Irwell in action!

Gareth Evans reports on the East Lancashire Railway’s autumn steam gala, with its varied locomotive line-up.

THE East Lancashire Railway’s three-day autumn steam gala held on October 19-21 offered a wide selection of motive power large and small.

The timetable ranged from the mighty elegance of No. 6233 Duchess of Sutherland, to delightful resident stalwart No. 32 Gothenburg. In fact, the former Manchester Ship Canal Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T ran in a stunning lined blue livery.

“The locomotive is normally our Thomas,” explained ELR finance director, David Layland. “After the last event of the year on October 6/7, it was repainted into its current dark blue guise, which it will retain until April, when it will revert to Thomas.

The ELR paid tribute to the late Nigel Dobbing with the addition of the headboard and wreath on No. 6233 Duchess of Sutherland. THOMAS HOUSEMAN

“It will be hired out to other lines for their Thomas events in 2019.”

Motive power

David added: “A gala is a showcase for enthusiasts – and we normally like to have a bit of fun too. This year for example, Gothenburg ran briefly with the ‘Royal Scot’ headboard.”

Poignantly, the ELR also paid tribute to the late Nigel Dobbing, with Duchess of Sutherland carrying a wreath on its smokebox.

In addition to No. 6233, two other visiting locomotives were GWR 2-8-0s Nos. 2857 and 4270.

Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Class 27 0-6-0 No. 52322 crosses Brooksbottom viaduct on October 19. ALAN WEAVER

“No. 2857 was here for the weekend courtesy of the Severn Valley Railway and has now returned home. It’s a great locomotive – we’ve enjoyed having it here before,” said David.

“2-8-0T No. 4270 will remain with us until the end of the year from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.

“It’s a powerful locomotive which is ideal for our Santa trains. Two eight-carriage Santa sets will be in operation – the other locomotive will be City of Wells.”

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