Despite gloomy skies and chilly temperatures the East Lancashire Railway’s (ELR) annual January Steam Weekend brightened and warmed up even bigger numbers of enthusiasts than in previous years.
Visitor numbers to the 12-mile heritage steam line that runs between Heywood and Rawtenstall in the North West, saw a huge increase on the previous year with 32% more people turning out enjoy the spectacle. Just over 2000 enthusiasts and other visitors came to the railway to see visiting steam locomotives Standard Class 5 73129 and Ivatt Class 2 46443 join home based Black 5 44871 and unique 8P 71000 ‘Duke of Gloucester’ in providing a taste of the 1950s British railway scene.
East Lancashire Railway General Manager said “despite the current economic doom and gloom it’s great to see that the ELR can inspire and attract and this is especially important for our railway at this time of year. An enormous amount of graft and sweat goes into arranging these events and it is really encouraging for our team to see visitors turning out in such numbers. We’re also very grateful to the likes of the Severn Valley Railway and to the Midland Railway Trust for the use of their locos and for helping make the weekend such a success.”
The ELR hopes to break even more records on the weekend of 26/27 February when it will play host to an even wider selection of visiting steam locomotives at its February Enthusiasts Gala. The provisional line-up for the event will see the resident fleet of locos joined by Standard Class 4 Tanks 80072 and 80080, Class 5 73129 and Ivatt Class 2 46443 as headliners for the weekend with a tantalising programme of operating combinations in store for the enthusiast and casual visitor alike.
Also during the February Enthusiast Gala, for the first time the ELR is holding an annual Transport Collectors Fair featuring a comprehensive assortment of stalls offering a wide range of transport ephemera, memorabilia, vehicle spare parts and other collectables. Against the backdrop of the impressive new Bury Transport Museum the event will be a must for collector, the family or just the curious.
For more information please visit www.east-lancs-rly.co.uk
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