On Preserved lines

80002I'll start this section with a selection from two of my favourite preserved railways, one standard and one narrow gauge...


The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway

Until a few years ago the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway was my nearest preserved line so it is no wonder that I count it among my favourites and, to start this selection, I'll start with a recording made at Keighley where the line makes a connection with the national network.
The start out of Keighley must be one of the most difficult starts on a preserved line in the UK with its combination of a steep gradient on a sharp curve. Fortunately, experience has proved that with correct handling by the loco crew, it needn't be a problem as demonstrated by the driver of BR Standard Class 4 2-6-4T 80002 as it leaves for Oxenhope with 6 coaches behind the bunker.

80002 departing from Keighley. 14th October 2006
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One of the railways longest serving locos is the Ivatt Class 2 2-6-2T 41241 which along with 30072 worked the re-opening special back in 1968.
In this recording the Ivatt 2 is heard leaving Damems Loop, the passing loop on this single track line and climbing the 1 in 68 gradient towards the next stop at Oakworth.

41241 at Damems Loop. 13th October 2006
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90733The next recording was also made at Damems Loop...
The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway's 'new' WD 2-8-0 90733 entered service recently and as I had been looking forward to seeing this loco for some time, a fine weather forecast tempted me out to get some recordings of it.
While the weather was fine it was also rather breezy but at least the breeze carried the sound back nicely as you can hear in this recording of the loco passing through Damems Loop and climbing towards Oakworth with a mid-afternoon train on 27th July 2007.
The loco looked fine but I have two criticisms; firstly (and most importantly) it doesn't sound right! No, not the exhaust, that's fine. Where is the clank?
When I was last familiar with these locos back in the 1960s they always clanked - it just doesn't seem right somehow.
And the other thing that doesn't seem right is that it is clean - they were never clean!

90733 at Damems Loop. 27th July 2007
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The WD heard in the last recording was a wartime design and so 5820is the loco in this recording but this one came from the other side of the Atlantic.
USATC S160 2-8-0 5820, AKA 'Big Jim', was shipped to the UK towards the end of the war before moving to France. After the war the loco ended up in Poland eventually being purchased for preservation and returning to the UK in the late 70s.
Although UK enthusiasts sometimes have mixed feelings about 'foreign' locos, I've always had a soft spot for S160s; it may have something to do with the whistle!
In this recording, 5820 is heard climbing the gradient between Haworth and Oxenhope.

5820 between Haworth & Oxenhope. 1st May 1988
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David Lloyd GeorgeTime for something a bit narrower...

The Ffestiniog Railway

Another favourite preserved railway of mine is the Ffestiniog and I can honestly say that, even in the worst Welsh weather, I've enjoyed every ride I've had on the line.
The line was originally built to carry slate from the quarries at Blaenau Ffestiniog down to the port of Porthmadog which is where most passengers start their journey nowadays.
In this recording Double Fairlie 0-4-4-0T 'David Lloyd George' is heard departing from Harbour station and heading off across the Cob.

'David Lloyd George' departing from Porthmadog. 4th May 1998
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PrinceDating from 1863 the George England 0-4-0ST 'Prince' is the Ffestiniog Railway's oldest working steam loco and is still going strong 150 years later.
In the 1990s the railway Vintage Trains during the peak mid-summer timetable; these trains originally ran as shuttles as far as Minffordd and at one time were diesel hauled. In 1999 these services reverted to steam haulage and were extended to Tan-y-Bwlch running twice per day and adding some much needed interest to the summer timetable.
In this recording 'Prince' is heard passing Gwyndy between Minffordd and Penrhyn with the morning Vintage service on 30th August 1999.

'Prince' passing Gwyndy. 30th August 1999
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One of the smallest locos that sees occasional use on the line is the Hunslet 0-4-0ST 'Lilla'.
In this recording, also made at Gwyndy, the loco makes a fine sound climbing the 1 in 82 gradient from Minffordd with a demonstration goods train.
To say that I was impressed with the noise that this little loco produced would be something of an understatement.

'Lilla' passing Gwyndy. 3rd May 1999
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Blanche & LindaAs originally built, the line had a continuously falling gradient all the way from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Boston Lodge at the other side of the Cob from Porthmadog. This was to allow loaded slate trains to run most of the way to the port by gravity; horses being used to return the empty wagons.
Of course, running passenger trains by gravity isn't something that would be contemplated nowadays but at special events the railway does occasionally run a demonstration gravity train.
On one such occasion, at Tan-y-Bwlch ex Penrhyn Quarry Hunslet 2-4-0STT 'Blanche' piloting sister loco 'Linda' arrive from Porthmadog and stop in the station.
A little later the train of slate wagons which had been hauled up to Dduallt by 'Prince' can be heard approaching returning down the line by gravity and passing through the station.
With the gravity train out of the way the guard of the up train encourages passengers to rejoin his train, now running a little late and with almost everyone on board the train leaves for Blaenau Ffestiniog.

'Blanche' & 'Linda' crossing a gravity train at Tan-y-Bwlch. 12th October 2002
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