. With Christmas period bookings starting to flow in, the WSR reckons it is on course for the final 2014 total to come in at around 200,000. Considering the early season problems when floods on the Somerset Levels, which did not affect the railway but did deter people from visiting the County and hit group booking figures, this will be viewed as a good result.

The West Somerset Railway’s Minehead station will host its first ever Christmas Market between 14.00 and 19.00 on Thursday November 20. A range of stalls selling crafts, local produce, gifts and much more are already booked. Festive food and drinks will also be on sale.

Second ex-Comrie ‘Austerity’ for Bo’ness & Kinneil

Hunslet 0-6-0ST ‘Austerity’ NCB No. 19 (3818/1954) is ready to enter service at the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway following completion of a major overhaul. The loco ended its working days at the NCB’s Comrie Colliery in West Fife where a young Ian Lothian (who kindly supplied the accompanying photograph of the restored loco) used to watch and photograph it – and had the pleasure of the odd footplate ride!

Following the miner’s strike Comrie locos stood outside the shed rusting away until being donated to the Scottish Railway Preservation Society by the Coal Board. No. 19 undertook its official steam test on completion of overhaul work on October 17 when it was pictured again by Ian Lothian – back in steam all these years after he had seen it working in industrial service.

No. 19 joins the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway’s fellow ex-Comrie Colliery Bagnall (it is unclear whether the loco was built by Bagnall of Stafford or assembled for Bagnall’s by Barclay’s at Kilmarnock) 0-6-0ST ‘Austerity’ No. 7 (2777/1945) which returned to steam in 2011, over 30 years after it too had ceased working in the coal industry.

South Devon trains and boats…. but no planes!

The South Devon Railway and Stuart Line Cruises have launched a

new ‘Boat Trains’ joint ticket. Designed for groups, the ticket covers a 14-mile round trip over the SDR and a one, or two, hour cruise along the River Exe aboard a Stuart Line Cruises boat from Exmouth. The ticket does not cover a 45-minute coach journey between the two attractions, it being assumed most tours taking advantage of the ticket will already be utilising their own coach transport. Stuart Line and the South Devon Railway are members of the ‘Devon’s Top Attractions’ tourism association.

‘Boat Train’ prices for groups start at £15.00 per head (£14.00 seniors, £10.00 children) giving a 25% saving on normal fares. Bookings are handled by Stuart Line. “This joint ticket with Stuart Line Cruises will open up new markets for both of us as people will readily understand what a Boat Train means,” commented SDR Marketing Director Peter Treglown. “It’s an exciting opportunity for both Devon tourism businesses.”

The SDR already links with the Totnes Rare Breeds Farm and Dartmoor Otters & Buckfast Butterflies (at Buckfastleigh) to offer ‘3 Great Attractions, 1 Amazing Day’ money-saving joint tickets for all three attractions.

Earlier this year the South Devon Railway carried its two millionth passenger since the first train in its new era ran in 1991. The landmark passenger was Lucy Bain, accompanied by her husband Richard and daughter Lacey. The family from Kent were staying in a local holiday park. They learned about the SDR via the internet and were drawn to Buckfastleigh by the railway's 'Three Great Attractions - One Amazing Day' joint tickets.

SDR Railway Manager, Chris Williams, then newly-appointed and undertaking his first public role since he starting the job full-time, presented the lucky travellers with a free family round-trip and 'Three Great Attractions' ticket at the Buckfastleigh booking office, along with an SDR guidebook and limited edition signed print, plus £20 of gift vouchers.

The seven-mile long SDR regularly carries over 110,000 passengers each year. It carried the first millionth passenger in 2004. The SDR can be reached via the main line to Totnes station, there being foot bridge access over the river to SDR’s Totnes Littlehempston station.

The accompanying SDR image taken by Sarah Anne Harvey shows (left to right) Alasdair Page (SDR), Lucy, Lacey and Richard Bain, and Chris Williams (SDR).

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