Sunday, 12 June 2016

Northampton & Lamport Railway...

Hi all. Today I took a ride out towards Northampton and paid a visit to the Northampton and Lamport Railway. This standard gauge outfit operates heritage trains over a 1.5-mile stretch of preserved line which once formed part of the Northampton to Market Harborough branch, this having closed to traffic in 1981. The weather was quite foul as I pulled up at the NLR's base at Pitsford & Brampton Station, just before Midday. Having collected my ticket from the Booking Office, I wandered out onto the damp platform following the trail of smoke. Standing in the rain waiting for the "Right Away" was a little Peckett 0-4-0; No2104 of 1948. The engine was brewing up ready for the off and so I duly boarded the soon to depart Midday train on a Mk.2 TSO...
With the "Right Away" given, 2104 gave a loud blast on the whistle to signal departure. She hissed, slipped a little and then took the 2-coach train (plus a brakevan) away. The rain was very persistent, much to my annoyance, but this didn't stop me having a look out. The diminutive saddle tank chugged happily towards the NLR's northern stop-point; just before bridge 14; which is marked clearly by a lonely buffer stop...
After a brief pause at the buffers, 2104 whistled again before starting the train back towards Pitsford. The locomotive propels the train but the Guard does the looking out from his van at the rear...
Tokens are exchanged as the short train reverses through Pitsford & Brampton station before continuing onto the southern part of the line. This section makes its way towards Pitsford sidings where a stop board heralds the end of passenger operations. The line is in place for a further extension towards Boughton and plans are afoot to open that one day. After another pause, the Peckett got going again...
There were some great smoke effects for a little engine!...
Chugging away from Pitsford sidings, past a line of forlorn wagons and a Great Western tender, the engine whistles up for Pitsford station. The tokens are exchanged again as the train passes through the platform for a final run up to the northern extremity. Though its only a short run, the countryside around the NLR is very pleasant and I'm sure it would be even better on a nice day!...
2104 paused again at the northern end before running gently back towards Pitsford...
After plenty of push-pulling up and down the line, 2104 took a well earned breather. This little engine is the mainstay of Nortampton & Lamport steam services and arrived on the line in 1989. She is an R4 class Peckett, built by the Bristol firm for Croydon 'B' Power Station. Though built in 1948, the locomotive was not delivered until 1950 as the power station wasn't finished. She has a cut down cab due to the tight clearances at her former place of employment, giving her an unusually small look. Weighing 29 tons, the 12" Peckett seems happy here, chugging gently up and down with passenger trains...
"Peckett R4 Class No2104 of 1948"
There were three R4 sisters built for Croydon 'B', all three of which survive in preservation. 2103 is based at the Middleton Railway in Leeds whilst 2105 is at Quainton Road. Here, the Fireman puts another round of Scottish coal on 2104's fire...
The Fireman was telling me that 2104 only has around 6 months left on her 10-year ticket. They anticipate that she'll need a new tubeplate and inner firebox this time round and thus it won't be a cheap one. Having been resident at the NLR for over 25 years, 2104 has done some good work for the line and still provides reliable service. She certainly looks a powerful little workhorse...
"Peckett No2104 At Northampton and Lamport Railway"
It wasn't long before the 1pm departure came around and 2104 was once again given the "Right Away". With a loud blast on her shrill whistle, she began to start the train away, with the odd slip here and there...
"Starting Away The 1pm Departure"
I had a drink from the shop whilst waiting for 2104 to return. Sure enough, 10 minutes later she was backing through the station bound for Pitsford Sidings...
I walked a little way along the adjacent Brampton Valley footpath, which follows the NLR along its route, in order to catch 2104 on her return to the station. Here, the Peckett has passed over a foot crossing and is on the final chuff before slowing to pass through the station...
A final view of the little R4 Peckett No2104...
2104 ambled gently past me before exchanging tokens at the station and proceeding off towards the northern end once again. With the rain still trying its best, I decided to call it a day after an interesting little visit. The NLR is trying its best to grow and extend, with plans afoot (one day) to take the line all the way back to Lamport. There are currently 5 steam locomotives based on the line, with only 2104 serviceable however. The others include a GWR 38XX, GWR Hall, another Peckett and a Polish TKH 0-6-0 known as "Vanguard". All four of these engines require either extensive restoration or overhaul, particularly the two Great Western examples. I don't envy the lads at all as there are next to no facilities for doing up engines as there is no loco shed. 2104 even had wooden works plates which I'm guessing were devised to deter thieves. Thanks for reading guys, Sam...

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