Monday, 27 May 2013

Breezy Evesham & A Footplate Ride...

Hello everyone. On our way back from Devon, having briefly spotted 2-8-0T "Hercules" and 4-6-0 "Lydham Manor" on the DSR, we called in at Evesham Country Park. This rest stop left us only 40 miles from home and so the family looked around the shops whilst I checked out the railway. Regular readers will know that I've been here a good few times and been treated to a few footplate rides and even a drive or two. Today was just a flying visit and saw two locomotives working the bank holiday service: 0-4-0 Exmoor "St Egwin" and Severn Lamb 0-6-0 "Dougal". The locomotives were working a passenger train each around the 1.25 mile 15" gauge railway and passenger numbers looked strong. When I arrived at the station "Dougal" was waiting at the head of an afternoon train...
Having had a look at "Dougal" I walked towards the top of the bank where I photographed "St Egwin". "Egwin" is an Exmoor product; a company that has a reputation of providing solid, powerful and reliable locomotives. Fairly large for a 15" 0-4-0, the locomotive finds EVLR work relatively easy and chuffs along happily. Below, "St Egwin" has crested the top of the bank and is cruising towards Twyford with a modest 3-coach train...
"St Egwin" Having Shut-Off Over The Bank
With "Egwin" having cleared the section, "Dougal" got the 'right away' with a 4-coach rake. "Dougal" is ex-Longleat and was re-boilered by the EVLR when her previous one expired. The new boiler is considerably larger and the addition also saw a tender being fitted, replacing the bunker...
Once "Dougal" was in the section, "St Egwin" was turned and continued to run round...
"St Egwin" Running Round
Owned by Steve Bell: who was driving her today: "St Egwin" was built in 2003 and so is no elderly loco. She has however just returned from her very first 10-yearly overhaul though Steve reported that the engine was nowhere near tired. The chassis was, in his words, "not touched" as the valve gear doesn't wear very easily due to it being made up on roller-bearings rather than brasses. The boiler was apparently in equally good condition and the old tubes were nowhere near life expired. It is interesting to note the differences you see with a brand new engine compared to overhauling an old one! Steve chatted to me for quite a while before backing "Egwin" onto the waiting stock...
I walked back around to the platform to watch "St Egwin" leave on her next run but was soon, rather unexpectedly, invited onto the footplate! Regular readers will know that I jump at the chance of any footplate ride and they are always greatly appreciated. Thank you very much, Steve! I have been on "St Egwin" once or twice in the past and I think there is a post about it on here somewhere! We departed Twyford Station in good time and soon the big Exmoor was chugging along happily, murmuring crisp beats from her chimney...
"Shutting Off"
The EVLR leaves Twyford on easy gradients, and then climbs up to the top of the bank before descending towards the facing point near Evesham Vale Halt. "St Egwin" rolled down this section, being kept in check by the air brake which is provided by a pump in the tender...
Having descended a fair bit of ground, the steepest bank on the line appears. "St Egwin" romped up there and sounded like it could haul a fair bit more weight. The regulator is shut at the top of the bank ready for the tunnel, inside which is a downgrade section. There is then a climb into Evesham Vale station. Halted in the platform, "St Egwin"s fire was attended to...
"St Egwin" feathered away to herself quietly as we awaited the 'right away' upgrade back towards Twyford...
We left Evesham Vale climbing again though "St Egwin" got the train away easily. It was then time for a neat little chuff up the bank (best watched in HD)...

With the bank topped we descended into Twyford with "St Egwin" coasting along with barely a murmur. It is interesting to note how quiet a locomotive is when all you hear is the beat of the exhaust, as there is no ejector roaring away all the time. Back at Twyford, I thanked Steve gratefully for my ride and I had enjoyed it very much. Its always nice to be invited out...
After the return journey I had to get going as I still had to get the family home...I would have loved to have stayed a bit longer though! I would recommend the EVLR to anyone as it is a very nice trip and the locomotives shine like new. Another very pleasant visit and another run on "St Egwin". Cheers guys, Sam...

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