UK Heritage Hub Review of 2014


UKHH - Copyright Image

UKHH – Copyright Image

Originally posted in issue 49 of UK Heritage Hub, this is a comprehensive review of 2014 – enjoy!

And so 2014; a very dull year full of disappointments and not just in the weather. A year where nothing of note happened and everything just seemed to be disappearing with nothing new taking its place… or was it? Although 2014 is perhaps not going to be a very memorable year for most of us and on the whole was not record breaking, there were many commendable success stories and when you think on a little bit further and search for the happier times, there are many and this is what we wish to celebrate in our first issue of 2015.

2014 started on a dull note. A warm, wet winter; if you can even call it a winter, followed by a dull, damp spring. Plenty of warmth and sun was to follow in May, June and July, though it was no doubt too much for those who only like to moan! A cool and wet end to the summer was followed by an incessantly dull and wet autumn. Thankfully the trend was eventually broken (in Britain at least) at the very end of the year when we finally enjoyed some good crisp, cold winter sun, during the very limited daylight hours available! (Editor’s note: The warm, wet, dark weather continues in Northern France).

Although we still await final figures from the Severn Valley Railway and Bluebell Railway, passenger figures for 2014 have seen a major shake-up within the top 5 heritage railways. Remaining in first place, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway had a successful year in 2014. The line’s motive power crisis has however continued and become more serious through 2014, with many locos out of traffic for long periods of time and the loss of Lambton Hetton and Joyce Colliery 0-6-2T No. 29 due to major cylinder repairs being required before the loco can run again. NER ‘Q6’ 0-8-0 63395 has continued to struggle this year and is once again out of service for bottom end attention, after only returning to the NYMR in August following major boiler works undertaken at Crewe works, following over a year and a quarter out of service. Excessive tyre wear also saw BR Standard ‘4MT’ 4-6-0 75029 finally succumb in the autumn and LMS “Black 5” 4-6-0 44806 also failed with a dead injector in December after battling with many problems and dropped plugs throughout the year. LNER ‘B1’ 4-6-0 61264 was also withdrawn in the autumn for major bottom end attention which could take until May 2015 to resolve. With the only reliable loco of 2014, LMS “Black 5” 5428, now being a star of the new Dad’s Army film in its current temporary LMS wartime guise, even this loco did not see the 2014 season out, dropping a plug on a post-Christmas run. With BR Standard ‘4MT’ 2-6-0 76079 making a tentative return to traffic right at the end of the year, but with many adjustments and much running in still required, East Lancashire Railway based Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST WD 132 “Sapper” was hired in to help out with the Santa specials, (you know things have become desperate when Yorkshire turns to Lancashire for help!). Flagship LNER ‘A4’ 60007 ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’ had a successful year including popular visits to the East Lancashire Railway and Didcot Railway Centre as well as mainline runs. The loco may make a final mainline appreance during her final 8 months in service in 2015.

Copyright of UK Heritage Hub

Copyright of UK Heritage Hub

On the diesel front, BR Sulzer ‘Class 24’ D5061continued to battle on valiantly when required until an enforced withdrawal in the autumn. Mainstay of the railway BR Sulzer ‘Class 25’ D7628 also battled through the year covering many turns and has now been withdrawn for essential and overdue maintenance. English Electric Type 3 37264 continued to have its problems throughout the year, but is becoming more reliable and is at present having a steam heating boiler fitted to permit use during the winter months. 2015 is set to be a challenging year for Britain’s most popular heritage railway, which ended the 2014 season running rail replacement coaches after the derailment of SR ‘WC’ 4-6-2 34101 ‘Hartland’s tender during a transfer move in the post-Christmas running period. The loco is on track to be the next loco to return to traffic upon the completion of the present overhaul.

Having shot from fifth to second last year following a record breaking 60,000 increase in passenger numbers, the Bluebell Railway is likely to remain in its new found second position around the 250,000 mark. The East Grinstead extension and direct links to London have continued to prove popular, not least for the ever increase number of railtours visiting the line. Although no locos returned to traffic in 2014, SR ‘S15’ 4-6-0 847 has now settled down into regular traffic and is now just over a year in service. With the only loco withdrawal, LBSCR “Terrier” 0-6-0T 55 ‘Stepney’ which was on a 5 year boiler ticket extension and only permitted to run unaided on a one-coach load, things are very much looking up for the line who almost ran out of locos on several occasions during the last couple of years, due to the efforts concentrated on reaching East Grinstead.

With 2014’s hire loco GWR 0-6-2T 5643 now having completed its spell on the line, the Bluebell Railway hope to welcome back SR ‘Q’ 0-6-0 30541 and BR ‘Standard 5’ 4-6-0 73082 ‘Camelot’ in 2015. The boiler tickets on all currently operational locos are valid until at least February 2016, when SR ‘U’ 2-6-0 1638’s expires. Thankfully for Britain’s only 100% steam-hauled passenger train standard gauge railway, the days of emergency diesel haulage finally seem to have ceased, although the 2014 idea of a one weekend diesel gala is set to continue into 2015, with two visiting ‘Deltics’ D9009 ‘Alycidon’ and 55019 ‘Royal Highland Fusilier’ set to star over the weekend of 18th – 19th April after bringing a railtour to the line. Highlights of the 2014 season included the Metropolitan ‘Chesham’ set once again going on onto the mainline to run on London Underground metals with Metropolitan Railway ‘E Class’ 0-4-4T No.1 and Bill Parker’s GWR 2-6-2T running as L.150.

2014 Bluebell Railway - Sheffield Park - GWR Small Prairie 2-6-2T Metropolitan Railway L.150 5521

The battle for third place could be more close run than ever this year. The SVR have had a successful year, especially during the autumn and into the fully-booked 32,000 seat Santa Special season. With record highs around the 225,000 mark but having seen a slight downturn, what was once Britain’s second most popular heritage railway, could finish in fourth place this year due to the continuing phenomenal rise in popularity of the Swanage Railway and indeed of the Dorset coast and Purbeck region as a “staycation” holiday destination.

The Swanage Railway finished 2014 with a record breaking 216,267 passengers, an increase of over 5,000 passengers on 2013’s record breaking total which established the line’s new found place in Britain’s Top 5 of heritage railways. The Swanage Railway also finished 2014 with three locos added to the fleet, in the form of a trio of SR moguls: running ex-SECR ‘River’ Class/SR ‘U’ 2-6-0 31806, under-overhaul SR ‘N’ 2-6-0 31874  and SR ‘U’ 2-6-0 31625 which is awaiting overhaul. 2014 also saw the arrival of a handful of BR ‘Class 33’ “Crompton” diesel locomotives, a class which will continue to grace the line in 2015, after the arrival of another example. Also in 2014, the line’s DMU was hauled to Eastleigh works for much needed refurbishment by newly restored and mainline operational resident ‘Class 33’ D6515. Just after a highly successful 35th anniversary (making the Swanage Railway the youngest of our big 5) event featuring the A1 Steam Trust’s 60163 ‘Tornado’ hauling its first Swanage Railway services, the line bid a very sad farewell to one of Britain’s best looking and in the second half of its now extended boiler ticket at least, one of the most reliable Bullied Pacifics on a preserved railway; 34028 ‘Eddystone’. Bowing out in August after giving 6 years of sterling service and another 5 years in traffic previously, the now much missed and by this time naturally weathered loco made a superb sight carrying its last passengers to the seaside in August, just as its fellow class members would have 50 years previously.

