Published: 21st January 2014
The Heritage Railway Association (HRA) is the ‘Trade Association’ representing preserved railways, railway museums and preserved locomotive owning groups. Its purpose is to represent these organisations when consultations which could affect them are made by the Office of The Rail Regulator or by Parliament for example.
Every year, the railway preservation movement contrives to complete some amazing projects, which when started, were mostly pipe-dreams and nothing more. And most of the people involved are volunteers in this field and those that are paid staff always earn a lot less than they would in the private sector.
The length of preserved railways in the UK is estimated at being over 400 miles and employs hundreds of people generating tens of millions of pounds for the local businesses adjacent to our preserved lines. The industry is worth around £250million annually.
These awards, highly regarded within the preservation movement, have just been announced and will be presented at the Bath Guildhall Banqueting Room over dinner on February 8 during the HRA Annual General Meeting.
The awards are in several categories and sponsored by various rail related organisations or companies, with some named after pioneering preservationists.
The Peter Manisty award is one of these and is made for an exceptional contribution to railway preservation. This award for 2013 was made to the London Transport Museum, London Underground and Partners for “the excellent and exhaustive programme of events to mark the 150th anniversary of the world’s first underground railway including the successful operation of a complete steam hauled wooden bodied train”.
The John Coiley Award is made for locomotive projects and was won by the National Railway Museum “to acknowledge and celebrate the international co-operation and achievement of the transatlantic partners in the movement of the Dominion of Canada and Dwight D Eisenhower to take part in Mallard 75”.
The citation also said that this achievement involved major input from the Friends of the NRM, the NRM itself and all the groups whose generosity made this move possible, particularly haulier Moveright International. This operation would not have been possible without the unstinting support of Exporail: The Canadian Railway Museum and the National Railroad Museum in the U.S.A..
The HRA annual award (large groups) is made to a HRA member organisation for an outstanding achievement in railway preservation and was awarded to The Bluebell Railway “in recognition of its completing the long awaited physical link with the national rail network which enhances the profile and business opportunities both on the railway and in the local economy. This enormous task was made possible by the removal, mainly by rail, of a large quantity of landfill waste material.” When the line was closed by British Railways, the deep Imberhorne cutting was filled with landfill waste and this had to be dug out and transported away by train.
The HRA annual award (small groups) is made to a HRA member organisation for an outstanding achievement in railway preservation and was won by the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway Trust “in recognition of it taking a major step forward in its mission to recreate a piece of North Devon transport heritage in its original form with the restoration of three original carriages. This was enhanced by the visit of a Lynton and Barnstaple replica Manning Wardle locomotive in Southern Railway green.” This was an iconic narrow gauge railway which was closed in the 1930s and has been gradually recreated.
The Northumberland based Aln Valley Railway Society will be awarded with a Highly Commended Certificate “for the establishment, after many years of struggle, of a standard gauge station and depot complex from new on a virgin site”.
The Morton’s Media Heritage Railway magazine interpretation award was made to the Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum “for the operation and return to steam of a section of the former extensive narrow gauge mineral tramway network on the Isle of Purbeck, and for the creation of a unique museum devoted to the history and technology of Ball Clay mining complete with underground mine tunnel and associated rail tracks and rolling stock, in part of the Jurassic Coast which is designated as a World Heritage Site for the richness of its geology.
The museum at Norden is not only a valuable education resource in its own right but a quality visitor attraction adjacent to and interacting with the Swanage Railway, a branch over which the extracted clay was shipped out, with the interchange being recreated.
The Morton’s Media Rail Express magazine Modern Traction award was awarded to The Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway “for staging an innovative modern traction event featuring a special reinstatement of a main line connection with through running from Aylesbury and some highly sought after guest locomotives”.
A Highly Commended Certificate will be presented to the Diesel Traction Group for the day to day commercial use of a first generation heritage icon, the BR Western Region diesel hydraulic No. D1015 Western Champion used to haul freight trains on the main line. It is the only diesel hydraulic locomotive in main line use.
The Railway Magazine annual award for services to railway preservation will be made to Ian Allan O.B.E. “for popularising the hobby of train and loco spotting by launching the ABC number book series; for inspiring and educating a generation of enthusiasts through publication of hundreds of quality railway publications; and for his long running sponsorship of the National Railway Heritage Awards”.
A Highly Commended Certificate will be given to Eileen Clayton M.B.E. for instigating and helping to run, for twenty one years, a week of activities on the Ffestiniog Railway designed to get young people involved in a heritage railway, thereby providing a valuable example to all heritage railways.