Tag Archives: french

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!