Colne Valley Railway 20/07/2013
41 participants met in the Mark 1 coach buffet at the relocated Castle Hedingham station, on 20th July although, confusingly for unknowing enthusiasts and historians, one platform bears the name 'Halstead'. Hot baps, sandwiches and drink were available before moving to bubble car W55033 with locomotive D2041 at the brake-van end to cover the track at the Drawell end comprehensively. This included a new restoration siding not yet on maps and the lengthy siding behind and to the north of the platform, which compensated for the unavailability of most of the line to 45163 shed. Even had the coach with its brake rigging dismantled on this line been movable, tree growth blocked the way! The train then reversed into the TPO Siding, confirmed as the first passenger movement into its platform.
Whilst further stock movements took place to clear later routes, participants alighted for photographs and the first part of the miniature railway system, concentrating on the outer, high level route as, with moisture in the air, trains well loaded with adults might have struggled later. Returning to the bubble car, participants were treated to a run to the end of the Loading Line siding, set in concrete, through the specially-opened gates - yet another passenger first - then to Nunnery for both sides of the loop, which is being extended for longer trains, so the extremity was unavailable.
By special request, the other Class 03 (D2184) was then attached to cover the other station platform and the headshunt to the signal box. To complete haulage and track, after the 03s had departed, W55033 was fired up to complete the platform loop, promptly failing halfway across! It was however soon resuscitated and completed the available standard gauge track. Some participants walked to 45163 shed, where the Black 5s are slowly receiving attention, or revisited the buffet. Most then returned to the miniature railway to cover the lower level inner loop, both platform roads and both roads to a container storage area plus the low height storage road behind.
East Anglian Railway Museum (EARM) 20/07/2013
Later that day 43 participants met at Chappel and Wakes Colne Station, accessing EARM's premises via the footbridge. The Network Rail platform had various signs advising that museum tickets did not include Greater Anglia services! Motive power was a Toby lookalike, matching the replica Wisbech & Upwell coach. Starting from platform 4, outside the shed, participants covered the headshunt to the signal box just before the viaduct, reversing into various roads behind the main platform. To clear these for the visit and allow unique coverage, stock had been placed on the normal passenger lines - a small price to pay to access lines normally full of stock. After approaching as close to platform 3 as possible, the train terminated back in platform 4.
Participants then moved to the Chappel Miniature Railway on the east of the complex where two trains were available to cover thoroughly both platform roads at both ends. The railway was then split into two sections, one train on each, to travel into both sheds (each facing in different directions). Whilst this was being enjoyed, the Class 306 unit had been shunted from platform 3 to the signal box headshunt. The visit then concluded with a bonus standard gauge trip, top 'n tail with ex-BR D2279 and Toby, through platform 3 to the northern headshunt, after a little more stock clearance, pausing briefly for a photographic opportunity as 153306 passed by on Greater Anglia's Sudbury to Marks Tey shuttle. The train then set back to platform 3 to end the very successful visit. Many participants finished with a trip to Sudbury's 'new' station; this was re-sited after the previous station on the curving route to Cambridge closed 28th October 1991 and on the site of the old cattle dock, although approximately the location of the first station (2nd July 1849 to 9th August 1865), until the extension was opened.
The Society are indebted to both Railways' volunteers who worked extremely hard in hot conditions for us; fortunately all enjoyed the novelty, some remarking it was the first time that they had done some of the track themselves. We do not forget the many Society members who nowadays willingly assist in such visits whether in planning, helping with lifts, producing track plans of routes covered or tickets. You know who you are and the Society is indebted to every one of you.