Sunday, 11 August 2013

'Katie's Return to Cleethorpes

It was a perfectly normal Facebook conversation with a member of the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway engineering team... until...

"Will be worth your time coming to the 1940s weekend to see the guest engine at Cleethorpes for the weekend."
Me: "Is guest engine literal in both senses?" 
"Bring your camera. As it will be a blast from the past."
Me (tongue firmly in cheek): "Very nice of Austin to lend you Konigswinter back..."

Many locomotive names were discussed in jest,  but one was missing and I knew (and I think he knew that I knew) that it could only be Trevor Guest's 'Katie' returning to the railway for the first time since she was resident on the railway prior to being sold to Austin Moss at the Windmill Farm Railway for restoration.

'Katie' has always been a favourite of mine, ever since a visit to the Fairbourne railway in the early 1980s, when she pulled our train to Penrhyn Point:

Katie's re-appearance at the Cleethorpes 'Little Unusual Steam Gala' in September 1994 was both a joy to see but heartbreaking that she wasn't working.  Imagine my surprise to find in February 1995 that she was still at Cleethorpes and in the process of being restored to use!  Several happy years of use were enjoyed by both railway and enthusiasts before her owners, Wigan Council, sold the locomotive to Austin Moss and she left Cleethorpes for restoration.  The last time I had seen 'Katie' was back on 12th April 2008 in the workshop at Windmill Farm:

By Wednesday 7th August it was confirmed, 'Katie' was pictured outside Lakeside shed on both Facebook and the Miniature Railway World forum. Travel plans were in place, so off to Cleethorpes we headed on Saturday 10th August. Arriving at Lakeside station, 'Katie' was ready in the shed area coupled to the Alan Keef 'council' coaching rake, ready for the off. There was only one problem, the timetable was running behind and we had to wait for two trains to head off to North Sea Lane before Katie moved off the shed and into platform 3 at Lakeside.

I stayed with 'Katie' for the full round trip, enjoying every moment of the journey. In may ways it was like the old days at Cleethorpes, other than the fact the the line to North Sea Lane was only a dream when 'Katie' left the railway, and that locos used to face the other way around, oh, and the shade of green is now darker....

Later in the day I took a nostalgic trip to the flood bank by the workshop area, to capture Katie heading along the line from Kingsway station (itself changed in location since 'Katie's departure).

Here's the same view on 8th July 1997, when you could see the Pier and leisure centre from here (and the sun shone brighter!).

All in all a very enjoyable day, thanks to Austin and the CCLR volunteers.  There's only one downside, a model of 'Katie' remains a dream, my skills don't extend to Twining valve gear and outside frames!