2014 - Swanage Railway - Nordon - Rebuilt West Country class - 34028 Eddystone

BR Standard ‘4MT’ 2-6-4T is also set to return to the Swanage Railway this year after missing the 2014 season due to boiler problems affecting many of the class. GWR 0-6-2T 6695 will come to the end of her boiler ticket in 2015 and is set to visit the West Somerset Railway in March for their Spring Steam Gala. At present talks are also under way for the loco’s overhaul to be carried out at Williton on the WSR. 2015 is looking like another big year for the Swanage Railway, with GWR ‘Castle’ 4-6-0 5029 ‘Nunney Castle’ and BR ‘Britannia’ 4-6-2 70000 ‘Britannia’ booked to visit the line for their second Spring Steam Gala which is set to be even bigger than 2014’s LSWR extravaganza with visiting LSWR ‘T9’ 4-4-0 30120. The visits of both locos are subject to the completion of their present overhauls.

Whether or not the Severn Valley Railway is still in the top three most visited heritage railways in Britain detracts nothing from a highly successful year. Steam loco availability has been excellent, with all 6 home fleet locos putting in some considerable mileages. Alongside 2014 resident GWR 0-4-2T 1450 which along with its two auto trailers W178W and W238 “Chaffinch” has been seen on many gala runs, charters and driver experience courses throughout the year, the SVR welcomed 3 visiting locos during 2014: BR Standard ‘5MT’ 4-6-0 73129 from the Midland Railway Centre, BR Standard ‘9F’ 2-10-0 92214 from the Great Central and BR “Deltic” 55019 ‘Royal Highland Fusilier’. Both the “Caprotti 5” and “Deltic” were on hand to boost the home fleet during the summer season and proved very popular and reliable with visitors, crews and photographers alike. GWR “Hall” 4-6-0 4936 ‘Kinlet Hall’ was also SVR based from September 2013 – April 2014 and back in March ran with home fleet “Hall” 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’s number plate to give a taste of things to come once the overhaul on ‘Hagley Hall’ which is due to commence shortly is completed.

The visit of the ‘9F’ came as an end of year treat for enthusiasts in a year where the SVR’s Autumn Gala had already helped to relive the long lamented Somerset and Dorset Route, the Santa Specials were treated to “Pines Express” re-creations with the lined green ‘9F’ evoking memories of S&D favourite 92220 ‘Evening Star’. The ‘9F’ was used alongside the home fleet’s larger locos: GWR “Manor” 4-6-0 7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor’, GWR 2-8-0 2857, SR “Battle of Britain” 4-6-2 34053 ‘Sir Keith Park’ and LMS Ivatt ‘4MT’ 2-6-0 43106 which handled all the Santa Specials, a huge operation involving 5 locos and train sets per day. GWR “Small Prairie” 2-6-2T 4566 was on hand for mid-week services, carriage heating and as a spare with 1450 as 2014 really was the year of tank engines on tour for the SVR.


Over Christmas, WR Hawksworth 0-6-0PT 1501 hauled the Nene Valley Railway’s Santa Specials after visiting the NYMR and Swanage Railway in the autumn and the Bodmin and Wendford Railway and Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway in the spring. 1501 is continuing 2015 in much the same vein, appearing alongside 7820 ‘Dinmore Manor’ for a second time, this time at the Great Central Railway’s Winter Gala of 30th January – 1st February 2015. 4566 also made a trip away from the SVR to the WSR Autumn Gala in October, accompanied by 1450 which then went on to visit the Mid Hants Railway as well, taking Auto Trailer W238 with it. Both locos have also formed a pair on the SVR on two occasions during 2014, re-creating the farewell to the SVR SLS railtour using preserved classmates 1420 and 4566 50 years previously. Both locos also have visits away already planned in 2015, 4566 to the South Devon in February/March and 1450 to Llangollen for SSS4 in March.

Also on tour in 2014, but a tour of a different kind was the only loco whose boiler ticket expired in 2014, GWR “Large Prairie” 2-6-2T 5164. The loco put in some fantastic end of ticket performances at the start of the year until her boiler ticket expired on the last day before the closed season on 5th January. Since then the tremendous efforts of one SVR volunteer have seen 5164 lovely cared for whilst on tour at Barrow Hill awaiting a space for future display on the SVR. The efforts of Amanda Hambidge have produced a true centre piece for the display of locos in the round house at Barrow Hill which put the longer term collection to shame. Amanda has also had the cab open for supervised footplate visits on the weekends which she has been working on the loco. The result is a true advert of everything which is great about the SVR and a huge credit to her dedication to keep the loco looking in better condition than it did when it was in SVR service! A full article by Amanda detailing all her work on 5164 can be found in 2014’s SVR Special Edition of UKHH Magazine (Issue 45A). In a similar vein, Talyllyn Railway based Corris 0-4-2ST No. 3 ‘Sir Haydn’ spent 2013 on tour in the Engine House at Highley on the SVR. With the little loco’s big tour now over, she is due to return to the Talyllyn Railway to partake in their 150th anniversary celebrations before the commencement of its major overhaul.

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the SVR and numerous events are being planned to celebrate. It is also hoped that SR “West Country” 4-6-2 34027 ‘Taw Valley’, whose boiler is currently under going testing at Bridgnorth will return to steam this year, followed by GWR “Manor” 4-6-0 7802 ‘Bradley Manor’. GWR 0-6-0PT 7714 and Port Talbot Railway 0-6-0ST 813 are also hoped to make significant progress during the anniversary year. Full details of events can be found in the news section of this magazine.

Once the third most popular heritage railway with around 215,000 visitors at its peak, the Swanage and Bluebell booms have now knocked Britain’s longest standard gauge heritage railway into fifth place. That said, the West Somerset Railway also had a good year, despite visitor numbers suffering due to the downturn in tourism following the flooding in Somerset in the early part of the year. Happily, the WSR had a hugely successful Christmas season, bringing the total passenger numbers for 2014 up to 195,212 passengers. Throughout 2014, the WSR’s loco fleet remained strong, supplemented by the arrival of GWR “Hall” 4-6-0 4936 ‘Kinlet Hall’ in the spring, a loco which is currently based on the WSR. Although beginning to show its age, SDJR ‘7F’ 2-8-0 No. 88 also had a very successful final year in Prussian blue, including staring at the SVR’s S&D themed autumn steam gala. After being in service for almost the whole of December, the loco bowed out on 28th December.

