Grosmont tunnel steam debut

What is believed to be the world’s oldest railway tunnel will welcome a steam locomotive for the first time in its history, when ‘Quarry Hunslet’ 0-4-0ST Britomart attends the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s Autumn Welsh Steam Gala on September 30 – October 2.

‘Quarry Hunslet’ 0-4-0ST Britomart shunts at Harbour station on the Ffestiniog Railway on March 22 2011. ANDREW THOMAS

‘Quarry Hunslet’ 0-4-0ST Britomart shunts at Harbour station on the Ffestiniog Railway on March 22 2011. ANDREW THOMAS

Built at Grosmont in 1836 as part of George Stephenson’s original horse-drawn railway from Whitby to Pickering, the tunnel fell out of railway use in 1847 when the line converted to steam locomotive operation and a new tunnel was cut. It is now in use as a footpath between the station and the village.

Britomart’s visit will mean it is the first time a steam locomotive has used the tunnel in its 171-year history. The railway is laying temporary track to allow the ‘Quarry Hunslet’ and Ffestiniog Railway ‘bug box’ coach to take passengers inside the tunnel.

Completing the visiting engine line-up and complementing the Welsh theme are ‘Manor’ No. 7822 Foxcote Manor and ‘28XX’ No. 2807, alongside BR Standard ‘4MT’ 2-6-0 No. 76084.

From the NYMR’s home fleet, ‘Black Fives’ Nos. 44806 and 45428 will be masquerading as Nos. 44776 and 45344 respectively, while ‘Standard 4’ 2-6-0 No. 76079 will be running in the guise of classmate No. 76038. The original Nos. 44776 and 45344 were allocated to Croes Newydd (6C) MPD, the former from November 1966 to May 1967, while No. 45344 was there for ten months from October 1965 before it was withdrawn in August the following year.

The original No. 76038 was a Machynlleth (6F) engine for the last three months if its life; it was withdrawn in September 1966.