Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Hot, Hot, HOT at Cleethorpes...

Hi guys. Today myself and Maisie went to visit the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway: the 15" gauge steam railway that operates along the seaside there. We certainly picked a good week to come away...its been hot & sunny throughout so far! The CCLR's base at Lakeside station is about an hours drive from Skegness and parking is adjacent to the building. Having parked up we bought a ticket at a modest £4 each for a 'full line return' (good value I thought) and awaited the arrival of the train. There is a small museum at Lakeside which is well worth a look, as well as the 'Smallest Pub In The World': the Signalbox Inn. I always think 15" gauge is a nice gauge for a miniature railway as its big enough to carry a lot of passengers but small enough to be appreciated by the youngsters...and of course it fits locations easier than standard gauge! The next train soon arrived, bound for North Sea Lane: the southern terminus of the CCLR. Lakeside station is roughly in the middle of the 2-mile line and so trains operate out of either side, from Platform 3. Myself & Maisie boarded a covered but open-sided coach and the loco set off...
The North Sea Lane section of the line offers better sea views, heading out to a blustery little station where the engine runs round...
The engine on service today was the CCLR's own 0-4-0 tender locomotive "Mountaineer". This engine was built in 1972 and worked on the now-closed Bush Mill Railway in Tasmania, operating there until the line closed in 2004. The engine has been equipped with a new, larger boiler whilst at Cleethorpes and is a regular on steam services. According to the driver there is no other serviceable steam loco at the CCLR as I write...
For an 0-4-0, "Mountaineer" certainly seemed powerful, with her adhesion no doubt aided by the large boiler sitting atop the frames. Having run round at North Sea Lane the loco; wearing the BMR's maroon livery; made a spirited (if slippery) departure. Having coasted downhill at a fair pace back to Lakeside, the engine seemed to make hard work of the uphill departure around the tight Platform 3 curve, bound for Kingsway. Once underway, the 0-4-0 dug in as it climbed passed the engine shed and old friend "DA1": an 0-4-0 diesel also once based at the BMR...
"Climbing Through The Flood Gates for Kingsway"
Once on the level again, "Mountaineer" assumed another good pace as the train rattled along behind her, passing gardens and beeches. At the northern terminus of Kingsway with its impressive roof, the engine took a well earned breather whilst the driver oiled round...
The Driver, as I have mentioned, was actually a chap I know called Mat. Coincidentally it was Mat who kindly gave me a ride on the Class 04 2-8-0 last time we were here, and it was pure chance that he was driving again today. Its always good to catch up with someone you know who is willing to enthuse about the locomotive...
"Oiling Up"
After a good discussion about "Mountaineer", Mat kindly invited me onto the footplate for the run-round. The ex-BMR loco certainly rode well, and the well-laid out cab left everything to hand. I quite like the addition of a screw reverser...
"Mat Runs The Engine Round at Kingsway"
"Mountaineer"s boiler is short but large in diameter, with a good size firebox at the back end...
Having thanked Mat for my kind ride around the loop at Kingsway, I re-boarded the train for the return run to Lakeside. The 0-4-0 again seemed to perform well, despite having run many miles on the CCLR in recent years. Not so long ago it hauled the Olympic Torch along the CCLR, representing the town...
"Mountaineer" Awaits Departure
I must thank Mat for letting me have a ride on the engine and for telling me more about it. It had been another very enjoyable visit to the CCLR and, as I say, I do like to support the little railways. Thanks for reading guys...off to Skegness again now. Cheers, Sam...

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