2014 West Somerset Railway Autumn Steam Gala - Stogumber - GWR 4936 Kinlet Hall as 4932 Hatherton HallThe overhaul of 53808 into BR guise is due to be started soon with a hoped completion early next year in time to star at both the WSR’s own 40th anniversary celebrations and the 50th anniversary of the closure of the Somerset and Dorset events. In keeping with the line’s S&D preparations, 2014 also saw the signing of a 25 year contract with the owning group of LMS ‘4F’ 44422 which will become a WSR resident on completion of its present overhaul at Crewe works. 2014 did however also see the WSR announce the departure of Dinmore Manor Locomotive Limited’s GWR 2-8-0 3850 on the expiry of its boiler ticket in June 2015. 3850 has proved incredibly reliable during its 10 year stint on the WSR and as such has broken some WSR steaming records. SDJR No. 88 was not the only WSR loco to have visited the SVR in 2014, as home fleet member GWR “Manor” 4-6-0 7828 ‘Odney Manor’ made its first trip away from the WSR since its return to traffic in March. 3850, 7828 and GWR “Large Prairie” 4160 really held the WSR fort in 2014 and are set to do the same in 2015. 3850 made a brief visit second away from the WSR to the GWSR spring gala where it starred alongside DMLL’s other operating loco GWR “Manor” 4-6-0 7820 ‘Dinmore Manor’. This was not to be the only time the BR black pair were seen together in 2014, as the pair were re-united at their former home for the WSR Autumn Gala, the first time they had been in steam together on WSR metals. 3850 also paired up with visiting BR black liveried GWR Churchward 2-6-0 5322 at the WSR’s “Atlantic Coast Express” themed Spring Gala; whilst GWR “Modified Hall” 4-6-0 6960 ‘Raveningham Hall’ made its first trip away for the Mid-Hants Railway’s GWR themed Autumn Gala, joining WSR favourites 5029 ‘Nunney Castle’ and 1450 which were also visiting for the event.

GWR 2-6-2T 5542 made its annual visit to the WSR in the autumn, hauling trains from mid-September until the end of the main running season at the start of November and joining fellow “Small Prairie” 4566 for the Taunton Shed themed Autumn Steam Gala. 5542 is set to return for the WSR’s South Wales themed 2015 Spring Gala and many of the highly successful new events which were a feature of the line’s busy 2014 calendar are set to feature again this year.

2014 has also been a fantastic second year for the ‘Asperger’s Flyer’; seeing the team welcomed by many many railways across the country including visits to the: Great Central Railway, Llangollen Railway, Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, Talyllyn Railway, mainline running on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and a visit to the NRM to name but a few highlights of a year in which the flagship fundraiser of the UKHH’s partner charity Asperger’s Fundraiser has really gone from strength to strength. Everywhere they have visited Olly Morgan and his dedicated team have been accoladed for their superb organisational skills and professionalism whilst putting on fantastic events for and supporting children and families with autistic spectrum disorders across the country. 2015 is set to build on more of the same including a week-long first visit to the SVR. As well as congratulating the team on their past successes, we wish them all the best for the future and look forward to continuing to work alongside them, none more so that at the UKHH supported Gwili Railway Autumn steam Gala in October.

Whilst there are so many people who we wish to thank personally for all their contributions in 2014, it would be unfair to try to make a list of everyone as someone would undoubtedly get missed off it. Instead, I will name just two people: Martin Creese for all his superb photographs and very interesting articles, often more than one per issue. It is wonderful to see and hear about the results of the fantastic recreations of 30742 Charters and I am sure everyone always enjoys reading about your excellent work. The other person worthy of a huge commendation for his UKHH efforts in 2014 is Joe Connell, who has done just about everything, including co-ordinating the SVR Special Edition Magazine and providing numerous photos and articles to every issue as well as huge amounts of work and support behind the scenes. Everyone’s contributions no matter how much or how often this past year have made the UKHH what it now is, we wouldn’t have anything without you all, so a huge thank you all round.

Back in January 2014, the Llangollen Railway introduced a very successful New Year gala; initially to mark the departure of former stalwart LMS “Black 5” 4-6-0 44806. With a mix of steam and diesel services including DMUs, the event proved popular with enthusiasts and photographers because of the rare chance to photograph night trains on the line. As well as being a fitting celebration and send off for the much-missed 44806, this new first gala of the year has now become a regular feature in the heritage railway calendar, with the 2015 event welcoming GWR “Large Prairie” 2-6-2T 5199 back into service.

Charity 32Also back in January, LNER ‘B1’ 4-6-0 61264 was the first loco to steam on the mainline of 2014, when she completed her mainline test runs and subsequently visited the East Lancashire Railway for their Winter Gala alongside BR Standard ‘4MT’ 2-6-0 76084 which was making its first visit away from the North Norfolk Railway after returning to service in summer 2013. 76084 made a very welcome winter stay on the ELR, seeing use at both of the line’s winter galas, the second of which also saw a visit from the Mid Hant’s Railway’s LMS “Black 5” 4-6-0 45379 as well as a very sad the final run of LNWR “Super D” 0-8-0 49395. 61264 went on to haul its first railtour since overhaul at the end of January, double-heading Ian Riley’s LMS “Black 5” 4-6-0 45407 “The Lancashire Fusilier” on the first “Cumbrian Mountain Express” of 2014. Elsewhere in January, the Great Central Railway welcomed GWR 0-6-2T 5643 for their winter gala; the loco was on its way from the SVR to the Bluebell, its base for the 2014 season.

News of note in February included the sale of BR ‘9F’ 2-10-0 92214 which has saw the loco move home from the NYMR to the GCR and change colours from lined black into unlined black and then into lined green. The loco has proven very popular at the GCR and now has brass numerals on its smokebox number plate, 92220 style. Standards have featured quite heavily throughout 2014, with ‘Standard 5’ 4-6-0 73050 making her last runs before the expiry of her boiler ticket at the Nene Valley Railway in the early part of the year. Another class of loco which continued to do well in 2014 was the LMS “Black 5”, with unique Stephenson valve geared example 44767 returning to traffic on the North Norfolk Railway in February following major repair work undertaken at Weybourne on the NNR.

Copyright UK Heritage Hub

Copyright UK Heritage Hub

February was also to be the last month of the big ‘A4’ line-ups as part of the National Railway Museum’s ‘Mallard 75’ celebrations, marking the 75th anniversary of LNER ‘A4’ 4-6-2 4468 ‘Mallard’ obtaining the world speed record for steam. Both the visiting transatlantic ‘A4’s appeared alongside UK Preservations Speed Record holder 4464 ‘Bittern’ and LNER ‘A2’ 4-6-2 60532 ‘Blue Peter’ at Barrow Hill, before a final line-up of all 6 preserved ‘A4’s at the NRM’s Shildon out-post, which saw the locos outside for all and and in the rain for most of the event. All of the ‘A4’ gatherings drew record crowds and were a true celebration of just what could be achieved in preservation, even if they contribute to costing the former head of the NRM his job. Numerous charters by day and night were held inside and outside at Barrow Hill and were the only chance to see all six preserved ‘A4’s lined-up outside at Shildon. The story of the ‘Mallard 75’ celebrations is a true preservation epic and despite disappointment about crowds and photographic opportunities outside of charters, the events will have created so many memories for so many people to last into the future.

February was not just ‘A4’s though, as the South Devon Railway welcomed LSWR ‘M7’ 0-4-4T 30053 for their week-long branchline event during the school’s half term holiday. Didcot’s Steam Railmotor also made a visit to another heritage railway, this time the Churnet Valley Railway where it ran on several occasions, including the gala with fellow visitor SR un-rebuilt Bulleid “West Country” 34007 ‘Wadebridge’; a loco which despite failing on the CVR ran at several other galas in 2014 before being withdrawn at the end of the summer.

