Wednesday, 1 August 2012

A Hall On The Paignton & Dartmouth...

Hello everyone. Today we visited the Paignton & Dartmouth Railway for a run along the Torbay coast to Kingswear for Dartmouth. There was a 2-train service in operation today as the railway was running to its Peak Timetable. We arrived at Paignton Station at 10:30am and immediately spotted 4936 "Kinlet Hall" simmering away in the platform. The first train had long since left, behind Heavy Tank "Hercules" (No4277). 4936 is not a PDSR engine but is on loan from its base at Tyseley. The railway normally uses its own fleet of loco's but late July and August was proving to be a bit of a Steam Shortage. 5239 "Goliath" the 2-8-0T is currently out of service with boiler problems and this week 7827 "Lydham Manor" was out for washout. 4936 & 4277 were therefore the only two loco's available and so were the obvious choice, with the Class 25 'Rat' as reserve. We boarded the 7-coach train just as the Hall ran round and we left on time at 10:45.
Steamy 4936
4936 feathered lightly for most of the way. I was quite surprised how well she accelerated away from Goodrington up the bank. With 6ft diameter driving wheels one would have expected the 1929-built 4-6-0 to slip in the wet but she didn't - not at this point anyway. She got into a good stride with a loud bark as she pulled up and around Waterside past the whistle board. Climbing up into the passing station at Churston the Hall was beginning to struggle. The train began to slow up greatly. At one point we were barely even moving. Through the window came four crisp beats and then a slip. This continued for a good few seconds before the Hall dug in for a slow ascent into the platform, passing the frames of 5239 on the left. Having stopped safely, a green light (the PDSR is fully electric light signalled - non prototypically) was given to 4277 which was waiting to come in from the Kingswear direction. Even in the wet, the 42xx picked up her train easily and chugged in with barely a murmur from the chimney. Leaving Churston 4936 got the train moving easily before coasting down to Kingswear, after a brief stop at Greenway Halt.
Kingswear Boatyard with Dartmouth Over The River
At Kingswear we alighted in pouring rain before catching the foot-ferry across to Dartmouth. An hour or so looking around the delightful town (which seems to sell mostly Fudge) was followed by the ferry back. The next train wasn't due for another 10 minutes so we wandered around on the platform for a bit. The new signalbox at Kingswear was particularly impressive and looked the part too.
Kingswear Signalbox
In the distance there was a familiar whistle, of Western origin. Far away, along the edge of the River Dart, came 4936 and her train, throwing white steam over her shoulder.
Maisie Waiting For 4936
The Hall duly chugged in with the safety valves lightly feathering. The rain was still falling, but a little lighter now. The Hall looked very attractive; so clean and well proportioned. The Tyseley engines are kept very well though - all of them.
4936 gave us a good run back to Paignton. The climb up through Greenway was particularly good, with four crisp beats making their way out of the chimney. She sounded in very good voice, constantly. Back at Paignton I poked my head around the cab door. It was the typical GWR layout except with a few additions for working on the main line (4936 is registered).
It was now lunchbreak. The PDSR is a fully fledged business, not a preserved line as such, and therefore conforms to employee legislation. The crews therefore leave the engine for 45 minutes for lunch before returning to the footplate. The Hall was raked through, brought down to about 160psi with a full boiler and then left in the car park headshunt for display. It always amazes me how many people want their photograph taken with a loco...even these days...
Engine Lunchbreak
Below, 4936 is captured in a short movie, climbing towards Greenway. I recorded this to portray her crisp beats. Have a listen...
All in all, another very nice visit to the PDSR. Though not a preserved railway in its own right, it is a beautiful route and no engine that isn't in tip-top condition graces its metals. Cheers guys. Sam.

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