The Haigh Hall-ier
Sunday 21st January 2018
Report by Nick Porter
The attractive grounds of Haigh Hall lie a few miles north of Wigan. On a pleasant summer day various events bring visitors to the Haigh Hall Miniature Railway. Today was certainly not a lovely summer day and I am sure that the 18 members had kept a close eye on the weather forecast (a 19th very local member came out on foot to keep an eye on us!). The weather was almost as bad as anticipated but our members and most miniature railway operators are made of hard stuff.
The substantial 15'' gauge woodland railway runs around gardens on the site for just under a mile. It is a simple layout with just one circular track and in places heavily engineered. Haigh Hall is the main station, which once had a loop with station Haigh Hall North, just an area of hard standing. The latter is actually used during special events in the adjacent field. Regular diesel loco 'Helen' and three semi enclosed (every little helps) coaches, well at least they had useful roofs if no sides, were waiting at the main station. In true BLS style we first reversed in to the lengthy three road shed. The middle road had been cleared especially, so we, of course, propelled to the end - exactly what members had travelled hundreds of miles for. In the other two roads interesting looking vehicles could just be made out in the gloom and there roads were traversed to the shed doors. After shunting the stock back into the shed, our special proceeded in an anti-clockwise direction around the whole railway. We thought this was the normal direction, but we were told that a hotel has recently opened in the grounds and public running is now clockwise to give the driver a better view of road traffic. Arriving back at Haigh Hall, we were pleased to see 'Rachel', a more veteran diesel warming up. 'Rachel' was attached to the rear and we did a full circuit in the now usual direction. A final double headed run was now undertaken also clockwise.
By now it was snowing quite heavily, which I suppose was easier to rub off than rain! Our little engines performed very well but due to the challenging conditions the nearby model engineers with their elevated line could not run. This was understandable, but hopefully a future visit can be arranged. Having thanked the railway's hard working volunteers we all ran back to our cars to defrost and dry out. The highest temperature all day was no more than 2°C but actually the snow enhanced the event. Many thanks to Tim Wallis for arranging this excellent visit to complement our trip to the Burnley & Pendle Model Railway Society (qv).