Last Friday I published a little teaser that we would be featuring a few lines not covered before on LocoYard. As mentioned in the latest UK Heritage Hub ezine, this was due to a holiday in the north west of England. My wife and I were blessed by fantastic weather on our trip and the first place we stopped at was no exception. In fact if anything it was a little too bright, making taking decent photographs a little challenging! Tonight we showcase the first of these never before featured lines – locoyard’s first report on the East Lancashire Railway.The railway was holding an event where some of the lines uncelebrated locomotives were given a chance to (literally) shine in the sun – a small engines weekend. It was a weekend for enthusiasts – an opportunity to see locomotives that often hide behind the scenes, with a rather special visitor in the form of 1874 built Haydock Foundry 0-6-0 well tank number C Bellerophon, which in my opinion is one of the most charismatic steam engines in working order (see below.)
Unfortunately a combination of a lack of change for a car park and a delay to services meant that my wife and I only traveled between Bury Bolton Street and Ramsbottom, but it was an enjoyable day all the same (admittedly more for myself!)
Not only was it my first visit to this railway, the day also chalked up a few other new experiences. It is the first time (as far as I can remember) that I have traveled on a service train hauled by a rostered BR 350hp diesel shunter. I’m pretty sure I’ve been on a service train rescued by one, but not to be hauled by one on purpose! Class 09 09024 pictured above took the honours and it nearly didn’t make the whole journey, pausing in a tunnel after an unusual grumble from its diesel engine. At that point a chap on the train commented that he wasn’t surprised, as it was a bit like being hauled by railways equivalent of a lawn mower! A little unfair perhaps, but as the carriage filled with diesel exhaust due to the train sitting in the tunnel, I wasn’t thinking of the nicest thoughts about this locomotive myself!
The class 09 also provided me with my biggest “I got that wrong” train spotting moment. After exploring the market town of Ramsbottom (that’s worth a stop,) my wife and I returned to the station. I immediately said, “it’s a steam engine” as the water crane was in action. How wrong could I be – it was the 09 with a tanker in tow, filling up with water. Seeing this felt even more surreal than being hauled by it!
Another first for me (in standard gauge at any rate) was my first triple header – two class 14’s and and an 03, proving that a line using it’s less glamorous locomotives can still create unusual moments that you will remember. To read more about the class 14’s, please click here.
In terms of glamour, there were really only two locomotives that could could claim any, the aforementioned Bellerophon and the ex-Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway class 27, LMS number 12322 (click here for more.) It is pictured above piloting Hunslet Austerity tank Swiftsure. I do like a good old traditional 0-6-0 and this locomotive is a classic example. I have to say that seeing 12322 was one of my personal favourite moments of the visit, it’s always nice to see a locomotive that you know very little about for the first time, especially if it’s in steam.
The small engines weekend seemed well attended and by all accounts was a success for a line. Our railway heritage isn’t all about big glamorous locomotives and it’s good when preserved line’s remind us of that. With that being said, such days are more for the enthusiast’s than anyone else and I know if I visit again with my wife, she’d be hoping that we will be hauled by a big beautiful steam engine, something that she does (on rare occasions) admit to liking!
On the day, I also had the pleasure of visiting the excellent Museum of Transport (click here to read more.) The railway currently is looking for help in building a new canopy for platform 2 at Bury Bolton Street (click here to read more.)
Thanks for reading!