March celebrated the second anniversary of the UKHH and is of course also the start of the Spring Steam Gala season. This year saw GWR Hawksworth “Pannier Tank” 1638 from the Kent and East Sussex Railway, GWR Churchward Mogul 5322 from Didcot Railway Centre and SR Mogul 31806 on tour, with all locos starring at at least two galas each and both 31806 and 5322 and 5322 and 1638 forming pairs as gala guests at the West Somerset Railway and Llangollen Railway respectively.

In what was expected to be the year of the ‘A4’ part two, the North Norfolk Gala was billed to be headlined by 60007 ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’. Sadly Network Rail cancelled the visit at one week’s notice, ruling the ‘A4’ too heavy to travel light engine across the “Bittern Line” from Norwich to Sheringham. Although road transport could not be arranged, a replacement was in the form of GWR 0-6-PT 1638 on its way to the SVR and carrying a KESR made 60007 smokebox plate! The NNR gala was hugely successful and saw fine weather for the return of GNR ‘N2’ 0-6-2T 1744 on the Quad Art set supported by a home fleet of GER ‘B12’ 4-6-0 8572, BR ‘Standard 4’ 2-6-0 76084 as Norwich shed’s 76034, LMS “Black 5” 44767 on its first gala appearance and GWR 0-6-2T 5619. The 0-6-2T sadly did not run at the gala, failing early on Friday morning and being replaced by the welcome sight of newly overhauled Class 37 D6732.

157 - 2014 - Watercress Line - Spring Steam Gala - Ropley - Merchant Navy Class - 35028 Clan LineThe KWVR also put on a show with newly restored USATC ‘S160’ 2-8-0 making its first gala appearance and its only gala run in BR black as 95820. LNER ‘K4’ 2-6-0 61994 ‘The Great Marquess’ was secured as a visiting loco, alongside 2014 resident LMS “Black 5” 4-6-0 45305. The home fleet of MR ‘4F’ 0-6-0 43924, WD 2-8-0 90733 and LNWR “Coal Tank” 1054 also ran at the event. However, probably the most impressive steam gala of the year also took place on this first March weekend. For their Spring Gala, the Mid-Hants had secured not one, not two, but three Bulleids for the event, including SR “Merchant Navy” 4-6-2 35028 ‘Clan Line’ hauling its first ever preserved railway passenger trains and starring at its first ever steam gala. Joining ‘Clan Line’ were fellow mainline star SR re-built “West Country” 4-6-2 34046 ‘Braunton’ and home-based SR un-rebuilt “West Country” 4-6-2 34007 ‘Wadebridge’. Metropolitan Railway ‘E class’ 0-4-4T also visited for the event which also featured SR Maunsell malachite pair 850 ‘Lord Nelson’ and 925 ‘Cheltenham’, BR ‘9F’ 2-10-0 92212 and SR ‘U’ 2-6-0 31806 making its last gala appearance on the MHR. The sun shone and all locos performed faultlessly, this was definitely the Southern’s answer to the ‘A4’ gatherings!

As we moved later into the Spring Gala season, the Talyllyn Railway ran a special charter event with No. 6 ‘Douglas’ in weathered green livery. This was only carried on the charter, the loco reverting to “Duncan” guise very shortly afterwards. Back to the Spring Galas and the WSR’s “Atlantic Coast Express” themed event was a success, despite the failure of visiting SR Bulleid un-rebuilt “Battle of Britain” 34070 ‘Manston’ and lack of appearance of the “Atlantic Coast Express” headboard on the remaining visiting Bulleid, un-rebuilt “West Country” 34007 ‘Wadebridge’. SR ‘U’ 31806 and GWR 2-6-0 5322 also guest starred at the event. The Bluebell Railway also had a very successful last minute steam gala in late March to mark one year since the opening of the extension to East Grinstead. The gala saw several pairs of locos in action, with SR ‘U’ 2-6-0 1638 and SR ‘S15’ 4-6-0 847 making a superb sight in SR olive green on appropriate SR stock. The two long-term GWR visitors 0-6-2T 5643 and 2-6-2T running as L.150 also teamed up on the Bulleid MK1 set and SECR pair of ‘P’ 0-6-0T 178 and ‘C’ 0-6-0 592 handled the vintage train set. SECR ‘H’ 0-4-4T 263 was also in use over the weekend as was LBSCR “Terrier” 55 ‘Stepney’ which is presently being repainted back into LBSCR Stroudley Improved Locomotive Green.

2014 Autumn Steam Gala Watercress Line - Ropley - Ex-GWR 14xx Class 1450With a focus on all things GWR, the SVR had a very successful Spring gala, featuring a huge variety of authentic combinations of locos and stock and a heavy emphasis on branchline trains. Two auto trains were in action using 0-4-2T 1450 on chocolate and cream liveried Collett Auto No. 178 and visiting 0-6-0PT 6435 on maroon liveried Hawksworth Auto W238. 6435 was just one of three Pannier Tanks which ran at the event, the other two being 1501 and visiting 1638 which ran in its new BR black guise on a pair of blood and custard coaches. Continuing the Branchline theme “Small Prairie” 4566 which had also been newly repainted into BR black had a blood and custard set in tow. Tender engine action was provided by 2-8-0 2857 on the LMS set, “Hall” 4936 ‘Kinlet Hall’ on the maroon set and a pair of “Manors”: 7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor’ and 7828 ‘Odney Manor’; which was making its first visit away from the WSR and unusually running as itself rather than ‘Norton Manor’, something which was to be seen on several occasions during 2014. With locos facing in a variety of directions and very unusually seeing a fair amount of double-heading, the gala was very successful.

Moving into April and the two GWR tourers re-united on their old stomping ground at the Llangollen Railway’s Croes Newydd Gala. So many re-creations of the past came to life that weekend with GWR 2-6-0 5322 once again making the iconic Berwyn shot from ‘Locomotives Illustrated’, GWR 0-6-0PT 1638 photographed on a Llangollen local once more, 80096 back from the dead (in reality BR 2-6-4T 80072) and a pick-up goods returning to pick up goods at Berwyn. Although GWR ‘Manor’ 4-6-0 7822 ‘Foxcote Manor’ did not return to traffic at the event, or indeed in 2014, the four locos which did run ran a very intensive timetable on a good mixture of authentic passenger and goods sets with the BR black pairings of 3802 & 5322 in the mornings and 5322 & 1638 in the evenings. 1638 handled the appropriately liveried Suburban set as well as the pick-up goods, whilst 5322 had a rake of appropriate blood and custard stock in tow. Representing a later era, 80096 had the maroon set. The gala saw a good number of visitors despite the mixed weather and was very successful.

Further south, where the weather was even worse, the LSWR was out in force as the Swanage Railway ran its first ever Spring Steam Gala. In complete contrast to the bright sun of the LSWR weekend featuring visiting ‘T9’ 4-4-0 30120 and ‘M7’ 0-4-4T 30053 in mid-March, there were times when the mist and drizzle had closed in so much that the weather couldn’t have got much worse when the pair were joined by resident Bulleid pair 34028 ‘Eddystone’ and 34070 ‘Manston’. SR ‘U’ 2-6-0 31806 also made a pre-residential visit as a last minute replacement for BR “Standard Tank”80104, whose boiler repairs were not completed in time for the event, or indeed in 2014 as well as in case the repairs to ‘Manston’ which had failed on the WSR less than a week previously were not complete. The five stars ran a very busy timetable including the use of the bay platform at Swanage for the new 2 coach Bulleid train, which also featured an SR PMV and made for a perfect branchline re-creation with 30053 or 31806. A goods train was also run with 34070 ‘Manston’ and many trains were double-headed, with 30053 & 30120, 30053 & 31806, 30120 & 31806, 30120 & 34070 and 34070 & 34028 (tender to tender) all joining forces to provide a huge variety to the successful weekend.

