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Old friend returns to the railway tracks

Created on 18/06/2016 @ 17:32
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 An old friend has returned to the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway as the line begins to gear up for its annual Steam Gala in September.

‘Chevallier’, an 0-6- 2T steam locomotive built by Manning Wardle & Co, Leeds, in 1915, will be the star attraction at the Gala, which this year is a three-day event being held from September 2-4. The locomotive has twice before visited the line to take part in the Gala, in 1991 and 2010.

Chevallier was built originally for a Royal Navy railway in Kent and later moved across to the Bowaters Paper Mill line in Sittingbourne. When that company closed its line in 1969, the locomotive went to workon a new line running through the animal paddocks at Whipsnade Zoo. It was later sold to Bill Parker of the Flour Mill Workshop in the Forest of Dean, and Bill undertook a full overhaul.

Chevallier came to the W&LLR’s 2010 Gala within days of the overhaul being completed, but various running-in issues prevented it showing its full capabilities over the weekend.

W&LLR staff anticipate no such issues this time round – the loco has spent the last couple of seasons working very reliably in its old haunt of the Great Whipsnade Railway, while its early arrival in mid-Wales will leave plenty of time for testing over the Llanfair Line’s challenging eight-mile route throughout the summer before Chevalier takes its role in a typically intensive Gala timetable.

“We are delighted to have the loco here and grateful to owner Bill Parker for making the loan possible,” said W&LLR general manager Charles Spencer.

“We will not be using Chevallier on any timetabled services before the Gala, but we will be carrying out extensive testing to ensure the loco can prove a worthy special guest at our biggest event of the year.”

Plans are well underway for the Gala, which as in previous years will be held alongside the Garden Railway Show at Llanfair Caereinion High School, with a shuttle bus connecting the two. More details of the Gala attractions will be revealed closer to the event.

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