The Friends of the
National Railway Museum

South of England Group
Vice Presidents: Richard Hardy; Sir William McAlpine Bt, FRSE, FCIT, FRSA

Last Update

    7 April 2011

Leighton Buzzard Light Railway
  6 July 1997

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The Leighton Buzzard Light Railway held its Heritage Weekend on 5th and 6th July, and the outreach stand was present on both days.  This 2ft gauge line runs from the outskirts of the town on the boundary of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire to the still active quarries near the A5 road.  Of the two, the Sunday was by far the busier.  A fine collection of vintage road vehicles attended including fire engines, ambulances, lorries, delivery vans and assorted cars.  The most unusual was the smallest, a hand propelled mobile fire pump for use on GWR stations.  We were serenaded by a brass band for most of the day and made most welcome by the railways volunteers.

 At 11.30 on the Sunday, our party set off on the train from Page's Park for the 3 mile run to the works at Stonehenge (not to be confused with the non-rail connected standing stones in Wiltshire).  Here we were met by our guide and had a demonstration of the various diesel and petrol locos on a variety of goods trains.  Many of the locos used to work on the line bringing sand from the quarries to the transfer sidings in Leighton Buzzard.  A number have also arrived from a variety of military establishments throughout the UK.

It was then back on the train to Page's Park to see the loco shed.  Here, was the fine collection of steam locomotives, four of which were in steam to haul the passenger trains.

These included the railway's flagship, Challoner, the De Winton 0-4-0 vertical boilered quarry engine.  Hiding in the shed was the NRM armoured petrol engine.  Compared to some of the locos, this seemed massive. 

Not only is it larger in loading gauge than most of its stable-mates, but it is armour plated, having been built for use hauling shells to the front line in the first World War.  Our guide told us that the volunteers have had to make various adjustments to the track alignment and platform edging to accommodate the loco.  Its good to see that even on narrow gauge lines the national collection locos can be seen in operation.

 We were lucky that the we had good weather for the two days.  Not only did this allow us to enjoy this narrow-gauge railway, but it allowed us to spread the word on the NRM to  another part of the home counties.