Passenger trains return to Alnmouth branch

PRESERVATION history was made on December 28 when the Aln Valley Railway (AVR) succeeded in returning revenue-earning steam-hauled passenger trains to the Alnwick to Alnmouth branch after an absence of more than 50 years.

When BR’s last steam-worked train ran on June 18, 1966 it was in the hands of ‘9F’ 2-10-0 No. 92099 – a slight case of overkill on the short, two-coach train.

The Aln Valley Railway’s Hudswell, Clarke 0-6-0T Richboro leaves the original Alnmouth to Alnwick route and begins the steep climb up to Lionheart station on December 28. PAT MURPHY/AVR

However, the AVR took a more modest approach when, at around 11.00, Hudswell, Clarke 0-6-0T Richboro propelled its ‘Mince Pie Special’ train of two well-laden Mk1s, plus the railway’s ‘Shark’ brakevan, out of Lionheart station and around the steep curve that descends down onto the original Alnwick to Alnmouth trackbed.

Taking its time over the newly laid and ballasted permanent way, Richboro proceeded to the temporary terminus at Bridge No. 6 before making a return back towards Lionheart.

The loco was stopped near the top of the climb to give the loco crew practice at restarting the train on the steeply curved gradient.

With fencing work on the extension completed as far as Bridge No. 6, the AVR is pushing to get rails laid across Cawledge Viaduct as far as Greenrigg Bridge, where a temporary passenger halt will be constructed.

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