Home / Railway Gallery / Standard Gauge Heritage Railways / East Lancashire Railway / ELR 2018 / Spring Steam Gala - 3rd of March 2018 [51]


For some reason whenever I think of this as a 'Spring' Steam Gala it makes me smile, because for this one it felt like anything but Spring, and a more appropriate title might have been the ELR 'Beast from the East Steam Gala'! To say it was cold in that icy blast from Siberia would be an understatement, and even with umpteen layers of clothes on it was hard not to feel cold at times, and I was very glad that the platform buffet was open that day. With conditions so bad, the railway were forced to produce an 'emergency timetable', but I have to say that I was impressed that they went ahead anyway, especially as many other places were cancelling their events due to the inclement conditions, which made travelling there very difficult for people in many parts of the country. Still, us Lancastrians are a hardy lot, and if we gave in to poor weather every time we'd never get anything done. It wasn't so much the cold that gave me problems that day, but rather the very strong wind, as it's really hard to hold your camera steady when it's like that, and at times I was having to cling on to lamp posts or fence posts or anything I could find just to keep my camera steady. You can tell how windy it was by the fact that it managed to break one of the barriers at the Rawtenstall West level crossing, and the trains all had to be stopped there and flagged through manually for the rest of the day.

It was so cold at times that the platform at Rawtenstall was as empty as Tesco's bread shelves, with just me daft enough to be there, and one of the Guards even stuck his head out of the window and told me I must be crackers (no arguing with that statement), well it makes a change as it's usually the train drivers that yell such abuse at me! :-) I'd still rather be doing that than sitting at home in front of the TV vegetating though, even if it does fly in the face of the government's advice that us old folks should stay indoors in such conditions.

As part of the emergency timetable the trains were all 'topped and tailed' that day, so no running around was required, and best of all for us photters, with some locos facing north and some facing south, it gave us a few extra options on each pass. Locos in service that day included 'The Crab' 13065, A4 Pacific 'Union of South Africa 60009, Ian Riley's Black 5s 45212 and 45407 (which was masquerading as 45157 'The Glasgow Highlander', and visiting 'Leander' 45609, which was a familiar sight here back in 2008. This was the first time I'd seen it in its new Black livery rather than the previous Crimson and I just hope they kept it away from Mr Riley, as he never could resist Black 5s so I'm told!:-) The one absentee was 'Douglas' 2890, but it hardly seemed worth going back the next day just for that one, especially as I've photographed it a number of times already this year.

A very big thank you and well done to all the staff and volunteers who braved the conditions to make the event happen, and for making it an enjoyable, if somewhat unusual start to 3 day steam galas, the old January and February events were never this much fun.

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