So yesterday I spent the day at the Amberley Railway Gala. I was supposed to be helping with the 009 Society stand, manned by the Sussex Downs group, but since I had taken my 3-year-old with me - and the sun was shining - I probably spent more time outside. If you like small industrial railways the Amberley is always a great visit, but for the gala everything that can move does, and also one or two visitors.
Polar Bear was one of the two resident steam engines running the passenger services. Taking full advantage of the new (a couple of years back) 3-station layout the track was chocablock with two passenger trains, and internal-combustion (and battery) loco's taking turns to slot in between with some trucks. Joshua loved riding the trains (unsurprisingly for a 3-year-old boy) so we did several times - and was so excited when he was allowed to pull the whistle of Polar Bear!
Visiting this year was Darent, an Andrew Barclay. I believe it has been extensively re-built and the cab and saddle tank are probably not original - perhaps someone who knows could post about this loco? Anyway, very attractive it is too.
The other loco on passenger duties was Peter, a Bagnall saddle-tank that was originally built for 3' gauge, then later regauged to 2'. At Amberley it looks massive (compare to the photo of Polar Bear against the same platform!). Riding this train was fun, the coaches (mostly open) were loose coupled - meaning at every start and stop the passengers had to suffer violent jerking! Perhaps seat-belts would be in order? Or just some solid-link couplers like Polar Bear's coaches.
Passing the sheds after the calvacade a number of the locos are visible. It didn't seem overly crowded this year, so we had a great spot - sat on the grass in the shade - during the calvacade, where we got to see all the locos up close. Both of us really enjoyed the day.