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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