24 members (sadly not including a couple stuck on the M6) met for 09.30 at this 1,000yd, 15" gauge railway on a nice warm sunny Saturday morning with a little breeze ideal for 90 minutes of private BLS running. Most gathered at Pleasure Gardens station - but a few went to the wrong end! Some took photos of 'Winston' (AK 94) in the station as others wandered off to the nearby café which was open especially for us and served complimentary tea and coffee.
The line at Blenheim Palace meanders between the Pleasure Gardens and Palace stations through pleasant surroundings of trees and open parklands of grassed areas via a tunnel that doubles as the carriage shed, situated next to the loco shed. There are also a couple of open crossings. Our tour started from Pleasure Gardens hauled by 'Winston'; the first port of call was the loco shed right hand line, a portent of the success to come. The end reached, the train propelled out to the running line; 'Sir Winston Churchill' (AK 39) was then attached to the shed end and hauled the train onto the left hand shed line. This was bonus haulage for many as the loco is not used very often. It then pushed our train back out to the running line, was removed then 'Winston' re-attached for the run to Palace. The ride was very pleasant through the grounds in the delightful weather with matching surroundings.
On arrival at Palace, our special was routed into the loop to the stops then pushed back via the loop to the running line and hauled into the platform line. 'Winston' ran round the train then took us back to Pleasure Gardens where we went via the loop to the buffer stops. The train was propelled out via the loop onto the running line where the eccentric part of the hobby began...
A photo stop - the rest of the party are behind the photographer!
[© Andrew Murray 2018]
One coach was detached from the train and, while half the party rode in it, the other half manually pushed the coach via the platform to the very buffer stops - 'people power' at its best. At the stops, it was a change of direction and back through the loop to the running line and to the platform. Then it was all change; those who rode first became pushers and the pushers became riders. This ensured everyone covered the entire platform and loop at this end of the line. After these manoeuvres, the coach was re-attached and we set off for Palace again. There the process was repeated for all to achieve full coverage. The general public was now arriving; some giving strange looks in our direction, obviously wondering what these nutters were up to pushing a coach around. With the coach re-attached the train formed the first public run, the 11.00 to Pleasure Gardens with our party aboard.
There it was off to the Pleasure Gardens café for a surprise, complimentary high quality croissants with tea or coffee for everyone, before heading off to the Beeches Light Railway (BLN 1312.1920). The only track on the line not covered was the short siding by the tunnel in the loco shed due to its poor condition. In conclusion a very pleasant visit and, for once, local for the writer. The crew enjoyed it too 'we have certainly never done anything like this before' - that's what we like to hear! Thanks to 'our' John Cameron for arranging it, the perfect accompaniment to The Beeches Light Railway.