Thousands set to attend Welsh weekend of steam

Wales has proud steam heritage and this weekend (March 14th and 15th) will see thousands attend a gala welcoming some of the UK's most memorable locomotives.

Organised by the 6880 Betton Grange Society, the steam gala will see six mainline locomotives attend between Llangollen and Corwen in north-east Wales. The event which began last Friday is part of a much wider week-long celebration of all things steam and will include a beer festival held at Llangollen station.

New North Wales reports that around 1,000 people are expected to attend the showpiece day on Sunday. Among the locomotives due to pull into this quaint corner of Wales for the Steel, Steam and Stars IV event include the Central Star 92214 which has delighted crowds in previous years.

Speaking to the news provider, Quentin McGuinness, Betton Grange chairman, explained that he has been pleased with how the event has gone so far and is looking forward to the upcoming weekend's activities.

Mr McGuinness said: "Some of the giant engines have also proved very popular as well, including one called Wells which is a streamlined art-deco engine. We have had local visitors and people coming from as far away as London, and still have plenty of beer and real ale available for next weekend."

The main project currently undertaken by the Betton Grange Society is the construction of a new locomotive based on the No. 6880 locomotive of the same name. The Granges trains have a special place in the hearts of the members as they represent the north-east Welsh region.

Unfortunately, after their decommission none of the 80 locomotives managed to escape the cutters yard and were all broken down. Now the group is aiming to bring one back to life through a team of dedicated volunteers and enthusiasts.

The group hopes to raise money through sales of products via their various retailers.

How to build a model railway in your garden

Have you ever seen the Northlandz model railroad in Flemington, New Jersey?

Bruce Williams Zaccagnino has spent the best part of 16 years creating a model railroad in his home. It now includes over 100 trains, 3,000 buildings, 50,000 streets and 400 bridges which span over huge canyons. Mr William Zaccagnino's has become the inspiration many modellers have had to make their own layout.

However, many simply do not have the space in their own home to create a model railway on this scale. Obviously people will opt for a much smaller version, as who can realistically have a 40 ft canyon sprawling across their basement? Taking the model railway outside to the garden can help to create a really impressive outdoor space.

It can compliment a person's garden and could even link through small water features and flower beds. So how do you go about creating a model railway in your garden? Follow our handy guide and gain some inspiration.

Plan ahead

If you are going to invest in creating an outdoor model railway you need to plan thoroughly before doing anything. You need to firstly ask yourself what you want to achieve from this project. Do you want to create a huge sprawling space full of bridges, lakes and track or do you want something much more low-key that will not require the same level of maintenance?

Next you need to set aside a space and stick to it. This is a hugely important aspect as you don't want your track to exceed its space and then encroach on to other parts of the garden. Once this has been decided then you can look aspects such as which era of railway you want it to represent. Are you going to go with the traditional steam engines of yesteryear or maybe embrace more modern locomotives?

Then there is the issue of cost. Building a model railway can be an expensive business so you would to set yourself a budget that you can feasibly stick to. Remember that a project of this ilk could take years so you need to properly plan your finances and ensure that you can finish it without breaking the bank.

Be patient

This is one of the key factors when putting a model railway together. If you are looking to embark on a long-term project then you need to be extremely patient as there will be times when your plans change. You need to be ready for moments when you find that you can not continue on the path you are going down and thus need to be amended.

You need to be flexible and ready to adjust. This is particularly important when it comes to purchasing parts. You may hit the age-old stumbling block that certain parts are out of stock meaning you have to wait a long time but that desired piece of equipment. Again, this takes a lot of patience but the end results can be hugely rewarding.

Choose your equipment wisely

Once you have decided on a style then you start looking at which equipment to buy. This is something you need to think long and hard about. Remember, you do not need to spends hundreds of pounds looking to make the railway you want and even a modest set can provide hugely rewarding.

If you are a novice, there is no need to start splashing the cash. Take a methodical approach and start by investing in a good length of track, lay it in a circle in your designated space making the radius as big as possibly can. One of the key factors is making sure that your track is of a high quality and has the durability to take on the outside environment.

