Steam back on the Alnwick branch

STEAM passenger trains have returned to the Alnwick branch after two decades of effort by revivalists.

The last BR steam passenger trains ran from Alnmouth to Alnwick on June 18, 1966 when the Standard 9F 2-10-0 No. 92099 hauled two-coach trains on the branch.

Richboro starting the ascent of the gradient and passing one of the farm level crossings. PAT MURPHY/AVR

However, the clock was put back on Thursday, December 28, when revenue-earning steam trains returned to part of the line.

Around 11am, the Aln Valley Railway’s Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T No. 1243 of 1917 Richboro propelled its train of two well-laden carriages, plus the line’s shark brake van Olive out of Lionheart station, around the newly-installed curve and down the incline onto the original Alnwick-Alnmouth line trackbed.

This newly laid and ballasted track had been awaiting the completion of necessary fencing and signposting at farm level crossings before passenger trains could start.

Once this task was completed the go-ahead for the first passenger trains could be given. The AVR had advertised that the first trains over the extension would be the three days of ‘Mince Pie Specials’.

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