Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Ivor the Engine: 2008

Rob, Sam, Andy and Dai Station chatting before the shuttle departs.

Following a succesful visit to the Battlefield Line in July and August 2007 (See post), 'Ivor the Engine' returned to Shackerstone in August 2008.

Out of the two famous engines, 'Ivor' and 'Thomas', it must be admitted that 'Thomas' is the better-known locomotive. Thomas's originator, the Reverend Awdry, sold the rights to Britt Allcroft, who developed the 'Thomas' television programmes and a range of tie-in products. Having created a successful international 'brand', the rights were disposed of to Hit International, which zealously guards its investment. Licenses issued to preserved railways to operate Thomas Events involve significant costs to the railway and require compliance with arduous and detailed conditions. I can't help wondering what the Reverend Awdry would make of the commercial empire his stories have spawned. In contrast, 'Ivor the Engine' remains a rather more innocent creation. Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate produced a series of relatively unsophisticated but charming animated stories for television which still have appeal.

The idea of creating a real, working steam locomotive with the rather improbable outline of the original animated 'Ivor' is delightful. Steve, the owner of the working 'Ivor', has succeeded admirably in implementing the idea. So, purist that I am in most matters of railway restoration, I was nevertheless happy to have an opportunity to drive 'Ivor' again.

On Sunday, 17th August Sam and I prepared the locomotive and trundled down to the station nice and early. This left the inspection pit free for 'Sir Gomer' to use. 'Sir Gomer' was to operate the 5-coach service train during the day. Willing as 'Ivor' is, handling the service train is a little beyond his capabilities. But 'Ivor' was allowed to operate a one-coach diesel shuttle during the day.

Normally, 'Ivor' would have been coupled to the 2-car Diesel Multiple Unit, but there was a problem with the brake cylinders on the one coach. So, when Rob the DMU driver arrived, 'Ivor' helped out with shunting the defective coach to the siding for repair. Then 'Ivor' was coupled to the good DMU coach and stood in platform 1 to await passengers. Each time 'Sir Gomer' arrived in platform 2 with the train from Shenton, Rob took the train to Hedley's Crossing, about a mile out of Shackerstone, with 'Ivor' being pulled backwards. Then it was the turn of 'Ivor' to do some work and pull the coach back to Shackerstone. Meanwhile, 'Sir Gomer' had run round the train and was ready to set off for Shenton.

On our last trip of the day, 'Dai Station' accompanied us on the footplate of 'Ivor' and you can watch his splendid video by clicking below.

To see more still pictures of Ivor's visit, Click Here.