The Aln Valley Railway weekend was a small event from a railway with big
ambitions! The original Aln Valley railway ran from Alnwick to Alnmouth, but was
closed in the late 1960's. The track was removed, the station in Alnwick became
a book shop, and the A1 dual carriageway cut across the old trackbed.
Thoughts of re-opening the
branch line started in 1995 with the plan formerly launched in 1997. Due to the
expense of bridge construction to span the A1, a new site was chosen for a
station on the South East side of the road. The railway, station and all
infrastructure would be built from scratch, in a completely empty field. The
station would run parallel to the A1 road, before curving to the South East,
joining the original overgrown track bed. Construction began in 2012 and seven
years later, the railway has a station, goods yard, loco shed, workshops, signal
box and extends a little over half way to Alnmouth. They also have two steam
locos in operating condition, some diesels and a variety of other rolling stock.
This weekend was also our first attempt at full canvas camping, in order to have
the ability to do period camping at events where modern plastic tents weren't
appropriate. I've been using my 10 feet ridge tent for several years, but for
three people and all the stuff Lynne requires to go camping, my one tent wasn't
big enough to live and cook in.
We got a bright green, 12 feet ridge, scout tent some time ago, which I painted
with shed paint to tone it down to an olive drab. By positioning the two tents
end to end and spanning the gap with a fly sheet, we got a central cooking and
living area. Next time, we'll probably overlap the joints more to create a
better weather seal and may add a skirt at the back, to keep the wind from
There were only a hand full of vehicles at the show, a number of re-enactors,
some displays and the "Seatones" trio providing the live 1940's music.
On day one, in addition to my Jeep, there was one other Jeep, belonging to a
friend, a Dodge WC51 owned for only a couple of weeks by its new owner, an MG
sports car and a couple of vintage bikes.
The loco operating during the weekend, was the 1948 built Hunslet Austerity
0-6-0 Saddle Tank. It was modified with a lower cab and coal bunker to operate
from the Lambton coal drops at Sunderland. The coaches in use were British Rail
Mk1 types, in "Blood & Custard" livery. They were built during the
1950's, the main era the railway is focusing on. The vehicles were all parked
beside platform 1 while the loco shed had been partially cleared to allow a
stage and dance floor to be built.
There's lots of other rolling stock and locos on side, some of which are
operational, some under restoration or awaiting their turn. Several items are
privately owned and kept on the railway.
The Home Guard group had a small display, but frequently paraded around the site
On Saturday evening, I went for a wander around the site to have a look at what
other rolling stock was there, but out of clear view of the normal public areas.
On Sunday, the MG didn't turn up but was replaced by another classic. There was
also an early Land Rover showed up, along with a friend who brought his Dodge
Weapon Carrier. The small trailer fire tender that had been at Bowes the week
before also showed up on Sunday.
Here's a few more pictures from wandering around the site. The signal box is
another new build structure.
A group from Blyth Battery built an air raid shelter and allotment some time ago
which made a nice addition to the 1940's event. Despite a moderately cloudy
forecast for part of the weekend, both days saw decent periods of blue sky and
sun enough to give a good tan!