Former British Rail Class 31 no. 31271 “STRATFORD 1840-2001” has been hired for the Diesel Gala and will operate over the full 10-miles of railway between Froghall and Ipstones. Not only will the locomotive be making its debut on the Churnet Valley Railway – but also the class debut being the first Brush Type 2 to run along the Churnet Valley Railway in preservation.
Brush Type 2 no. 5801 was built in 1961 and entered service at Stratford Depot. Renumbered by BR as 31271, she would go on to spend the majority of her life working a variety of services mainly on the Eastern Region, before being withdrawn in May 1997. Bought initially as a source of spares by A1A in 1998, it was decided to restore the locomotive and a return to service was achieved in April 2002. Following bodywork repairs the locomotive was named “STRATFORD 1840-2001” at the National Railway Museum during their RailFest 2000 event as a tribute to Stratford’s rich locomotive history – particularly its role in the story of Class 31s given over 75% of the total built were based at this depot at some point in their BR careers. 31271 herself spent her first year in traffic there following commissioning in 1961, before returning again in the late 1980s.
Arriving at Froghall on Thursday 4th April, the locomotive has undergone a test run to ensure it is is fit for service along the Churnet Valley Railway which was passed with flying colours. It now awaits its public debut at the railways diesel gala which takes place during the May Day Bank Holiday weekend of May 4/5/6, where it will team up with our resident diesel fleet to give an intensive three days of diesel hauled services. If you wish to see our visitor, and be on of the first to experience travel behind this locomotive , tickets are available now with a 10% discount available on all advance purchases. This will be the only event to experience a Class 31 along the Churnet Valley, as the locomotive will be moving on to Llangollen following the completion of our event.