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Middleton Hunslet appearance makes Ribble gala a success

A SHORT-notice agreement to bring the Middleton Railway’s roving Hunslet Brookes No. 1 (2387/1941) to the Ribble Steam Railway (RSR) for its Autumn Steam Gala helped ensure a good turnout for the end-of-season event. 

The former Brookes Chemicals Ltd 14in-cylindered 0-6-0ST had recently come to the end of a period of hire at the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway (P&BR) after starring in the South Wales line’s own gala, and arrangements were made for the loco to divert via Preston on its way home from Blaenavon to Leeds.

Brookes No. 1 has proven to be a popular locomotive with both volunteers and visitors during its visits to the Foxfield Railway and P&BR this year, and it proved to be a hit in Preston, too. 

It stayed on the railway until October 11, although there were those among the crews who would have liked it to stay longer. 

Unfortunately, the weather over the weekend was not especially favourable, but the presence of ‘Brookes’ and three other members of the home fleet in steam brought out the public regardless of the rain. 

Visiting Hunslet 0-6-0ST Brookes No. 1 and Bagnall 0-6-0ST Courageous change position on the service train during the Ribble Steam Railway Autumn Gala on September 28. GARY SEVERN

The three residents in steam were Andy Booth’s Preston Docks lookalike Bagnall
0-6-0ST Courageous (2680/1942), ex-British Steel Corporation Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0ST Linda (3931/1938), and former Kinglassie Colliery Grant, Ritchie 0-4-0ST No. 21 (272/1894).

Between them the four locomotives handled all passenger services over the two days, working individually or double-headed, and often top-and-tailed between Preston Riverside and Strand Road. 

“The gala went very well and all four engines ran very well, RSR chairman Dave Watkins said. “Visitor numbers were good, despite the weather. 

“Brookes No. 1 is a very nice loco; many thanks to the people at the Middleton Railway for arranging its visit very quickly and at short notice.”

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