Delayed both in the sense that this blog post is a week after the fact, and the timetable at the gala itself didn’t quite go to plan. Not that I’m complaining! It was a great event, as usual, and the problems that came up with the locos and stock over the weekend – while unlucky – were surely not outside the realms of normality for a preserved steam railway.
So while it must have been a very frustrating experience for the staff and loco crews, it didn’t detract for a second from ours experience of the day as visitors. And that’s what counts! On to the photos…
After some car park Tetris at Welshpool our journey to Llanfair was behind Romanian 0-8-0T No. 19, an impressive looking lump of Eastern European machinery. There was a short wait at Sylfaen for the Welshpool-bound train to cross, giving a few minutes to get off the train and take some pictures.
We were travelling in the newly complete set of three reproduction Pickering carriages, built with great skill at the Ffestiniog Railway’s Boston Lodge Works. These really are a fantastic job, and although most appropriate behind the line’s original locos don’t look out of place with any of the others.
Upon arrival at Llanfair there was another chance to get up close and personal with No. 19 in the headshunt. Although an eight-coupled loco, there is some flexibility in the wheelbase through the use of Klien-Lindner axles.
After lunch and a wander around the workshops and other attractions in Llanfair yard, it was time to consider heading back ourselves. This year, for the first time since 1994, a loco was visiting the railway – Manning Wardle 0-6-2T “Chevallier” – and we planned it just right to travel behind her to Welshpool.
Initially built in 1915 for the Admiralty’s railway between Lodge Hill and Upnor in Kent, the well-travelled Chevallier has since worked at Bowaters in Sittingbourne (now the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway) and Whipsnade Zoo, and previously visited the W&L in 1991, before being sold into private ownership.
Chevallier was running for the first time after a major overhaul. While there were some teething troubles, mainly related to lubrication and hot axle boxes, it looks like a lot of care and attention has been lavished on the loco and it certainly has a very purposeful appearance. Hopefully it will stick around the railway for a while until fully run in.
You can see more photos from the visit at my Flickr set.