If you register, you can do a lot more. And become an active part of our growing community. You'll have access to hidden forums, and enjoy the ability of replying and starting conversations.

Spa Valley Railway - Latest News

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by matt41312, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Messages:
    192
    Likes Received:
    548
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Commercial & Finance Manager
    Location:
    Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Thank you for the encouragement, I'm glad the posts are thought of as worthwhile. They will continue, there isn't much more to say about the Spa at the moment, its ticking over this Saturday and Sunday is a normal weekend with the Bulleid in action again, not sure on the diesel yet. 25th September sees Basil, Sybil and Manuel back in Tunbridge Wells to wreck havoc on our High Weald Belle dining train, whoever knew you could get away with bread rolls being plonked on a table... This train is sold out with 92 customers and further dates are pencilled in for next year.

    The biggest source of income for us outside of events is the dining operation, it is often the difference between profit and loss on an operating day, we're up to 10 different products under our 'Dining in the Weald' brand and they all seem to sell extremely well. Back in 2019 when I thought up the Gin train I had no idea that it would prove as popular as it has and we were only really able to get it underway in the latter part of 2020, every train has sold out and the demand is there for more!
     
  2. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Messages:
    192
    Likes Received:
    548
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Commercial & Finance Manager
    Location:
    Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    You may see in the railway press something relating to another Bulleid Pacific coming to join SKP, it was the plan for 257 Squadron to come to the Spa Valley this Winter as a back up to SKP which will be handling the majority (if not all) of the Polar trains, both locos would have then ran together at our Winter Steam Up on the 8th & 9th January.

    Unfortunately 257 Squadron won't be able to pay a visit this Winter (see the SLL website for a detailed report of everything going on with the fleet) but there is no doubt and it is our every intention that we will see an original Bulleid at Tunbridge Wells West in the not too distant future.
     
    jnc, ghost and Dan Hill like this.
  3. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Messages:
    1,695
    Likes Received:
    3,135
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Leicestershire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Shame about 257 Squadron not being able to visit...yet!
     
  4. nickt

    nickt New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    451
    Likes Received:
    142
    Gender:
    Male
    jnc likes this.
  5. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Messages:
    192
    Likes Received:
    548
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Commercial & Finance Manager
    Location:
    Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    An update from the Spa Valley Railway.

    Saturday evening just gone saw 92 diners join us for our second Faulty Towers dining experience, this was a huge success and will be repeated on several occasions during 2022. We even had Basil and Manuel up on SKPs footplate! Financially there is obviously an outlay to running such an experience and it was a gamble taken earlier this year to see whether or not it'd work and I'm pleased to say it did. Even standard dining trains these days aren't always enough to get the public to visit and having these add ons is sometimes the way to draw in customers. Our next Murder Mystery for example is sold out at 80 people already.

    I've certainly found in the nearly 7yrs I've been involved in the commercial running of a heritage railway and the nearly 12yrs in management of them (for those that don't know me I've been involved and had an interest in heritage railways all my life, I was only 2-weeks old when I first had a ride on a preserved line!) it isn't just the trains people come to see, they want something for their money and in our case the multiple dining products is the way we've got people in the front gate. Combining it with a steam engine on 1960s carriages makes it a unique selling point when you compare it to the other dining opportunities within Tunbridge Wells.

    Today was an equally as busy day as a group of four of us, which included our stalwart Chairman Jon Nye went off shunting with 73140 as part of the Beer Festival (1st to 3rd October) set up. This was an opportunity to take the recently restored PMV to Eridge which will be acting as a bar facility for the event next weekend and will then return to Tunbridge Wells West to have the kitchen fitted. It will be going back to Eridge to provide us with a catering outlet and should we ever get the ability to run around back in down there it'll find other uses as a mobile catering facility on rails.

    We also took the MK1 RMB 1864 which arrived in mid-May for a test run. The carriage has undergone a huge amount of work since arrival, all required before we could put it into service. The biggest task was replacing all wheel sets for ones we had in stock, repairs to the body which included half a new end, a new inverter and electrical system to power the buffet element of the vehicle, a thorough deep clean, new bar, COVID screens and a thorough exam. The coach went into the relevant train set this afternoon and will be first in public use on Friday 1st October.

