Each Spectacular features carriages from the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Trust and Vintage Carriages Trust (VCT), so a request this year from the organisers to the VCT for 2 carriages (the Southern Railway ‘Chatham’ Matchboard Brake 3554 and BR built, Bulleid-designed Open Third S1469S) at first glance, may not seem particularly onerous. If this is what you thought, think again!
As readers will know the Museum of Rail Travel at Ingrow is an interactive museum with videos and mannequins inside the exhibits telling the story of rail travel through the ages. Add to this the ‘hooking-up’ of the carriages into the VCT network and strategically placed access walkways so visitors can enter the carriages easily and the job becomes not quite as simple as at first you may think.
On top of all that, throw in the carriages being requested being at the very back of both display lines and you have, what can justifiably called, a logistical nightmare. Or what became to be known as a ‘Mega-shunt’.
Paul Holroyd of VCT has sent in this photo compilation as to what transpired on Thursday, 2nd October in response to the question “Can we have two of your carriages?”
Ben Wade’s newly restored Mersey Docks & Harbour Board Hunslet Diesel Shunter No. 32 ‘Huskisson’ was first in action and first out was 0-4-0ST ‘Lord Mayor’
Next out comes the BR built, Bulleid design Third Open coach S1469 (just in picture), attached to Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway/Great Central Railway four-wheeled Tricomposite Carriage no. 176 and Great Northern Railway Lavatory Composite Brake, no. 2856.
Having shed the MS&LR and GNR coaches, the Bulleid coach is propelled back into the museum to pick up the Chatham Brake, which was at the very back of the shed in the workshop area.
‘Huskisson’, the Bulleid and the Chatham Brake pull out of the shed, leaving a completely empty shed road from front to back. Only the under restoration, Midland Railway 6-wheeler and the Diesel Railbus E79962 did not turn a wheel that day.
Metropolitan Railway Brake Third no 427 leaves the museum (alone) only to be immediately returned down the empty road and into the workshop for work where it will receive attention to its electrical system.
With Metropolitan Brake Third out of the way, the varnished teak Metropolitan Railway First no 509 sees the light of day but its GNR brake no. 2856 next, being returned to its original position inside the exhibition hall (the only carriage to return, whence it came).
With the MD&HB diesel shunter retired to the workshop, the Bahamas Locomotive Society‘s 0-4-0 shunter ‘James’ takes over, pulling out the varnished teak Metropolitan Railway First no 509 and swapping it from one track to the other.
‘James’, just visible in the background, returns for Great Northern Railway 6-wheeled brake, no. 589 to leave one half of the Museum devoid of exhibits.
Having swapped tracks, GNR 589 is shunted into the museum and ‘Lord Mayor’ returns to its rightful place at the front.
A quick wash for the 2 coaches for the Autumn Steam Spectacular and they, along with MS&LR coach, are returned to the shed.
… and that is all there is to it! Well not quite. The staging has all to be re-configured, so that visitor’s can access the carriages, and the vehicles hooked up to the VCT network and power supply for the audio visual displays.