Review of 2015
2015 was a major milestone for the railway with the opening of the new Lawley village station on Saturday 4th April. The work was initiated in the early 2000’s, and what followed was a extensive civil engineering exercise to clear about 40,000 cubic meters of spoil from inside the Heath Hill Tunnel, and a further 15,000 cubic meters from the site of the planned station. Part of the constraints of the planning permission meant that the spoil had be removed by rail, therefore approximately 2/3 of a mile of track had to be laid to take the spoil to the planned location of a future station (Doseley Halt).
The new station at Lawley Village is home to a recreation of a GWR Pagoda and further work is on hold pending the next phase of the Lawley Village housing estate, when road access will be put in place. Currently the only access to the station is by rail or foot. Our long term plan is to use Lawley Village station as the main terminus for the railway and eventually be able to run a heritage rail based park and ride into the Ironbridge Gorge, to service the Coalbrookdale museums and the gorge itself.
2015 also saw the railway host its first 1940’s day. Allied soldiers established a command post at Spring Village, the resistance were hiding out at Horsehay and Dawley and the Germans had captured Lawley Village! Battles were re-enacted throughout the day, and members of the gestapo were seen to be arrested on trains! The event was so popular that plans were put in place to repeat the event in 2016.
Summer 2015 also saw Telford Steam Railway proud to host a BBC film crew to film an episode of their extremely popular program, Home Away From Home. We were caught on the hop a bit with a very late notice request but in the best spirit of the railway we were able to host them and provide everything they requested. The Friday in question turned out to be a very long and tiring day for all involved but a massive well done must be given to our Chairman Paul Hughes and the footplate crew of Ian Heighway and Andy Fox. The couple taking part were blown away by the experience and the film crew were mightily impressed with the way they were looked after. Following the broadcast of the show we had a surge of interest in driving experience days so it was very worthwhile to host the BBC, even with the very short notice!
Just as the 2015 running season ended, at the end of September 2015, we had the bad news that our resident Steam Loco “Rocket” (Peckett and Sons 0-4-0ST) had failed her boiler inspection due to some issues with boiler stays. A very rapid fundraising appeal was set up and over £1000 was raised very quickly, which enabled her to be repaired ready for the Santa Special services in December.
This year’s Santa Specials Service turned out to be epic. Visitors board the train in Spring Village and get off at Horsehay and Dawley, where there was a grotto with Santa Claus and his elves next to our model railway exhibition. This year we achieved over 2500 visitors to the railway over the Christmas period and feedback has shown that members of the public, both young and old, have thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
A look into 2016
With the opening of Lawley Village to the north of Horsehay, attention is now turning to the expansion to the south. While our very long term plans are to run trains from Lawley Village to Buildwas (about 6 miles to the south), in 2016 we are hoping to start works to improve our current facilities as well. Initial plans are being put in place to lift some of the track that was temporarily laid to move the spoil from Lawley Village, then will start to lay permanent track heading towards our next target station, which is Doseley Halt (ETA 2017!).
The track that is being lifted can then be used to create some extra sidings in the main yard. Work is also being planned to build a new carriage shed to enable restoration and storage of some of our stock, inside and away from the elements. Horsehay and Dawley Station is hoping to be improved, with addition of a waiting room and ticket office, also the main compound is home to a Mk3 Sleeper car (the same as is currently used by the Caledonian sleeper service) which we plan to lightly refurbish and made ready for volunteers, visitors and youth organisations to use for overnight stays throughout the year.
All in all 2015 has been a momentous year, but big things are planned for 2016 and we look forward to seeing you all!