Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tornado in Wamphray

A complete rainbow over the West Coast Main Line on Friday evening was a sure sign of something special about to happen.

So with that good omen, I joined a good number of fellow 'enthusiasts' on Saturday morning, at Lockerbie Station, for a few seconds of excitement!

Here is LNER A1 Class 4-6-2 no 60163 Tornado, after its recent overhaul, pulling a steam charter. The 'Border Reivers' left from Carlisle to do a circular route northwards via the West Coast Main, through Wamphray, to Paisley, Ayr, Mauchline, Thornhill, Dumfries, and back to Carlisle.

Scotrail's new franchise holder Abellio has ventured into steam charters to showcase the country’s scenery, and is part of their marketing strategy to encourage more visitors to travel by train. Gets my vote!

At my age, I am happy when excitement comes in short bursts. But watching Tornado whoosh through Lockerbie was very much a case of 'blink and you've missed it'.

So, later in the day, to get more of a 'steam fix', I was waiting at Carlisle's Citadel Station to welcome the charter back to its starting point, right on time. It was somewhat disconcerting to see the train arrive at platform 3 from the north. Most steam arrives in Carlisle from the south.


A happy driving crew poses for photographs.

Considering it was a new build in 2008, Tornado seems to have gained a lot of affection amongst steam enthusiasts.

The locomotive ran around the SRPS rake of carriages quickly and efficiently.

Tender first, Tornado was soon on its way north again. The Border Reivers charter was a sell out, I note. I look forward to seeing more steam on Scottish lines in the future.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Saturday, June 20, 2015


The museum at Beamish (The Living Museum of the North) had been on my 'to visit' list for a while. I really wanted to see the trams, but I found so much more. It's quite a place!

No 196 was built in 1935 in Portugal, and brought to Beamish in 1989. Here it's running in the blue and primrose colours of South Shields. On the right is Sunderland Corporation Tramways No 16 which was built as an open-top tramcar by Dick, Kerr & Co, Preston, in 1900.

The museum occupies quite an area, and the trams run in a one and a half mile loop round the site.

Blackpool 31, constructed in 1901. Love it!

Avonside No 1764 'Portbury' was getting coaled up here, prior to its day's work. The history of this locomotive is here.

It's only a short line at Beamish, but there was a lot of interest in riding aboard. The station buildings were moved to Beamish from Rowley, a village near Consett, County Durham. The signal box came from Carr House East, also near Consett, and dates from 1896.

Now here's a beast - a 1931 Ruston Bucyrus 25-RB 125 ton, steam-powered excavator. Reminds me that I must visit Threlkeld again, see here.

Buses too. This B-Type replica in the livery of the early 1920s Newcastle Corporation Transport.

It was the small things which added to the day. I seem to remember learning all the road signs like this to pass my driving test all these years ago.

This was a wall at the back of the bus shelter, constructed using different bricks from a multitude of local brickworks.

The museum stands on a site which was at the heart of the Durham coalfield, and there is much to see in the 1900s Colliery area.

I was (of course) interested in the colliery railway, the core of which is standard gauge, but there also narrow gauge tracks. This is No 18, a Stephen Lewin locomotive, from 1877, which was in steam and at work on my visit.

No 18 worked for 93 years at Seaham Harbour.

It is a working museum!

Awaiting restoration!

Made my day!

The 1900s town is full of interest. I particularly enjoyed the interior of the local printers and newspaper branch office.

It may have been a busy Sunday, but the site is large enough to accommodate everyone. This was the only queue I encountered - for the sweetie shop!

Beamish was a great place to visit. I'll certainly go back. I think it will take many visits to see everything! The official website is here.

Photos © Skip Cottage