Steam in the gardens
Bressingham - at last!
24 August 2006
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One of the first "Rail Diaries" pages was "The Bressingham Avoider" of 6 May 2000. The famous garden centre with railways (or is it the other way round?) had been on the to-do list for some time, and when a friend mentioned the railtour, which would include an afternoon at Bressingham, I jumped at it. We never got there - the nearest we got was a pint at Norwich, before setting off homewards barely a couple of hours after arrival (see "The Bressingham Avoider" for the full sad tale). Some six years later, an opportunity for a couple of nights in Cambridge raised the possibility of a visit - although I should perhaps have checked the weather forecast more carefully. What started out as a fine, sunny day in Shropshire turned into torrential rain near Bury St Edmunds. The road was flooded beside a field of pigs - I half-expected to see the upturned trotters in the muddy waters spilling onto the dual carriageway. By the time we'd arrived and had a bite of lunch, the rain was easing a little, and we set out to explore the railways. Firstly the "Nursery Railway", the 1' 11" gauge line which is host to some nice little ex-Welsh quarry locos. No such luck - we rode behind "Toby" - a dressed-up Motor-Rail (which would have been perfectly acceptable in its native form...) complete with face. The Nursery line crosses the 15" gauge "Waveney Valley Railway" in a couple of places, and as we trundled through the rain-
sodden fields, we met "Männertreu", the hefty 1937 Krupp-built pacific - which, a little later, provided us with our next ride. Two locomotives were in steam on the standard gauge line - "King Haakon 7", the Norwegian 2-6-0, and "Terrier" 0-6-0T no. 662. The latter was on test - I hoped a run or two up the line might take place - but no, it just simmered gently all afternoon. The 2-6-0, in the meantime, made a few demonstration runs up and down the line. The damp conditions at least meant there was plenty of visible steam... We had a wander around the museum exhibits - there are some notable locomotives on display, including both Great Northern atlantics, the LT&SR 4-4-2T "Thundersley", the Great Eastern 2-4-0 no. 490, plus some unusual industrials, including the two tiny Beckton gas works locos, and the unique Beyer-Garratt "William Francis" from Baddesley colliery. I mustn't forget all the non-railway exhibits - traction engines and steam rollers in abundance, and numerous stationary engines. My wife studied these with some interest in their origins - "This one's a jam engine!" she exclaimed. It was, too - ex-Chivers, of Histon near Cambridge. Finally, we took our third ride, on the 10¼" gauge Garden Railway - behind the very attractive "Alan Bloom", an approximately half-scale Hunslet quarry type. This is really one for the kids (including, of course, big kids...) who are set the objective of counting the numerous cuddly toys hidden along the route (no, we didn't manage to spot them all...). Conclusion? I'm pretty sure we'll have to go again... An excellent afternoon, despite the weather. Link: Bressingham Steam and Gardens
Geoff’s Rail Diaries
"Männertreu" has just completed a run... ...and is ready for another trip around the Waveney Valley Railway "Toby" - MR 22210 of 1964, despite outward appearences... "Terrier" no 662 simmers gently "William Francis" - the Baddesley Garratt The King and the Terrier Great Northern Atlantic 990 "Henry Oakley" GNR "Large Atlantic" no. 251 Beckton's no.25 - Neilson 5087 of 1896 The jam engine! Needs no caption! "Thundersley" - LT&SR no. 80 GER 2-4-0 no. 490 "Granville" L&SWR 0-4-0T, formerly BR 30102 "King Haakon 7" in action "Alan Bloom" on the Garden Railway In the gardens - teddy-bear spotters' special!