Battlefield to host 5542’s birthday bash

THE BATTLEFIELD Line is holding a gala in October to celebrate the 90th birthday of GWR 2-6-2T prairie No. 5542, which has been operating on the railway this season.

The all-steam event on October 13-14 looks set to feature a decidedly GWR theme. Confirmed attendees so far include GWR Pannier No. 6412 and autocoach No. 233 from the South Devon Railway. Resident Peckett 0-6-0ST Sir Gomer will also be running.

“We’re trying to arrange at least one other visitor,” explained Adrian Lock, a director of the Battlefield Line.

“This will be our first gala since 2015. The autotrain will operate shuttles between Shackerstone and Market Bosworth, while our main service will run the full length of our line between Shackerstone and Shenton.”

GWR prairie No. 5542, a popular engine on the West Somerset Railway for many years, is seen at Shackerstone station. ADRIAN LOCK/BATTLEFIED LINE

A demonstration freight train will also run, featuring some of the vehicles recently acquired from the former Electric Railway Museum, Coventry, including, it is hoped, a Conflat, a hand crane and an LNER brake van. These will be supplemented by several of the Battlefield Line’s recently restored wagons.

Real ale from local breweries and breakfasts will be on offer in the griddle car. No. 5542’s actual 90th birthday was on August 2.

In a separate development, Battlefield Line volunteers have recovered the last remnants of the Electric Railway Museum, which closed in October 2017 – the site having to be cleared by
mid-August for the expansion of the Jaguar Land Rover plant. A quantity of rails and sleepers, a signal post and a van body, plus the Midland Railway signalbox from Little Bowden Junction and the Welford and Kilworth station building are now at Shackerstone. Plans for the re-erection at the Leicestershire line are currently being finalised.

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