Sixty invited guests came today to see what 12 men had built: a perfect heritage copy of the original 1928 GWR halt at Hayles Abbey.
And what better way to celebrate this wonderful moment, than with an original 'Coffeepot' in the form of GWR 1450 and its own auto coach 'CHAFFINCH'.
Here's the 14xx pulling out of the Parlour road at Toddington.
The Gods were angry with us:
''You have stopped eating doughnuts!
You shall have rain!!!''
And we did. No matter, we had a very successful launch, and a lot of fun on the way.
While the Hayles gang and the 60 invitees were sipping tea and coffee in the Flag & Whistle, the auto train hissed and dripped away quietly in the platform at Toddington. This then is quite an authentic scene, the local stopping train from the 1950s, no passengers, two or three staff in a huddle on the platform.
In a year or so, we should be able to do this again at Broadway. Or would it be even more interesting to have a Railmotor visit us next time?
The driving compartment in the trailer was quite interesting.
While the fireman stands on the loco behind, the driver at this end actually has a regulator to operate. Amazing, the sort of linkage that must be required from the ceiling here, down the end wall, along under the floor, across the gap between the buffing and drawing gear, under the bunker and back up to the top of the boiler in the cab.
Further down is a picture of a driver actually operating this regulator handle.
And where are we going to next, guys? They knew the answer in a flash !
(interesting to see that the autocoach was already equipped for this next destination, we borrowed the destination board from the driver's compartment...)
The Gods now started to smile upon us a little bit, as the rain let off as we arrived at Hayles.
Maxine had prepared a lovely piece of velvet curtain, just for the event.
Lord Wemyss of Stanway House, our neighbour, gave us a very congratulatory speech. Then came the big reveal. A tug, and:
HAYLES ABBEY HALT
Now the auto train is stopped at the halt, and a lone passenger starts to walk up the ramp. The fireman looks on,while the guard has gone off to chat with someone at the rear.
There's no hurry.
Ah yes, how does the driver work the regulator from his little seat?
After a return journey to Little Buckland, our party was treated to a super sit down lunch in the Flag & Whistle, a great conclusion to a great day.
We were delighted to hear the chairman of our trust remind us of our objective:
'To build and maintain a railway museum for the benefit of the public - fence to fence, buffer stop to buffer stop'.
Well said. What else can we do to improve our heritage here? The Hayles gang is up for it.
Two more pictures received from Malcolm Ranieri, who was kind enough to give permission to use them on this blog: