Saturday, September 13, 2014

Saturday 13 September - Statfold Barn Railway

Thanks to some help on industrial locomotives I had given Mark Hambly who volunteers at the Statfold Barn Narrow Gauge Railway I was given an invitation to attend an open day.
There are only three open days a year and entry is strictly by invitation only. Statfold Barn is near Tamworth which is a two hour train ride from York. The guard was quite a comedian:
"The trolley has now been renamed a MRV which is short for Mobile Refreshment Vehicle. It will be a little late as the steward blew a fuse on the microwave and has spent the last half hour sitting on the cheeseburgers to heat them up. 
"We don't stop at Burnley any more. Last time we did the train lost four wheels.
"All tickets from Sheffield. Who will admit to having got on at Sheffield. 
"I lay awake at nights wondering what to tell you people."
 I took a taxi the three miles or so into the country. The approach was well sign posted and it was made clear that casual visitors were not tolerated. I found Mark who cleared away the formalities and left me free to look around.
It is difficult to set down my impressions. There were about 1500 guests by invitation. I lost count of the number of engines in steam, I think it was about 15. Most staggering was the amazing state of all the locomotives and rolling stock. Beautifully painted, beautifully cleaned and all in excellent mechanical condition. The facilities for repair and maintenance are excellent and a number of new steam locomotives have been built here in the last few years. Many of the locomotives are small and many of the trains had two locomotives. There is a main line which goes out into the fields for a mile or so and returns via a balloon track.  Free rides were given from the three terminal platforms. By stopping off part way back it was possible to visit the Grain Store which has a turntable and storage tracks which hold the amazing collection under cover. There is also a beautiful garden railway which has two foot tracks running around a lovely lake. Rides were being given around the lake.
If this were not enough there were a large number of steam rollers, traction engines and lorries that were running around, including a number of scale models. There were lots of antique cars and trucks including two from Charles Matthews of Toronto who recently provided a number of locomotives for the collection.
The Garden Railway
The Garden Railway
The Platform area
Complicated dual gauge track work
On the back of a demonstration freight train
On the front of the demonstration freight train
This was one of the locomotives recently repatriated from Canada
Another locomotive (from St. Marys Cement, Ontario) that came to Statfold via Canada
A Brookville that originally worked at Sulphide Ontario
Inside the Grain Store
This Plumouth came to Statfold via Canada (St. Marys Cement, Ontario).  It was at the end of the line to assist in case of problems.
Traffic was controlled through this signal box and with hand held radios.
At the locomotive servicing area
At the locomotive servicing area
At the locomotive servicing area
Statfold Barn is truly a narrow gauge paradise.
When I was ready to go back to Tamworth, Chris, the man on the gate called for a taxi for me. It was good that he did it because he spoke in the local dialect - when talking to the girl at the taxi office just about every other word was "duck".
The journey back to York was uneventful.
This evening we ate at the Olde Starre Inne which was notable for a Westerham Brewery pale ale. Westerham is close to Orpington.
The venison pie had a puff pastry crust