In these notes, I have tended to focus on the nuts and bolts of what the MRT is doing at Apedale – laying track, restoring vehicles, all that type of stuff. But sometimes it’s useful just to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The MRT is aiming to build a 2’0″ gauge railway into the Apedale Community Country Park, starting at the existing Apedale Heritage Centre, passing close by the former mine buildings which are now the base of the MRT’s operations and the now famous Aurora North storage shed and on for about 500 metres to Apedale Road, which marks the end of Phase One. Later phases will cross Apedale Road and head up hill to Burley Shales (just over 1000 metres) and Miry Arena (1900 metres). It is our belief that the railway will open up the park to many visitors, allowing people the many combinations of riding trains/walking and so on. Thus, the railway will form a genuine transport need and help people appreciate the wonders of the Country Park. I say “we” advisedly, because we have enjoyed the full support and encouragement of both Staffordshire County Council (who manage the park) and also Newcastle Under Lyme, our local authority. It is by developing these partnerships that all parties can achieve their goals. If you want to know about Apedale Community Country Park, have a look here.
This very positive relationship contrasts with problems which two other narrow gauge railways are having with their local authorities. The 2’6″ Sittingbourne & Kelmsley railway is now facing a very real, and very urgent, threat to its existence. Sittingbourne (and indeed much of the area) lacks any real tourist or other visitor attractions, and it is truly astounding that their local authority seems content to allow this piece of genuine industrial narrow gauge heritage to simply vanish after 102 years. They need your help. Visit here to find out more. Similarly, our friends at Leighton Buzzard are also having some planning difficulties – visit here to find out more. The MRT offers its support and sympathy to both of our colleague railways in these difficult times, and hopes that all readers of this will do all they can to assist. But we also breathe a sigh of relief that the very positive partnerships we have with our governing authorities, both local and at county level, mean that we can work together to assist in the regeneration of our corner of North Staffordshire and make the area better for everybody. And what could be better than a steam train running though a country park? This week’s photos are a couple of SKLR views, including their locomotive “Melior”. As a Kerr Stuart “Brazil” class, she is a close cousin of the MRT’s “Stanhope”. In case you didn’t (by some miracle) know, we will be running “Stanhope” at the MRT’s Apedale Open Days on 13 & 14 Septembers. As usual, you can get in touch here.