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A visit to Ecclesbourne Valley Railway


Andy Y

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It's quite shameful to admit that there's a preserved railway little more than an hour from home that I hadn't visited before, the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway at the edge of Wirksworth, Derbyshire. I suppose it had been a little off the radar as not being the conventional steam-centred family day out type railway and I've done it a substantial injustice in thinking that way. Ecclesbourne is far more about the railway that I grew up with definite leaning towards some interesting DMUs. On most preserved railways these are very much the low cost early empty services early on in the day but instead they're quite a feature at Ecclesbourne, and that's a good thing.

 

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Ben and I were there as a research visit and there was certainly a chance for me to capture bags of reference pictures for future projects. We were treated to a behind the scenes look at the stock and the workshops but first of all it was time for a spot of breakfast; again this was a little bit different with the kitchen set up in a Pullman-liveried Gatwick luggage van attached to Mark 2 TSO and FO, again from an earlier life on the Gatwick Express.

 

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A trip up to the workshop gave us chance to look at the Severn Tunnel Rescue vehicles, converted in 2001 from Class 121.

 

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55027 was selected, along with classmate 55031, for conversion into special Severn Tunnel Rescue vehicles. The modifications were extensive. Now wearing the departmental number of 977975, all but the cab windows and the guards door windows were removed and in their place a large opening ramp was installed to allow easy boarding if there was an emergency in the tunnel. The guards van had a generator unit installed which provided 240v ‘hotel power’ to the vehicle with strip lights providing solebar level lighting and 16amp sockets were also provided at the same level to allow for equipment to be plugged in to the vehicle. Internally, the vehicles featured equipment for dealing with injuries as well as areas for passengers to ride standing up.

 

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Ben and I took the chance for a look inside the sister vehicle, thanks to our mobile's torches.

 

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We had a run down to Shottle which gave chance to see the Pway team and the road-railer in action.

 

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It's not often there's chance to see point mechanisms in such pristine condition; some more useful reference pics grabbed.

 

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A dig under a few wagons, worthwhile for a future project.

 

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The 108 DMBS headed our service back to Wirksworth with suitably nostalgic bouncy seats.

 

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Although this was an out of school holiday Tuesday it was good to see services well used and so it was on the dining service down to Duffield. Their Crompton, 33103 'Swordfish' sounded very well on its runs and it was a pleasure to sit back in an FK on a fine summer's day with the familiar smells and sounds.

 

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The railway is currently holding an appeal to build a traditional style booking office for the platform at Duffield - http://www.e-v-r.com/documents/duffieldbhproject.pdf. They're looking to raise £25,000 and they're well over halfway there, we've chipped in so hopefully we'll see that in use next season. If you visit the railway over the next week or so they're holding a raffle with some great prizes including driver experience days and railway membership.

 

The scenery is gentle but superb along the route with all the former station buildings occupied as residences, the train's third man operates the level crossings so there's plenty of chance to take the scenery in along the way and see the railway's operations.

 

Much as I enjoyed the Crompton I don't think you can beat the view from the front seat of a DMU so please take time to visit Ecclesbourne and relive your youth!

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The EVR is very good - they seemed to come from nowhere to having quite a lengthy line in the space of a few years.

 

A trip up the incline through Wirksworth is also pretty impressive (although i guess it wasn't operating the day you visited). Once you're at the top there's a footpath to the Steeple Grange 18" line which takes you even further up in to the hills, or to the remains of the Cromford and High Peak, which is now a footpath. 

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Pleased to see that you visited our local line.

 

Some of their DMU restoration group are members of the Mickleover Club and worked together to restore our O Gauge layout that had it's first real exhibition at The Derby Roundhouse in May. Thanks to their involvement at Wirksworth at least two of that group have secured Apprenticeships working in Derby for 'real' railway companies!

 

As a Club with a large membership we are often given magazines and books and all of our surplus stock ends up there to help keep the shop well stocked!

 

Mike

 

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It's a lovely line, and certainly appeals to diesel enthusiasts. It does use steam on the incline to Ravonstor, but would be nice to see more steam usage on the Duffield services. I believe they are overhauling a ex Peak Rail Austerity for that very use.

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An excellent line and thanks for the photos Andy. The thing that impresses me on each visit is its tidiness and the thought given to the standard of presentation, unlike some other preserved lines which appear to resemble linear scrapyards!

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Visited this a couple of weeks ago with a friend as part of a St Pancras - Derby - EVR - Matlock - Derby - Sheffield - Manchester - Euston run using cheap advance booked tickets. The EVR is as you say very good and I'd single out the exceptional  friendliness of the staff. We travelled in their Derby lightweight dmu. Again as you say, the view from the front is excellent.

Ps we did a lot of the miles from Derby using a cheap ranger ticket.

Thanks for the excellent pics, it brought a great day back!

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