The Branch Line Society


Wensleydale Wilton Shunter Spectacular,
Sunday 25th September 2016

Report by Ian Loveday (aka 'Selby') PLEG Group Leader and BLS Member.

Some things are never easy but with the right people involved you know you'll get there in the end and this day out, in delightful Wensleydale, was an excellent example of just that. We first started to discuss this event in 2015. In its original form, the plan was to visit Wilton International on Teesside for a track bash of their system with haulage behind their 08s. Terry Waldron at Wilton International was extremely helpful and supportive but, given the nature of the industrial site, it became clear in February this year that safety and legal concerns were likely to prove prohibitive and on 8 Mar our plans to visit Teesside were finally dropped. However, not to be put off, the next day Jerry Dickinson (of Wensleydale Railway (WR) diesel gala organising fame) was contacted to see if he would be willing to host the bash and an affirmative reply was received the very same evening. So it was back to Terry to ask if he would let the 08s move to Wensleydale; he was, so plan 'B' was on track!


Leeming Bar on the morning of Sunday 25th September [Alan Sheppard]

During the Spring and Summer, when most people didn't even know about the event, many hours were spent seeking, and ultimately gaining, sign-off from the Boards of Wilton International and the WR. That hard work was completed not by me, but by those who mattered: Kev, Jerry and Terry.

Once the WR Summer diesel gala had been successfully completed in mid-July, attention could be turned to the detailed plans. Due to the high cost of moving locos by road, we needed a formula which would attract track bashers and enough haulage bashers too. We decided on a diesel gala which would take in the Redmire MoD ramps. Plans finalised, a 'save the day' e-mail for the chosen date of Sun 25 Sep was issued on Fri 29 July (from my hotel room in Melbourne, Australia).

Bookings opened on 18 Aug under the stewardship of Jill Everitt. Reid Freight Services Limited issued the Class 08 movement orders on 25 Aug, with the locos transferring from Teesside to Wensleydale on 8 Sep. Once on site the locos were inspected, prepared and test run by Harry Needle Railroad Co staff. By 15 Sep bookings had passed break even and on 19th tickets were issued. We were all set.

Event day, Sun 25 Sep, started overcast. On arrival at Leeming Bar it was pleasing to see the mobile breakfast van doing good business and the BLS well-oiled stewarding machine, assisted by PLEG, in full swing. A quick status update revealed that 01529 seemed to be having one or two early morning issues, like me (!), and 37674 had been failed (unlike me!). 47715 had been allocated to cover 37674's late afternoon turn; this wasn't a significant issue for us as 37674 had not been advertised to perform. With regard to the stars of the show (08743+08903); 08903 was having compressor problems so Jerry decided that it would be prudent to run them in tandem on the uphill run to Redmire. Running locos in tandem is a contentious issue as there have been numerous occasions in the past when the rear loco hasn't provided power and thus can't be counted for haulage (the latest occasion being 09002 when paired with 09009 at Whitemoor Yard on the otherwise excellent GBRf15 tour). Therefore, much reassuring of the passengers was required; we were aware of the problems tandem running can create and that the crews would ensure that both locos would definitely power on the run up to Redmire.

Loco/s BLS/PLEG Wensleydale Wilton Shunter Spectacular, Route by Alan Sheppard

Front loco
Rear loco
0152901544Leeming Bar - Leeming Bar west (running line) See also:
0154401529Leeming Bar west (running line) - Leeming Bar - Leeming Bar LC
0152901544Leeming Bar LC - Leeming Bar run - round loop - Leeming Bar west (running line)
0154401529Leeming Bar west (running line) - Leeming Bar
08743 & 08903   Leeming Bar - Bedale - Leyburn - Redmire east
08903   Redmire east - Redmire
0890308743Redmire - Redmire MoD, No2 siding (further from running line)
0874308903Redmire MoD, No2 siding - MoD Points
0890308743MoD Points - Redmire MoD, No1 siding (nearer to running line)
0874308903Redmire MoD, No1 siding - Redmire
0890308743Redmire - Redmire headshunt (end of line)
0874308903Redmire headshunt (end of line) - Redmire - Redmire east
0890308743Redmire east - Redmire run-round loop - Redmire headshunt
0874308903Redmire headshunt - Redmire run-round loop - Leyburn - Bedale - Leeming Bar west
4771508903Leeming Bar west - Leeming Bar
2600747715Leeming Bar - Bedale - Leyburn
4771526007Leyburn - Bedale - Leeming Bar See also:

