News from October 2002

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Santa Visits Bala Lake Railway

Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 december sees Santa making his annual visit to the Bala Lake Railway. Trains run with 100 year old Holy War and 99 year old Maid Marian as motive power. Trains run from 10.30 to 3.30 each day. Ticket prices are £3.50 for adults and £5.50 children under 12. Booking forms and details from Santa’s secretary, tel 01244 683317.

Posted by Bob Shell on 18 October 2002

Stapleford Open date 2003

The 10 1/4” Stapleford Miniature Railway in Leicestershire, Uk will again be open to the public for the special Stapleford Steam 2003 event.Over the weekend of 14th 15th June, the steam hauled railway will be carrying passengers around nearly 2 miles of scenic heavily engineered line featuring river crossings, heavy grades and a tunnel. The loco fleet comprises five 1/5th live steam locos. A GWR Saint, LMS Jubilee, Curwen Atlantic, NKP Berkshire and NYC Niagara. The latter being the only live steam replica to our knowledge in the world!! Admission £4 adults and Children £2.50
Also features traction engines, vintage vehicles beer tent etc weekend overnight camping £15
More info on

Posted by Nigel Spencer on 27 October 2002

15in Gauge Evesham Vale Line Opens for Business

The first stage of the UK latest narrow gauge railway opened for business on Thursday 1st August. The 15in gauge Evesham Vale Light Railway, owned by Jim and Helen Shackell, is based on a greenfield site in Worcestershire’s Evesham Country Park next to the A46 bypass. The couple, assisted by a small group of helpers, have completed the first third of a mile of the line exactly one year to the day that construction started. Work has already started on the extension to finish the three-quarters of a mile balloon shaped track circuit, which should be completed next year when an official opening will take place. The completed line will pass through orchards offering picturesque views over the surrounding countryside. This new railway has two 15in gauge locomotives; a US-outline Morse 0-4-0 switcher acquired from the Bredgar & Wormshill Light Railway in Kent and a former Rhyl Miniature Railway Barnes Atlantic ‘John’ built in 1921. Light work and maintenance duties are handled by a Lister diesel. Much of the line’s rolling stock came for the Fairbourne and Barnmouth Railway before it was converted to 12 1/4 in gauge in 1985 and includes two closed carriages and a three-car articulated set.

Posted by David Lloyd-Jones on 28 October 2002

Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Celebrates its 75th Anniversary

Almost 75 years to the day, Kent’s Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway celebrated its 75th Anniversary on Sunday 14th July. This famous 15in gauge line originally opened for business on Saturday 16th July 1927. The re-enactment of the inaugural train that departed at the same time 3pm and was hauled by the same locomotive 4-8-2 No.5 was host to local dignitaries including the mayors of Hythe and New Romney, staff from the past and directors of the railway company. In addition to this, over 180 other passengers enjoyed the non-stop ride from Hythe to New Romney passing through disused stations that were signed for that day only offering unique opportunities for photographs. On its arrival at New Romney speeches congratulated the success and the importance of the Railway over its 75 years, commemorating its part in World War two, and the provision of local transport to pupils from the local secondary school for 25 years. Non-stop trains such as The Maddieson’s Camp Special, Golden Jubilee, The Marshlander and The Bluecoaster Limited flashed through New Romney to re-create the atmosphere of a true mainline railway.

Posted by David Lloyd-Jones on 28 October 2002

Heritage Lottery Cash for Glyn Valley Tramway Projects?

In order to keep the memory of the legendary 2ft-4 1/2in Glyn Valley Tramway alive, the Glyn Valley Tramway Group has applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for finance towards help setting up a GVT heritage centre at the former Glyn Ceiriog engine shed and yard. The owner of the site, Wrexham County Borough Council, is prepared to lease this historic site to a charitable trust. Consequently, the GVT Group is forming a trust, which will include Borough Council members on the board. The overall plans for this GVT Heritage Centre includes the initial restoration of the station platform and locomotive turntable at Glyn Ceiriog. The long term aim to build a replica GVT open third carriage and several other vehicles on a short section of reinstated track to form a replica GVT train. The GVT Group also owns the restored waiting room at Pontfadog.

