ERS 205 - Heritage Mountain Engines

ERS 205 - Heritage Mountain Engines - Stuart

The idea for this volume came about when one of the evaluators, Ian, suggested the scenario of the Culdee Fell Rack Railway’s diesels taking over the passenger services, relegating the steam engines and their older carriages to ‘heritage’ duties, seeing as the Snowdon Mountain Railway had done this back in 2012/2013. Having plenty of anecdotes to hand, I was more than happy to try my hand at writing this volume.


There is trouble afoot for the steam engines on the Culdee Fell Railway. Their carriages are showing signs of wear and tear – particularly Catherine, who is suffering from faulty brakes, much to the concern of the steam engines, and the annoyance of Norman. The final straw comes when Catherine’s brakes fail completely just above Devil’s Back station, causing her to part with Culdee and then crash into him, causing some minor injuries – and anger – from the passengers. This, along with the expense of keeping the steam fleet in regular service, prompts the Manager to make some drastic changes…
Catherine’s incident is based on one that happened on the Snowdon Mountain Railway on 22nd August 1924 when, to quote Peter Johnson’s book ‘An Illustrated History of the Snowdon Mountain Railway’: “Not far from the summit, the engine and passenger coach parted company, and a few minutes later, the coach crashed heavily into the locomotive. Passengers were hurled against one another, though without more serious injury than a bleeding nose or two.” The incident had actually demonstrated the efficiency of the braking systems, in that the carriage had stopped, and the collision had occurred after the brake had been released. No explanation was given for the engine and carriage separating sufficiently to activate the carriage brake – hence why I decided to have Catherine’s brakes play up here.

The Manager’s plans are soon put into action, with Norman and Betty taking over the passenger services with brand new carriages, and the steam engines and their coaches being demoted to ‘heritage’ services. The engines have mixed opinions on this, and to make matters worse, Norman becomes conceited at being promoted. Meantime, Eric suffers a mishap with the water tower at Siloh, causing some serious damage to his boiler, which staff can ill afford to repair. The engines are concerned, but Norman finds the situation most amusing…
This story was not based on any particular incident, though the water supply at Hebron tends to be rather peaty, owing to the marshy ground nearby, and this is known to be harmful to the steam engines’ boilers.

Norman’s teasing continues unabated, much to the other engines’ irritation. Patrick longs to take him down a peg or two, but is wisely prevented from doing so by Culdee. Norman soon becomes jealous of the attention the steam engines and their carriages are receiving on the ‘heritage’ services, but eventually gets his comeuppance when he derails at Devil’s Back Station, blocking the whole line. It is up to Culdee and Patrick to rescue not only him, but his passengers and Betty’s too.
Norman’s derailment is based on one that occurred on the Snowdon Mountain Railway in 2011, at Halfway Station. The rescue method in the story is almost exactly as described in the real incident. More info here:

Norman apologises for his attitude, but the engines are worried about Eric, who has been laid up in the shed since his peat incident. A rude remark from Norman in the previous story gives Patrick an idea, and the Manager decides to transfer Eric and his coach to the Vicarstown Railway Museum, where they will serve as extra attractions for the museum, and ambassadors for the Mountain Railway. Eric is hesitant at first, until King Orry tells him about his time as a static exhibit alongside Maude. Eric soon comes round to the idea, the other steam engines become used to their heritage services, and all ends happily.