Our 2011 Open Weekend was held on 16th & 17th July. This year’s event was a much more low key affair than the 2010 one, and was used to trial our (demonstration) train operation in the form of the Ruston running back and forth between the platform and the Golden Bridge.
The weekend was a resounding success, despite occasional thunderstorms and bouts of torrential rain (British summertime), and overall takings covered almost half the cost of transporting the wee Ruston north of the border. The operating system devised prior to the event worked well, and our thanks go to those individuals who acted as marshalls during the event, ensuring our visitors stayed safe at all times. Thanks also to those who manned the display and buffet as well as those who got the site spic and span each day and tidied away at night. Last but not least, a big thank you goes to Iain MacIntosh for driving the loco over the two days.
The success of the trial running, together with the substantial completion of our Safety Management System, bodes well for the commencement of public passenger operations in the near future. As stated previously, the Ruston will be used to train our first tranche of footplate staff in advance of the Fowler’s return to active service and our acquisition of a suitable passenger coach. It may also operate footplate experience or “driver for a fiver” turns, perhaps later this year. In the meantime, the new running line and station at Whitrope are perfect examples of how a properly planned and led community/ enthusiast venture can deliver a quality railway rebuild for a tiny fraction of the costs normally associated with government initiated schemes, and we hope those in high places recognise the tremendous opportunities this model creates, perhaps elsewhere on the Waverley Route or in other parts of the country.
Photos courtesy/ copyright of Bruce McCartney