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

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?