Posted by David Lloyd-Jones on 28 October 2002

Easter 2003 Opening for the East Hayling Light Railway?

It’s full steam ahead for the new 2ft gauge East Hayling Light Railway being constructed on the sea front of this Hampshire town, which members of the East Hayling Light Railway Society hopes to have the line operational by Easter 2003. Volunteers have already laid a third of a mile of track on concrete sleepers. This new 2ft gauge line will run from a station know as Beechlands Central behind the popular funfair for just over one mile to a terminus at Eastoke Corner. On route, there are two intermediate sponsored halts. The first Hornby Halt is sponsored by the famous model railway manufacture, while the second Wicor Way Halt has local model and hobby dealer Wicor Models as the sponsor. Construction started this May following many years of negations with Havent Borough Council, and once the final red tape was cleared track laying on the beach could commence. However, the Council will not allow permanent buildings to be erected at Eastoke Corner, so a temporary ticket office will be employed. The East Hayling Light Railway Society previously operated a successful 2ft gauge line within the nearby Mill Rythe Holiday Camp. The society has amassed a large collection of rolling stock including ‘Jack’, an Alan Keef built steam outline 0-4-0, a 1937 built Simplex ‘Alan B’ formerly owned by Ibstock and a 1941 Ruston diesel acquired from the Gartell Light Railway. In addition, a freelance 0-4-0 steam engine is currently being constructed in the line’s workshop at Gutnor on the island. An appeal has been put out for volunteers to help construct this new 2ft gauge railway, and working parties take place on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sunday’s. All new volunteers will be most welcome.

Posted by David Lloyd-Jones on 28 October 2002

Ffestiniog's New Boss Takes Over

The Ffestiniog Railway has a new General Manager. Mr. Peter Randell took up the full time post on Thursday, 25th July. Mr. Randell, who is 40, originally joined the railway earlier in January this year as Traffic and Engineering Operations Manager. He had previously worked for the HM Railway Inspectorate, Alstom and First North Western. This appointment is the final stage of a comprehensive review of the company’s structure undertaken by former Ffestiniog Railway Society Chairman Ken Allan and his contract as Managing Director has been terminated. This follows the earlier announcement by FR Chairman George Nissen that both Andrew Heyward and Andrew Savage had been appointed to the board as Directors. They will hold office until the forthcoming AGM in October when they will offer themselves for re-election.

Posted by David Lloyd-Jones on 28 October 2002

The Prince's meeting with the Countess

The 2ft-6in gauged Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway was the host to a Royal visitor when Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales visited the line to join in on the line’s centenary celebrations as part of his Welsh tour. This in not the Prince of Wales first visit to this Welsh narrow gauge railway, he opened the footbridge at Llanfair Caerinion 12 years ago in 1990, when he expressed a wish to ride on the railway. He returned on Friday 19th July to realise this ambition. After unveiling a plaque to commemorate his visit to the railway, he boarded train, hauled by Beyer, Peacock 0-6-0T No.2 ‘Countess’ carrying a special huge headboard featuring the Prince of Wales feathers, for the trip to Welshpool’s Raven Square. The Royal train stopped at the disused Golfa Halt to allow the Prince to take over the controls of the ‘Countess’, which was running bunker first. He drove the train some distance towards Welshpool as far as the bottom of the 1 in 19 Golfa Bank, when for safety reasons, Driver Simon Bowden took over the controls for the rest of the journey to Raven Square. Meanwhile, following the Royal theme, the latest on the return of the ex-Bowater’s Paper Mill Bagnall 0-4-4-0T locomotive ‘Monarch’ to Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway from the Ffestiniog Railway is still ‘imminent’. ‘Monarch’, built in 1953, is the last of a class of seven Meyer articulated locomotives, and the last narrow gauge steam locomotive built for British industry. The engine was sold on to the WLLR in 1966, and was used in service on the line until 1970s. Since then, ‘Monarch’ was sold to private owners in 1992 and subsequently donated to Ffestiniog Railway for possible conversion to 2ft gauge and use on Welsh Highland Railway. However, WLLR members are in negations with FR to buy back ‘Monarch’ and donate the locomotive to the WLLR company. The engine is currently in a dismantled state at the FR’s Boston Lodge.

