Barrow Hill Live! draws thousands of rail fans

Three thousand visitors were transported back to the golden age of steam engines on the opening day of the Barrow Hill Live! weekend.

Rail enthusiasts enjoyed getting up close to iconic locomotive Mallard, which set the world speed record for steam traction at 126mph in 1938.

Mallard at Barrow Hill Roundhouse

Mallard at Barrow Hill Roundhouse

Michael Alderdice, 65, from Hartlepool, was impressed by the Mallard’s location - outside on the tracks at Barrow Hill Roundhouse. He said: “The place is fantastic and so atmospheric with its old-fashioned buildings. It is where Mallard should be rather than in the National Rail Museum in York.”

Mallard may be the big-name at the weekend’s exhibition, but she has stiff competition from one of the oldest and the newest steam locomotives.

The pretty little Vulcan locomotive was built in 1918 and used as a shunter at the Vulcan factory during her working life. But this weekend has seen her hauling passengers for the first time, thanks to restoration work done at Barrow Hill Roundhouse by a seven-strong team of volunteers. Martin Ashworth, who drove the locomotive, said: “It has created a great amount of interest and a lot of visitors have come to see her. I think Mallard has been a little bit upstaged.”

The larger Tornado locomotive, which was built five years ago, is also taking passengers on short trips along the line.

Mervyn Allcock, general manager of the Roundhouse, said that seven electrics, 35 diesels and 15 steam locomotives were on show at Barrow Hill Live! Commenting on Saturday’s turnout, he said: “It has been a very good day and the sunny weather has helped.”

A dream ticket for families and rail fans, Barrow Hill Live! continues on Sunday, September 29, from 10am to 5pm.

Barrow Hill Roundhouse is the United Kingdom’s last suriving railway roundhouse with an operational turntable.