Team restores steam loco as vintage railway gets back on track
They said its hooting, tooting days were over, but now a group of volunteers and engineers are well on the way to getting a vintage steam engine back on the tracks.
The team at the Whitwell and Reepham Station are restoring a locomotive which was one of a trio that serviced the Agecroft power station, near Manchester, until 1981.
Mike Urry, who owns the heritage railway, said works on the Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns 0-4-0ST loco were being done by the station’s ‘Thursday gang’ of volunteers, with help from the North Norfolk Railway.
Mr Urry: “It was given to us in bits by the previous owners. They thought they would never get it back together again, and suggested we show it as a static display.
“But our gang of volunteers are working on it and we’re hoping to have it back in working order later this year.”
Restoring the 1951 engine will be a crowning achievement for the railway, which is doing its best to cope with the financial fallout of the lockdown and the ongoing restrictions.
Weekend services on steam and diesel engines are running again, where groups can sit in family ‘bubbles’ and the station’s Sidings cafe has reopened and is taking part in the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. The station also has a campsite with 17 pitches, which Mr Urry said had “never been busier” thanks to a boom in people taking staycations.
But Mr Urry said it was a challenge catching up on the lost businesses from the lockdown, and they were also facing a shortage of volunteers.
He said: “We’ve got some of the younger volunteers coming in again, but some of the older ones are a bit nervous about returning, so if anyone is interested we’re very happy to welcome new volunteers.
“There’s been more campers this year than ever, and The Sidings has been totally refurbished during lockdown and looks a lot more modern.”
The station is south of Reepham on Marriott’s Way, and is known as ‘Norfolk’s newest heritage railway’ having reopened in 2009, 50 years after the closure of the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway (M&GN), which it used to be a part of.
Anyone interested in volunteering can reach Mr Urry on 07733 328840.
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