Tracks to the Trenches: 1916
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© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2016
Geoff’s Rail Diaries
13 May 2016
It has to be a frontrunner for the minor railways event of the year: Tracks to the Trenches. It’s 100 years since the first world war, an incidental effect of which was the widespread adoption of 2’0” gauge for minor industrial railways in the UK, using war surplus equipment. The first such event was in September 2014; this was the second TTTT. The MRT’s Apedale Valley Railway, near Newcastle under Lyme, is a relative newcomer to the heritage railway scene, but it’s really getting the wind in its sails (inappropriate metaphor perhaps) in developing the line on which to operate its huge fleet of narrow gauge locomotives. A good few were in action today - including three home-team steam locomotives (Stanhope, HC1238 and KS “Joffre” 3014 - all built during WW1) and countless (uncountable: they kept moving around) internal combustion locos, mostly by Motor Rail, and again, mostly around 100 years old. Such events are usually marked by visitors (of the locomotive kind) - the West Lancs’ “Joffre” (bearing the name “Joffre”, just to clarify matters), Baldwin 778 from Leighton Buzzard and (relatively youthful) GP39, the HC from Statfold. There are i/c visitors too - the Festiniog’s “Moelwyn”, in plain grey livery being a notable example. There’s never a dull moment - steam-hauled passenger and freight trains shuttle up an down the main running line, while
the odd steamer and lots of Motor Rails trundle around the field railway (which is really looking authentic these days). One wanders back and forth past the trenches, passing ammunition boxes and sandbags galore. An icon of the first TTTT was the Motor Rail carefully “crashed” into a shell hole. It was there again, carefully turned to face the other way, just in case anyone thought it had been there ever since. One bit of fun was provided by the “tin turtle” better known as the Festiniog’s “Mary Ann”, who managed to derail herself down the field railway. One wheel almost off became all four when the first rescue was attempted, by a pair of more-conventional MRs. Later, Stanhope made a valiant attempt to haul the re-railed machine back up the line, but succeeded only in polishing the rails. Finally, a big modern (definitely not WW1-vintage) diesel did the job. I chose to go on the Friday partly because other pursuits were on the cards later in the weekend, and partly because I thought it might be quieter (better for photography perhaps). It wasn’t quiet - the event seemed to be hugely popular (and I would hope even more so on the following two days). What a great day - I’m already looking forward to TTTT3. Link: Apedale Valley Light Railway
Festiniog "Moelwyn" Wow - that's some flywheel! Deutz 10050 of 1931 Vintage road vehicles Motor Rail field day Apedale's Joffre Mary Ann - ready for that ill-fated journey... The WLLR Joffre GP39 sets off "The Diver" HC1238 Serving the trenches Bump-starting a Motor Rail Mary Ann's rescue - first attempt Stanhope HC GP39 from Statfold "JOFFRE" arrives at Apedale Road Two of a kind Baldwin 778 arrives at Apedale Road HC1238 posing The MRT Joffre departs HC1238 on the freight Mary Ann's rescue - second attempt Battlefield Steam at the station