The 2104 gala has come and gone. On Saturday the author of this blog was rostered to drive the 10 o’clock departure from Llanfair Caereinion which was advertised as a double header. The train consisted of The Earl, Joan, four x four wheeled coaches and the two MAVs (9 Units). On the way to Welshpool there was a modest number of passengers. On arrival at Raven Square the platform was a sea of people.
After taking water and the obligatory mug of tea there was a time to have a look at the various traders stalls and also the display set up by the Friends of Sierra Leone National Railway Museum. <http://www.sierraleonerailwaymuseum.com/>
The journey up the Golfa Bank was most enjoyable with both engines working steadily. Looking out of Jaon’s cab and back down the train there were heads and cameras poking out of nearly every window. On arrival at Llanfair hasty arrangements were being made to find another loco crew so that the next departure could also be a double headed and so the day progressed.
Down at Tanllan in and around the carriage shed there was a display of the Permanent Way and Civil Engineer’s plant and equipment. Access was limited to supervised tours to minimise the risk of people straying onto the running line.
Saturday evening followed the usual format of a social gathering in the station yard. The music was provided by a fairground organ with a mellower sound and a better repertoire of tunes than the one that has attended in past years. There was also an opportunity to take night time photos of the locomotives. I spent a little while taking some pictures with my ancient Canon PowerShot A550. Now with that type of camera you can’t just point and click because unless you get lucky the results will be hopeless.
My tips for this type of photography are as follows
- Don’t use the flash – you will never get enough light onto the subject
- Place the camera on a firm surface or use a mini tripod
- Use the delay timer this allows the camera to stop wobbling before the shutter opens
- Don’t follow the crowd – see what other angles are available
- Avoid getting street lamps and similar articles into the wrong bit of the picture
I was out of bed early on Sunday morning and in the loco shed by 05:35 to get the 822 ready for the first train of the day. There was still a little steam left and I suppose we could have had an extra half hour of sleep – but you never know what you might find …….
I do enjoy an early morning run to Welshpool; provided that it is on the footplate of a steam locomotive. The exhaust shows up crisp and white as we steal between the fields and hedgerows. While most people are eating breakfast or are even still asleep we have got this corner of Powys to ourselves.
Some more replanning had gone on overnight and two more double headed trains were arranged for Sunday. So for my next turn of duty Countess and Joan were both on the train. The “Old Lady” led out and came back behind Joan. Passenger loadings were nowhere near as heavy as the previous day but that is by no means unusual.
My personal thoughts of the weekend are that it was more of an intensive two train service than a gala. I also missed the goods trains and mixed trains but with the passing loops at Cyfronydd and Sylfaen both out of use this limits the number of trains that can be handled. The Tanllan tour was a novel idea but I do not know how popular it was.
Finally I would like to express my thanks to the people who organised the event and the unsung heroes who spent hours setting the sites up, making sandwiches, organising the car parks, putting everything away afterwards.
There are some more photos here https://www.flickr.com/photos/tanllan/sets/72157646818595898/