A ride on the reborn L&B
...but no luck at Lynton
29 May 2009
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One of the most exciting developments in Devon in recent years must be the recent rebirth of the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway, the lamented 1' 11½" gauge line which closed in 1935. Efforts by the modern day preservationists have seen track relaid from Woody Bay, the line's present HQ, to Killington Lane, about a mile away in the Barnstaple direction. And this year, at last, their own steam locomotive in service. Axe is a Kerr Stuart 0-6-0T, no. 2451 of 1915 (similar to Sgt. Murphy on the Teifi Railway) - and, like Sgt Murphy, we'd met him before - one of the four such locomotives which stood out in the open at the former Gloddfa Ganol museum in north Wales. He's in much better condition now - though not quite perfect, it has to be said... Our first sight of the line was a couple of days beforehand, when we realised we would be driving past the station. Our journey across the north Devon hills had hardly been scenic - thick fog covered the higher ground. Services had finished for the day, and Woody Bay lay in an eerie gloom. We had a very quick look and continued our journey.
Two days later we turned up in plenty of time for the day's first train. No sign of steam. We checked with the booking office - "no, sorry, there's a problem with the air brake pump. But we weren't planning to run steam today anyway". The apology would have been sufficient - with only one working loco on site, a diesel substitution would always be on the cards. But the plans? "Steam", according to the line's paper timetable leaflet and website... We debated whether to ride or to return again the following day, on our way home, and decided on the former. We could then look in the following day and take a few photos. So we rode behind "Heddon Hall", a hefty-looking Hunslet diesel (6660 of 1965), along the L&B to Killington Lane, where in time-honoured tradition we detrained and took a photo or two before returning to Woody Bay. The followed day we turned up to find "Axe" outside the shed, with a little 4-wheel wagon coupled behind, containing the air compressor - but not in steam. "It should be in steam for this afternoon's services". Too late - we'd be stuck in jams on the M5 by then. No luck at all. Link: Lynton and Barnstaple Railway
Geoff’s Rail Diaries
27 May - Woody Bay in the fog Signal box at Woody Bay Heddon Hall - on shed Running round Signals at Woody Bay "When I grow up..." Posters at Woody Bay Killington Lane - materials for the next stage Killington Lane run-round Ready for the return trip Woody Bay arrival Woody Bay departure "Axe" at Woody Bay, 30 May 30 years ago at Gloddfa Ganol