60007 by Phil Marsh

Winter steam operations on Britain’s heritage lines

Published: 31st January 2015

Half-term and early Spring steam on offer around the country

East Lancashire Railway - February 21-22

The Midland Railway-Butterley’s Caprotti-valve gear Standard 5 No. 73129 will be appearing at the East Lancashire Railway’s February 21-22 Steam Weekend and Transport Collectors' Fair weekend. A demonstration freight will run between Bury and Ramsbottom, with rides aboard either the ‘Toad’ or ‘Queen Mary’ brake vans available for a supplementary fare, which should be bracing at this time of year.

A Photography Experience is also offered. Billed as a half-day expert-led experience providing an introduction to camera techniques and settings in the surrounds of a bustling heritage railway, the opportunity of going to areas not normally accessible to the public and visit locations in restricted areas could be of interest.

Locomotives expected to be in action from the home-fleet will be confirmed closer to the event. The Transport Collectors’ Fair element of the weekend takes place in Bury Transport Museum near Bury Bolton Street station.

Keighley & Worth Valley Railway - February 27-March 1

The anticipated star of the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway’s February 27-March 1 Winter Steam Gala is the return of Standard 4MT 4-6-0 No. 75078, which last handled K&WVR trains in the late 1990s. The 4MT has made a post-overhaul run from Haworth to Oxenhope and hopefully will be set fair to appear at the gala.

Rivalling No. 75078 for attention will be ‘West Country’ No. 34092 City of Wells, the lengthy overhaul of which was completed in the latter part of last year.

With these attractions on offer the gala will be very much a home-fleet affair. Other locomotives from the Haworth fleet set to be in action are 4F 0-6-0 No. 43924, WD 8F 2-8-0 No. 90733, USATC S160 2-8-0 No. 5820 (a.k.a. ‘Big Jim’), supported by LNWR 0-6-2T ‘Coal Tank’ No. 1054 and Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T No. 1704 Nunlow (both Bahamas Locomotive Society). In addition, Manning Wardle 0-6-0ST Sir Berkeley (owned by Ingrow-based Vintage Carriages Trust and normally resident at the Middleton Railway) will be present, working Ingrow-Keighley shuttles.

In addition to trade displays, Haworth shed tours and opportunities to climb aboard the footplate of a steam locomotive, there will be a branch goods train in operation during the weekend and express services passing though intermediate stations at full 25m.p.h. line speed on non-stop services.

Main line services operate to Keighley station with footbridge access to the heritage line’s platform.

North Yorkshire Moors Railway - March 6-8

BR applied the ‘Beeching Axe’ to the Grosmont to Rillington (near Malton) line on March 8 1965. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway will mark the 50th anniversary of this closure during its March 6-8 gala by using traction reflecting what would have been seen on the line at that time. Motive power will include NELPG-owned K1 No. 62005, John Cameron’s K4 No. 3442 (now No. 61994 The Great Marquess), The Thompson B1 Locomotive Trust’s semi-resident B1 4-6-0 No. 61264 (which has run in the form of long-scrapped classmates in recent years – the latest incarnation being No. 61018 Gnu), A4 Pacific No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley and a Class 101 DMU.

On Friday March 6 (exactly half a century after the Saturday March 6 last day of running on the route under BR) Nos. 61994 and 62005 will work a special Pullman dining train. This will commemorate completion of the project to rebuild a second platform at Whitby station and thank the team of volunteers, staff and partners involved in the project.

“On the last day of services back in 1965 ‘The Whitby Moors Railtour’ was jointly organised by the Stephenson Locomotive Society and Manchester Railway Society to run from Manchester over to North Yorkshire covering many lines also closing at that time,” explains NYMR managing director, Philip Benham. “This became the last steam train over the route south from Whitby and was worked by the two visiting locomotives, No. 62005 and No. 3442 (now 61994) which luckily both survived into preservation and we are excited to bring them together again for this celebratory weekend.” The B1s were the last regular class of steam engine to operate over the line immediately prior to closure.

Post-gala, the NYMR will be running a special service on the Esk Valley Line only, from Whitby, Grosmont and Battersby stations on March 14, 15, 21 and 22, before daily running on the Pickering-Grosmont heritage line commences on March 28.

The NYMR’s Spring Steam Gala will be on April 17-19 and 24-26, details to be announced.

This year is also the 150th anniversary of the July 1 1865 opening of the deviation route from Grosmont to Goathland Summit, probably the most spectacular section of the NYMR. Announcement of how this will be celebrated is anticipated.

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway - March 21-22

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway is a premier league heritage line run and operated almost exclusively by volunteers – amazingly, it has just two paid full-time staff. How does the railway manage where similar railways have significant numbers of employed staff – and why is it such a great place to volunteer?

You may find some of the answers by going along to the G-WR’s March 21-22 Recruitment Fair when the railway aims to show how you can help by joining the 800+ volunteers who run the line. Volunteers will be on hand from each department to show what is involved. To find out visit http://www.gwsr.com/support/volunteer-recruitment-fair.aspx.

The G-WR’s popular Wartime in the Cotswolds event on April 25-26 is also worth noting - 1940's nostalgia and lots to see at all the stations.

West Somerset Railway - March 26-29

The West Somerset Railway’s Spring Steam Gala is always a major date on the early season calendar. This year the four-day event runs over March 26-29 and has a ‘Railways of South Wales’ theme.

Guest locos confirmed so far are GWR heavy goods 2-8-0T No. 4270 (recently restored – owned by Jeremy Hosking and based at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway), Small Prairie No. 5542 (Locomotive 5542 Ltd) and Swanage Railway-based GWR 0-6-2T No. 6695. Further visiting locos are likely.

Minehead-based locos expected to appear encompass GWR 2-8-0 No. 3850, Large Prairie No. 4160, ‘Modified Hall’ No. 6960 Raveningham Hall and No. 7828 Odney Manor.

An enhanced Special Events standard hourly timetable is planned with a range of off-train attractions along the line of the railway. The latter will include a repeat of the Transport Literature Festival and Model Railway Exhibition at Minehead, Minehead Heavy Repair Shop and Williton Works will both be open to visitors on Saturday and Sunday. The DEPG Williton Depot and Heritage Centre and The Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust’s base at Washford will both be open on all four days.

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