Mid-November traditionally sees most heritage lines running a minimum service, if at all, as they prepare for the intensive but profitable festive season.
The Great Central Railway though ends the season with a bang, by staging a Last Hurrah of the Season enthusiasts’ gala with an intensive service running on double track that only the GC can stage.
2017 saw the event take an unusual turn with the debut of two bits of railway hardware that were a bit different to the usual fare at gala weekends.
It is easy to forget, that he GCR, like most heritage lines did rely on industrial tank engines in its early days and the ubiquitous Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST played a part in getting what is now Britain’s only double-track main line heritage railway off the ground.
Roger Hibbert has restored a GWR 2-8-0T, an LMS 8F 2-8-0 and a 3F ‘Jinty’ 0-6-0T from Barry condition in a timescale few others have ever matched.
His latest acquisition was a Bagnall Austerity 0-6-0ST, which was named Robert in later years; one of the last to run in commercial service for the NCB and a star of the 1980 Rocket 150 cavalcade at Rainhill.
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