Nick Farrant almost gets bowled out on the Saturday...
With Sheffield Wednesday already having been relegated, a trip to Burnley was never an option (even though we won 7-2!), therefore a last opportunity to scratch 73141 at Shackerstone was arranged. As everyone else out of my bashing mates appeared to have had this loco, the family were hastily persuaded to go to Twycross Zoo to fill the car. With 73141 allocated per the website to the 10.00 ex Shackerstone, with 08818 on the next train, it looked like I'd be able to win brownie points by heading to the zoo at lunchtime, both required locos (73141/08818) in the book. So far so good, the website showed on Friday night (provisionally) that I'd be ok with my plans, the only possible bowl out being the use of D3019 if "gronk fans asked nicely".
After dispatching the wife and kids at the zoo after an uneventful drive from Bristol, the move was going to plan with 73141 simmering away at the head of the 10.00 ex Shackerstone. The day rover price seemed a little high at £15, especially when compared to Peak Rail's £6 the week before for 4 locos. I however decided to ching out and maybe make 3 runs getting in the dud D9525 for the line after Harry's 08818 had worked. 31130/45015/37227 were in various states at Shackerstone with the 31 looking in the best of health. D3019 was undergoing an oil change and looked out of the frame.
The cooked breakfasts appeared to be going quite well on the train, although there were less punters than i expected around in general. 73141 duly staggered out of Shackerstone bang on time, with a restriction in force not far from Shackerstone, the power handle was duly opened up after the slack and after crawling through Market Bosworth (doesn't appear to stop here now) where an 02 was stabled, we duly arrived at Shenton where the ED ran round. It's a shame if this loco is stripped for spares and scrapped, still what makes sense these days on the railways... Pulling back into Shackerstone the new loco was waiting to take over ready for the 11.15 return, 08818, eh, hang on it's 31130 instead, the website says it will only work on Sunday, maybe the 08 is going on the back for a top n tail move, er no, not according to the station bert.
Cue riot, with several people also looking for a quick getaway (maybe to the Nene Valley gala, myself to the zoo), various requests were made to get 08818 out, no way say the staff, have you not seen the timetable where 08818 is booked on the 15.00 departure ! An officially printed timetable is waived at us (where's this sprung from? Not received when paying my £15 and no-one else has seen it either) and we are forcibly told that we are looking at wrong info, the website was provisional and all has changed, great, the website has not been updated (last viewed Friday night) and several people (most of the bashers in fact) are potentially bowled out for their early departure from the line, 08818 being required by many as a non normally operating loco, whereas the 31 is based on the line and is a regular.
To the rescue comes the webmaster who says he'll have a word with the powers that be, we're told that D3019 is unlikely to work, and this is accepted with good grace as it was only ever a bonus loco anyway. 31130 makes good time and as we leave Shackerstone, the guard is told 08818 will be the next departure instead of D9525, fine, brownie points potentially in the bag and a zoo lunch beckoning I enjoy the 31 after brushing away the cobwebs from the Mk1 compo I'm in and laying paper down to absorb the damp from the seat, nice....
At Shackerstone 08818 backs on and pulls out. A hastily handwritten timetable is brought down the train by the guard, the official timetable (that no-one has seen) having been scrapped, fantastic, according to the handwritten scribble D3019 has been battered and will tandem the 15.00 with 08818, with D9525 pairing the 73 on the next departure. Requiring D3019, a move is hastily arranged to get the kids from the zoo, drive to Shenton, get the 14/73 combo to Shackerstone, and get the 2 x 08 combo back. Many of the cranks happy at getting 08818 in earlier than planned (officially) are now in a dilemma as D3019 has appeared on the timetable, a few make phone calls to wives etc and some disappear, bowled out having made alternative plans. My move goes to plan, I arrive at Shenton, pack the missus and kids off to the battlefield there, pile onto D9525/73141 which do an impressive horn solo on the way to Shackerstone and then watch the 2 x 08 back onto the 15.00. With D3019 throwing out lots of clag we arrive at Shenton, a little late, where it's time for me to go home.
Verdict, a good day out in the end, good job I have a flexible family and the railway was flexible when faced with disgruntled punters. I do however feel sorry for my mate from Sheffield who caught a train to Leicester, bus to Market Bosworth (station is served) only to find the train rolls through without stopping. When yelling at the guard he's told the nearest station is Shackerstone, wrong it's Shenton, and he walks the extra distance missing the 31 in the process. Fortunately he found a lift back to Sheffield with a fellow crank, but not before vowing never to return.
In respect of the comments regarding the Market Bosworth station situation the following was received from Adrian Lock who works on the Battlefield Line;
I believe that you may not be aware that there are a number of circumstances why we cannot currently use Market Bosworth Station and have not been able to do so prior to me being involved with Shackerstone (so that is a number of years!). The aforementioned reasons being :
1. There is no official access to the platform at Market Bosworth from the road or from the station drive opposite therefore if an accident occurred, emergency services would not be able to assist.
2. We have sought permission from the local council to put an access route in, but this was refused due to the fact that the local road bridge does not have any pedestrian paths on it.
However, we were given special dispensation to use the platform at Market Bosworth, to view the locomotives in store for last September's gala by Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate but this was only for people arriving by train.
For as long as I have been involved at Shackerstone there have been no timetabled stops at Market Bosworth whatsoever. If the person mentioned in your review had looked at the timetable on the internet or contacted the Railway he/she would have been informed of the situation.
On behalf of Shackerstone Diesels