Plaque unveiling sets seal on railway’s silver anniversary

By Geoff Courtney

RAILWAY preservationists are well rehearsed in celebrating anniversaries, which provide an ideal opportunity to remember the past, celebrate the present and look forward to the future, while at the same time putting on a good show for visitors.

The Derwent Valley Light Railway, whose stretch of standard gauge track at Murton Park is almost literally within the shadows of York Minster and the National Railway Museum, may be small and a comparative newcomer when compared with some higher-profile lines such as the North Yorkshire Moors Railway 25 miles up the road, but on March 25 that was no deterrent to having a party befitting a member of the heritage railway movement.

Mayoral recognition: Lord Mayor of York Coun Barbara Boyce unveils a 25th anniversary plaque at Derwent Valley Light Railway’s Murton Park station on March 25. JONATHAN STOCKWELL

The occasion was the silver jubilee of the line’s launch of its regular passenger services, and for railway enthusiasts there were two ex-BR 0-6-0 diesels in operation – 03 class No. 03079 (D2079) and 04 D2245 – and a 4wDM with strong links to York, 1960 Ruston & Hornsby ex-Rowntree factory No. 3, now carrying the name Ken Cooke.

There were also five items of former BR rolling stock earning their keep either on passenger work or demonstration freight trains, all built between 1951 and 1957 – including a Mk.1 coach constructed at nearby York – and for pure goods traffic nostalgia, a general purpose van built by the GWR at Swindon in 1915 that was modified by BR in the 1950s to carry bananas, complete with steam heating to help ripen its cargo between port and market.

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