Enjoy a discounted day out this October half term week in conjunction with our local paper The Cornish & Devon Post.
Once again we have teamed up with ‘The Post’ for one of our popular Locals Week special offers. Inside the 20th October edition of the paper will be a voucher offering generous discounts on our normal fares.
Enjoy the chance to ride through the unspoilt Cornish countryside behind a Victorian steam locomotive, fifty years after the original railway through Launceston closed.
The café, shop and museum will all also be open, and for those thinking of Christmas gifts for enthusiasts, this is the last chance to shop locally for railway books, DVDs and related items.
Director Jonathan Mann said: “We recently had a visitor from East Anglia who was bowled over by the beauty of the Cornish countryside seen from the train. She was very amused however when I told her of a conversation overheard in our café, when one person (from another part of the country) said to another ‘It’s all very well, but there is nothing to see but countryside!'”
The half-term service runs from Sunday, October 23 to Friday, October 28 inclusive, and if the good weather holds, it is an excellent time to enjoy the valley. Trains leave Launceston hourly from 11am to 4pm. Discounted fares only valid with voucher from ‘The Post’, normal fares apply otherwise.
Following a busy summer touring North Wales, Velinheli returned home to Launceston on Wednesday 28th September. She was quickly unloaded in our car park – visitors may have noticed the length of track in the car park for unloading materials, but as Velinheli will (just) fit under the bridge between the station and the car park it is also the easiest location to load and unload her.
With steam raised the opportunity was taken to run Velinheli as far as possible onto the site of the original Launceston station, nearly fifty years since it closed. Following a quick run up the line she was returned to her shed for a few weeks well deserved rest, but she will be in steam and hauling passenger trains for a few days during the half term week at the end of October.
Owner James Evans attends to Velinheli whilst steam is raised
Flangeways are cleared in the track to allow Velinheli to enter the site of the original Launceston station
Velinheli sits approximately on the site of the original Launceston station
Our particular thanks to Paul Lewin of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways for looking after Velinheli during her tour
For a few years we have been working, as time permits, on a new second museum building to hold more exhibits. As many regular visitors will know our original museum building was packed full of interesting vintage vehicles and machinery – and with more items becoming available for us to display, we have had to refurbish a second building to hold them all!
The new second museum building has now been opened to the public and has a ‘motor museum’ theme as it holds three of our vintage cars plus a collection of vintage motorcycles (in addition to the motorcycles upstairs in our original museum). There are also items of rolling stock from the slate quarry railways of North Wales, and a photographic display of the early days of the Launceston Steam Railway.
To find the new museum, simply head through our original museum building out into the yard and turn right, following the roped off area and signs. Entry to our museum is free of charge.
Some of the vintage vehicles on display in our new museum building
At the beginning of April we took Lilian out of use for a full overhaul of her boiler – details of the first stages in the overhaul can be found here.
Following a thorough inspection by our boiler inspector, it was decided that the boiler was in remarkably good condition eight years after its last overhaul, and only required a small number of jobs before returning to service – namely the replacement of a number of stays in the firebox, which were welded in place. A new ‘mudhole’ was also cut at the bottom front of the firebox, to aid washing out the inside of the boiler. The boiler was then refitted to the chassis and subject to a hydraulic test for our boiler inspector.
Washout plugs and new mudhole on the front of the firebox
New stays welded in place
Hydraulic test pump connected for a visit from our boiler inspector
One part of a steam locomotive which most people do not realise is frequently replaced is the smokebox. During the working day ash collects in the smokebox, and being corrosive the ash causes a mild steel smokebox to gradually rust away. Lilian’s smokebox had become very thin and the decision was taken to manufacture a new smokebox as part of her overhaul. The sides for the new smokebox are stainless steel, chosen in an attempt to make this smokebox last longer than the previous one, whilst the front of the smokebox is actually a sheet steel chequer plate which happened to be in stock and of a suitable size and thickness (we’re firm believers in reusing suitable materials and items we have rather than always buying new material). The door itself is ‘original’ – although even then it is a replacement fitted when Lilian was at Penryhn Quarry.
New smokebox front under construction
New smokebox front
Two halves of the new stainless steel smokebox are welded together in situ
By the beginning of June – so two months after work had started – Lilian was largely back in one piece, but required a number of small jobs completing, such as reconnecting all the pipework.
Cladding is placed around the boiler
Nearly finished and ready for a return to steam!
An interesting final job related to her saddle tank. For many years Lilian’stank has actually been 3/8″ lower at the back than it is at the front – not that many people had noticed! When refitted the opportunity was taken to manufacture new supports which would raise the height of the tank at the rear.
