Tuesday, 6 October 2009

A sleeping Standard and rallying madness

On Saturday lunchtime I needed a distraction to take the girls (my daughters) to; fortunately I remembered that the Darlington Railway Preservation Society were having an open weekend, so we decided to go and see what was going on at North Road. Long overshadowed by the Head of Steam Museum and more latterly the A1 project, this group have been beavering away for 30 years preserving a goodly amount of local railway hardware, most of it housed in the old goods shed adjacent to the Head of Steam Museum.

We arrived and I was pleased to be met by Alan Usher, one of the stalwarts of the Kirkby Stephen project, who is also an active DRPS member, and a fine railway modeller as we discovered, seeing his layout inside the shed. Fortified with a welcoming cup of tea, we had a good wander round, the girls getting a look inside the cab of the ex Cleveland Bridge Fowelr diesel shunter "David Payne" and me gricing the industrial locos present - you will find over the duration of this blog that I have weaknesses - two being miniature railways and industrial ones. A Triang 10 1/4" gauge train set catered for the former too!

One that it was good to learn about was this overhead wire English Electric loco which took power from a 550volt DC system at a chemical works in West Auckland.

Venturing outside, the girls were delighted to have a free ride on a 7 1/4" gauge line set up for the weekend, then with Isobel protesting that she "wanted to look in the workshop", we moved on to see what is regarded as the star of the collection, British Railways Standard Class 2 No. 78018, a 2-6-0 tender locomotive that unwittingly starred in the classic film "Snowdrift at Bleath Gill" (incidentally on show at Locomotion ever day next to the snowplough). After a spell in Barry Scrapyard in South Wales and an abortive perservation attempt in Leicestershire, the DRPS brought 78018 back to the town it was built in and have spent most of 3 decades patiently restoring it and amazingly not owing anyone a penny. Now it is just the boiler that remains to finish the job, and I believe an HLF application is being made to try and speed up the final stages. This will be a very useful little engine once done, well done to the DRPS, and thanks for your hospitality - it's rare my girls complain at having to leave a railway venue!
The following day, Sunday 4th October, saw a chance to indulge another of my passions - but at work. I have had an interest or involvement all my life with vintage road vehicles, especially road steam as those who know me will testify. An annual event in th Locomotion calendar is our end of season rally, this being our 6th. The sun shone and the crowds came - we entertained over 3000 visitors on the one day, and as ever, the quality of exhibits was second to none.
Some of my good friends from the road steam fraternity brought their vehicles. Here we see (left) Mark Sutherland's Wallis & Steevens traction engine, then Alan Borthwick's Aveling roller, Anthony Lister's Clayton & Shuttleworth traction engine and Ronnie & Ruby Linsley's Sri Lankan Aveling & Porter oil engined roller. We took the Aveling stemer and the Clayton for a lunchtime run out to Michael Bowman's Vintage Vehicle museum around the corner from Locomotion where a pleasant half hour of tea an a natter was had before bringing the engines back. The roller is unusually fitted with rubber tyres to the rolls, a modification made this last winter - it's kinder to one's backbone and fillings and was an interesting experience.

Across the museum apron was this fine line up of commercial vehicles, including a Scammell ballast tractor on its first day out. Elsewhere were over 120 classis and vintage cars and a never ending stream of classic motorbikes. Now I know what a Brough Superior is and why it is called the Rolls Royce of motorbikes!

And added attraction were our friends from the Furness Railway Trust and our own Merlin Group volunteers providing train rides along the site. Here Furness 20 approaches the coal drops with Shildon signal box in the distance. FR 20 will be providing steam rides at York over half term along with the FR Trust's North London Railway coach - do pay a visit and see this amazing machine in action.

This morning I've entertained a party from the Nairobi (Kenyan) Railway Museum, who are on a fact finding mission and I may catch up with them again tomorrow in York. Wonder what else I'll find when I get there...?


  1. Wow, 78018 looks really good - good luck to them for the grant

  2. Thanks Anthony glad you and your girls enjoyed your visit to the DRPS.

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  4. What a great little write-up on the DRPS, we are due another open day in May Anthony, 78018 is obviously now in active service but our Peckett locomotive NGB No.1 is now in for overhaul.