UKHH copyright

UKHH copyright

Also on the first April weekend, Didcot Railway Centre played host to 60163 ‘Tornado’, 60007 ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’ and home-based GWR 4-6-0 6023 ‘King Edward II’ in the first line-up of three BR blue liveried locos since early BR days. Continuing with the BR blue theme, 12th April was to see steam return to the newly re-built Dawlish sea wall with the first and then second Torbay railtours of the year hauled by 60007 ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’. The same weekend saw more blue with SECR ‘P’ 0-6-0T 323 “Bluebell” visiting the Battlefield Line for their gala, running with GWR “Small Prairie” 5542, a last minute replacement for GWR 0-6-0PT 1638. GWR 2-8-0 3803 and Aveling Porter “Blue Circle” also ran at the event. Around the same time, GWR “Small Prairie” 2-6-2T 5541 was to become the second loco to return to steam in 2014, making its official debut on the Dean forest Railway at Easter. Also around Easter time, the cosmetic overhaul of Taff Vale Railway ‘O1’ 0-6-2T No. 450 (TVR 28) was completed by Llangollen Railway Engineering in their Llangollen Railway workshops. The loco spent most of 2014 on display on the Gwili railway before moving up to Shildon in the late autumn. The return to service of the Dinmore Manor Locomotives Limited’s 7820 ‘Dinmore Manor’ at Toddington on the GWSR was set to follow, following a major overhaul undertaken at Tyseley. 7820 spent 2014 running in BR unlined Black with the tender from “Dukedog” 9017; the first Manor to be seen in this livery since BR days.

DSCN4766Moving into May and it was the turn of the first Southern loco of the year to return to service after a very major overhaul on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. LBSCR “Terrier” W11 ‘Newport’ made its first runs in SR green at the IOWSR’s first ever ‘Island Steam Day’ on 13th May 2014, hauling the goods train whilst fellow SR green liveried LBSCR “Terrier” W8 Freshwater took to the head of the line’s set of SR olive green 4-wheeled coaches in the now monthly re-creations of island services from times gone by.

On the mainline, it was once again “Castles” to the fore as 5029 ‘Nunney Castle’ and 5043 ‘Earl of Mount Edgcumbe’ took to the mainline to celebrate 50 years since the Ian Allen ‘Z48’ railtour to mark 60 years since 3440 ‘City of Truro’s 100mph run. In true 5043 style, the Tyseley “Castle” once again took preservation by storm, beating 7029 ‘Clun Castle’s record breaking run of the railtour 50 years previously with a non-stop run over the challenging South Devon Banks from Plymouth to Bristol in just 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Staying on the mainline and the Great Britain VII tour saw a much improved variety of motive power in 2014, featuring no fewer than 9 steam locomotives in use. The usual suspects were of course there: Ian Riley’s “Black 5”s 44871 and 45407 double-headed and 45407 solo and LNER ‘A4’ 60009 ‘Union of South Africa’. 2014 however also saw SR “West Country” 4-6-2 34046 ‘Braunton’ in use, including a double-header with GWR ‘Castle’ 4-6-0 5029 ‘Nunney Castle’ from Falmouth to Bristol. LMS “Black 5” 44932 saw use on a very long stretch of the tour and LMS “Royal Scot” 4-6-0 46115 ‘Scots Guardsman’ once again ventured into Scotland. LNER ‘K1’ 2-6-0 62005 hauled a leg out of Edinburgh as well as her usual Fort William – Mallaig section and in a break from ‘A4’ tradition, the final leg of the tour from York to Kings Cross ran behind LMS 4-6-2 46233 ‘Duchess of Sutherland’.

The second of the GCR’s Swithland galas once again saw tank engine visitors in the form of GWR 0-6-0PT L.92 from the South Devon Railway and Lambton 0-6-2T No. 29 from the NYMR. The NYMR themselves had a very disappointing Spring Gala featuring the return of LNER ‘A4’ 4-6-2 4464 ‘Bittern’ and locos from the home fleet. The other guest loco, LMS “Jinty” 0-6-0T having failed at the start of the event.

3850Later in May, the GWSR pulled off a huge celebration gala, celebrating all things BR black which really did seem to be the colour of 2014. Both the DMLL locos 7820 ‘Dinmore Manor’ and GWR 2-8-0 3850 ran alongside each other and double-headed for the very first time. Guest locos cam in the form of LMS “Black 5” 45379 from the Mid-Hants Railway which was paired with the line’s ex-Turkish State Railways LMS’8F’ 2-8-0 running in BR livery as 48274 for the event which also featured WR 0-6-0PT 1501 from the SVR. Good use was made of the entire line, including the extension to Laverton and the gala saw the first public runs of the second loco to return to steam at the GWSR in spring 2014, GWR Churchward inside cylinder 2-8-0T 4270, the first of two Barry scrapyard overhauls completed in 2014. GWR “Small Prairie” 5542 also starred at the event.

Moving into June and 45379 continued its tour, having been away from its home base on the Mid Hants since Mid-February. Next stop was the Epping Ongar Railway whose big steam gala event saw none less than 4 locos in steam. The other two visitor’s: LSWR Beattie 2-4-0WT 30585 from Quainton Road and LMS “Jinty” 0-6-0T 47406 from the Great Central joining resident GWR “Large Prairie” 2-6-2T 4141 over a superb weekend. LMS “Black 5” 4-6-0 45379 was however the undoubted star of the show, looking very at home on the line’s blue and grey liveried MK2 stock, creating a sight very reminiscent of the end of steam railtours in 1968.

What was perhaps the biggest gala line-up of the year was set to follow as three of the West Coast Railway Fleet relocated from Carnforth to the Mid-Norfolk Railway for one very special weekend. The trio hauled a set of 10 Maroon MK1s down the mainline with them and the event marked the first preserved railway appearances of LMS “Royal Scot” 4-6-0 46115 ‘Scots Guardsman’ and LMS “Jubilee” 4-6-0 45699 ‘Galatea’ which was also marking a year in traffic since its major overhaul from Barry Scrapyard condition at Carnforth. The two express locos were joined by LMS ‘8F’ 2-8-0 48151 for a stunning weekend of rare-LMS steam in East Anglia.

The struggle for summer mainline steam and a second year of steam bans was set to follow, as Harry Potter Star GWR ‘Hall’ 4-6-0 5972 retired from service in a less than dignified fashion with a final trip to York. Her final run was on the tail end of a set dragged by a diesel due to fire risk.

