The Wensleydale Railway
Four days down, one to go, and my progress now had to be northward towards home. I had made a start on that by driving from Holt to Doncaster the night before, and I set out in the morning to head north again. However (not by chance!) my route passed right over the Wensleydale Railway at Leeming Bar, and I set out with plenty of time to catch the first train from there.
For a preserved railway, the Wensleydale is a bit different to the others I had visited on my holiday. For a start, it came about through local people wanting BR to re-instate a passenger service on a 22 mile freight-only line in the 1980s and early 1990s, and when that fell through they got their service by setting up their own railway which currently runs over 16 miles of the line. While they got the line more or less intact, they have subsidised the maintenence and development of the line in the past with freight services for the MOD, and have a rather different looking stocklist to older-established preserved railways as they have no steam locomotives of their own, and thus have to hire then in to attract tourists in the summer, with much use of diesels.
Some of this I knew in general from magazines before I went there, but there's no substitute for seeing things with my own eyes, and aided by good weather my day at the Wensleydale was a really good end to my holiday!
1. The signs in the car park. But I
wasn't quite ready to go up onto the platform yet...
2. ...as I took a picture of the
station building, which the Wensleydale aren't using and thus presumably
3. ...and then a picture from the
same place of the goods shed (which is their engine-shed) and a couple of
4. Swinging round shows the view
from the car park of the station yard at Leeming Bar, with a Class 03. a
Class 20, and a JCB 3CIII visible.
5. Of course I moved closer and here
is a picture of 03144, albeit with the visible side in shade.
6. I then used the zoom to take a
picture of 20121, whose paint job and cab sides have clearly seen better days.
7. More zoom and the line clearly
includes a Class 14 and another Class 20. More on those later!
8. Being a plant preservationist myself,
I wasn't going to ignore the JCB 3CIII either, so here is a picture of AAO626T.
With a flat front tyre, it is clearly restricted right now to back arm
coal-loading activities, but I did hope that they would fix the tyre soon,
as a 3CIII is a most useful machine for other activities and it wouldn't cost much.
9. Another view of AAO626T.
10. Onto the platform at Leeming Bar and
here is the view in the Northallerton direction. The Wensleydale do not yet run
services in that direction, but the line is intact all the way and gives them their
11. A closer view shows a parked industrial
shunter with a small inspection trolley in front of it. The coaches beyond the level
-crossing are parked there in lieu of a coach siding, and will be used later in the day.
12. Nice-looking MK2 coaches, but these ones
are going nowhere for the foreseeable future as they are substituing for a station
13. More MK2 coaches, this time operational
and waiting to form the first train of the day. Unlike older railways, the Wenleydale
seem quite happy to paint some of their coaching stock in liveries of their own, but
that isn't a problem when the paint job is as good as this and the livery well-chosen.
14. I walked up to the end of the platform
for a look and as I did so 20121 was started. Shortly afterwards, it shunted the
line-up I had seen from the car park into the good yard headshunt. However before
it got far I was filming and this first image capture from that show Deltic 55019
and an almost unrecognisable 25313, which is obviously having a major cab re-build.
15. Next past my camcorder was 20166,
which was the other one I had seen from the car park.
16. Not long after, the Class 14 was
pushed past me and turned out to be D9516.
17. After a maroon coach came by, 20121
cames past me. The corroded cab and the faded BR blue paint job can be seen even
better in this shot, but it seems to be in full working order!
18. And once 20121 had finished its
shunt, I got a picture of it end-on using some zoom. The contents of the other
station headshunt can be seen in the distance, the highlights being two more
Class 47s and a DMU car propped up at one end!
19. So far I haven't even mentioned the
motive power for my trip up the line, although to be fair I was distracted by the
shunt movement seen in the last few pictures. So here is a picture prior to
departure of 47715 on my train.
20. And a view on the other side, with
a Wensleydale round crest on the cabside of 47715.
21. Departing Leeming Bar, with a view
of the goods yard and the goods shed (=engine shed :-) A steam locomotive can be
seen with smoke coming out of the chimney, but not too clearly at this distance.
22. My turn to pass 20121!
23. Not long after, I got
a better chance to film 55019, although we were going fast enough by
now to make this a less than perfect picture!
24. However we slowed down
a bit quite quickly as there is a level-crossing a short distance
outside the station area.
