Saturday, 24 September 2011

Minimum and Miniature at the NRM

Another day out?!  Well, this was a trip with a purpose, as my visit to the National Railway Museum in York was for a meeting of the Miniature Railway Museum Trust.  Formalities didn't take that long so there was plenty of time to look around and see the recently altered displays, plus the added attraction of it being the 'LMS Weekend' with many visiting standard gauge locomotives in steam.

Taking pride of place in the recently extended (and in my opinion much improved) entrance hall is 18" gauge Horwich works locomotive 'Wren'.

Sadly 'Wren' goes un-noticed by many, but it is good to see minimum gauge equipment in such a prominent position. There is plenty of space in that foyer, perhaps Bassett-Lowke no. 10 'Little Giant', tucked in her usual (badly lit) corner of the Great Hall might fit?

Outside, in the South yard, there have been improvements on the 7 1/4" gauge line, where run-around loops have been added at either end (and an extension at the far end) and a new Mardyke Deltic delivered, named after the NRM's own 55002 'Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry'.

Monday, 12 September 2011

A Bouquet of Steam (or 'Black Prince' in't North...)

A welcome break from the tedium of "having the builders in" was a trip to the Kirklees Light Railway's annual steam gala on Sunday 11th September.  Over the past few years the Kirklees supporters group has managed to pull together a star-studded line up of locomotives from many other 15" gauge lines, such as Cleethorpes, Windmill Farm, Rhyl, Ravenglass, Evesham and New Romney.  Last year the RH&DR's 'The Bug' made the trip from Kent and left several people wondering whether the holy grail of 15" gauge visitors, a Romney Pacific, would be next... after all, Cleethorpes borrowed 'Typhoon'....

I was informed some time ago that 'Black Prince' was the most likely candidate due to the slightly more tolerant wheelbase this machine has, being built for the German exhibition railways of the 1930s rather than the Romney main line.  Around the exhibition theme the Kirklees gala grew to include two examples of the pioneering 'Cagney' American 4-4-0 locomotives and the rather unusual (and something of a first) inclusion of the two RH&DR permanent way internal combustion locos.

The star attraction - RH&DR no. 11 'Black Prince'

'Black Prince' is a much rebuilt machine, one of three built by Krupp, Essen, in 1937.  Krupp only built these three 15" gauge locomotives, others for the German exhibition circuit being built by rivals Krauss, an example of which has yet to visit the UK.  By contrast all three Krupp locomotives are in the UK and the other two can be found at Bressingham steam museum.  Imported in 1976, here is a view of 'Black Prince' in the early 1980s to show just how much the loco has changed.

'Black Prince' at Hythe in the early 1980s. (C) Richard Peake

Although both of the 'Cagney' visitors, no. 44 from Rhyl and the "Peruvian Cagney", privately owned, had made trips to the far end of the line, we had to be content with a "Cagney Cannonball Express" shuttle as far as Cuckoo's Nest, which on a sunny day has a pleasant feel far away from the madding crowd, reminiscent of another age, perhaps a 15" gauge Surrey Border and Camberley?

Cagneys at Cuckoo's Nest.
Cagneys running around.

'Redgauntlet' and the 'Scooter' were busily occupied at the Shelley end of the line operating a shuttle service 'top and tailed' with resident loco 'Badger'.  Both of these vintage machines have a tale to tell and we will revisit them in detail in future blog entries, especially as both form the basis to kits in the MG Models range.

Redgauntlet and the Scooter at Shelley.

'Black Prince' is the largest loco to have visited the Kirklees line, so large in fact that an event usually reserved for visits to the Ravenglass and Eskdale was recreated in West Yorkshire.... the splitting of a Romney loco for turning.

Black Prince being turned at Shelley.
Driving without the tender!

I've only ever been to a Kirklees gala on a Saturday before,which despite the attraction of the 'late night' departure and return in the dark, has stopped me from travelling on the legendary "Shelley or Bust" 5.00pm train with all available motive power.  Although only featuring four machines this year (there were fears of a flattened 'Cagney' in front of 'Black Prince'!) this was certainly worth the wait.  On the return the two RH&DR internal combustion machines were added to the back, adding to the cacophony of sound in the tunnel, 'Redgauntlet' has at least five horns...

"Shelley or Bust" awaits return departure.

All in all a very entertaining day in the company of fellow miniature railway enthusiasts.  A huge 'well done' to the Kirklees staff and volunteers!

and it's good night from him....