Nene Valley Railway
This is the fourth and final article dealing
with English heritage railways as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year. The other three being, Swanage Railway, South Devon Railway,
and the East Lancashire Railway, which you will find saved in the archive section of OKthePK.
The City of Peterborough straddles the River Nene and is located approximately 75 miles north of London. It is probably best known for its
Norman Cathedral. The National Rail station is an important stop on the East Coast Main Line between London and Edinburgh. From the
National Rail station it's about a mile and a half walk over the Viersen Platz pedestrian bridge to the Nene Valley station on the south
side of the river. Trains operate between Peterborough and Yarwell Junction without turning the locomotive as there is a run-around track
at each end of the route.
As you can see from the timetable it takes just 30 minutes to travel the line end to
end. Take your time and it's easy to spend an entire day photographing and exploring the railway.
Peterborough - The small wooden Nene Valley Railway station on the south side of the River Nene sells tickets and snacks. When
closed, tickets may also be purchased aboard the train. A water tank and signal box occupy opposite ends of a run-around loop. The station
is situated next to Railworld, and independent attraction. A walking trail connects with the city proper. Should you decide to drive an
open field provides parking next to the station.
Orton Mere - The first stop west of Peterborough is Orton Mere. This small modern brick station constructed in 1977 with two
platforms also offers snacks. A footpath across the tracks will take you to a small dam with a canal lock. A kayak slalom course lies in
the spillway on the east side of the dam.
Ferry Meadows - This station is a former goods shed from the Great Northern Railway relocated from Fletton on the East Coast Main
Line. It was dismantled brick by brick in 1999 and transported here to this site. A half mile long 10 1/4 inch gauge miniature railway
operates nearby in the Ferry Meadows Country Park.
Wansford - This is the main headquarters of the railway with two station buildings, the newest built in 1995 while the old Jacobean
station was constructed in 1845, turntable, shops, headquarters, offices, and a signal box. A restaurant is located in the new station.
Several pieces of rolling stock and locomotives are on display about the area.
Yarwell Junction - This was the location where the original line diverged to Northhampton and Rugby. Similar to Peterborough the
Nene Valley Railway now ends here with a run-around loop. The station is only accessible by train, bicycle, or foot.
The NVR is a standard gauge railway, which runs for seven and a half miles between Yarwell
Junction and Peterborough in Cambridgeshire. Its headquarters are based at Wansford beside the A1 Highway, the old Great North Road.
The first railway to arrive in Peterborough came from Blisworth, via Northampton, Thrapston, Oundle, and Wansford with the very first
passenger train along the Nene Valley departing Peterborough at 7 o'clock on 2 Jun 1845. The Nene Valley railway of today is the eastern
section of this line.
The London & North Western Railway (LNWR) ran Peterborough-Rugby and Peterborough-Northampton trains along the valley until the 1923
grouping took the line into the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS).
In 1948 the railways were nationalised but it was not until 1964 after a steady decline that passenger services ceased between
Peterborough and Northampton. The Rugby service ended in 1966.
In 1972 British Rail closed the line completely putting a 127 year story to an end.
In 1968 the Reverend Richard Paten purchased BR 73050, a class five 4-6-0, for its scrap value of £3,000. His intention being to
display it on a plinth outside the local Technical College. Because the locomotive was found to be in good condition there was resistance
to the idea of 73050 being "stuffed". Why not restore it!
On 28 Mar 1969 the Peterborough branch of the East Anglia Locomotive Preservation Society was established. The aim being to purchase and
restore BR 70000, a Pacific named "Britannia". By 1970 the local branch was sufficiently strong to form their own association,
the Peterborough Locomotive Society (PLS).
In 1971 BR 73050 was moved to a new home at the British Sugar Corporation's (BSC) Peterborough factory sidings where it was joined by
Hunslet 0-6-0 locomotive "Jacks Green". The PLS held its first steam day in Easter 1971.
In 1971 the PLS changed its name to the Peterborough Railway Society (PRS) and in March held a well attended meeting at the Town Hall at
which the idea of the Nene Valley Railway was formally launched.
In 1974 the Peterborough Development Corporation bought the Nene Valley line between Longville and Yarwell Junctions and leased it to the
PRS to operate the railway, a major milestone in the society's history.
