The first big event of the Churnet Valley Railway's 25th Anniversary Year has drawn to a close, and proved to be a spectacular success with record numbers coming to the line from all corners of the UK to attend the Winter Steam Gala. Despite a dull start to proceedings on both days, many people took advantage of the steam-heated trains to enjoy the sight and sound of four steam locomotives working a varied service along both the Churnet Valley Line and Cauldon Lowe Branch.
The highlight of the event was undoubtedly the return to service of S160 no. 5197, which performed impeccably all weekend and sounded magnificent when faced with the 1in45 climb to Ipstones. Both days culminated in 5197 joining forces with sister no. 6046 in working an 8-coach special up the notorious climb - that's about 300 tonnes to pull on their own!
Visiting from the Bluebell Railway in Sussex was former SECR "P" no. 323 "Bluebell", which has the distinction of hauling the first preserved standard gauge train service in the world back in 1963. This locomotive proved popular amongst many on what is her furthest ever venture North from her South-Eastern roots.
We’d like to offer a huge thank you to all our visitors, and look forward to hopefully seeing many of you again at one of our other events
If you missed out on seeing the pair of S160s working together then don't worry, for as a follow up to the event 5197 and 6046 are now booked to appear together over the weekend of 6/7th May 2017. The pair will double-head all services on both days, with tickets and an exact timetable to be available online soon.