Back in Business – The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway

A couple of weeks ago I paid a (socially distanced) visit to the recently re-opened Ecclesbourne Valley Railway (EVR), treating myself (and the people in my ‘bubble’) to a ‘Bounce Back’ ticket.

33103-20200801c33103 SWORDFISH couples onto the 13.20 to Duffield
Wirksworth Station, August 2020

The EVR have chosen to operate a simple timetable of three return trips per day, all starting at Wirksworth with no break of journey allowed.

Tickets are being sold on a compartment basis and each group (of up to six people) is allocated a compartment on arrival and the carriages are clearly marked as to which door to board at.

Limited catering facilities were in operation (although we’d packed a picnic) and apart from the masks and the railway’s staff helping to keep the small groups of people apart everything felt very ‘normal’.

'SWORDFISH'SWORDFISH nameplate (33103)
Wirksworth Station, August 2020

33103 ‘SWORDFISH’ (the former D6514, b.1960, BRCW) made light work of three beautifully turned out BR Mk.1 carriages and a few groups (us included) were lucky enough to be allocated a first class compartment!

33103-20200801d33103 SWORDFISH runs round its train
Duffield Station, August 2020

The EVR (and all the heritage lines that have managed to re-open under these difficult circumstances) really need our support to survive… If you can, buy a ticket and enjoy a ride!

Re-opening next week – The North Norfolk Railway

July 8 sees one of my favourite heritage railways emerge from its Covid-19 induced slumber and start to run trains again.

The North Norfolk Railway (NNR) have announced that they will be opening their doors to the public with a limited timetable that will make use of this beautifully restored rake of coaches…

Hunslet 16in 0-6-0ST 'RING HAW' & GNR 'Quad-Art' set no.74-20110706Hunslet 16in 0-6-0ST ‘RING HAW’ & GNR ‘Quad-Art’ set no.74
North Norfolk Railway, July 2011

The Great Northern Railway (GNR) ‘Quad-Art’ was an experiment by Nigel (later ‘Sir’ Nigel) Gresley to reduce the weight and therefore improve the acceleration of commuter trains on the Metropolitan Widened Lines to Moorgate station in London. This set, built in 1924 at Doncaster, is the only one still in existence.

GNR 'Quad-Art' set no.74-20140707GNR ‘Quad-Art’ set no.74
North Norfolk Railway, July 2014

The four coach sets were articulated (hence ‘Quad-Art’) on five four-wheeled bogies instead of the usual two bogies per coach, this reduced the rolling resistance of the set (and its weight) and improved acceleration considerably, especially when the trains were hauled by the GNR’s powerful N1 and N2 0-6-2T locos.

GNR 'Quad-Art' Third 48863 (interior)-20140707GNR ‘Quad-Art’ Third 48863 (interior)

GNR 'Quad-Art' Third 48863-20140707‘All the Threes!’
GNR ‘Quad-Art’ Third 48863

As each passenger compartment is isolated from the next, the ‘Quad-Art’ set is particularly well-suited to socially distanced operations and rather than booking individual seats passengers will book a whole compartment, capable of seating up to eight people.

Set no.74 was withdrawn from British Rail service in 1966 and preserved the following year, forming the backbone of the NNR’s passenger services until 1979 when its poor condition forced its withdrawal again.

A Heritage Lottery Fund-assisted restoration took place between 2003-2008 and the set returned to service in July 2008, its use now being mostly restricted to special events (usually anyway…)

GNR 'GNR 'Quad-Art' set no.74-20110706GNR ‘Quad-Art’ set no.74
North Norfolk Railway, July 2011

Now, can I wangle a trip to Norfolk anytime soon?

Multiple Unit Monday – A Wickham in Wales

Class 109 DTCL E56171-20140816D.Wickham & Co. Ltd. DTCL E56171 & DMBS E50416
Carrog Station, Llangollen Railway, August 2014

This two-car diesel multiple unit (DMU) was built by D.Wickham & Co. Ltd. of Ware, Hertfordshire in 1957 and was one of five such sets allocated to branch line services in East Anglia.

