From the sublime…

The Apedale Valley Light Railway’s steam locomotives are wonderful things. Their internal combustion locomotives are, in some cases at least, at the other end of the scale (but no less fascinating). This weekend they’re holding their ‘Military trains’ event – I decided to go and take a look on this very fine and sunny day. Visit Military trains at Apedale on Geoff’s Rail Diaries for the full story and more photos

Spectacle of Steam

Saturday 18 March: “More working steam locomotives in one hour than anywhere else” – that’s what the website says, and that’s what the people at Statfold provide. One 18″ gauge former industrial loco – and no fewer than fourteen 2′ gauge locomotives in action. What they can’t guarantee is the weather. The showers were heavier and more frequent than I’d expected. I should mention one more locomotive – 12¼” gauge Victoria on the latest attraction, the Mease Valley Light railway. I visited it towards the end of my intended stay – and got very wet…

Visit “Statfold Showers” on Geoff’s Rail Diaries for the full story, and lots more photos


She may rule the waves, but she doesn’t rule the weather! The Met office thought it would be sunny at 1pm – and through the afternoon. No chance – but at least the fog cleared. Still hazy though. Here’s 70000 Britannia getting along nicely at Preston Boats, just a mile or so to the east of Shrewsbury, on the first of this week’s driver training runs.

(“The East Anglian”? Not today!)


An old friend: 61306 was the last of the LNER’s B1 class in normal BR service, withdrawn in September 1967 and going straight into preservation. I photographed it a number of times on steam specials in the late 1970s (it received the name ‘Mayflower’ in 1976), but for one reason or another we’d failed to meet since then. This week it’s been in action on the Crewe circular test route (driver training? I don’t know): today we saw and photographed it near the site of Allscott sugar factory, getting along very nicely at 60mph or thereabouts. For once, the sun and the wind behaved themselves…

(Click the image for a larger view)

The weighbridge

A visit to the museum of the Bishop’s Castle Railway Society.

The Bishop’s Castle Railway was a failure. The line that opened (unofficially) in 1865 and (officially) in 1866 was only half of the originally planned through route. By the end of 1866 it was in the hands of the receivers, who tried unsuccessfully to sell it while continuing to run services. Remarkably, they did so until 1935, by which time it was utterly decrepit. Within two years the line had been lifted and its rolling stock had all gone for scrap metal.

Today, much of the trackbed remains, as do a couple of the stations, but at Bishop’s Castle all that exists is the weighbridge building. Only a few years ago it was derelict and in danger of being lost forever, but it has been lovingly restored and is now the home of the BCRS museum, a collection of small exhibits and – star attraction – one of the nameplates of the BCR’s locomotive Carlisle. The building also serves as a café (home-made cakes!), while in the yard is the body of a former BR banana van, full of very reasonably priced second-hand railway books.

Bishop’s Castle Railway Society