Volunteers of the Churnet Valley Railway worked through the night on Saturday to ensure the Caledonian Tank Locomotive No. 419 was in service on Sunday. Star of the opening event of 2019 at Churnet Valley Railway, the 1907 built locomotive is on loan from The Scottish Railway Preservation Society. The Winter Steam Gala featured 4 locomotives, but it would seem that the climb up the Cauldon branch - one of the most challenging climbs on the UK Rail system - was almost too much for the visiting Scottish blue loco. A team of trusted volunteers worked into the night to ensure the Caley Tank, as affectionately referred to, was full steam ahead for the second day of the annual opening event of Staffordshire’s much loved railway. Working in collaboration with the owners a temporary repair was effected. Chris Simcock , a volunteer with the Churnet Valley Railway for the 12 years said “we were all tucked up in bed by 2am ready for a busy Sunday service”. The beautiful blue Caley Tank treated visitors to a spectacular journey as she steamed through the Churnet Valley on a very sunny Sunday.
With an enhanced timetable, visitors had the opportunity to travel on one of nine return trips that could enable over 60 miles of steam haulage through both the delightful Churnet Valley and spectacular Staffordshire Moorlands. The services were varied, with some sticking to just the scenic valley floor section while others continued on the extension to Ipstones Loop. Supporting Caley 419 another guest locomotive “Whiston” also making her Churnet Valley Railway debut on public services. The two guests were joined by resident locomotives TKh no. 2944 “Hotspur” and S160 no. 5197 . Each loco took a turn operating trains solo, whilst some services saw locomotives paired up before the event culminated in a triple tank working as all three tank engines combined for the final journey to Ipstones.