Some of the FRT team have been away on a trip south so the blog is a day late this week.
Firstly, we mentioned in last week’s blog that the Trust’s GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 was being lit up last Thursday for a test run at the East Lancashire Railway following adjustments to the length of its eccentric rods. Keith has reported back that the adjustments have been a success and that the locomotive performed well as a result of this work. Well done to those concerned.
Furness Railway 0-4-0 No. 20 set off from Preston last Wednesday morning for a trip south to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre for the Spring Steam Gala there. Alan and Alison departed the following day, Tim on Friday morning and then Ade early on Saturday morning, all staying at the Premier Inn at Aylesbury. Alan spent Friday with our long term friend Frank Boait ensuring that the locomotive was back in one piece after the re-fitting of the sand pipes and guard irons and then Saturday saw steam being raised on FR 20 and the usual fitness to run examination. There was then time to shunt the three vintage carriages to be used and to take some photographs in the sunshine.
One of the most notable things when boarding the footplate was the presence of black ovoids in the tender, made from compressed coal dust from the Ffos-y-Fran surface mine in Wales. There were warnings that a good wood fire was necessary as a base to getting the ovoids to burn, but in fact there were no problems as long as the ovoids were given time ‘to cook’ before heat was required. There was, however, some clinker on the fire grate at the end of each operating day, but that did not appear to affect FR 20’s ability to steam!
Sunday was the quieter of the two day Gala and Alison, who had brought down some FRT merchandise with her, needed to shelter from the fresh breeze and showers in the waiting room.
However, warmer weather on the Monday brought out more visitors and there was a constant steam of passengers for FR 20’s vintage train rides. People seemed very impressed with the appearance of the locomotive and Alison, now in a prominent place on the platform, was able to take a tidy sum for the FRT.
Ade, Alan and Tim took in turns to assist on the footplate which allowed a chance to explore the extensive site and view the other four locomotives in steam. Sam and John Dixon visited on Sunday and we have yet another of our Seats of the Week photographs when Ade, John and Tim sampled the splendid miniature railway which has a home on the site.
As far as the domestic arrangements were concerned, the Premier Inn was adjacent to the Horse and Jockey pub which provided excellent food and real ale each night over the weekend – something perhaps to remember for the future! All too soon it was time to start packing up and, with a full team available on Monday evening, it didn’t take long to prepare FR 20 for its homeward journey before saying a goodbye to friends old and new at Quainton and having a final dinner at the pub. FR 20 is due back at Preston on Wednesday.