Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Battlefield Line 1940s Weekend (June 2012)

Re-enactors on the platform at Shackerstone.

Many preserved railways in the U.K. organise a 1940s Weekend. For instance, it has been an important feature of the Peak Rail calendar for a number of years - you can find my stuff about the Peak Rail events I've participated in here:-

2009 event (article and pictures).
2008 event (article and pictures).
2007 event (pictures only).
2006 event (pictures only).

But the 23rd and 24th June 2012 was the first time that the Battlefield Line had held such an event. I was present on Sunday 24th June 2012 when I drove the diesel railcar. I'd taken a knapsack, respirator and tin helmet. I didn't use the respirator but displayed it in the cab and I only wore the tin hat from time to time.

The diesel railcar at Market Bosworth.

I'm afraid a 1960s DMU is the wrong period for a 1940s Weekend but nobody seemed to mind too much. The only type of diesel railcar in regular service in the UK then was the futuristic-looking G.W.R. railcars dubbed 'flying bananas' (see Wikipedia article for brief information or the detailed information in the 'GWR Railcars' section of the splendid site The Great Western Archive).

The intermediate station of Market Bosworth was where the main displays were held but I'm afraid I didn't get to see them because the DMU had a very quick turn-around each time it was at Market Bosworth because of the rather ingenious timetable.

'3803' (described in an earlier article) operated the 4-coach service train, providing five round trips between Shackerstone and Shenton, stopping at Market Bosworth each way. Departures from Shackerstone were timed for 10.30 a.m., 12.00 noon, 1.30 p.m., 3.00 p.m. and 4.30 p.m. This meant that on arrival at Shackerstone, the train engine had 35 minutes to run round and, if necessary, take water. This also meant that the single line section was available for 35 minutes, allowing the DMU to make a quick foray up the single line to Market Bosworth and back. During the 1940s weekend, the timing of the main train allowed the DMU to provide five round trips between Shackerstone and Market Bosworth, departing Shackerstone at 10.00 a.m., 11.30 a.m., 1.00 p.m. 2.30 p.m. and 4.00 p.m.. Hence, Market Bosworth enjoyed 5 departures each day to Shenton and 10 departures to Shackerstone.

'3803' looks handsome running into Shackerstone 'right time'.

A similar 'main train plus DMU' timetable has been used on recent 'Thomas' events. We've usually been sending the DMU as far as Headley's Crossing and back, providing a 'Daisy Shuttle' (or, sometimes, a 'Thomas and Daisy Shuttle'). In 2011, when the 'Thomas' main train was being top-and-tailed (see (see 'Thomas' article) 'Daisy' was allowed to go all the way to Market Bosworth during the June event but during the October event the DMU was only going to the "second bridge out". The April 2012 'Thomas' event saw 'Daisy', once again, terminating at Headley's Crossing.

For the 1940s weekend, the activities at Market Bosworth were arranged by Bob Matthews and the Tommy Atkins Society. Advertised attractions included fire-power demonstrations, battle re-enactments, a field kitchen, Home Guard display and weapons, vehicles, equipment and uniforms.

In addition to the normal attractions at Shackerstone, there were old radios playing wartime programmes and a display of wind-up gramophones playing 78 r.p.m. records of the period.

Jo, in WW11 housewife attire, listens to the radio.

The day started showery but improved and I certainly had a good day. I hope everybody else did, too.

There are a few pictures of the day here.