Jack drifts down towards Leadhills station © Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2011 Foster Yeoman, famous for their fleet of General Motors-built locomotives (the class 59s) held a special open day in June 1998, to celebrate their 75th anniversary. "We're having a trip down there - fancy a day out, Geoff?". I didn't need too much persuading - especially when Dave mentioned the double-headed 9Fs working demonstration stone trains... We drove to Westbury, where we joined the shuttle service to Cranmore, "topped and tailed" by 59 104 "Village of Great Elm" and 60 037 "Aberddawan / Aberthaw". From Cranmore a service of vintage (ish) buses ferried us to the Merehead site. The photos illustrate the trip, more or less in the order they were taken. 59 104 posed on a line of stone hoppers, while behind it pannier 7760 ran back and forth with a brake van and an open wagon, bearing the "Foster Yeoman" legend. Turning to the depot, an impressive line-up of GM motive power was on display, with (left to right) 59 004, 101, 201 and 005. The odd man out, in the middle, is then newly-delivered 66 001 Next we turn to an older resident, No 33, the former 08 032, looking very neat and tidy. Another line up of locos follows, representing classes 33, 73, 58, 56 and 37. And then the stars of the show - 9Fs 92212 and 92203 "Black Prince" with owner David Shepherd in the cab, flat out - accelerating a 1700 ton stone train through the sidings towards the junction with the branch - making an indescribable noise in the process. Truly fantastic! At the rear of the stone train was "Western Yeoman II", the 1980-built GM "switcher" which I had photographed in 1982. Taking no part in moving the train out of the quarry, this loco merely acted to guide the train back down to the quarry for its next run. We had seen all there was to see, so we returned to the East Somerset station at Cranmore, taking a quick look around before rejoining the shuttle for the return to Westbury. The day was not over though - a small detour on the return journey took us to the Avon Valley Railway at Bitton, on the former LMS route from Mangotsfield to Bath Green Park, where we were rewarded by another pannier tank in action, this time no. 9600, replendent in BR lined black livery, along with the rather fine Sentinel-built 0-8-0 diesel "Army 610". And then it really was time to go home - after an excellent day out. Link: Avon Valley Railway
33, 73, 58, 56, 37 at Merehead 59s and a 66, Merehead 59s and a 66, Merehead 7760 in action, Merehead 9600 at Bitton station, Avon Valley Railway 59 001 poses at Merehead 59 104 at Cranmore with the return shuttle for Westbury 59 104 "Village of Great Elm" at Westbury 60 037 Aberddawan / Aberthaw at Westbury 9F super-power, Merehead AD610 - S10143 of 1963 at Bitton J52  68846 at Cranmore, ESR No 33 (ex 08 032) at Merehead Western Yeoman II at Merehead