25. Not long after we reached
Bedale station which has the twin virtues(?) of being on a tight bend
and having a level-crossing just beyond!
26. After stopping in the station
and waiting for the level-crossing gates to be closed against road traffic...
27. ...we continued on. In many ways
the trip behind 47715 took me back three decades to when I toured the north of
Scotland by rail, mostly on lines very like this one...
28. ...and often behind a Sulzer-powered
locomotive too! Mind you, this one is a bit bigger and isn't in BR Blue.
29. One other odd thing about the Wensleydale
Railway is that all their stations have a single platform and the trains pass at loops
between stations. And after travelling some more, we got to a loop that is, operationally
at least, the half-way point of the journey...
30. ...and waited. This loop is apparently
at a place called Constable Burton, but I didn't know that at the time!
31. We didn't have to wait too long as the
train we were due to pass came into sight and turned out to be a DMU.
32. The timetable indicated that the DMU
had started from Leyburn earlier, had gone to the far end of the line, and was now
heading for Leeming Bar, as the destination suggests.
33. However the DMU didn't just clatter
on through, as it was necessary for it to stop to swop section tokens (or whatever
equivalent the Wensleydale uses instead).
34. It set off again, and it can now just
be seen that the Wensleydale seem to have painted this DMU in BR Blue. However the
truth was more interesting than that - more on that later!
35. I've avoided indentifying this DMU as
a Class 101 in the last few captions, despite it apparently being obvious, since it
turned out that it was a bit of a hybrid! In order to make up a three-car DMU, the
centre car from another type (probably a Class 117) is in the middle of a 2-car Class
101. This sort of thing was not unknown in BR days, with some depots more prone to this
sort of thing than others, but it makes good sense in preservation since all surviving
Class 101s lost their centre cars long before being preserved.
36. The reverse view of the DMU heading down
the loop. The ends and the side closest to me had no insignia and really good paintwork
suggesting that they had been newly re-painted.
37. I kept filming until the DMU went out
38. ...and then got on with filming the
train I was on as it eased out of Constable Burton loop. First a view of 47715...
39. ...and also the reverse view of the
train still in the loop.
40. Once out of the loop 47715 accelerated
up to line speed heading for Leyburn...
41. Running a service over 16 miles adds
up to a lot of pw work, but the Wensleydale seem to be coping with that as the track
is well-ballasted and quite level, as can be seen in this picture.
42. And the line goes on! It felt
more like being on a railtour whose ticket sales had falled short than a preserved
line! (Fun either way! :-)
43. Approaching Leyburn station
44. Entering the platform at Leyburn.
45. A better view of the platform at
Leyburn showing the blank wall of what I would guess was once the station goods
46. Further up the platform is the
station building itself, which in this case is 'open for business'!
47. However nice the station at Leyburn,
it is still just another stop on the line operationally, and here is a view of 47715
heading onward again.
48. Beyond Leyburn the line has some
very straight stretches. This one doesn't look level, but this view is very
foreshortened and the track is fine when you're actually on the train!
49. Another straight stretch. Redmire
can't be much further, surely?
50. And it wasn't. Here is a view of
the round loop there as 47715 approached the station platform.
51. Journeys end!
52. Of course 47715 soon detached from
53. ...headed past the sidings that have
previously been used for MOD traffic...
54. ...down to the (current) end of the
55. ...back along the rounding loop..
56. ...and past me!
57. At this point I hopped back on
the train and got filming again. As you do. Or as I do anyway!
58. A zoom view of 47715 approaching
the Leyburn end of the Redmire loop.
59. While 47715 was reversing at the
neck of the loop, I moved to the other end of the train and took a picture of
the nearest thing the Wensleydale has to a station building - another MK2
coach on a separate piece of track. However it wasn't open for business that
day and might still be a 'work in progress'.
60. Back to 47715, which was still rounding...
61. ..but which soon came towards the platform...
62. ...to re-attach to the train.
63. On the way to Leyburn I was chatting to the
staff on the train, so my next pictures are of 47715 ready to leave Leyburn...
65. ...and leaving me behind! I had decided to
have lunch at Leyburn and catch the next train, which would pass 47715 at Constable
Burton giving me more than enough time.
66. And I was ready and waiting when ex-GWR
steam locomotive 5613 came into sight...
67. ...approached the platform...
68. ...came into the station...
