Heritage railway's steam gala hailed a success, in spite of a string of problems
PUBLISHED: 11:53 09 April 2019 | UPDATED: 11:58 09 April 2019
Thick fog, points problems and a broken down engine failed to dampen the enthusiasm of heritage locomotive fans, who turned out in force at the weekend for the North Norfolk Railway’s first gala of the year.
Andrew Munden, who is the attraction’s general manager, said the three-day annual Spring Steam Gala had turned out to be a “challenging” event, beginning with infrastructure problems at Weybourne of Friday which saw him spend four hours operating the points by hand while waiting for signal engineers to repair a fault.
And, on Saturday, visiting engine the Scottish Caledonian Railway 439 class tank No 419, which was on loan from the Bo’ness and Kinneal Railway, had to be taken out of service after developing a fault which engineers were unable to repair in time.
“The Caledonian just wouldn’t steam,” Mr Munden explained, “And although it was still on display at Weybourne,” this meant we were delayed quite badly and we couldn’t run it on Sunday, which was very disappointing.”
The attraction was also hit by thick fog on Saturday, which meant trains were forced to run slowly for safety reasons.
“I was acting as a guard and, on the first train of the day at Holt, I had to walk up to the engine to tell the driver it was time to go as the fog was so bad he couldn’t see my green light and flag,” Mr Munden said.
However, in spite of the unprecedented series of hiccups, the railway welcomed more than 2,000 visitors over the weekend, with numbers substantially up on the same time last year.
Mr Munden said: “Notwithstanding the problems we had, I think everyone who came had a jolly good time, and what was encouraging was that whereas past galas have been very much around enthusiasts, we noticed a definite increase in the number of families visiting.”
The railway is now gearing up for a ‘hop on, hop off’ Easter egg hunt, which runs from April 15-22. Attractions will include an appearance by the Easter Bunny, with an activity sheet free to all children accompanied by a fare-paying adult.
Tickets are also now on sale for the North Norfolk Railway Day out with Thomas event, which runs from May 4-6. To book, visit www.nnrailway.co.uk or phone the railway on 01263 820800.