Now you can start looking at some nice additions to go with your basic. This is where you can really creative and build a railway you can be proud of. The possibilities really are endless.

Preview: Lincoln & District Model Club’s Annual Exhibition

February comes to an end this weekend signalling the phasing out of winter and the ushering in of spring.

The lighter nights and slightly warmer weather provides the perfect opportunity to get out and visit some of the sights the UK has to offer. March and April are a great time to see the nation's heritage railways in all their glory. Clubs and societies will be hosting a number of special days throughout the spring where people will be able to view the countryside from the comfort of a steam locomotive.

With February coming to a close, what better way to enjoy the final weekend with a trip to model railway exhibition? The Lincoln & District Model Club is holding its annual exhibition and has billed it to be bigger and better than ever before. It is the first time the club has held an event of this size in its history.

The 'First Major Model Railway Show' will be held at the Lincolnshire Showground on Saturday and Sunday (February 28th and March 1st). It is the perfect opportunity for everyone from the hobbyist to the committed enthusiast to gain some inspiration of what they could achieve with their own layouts at homes.

Layouts

As with all model railway exhibitions there will be a host of layouts specially designed by modellers both in the society and from others across the region. Among the displays already confirmed for this weekend's show are the Bostcroft 00 gauge, Waterloo Road MPD 00 gauge, Loughborough Derby Road N gauge and the Clee Valley Railway 09 gauge.

The great thing about building a model railway layout is that they can either depict a real life railway or go completely left-ield and create a totally fictional landscape. This can provide the inspiration modellers need to set up their own layout either at their club or at home.

Vendors and demonstrations

The Lincoln & District show already has an abundance of vendors confirmed to be in attendance. The likes of Hobby Holidays, Modelmania, Modellers Mate and Elaines Trains will all be at the show allowing people to purchase models, accessories or even parts of scenery to add to their collection.

Visitors will also be treated to a number of expert demonstrations from the likes of Ruth Frampton, Peter Brinded and Jacquie Perratt, where they can see these impressive layouts in action. This also offers opportunities for people to ask for advice for when it comes to building their own collection.

Societies

People may also be travelling to the Lincoln & District show curious about the workings of a model railway society and how they could get involved. Five clubs in total will be at the event and they can run visitors run everything they need to know about signing up. These societies offer opportunities to work on major projects while also embracing all different types of models available on the market.

Prices

Admission is priced at £6 for adults, £3 for children while family tickets (2+3) are available for £15. The fun kicks off at 10:00 GMT on Saturday.

What’s on: March steam rallies

The chilly nights of December and January are melting and as we head into March people are looking ahead to the spring.

As the weather improves, the steam rally season gets into full flow. Societies and railways across the country will be holding special events which people can involved. With the lighter evenings passengers have the opportunity to glide through the British countryside aboard a steam train, there are not many better experiences.

So what is going on this month? Here are our highlights to what is planned in the steam community during March.

Spring Diesel Gala – East Lancashire Railway, Bury (March 7th and 8th)

Kicking off the month is East Lancashire Railway's Spring Diesel Gala. Situated in the town of Bury, the railway is spread over 12 miles passing through the village of Ramsbottom and then on to the market town of Rawtenstall. This popular railway will be showcasing the very best diesel engines on the opening March weekend.

Visitors will be able to enjoy a relaxing trip through Lancashire countryside across the weekend. There are a number of special events going on including the return of the Saturday Night 'Beer-ex' Special. There is also the ELR Diesel Diner which will be pulled by the 50015 Valiant – visitors who do want to attend should book to avoid disappointment.

Other diesel locomotives confirmed for the event includes the D9531 'Ernest' and D9537 'Eric', 33109 Captain Bill Smith RNR and Hymek D7076 among others.

Day Out With Thomas – Kirklees Light Railway, Huddersfield (March 14th and 15th)

For many people of a certain age, Thomas the Tank Engine will have played a large part in their childhood. Whether it was watching the series, narrated by Ringo Starr, on the television or building their very own Thomas train set, this little train has featured prominently. So why not treat the kids to a Day Out With Thomas at Kirklees Light Railway?