Visitors often ask, "Why did NVR go Continental?" The answer is part planning and part chance. In 1974 the task facing the
society was enormous. BR had neglected maintenance on the line, most of the stations had been demolished, Wansford station and yard had
been sold into private use. There was no connection with BR or to the British Sugar Corporation factory where the society's stock was
kept, no passing loop, and only a head-shunt for a siding. The line had virtually to be built from scratch.
The initial idea had been to use former BR locomotives and stock. However by the time NVR arrived on the scene the only available
locomotives were rusting hulks and BR carriage stock was in short supply.
The Peterborough Development Corporation who had paid out a considerable sum of money were anxious that passenger services should commence
as soon as possible and certainly before the opening of the Nene Park in 1978. The society at that time only had one main line locomotive
and several small ex-industrial locomotives, which were unsuitable for the 5 1/2 mile service. This posed a major problem.
In 1973 PRS member Richard Hurlock had approached the Society about providing a home for his ex-Swedish Railways 2-6-4T Class S1 oil
fired number 1928. Because the engine was higher and wider than British stock it was to be a static exhibit only. During 1974 it was
realised that the use of foreign locomotives might be the answer to NVR's prayers.
Could the Nene Valley Railway loading gauge be extended to the International Transit or "Berne" loading gauge? If so, the NVR
would be able to offer the unique spectacle of British and Continental locomotives and stock running alongside one another in Britain.
It was concluded that a single bridge demolition plus platform alterations at Wansford would allow operation to Continental loading gauge.
A decision was made to operate to Berne gauge.
In 1973 BR gave PRS permission to use the Wansford signal box. In September the fist items of stock arrived.
However, before stock could be moved from the BSC base, the missing section of the Fletton Loop had to be re-laid. The 1,200 ft of track
was completed in March 1974 and stock moved to Wansford for the Easter weekend, when for the first time "Wansford Steam Centre"
opened to the public.
Between 1974 and May 1977 the line was upgraded to passenger standards. On 24 May 1977 the Railway Inspector passed the railway as fit for
passenger carrying operations. The line between Wansford and Orton Mere was officially opened on 1 Jun 1977. The first train was hauled by
the "Nord" and Swedish number 1178.
Nene Valley Railway - Date unknown.
Several folders published for the 2012 season are displayed below.
Click on them to view a
Nene Valley Steam Locomotives
||City of Peterborough
10 May 2001 - Biggs Should Live Out His Life Behind Bars Says Man Who Was on Legendary Train
2 Mar 2006 - Railway Wedding
29 Oct 2008 - Penelope Cruz and Daniel Day Lewis Film a Scene for Musical "Nine"
16 Mar 2009 - Travelling Post Office Demonstration
16 Aug 2012 - Tour on Train and Railworld to Celebrate Reverend Paten's Life
21 Sep 2012- James Bond Director John Glen Visits Nene Valley Railway Where...
6 Oct 2012 - Ken Lets Off Some Steam at the Nene Valley Railway
London and North Western Railway
Malcolm Christopher Reed
256 pages hardcover
19.2 x 24.8 centimetres
Atlantic Transport Publishers
$13.78 (Amazon used)
The London and North Western Railway Around Preston
184 pages 250 black & white images softcover
Atkinson Publications Ltd.
An Illustrated History of the London Midland and Scottish Railway
120 pages hardcover
18.8 x 25 centimetres
LMS Handbook: The London Midland & Scottish Railway, 1923-1947
David W. Wragg
256 pages hardcover
19.4 x 26.6 centimetres
The Nene Valley Railway: A Nostalgic Trip Along the Whole Route from Blisworth and
Northampton to Peterborough
112 pages paperback
16.8 x 23.4 centimetres
Past & Present Publishing Ltd.
Steam Memories - Nene Valley Railway
32 pages softcover
25 x 20 centimetres
Nene Valley Railway Add-On for Microsoft Train Simulator
Windows 2000 / 98 / NT / Me / XP
Associated Web Sites
Nene Valley Railway
London and North Western Railway Society
The International Railway Preservation Society
A Personal View of the NVR
NVR Wagon Group
Appleby Frodingham Railway Preservation Society
Ferry Meadows Railway
Research Test Vehicle 31 (RTV 31)