    'Sir Keith Park' spent the day hauling standard passenger trains and as always proved very popular. We all had the great entertainment of observing the use of the local petrol station from our platform and offered coal to those that wanted to try converting their vehicles.

    Our 10th Beer & Cider Festival starts on Friday 1st and continues on Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd October, this is now one of, if not the biggest Beer Festival in the South East and has around 170 Real Ales and 35 Ciders this year. It is quite amazing to have seen it grow over the years, I remember the first one back in 2011 when Swanage based M7 30053 visited and we only had about 30 Beers and 10 Ciders I think on offer! Subsequently the event has grown and pre-COVID would regularly attract approx 3,500 visitors over the weekend with many flying in from around the globe to enjoy a pint in our Engine Shed.

    Beers and Ciders can be found at Tunbridge Wells West, Groombridge, Eridge and on both train sets in either bar car 'Kate' on Set A or the RMB on Set B. Live bands, hot food stalls plus a Gin & Prosecco bar, just £20 for a day rover ticket or entry is free to the stations to buy tokens and enjoy a pint or two!

    If anyone on this forum happens to visit next weekend I am firing SKP on the Friday, 06:30 to 17:30 and I'm driving 31430 Saturday and 33002 on Sunday, by all means feel free to say hello! SKP is joined by Douglas on the Saturday & Sunday for the lovers of steam and the diesels in use will be 31430 & 33002 all three days supported by 33063 on the Friday & Saturday. 73140 is available as required.

    thumbnail_IMG_5887.jpg thumbnail_IMG_5882.jpg thumbnail_IMG_5881.jpg thumbnail_IMG_5876.jpg thumbnail_image1-3.jpg
     
    Davo, Greenway, Vulcan Works and 8 others like this.
  6. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Messages:
    1,695
    Likes Received:
    3,135
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Leicestershire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Thanks for the report and pictures Jonnie. What is also good to appreciate, is the fact that you are "relatively" young and became involved definitely "Post BR Steam". We often are told that there will be fewer volunteers and support for heritage railways, as the old enthusiasts get fewer in number. This ignores the many people, like yourself, who are enthusiasts because of heritage steam.
     
    jnc, Vulcan Works, 35B and 1 other person like this.
  7. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Messages:
    192
    Likes Received:
    548
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Commercial & Finance Manager
    Location:
    Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    An update from Sunny Tunny as us locals call it.

    We've just brought back our Real Ale & Cider Festival after an absence in 2020 due to reasons we have all become far too familiar with. So, how did it go... Very well is an understatement as it was on par to previous festivals and as if it'd never been away! We saw 1,651 passengers travel on our trains and a further 1,000 visiting just the engine shed and bars all around the railway, after all costs it has generated a very healthy profit which will allow us to complete some vital infrastructure works over the Winter months.

    This Beer Festival has been locked firmly in the Beer calendar since October 2011 when it first started, the first event featured 25 Beers and 4 Ciders, in 2019 it topped 200 cask beers and 35 ciders, for 2021 we managed to get together 166 Casks, 22 of which were Green Hop beers and 35 Ciders. A total of 12,500 pints were drunk with about 850 pints of wastage, which is always something you're going to get at an event of this scale. Thanks to its long running nature we've been able to secure rare beers, for example this year we had two year matured Harvey's Prince of Denmark 7.5% and also three casks of the Harvey's Green Hop, none of which have hit the pumps in the pubs yet.

    Why does it work so well for us? Well, it has 10yrs worth of reputation behind it, we have seen a lot of visitors and I've had a lot of emails in the past couple of days asking how we do it etc but I really do need to stress to people that we started this event a long time ago and it now draws people from all over the world to enjoy the beer and trains. It helps that Tunbridge Wells and Eridge are easily reached via public transport and the town of Tunbridge Wells itself is full of hotels for people to stay in and enjoy a variety of beers etc throughout the event, it a huge economy boost and it has many repeat customers every year. It will return again for its 11th year in October 2022.

    Other recent updates, the Class 101 trailer car we'd had resident for a number of years has been sold, this left yesterday and moved to the Lavender Line. A MK1 BG also arrived from Isfield, this coach is not being restored and has been purchased for the B4 bogies, wheel sets which are in good condition, doors and other spares that can be retrieved, such as the corridor end connections etc. There has been some suggestions it should be restored, there always is with this type of thing but I've come to accept over the years not everything can be saved.

