Rarely can it be said that an Gala or Open weekend is the first. For the Stainmore line preservation society based out of Kikby Stephen East (51H to some, 12D to others) it was just that. The track layout had been changed to allow for some running since my last visit, with engines moved to the side too to allow visiting BR standard 2MT 78019 a chance to at least move off from the restored platform. Also resident was 65033, a case in point for restoration to steam for historical reasons if ever there was one, rather than big engine rules the way on most preserved lines. The little saddle thank that the Stainmore line had restored was given the job of hauling the 2MT and the two borrowed coaches back to the station. With NER Fletcher 2-4-0 No. 9.10 also in the station under the canopy.
The station istelf was looking very good. Some work had been done on the roof and enterance. The line is indeed making a big effort to branch out from its nucleus to start operating and functioning. A lot should be said for the way that the event was conducted, with a shop, beer tent, food, and stalls all at the station or nearby. Everthing was catered for and provided. In many ways it was as good as a very established railway, but one hopes that sooner rather than later, the line uses its own stock and track to become just that.
After this weekend, the likelihood of that happening has risen significantly which is all the better for railway preservation, and more so for the vanquished northern areas of that subject, which are often overlooked for more universal popular routes down south. Should the railway ever need to name a locomotive then it should be called 'Pheonix' a subtle name for a railway that is returning from the past and out of the ashes of one of the most marvelous railways ever built.
© The Black Hat