A RAIL37 Churnet Valley Railway picture report

12th March 2006

 A Victorian themed event on the CVR when ex-Blue Peter presenter Simon Groom and Staffordshire Moorlands MP Charlotte Atkins were in attendance to unveil commemorative plaques at Froghall and Consall. The plaques mark the Ian Allen publishing awards to Consall Station and grounds, Kingsley and Froghall Station and the Consall signalling scheme. Simon was involved when the signal box at Consall was moved from Clifton and a report on the movement was shown on Blue Peter in 1983.

 A bitterly cold day on The Churnet Valley Railway, snow is in the offing and the pub at Froghall is up for sale. Not to worry because there is steam to be had on this fine Spring day! Today we are in the presence of 80098, a standard tank that has visited the railway before and a fine sight it makes. A big shot of this one this time.
I arrived too late to witness the unveiling at Froghall but joined the train to travel to Consall for the second ceremony.

We were greeted at Consall by a brass band who had the sense to stay indoors.

 Charlotte Atkins, MP for Staffordshire Moorlands, unveiled the plaque at Consall assisted by David Gaskin while Simon Groom looked on. Simon later officially opened the signal box but the snow was too heavy for photography.

 Froghall Station plaque.

A marquee was provided and most welcome it was too. Complimentary drinks and snacks were available and we were treated to a showing of the original recordings of the signal box being moved from Clifton to Cheddleton - including a confrontation with THAT wall on the corner above Cheddleton Station. However, that is nothing compared to the trauma of moving Elton Crossing box, now at Cheddleton - one day the story WILL be told.

 80098 had long since left for Cheddleton so it was the DMU for the journey North. This shot gives some idea of the prevailing conditions as the tablet is exchanged.

 There always were strange weather patterns in the valley and, whilst the blizzard raged at Consall, Cheddleton was clear as can be seen here when the DMU enters the station from Leekbrook - note the Rhyl destination.

 I caught the DMU for the journey back to Froghall and, of course, passed the standard tank at Consall. This was a stark reminder of my school days travelling on the Cheshire Lines route between Altrincham and Knutsford - in British railways days of course! The tanks engines would take water at Knutsford and winter time would produce images such as this - steam leaking everywhere. If an ex-GCR class D11 was in charge, as they often were, no such watering was necessary.

 Back at Froghall and into the cafe to await the return of 80098. The crowds had, by now, decided that enough was enough and the trains were more or less empty. Note the up platform and how the undergrowth and trees have been cleared away. The old platform cantilever supports are now visible and I for one would not relish the task of rebuilding the platform!

 One last shot of the tank as it performed its run round and, as the snow began to fall again, it was time for home.
It had been a terrific day and my congratulations and thanks go to everyone who contributed to the events. It was a pity the weather didn't do the decent thing but that is the luck of the draw.