Battle of the Somme Commemoration


The Motive Power

Beamish Museum held a commemoration of the 100yr anniversary of the Battle of the Somme over the weekend 8th, 9th & 10th July. There were many exhibits and events on show with the theme of both commemorating and explaining the first world war and the Battle of the Somme.

As you’ve probably gathered by now I drive on the narrow gauge railway and, occasionally, the standard gauge colliery railway at Beamish and was there for the whole weekend. We ran the narrow gauge railway with ww1 equipment to demonstrate and explain the logistic support the railways provided.

We were very fortunate to be able to borrow three items of motive power from the Festiniog Railway, effectively hijacking their world tour (France and Staffordshire), along with three wagons from the Moseley Trust at Apedale. With a Simplex (Mary Ann when not in uniform) and A & B four wheel wagons plus a Baldwin Gas Mechanical (Moelwyn in civvies) with a Pershing wagon loaded with a couple of Model T’s we could show a British and an American train.   We did mix them up through the weekend though.


The British Train


The American Train

The railway at Beamish is now a triangle with additional sidings so trains were operating around the triangle leaving wagons on odd places then collecting them in a different order.

Just for added interest Moelwyn wouldn’t go round the tightest part of the newest bit of the triangle (to be honest, we were to scared to try it not wanting to have to re-rail it) so we propelled the wagon on to the tight bit and then went back around the triangle to the other end.


Buster in picnic table mode

There was one other interesting conveyance. A Fairbanks Speeder (Buster in civvies). These were used for officer transport (probably decided they were expendable) at high speed and in one direction only. To go the other way you pick it up and turn it round.


Buster in a rare working foray to the extremities of the network

It was a bit temperamental through the weekend so it doubled as a picnic table in between occasional runs. A full run with four officers on board on the Sunday finished it off. A new gearbox awaits it.

On our small railway you could walk the entire line in the time it took to get it started but that wasn’t the point.

Below is a collection of other photos from the weekend with some more words beyond them.

On both Saturday and Sunday there was a parade starting at Pockerley and marching round to the town. Each day we took all the NG equipment to the Pockerley end of the line to be on display to those gathering for the parade and so we could see the parade.


The only way you’d trust this pair in a model T



Captain Wilkinson and his driver Private Collins


Parade gathering


Lancers ready to go










There was lots to see around the event. The album below has a selection of other peoples photos of the various happenings. These, and more, can all be seen on the Beamish Museum Facebook page.

So, why no steam? We did first world war steam operation as part of the Great War Steam Fair in April for which we borrowed engines from the Festiniog and Moseley Trust. Our own engines are not currently available although we are working on it.


Edward Sholto: Stored on a standard gauge wagon. Out of traffic pending a re-tube of its boiler so it will eventually be moved to the engineering workshop for this to happen but not until our other engine is done


Glyder: Well Glyder’s boiler ready for the tubes to come out. Glyder was exported to the USA from Penrhyn Quarry, returned recently and displayed in the colliery engine shed at Beamish. Late last year it was moved to the workshop and its return to service started.


There is always plenty to see at Beamish Museum although not all the railways operate everyday. The narrow gauge only operates at events at the moment as we currently rely on borrowing loco’s.

A visit is highly recommended. For more information on Beamish try these links

Beamish Museum Website

Beamish Museum Facebook Page

Beamish Museum Transport Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.