As our 150th year celebration draws to a close, I thought it would be useful to reflect upon what a fantastic year it has been for our railway. We set out to make it a bumper year and I think we achieved it! We had many great events and lots of happy smiling faces through the door. It has taken a lot of effort on the part of our staff and volunteers and they have each played their part in their own way.
The year kicked off with our March Diesel Locomotive Weekend, which featured a visiting Class 14 locomotive for the first time. 'Eric' was a hit with the general public and it was great to see such an unusual yet versatile locomotive running on our line. The event also featured the first services for the newly-arrived Class 31, which became a first enthusiast favourite.
Something equally strange happened for the Multiple Memories Railcar Gala in May, where we had a visiting Class 153 from East Midlands Trains. It was certainly weird seeing that operating up and down the branch! The whole weekend started with a bit of a nightmare if I remember rightly. Several things went wrong with the transport of the unit which meant that it didn't land with us until midnight. We were then up bright and early for the naming ceremony as the unit now proudly wears the "Ecclesbourne Valley Railway 150 Years" nameplate. We were very grateful to East Midlands Trains for all of their help to make this weekend a great success.
I suppose the biggy was the visit of the 3F 'Jinty' 47406 which delighted the visitors for a large part of the summer. Operating over several key events including the Classic Bus and Coach Rally, the Classic Transport Weekend and the 1950s Bank Holiday Weekend, the locomotive helped us achieve several 'firsts' for our railway. For example, we passed steam and diesel services at Shottle for the first time. The 'Jinty' was so popular we then set about looking for a steam presence in 2018 and happily, we were able to secure the return of the locomotive so that we can enjoy it once more.
One of the passing locomotives was visiting Class 26 D5343. This locomotive operated intensively during August and was a firm favourite with the enthusiasts. Some of whom came every single day it was operating! It was certainly a fun locomotive to have around.
Finally, to cap off the season, we have just completed our busiest ever Santa season which worked very well indeed.
I look forward to another successful season in 2018. The return of the 'Jinty' is fantastic! We kick off again in March after some upcoming hard work by the PWay team and the big opening event is the Diesel Weekend on 17th and 18th featuring something very special indeed – a Class 35 Hymek!
None of it would be possible without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers. A Happy New Year to all!