What can be better than having you expectations exceeded ? Booking visiting locomotives for a steam gala can be a worrisome business. Will it actually arrive in a fit state to run on an eight mile long railway that resembles a linear roller-coaster? Past experience has indicated that axlebox bearings will run hot and or the loco will not be able to produce steam at the required rate.
A visitor from the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway was booked for the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s 2017 Steam Gala. Their 0-6-2T, Superb, built by Bagnalls in 1940 was delivered to Llanfair Caereinion on 18th August. Once on the rails she was steamed up ran light engine to Welshpool and back again without any problems. The following day, after the last service train, she took an empty stock train for a full round trip again without issues.
Superb rolls into Llanfair with a goods train working from Cyfronydd. On the shed road stands, Joan, a similar loco built by Kerr Stuart in 1927 and in the background stands Chattenden built a mere nine years after Superb.
Superb carries a headboard ‘The Bogie’. The Bowater’s paper mill complex was large enough to justify them running a passenger service for their workers and this was colloquially know as ‘The Bogie’.
On Friday and Sunday evenings Superb and Joan worked double headed to Welshpool and back.
On gala Saturday your author was rostered as the early shift Yard Supervisor. My task was to ensure that loco operations went to plan and that the required rolling stock was available and in the right place on time. I had a great team and they did a wonderful job.
The W&LLR is an equal opportunities organisation and on Saturday morning we were lucky enough to have all the females who work on the footplate in the station yard at one time so we were able to capture this photo of seven ladies:- Five firemen, one recent recruit and our aristocratic centenarian.
As the day draws to a close The Earl has come onto the pit for a Daily Fitness To Run Examination. This entails checking that the motion is all in good order, the springs are visually OK and that there is not excessive wear on the brake blocks.
At 28 day intervals, normally linked with the regular boiler wash out, a much more rigorous examination takes place.
For The Earl the day is over and it slumbers outside the workshops. Only to be rudely awakened by a firework display.
This was to mark that the preservation company has operated the railway for longer than the Cambrian Railway, GWR and BR put together. This short video catches the finale.
On Sunday I was back on driving duties and at lunchtime took Superb and a goods train out to Cyfronydd and back. In the picture above Superb and train wait in the loop for a passenger train to pass us. The weather was dreadful with almost constant drizzle occasionally relieved by periods of heavier almost horizontal rain.
On our return journey we were greeted by the Outer Home signal showing a red aspect. Our rule book defines a 5 minute waiting period before the train crew take any action. Eventually our guard radioed in to remind the signalman that we were waiting for him to let us into the station.
A seemingly action shot taken while we were stopped at the signal.
Back at Llanfair I was offered to opportunity to climb in between the frames and oil the inside valve gear. I graciously declined and Nigel from the S&K undertook that chore.
What is there left to say ?
- The Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway for not only lending us a Superb locomotive but for nurturing it while it was at the W&LLR.
- The huge team of W&LLR people many of whom were doing menial but absolutely essential tasks.
- Exhibitors & Traders
- Electrify Pyrotechnics
- Last but not least our visitors for turning up and supporting us.