1st & 2nd June 2002
Battlefield Line "Shunter Weekend"

A review of the Saturday.

The Battefield Line....not exactly one of my favourite preserved railways, an opinion brought about by too many previous occasions when trips there did not provide all that was expected. Not to worry, a nice days weather and the prospect of at least four required locos made it worth another trip, helped in some small way by having a complimentary day pass after my last trip there failed to produce the loco I went specifically for!

Here are some photos taken on the day.

Some confusion between the Battlefield Line Website which said the first train was at 12.30 and a friend who called them to be told it was at 11.15, take your pick! I got there for about 10.45 to find out the 11.15 gen was correct. The days loco roster was as follows;

 11.15 dep : D9525
12.30 dep : 03170 paired with 31130
13.45 dep : D9525 paired with D5518
15.00 dep : D2867 paired with D3019
16.15 dep : D2867, 03070 & D3019 triple-headed

Brake van rides using D2867 and D2310 would also provide some alternative entertainment.

My targets were D2867, 03170, D2310 & D3019. A round trip behind the 14 (D9525) was also on the cards as I'd only had that loco previously at Barrow Hill.

11.15 came and went....then the guard appeared and asked us all to vacate the leading coach as it had to be removed owing to a technical fault. This cost 15 minutes, though D9525's performance to Shenton and back meant we'd return to Shackerstone in plenty of time so the next departure could be on time. A nice loud little loco, I'm glad I had the chance for a round trip with the teddy-bear on its own. A colleague was no so impressed with the set-up though - a griddle car in the formation but no hot food on offer (having driven down from Yorkshire he fancied a cooked breakfast or a bacon butty, both of which have been on offer on previous visits.

Passing Market Bosworth we viewed Harry Needles "strategic reserve" of shunters, some eight industrial beasts of varying designs lay dead in one of the sidings. A couple looked like ex-BR class 04's but someone said whilst they were of the same type they were never BR owned.

Decision time on return to Shackerstone...the 04 (D2310) was to be doing brake van rides only. Should I let the 03 go on this trip in the hope of getting D2310, my chance to get the 03 coming on the days last train? The first rule of gronk bashing states "never let a required gronk go when you've a chance to get it" so I decided to do the 03/31 combo on its round trip...even though I hated the pairing!

The drill seemed to be to use the 03 to get away from stops and slacks with the 31 taking over to keep the train moving at a reasonable pace. After the run round at Shenton the same performance took us back towards Shackerstone. A hot smell pervaded the leading coach on leaving Shenton however and, approaching Market Bosworth, the 03 driver blew his horn and the train stopped. A look out showed smoke pouring out of the 03....apparently the exhaust lagging had caught fire! After a quick discussion the 03 was shutdown and we continued with the 31 powering, thus my decision to go for the 03 seemed to have been vindicated! Approaching Shackerstone however I noticed the 03 was running again and it powered the train away from the signalbox and into the station.

We were met at Shackerstone by the 02 (D2867), a brake van, class 11 (12083) and the 04 on the other platform. Time to flag the next departure (only D9525 & D5518,so no great loss) to get another two required locos in the book. The class 11 was dead and just along for the ride but we duly scored the 02 and 04 on a couple of round trips to the signalbox, back through the station to the sidings and back to the station again.

A member of staff then invited anyone interested to come for a tour round the loco shed. Three of us took the chance to do so and viewed gronk 11215 in the shed which had most of the engine out in bits around it. No chance that would be working this weekend then! We also got a close look at their two-stroke diesel Stephenson-Crossley industrial shunter - a real beast!

The next main departure was the 08, D3019, paired with the 02 (D2867). A slow journey ensued. On arrival at Shenton it looked like the four mile run had still proven too much for the 02...there was smoke billowing out from underneath it! An investigation by the crew confirmed the brakes had been dragging on the journey. After some attempts to free them off it was decided to leave the 02 here. Next problem, the 02 had to back-up to put some slack in the coupling....but it refused to move!!

OK, everyone off, the 08 will have to propel the 02 back into the headshunt. We all got off, at which point the 02 beetled off under its own power to the headshunt. OK, all back on then! A very slow run "home" then followed, much slower than I'm sure the 08 was capable of (or was it sick too and the crew nursing it along?).

Back at Shackerstone and just the 14 was waiting to go on the train for the days last departure. The 03 was in the siding, also "failed" by the looks. At this stage I decided I'd head for home, happy with my four new haulages.

Quite a record I guess - one broken coach and two broken gronks in one day! With several friends planning to go on the Sunday I can't say I'm that confident they'll be sampling the 02 or 03....

Verdict : A reasonable day out. If I had any criticism to make then it would be that there wasn't much "gen" to be had when we arrived - OK the loco roster was published, but no-one could seem to confirm what was happening on the brake van rides (specifically which locos working when). One friend commented that the railway sometimes comes over as having "an air of un-professionalism" about it. Maybe that was a bit unfair, but then again....

Gary Thornton.

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