Posted by David Lloyd-Jones on 28 October 2002

Buzzard Steam-up Success

The Leighton Buzzard Railway’s Steam-Up weekend, on 7th-8th September, lived up to its billing as one of the truly must-see narrow-gauge events of the year. The high point on each day was the return trip hauled by the newly restored 1907 Matheran Light Railway 0-6-0T No 740, which was limited to a single working because it is still running in. The 18-tonne locomotive, the biggest to have run on the Leighton Buzzard line in its 83-year history, performed flawlessly on its debut, showing off its radial axles to good effect, especially on right-angle curve from Vandyke Road level crossing. A battery of cameras, including one from Anglia Television recorded the locomotive’s progress along the line. The weekend’s Indian theme also saw the 1921 ex-Calcutta Corporation 0-4-0T ‘Rishra’ in passenger service for the first time since its overhaul, which included the fitting of a new boiler. The 1907 Upper India Sugar Mills 4-6-0T No 778, the subject of an ongoing restoration appeal, was on static display. Other LBR ‘firsts’ included a working visit by 0-4-2T “Pearl 2” from the Amerton Railway, and on the Sunday, the surprise substitution of visiting 0-4-0T Jack for ‘Alice’ on passenger service. On previous visits, the diminutive, but powerful Barclay, had been restricted to shunting duties, but took to its new role as though made for it. In all, eight locomotives were in steam, and mostly operating in different double-headed combinations. 0-6-0WT ‘Elf’, the mainstay of the Leighton Buzzard Railway’s summer passenger service, was given the weekend off. Leighton Buzzard Railway Chairman, Mervyn Leah, confirmed the event’s success: ‘Everyone enjoyed themselves enormously – passengers, members and visiting loco crews, which is why we have weekends like this. It is a complex operation, requiring rapid loco changes at each end, but everything went according to the timetable. ‘All the hard work by many people was rewarded by the 15% increase in passengers, compared with last year.’

Posted by David Lloyd-Jones on 28 October 2002

Meanwhile: Two Buzzards Confuse Local Bus Drivers

With Leighton Buzzard’s main-line station currently closed at weekends for engineering works, volunteers at the narrow-gauge station at Page’s Park have been highly amused to see the replacement bus service turning into their drive on more than one occasion. Page’s Park is on the A4146 road from Hemel Hempstead, and it is thought that the bus drivers, being unfamiliar with the area, have simply gone to the first railway station they have come across in Leighton Buzzard, unaware that there are two. The Leighton Buzzard Railway has not yet gained any extra passengers from this unexpected public transport link, but lives in hope!

Posted by David Lloyd-Jones on 28 October 2002

MER 100 Celebrations

Nine years after the now legendary ‘Year of Railways’, to honour the official opening of the Isle of Man’s Manx Electric Railway in 1993, once again, in 2002, the island celebrated its unique tramway system. The occasion this time around was to celebrate 100 years of the Manx Electric Railway Company since its take over in 1902 following the collapse of the bankrupt Isle of Man Tramways & Electric Power Co. Ltd. The event held between Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th August featured many special events on the Manx Electric Railway and the other island rail systems. Many of the rare and unseen Manx trams and trailers were in operation throughout the extended weekend to the delight of the visitors.

Posted by David Lloyd-Jones on 28 October 2002

L&B Woody Bay Station Opens April 2003!