    We have a MK1/2 fleet that isn't getting any younger and whilst we've spent a lot of money on restorations in recent years (TSO 4999, TSO 5037, SOB Kate, FO 3131 and MK2 9414 have all been to Cranmore and had major body overhauls with the under frame side done in house where possible) getting spares or even new nowadays is often the financial difference between something running again and something not. We used four of our spare commonwealth wheels under the RMB to enable it to return to service, the wheels that were under it will need new tyres before they see service again, that's £4K an axle, £16K a coach, it will be done in time but it soon adds up, it thus really does become impossible to save and keep everything working. We also have a BG at Groombridge which is used as a storage vehicle at the moment, the bogies under it are ex-SO 4828 which has had new bogies in recent years to keep it running for years to come.

    'Sir Keith Park' and 'Douglas' are scheduled to both be running this coming Saturday and Sunday, we have two sell out dining experiences taking place over the weekend and this will be the last time SKP is in traffic before a period of down time prior to going into the Polar Express season, which is going to be the most intensive operation ever undertaken on our railway in terms of people.
     
    Flying Phil, CH 19, mdewell and 5 others like this.
  8. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Messages:
    192
    Likes Received:
    548
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Commercial & Finance Manager
    Location:
    Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    We've reached the end of part 1 of the 2021 season at the Spa Valley Railway, which for us started like many others on 22nd May or around that date when restrictions allowed. Overall we've had a highly successful part 1 of our season with 20,741 travelling at various times, including on our popular dining trains and attending the various special events we've put on.

    Our Polar Express season starts on 25th November with 22 days of operation planned in the calendar, currently 32,544 people are booked to travel with us during that rather busy period! 4 hired in coaches are due to arrive in the next couple of weeks with the majority of the Polar trains being hauled by a diesel and 'Sir Keith Park'.
     
    A1X, Johnme101, Bluenosejohn and 4 others like this.
  9. Paul Grant

    Paul Grant Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2010
    Messages:
    405
    Likes Received:
    343
    Location:
    Fife
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I haven't seen it mentioned here but Spa Valley has received a £250k bequest from a supporter who passed away a few years ago with the money being used to bolster the overhauls of Sutton and the Jinty.
     
    Johnme101, Martin Perry and ghost like this.
  10. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Messages:
    1,695
    Likes Received:
    3,135
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Leicestershire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Thanks again for the updates Jonnie.
     
  11. WesternRegionHampshireman

    WesternRegionHampshireman New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2021
    Messages:
    328
    Likes Received:
    69
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Hampshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    So.... Is there going to be a visitor for your January event?
     
  12. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Messages:
    192
    Likes Received:
    548
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Commercial & Finance Manager
    Location:
    Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    A very busy couple of days at Tunbridge Wells West has seen 3 hired in MK1 TSOs and 1 MK2 TSO arrive for the Polar Express event, two are from Riviera and two are from the Mid Norfolk Railway. All are on hire for the Polar Express season and will return to their respective homes in early 2022.

    There are currently 32,672 passengers booked to travel on the Polar Express and for anyone wondering we've hired these in because they are all TSOs and high capacity. We only have two TSOs in our own fleet, one is approaching the end of a long term overhaul and will be in service next year (5037) which will lessen the need to hire in a carriage. Our own TSO, SO and BSO will also be in use meaning a 7 car train will regularly run during November & December. Our other serviceable carriages are MK1s a BCK (the spare brake coach), Kate (which is a converted SK into a bar car with 30 seats) and will be a staff coach in platform 2 and the RMB which is a spare vehicle. Our SK requires some bodywork repairs which will start in January.

    Relating back to an earlier post, we were recently left with an outstanding legacy of £250,000 which will help a long way towards completing the current overhaul of 'Sutton' and a future one. The Jinty is also benefiting heavily from this and will enable the locomotive to return to steam, the boiler is progressing very well at Weybourne as is work on the chassis, motion, axle boxes etc in house. Whilst it might not be apparent on the face of it the overhauls of both 47493 and 650 are coming along nicely.

