Double ‘S160s’ at Churnet Valley

Miss the double-headed ‘S160s’ at the Churnet Valley Winter Steam Gala last month? You can catch the pair in action again on May 6/7 as the CVR is hosting a special event in which the two USATC 2-8-0s will be working exclusively together all weekend.

The Churnet Valley Railway's USATC 'S160' 2-8-0s No. 6046 and 5197 work together for the first time in preservation at the CVR's Winter Steam Gala on February 25/26. DAVID GIBSON/CVR

The Churnet Valley Railway's USATC 'S160' 2-8-0s No. 6046 and 5197 work together for the first time in preservation at the CVR's Winter Steam Gala on February 25/26. DAVID GIBSON/CVR

Greg Wilson’s ‘S160s’ Nos. 5197 and 6046 will be in action on both days, hauling the equivalent of a ten-coach train from Kingsley & Froghall station to the Ipstones Loop, which will include the 4½ climb up the Cauldon branch.

On February 5, Nos. 5197 and 6046 ran together on a loaded test run over the CVR, the first time a pair of USATC 2-8-0s had worked together for over 70 years. The former was fresh from a three year-long overhaul at the line’s Cheddleton works, and moved under its own steam for the first time since it was withdrawn in December 2009 the previous day.

Seven ‘S160s’ are preserved in Britain, but this was the first time a pair had been double-headed in preservation.

The spectacle was repeated at the CVR’s Winter Steam Gala on February 25/26, with No. 5197 making its public debut after overhaul. The ‘S160s’ were joined by visiting SECR ‘P’ class 0-6-0T No. 323 ‘Bluebell’ (from the Bluebell Railway) and resident Polish ‘TKh’ 0-6-0T No. 2944 ‘Hotspur’.

Further details about the CVR’s ‘Double-Headed S160s’ weekend are expected to be released shortly.