At the Lynton & Barnstable railway company’s board meeting on 15th June, it was agreed to commence public operations at the L&B’s Woody Bay Station on 18th April 2003. Visitors to this legendary narrow gauge railway will be able to ride down the line on a specially constructed works train, as far as bridge 67 (currently under construction). This will allow the paying public to ride on the L&B trackbed for the first time in nearly 70 years, and to savour the atmosphere of this exciting reconstruction project. The station at Woody Bay will be opened as a visitor centre, which will also include a shop, toilets and the newly constructed car park. It has also been agreed that a celebratory special event will be held on Sunday 11th May 2003 to mark the 105th Anniversary of the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway opening. The gauge will be 2ft. Meanwhile, further down the old L&B line, an application for planning permission has been submitted to develop a private members-only railway at Chelfam station. This line, approximately 320 meters in length would run on company land in and around Chelfam Station area for L&B Railway Company and Trust members only who would operate the line. This work is to be solely financed by the Friends of Chelfam who plan to restore this picturesque L&B station back to its original condition. Volunteer labour will be used only if there is no suitable work at the Woody Bay station project. A drive a steam engine event was held on the evenings of the 26th and 27th June, when 25 guest drivers each had a go at driving both the steam loco ‘Brookfield’ and the diesel shunter. Over the two days, the locomotives notched up around 40 miles and raised about £150 towards the major ‘L&B track laying’ fund raising appeal.
Tracklaying at the Woody Bay station site started in June with the first 2ft gauge track being laid on the L&B trackbed since its closure in 1935. Over 60 meters of 40lb rail was put in on the transhipment siding, followed laying of the siding in the car park for works trains. Work on laying track on the ‘mainline’ towards Parracombe took place over the L&B’s Track Week 17th to 25th August.

Posted by David Lloyd-Jones on 28 October 2002

Amberley Exhibition Back on Track with Lottery Grant

The Heritage Lottery Fund has confirmed the provision of a £108,000 grant to Amberley Working Museum for the development of a new Exhibition & Restoration Hall for the museum’s Narrow Gauge railway collection. The hall will help to house exhibits of national importance, protecting them from the elements, whilst providing the space necessary to undertake essential
conservation work. The considerable support of the Heritage Lottery Fund is supported by the work of numerous local organisations, and the volunteer workforce at Amberley. The volunteers’ work, not only in securing the grant but preparing the site for construction work, is instrumental to the success of the project. Construction will start in November and finish the following March.“The support of the Heritage Lottery Fund has not only meant that the vital preservation work of Amberley is continued “ said Sandy Wilson, Museum Marketing Manager, “ but that we will have suitable facilities to educate future generations in the key skills required “. The Railway Exhibition & Restoration Hall is one of a number of new developments at Amberley. Currently, a 1930’s Transport Café is being transported to the museum for use as an Education Centre, ground work is being undertaken for the construction of a Fire Station for vintage appliances and a new Restaurant / Conference Centre is set to open next year. The 36-acre museum, just north of Arundel, is open to the public now, and has a wide range of special events happening throughout the season. Call 01798 831370 for further details, or visit their website @

Posted by David Lloyd-Jones on 28 October 2002

New Design for Bure Valley ZB Locomotive

The Bure Valley Railway has placed an order with Alan Keef Ltd of Ross-on-Wye for a pair of steam locomotive cylinders, constructed to a design developed in house by the railways own staff and volunteer design team. The new cylinders will be fitted to locomotive No. 6, “Blickling Hall”, when she returns to traffic after an extensive major overhaul. It is hoped the locomotive will return to traffic in time for the Bure Valley Railway’s very popular Santa Specials in December. Chairman, Andrew Barnes said “We have always felt that the performance of our ZB locomotives could be improved and with the already proven modifications carried out to these engines in 2000 yet more improvements will be made by installing the new improved design of cylinders. Alan Keef Ltd will also supply Lempour Exhaust pipework and nozzles, which will also be added. We are sure that our locomotives will become even more economical to use”.

Posted by David Lloyd-Jones on 28 October 2002

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