leaving Brockham Cliff Thomas

TWELVE locomotives pull passenger train in world record bid!

Published: 18th July 2015

Amberley pitch for Guinness World Record

Amberley Museum in Sussex is staking a claim to having worked a passenger train hauled by the largest number of locomotives built by the same manufacturer. The bid for inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records may also constitute the largest number of locomotives to pull a passenger train regardless of type or manufacturer.

Listermania 2015

The July 11 effort to seek record-breaking status was the highlight of Amberley’s July 11-12 Railway Gala Weekend. Tagged ‘Listermania 2015’, the gala was themed around gathering as many locomotives, autotrucks and stationary engines built by R A Lister as possible.

The final count of Lister locomotives from around the country totalled 12, all in operational condition. This alone could be the largest ever gathering of locos built by this manufacturer, with the possible exception of the Lister factory itself.

Twelve for the 3pm departure

A little after 15.00 on July 11 the 12 Lister’s were run around the triangle at Amberley’s Brockham station, the cavalcade being accompanied by a commentary from Graham Feldwick, who with his son Matthew – both Lister owners themselves - had organised the gathering. The Listers were then organised into a long coupled display of motive power, last minute efforts to coax a couple of the reluctant participants into life succeeding in the nick of time.

Meanwhile, Amberley’s Bagnall 2-4-0T Polar Bear was unhooked from a steam-worked passenger train which had arrived at the station and the Lister formation dropped onto the three ex-Groudle Glen Railway carriages packed with passengers.

We counted them all out and we counted them all back!

Nationally known railway writers Cliff Thomas and Peter Nicholson, both contributors to rail.co.uk, had been asked to act as independent adjudicators.

With the adjudicators satisfied all engines were running and contributing to the haulage power, the mighty ensemble set off from Brockham, rumbled (roared would be overstating the case!) up the climb and around the curve at the top end of the Amberley site and on into Cragside station.

A complex shunt - the line of locomotives was longer than the run-round loop at Cragside - ensued to arrange the locos on the other end of the train. Now in a different order of motive power, the astonishing train set off back to Brockham where Peter Nicholson boarded the train before it continued over the remaining length of the 2ft gauge railway to Amberley station.

A further run-round in groups followed before the record-breaking train returned to Brockham to close the gala activities for the day. The record attempt was not repeated on the Sunday of the gala.

Amberley has ‘previous’ with Lister multi-headers

The July 2008 railway gala at Amberley was also themed around Lister locos. This gathered 11 of the type, at that time thought to be the largest such assembly in the preservation era, although two were non-operational static exhibits. The 9 working examples present hauled a similar passenger train to this year’s effort. At the time this was believed to be record number of locos hauling a passenger service but no steps were taken to formally establish it as such.

Nine class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ standard gauge diesels hauled an East Lancashire Railway train in July 2014. With this in mind, Graham and Matthew Feldwick, who had organised the 2008 Lister participation, set themselves the target of exceeding both totals for the 2015 effort – and plainly succeeded!

For the record…

The locomotives which hauled the Amberley train on July 11 were (not in haulage order) Lister’s 3916/1931, 4088/1931, 8022/1936, 9256/1937, 18557/1942, 29890/1946, 33937/1949, 34521/1949, 42494/1956 and Lister Blackstone’s 52610/1961, 52886/1962 and 54181/1964.

Amberley Railway Group is holding two further events this year, a Petrol Locomotives Day on August 23 and Autumn Industrial Trains day on October 11. Both might feature a Lister, but definitely not in these numbers!

Lister locomotives

R A Lister & Company was founded in 1867 by Sir Robert Ashton Lister. Initially the company manufactured agricultural machinery, later expansion including production of small petrol (and from 1929 diesel) engines which provided portable power for various applications. Production of Auto-Trucks, three-wheeled tractors steered by turning the front wheel/power unit (initially petrol engines, later diesel) commenced in the 1920s.

From 1928 the basic elements of the Auto-Truck concept were utilised to form a simple, compact, narrow gauge locomotive. The design proved ideal for many small railway applications including construction sites, peat harvesting and small industrial undertakings where light weight and simplicity were at a premium.

Between 1928-1956, some 350 Rail-Trucks were produced, production continuing into the 1970s. Total production is unclear, Lister records having been lost in a 1983 fire at the factory. Around 90 Rail-Trucks are believed to still exist worldwide.

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