69. ...and right up to the end of
70. On the other side of the line
is evidence of what a primarily diesel line has to do to support seasonal
steam operation - a newly installed water tank! It's a far cry from the huge
structure I saw at Settle station on day 1, but fit for purpose, as the
71. 5643 ready to depart.
72. On the way to Redmire behind 5643.
73. More fresh ballast! (I do hope they
get a volume discount!)
74. A view I didn't get the first time
I went past that day was of the Wensley level-crossing...
75. ... and of the former Wensley station.
Presumably, like most of the station buildings along the line, it is not owned by the
railway, but it would be nice to think that someday this station could be re-opened
even as a small request stop.
76. On and on and on. This line is comparable in
length to the Severn Valley Railway, but has a more local feel to it. I compared it
earlier to the long single-track routes north of Inverness and the comparison is a
fair one since they felt like that when I first travelled over them three decades ago.
77. Nearing Redmire again...
78. ...and here is a view of 5643 about to
enter the station area.
79. And we've stopped!
80. 5643 heads off to round it's train...
81. ...and looks better with some zoom.
82. 5643 goes almost out od sight up at
the end of the line...
83. ...but soon heads back along the loop...
84. ...and speeds past me like 47715 before it!
85. 5643 reversing at the station throat...
86. ...heading back to the train in the platform...
87. ...and approaching its train more slowly.
88. Coupled on...
89. and ready to go!
90. 5643 departing Redmire as viewed from
the back of the train.
91. 5643 between Redmire and Leyburn.
92. Arriving at Leyburn
93. In Leyburn station again, for the third
and last time that day.
94. 5643 between Leyburn and Constable Burton.
95. Unsurprisingly, 47715 was waiting for us
to pass at Constable Burton loop.
96. A better view of 47715 at Constable
97. And the reverse view of the back of
the MK2 coach set at Constable Burton loop.
98. A station I managed not to even
notice on the way up behind 47715 was Finghall. It isn't very big, but I can't
explain why! But it doesn't matter since I got this picture on the way back!
99. Between Finghall and Bedale.
100. There is a passing loop outside Bedale,
but it doesn't appear to be needed for the current timetable. Useful to have though.
101. I was filming on the opposite side of
the train when I passed Bedale the first time, so I missed filming the work being
carried out on the signal-box there. Impressive, and obviously a working signal-box
here will be an great improvement.
102. Bedale station has a short goods dock
as a continuation of the station platform, which is something I haven't seen elsewhere.
I don't expect that putting that back will be a very high priority for the Wensleydale
but I do hope they keep it on the list, albeit near the bottom. I like a station with
103. A view of Bedale station platform.
104. 5643 departs from Bedale.
105. Arriving back at Leeming Bar I got
a view of a wagon...
106. ...and 47540 in one of the station
107. Moving to the other side I was only
just in time to get another slightly blurred picture of 55019.
108. Further in I got a better view of
the goods yard & loco shed area than I got on departure. In the earlier picture
5643 was visible, but in this picture ex-SR 30777 can be seen, which was the other
steam locomotive used on the Wensleydale in the summer of 2011.
109. Also parked in the yard was the DMU
I had filmed at Constable Burton. It doesn't look too stange from this angle...
110. but a squarer view shows that the
re-paint has so far been to the ends and one side only. However this side has been
rubbed down so clearly the re-paint is a 'work in progress'! :-)
111. A view of a wagon and the 'station building'
coaches on the disconnected track at the back of the station platform. It's a pity they
can't be moved, but the Wensleydale probably can't spare the pointwork and for the time
being they don't need to be moved anyway.
112. Typically I took another picture of
the parked stock in the two station headshunts, and as it came out well enough I
couldn't leave it out!
113. I also took this picture of the nice
signal-box at Leeming Bar. The Wensleydale doesn't have signals yet, but clearly
they are 'on the list'!
114. Meanwhile 5643 had detached from
115. ...shunted out of the platform...
116. ...out onto the level-crossing...
117. ...and ran through the loop to
round its train.
118. One thing I missed when I first
arrived was this Bedford road-rail lorry. I often tend to think of the 1980s as
recent, but this lorry is actually about a quarter of a century old and is very
worthy of preservation!
119. My last picture is taken from the
level-crossing at the end of the station platform. 5643 has heading off for a
second round-trip to Redmire, and it is time for me to re-join the A1, with the
long drive home still to do... :-)