The term ‘special relationship’ – often used to describe Britain’s historic friendship with the US – took on a new dimension at the eagerly-awaited Lynton & Barnstaple Railway’s September 29-30 autumn steam gala. For it was then that new-builds Baldwin 2-4-2T Lyn and Manning Wardle 2-6-2T Lyd ran together for the first time, writes Robin Jones.
Preservation history was certainly made on the last weekend of September. It was then that two new locomotives representing half of the original Lynton & Barnstaple Railway fleet ran in tandem on the modern-day heritage line.
Of course, as Gareth Evans relates on pages 54-57, both appeared in the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway’s September 14-16 Super-Power Weekend, but by agreement they did not meet.
That occasion was reserved for the L&B’s autumn steam gala, and the exclusivity of the meeting drew bumper crowds to Woody Bay, in the same days that several other landmark galas were taking place throughout the country.
Despite the fact that at present the L&B is a tad short of a mile, running between Woody Bay and Killington Lane, the legendary status of the 2ft-gauge North Devon line is such that its crowd-pulling power often exceeds its size. Add to that two outlines so familiar to readers of books on L&B history that for many, the gala was unmissable.
Around 1200 people were carried on the Saturday and more than 1000 on the Sunday. Even when the train was down the line, which would normally leave the platforms deserted, Woody Bay station was still crowded.
The weather on the Saturday was glorious – a balmy autumn day bathed in a beautifully clear light. The Sunday was mostly overcast but still dry and so it also attracted a good number of visitors.
The event was followed on the Monday by a 30742 Charters photoshoot organised by Martin Creese.
The building of Lyn itself has made yet more heritage era history. Miniature lines apart, it is the only US steam locomotive in the UK to have been built from new. In that respect, the modern-day somewhat mirrors the original on which it was based, for it was built from a kit of parts shipped across the pond.
Read more and view more images in Issue 247 of HR – on sale now!