Category Archives: French Artillery

4 hours to go!

image
imageIt’s been a bit manic down the Valley in the last few days!! Two of the stars of the Tracks to the Trenches event this weekend have joined us – the Baldwin from Leighton Buzzard and the Hesketh Bank Joffre.

Apparently our local coal merchant heard that we now had two Joffre-class locos on site and was seen reaching for the holiday brochure.

The horse people have been with us, rehearsing for the horse haulage demonstration using our newly-manufactured swingletree.

imageFinally, we had a slightly unexpected visit by what seemed to be the entire loco fleet of a Scotrtish peatworks; one loco was unloaded and the rest disappeared as quickly as they arrived!

So, 4 hours to go the the big event opening – see you there?

The influx has started……

Amongst the many and varied tasks this weekend (mainly quite tiring), we have seen the influx of railway exhibits start – some visitors and some new residents.

50hp Baldwin tractor from SwitzerlandThe first of these was a new locomotive arriving on Friday (6th May). This is a Baldwin tractor, of the type very popular with French and American forces; the locos is currently standard gauge, having been regauged from 2’0″ gauge at some stage early in its (War Surplus) life. When built, this loco and the Ffestiniog’s Moelwyn would have been similar if not identical. A group of Trust members have imported this loco from a scrapyard in Switzerland. So, Tracks to the Trenches will offer a unique opportunity to see the UK’s only two Baldwin tractors together. The event will also be the only chance to see the Apedale Baldwin before restoration commences – which could be a long road ahead. 

Arriving on Sunday was the recently completed British Class A open wagon, followed by the 10hp Baguley and 1916 20hp Simplex locos from our friends at the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway in Porthmadog.

And finally….

Moelwyn, Mary Ann & wagons!Today saw the arrival of “Mary Ann”, “Moelwyn” and Busta – direct from their escapades in France. All 3 of these are courtesy of the Ffestiniog Railway

6 locos and 1 historic wagon in 4 days. More to come over the next few days……

Whenever we have an event…..

….we always seem to restore more wagons!

This year is no exception, the images below show the progress being made with the French Artillery Pechot well-wagon and the British Army Class A 4 wheel wagon.

Class A - progress!This first photo shows the progress with the Class A wagon. The Class A, B and C were the first standard types of wagons specifically produced for the British forces in 1916, when the official orders finally came through to use tactical light railways. This restoration follows the important restoration in 2014 of the similar Class B wagon.Class B wagon

In recognition of the 100 year anniversary of the British Army formally adopting light railways in preference to other transport in forward areas, we are proud to be the only UK railway to demonstrate an Class A & B at Standard Gauge rail head in Franceauthentic 1916 train from that moment. Watch out for these Class A & B wagons being paired with a 1916 Simplex or our 1916 Hudswell Clarke steam locomotive during the event.

Pechot under restorationThe second photo shows the rapid progress with the 1888 dated Pechot well wagon. The Pechot wagon was delivered to Apedale, and partially restored in advance of Tracks to the Trenches 2014. However, although usable, it still required further attention to the body and replacement of missing bits!

Watch out for more to come in the next few days!

 

 

Much progress!!

If you are part of the organising team, you would be thinking that the Tracks to the Trenches event is getting dangerously close!

As the event opening is getting ever closer, we are able to see much visible progress on all fronts. Below are just a small selection of photos of recent developments. New railway, new loco, re-activated loco…… all coming to an event near you very soon!! Advance purchase tickets are still available until 1st September. The Group booking deadline has also been extended until 1st September & local schools can book until 5th September (just into term-time!). Please see here.
Hudswell steams!Joffre on the move....Trench railway

The Joffre is back!

Just in time to be tested before the Tracks to the Trenches event, our Joffre locomotive has finally made its tentative first steps back into traffic!3014 returns to service!

If you recall, this engine was one of seventy delivered to the French Commission for their Artillery Railways to a specification similar to their existing Decauville design. These were sent out in 1915 and 1916 to take up their duties supplying ammunition and supplies to the front lines using a network of light railways.

To find out more about the role railways played in the conflict, tune in to Michael Portillo’s mini-series currently screening on BBC 2 “Railways of the Great War“, which is on at 18:30 each evening until Thursday this week. We are hoping to appear in the Wednesday episode, but we’ve not seen it yet so don’t know whether the Joffre’s “good side” will feature, but we certainly expect our Simplex locos to make an appearance, together with guest driver.

As to the Kerr Stuart (No 3014 of 1916), several months of work have seen the newly cast cylinder firstly stress-relieved and then machined to the original drawings, a task involving many weeks of painstaking work, any error in which would see the new casting written-off. It was eventually delivered to Apedale on Tuesday last week, during our annual volunteer working week. Several more days of work followed and the locomotive was ready to test on Sunday. We are delighted to report that everything worked perfectly, which will allow the loco to return to the roster shortly.

So, after having been enthused by the telly programme to learn more, don’t forget to visit us see this engine and others in action at the Tracks to the Trenches event on September 12th – 14th. Have we mentioned that before? You can book tickets here.

Le Grand Arrive

In anticipation of the Tracks to the Trenches event, we are pleased to confirm the arrival of a rather large French railway wagon! Intended as a companion for the “Joffre” steam loco, this is a French Artillery railways 60cm gauge “Pechot” well-wagon.

MRT Pershing Wagon!These wagons were named after Colonel Prosper Pechot, who in conjunction with engineer Charles Bourdon created a revolutionary and high adaptable modular system of 60cm gauge wagons and trackwork – capable of moving almost anything to almost anywhere! Although the equipment was already around 25years old by the start of the Great War, it was used to great effect by the French, British and even the Germans (captured material) throughout the conflict. Some French forts were still using original Pechot vehicles until relatively recently.

Obtained with thanks to the Chanteraines group in Paris, this vehicle had apparently been used at a concrete works prior to preservation. It has been subject to extensive restoration off-site prior to arrival at Apedale, in an effort to rectify many years of heavy industrial use. It is now, by some margin, the oldest railway vehicle on site – dating from 1888 or 1889, depending on where you look.

Please keep watching for more details of Rail, road and other exhibits soon!