As more and more branch lines closed in the 1960s these Wickham sets were deemed surplus to requirements and were withdrawn from service. Two were exported to Trinidad, two were scrapped but the fifth (E56171 and E50416, later renumbered TDB975006 and TDB975005) was converted into a saloon (complete with kitchen facilities) for use by the General Manager of British Rail’s Eastern Region, remaining in use until 1980.

Eventually preserved by the Llangollen Railcars group the unit was restored at the Midland Railway-Butterley thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant and it returned to service in 2004.

Class 109 DTCL interior-20140816Interior of DTCL E56171
Carrog Station, Llangollen Railway, August 2014

The beautifully restored interiors are a very comfortable and stylish way to travel and the large windows give a fantastic view of the Denbighshire countryside that the Llangollen Railway passes through.

The Wickham sets were withdrawn before TOPS* classification was applied but they were allocated Class 109 by British Rail.

*The TOPS computer system for managing locomotives and rolling stock is something I’ll be going into more detail about in a future post.

From the Archives – M&GN Joint Railway Society members’ day, October 2011

A quick follow up to my previous post

Another image of the Great Eastern Railway (GER) bogie tramcar No.7 at the North Norfolk Railway (NNR), captured during the M&GN Joint Railway Society members’ day on 1 October 2011.

LNER class J15 0-6-0 65462-20111001LNER class J15 0-6-0 65462 approaches Bridge No.303
North Norfolk Railway, October 2011

Here the society’s London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) J15 class 0-6-0 steam locomotive 65462 (built as class Y14 No.564 by the GER at Stratford Works in 1912) approaches Bridge No.303, east of Weybourne, with what I believe was the last service of the day. No.7 is clearly visible as the first vehicle in the train.

And this is the view of 65462 from the balcony of No.7, captured earlier in the day!

View from the balcony of GER Bogie Tramcar No.7-20111001View from the balcony of GER Bogie Tramcar No.7
Sheringham station, North Norfolk Railway, October 2011

(My face was covered in smuts from the loco after I’d travelled the full length of the line standing on said balcony…)

65462 was withdrawn from British Railways service in September 1962 and initially stored at Devons Road Depot in Bow, East London. Short spells at Stratford (East London) and March (Cambridgeshire) followed before 65462 finally arrived at the NNR on 4 June 1967.

A stalwart at the NNR, 65462 ran for thousands of miles before being withdrawn for significant boiler work in 1989, not returning to traffic until 2002.

In 2015 the locomotive returned to service following another major rebuild which included not only a repaint into full GER blue livery but also a number of modifications that backdate its appearance to ‘as built’ condition.

From the Archives – Wisbech & Upwell Tramway bogie tramcar

Whilst searching for the image of ‘DRAKE’ for my previous post I also turned up this…

Great Eastern Railway bogie tramcar No.7-19990829Great Eastern Railway bogie tramcar No.7
Rutland Railway Museum

It’s the body of Great Eastern Railway (GER) bogie tramcar No.7 that was used on the Wisbech & Upwell Tramway in East Anglia (made famous in the Reverend W. Awdry’s ‘Toby the Tram Engine’ book) and like ‘DRAKE’ was photographed at the Rutland Railway Museum near Cottesmore (now rebranded as Rocks by Rail).

Built at the GER’s Stratford Works in 1884 it was used on the Wisbech & Upwell Tramway until passenger traffic ceased in 1927 when it was transferred to the Kelvedon and Tollesbury Light Railway in Essex. Withdrawn from service in 1951 it spent the following 23 years as an onion store before being preserved.

Acquired by the M&GN Joint Railway Society in 2002 it was restored and fitted with new running gear and now sees occasional use at the North Norfolk Railway (NNR).

Great Eastern Railway bogie tramcar No.7-20111001Great Eastern Railway bogie tramcar No.7
Sheringham station, North Norfolk Railway, October 2011

Readers familiar with the 1953 Ealing comedy The Titfield Thunderbolt will also recognise No.7 as sister vehicle No.8 had a starring role in the film. No.7 is now fitted with a replica of the bar used to persuade Stanley Holloway’s character ‘Walter Valentine’ to finance the railway in the film.

