Saturday, 27 September 2014

North Norfolk Nine Freight...

Hi everyone. Today, whilst on a weekend away in Norfolk, we decided to take in the North Norfolk Railway, mainly just to 'tick another one off'. Upon our arrival in the bustling little seaside town of Sheringham, we parked the car before walking up through the busy streets. The attractive NNR station was reached at just before midday and after purchasing our tickets we quickly boarded the midday train: just in time. At the head, simmering away, was a massive beast: a nine freight. This particular example is No92203 "Black Prince", based at the NNR and owned by wildlife artist David Shepherd. I must admit I was surprised to find "Black Prince" out on what we thought would be a quiet Saturday but, I guess, being one of the UK's premier lines now, the NNR can justify it. The railway has 5 miles of track and runs between Sheringham and Holt, via Weybourne. Over the years the line has built up a fantastic reputation and, most recently, an old friend: B1 1306 "Mayflower": joined the already impressive resident fleet. Leaving Sheringham behind 92203, the train makes its way along the coast with pretty views...
There were two trains in operation today, with the other being hauled by a Class 37 diesel. The two trains passed on each trip at Weybourne and the 37 is seen here, cruising in...
From Weybourne it was upgrade again for the 9F but no matter, these things are brutes. The 9F class was part of the BR Standard Range of locomotives. Designed by R.A.Riddles, the 2-10-0 types eventually numbered 251 examples. The first engines appeared in 1954, with the last ("Evening Star") appearing in 1960 and gaining fame as the last steam locomotive built for British Railways. The 9F's did survive until the end of steam in 1968, though withdrawals of the class began in 1964. This gave the class notably short working lives compared to their design criteria. It was, arguably, a total waste. 92203 was built at Swindon in 1959 and had a terribly short working life which saw her withdrawn in 1967. Luckily, for the princely sum of £3000, 92203 was purchased by David Shepherd direct from BR and so never saw the scrapyard. Soon enough, David named the engine "Black Prince"; a name she has carried ever since. The locomotive has been based on the NNR for a while now, having spent a lot of time at Toddington in recent years...
Capable of hauling 900 ton trains at 35mph, the 9F's gave a tractive effort of 39,667lbs with their 250psi boilers, 20" x 28" cylinders and ten 5ft driving wheels. They were very powerful and popular engines, with some even recording 90mph performances: a scary thought! At Holt, "Black Prince" rested after a completely easy run from Sheringham...
A footplate view on "Black Prince", showing the BR standard arrangement of 'everything under the drivers hand'...
Here, in a blurry view in hot sunshine, 92203 runs round at Holt...
The 9F was then watered at the tower...
Another view of 92203 "Black Prince". I think this is a handsome engine...
Before long it was time to rejoin the train for the return journey. 92203 again found it no problem, particularly with most of the run seeming to be downhill. At Weybourne, having passed the 37 again, the train was drawn out past the engine sheds. Industrial 0-6-0s "Ring Haw" and "Whissington" stood on the shed front, blocking Black Five "George Stephenson". Also resident here, though indoors today, are B1 1306 "Mayflower" (an old friend) and LNER B12 No8572...
After a pleasant run back to Sheringham, 92203 runs round again...
"A Final View of 92203 Black Prince"
This was a very pleasant little first visit to the North Norfolk Railway. Its a pretty, friendly and interesting little line with a locomotive fleet to be jealous of. 92203 is a real beast of British Railways engineering and its such a shame that these mighty engines cannot work on the modern main line. You see, due to the long wheelbase, the 9F's have a flangeless centre axle and this is not allowed on Network Rail metals. Such a shame, but, such is life. Cheers guys, Sam...

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