    As for a visitor for the Winter Steam Up, we're working on it, watch this space. We are also hoping to announce a visiting engine for part of 2022 in the not too distant future.
     
    ykin01, ghost, Johnme101 and 5 others like this.
  13. WesternRegionHampshireman

    WesternRegionHampshireman New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2021
    Messages:
    328
    Likes Received:
    69
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Hampshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Thank you Mr. Wesson! :D
    Can't wait to find out who it is! :D
     
  14. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Messages:
    192
    Likes Received:
    548
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Commercial & Finance Manager
    Location:
    Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Another update, this time Eridge Station...

    Network Rail commenced their Access for All works on Platform 2 at Eridge on Tuesday 2nd November 2021, with an estimated completion date of 20th December 2021, in time for our services post Christmas.

    This protect will involve the installation of a ramp into the platform itself between the edge of the old platform 4 and canopy posts. This will give step free access to our platform for the first time. Southern’s platform has a lift being installed on the former platform 1 route.

    At the moment not much will change for the Spa Valley and this is a project in its own right, however, it will remove an obstacle that is the current access steps, for the potential reinstatement of the track to form a future run round loop via the old platform 4 route.

    No photos of anything of real interest but the photos show the platform if you're unfamiliar with the layout of Eridge.
     

    Attached Files:

    Wenlock and Johnme101 like this.
  15. ady

    ady New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2006
    Messages:
    2,079
    Likes Received:
    141
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Post office
    Location:
    South
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    While I can see how it make the installation of a loop easier, does this that mean access will still be need across the planned line? So some sort of signalling will still be required?
     
  16. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Messages:
    192
    Likes Received:
    548
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Commercial & Finance Manager
    Location:
    Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    The original solution was a swing bridge, the new ramp would take you down to track level within the platform. If the track goes back a form of foot crossing would be employed and be protected by locked gates.
     
    Wenlock likes this.
  17. Defiance149

    Defiance149 New Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2015
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Could you possibly confirm the identities please? I know the Mid Norfolk Mk.1 is 4702.
     
  18. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Messages:
    192
    Likes Received:
    548
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Commercial & Finance Manager
    Location:
    Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    4949 & 4946 (Riviera MK1s)
    4702 (MK1 MNR) & 5211 (MK2 MNR)
     
    Wenlock likes this.
  19. Defiance149

    Defiance149 New Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2015
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Great, thank you.
     
  20. Jonnie

    Jonnie Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Messages:
    192
    Likes Received:
    548
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Commercial & Finance Manager
    Location:
    Kent
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    CALEDONIAN RAILWAY TRUSTS NO. 828 TO VISIT THE SPA VALLEY RAILWAY!

    We’re delighted to announce the visit of Caledonian Railway 0-6-0 812 Class No. 828 courtesy of the Caledonian Railway 828 Trust and Strathspey Railway.
    The 1899 built locomotive will be departing its home of the Strathspey Railway in Scotland in late March for a holiday to Royal Tunbridge Wells lasting until October. 828 will be joining Hunslet Austerity No. 2890 ‘Douglas’ to haul a variety of services up and down the High Weald whilst resident Bulleid Pacific No. 34053 ‘Sir Keith Park’ is out of service for a boiler swap.

    Appearing in its stunning Caledonian Railway blue livery, No. 828 will first haul trains during the Spa Valley Railway’s Spring Steam Up on 2nd & 3rd April 2022, the locomotive will then appear alongside other engines during our Summer Steam Up on 18th & 19th June, the 25th Anniversary Gala event from 26th to 29th August and finally at our 11th Real Ale & Cider Festival which takes place from 7th to 9th October before heading back to Scotland. In between these special events 828 will also haul trains on other scheduled operating days.

    No. 828 is the sole survivor of the Caledonian Railway 812 class which is 0-6-0 tender locomotives designed by John F. McIntosh for the Caledonian Railway and introduced in 1899.

    The Spa Valley Railway first started discussing the prospect of 828 visiting back in 2019 and we are extremely grateful to the Caledonian Railway 828 Trust and Strathspey Railway for making this visit possible.

    Tickets can be booked online for our Spring Steam Up, 2nd & 3rd April 2022 which will be the first public steaming’s of 828 during its visit – https://bit.ly/3nbkbwW
     
    ykin01, A1X, CH 19 and 9 others like this.

Share This Page