One of the more pleasing aspects of heritage railway galas is the willingness of the organisers to run non-revenue earning services, such as freight, minerals, or parcels/TPOs. In this photograph, No.5553 is at the head of a short ‘express freight’, approaching Crowcombe Heathfield on the West Somerset Railway.
No.5553 was one of, if not the last, locomotive(s) to leave the famous Woodham’s scrap yard in Barry, South Wales. Like many other railway enthusiasts I made a pilgrimage to Woodhams, 1965, in my case, and Dai Woodham has, quite rightly, been held in some degree of affection by many a railway fan. Without the Woodham’s legacy our current enjoyment of heritage railways would have been a very different affair.
Thirteen years after steam finished on BR, in 1981 / 2, sixty six engines were still in Woodhams yard – many of that number are, currently, or have, until recently, been running around. Here is a short list of some of the more notable ones No. 6023 King Edward II, 4953 Pitchford Hall, 34046 Braunton, 34070 Manston, 35006 Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation, 45337, 47406, 48305, 73096, 76084. Yes I know some of these engines are either out of ticket or not yet actually running, but we still have them and they have run, or will run, now or at some not too distant date.
Over the 50 years I have been visiting heritage lines, I have met railway enthusiasts from all over the world, Australia, Canada, the USA, and many from European countries, especially France, Holland, and Germany. A common theme in our conversations is how lucky we are, here in Britain, to have such a wide selection of engines, and the lines to run them on. I think it is equally important that our hobby is drawing in younger enthusiasts and volunteers, for without them and their enthusiasm, no matter how many engines we have or how many miles of track we have to run them on, us old timers are slowly running out of puff to do the hard work, track laying, lifting a piece of motion, and the dozens of other jobs requiring a fair degree of physical stamina to achieve. Well done you young guys & gals – as an old timer I salute you for your efforts and enthusiasm, to keep my hobby alive in the 21st Century.
The printed edition of “Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children” – is now on sale.
Below, is the link to it.