and I'm not talking about ticket inspectors!
February is always a quiet time of year for tourist attractions and the NVR is no exception; however I have had a few turns of duty combined with visits where I’ve turned up ‘on spec’ in uniform ready to help out if required – or just have a full breakfast and a chat with some train rides chucked in if you want to be pedantic about it!
Motive power this month has been provided by the welcome return of the J94 Austerity tank, accompanied during half term by a freshly repainted Thomas. The weather has generally been dismal, with a choice of cold or wet – or cold and wet this last weekend. Although this doesn’t provide the most pleasant of travelling conditions, it does make for some rather atmospheric photography conditions, which I actually prefer to the usual blue sky and sun of the brochures.
On the subject of brochures, I’m pleased to be able to blow my own trumpet here a bit, as my photography features on the front cover of the new Visitor Guide and Timetable for the 2011 season. Although not my favourite photo by a long way, the image had to fit the design of the leaflet, so a considerably cropped version had to be used. Nevertheless, the sight of 44422 steaming out of Wansford is a nice picture and captures the essence of the railway as a whole.
More news from Wansford is that the huge hulk of the Polish 2-10-0 Kreigslok loco is destined to be shipped abroad in March, and this has thankfully seen the loco moved out of its long term home on the main siding and is currently on the turntable awaiting a low loader. Although a magnificent machine, the loco has been abandoned for many years and is rotting away – and as this is most visitors’ first impression of the railway, it doesn’t present the right image by any means. This is the only reason I’m pleased to see it go.
Last chance to view this awesome locomotive
Into the Kreigslok’s place goes the Swedish B class 4-6-0 loco, which has received a cosmetic makeover in the last few months by the hard working team of the International Railway Preservation Society. Adjacent to this has moved the CIWL Italian Restaurant Car 2975, dating from 1927. This vehicle is awaiting restoration; a task that will commence once her neighbouring coach, CIWL Sleeper 3916 is completed. The IRPS are making tremendous progress with this coach, although it is a mammoth task to restore. Although the bodywork is in poor condition as is expected, internally the cabins are remarkably intact with the beautiful wood panelling seemingly unaffected by years of outdoor storage.
Dining Car 2975
Sleeping berth in 2916
The new line up is being displayed as the Nord Express, and is a vast visual improvement on the former death row of old engines! Visitors are greeted by a presentable loco, and with 3916 under restoration this shows that the railway is working hard on active projects. The whole ensemble is a great introduction to the railway, and a great talking point to speak to visitors about when we show them round.
The season commences properly in April with a Mixed Traffic Event featuring most of the home fleet plus a possible surprise guest star; however I have no idea what that might be, so watch this space and be surprised with me!
February’s photos will shortly appear in my Steamy Scenes gallery.
More about the International Railway Preservation Society, based at Wansford on the NVR, may be seen on their website and current news is reported on their Facebook page.