A ride on the reborn L&B
...but no luck at Lynton
29 May 2009
One of the most exciting developments in Devon in recent
years must be the recent rebirth of the Lynton and Barnstaple
Railway, the lamented 1' 11½" gauge line which closed in
1935. Efforts by the modern day preservationists have seen
track relaid from Woody Bay, the line's present HQ, to
Killington Lane, about a mile away in the Barnstaple
direction. And this year, at last, their own steam locomotive
Axe is a Kerr Stuart 0-6-0T, no. 2451 of 1915 (similar to Sgt.
Murphy on the Teifi Railway) - and, like Sgt Murphy, we'd met
him before - one of the four such locomotives which stood out in
the open at the former Gloddfa Ganol museum in north Wales.
He's in much better condition now - though not quite perfect, it
has to be said...
Our first sight of the line was a couple of
days beforehand, when we realised we
would be driving past the station. Our
journey across the north Devon hills had
hardly been scenic - thick fog covered the
higher ground. Services had finished for
the day, and Woody Bay lay in an eerie
gloom. We had a very quick look and continued our journey.
Two days later we turned up in plenty of time for the day's first
train. No sign of steam. We checked with the booking office -
"no, sorry, there's a problem with the air brake pump. But we
weren't planning to run steam today anyway". The apology would
have been sufficient - with only one working loco on site, a
diesel substitution would always be on the cards. But the plans?
"Steam", according to the line's paper timetable leaflet and
website... We debated whether to ride or to return again the
following day, on our way home, and decided on the former. We
could then look in the following day and take a few photos.
So we rode behind "Heddon Hall", a hefty-looking Hunslet diesel
(6660 of 1965), along the L&B to Killington
Lane, where in time-honoured tradition
we detrained and took a photo or two
before returning to Woody Bay. The
followed day we turned up to find "Axe"
outside the shed, with a little 4-wheel
wagon coupled behind, containing the air
compressor - but not in steam. "It should
be in steam for this afternoon's services". Too late - we'd be
stuck in jams on the M5 by then. No luck at all.
Lynton and Barnstaple Railway
Geoff’s Rail Diaries