Hudswell Clarke & Co Ltd 'WISSINGTON' (works no.1700 of 1938)-20141004Hudswell, Clarke & Co. Ltd. 0-6-0ST ‘WISSINGTON’ passes Sheringham West signal box (GER No.7 is the first vehicle in the train)
North Norfolk Railway, October 2014

The North Norfolk Railway is also appealing for funds to help them survive the Covid-19 situation… please consider making a donation here.

Industrial Action – Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd. 0-4-0ST ‘DRAKE’

In the post Industrial Action – Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd. 0-4-0DH No.482 of 1963 I mentioned having a better image of ‘DRAKE’, the 0-4-0 saddle tank locomotive that now calls the former Andrew Barclay’s Caledonia Works offices ‘home’.

AB 0-4-0ST 'DRAKE' (works no.2086 of 1940)-19990829Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd. 0-4-0ST ‘DRAKE’ (works no.2086 of 1940)
Rutland Railway Museum

‘DRAKE’ (works no.2086 of 1940) is another product of the Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd factory in Kilmarnock and was supplied new to Stewart & Lloyds Ltd’s Newport Tube Works in Monmouthshire, remaining there until the site’s closure in the early 1970s.

Although initially preserved by the Dowty Railway Preservation Society at Ashchurch in Gloucestershire, by 1989 ‘DRAKE’ had moved to the Rutland Railway Museum near Cottesmore (now rebranded as Rocks by Rail) where I photographed it in August 1999.

Industrial Action – A pair from Pilkington’s…

A recent search for something else entirely turned up a forgotten folder of images taken at the Nene Valley Railway in April 2008 and amongst them was this little tyke.

Yorkshire Engine Co Ltd 0-4-0DE 'DONCASTER' (works no.2654 of 1957)-20080407Yorkshire Engine Co Ltd 0-4-0DE ‘DONCASTER’ (works no.2654 of 1957)
Wansford Station, Nene Valley Railway, April 2008

‘DONCASTER’ is a Yorkshire Engine Co Ltd (YE) 0-4-0 Diesel Electric locomotive that was built in 1957 as works no.2654. One of five such locos supplied new to glass manufacturer Pilkington Brothers Ltd of St. Helens, Merseyside, no.2654 was rendered redundant by new plant in 1984 and sold to the Doncaster & District Railway Preservation Society who moved it to what was then the Sandtoft Transport Centre in Lincolnshire (now The Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft).

Sold again to the Yorkshire Engine Group, the loco moved to the Nene Valley Railway for rebuilding, which included the fitting of a 250hp engine to replace the original 200hp example.

The name ‘Pilkington’ clanged a great big bell in the dusty recesses of my memory and after much searching I turned up this image, taken at the Llangollen Railway in 2014.

Yorkshire Engine Co Ltd 0-4-0DE 'PILKINGTON' (works no.2782 of 1960)-20140816Yorkshire Engine Co Ltd 0-4-0DE ‘PILKINGTON’ (works no.2782 of 1960)
Llangollen Station, August 2014

‘PILKINGTON’ is another of the five YE 0-4-0DE locos supplied to Pilkington Brothers Ltd and like no.2654 was a casualty of modernisation at St Helens. Built in 1960 as works no.2782 it originally carried the name ‘QUEENBOROUGH’ but was renamed after it was donated to the Llangollen Railway.

‘COWLEY HILL’ (works no.2687 of 1958), another of the five St Helens’ locos also made it into preservation but was sold to T.J. Thomson, Stockton-on-Tees, for scrap from the Telford Steam Railway in May 2010.

I believe that ‘DONCASTER’ is now in the care of the Industrial Diesel Railway Preservation Group who intend restoring it to working order.

Signal Box Safari – South Tynedale Railway

To me, no structure screams ‘RAILWAY!’ more than a signal box…

Old station buildings get converted to houses, goods and locomotive sheds are often unrecognisable in their new roles as factories or warehouses but a signal box rarely ends up looking like anything other than… well… a signal box.

