Volunteers at the North Norfolk Railway are looking forward to welcoming two contrasting visiting steam locomotives to their popular Steam Gala on 14, 15 and 16 April. The first is express passenger locomotive No. 34028 “Eddystone”,  built in 1946 to work some of the Southern Railway’s most prestigious trains, while the second is No. 401 “Vulcan” – a robust saddle tank locomotive that saw service at some of Britain’s largest industrial plants including the giant Port Talbot steelworks and the Longbridge car factory.


“Eddystone” is one of the renowned ‘West Country Class’ locomotives designed by Oliver Bulleid and worked fast trains including services to Exeter and was later deployed on the famous Somerset & Dorset line. Today, the engine is owned by Southern Locomotives Limited and hauls trains on the Swanage Railway in Dorset.


“Vulcan” entered service in 1951 and sports the striking red livery of its first owners, the South Wales Steel Company.  The locomotive gained its name when purchased by the Austin Motor Company in 1957 and was named after the V bombers that were being deployed with the RAF at the time. The engine is visiting from the North Tyneside Steam Railway.


North Norfolk Railway Commercial Manager, Graham Hukins said, “We’re looking forward to having two such different visiting engines to the gala and the pair will help us demonstrate a wide variety of trains including non-stop expresses, local stoppers and goods trains.”


He added, “Passengers will even be able to ride the “mixed” – an unusual train made up of passenger carriages and goods wagons that were once favoured by rural lines as a means of saving money and which were extremely rare after the Second World War.”


In addition to the guest engines, neither of which has visited the line before, three of the railways resident locomotives will be in action working a special, intensive timetable.  These are likely to include 1957-built British Railways ‘Standard 4’ No. 76084, and two of the largest locomotives to run in Britain War Department “Austerity” No. 90775 “The Royal Norfolk Regiment” and British Railways heavy freight locomotive 9F No 92203 “Black Prince” – each weighing around 140 tons in working order.


Carriages in use over the three days are just as varied with examples dating from Victorian times to the 1960s scheduled to be in action. Tickets for the event give visitors unlimited travel all day allowing them to hop on and off and travel behind all of the engines and enjoy up to nine hours of on-track entertainment with trains running from around 9.00am until early evening. Early bird tickets offer a discount of £5.00 per day and are available online until 31 March. Early bird rates are: £25.00 for a one day rover, £47.50 for two days’ unlimited travel is and the full three days will cost just £60.00.


The Railway’s standard services will run on most days between April and October. Trains run through 5½ miles of wonderful scenery between the Victorian resort of Sheringham and the Georgian town of Holt. Full details and timetables can be found at www.nnrailway.co.uk and passengers booking online in advance receive a generous discount.

Photo Shows: Bagnall No 401 “Vulcan” at the head of a demonstration goods train. Photo – Rob Clark.