7820 Dinmore ManorThe GWR theme continued into the summer months, with 7820 ‘Dinmore Manor’ making her first trip away from the GWSR after only a few months in service to spend the summer on the North Norfolk Railway. Fellow BR Black GWR mixed traffic tender engine, 5322 from Didcot Railway Centre’s major 2014 tour was sadly curtailed on the locos first weekend in traffic on the Bodmin and Wendford Railway in Cornwall following the discovery of major boiler issues which have kept the loco out of traffic ever since. This resulted in GWR 0-6-0PT 6435 being recalled from Didcot after just one weekend in service to cover for the loss of the Cornish line’s summer exchange guest. LSWR ‘T9’ 4-4-0 30120 did however remain at Didcot until September, completing her 2014 tour.

The KWVR enjoyed a very special role in transporting people to the Tour de France Grand Départ which saw the cyclist pass through the Worth Valley as well as many other scenic areas of Yorkshire on their way from Leeds to London via York, Harrogate and Cambridge. The Tour de France specials saw the line’s entire home fleet out with MR ‘4F’ 43924, WD 2-8-0 90733 and USATC ‘S160’ 5820 on the top end of the trains and ‘Class’ 20 20031, ‘Class 25’ 25059 and ‘Class 37’ 37075 on the tail end of the lengthened trains. These formations were necessary to avoid running round which was not possible due to the lengths of the trains and the intensity of the service. 2014’s vintage train loco LNWR “Coal Tank” 1054 enjoyed a well earnt rest during the weekend, whilst in Haworth Yard, a volcano “prepared” to erupt. USATC ‘S160’ 2-8-0 5820 had been repainted into USATC grey just prior to the event.

The Bath Christmas Market December 2014 Emsworth - Battle pf Britain class 34067 TangmereOf the summer mainline railtours which did run, one of note was a rare trip by a Bulleid Pacific up the East Coast Mainline to York. Understood to be the first such run since a visit from 34046 ‘Taw Valley’ in the early 2000s, the loco used on the full set of blood and custard coaches was 34046 ‘Braunton’ running as a last minute replacement for ‘A4’ 4464 ‘Bittern’, on a day which also saw 46233 ‘Duchess of Sutherland’ and 60009 ‘Union of South Africa’ in York station. Without the need for steam in the north, LMS “Black 5”s became a familiar sight in the south in the summer of 2014, with WCRC’s 44932 working many trips out of Southall in place of SR Bulleid un-rebuilt “Battle of Britain” 34067 ‘Tangmere’. LMS “Jubilee” 4-6-0 45699 ‘Galatea’ and Black 5” 45231 handled most of “The Fellsman” runs, with LMS ‘8F’ 2-8-0 48151 on ‘The Waverley’ and LMS “Royal Scot” 4-6-0 46115 ‘Scots Guardsman’ cold at York due to the steam ban on the Scarborough line leading to the abandonment of the ‘Scarborough Spa Express’ trains.

From LMS to the fore in Norfolk, the LNER made a brief fight back with a second summer gala on the Mid Norfolk Railway being attended by John Cameron’s pair of ‘A4’ 60009 ‘Union of south Africa’ and ‘K4’ 2-6-0 61994 ‘The Great Marquess’. The pair formed a quartet of LNER locos joining summer steam visitor GNR ‘N2’ 0-6-2T 1744 and NER ‘H Class’ 0-4-0T 1310. On the mainline, the regular stalwarts 46233 ‘Duchess of Sutherland’, 5043 ‘Earl of Mount Edgcumbe’, 5029 ‘Nunney Castle’, 4965 ‘Rood Ashton Hall’, 60009 ‘Union of South Africa’ and 35028 ‘Clan Line’ continued to perform impeccably on the railtours which did go ahead, mostly in the south of England. 4965 handled the vast majority of ‘Shakespeare Express’ runs, with 60009 and 46233 operating out of Crewe, 5029 joined for a second season by 34046 ‘Braunton’ on the ‘Torbay Express’ runs and 35028 running the VSOE ‘British Pullman’ in tremendous style as ever.

The mid-summer saw the return to steam of three more major preservation stars. Firstly, LMS Hughes “Crab” 2-6-0 13065 on the East Lancashire Railway in Mid-July, the first red “Crab” running since the 1920s; closely followed by David Shepherd’s BR ‘9F’ 2-10-0 92203 on the North Norfolk Railway in early August. Just a couple of weeks later, the “Volcano” erupted again as SR Bulleid “West Country” 34092 ‘Wells’ returned to passenger service on the KWVR in Mid-August. All three locos performed superbly; quickly becoming mainstays of the loco fleets for their respective railways throughout the summer season and well into the Santa operations. Other lines sought to hire in locos to help bolster their home fleet during the summer months with the sole operational Caprotti valve geared locomotive, BR ‘Standard 5’ 4-6-0 73129 making quite a noise on the SVR and GWR ‘Hall’ 4-6-0 4936 ‘Kinlet Hall’ barking away on the WSR. Both locos proved immensely popular with photographers and loco crews alike and the impressive sound tracks and brightly polished locos were enjoyed by all, with both locos staying on until the Autumn Galas at their respective holiday homes.

2014 - Watercress Line - Spring Steam Gala - Ropley - Metropolitan Railway E Class - 0-4-4T No 1On place where steam could be found on the mainline during the summer months was on the London Underground, where Metropolitan ‘E Class’ 0-4-4T No. 1, GWR 2-6-2T running as L.150 and Metropolitan Vicker’s Electric “Sarah Siddons” were in use on many special trains formed of the Bluebell Railway’s Metropolitan ‘Chesham’ set plus Metropolitan Railway 6-wheeled First No. 353 and a milk van in order to celebrate 125 years of the Chesham branch, where both Met. 1 and the Bluebell coaches once ran. Heading back in time even further to the Broad Gauge era and the end of August saw Didcot Railway Centre bid Farewell to ‘Fire Fly’, the first new-build of the 21st century to complete an entire boiler ticket.

Then, before you know it and before you have had chance to enjoy a holiday during the main season which whilst quiet for enthusiasts demands a full quota in every division to keep the punters and holiday makers happy, the Autumn Gala Season is upon you.

This year kicked off with the return to Wales of a Cambrian favourite Swindon built LMS Ivatt ‘2MT’ 2-6-0 46521, making a visit to the Llangollen Railway for their ‘Along Western Lines’ gala, re-creating the types of trains common in the late summer in north and mid-Wales. Once again the re-creations were superb, with 46521 visiting from the Great Central being joined by new addition to the home fleet LMS “Black 5” 4-6-0 45337, BR Standard 2-6-4T 80072 and GWR 2-8-0 3802. Once again, it was the detail which really made the event what it was with both the goods trains and the Suburban set being loaded and unloaded at both Berwyn and Glyndyfrdwy stations. Coaching sets were also authentically Cambrian with the chocolate and cream set specially ‘broken up’ with a maroon for the event (not just tagged on the end) as enforced by BR and the opposite true with the maroon set as the Western Region’s revenge. The suburban set was also in use in an authentic combination to re-create local trains in mid-Wales with 46521 and the event was well attended despite some unseasonably bad weather.

