Steam at Wirksworth
Ecclesbourne Again
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Yes, we’ve been before - eight years ago, when all that was on offer was a ride in a DMU car, propelled by an ex-BR 03 shunter, up the Ravenstor branch. Two years ago, the Ecclesbourne Valley’s main line from Wirksworth down to Duffield reopened for passenger - we’d been promising ourselves a return visit ever since. The railway’s website explains that, normally, the main line services are operated by heritage diesel railcars (which in some respects are ideal - the scenery, though not spectacular, is very pleasant), with only the short Ravenstor line seeing “some steam hauled services”. However, for “a few weeks in May”, main line steam is returning, in the shape of GWR 0-6-2T no. 5643 from the Ribble Steam Railway. The May Day bank holiday weekend  would see three steam locomotives in action - we’d better go to the Ecclesbourne again. 5643 was (perhaps obviously) operating between Wirksworth and Duffield. Barclay 0-4-0ST “Brian Harrison” (2360 of 1954, ex-Ferrybridge power station) offered short brake van rides, and newly-restored sister (brother?) locomotive “Henry Ellison” (AB 2217 of 1957, ex- Kilnhurst tar works) was propelling a DMU car up the Ravenstor line. That’s three steam rides for one “Day Rover” fare of £12, which considering the length of the trip down to Duffield (8½ miles, half-an-hour each way) seems pretty good value. The brake van rides made up for their shortness with their amusement value...
Geoff’s Rail Diaries
5 May 2013
...and, having moved on to amusement value, there’s also a 2’ gauge railway operating at the top end of the yard, from the quarry tunnel entrance to the waterfall. A single manrider, hauled / propelled by “Lesley the Lister” (26288 of 1944), travelled at a pace which may, briefly, have neared walking speed. I’ve no idea what passenger figures are normally like - but today’s trains (a four-coach set on the main line) were well-filled - the Ecclesbourne Valley people will, I suspect, be feeling very pleased with themselves by the end of the holiday weekend. I would say “sufficiently pleased to want to hire-in steam again” - but that’s already planned. Ex-L&Y 0-6-0 no 1300 is booked to operate services during the school summer holidays - I think we’ll be back...  Links: Ecclesbourne Valley Railway
Start of our day: 5643 arrives 5643 arrives at Wirksworth Henry Ellison at Ravenstor What Henry was propelling Duffield - the real main line 5643 at Duffield Mid-point - running round at Duffield 5643 at Duffield Henry Ellison takes another trip up the bank Wirksworth run-round Watering at Wirksworth Brian and his brake van Henry at the platform Lesley the Lister Brian at the top of the yard Wirksworth overview End of our day - last look at Brian and Lesley