Galas galore – celebrations at York and Shildon

I promised a recap on recent activities, and a spell of working from home has allowed me a little time to report on the 6th Annual Steam Gala at Shildon which took place on 25-26 September, and the Class 37 50th Anniversary event at York this last weekend.

The Steam Gala at Shildon traditionally marks the anniversary of the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, but also the opening of Locomotion as a museum, this year being the 6th anniversary of the latter – where did the time go?

The event also tends to have a theme of one thing or another, and this year was a celebration of LNER and Gresley locomotives – the stars being D49 4-4-0 No. 249 “Morayshire” and N2 0-6-2T No.1744 with a supporting cast of the J72 69023 and Furness 20 in steam, plus static display of A4 “Mallard”, V2 “Green Arrow” and J52 tank loco 1247. It was the chance to see two Great Northern Railway liveried locos together (N2 and J52) and also two locos made by Sharp Stewart together (Furness 20 and J52).

Over 7000 visitors attended, which, considering it was a cold and windy weekend, is really rather good! With traders and displays indoors, plus large and small road steam vehicles and a fair organ, it was a fun event with plenty of steam action to entertain. We also had footplate access to Mallard and other engines, giving visitors the chance to get up close and personal with the collection.

Here’s a selection of images to give you a flavour of the event:

Looking out of Morayshire's cab window across Furness 20 and Mallard to Green Arrow.

The lineup outside Locomotion on the Saturday afternoon.

The pairing of the two Sharp Stewart locos, Furness 20 and 1247, with other supporting cast providing atmosphere in the background.

At the end of the weekend, Morayshire and the N2 were paired up and ran to the Coal Drops, where I caught this photo. Being driver of the N2 did have its advantages!

And so to the weekend just passed at York, 50 years of the class 37. It was held mainly in the South Yard, but included indoor displays and trade stands and archive material in Search Engine.

The event was opened on Saturday by Steve Davies, the NRM’s Director, and Pip Dunn, Editor of Railway Illustrated magazine, who sounded a hooter to signal the ceremonial mass start up of four of the five locos present at 10:30. The National Railway Museum’s own D6700 was started by the winner of a competition held via the website, whilst 37 025 was started up by the second prize winner.

Locos present finally were D6700, 37 025, 37 275, 37 685 and 37 906, and we are grateful to all their owners for allowing them to take part in the event. Most took their turn on the passenger train service or diesel driver experience over the weekend, and I was pleased to be part of it as one of the rostered drivers – always interesting to see how different locomotives of the same type perform!

As with Shildon, here’s a selection of pictures of the weekend:

Just before the speeches and the start-up, the sun came out. Needless to say it was pouring by the time the speeches began.

Second-manning D6700 allowed me to catch this picture of it at the far end of the line after I had set the protection out for the passenger service. This is Network Rail land and I hold full PTS certification, allowing me to get down from the loco to put the protection in place.

Inside, among the displays was this fascinating one of model 37s in various sizes from the Diesel & Electric Modellers United.

My final two participants in the driver experience on Saturday climb down from 37 025 as a rainbow frames the scene.

After a shunt at close of play on Sunday afternoon, there was an accidental line up, which had to be recorded before we moved 37 906 and 37 685!

Such was the success of the weekend that the internet is now full of speculation as to what we will do next. All I shall say for both sites is – watch this space!

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About Anthony Coulls

Anthony is Senior Curator of Rail Vehicles at the NRM and has been an active heritage railway volunteer since 1988
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