10628300_901664536515173_7696402917676613094_nThe same weekend, but on the opposite side of the country, 4-6-0s were taking over the North Norfolk with no fewer than 5 in operation during their Autumn Steam Gala. Topping the bill was newly resident LNER ‘B1’ 4-6-0 61306 ‘Mayflower which made a fantastic apple green pairing with GER ‘B12’ 4-6-0 8572 on maroons and matching teak Quad-Art set during the event. Visiting LMS “Black 5”4-6-0  45305 joined 2014 resident 44767 in another pairing, again with appropriate maroon stock. The fifth and final 4-6-0 present was GWR ‘Manor’ 4-6-0 7820 ‘Dinmore Manor’ which re-created the ‘Cambrian Coast Express’ on the blood and custard set, maroon set and Quad-Arts! Also in use were BR Standard pair of ‘9F’ 92203 and ‘4MT’ 2-6-0 76084 which also double-headed the maroon set. Blessed by good weather, this event was popular with enthusiasts and holiday makers alike.

Mid-September saw the return to service of yet another loco in 2014, this time in the form of LMS Fairburn ‘4MT’ 2-6-4T at the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway in Cumbria. Also at the end of September, another LMS loco returned to steam in the form of Ivatt ‘2MT’ 2-6-0 46447 at the East Somerset Railway. As the second Barry restoration to return to service in 2014, the loco’s return to traffic is notable as the duration of the overhaul was a mere 99 weeks after its arrival at the East Somerset Railway from the Isle of Wight and its previous restoration base at Quainton Road.

As September wore on, so the big gala weekend of the year came and went. With a Somerset and Dorset theme and the worse weather in many years, the SVR nonetheless had another busy gala weekend, despite many people saying that the line-up was not as spectacular as in previous years. The late addition of LSWR ‘M7’ 0-4-4T 30053 may have gone some way to changing this as both the ‘M7’ and BR black “Small Prairie” 4566 proved popular on LMS locals on sections of the line between Hampton Loade and Kidderminster. SDJR ‘7F’ 2-8-0 No. 88 making its penultimate run in Prussian blue was an undoubted star, although as the loco was on its third visit to the SVR, Midland Railway ‘4F’ 0-6-0 43924 on its first ever visit away from the KWVR was just as big a draw and just as sure footed up the banks with loaded 8-coach trains in driving rain. Summer visitor BR “Caprotti 5” 73129 made a welcome extension to its stay on the SVR to star at the gala and 1450 once again made a superb sight on auto workings with W238. It was nice to see so many S&D headcodes in operation on all appropriate locos, including 34053 looking the part on the blood and custard set. ‘Pines Express’ headboards were to be seen on three S&D locos over the weekend and train reporting numbers were commonplace. With Ivatt ‘4MT’ 43106 also in use over the weekend and GWR 2-8-0 2857 and 7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor’ handling the night trains, the gala proved that it in itself is a huge draw, even without the weather or the big name locos.

Immediately after the SVR gala Talyllyn Railway No. 1 ‘Talyllyn’ celebrated her 150th birthday in fine style on 24th September, with a series of special trains and recreations to mark the very special occasion; the first in a series of special 150th anniversary events throughout 2014-15.

For many of the other 2014 Autumn Galas, the GWR really did seem to be everywhere! The WSR marked the 50th anniversary of the closure of Taunton shed with a celebration of locos appropriate to the shed, resulting in some re-numbers of guest and resident locos from a cast-list of: 7820 ‘Dinmore Manor’ and DMLL’s other loco GWR 2-8-0 3850 re-united for a second time in under 6 months, a pair of ‘Halls’ 4936 ‘Kinlet Hall’ and 6960 ‘Raveningham Hall’, a trio of “Prairies”; 4566, 5542 and 4160, a second ‘Manor’ 7828 ‘Odney Manor’, GWR 0-4-2T 1450 on auto trains with Hawksworth trailer W238, a visiting “Pannier Tank” in the form of 4612 from Bodmin. SDJR ‘7F’ 2-8-0 No. 88 also made her final gala appearances before withdrawal for overhaul after use on the rest of the 2014 season services and then daily on Santa duties. Many of the tank engines double headed as well as did battle with lengthy trains unaided. Blessed with almost perfect conditions, the gala was a huge success.

2009 - North Yorkshire Moors Railway - Goathland - ex-LNER Q6 class - 63395Even up in the north, the GWR theme could be felt, with 1501, GWR 2-8-0 2807 and 5029 ‘Nunney Castle’ booked as visitors for the NYMR Autumn Gala. Eventually proving a success, the event did not go without its problems as 1501 broke a spring in transit and was limited to station pilot duties at Grosmont only. Despite fears about the fitness of 5029 and 2807 being out of gauge at Pickering, both locos proved star performers, handling trains effortlessly over the NYMR’s steep gradients. Many locos from the home fleet including: 60007 ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’, LMS “Black 5s” 44806 and 45428, LNER ‘B1’ 4-6-0 61264 and NER ‘Q6’ 0-8-0 63395 all ran at the best attended NYMR gala for some time, thanks no doubt to good weather and a varied line-up.

With a Scottish feel to the GCR’s Autumn Gala, LNER ‘D49’ 4-4-0 62712 ‘Morayshire’ made her first appearance south of the border in BR lined Black. Paired up with other visitor BR ‘Standard 4’ 2-6-0 76084 on the first day of the gala, the two locos drew the crowds, especially when running with a complete set of blood and custard coaches or maroons. The pair of ‘2MT’ 2-6-0s BR 78019 and LMS 46521 were both in use at the gala as were the line’s heavy freight locos; BR ‘9F’ 2-10-0 92214 and LMS ‘8F’ 2-8-0 48624. SR ‘‘King Arthur’’ 4-6-0 777 ‘Sir Lamiel’ added a splash of Southern colour to the line-up, with tank engines in the form of GNR ‘N2’ 1744 on Suburban type locals and LMS “Jinty” 47406 on shorter goods runs completing a nine loco strong cast. Once again a busy and varied timetable including many goods formations and TPO drops was enjoyed by all.

The same weekend, the KWVR officially welcomed SR “West Country” 34092 ‘Wells’ back into service with a gala re-launch and naming. USATC ‘S160’ 2-8-0 5820 also made its first gala appearance in USATC grey. Apart from the lack of a visiting loco, the gala was hit by two loco failures, with MR ‘4F’ 0-6-0 43924 failing on the Friday and LMS “Black 5” 45305 being witdrawn from the event due to leaking tubes. WD 2-8-0 90733 stepped up her duties, as did the rest of the running fleet meaning that the gala saw more full-line runs of LNWR “Coal Tank” 1054 and Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T 1704 ‘Nunlow’. The gala showcased the KWVR’s vintage train and goods train as well as local trains and express runs, with many services double-headed or banked. Although trains ran late due to the loco failures and the weather was not good at times, trains were busy and passengers happy. After a 25 year absence, “The Volcano” was back and more than stole the show.

2014 - Swanage Railway - Corfe Castle - Ex-LSWR M7 class - BR 30053Even down on the Swanage Railway, the GWR influence was being felt, with visiting loco WR 0-6-0PT 1501 teaming up with home based GWR 0-6-2T 6695 during the event which had a heavy focus on tank engines. Metropolitan Railway No. 1 was also a star guest alongside a home fleet of LSWR ‘M7’ 30053, SR ‘U’ 31806 and SR “Battle of Britain” 34070 ‘Manston’. The gala was themed around locos to be seen in and around London, with Met 1, 1501, 34070 and 30053 all having very strong links to the capital. The Bulleid set was again in operation and the ‘M7’ double-headed both Met 1 and the ‘U’. To add a bit of variety, the turntable was also used during the event. The weather was mixed, but the event was well attended, with 1501 putting in some very impressive evening runs with the dining train.

