© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2011
Here's another of those places I'd been promising myself a
trip to - but never got around to. It was seeing one or two
pictures of the "Industry Trains Display" that gave me the
prod that was needed.
We arrived at Pages Park a little after the day's first train had
departed, so we had a look around, including a quick glance at
the "Vintage Vehicles" display in the park. The first train had
gone out behind "Alice", the rather pretty 99-year-old Hunslet
quarry loco (HE780 of 1902). Our train would depart behind
"Beaudesert", a 1999 rebuild, by Alan Keef, of a 1979 "Simplex" -
SMH101T018. (I've just realised that this is the same loco which I
snapped in 1980, when it was used by the National Coal Board on
the surface line between Ledston Luck and Peckfield Collieries,
in Yorkshire). Meanwhile, at the shed, the fire had been lit in
"Elf", an interesting 0-6-0 well tank built by Orenstein and
Koppel in 1936. "We'll probably do a test run after the last
We joined the train - well-filled - and took a ride. The line runs
mostly "through the houses" at first, later entering open country.
There are numerous stops for the level crossings - flagmen stop
the road traffic and protect the train, and a passing loop. We
had a long wait here, before Alice, coupled to MR "Feanor"
appeared (later it transpired that there had been problems with
Feanor's braking, which had caused the delay).
And so we arrived at Stonehenge works, where most of the line's
collection lives (there are around 10 steam locos and over 50
diesels). On the occasion of "Industry Trains Displays", a
cavalcade of locomotives and representative trains is operated
in between arrival and departure of each service train. We had
decided to stay at Stonehenge and wait for the next (steam)
departure, giving us time to have a look around, as well as
seeing the "Industry Trains" twice....
Taking the cavalcade in order, we were presented first with the
clay pit train - hauled by RH 223692 of 1943, ex William Blyth.
Next was the sand train - "topped and tailed" by "Arkle" MR7108
of 1936 and "Damredub" MR7036 of 1936. These local locos
worked at Garside's, one of the companies which used the line in
its former existence. Gresley's use of race horse names for his
pacifics was of course sublime. Garside's use of race horse names
for these diminutive slow coaches was truly inspirational!
Third train in the display was a peat train hauled by "Harry
Barnett" - a typical Lister "flying bedstead", of a lightweight type
widely used on the peat mosses (L37170 of 1951). We were now
taken from the extractive industries to the destructive! Firstly
came the very hefty-looking RH200516 of 1940 "RAF Stanbridge",
with a train of bombs (!!) followed by No. 21 "Festoon" depicting
a trenches trrain of the first world war.
There were many other locomotives visible at Stonehenge Works
- some easy to photograph, others tucked away in areas not open
to the public. Depicted are just two - visitor "Woto" (WB 2133 of
1924) and yet another Motor-Rail, No 30 MR8695 of 1941, a
representative of Arnold's, the other sand company which used
the Leighton Buzzard line.
It was time for our return trip, behind Alice, this time
accompanied by Hudson-Hunslet "Creepy" (HE6008 of 1963).
Clearly Feanor had been (temporarily) abandoned! Alice is seen
arriving at Stonehenge. Also depicted is Beaudesert, in the
passing loop as we approach Pages Park.
Lastly, we had decided to try one or two lineside pictures. Much
of the route lies between hedges, however, a little to the east of
the passing loop, there is a more open stretch in the middle of a
large housing estate, and it was here that the last two pictures
were taken. First was (yet again) Beaudesert, heading back
towards Pages Park, and last - a most pleasant surprise - Elf. We
had noted that Elf was in steam when we arrived back at Pages
Park - now here she was in action.
We followed Elf back to Stonehenge, but the direction of the
light and the hedges together conspired to prevent any more
successful photography, so we took our leave of the Leighton
Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway and headed for home, after yet
another good day out. If you haven't been, put it on your "to do"
list - somewhere near the top!