The challenges in ensuring the Spring Steam Gala ( 2-4 March) went ahead is worthy of this special posting and to say a massive thank you to all our staff, volunteers and suppliers who, somehow, pulled of the ‘Beast from the East’ miracle. Our thanks also go to our partners Riley & Sons and in particular thanks go to Andy Moyes who organised the whole event.
It can’t be overstated as to just how much effort, dedication and determination went into overcoming the challenges posed by the ‘Beast from the East’ artic style weather, where sub zero temperatures played havoc with basic facilities with many locations in a deep freeze.
On the Thursday before the gala was due to start on Friday morning, decisions had to be taken as to the ELR’s ability to not only run trains but also ensure the safety of our visitors, ELR staff and volunteers particularly on the platforms. The Crab (13065) was sent out to check the track and to start clearing platforms to manned stations. The all clear was then given but with a revised timetable, with no stopping trains at unmanned stations at Burrs, Summerseat and Irwell Vale for safety reasons. Despite difficulties in people getting to the railway on the Friday morning, top and tailed steam trains ran throughout the day and successfully over the weekend.sm
Imagine the nightmare scenario to operate steam locos in sub zero conditions. Frozen water columns; limited coal stocks; limited number of operational toilets; no water to some stations; pipes freezing and then bursting. Locos were being prepared around 5.00am each morning in sub zero freezing temperatures. Because of revised timetables, loco’s were being topped and tailed which required a huge number of extra loco moves and crews. This operation was ably assisted by the signalmen in the Bury South signal box to make for smooth delivery of the timetable. And finally because of the risk of frozen pipes to locos another huge shunting operation was needed each night to put locos into the shed, often with a very late finish.
Whilst we would have liked to have seen more visitors, those came were mightily impressed by the whole operations and amazed that the event was so well managed in the circumstances.
Death of Sir William McAlpine 4 March 2018
On behalf of the ELR, I want to pay tribute to a true champion of heritage railways. We were pleased to welcome Sir William to our 30th Anniversary celebrations last July. Sir William’s legacy is cemented forever by saving the Flying Scotsman for future generations to enjoy. R.I.P.