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!

Signal Box Safari – North Staffordshire Survey

A few weeks ago I paid a (socially distanced) visit to a friend in Tutbury, Staffordshire, and en route I crossed the Derby-Stoke railway line here…

Tutbury Crossing-20200630Tutbury Crossing
June 2020

Tutbury Crossing signal box was built for the North Staffordshire Railway (NSR) c.1872 by McKenzie & Holland (McK&H). The type 1 structure was fitted with a McK&H 1886 patent 5″ frame (now reduced to nine levers) in 1897.

Tutbury Crossing signal box-20200630Tutbury Crossing signal box
June 2020

Having some free time I decided to explore a little further down the line and a quick study of Google Maps revealed two more signal boxes nearby, the first being…

Scropton Crossing signal box-20200630Scropton Crossing signal box
June 2020

Scropton Crossing signal box is a NSR type 2 structure dating from the 1880s and is fitted with a 22-lever McK&H 1873 patent 5″ frame.

This also caught my eye at Scropton…

Marker post, Scropton Crossing-20200630Marker post, Scropton Crossing
June 2020

I’m not certain but this may be an old level crossing gate post. ‘N.S.R. Co.’ clearly refers to the North Staffordshire Railway, what appears to be ‘1884’ could refer to the build date of the box itself and ‘L.M.S. 1923’ must refer to the year in which the NSR became part of the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS).

Finally I called at Sudbury…

Sudbury signal box-20200630Sudbury signal box
June 2020

A North Staffordshire Railway (NSR) type 1 structure dating from 1885 the box is fitted with a McK&H 1873 patent 5″ 25-lever frame. There’s more than a hint of McKenzie & Holland (McK&H) design here though and the box closely resembles Great Northern Railway (GNR) structures of the same period.

One other signal box remains in the area, at the former Egginton Junction, but I understand it’s almost impossible to view unless from a passing train.

Military Manoeuvres – AD 34

Ever since I found out that the railway scenes in the 1966 film The Great St. Trinian’s Train Robbery were filmed at the Longmoor Military Railway in Hampshire I’ve had an interest in the sometimes secretive world of the railway systems used by our armed forces.

Happily these days, an interest in such matters isn’t likely to get you shot (at least here in the UK) and a considerable amount of information has now been published about such systems. In addition, a lot of former military railway equipment has passed into the hands of preservationists all over the country.

Locomotive AD 34 is one such piece of equipment, now preserved at the Golden Valley Light Railway in Derbyshire.

HE 4wDH AD 34 (works no.7009 of 1971)-20180207Hunslet 4wDH AD 34
Golden Valley Light Railway, February 2018

Built by the Hunslet Engine Co Ltd (HE) in 1971 (as works no.7009), AD 34 was one of five such locomotives supplied new to the Ministry of Defence, Royal Ordnance Factory Eastriggs in Dumfriesshire (now Dumfries & Galloway) to move munitions around the site on a vast 2ft gauge railway system.

Fitted with a 28hp Perkins diesel engine and a hydraulic transmission, AD 34 has a top speed of 4mph (would you want to go any faster with a trainload of munitions in tow?)

By 1996 all five locos had been transferred to the Department of the Environment Lydd Gun Ranges in Kent where they were used to haul maintenance and personnel trains on the extensive rail network there.

The other four locomotives also survive in preservation; AD 35 (works no.7010) can be seen at the Statfold Barn Railway in Staffordshire (see image below) while AD 36 (works no.7011), AD 37 (works no.7012) and AD 38 (works no.7013) can all be found at the Old Kiln Light Railway in Surrey.

HE 4wDH 35 (works no.7010 of 1971, reb.1988 by HAB, works no.6941)-20110917Hunslet 4wDH AD 35
Statfold Barn Railway, September 2011

Spotted Today – 47749 and 47727

47749 & 47727-2020052247749 & 47727
Erewash Valley Line, May 2020

47749 CITY OF TRURO and 47727 Edinburgh Castle/Caisteal Dhùn Eideann approach the site of Shipley Gate station on the Erewash Valley Line on 22 May 2020 as train 0Z47, the 16.03 light engine move from Worksop Down Yard to Leicester Depot. At this point they were running over three hours early!

47749 was built at Crewe Works and entered service in February 1965 as D1660. The ‘CITY OF TRURO’ name was bestowed upon it at Truro station on 8 June 1965 by Dr. Mabel Andrews, Mayor of Truro and the name was retained until 13 October 1988.

Between 1988 and 2016 three other names were carried at various times; ‘Resplendent’ (12 October 1991-October 1995), ‘Atlantic College’ (23 November 1995-?) and ‘Demelza’ (20 September 2007-?). The ‘CITY OF TRURO’ name was restored at Bristol St. Philip’s Marsh Depot open day on 30 April 2016.

47727 was also built at Crewe and entered service in October 1964 as D1629. ‘Edinburgh Castle/Caisteal Dhùn Eideann’ is the locomotive’s fifth name, the previous ones being ‘The Gloucestershire Regiment’ (1 July 1990-November 1993), ‘Duke of Edinburgh’s Award’ (11 October 1994-?), ‘Castell Caeffili/Caerphilly Castle’ (December 2002-?) and ‘Rebecca’ (20 September 2007-?)

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.