The Huddersfield site will be visited by Thomas, Percy, Mavis, Toby and not to mention the Fat Controller who will be making sure they are behaving themselves. Families will be able to enjoy the day with Thomas and friends while there will be a whole lot more going on at the station itself.

Children will able to give Thomas a drink with the help of his driver and the Fat Controller thanks to special Culdee Fell water brought specially from the Island of Sodor. There will also be donkey rides and bouncy castle, weather permitting.

Spring Steam Gala – West Somerset Railway, Bishops Lydeard (March 26th to March 29th)

Rounding off the month is the Spring Steam Gala at West Somerset Railway in Bishops Lydeard. The railway, near Taunton, will play host to some of the most treasured steam locomotives the country has to offer. Already confirmed are the GWR locomotives 4270, 5542 and 6695.

A real highlight of the event will be the Pacific 70000 Britannia which will be in attendance as a "guest" engine.

Paul Conibeare, West Somerset Railway general manager, said: "We believe we have an attractive line-up of  locomotives lined-up for the four days including the two West Somerset debutants 4270 and 46521 and look forward to welcoming old friends and new faces to the line for the four days."

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway looking for volunteers

Ever fancied working on the railways? Well here is your opportunity.

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWR) is on the lookout for volunteers to get involved in all aspects of the railway. Ranging from engineering and electrical work to gardening, the organisation wants more people to get involved in a cherished part of the community.

Cotswold Journal reports that the railway will be holding a special recruitment day where people can learn how they can get involved. The railway relies on the work of volunteers to maintain and operate steam and diesel trains along the 25-mile route. It currently has a core of around 200 volunteers but has benefited from the help of more than 800 over the years.

Philip Young, volunteer recruitment director and a volunteer himself, explains that the job suit the needs of anyone who wants to be involved. Even if it just a few hours a week, it can be a real help.

Speaking to the news provider, Mr Young said: "Our volunteers range from school age to retirement age. There’s something to suit everyone, men and women. We are of course very grateful to everyone, whether they offer just a few hours from time to time or turn up to get stuck in most weekends."

GWR provides breathtaking tours through the majestic Cotswolds countryside. Starting off from Toddington, it passes over the famous Stanway Viaduct and past landmarks such as Cheltenham Racecourse. The former Honeybourne Line comes to a stop at Laverton, providing passengers with a great journey across the county.

Those interested in getting involved can register either online or when they arrive at Toddington station. The recruitment fair will be held on March 21st and 22nd.

So if you have an interest in railways and want to be a part of one of the nation's most-loved heritage lines, don't delay and register yourself today.

Isle of Wight Steam Railway locomotive set for renovation

A locomotive from the Isle of Wight Steam Railway is set for a renovation.

The tank locomotive, Number 4313, boarded the Wrightlink ferry crossing for the short hop across The Solent to start a two-year project which aims to give the vintage train a new lease of life. Once on the mainland it will be taken to Somerset where it will be restored by member of the East Somerset Railway, Isle of Wight County Press reports.

It is just the latest major renovation undertaken for East Somerset Railway on behalf of its Isle of Wight counterparts. The Number 46447 is currently in the West Country where it is on loan for ten years while work is carried out to bring it back to its former glory. Once completed, the 4313 will return to the Isle of Wight where it will continue to haul passengers.

The railway company on the island is planning to pair the 4313 up with fellow Ivatt tank locomotive Number 41298. The two were part of a trio of locomotives which were given to Isle of Wight Steam Railway by the Ivatt Trust in 2009. Since then the 41298 has undergone renovation on the island.

Renovating these iconic engines is a key part of the everyday working of the railway company. They provide a major draw for tourists visiting the Isle of Wight and are a major coup for the small railway which stretches between Smallbrook and Wootton, passing through the likes of Ashey and Havenstreet.

The company has a host of exciting events already lined up for the rest of the year with the first being of ghost hunt at Havenstreet on February 21st. It also has special goings on for the likes of Mothers Day and the upcoming Grand National.