Sunday, 8 December 2013

GEC Santa Special 2013...

Hi guys. Today I was kindly invited by James to the GEC Miniature Railway's "Santa Special" day. James' Romulus 0-4-0 was to be in steam, as well as Sweet-Romulus "Luna". The popular Santa day was completely sold out and a few hundred guests were expected. We arrived at around 12:30 to start unloading and setting up. The engines were steamed up gradually on the steaming bays whilst their 5" gauge counterparts were prepared over the way. A new addition for this years event was the temporary, illuminated tunnel on the 'Santa section'...
By 1:45, the engines were ready and a shiny "James" was blowing-off lightly on the steaming bays...
Trains operated from 2pm until 5pm, with both tracks running intensive services. The 'Santa Special' train is always on the 7.25" line, combining a normal round trip with a visit to the man himself via the old spur route. The trains continue to the triangle as normal, and run back along the usual route through the Car Park Loop. However, where they would normally branch off right towards the station again, a motorised point changes the route and signals: using a feather: trains onwards to the tunnel. Once through the tunnel you arrive gracefully into the 'Santa station' which is a dead end. After halting the engine at the buffer stop, Santa greets all of the passengers and gives children their presents. A signal from the Guard then allows the loco to propel the train back, through the tunnel, and down towards another signal. Once you receive the green light, you can back up further onto the main line again. With the engine clear of the point, the motor actuates again and the signal changes to red before changing to green with the appropriate feather. With another whistle from the guard, the train continues in the forward direction, back into the station. The trip ends with a gentle run into the station platform where many more passengers will await you. Below, "James" blows off at the triangle, ready to continue upgrade towards Santa...
"Steaming Well"
At the end of the line, "James" waits at the buffers which are located close to the gates of Copsewood...
"End of the Line"
All of the trains, especially on the 7.25" route, were very busy all afternoon. Myself & James shared the driving on his cracking locomotive which, as usual, was in very fine form. The engine was performing very well, and steaming brilliantly on some very smoky coal. Driving her was a dream as normal, and the run up through the temporary tunnel was certainly enjoyable...and a nice change! Between driving turns the tea was flowing and there were some speciality beverages on offer...The Ultimate Hot Chocolate...The Drink of the God's!...
Unfortunately "Luna" failed half way through the afternoon, but "James" soldiered on, hauling almost all of the trains. The old engine did very well indeed. Once darkness fell, the driving got even more enjoyable and very atmospheric. At just before 6pm, "James" got a well earned rest and her last fire of 2013 was dropped on shed...
The last embers of 2013...
Blowing down at Christmas...a very atmospheric shot...
I must thank my mate James and everyone else at the GEC for a cracking day on their railway...once again! It had been a great afternoon and I enjoyed it very much. Merry Christmas. Cheers, Sam...

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