The Avon Valley Railway of the same weekend also had a GWR theme to their Autumn Gala, an event which keeps growin each year. This year four locos were in attendance, with three being ex-BR, in the form of summer visitor GWR 2-6-2T L.150, LMS “Jinty” 0-6-0T 47406 (as a last minute replacement for LSWR Beattie 2-4-0WT 30585) and newly restored GWR 2-8-0T 4270 making her first visit away from the GWSR in preservation, less than 5 months after returning to traffic.

Sticking with the mid-October weekend and the GWR was nowhere to be seen on the East Lancashire Railway which welcomed two visiting ‘A4’s 60007 ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’ and 60009 ‘Union of South Africa’ for their LNER meets LMS event. LNER ‘K4’ 61994 ‘The Great Marquess’ was also in attendance as the loco has been based at the ELR when not out on the mainline for much of 2013. On the LMS front, LMS liveried winter guest LYR ‘A Class’ 0-6-0 12322 was a late addition to the event which is LMS “Crab” 13065’s gala debut in crimson. BR 2-6-4T 80080 also ran at the event. Sadly, the event lost time badly, with most trains running 40 minutes late at best. Those who hung around for the 2 hours late last train of the gala were treated to a 12-coach load featuring the first ever double heading of two ‘A4s’. 60009 piloted 60007 from Bury to Ramsbottom, where 60007 continued alone with 12 coaches in tow. 60009 the ran down from Ramsbottom to haul the train back. All locos performed well and despite incredibly dull weather, the gala proved popular, especially the LMS liveried pair of 12322 and 13065.

UKHH The West Highland Steam Express 2014 K1 classSticking with the same weekend, Didcot’s Steam Railmotor returned to London, performing a series of special runs on the goods only Southall – Brentford line, hauling seven trips from Southall each day. Steam in Scotland also had a very good autumn with the photo charters featuring ‘K1’ 2-6-0 62005, ‘K4’ 2-6-0 61994 and LMS “Black 5”s 45407 and 44871 providing some superb opportunities to photographers thanks to some excellent weather. Scottish railtours also proved popular last year and another late 2014 railtour of note concerned 46115 ‘Scots Guardsman’ which too the South and East by storm with a much anticipated special from London St Pancras to Lincoln. The day saw good weather and a good performance by the “Scot”. It is unsurprising that the trip drew the crowds, it was only the second known visit of a “Royal Scot” to this neck of the woods and it is not very often that 46115 is seen south of York either!

The other major news of autumn 2015 was the opening of the Llangollen Railway’s extension to Corwen on 22nd October. After this day of special trains hauled by GWR 2-8-0 3802 and LMS “Black 5” 45337, 45337 ran trains to Corwen during October half term and the remaining weekends of the 2014 running season. These trips proved incredibly popular with both morning and lunch time trips completely sold out on some days. The new temporary station at Corwen East is just the beginning of a lot more work and fundraising for the line to establish itself in the town. It does however mark a new beginning in the Llangollen Railway’s history, and after 39 years, the realisation of the dream of the line’s original pioneers. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of so many volunteers, Corwen was reached and trains were run in 2014 as hoped. Corwen was the only major passenger extension to open in 2014, suggesting that as costs rise all round, many more extensions are going to be less likely in the future.

The last major gala of 2014 also had a heavy GWR flavour; with GWR 2-8-0T 4270 continuing its tour, alongside GWR ‘Hall’ 6960 ‘Raveningham Hall’ making its first visit away from the WSR since overhaul to headline the Mid Hants Railway Autumn Steam Gala with the return 5029 ‘Nunney Caslte’ and 1450 on the MHR’s first ever auto trains using trailer W238. Due to the unavailability of planned stars 7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor’ and 70000 ‘Britannia’, the 4 GWR stars were joined by SR 850 ‘Lord Nelson’ and LMS “Black 5” 45379 as well as Swindon-built BR ‘9F’ 2-10-0 92212 from the home fleet. Despite the damp weather with low cloud and hill fog, 4270 and 5029 both had no trouble at all with the 1 in 60 gradients and were well liked by crews and popular with noise enthusiasts! 6960 also put in some very impressive and loud performances, able to be heard from over 4 miles away! Even 1450 put in some noisy runs on its auto trains up the bank and 45379’s running in turns hauling the ‘9F’ and 5 coaches were very impressive. The timetabling was excellent and although saw little in the way of double-heading, the freight train was well shared out and no train ran more than 15 minutes late over the entire weekend.

End of season galas have also started proving more popular and this showed in 2014 with the East Lancashire Railway’s LMS weekend in mid-Novemeber. Despite more dull weather, the event proved popular and was the first time three 1920s LMS liveried locos had appeared together in preservation and all in different liveries too. Newly restored LMS “Crab” 2-6-0 13065 handled the main train set and double-headed winter guest LYR ‘A Class’ 12322 on the Saturday. 12322 handled a short passenger and parcels mixed train on the Saturday and a Dining Train service on the Sunday. LMS “Jinty” 16407 (47324) was also making its last runs before overhaul at the event, offering driver for £10 around Bury station in between shunting duties. The loco was appearing in its earliest LMS guise after most recently appearing as Thomas. Sadly the “Jinty” did not pair up with the LYR ‘A Class’ at any point, which would have made for a specular sight and great send off. The GCR also had an end of season gala this weekend, featuring the home fleet of ‘2MT’ 2-6-0s LMS Ivatt 46521 and BR ‘Standard 2’ 78019, LMS “Jinty” 47406, LMS ‘8F’ 2-8-0 48624 and SR ‘King Arthur’ 777 ‘Sir Lamiel’.

8fDuring the Santa season and post-Christmas running, the GCR(N) organised a visit from GWSR based ex-Turkish LMS liveried ‘8F’ 2-8-0 8274. This proved popular with ordinary passengers who could travel on a first come first served basis and even more so with photographers benefiting from the good weather.

Two more BR standards steamed at the end of 2014. First was ‘4MT’ 2-6-0 76079 on the NYMR which after testing in November was used on some on the Santa Special runs. The second was double-chimnied ‘4MT’ 4-6-0 75078 at Haworth which moved under its own steam on 5th Decemeber and is presently under going final finishing off before running in trials can commence. Another loco which returned to service at the end of 2014 was GWR “Large Prairie” 2-6-2T 5199 at the Llangollen Railway. After completion in early November, the loco was run in; with trips including hauling the historic Chain Bridge from Berwyn to Llangollen for restoration work to commence. Everything proved satisfactory and further running in continued, seeing the loco in use on every Santa running day of 2014 and daily on post-Christmas specials from 28th December 2014 – 3rd January 2015.

So there we have it, an overview of the year that was 2014. It is certainly true that a lot happens in a year, even one which at first appears fairly quiet, dull and average. Hopefully you have also had a flavour of the sorts of things to come in 2015. As ever we will endeavour to keep you up to day on all news and developments and well as showcase your articles and pictures, because without our readers and contributors we wouldn’t have the fantastic resources which you have helped to build up. We wish everyone a very Happy New Year and all the best for 2015 and look forward to seeing what you will make the UKHH this year.


Below is UK Heritage Hub’s 2014 video review:

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