15” gauge in Norfolk
Bure Valley Railway
25 August 2006
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Our ill-fated attempt to visit Bressingham in May 2000 had been organised, I seem to recall, by a group from the Festiniog Railway - and a number of participants had intended to visit the Bure Valley Railway (a similarly ill-fated trip). That was the first I'd heard of the new 15" gauge railway (built on the trackbed of the former GER line from Wroxham to County School) - at which point, of course, it gained a place, fairly low down at the time, on the "to-do" list. It finally reached the top! After the rain of the previous day, the 25th of August dawned sunny and bright - an excellent omen. We drove to Wroxham, arriving in plenty of time for the 12.45 departure. Hauled by 2-6-2 "Blickling Hall", we had a great run to Aylsham, about nine miles away. These little trains don't hang about! I was put in mind of two previous trips - one being the little Heatherslaw Railway which we visited last month. The Heatherslaw journey had been slow and gentle - but the Bure Valley train really rattled along (not literally - the coaching stock is substantial and comfortable!). It reminded me more of a trip from Dublin some
16 years ago, behind the 2-6-4T no 4, when we bucketed along the Sligo line, swaying and rolling along at a great rate of knots. I don't suppose the Bure Valley train got up to 20mph - but it really felt like we were travelling! Aylsham is the line's HQ, with much more substantial facilities than Wroxham, and of course the railway's workshops (open for inspection...). The little market town was a pleasant surprise - an attractive place with good food and (to my wife's delight) an excellent second-hand book shop. We had planned to return to Wroxham on the 15.25; we had to hurry to get back to the station, for an equally enjoyable return journey. This time we were hauled by Blickling Hall's sister locomotive "Spitfire", an apparently identical (apart from the lack of smoke deflectors), and equally effective 2-6-2. I should add that the standard train seems to consist of 9 bogie coaches plus a 4- wheeled brake (in the middle!) - a substantial load for the locomotives. Conclusion? An excellent trip - a great little line that really goes somewhere! Link: Bure Valley Railway
Geoff’s Rail Diaries
Wroxham Bure Valley station - and the main line box "Blickling Hall" arrives at Wroxham Turned and about to take water "Blickling Hall" poses at Wroxham Half-way - passing loop and "Spitfire" Aylsham arrival The workshops - "Wroxham Broad" (rebuilt from a diesel!) and "Mark Timothy" "Spitfire" - ready to depart, Aylsham "Spitfire" is turned at Wroxham