Lilian reentered service in mid-June, ready for the peak summer season. Subject to some good weather she will be in regular use throughout the summer.
On Sunday we had a ‘Railway Rabbits Day’ as part of Launceston’s ‘Charles Causley Festival’. ‘The Railway Rabbits’ is a popular series of children’s books written by local author Georgie Adams. Inspired by the Launceston Steam Railway, they tell the story of a family of rabbits who live alongside a steam railway.
During the day a number of visitors took the opportunity to join Georgie Adams for readings from the books, and also take part in a range of Railway Rabbits activities at Launceston station.
We reopen for the summer this coming Sunday (22nd) – and to celebrate we have once again teamed up with our local paper, the Cornish & Devon Post, to run one of our popular Locals Week special offers.
Locals Week runs from Sunday 22nd to Friday 27th May, and to take part simply pick up this week’s copy of ‘The Post’ (issue dated Thursday 19th May) and use the voucher inside to enjoy discounted fares of Â£6.50 for Adults and Â£3.25 for Children.
The voucher can only be used once, is not valid with any other special offers, and normal fares of Â£10.50 Adults and Â£6.80 Children apply for all those without a voucher – so don’t forget to bring it!
Regular visitors will have noticed that Lilian did not make an appearance when we opened at Easter. Â Every 10 years or so it is necessary to remove the boiler from a steam locomotive and subject it to a thorough inspection and overhaul. Â Lilian’s boiler was last removed for overhaul in the winter of 2007/8. Â Therefore although not ‘due’ for another two years, it was decided to bring the overhaul forwards slightly.
Lilian stood over the pit for the first stage of dismantling – removal of her ashpan!
As soon as Easter was out of the way work started on dismantling Lilian in our yard. Â Although many smaller parts could be removed by hand, obviously many parts are too large and heavy to remove by hand. Â Here our Unipower tractor with winch becomes indispensable – designed for use in forestry, it has proved very useful for moving and dismantling railway equipment over the past 50 years!
Lilian stripped down to her chassis and boiler
Jonathan busy removing part of the regulator
Unipower in place ready to lift the boiler
Up, up and away!
Chassis awaiting wheeling back into the museum for storage
With the boiler removed and stood on its side in our yard, a thorough inspection could be undertaken. Â The boiler itself is just over 20 years old, and was constructed in house to replace her previous boiler, which dated from 1885 (it had previously been fitted to her sister ‘Winifred’ and we still have it in store). Â Initial inspection showed that the barrel and tubes of the boiler remained in good condition, with the tubes suitable for several more years use. However some of the firebox stays required replacing.
New and old regulator rod ends
With the boiler removed, the opportunity was taken to give the chassis a thorough clean
Boiler on its side in the yard, with Nigel measuring for new firebox stays
A view inside Lilian’s firebox. Note the missing stays on the left hand side at the bottom.
This summer our locomotive Velinheli will be touring England and Wales, visiting a number of different railways and events.
We are now able to confirm the full list of events in her diary:
20th – 22nd May: Fawley Hill Vintage Extravaganza
12th-13th August: Shrewsbury Flower Show
18th-21st August: Southport Flower Show
26th – 29th August: Bala Lake Railway Steam Gala
9th-11th September: Welsh Highland Railway Superpower: Welsh Highland Great & Small III
And finally 23rd-28th October: a triumphant return home to Launceston for the October half term week!
Between the events at Fawley Hill and Shrewsbury, and during September, she will be based at the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways and in regular use for various activities such as footplate rides at Porthmadog Harbour station.
The list of events may be subject to changes or additions through the summer – to keep right up to date with Velinheli’s tour make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Â If you see Velinheli out and about we’d love to see you photos on social media too!
This summer our locomotive VelinheliÂ will be leaving us for an extended ‘summer holiday’ at a number of railways and events throughout England and Wales.
Velinheli was built in 1886 for the Dinorwic Quarry at Llanberis in North Wales, and so her summer tour is a way to celebrate in her 130th birthday year. Appropriately she will spend much of the summer based at the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway in Porthmadog, a short distance from her old home at Dinorwic. Â From her base at Porthmadog she will frequently be travelling to visit various other events and railways – including a reunion with some of her ‘stablemates’ from Dinorwic at the Bala Lake Railway – before returning back to us at Launceston in the autumn.
Work is now well underwayÂ to de-winterise Velinheli, and will continue for the next month or so to ensure she is in top mechanical condition for her holiday.
The full list of events Velinheli will be attending is still to be confirmed – but we will publish it as soon as possible. Â Watch out for the LSR on tour this summer!