© 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