Tag Archives: Simplex

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……

More exhibits!

Late exhibit entries are coming in now for Tracks to the Trenches. We are delighted to announce two real celebrity machines will be making a first-time visit to Apedale.

40hp Simplex - Mary AnnThey are the Ffestiniog Railway’s 40HP Simplex (once known as Mary Ann) and Moelwyn – the UK’s only surviving example of one of the Baldwin tractors which were very popular with American and Canadian forces during WW1. Being FR locos, their wheel standards are alsightly incompatible with the railway at Apedale – so they MAY be static display or very limited operation – testing will decide.Baldwin Tractor - Moelwyn

 There’s still just a few days to buy advance tickets. The deal is pretty good – you get to skip the queue, and get the guidebook thrown in. The guidebook is £4, and is really nice – so you get £13 worth of ticket and book for £9, and quick entry. A bargain if ever there was one. We’ve also still got a few Access All Areas passes left. Closing date for advance ticket sales is 1st May, so stop messing around and go to the Tickets page with your credit card in hand!!

Driver experience course 2016 dates released!

Driver Experience DayWe are pleased to announce that the ever popular “Tracks to the Trenches” Driver experience course dates for 2016 have been released.

This unique “day in the life” (of a WW1 light railway driver) course is a perfect present for special occasions.  Delivered in a special presentation gift box, the voucher has a validity of 18 months, with the actual course date to be selected and booked directly by the recipient. With Christmas just around the corner, is this a perfect present for those difficult people who already have everything!?

Please see http://www.ww1-event.org/driver-experience-course for more details – which includes a rather convenient on-line purchase facility!

The story behind the bent-frame in the shell hole…..

20hp "LR 2638" and 40hp "LR 3102" Motor Rails seen together. Credit: Ruediger FachPerhaps one of the most photographed locomotives at “Tracks to the trenches 2014” was an out-of-use, little 20hp Bent-Frame tractor that was located in a shell hole near the main field area. This certainly attracted much comment and was a surprice (previously unadvertised) feature.

Forward area light railways and tramways were often operated under the cover of darkness. Being so close to the front, they were always easy targets for the enemy, and were often damaged through shelling. According to contemporary reports, although the tracks were regularly inspected, it was not uncommon for locomotives and trains to often become de-railed through recent enemy action. When this happened, the priority was to remove any ammunition and get the railway operating again. Locomotives could be left for days/weeks until there was an opportunity for recovery (again – mainly at night!).20hp Motor Rail "Wizz-Bang" LR2638 freshly driven into a shell hole! Credit: Simon Merritt-Webb

These little 20hp tractors were sometimes known as “Wizz-Bangs” (also the name for in-bound enemy shells) – due to their high speed/acceleration and their regular tendancy to back-fire. They were a particular favourite with the railway/tramway operating companies.

Our cameo scene represented a locomotive that had been driven into a previously unseen shell hole at night. Whilst awaiting recovery, the railway had been diverted around it and the wagons long since removed.

The aim of this little scene was to provide a poignant reminder of the risks that the Light Railway and Tramway companies were taking every day, in their continual battle to keep the men in the trenches and the guns supplied.

Stop-Press – more locomotives and equipment head to the Trenches…..

We are pleased to confirm that 2 more locomotives have now been added to the line-up at Tracks to the Trenches.

Armoured MotorRail 435 of 1917 (WD number 2156) is coming to us from the Ffestiniog Railway/Mike Hart – this locomotive, exported to St Kitts after WW1, was re-built to its current form a few years ago and is normally resident on the Ffestiniog Railway. As a 1917 built Motor Rail, and a very low works number, we know that this machine saw active service in France during some of the main fighting.

The 2nd loco is somewhat different – A Kerr Stuart “Wren” (number 3114), built in Stoke-on-Trent in 1918 whilst Reginald Mitchell (designer of the Spitfire WW2 Aircraft) was serving his apprenticeship in the company. This is diminutive locomotive, representing the home-front, was built for the Ministry of Munitions and worked at an armaments dump in Driffield during the war. It has been restored and is normally based on the Vale of Rheidol railway. 3114 will also be accompanied to Apedale with a German Wasserwagen – these water tenders were often seen with the “Brigadelok” locomotives.

We are extremely grateful to both organisations for their help and support towards Tracks to the Trenches.

War and Peace – a taster!

20hp & 40hp meet at War and Peace!The Moseley Railway Trust has – for the second year – been operating a temporary railway at the War & Peace Revival military (mega) show in Folkestone.
This year, Apedale resident Motor Rail 2197 was joined by Amberley’s MR1381 “open” 40hp Simplex- which was even repainted for the event. The gathering of these locos and the British Class D & P open wagons, plus a typical trench tramway water carrying wagon, provided some tantalising tasters for our own event in September!