Quarry Hunslets

From Sunday 11th to Sunday 18th of February the Ffestiniog Railway were exhibiting quarry Hunslet locomotives Hugh Napier and Velinheli in the ticket hall at Kings Cross station.

I went along on Wednesday 14th to see them and very nice they both looked, I took several photographs of each loco, which was a bit of a challenge with the display stands and interested visitors around them. I was able to get onto the footplate of Velinheli, and the first thing that struck me was how little space there was up there, I was told that when the loco was working in the quarries there would only have been one person on the footplate who would both drive and fire the loco.

Both locomotives were built by the Hunslet Engine Company to work on the 1 foot 11.5 inch narrow gauge railways in the welsh slate quarries.

 

 

Hugh Napier is the younger, and larger, of the two and was built in 1904 and worked at the Penrhyn Quarries in North Wales. The loco is an 0-4-0ST and was restored to active service by the Ffestiniog Railway’s Boston Lodge Works, the world’s oldest railway workshop.

 

 

Velinheli is the oldest of the two having been built in 1886 and was the first of numerous “Alice” class 0-4-0ST Quarry Hunslet locomotives she spent her working life in the Dinorwic quarry at Llanberis in North Wales. Like Hugh Napier before her she will be visiting Boston Lodge for a major overhall and repair to restore her to active service.

 

My choice of February 14th to go to Kings Cross was not a random date, it was chosen because on that day the very much larger Britannia Class locomotive Oliver Cromwell was arriving at Victoria with a main line steam special. Victoria is only a short journey from Kings Cross on the tube and the opportunity to see three locos was too good to miss, although it has to be said that the walk from the Kings Cross station concourse to the Victoria Line platforms takes almost as long as the tube journey from Kings Cross to Victoria.

 

Mid-Hants Railway Spring Gala 2018

For me the Mid-Hants Pre-Spring Steam Gala marks the start of the steam railway gala season.

This year’s Gala was not without its problems. One of the originally intended guest locomotives was unable to take part because it was needed on its home railway, and a replacement was found in the form of GWR 0-6-0 pannier tank no.1501. For me this was a highly acceptable substitute as I regard any GWR locos taking part in a gala as a definite bonus. The other problem the Mid-Hants had was that both of the Black 5s that were to take part failed and it was a great credit to the hard work of the engineers at the railway’s works at Ropley and the locos owners that both locomotives were repaired in time to take part in the gala.

South Western Railway had its own problems on Friday and my train arrived at Alton 20 minutes late, fortunately I had allowed plenty of time for the journey so I still arrived with time to spare before the first train of the gala.

Sadly the weather was not all that kind. I went on the Friday and Saturday, Friday was very cold and there was even a brief flurry of snowflakes at one point thankfully the snowfall didn’t last very long and the snow didn’t settle on the ground. Saturday was a slightly better day temperature-wise but there was a light rain throughout the day which rather put a damper on things. The order of the day was take up your position, take your photos then either board the train or retreat to somewhere under cover to wipe the rain off your cameras. I found that the small plastic bag that had contained my lunch made a very handy protective cover for my video camera on the tripod, my DSLR took up its usual place under my coat.

Weather aside I thought it was an excellent gala the theme of the gala was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of steam on British Railways. The locomotives taking part were:

LMS Black 5 no.45379
LMS Black 5 no.45231 ‘The Sherwood Forester’
LMS Ivatt class 2MT no.41312
BR Standard class 4MT no.76017
SR Schools class 925 ‘Cheltenham’
GWR/BR 15xx class no.1501

One of the interesting points of the gala were the regular freight train workings between Alresford and Ropley, there were two different freight trains running and between them they did four round trips during the day. As well as providing some variety for the photographers they were a perfect opportunity for the railway to show off its excellent collection of restored goods wagons.
The railway’s famous Real Ale Train, the RAT, was running as part of one of the passenger sets.

One of the ‘set pieces’ of the gala was the recreation of the 15 guinea special, the last steam train on British Rail complete with a replica of its 1T57 reporting number which was hauled by the two Black 5s, as was the original (although they weren’t the same Black 5s that worked the original train). I found it a bit disappointing that the railway choose to run this special as the first train out of Alresford which meant that those who travelled to the gala by train and started from Alton didn’t get to see it or have the opportunity to travel on it, the return working from Alton was the second to last departure meaning that there was no way of returning to Alton for anyone who travelled on it. I suspect I was not the only person who had hoped that it would run mid-morning & mid-afternoon so that I could have the opportunity to travel on it and video & photograph it passing through Ropley.
This disappointment, and the bad weather, aside I had an enjoyable time at the gala and was able to take some nice photographs and am looking forward to returning in October for the Autumn Gala.

Here is my video of the gala.

Some more of my photographs of the gala can be found on my website

Photographing trains: Heritage lines

Photographing trains on heritage railways is in many ways a lot easier than photographing on the main line, to start with the locomotives are not going anywhere near as fast and you usually get more than one opportunity to photograph each loco, especially during a gala.
Indeed, during a gala there could be anything between six and ten locomotives taking part and for a gala the railway will usually have a fairly intense timetable so there’s not much waiting time between trains. Continue reading “Photographing trains: Heritage lines”