I try to photograph them wherever they crop up, there are still many to be found on the national network and heritage lines occasionally build new ones. The South Tynedale Railway (STR) is one such line.

The STR extended their 2ft gauge line to a new northern terminus at Slaggyford in 2017 and needed a signal box to control the station’s signals and level crossing but the original North Eastern Railway (NER) box had been demolished in the 1960s.

… So the STR built a very convincing replica of the original NER type N2 structure that contains a 28-lever frame obtained from Battersby signal box (which closed in August 1989) on the Esk Valley Line that runs from Middlesbrough to Whitby.

Slaggyford Signal Box-20181026Slaggyford Signal Box
South Tynedale Railway, October 2018

Alston, at the southern end of the STR, boasts a 1915-vintage signal box, but not one original to the location…

Alston Signal Box-20181026Alston Signal Box
South Tynedale Railway, October 2018

Alston signal box is a North Eastern Railway (NER) type S5 structure that originally stood at Ainderby on what is now the Wensleydale Railway in North Yorkshire.

Rebuilt at Alston in 1991 (on a new brick base) the box contains a 21-lever McKenzie & Holland frame, part of which came from Leeming Bar (also on the Wensleydale Railway).

The South Tynedale Railway has also had to suspend operations due to the Covid-19 situation and are currently appealing for donations to help support the railway until such time as they can run trains again.

On the Narrow Gauge – Talyllyn Railway Anniversary

A very quick post today…

On 14 May 1951, the Talyllyn Railway (Rheilffordd Talyllyn) re-opened under the control of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society with trains running between Wharf and Rhydyronen stations.

FJ 0-4-2ST TALYLLYN (works no.42 of 1865)-20130816Fletcher Jennings & Co. 0-4-2ST TALYLLYN (works no.42 of 1865)
Tywyn Wharf station, Talyllyn Railway (Rheilffordd Talyllyn), August 2013

The 2ft 3in gauge railway is currently closed due to the Covid-19 situation and like many heritage lines they are appealing for funds to help the railway survive. If you can, please make a donation here.

The Talyllyn Railway is one of 11 heritage lines that make up the Great Little Trains of Wales (Trenau Bach Arbennig Cymru).

On the Narrow Gauge – ‘Z’ is for… ZM32

From my last post’s ‘A’ for ‘Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd.’ all the way to the other end of the alphabet today!

Sorting through many years worth of digital images at the moment and I came across pics from two visits (in 2009 and 2011) to the Steeple Grange Light Railway (SGLR) near Wirksworth in Derbyshire.

RH 4wDM ZM32 'HORWICH' (works no.416214 of 1957)-20090531Ruston & Hornsby Ltd 18in gauge 4wDM ZM32 ‘HORWICH’ (works no.416214 of 1957)
Steeple Grange Light Railway, May 2009

ZM32 has called the SGLR home since 1997 and is one of a very small number of narrow gauge locomotives that were owned and operated by British Railway (BR).

The Ruston & Hornsby Ltd. 20hp LAT class diesel loco (works no.416214 of 1957) was supplied new to the former Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway’s (L&YR) Horwich Locomotive Works for use on the extensive 18in gauge system there (where eight 0-4-0ST steam locos had previously been employed). It worked there until 1965 after which it went into store (following a failed attempt to export it to British Honduras).

Purchased by R.P. Morris in 1971, ZM32 was restored and re-gauged (to 2ft) and operated at Gloddfa Ganol, a working quarry and tourist attraction in Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales before finally moving to the SGLR where it has been re-gauged (again) to 18in, named ‘HORWICH’ and painted into BR lined green livery.

RH 4wDM ZM32 'HORWICH' (works no.416214 of 1957)-20110710Ruston & Hornsby Ltd 18in gauge 4wDM ZM32 ‘HORWICH’ (works no.416214 of 1957)
Steeple Grange Light Railway, July 2011

‘HORWICH’ is often in charge of passenger trains on the 1 in 27 gradient ‘Killer’s Branch’ at the SGLR.