USATC No. 5197 on the Churnet Valley
Froghall and the S160
7 September 2003  
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The Churnet Valley was another of those "must get around to it" railways. I have driven past the northern end of the line many times, photographed the sand trains which last ran in 1988 (see "Monorail - Geoff’s Mouldy Oldies" page 6), and visited the headquarters at Cheddleton several times. But I'd never been since passenger trains began operating ("Shame on you"....). I'd intended to drive to Cheddleton - but we were a little later setting out than intended - we would probably have arrived just after the train left, and would have had over an hour to wait for the next. So we drove to Froghall, at present the southern limit of passenger operations - with its fine new station building*, well worth a visit in its own right. The tea room looked very promising too (must keep the household authorities happy...).
Geoff’s Rail Diaries
Our train duly arrived, in the capable looking hands of former USATC S160 no. 5197. Built in 1945 by Lima, this locomotive was shipped to Europe - but by the end of the year was in China, where it worked for the next 50 years. It then returned to Europe - to the Llangollen Railway, where it resided for five more years, before moving to the Churnet Valley in 2000. We had a very enjoyable run up the line to Leek Brook, travelling in the front compartment for the full benefit of the sharp exhaust - and that wonderful chime whistle. Then back to Froghall - where the tea room more than lived up to its promise - truly excellent! I think we'll be going there again.... Link: Churnet Valley Railway
Under the bridge, Froghall 5197 runs round at Froghall Ready to depart, Froghall Departure from Froghall Ancient (relatively...) - Cheddleton station ...and modern - Froghall station