The Churnet Valley is planning to once again host its popular annual Winter Steam Gala over the weekend of 25/26 February 2017, with services operating between Froghall and Leekbrook and up on to the steeply graded Cauldon Lowe branch to Ipstones Loop. The section of line from Leekbrook Junction to Ipstones Loop offers 5 miles of 1 in 40 – 1 in 59 gradients that presents one of the stiffest of climbs for locomotives on any heritage railway in the UK.
The gala sees the railway kick off its 25th Anniversary Year, with the PLC having first been formed back in October 1992. Star of the show will be the return to traffic of USATC S160 no. 5197 following a 7-year overhaul, along with sister locomotive no. 6046 which is also resident on the CVR. This will be the first time in UK Preservation that two S160s have operated together on the same line, and will be the first time since 1944 that two working S160s will have been seen together in the UK!
Joining these powerful locomotives will be a new class of locomotive for the line, making what is believed to be its furthest venture North. We are delighted to announce that courtesy of the Bluebell Railway, former SECR “P Class” no. 323 Bluebell will be joining us for the weekend. In order to ensure the maximum useage of the S160s to Ipstones could be achieved, it was decided to hire something smaller to provided some variety along the Churnet Valley line.
Completing the line-up will be resident TKh no. 2944 Hotspur, which will see action along both the Churnet Valley and Cauldon Lowe lines.
Both days of the gala will be brought to a close an afternoon 8-coach train to Ipstones Loop, hauled by both 5197 & 6046 double-headed.
Elsewhere on the railway, the locomotive workshops will be open during the weekend to view progress on the major restoration of former LMS 8F No. 48173, along with the machine shops and carriage shed which you can look in to see what goes on behind the scenes.
At Cheddleton station the CVR Education team will be hosting a display, with a selection of historical photographs of S160s in action provided courtesy of Dave Gibson Photography. Additionally whilst waiting for your train you can learn of the history of Cheddleton Station during the 1940s, as the diary of the Stationmasters daughter Dorothy Rider will also be available for viewing throughout the weekend.
Full catering facilities are available at Froghall and Cheddleton with light refreshments also available at Consall.
The timetable for the event and advanced tickets will be available online >here<.
Photo Courtesy of Derek Haywood.