Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Another Year Over: 2014 Review...

"Bluebell at the Battlefield Line" (R.Eborall)
Hi all. So, here we are, 2014 is all but over and we must do a little review. I've changed the format slightly for this years review. This time, to try and make it more tolerable, I've just chopped it into sections and highlighted a few points. So, firstly, Shackerstone. Its been a good year on the Battlefield Line for steam. Services began in March and in April we welcomed two visitors for our Steam Gala: old favourite GWR 5542 and SECR 'P' Class 0-6-0 No323 "Bluebell". The Bluebell Railway-based six-wheeler proved a punchy and popular performer and was in charge of trains across about six steaming days with us. Over the gala weekend I was rostered on both 323 and 5542 and had a great weekend. I was lucky enough to get out on 323 on another occasion a few weeks later, just before she returned to her famous home. For the rest of the year it has been GWR 3803 that has flown the flag for steam on Battlefield Line metals, though we do miss 5542 on occasions: it was just so good...
3803 has however been reliable and popular this last year, and I've had some great days out with her. On December 7th I finally passed my test to become a qualified Steam Engine Driver for the railway: a very proud day. It has been a long road and I've been crewing our engines since early 2008, as well as working with them for over a year before that as a humble underage cleaner. I've managed to amass some very valuable experience here at the Battlefield Line and still love being involved. 3803 is captured here at Market Bosworth with a Santa train on December 7th...
Also in December, "Sir Gomer" returned home having been to Burton for axlebox work. I was rostered out on the loco twice in December and had two great days with my old favourite. Moving swiftly on now to my engines: The Miniatures...
Having steamed in January, "Achilles": my 0-6-0 tank engine: was stripped down and repainted. The repaint did not go entirely to plan as boiler trouble involving a cracked main steam pipe halted running as soon as she was initially complete. Repairs were made and the loco languished in the workshop for a few months before my enthusiasm returned. She has since steamed on a few occasions and done me proud. In October, a new addition to the stable arrived: "Maisie". Dolled up as LNER No4436 of the famous Ivatt C1 4-4-2 Atlantics, my new engine has since been steamed and proved herself reliable. She is currently laid up in dock but will hopefully return to work in the coming weeks so I can finally see what she can really do. 4436 is seen here, prior to my first steaming with her, on the Coventry MES stand at the 2014 Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition...
Also on the miniature front, I've attended RPMR for my crew days in 2014. I had a very enjoyable afternoon at the August Steam Day for example, driving the clubs beautiful 0-4-0 Sweet Pea "Diane". As I write this post the sun in the picture is a distant memory as the frost thickens outside!...
"Diane In Action" (D.Strapps)
From the miniatures we change course from volunteering to leisure. We've had two excursions on the Main Line this year. In September we steamed from Bristol to Kingswear behind an immaculate "Bittern"; a member of Gresley's famous LNER A4 Pacific Class. Luckily the rain held off and the wind followed the train, allowing the A4 to make Kingswear pulling that full tender, ay Eddie? The shining A4 is spotted here at the outward Taunton water stop...
My my that "Torbay Express" outing with "Bittern" was a lovely day. In December we treated ourselves to a second main line outing, this time to Lincoln for the Lindum Christmas Fayre. Traction for this trip was Tyseley's wonderful 4900 Hall Class No4965 "Rood Ashton Hall" which put in some fabulous performances along the route. Those 49's really do bark...
"4965 Rood Ashton Hall at Barwell" (S.Lathlane)
Moving on from main line stuff we come back down to Narrow Gauge. Again, another great year for this section. We made three trips to Bala in 2014 and I must admit that the relentless "Three Course Challenges" laid down by 'Eddie the Late' did cause me some bother during the later visits. We have always been made so welcome at the BLR and have had some great times there. Its been our 'Holiday Railway'. In perfect sunshine: known to the locals as 'Alice Weather': 0-4-0 "Alice" stands in the loop at Bala Station in May...
In August, on our third visit, the famous Fireman David of Shackerstone joined us for a day out with "Maid Marian". We think he enjoyed his excursion to 2ft gauge and he captured this image of myself and 'Eddie the Late' with "Marian" awaiting departure from Bala...
"Odd Duo" (D.Hanks)
Lately, as well as Bala, we've also been invited to the fabulous Statfold Barn Railway. In 2014 I've made four visits there: three for Open Days and one for our Footplate Exams. In March myself and John had the Corpet and the duo were caught in action again with "Trangkil No4" in June. In September I was lucky enough to spend a day driving the Avonside "Marchlyn": a wonderful engine that has been beautifully restored. I am captured here along with 'Eddie the Late' at Statfold's March Open Day...
"Me And Ed at Statfold" (K.Eyre)
Having bored you all with railways we can now move on to road steam and my MTEW event. Learning from my experiences of organising the 2013 event, my Miniature Traction Engine Weekend returned to Market Bosworth in April. Well over 30 examples of the traction engine in 1.5" - 6" scales attended and the event was once again very well received. I have been working on the 2015 show since August time and anticipate well over 40 (more like 50) examples to attend this time. This event has been hard work to organise over the last three years but its always worth it and I've had some lovely comments and support from friends and railway members. Long may it continue...
"Saturday MTEW Line Up" (M.Ranieri)
The final section we come to is Days Out. In 2014 we've been all over the place. I've just chosen a few highlights to keep in with the review theme. In January the annual outing was made to the GCR for their Winter Gala, where GNR N2 Tank No1744 is spotted on the Quorn turntable...
In June, as part of the secret plot to visit and look over what would later become No4436, myself and 'Eddie the Late' visited the Kirklees Light Railway at Clayton West. This quaint 15" gauge line runs for around 4 miles with pretty little engines built by an experimental engineer. We were lucky enough to catch a footplate ride on the little red 0-6-2 "Fox"...
July saw another excursion to 15" gauge with a visit to the seaside railway at Cleethorpes. The CCLR was operating an American based locomotive: No24...
In August during our Bala visit, myself & Eddie did the 'Round Trip' of the Ffestiniog Railway and the Welsh Highland Railway, via main line to Bangor and bus to Caernarfon. It was a grand day out featuring two railways I'd never been to. First, the Ffestiniog with a historic Double Fairlie...
Having managed to do the round trip to Caernarfon in time we were treated to a run behind one of South Africa's Garrett's through amazing scenery in perfect weather. I was really taken with the WHR; a truly awe-inspiring achievement...
In September myself and Maisie were away again and caught a round trip behind a huge 9F 2-10-0 at the North Norfolk Railway. The BR black liveried No92203 "Black Prince" barely even thought about breaking a sweat...
October saw another day out, this time to Tyseley Locomotive Works where we were treated to the delights of some of the Great Western's finest creations...
Well that's it, I won't bore you anymore folks. Naturally there are more visits to talk about: Severn Valley, Welland and GEC to name but a few but that'll continue to bore you. All in all its been another great year and with 111 posts on the blog I think its all been worth it once again. Hopefully 2015 will bring more outings, more experience and more steam engines! Thanks for reading folks and thanks for your continued support. All the best, Sam...

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