Fame at last for us; at Leeming Bar before departure [Alan Sheppard]

Bedale (station left); heading west over the level crossing for Redmire [Allan Brooks]

The issues with 01529 were quickly resolved by the crew and the charter departed 12 minutes late at 10.42 with 01529 and 01544 in 'Top and Tail' mode to cover the Leeming Bar run-round loop. The choice of these two particular 01s was deliberate as they had no known passenger workings. The loop was duly covered and 10 minutes later we were back in Leeming Bar platform to re-engine from the 01s to 08743+08903. During this 20 minute break, a number of the passengers who had parked on the road leading to Leeming Bar station were instructed by the police to move their cars!

Departing 14 minutes late with a superbly satisfying 213 passengers on-board we headed towards Redmire. Everyone was in good spirits and the buffet and bar were nice and busy as we made our way through Wensleydale. It is remarkable that these two locomotives, for many years in store and not even visible for spotters, were now powering this charter on their first loaded run. However, by Leyburn, 08903's middle axle bearing was getting a bit hot under the collar and it was time to take a break. Thus everyone was allowed to detrain for an impromptu 15 minute stop while things cooled down a little. By arrival at Redmire, some two hours after leaving Leeming Bar, the sun was out and it was a beautiful Autumn day. And now the fun really started ...

The issue was that the charter was booked to visit every inch of track at Redmire but a rake of passenger coaches and freight wagons were stored there. Therefore shunting was required using the 08s to clear these out of the way, to allow access for the charter. While this was taking place, there were so many people standing on the grassy mounds photographing the charter, the general public must have thought a steam special from Garsdale was about to pass through! 1 hour and 40 minutes after arriving, all the track had been covered: Redmire end of line (22m 12ch) beyond Hargill Lane underbridge, both MoD loading ramps and the run-round loop. The stored stock was shunted back and we were ready to return to Leeming Bar, with 08743 leading and 08903 at the rear.

Approaching Redmire [Allan Brooks]

Afternoon sun at Redmire station with rolling stock being cleared from required track; the charter train is in the background. The MoD sidings are
beyond (west of) the platform to the right, some of the participants are on the MoD loading ramps - no onlooker is on any track. [Allan Brooks]

By now we were 1 hour 15 minutes late, of concern to some of those relying on public transport and, in particular the 15.40 bus from Leeming Bar back to Northallerton. Happily, it calls at Leyburn at 15.20, so we advised passengers for it to bail there when we arrived at 15.13. About 20 did leg it, to the amusement of the locals. Once we were sure they had made the bus we continued to Leeming Bar.

The great atmosphere on-board continued for the return trip and Constable Burton loop was covered along the way in the non-preferred direction. On arrival at Leeming Bar West, one of the quickest loco changes I have known in the UK took place where 08743 was removed in favour of 47715, but arrival back in the platform was still some 1 hour 45 minutes late! At this point around half the passengers took their leave having covered the rare track and ridden behind the rare locos.

08903 was replaced by 26007 which set the scene nicely for a 'thrashtastic' run. Departing still 1 hour 45 minutes late, the decision was taken to reverse at Finghall rather than Leyburn to save time. The Class 26 run was superb, although sadly curtailed; Leeming Bar was reached at 17.58, then 1 hour 13 minutes late, saving a good 30 minutes. This brought to a conclusion another excellent BLS/PLEG event which covered the entire advertised track, produced all the advertised locos and raised £1,250 for each of Wilton International's two nominated charities; Zoe's Place and The Junction Foundation. The 08s returned to Teesside back into store on 29 Sep, with our grateful thanks. This event was successful only because of: The passengers who bought a ticket, Terry Waldron (Wilton International), Jerry Dickinson and all the staff and volunteers at the WR, Harry Needle Railroad Company, Reid Freight Services Limited, Kev Adlam and Jill Everitt of the BLS and all the BLS and PLEG stewards.