Tracks to the Trenches 2014

The Moseley Railway Trust will mark the centenary of the start of the First World War with a major event, entitled Tracks to the Trenches – 2014. The event will be on September 12, 13 and 14 2014. The Trust is confident that this will be one of the major narrow gauge and First World War centenary events of 2014.

The First World War was one of the key turning points in European history – and narrow gauge railways played a major part in the war. All combatants made considerable use of tactical 60cm gauge railways, supporting the colossal demands which the first truly modern war put upon logistics systems. This moment in history helped define and standardise the gauge of many post-war industrial railways (Ashover, Nocton, Leighton Buzzard, etc), through the use of readily available War Surplus materials.

The Trust is pleased to be able to confirm the booking of the first visiting steam locomotive to the Tracks to the Trenches – 2014 event; Baldwin 4-6-0T No 778 from the Leighton Buzzard Railway in Bedfordshire. No 778 has not made many visits to other lines since restoration was completed in 2007, so this event will provide some unique locomotive/rolling stock combinations and photographic opportunities.

These 10-12-D class locomotives (the classification designated by the manufacturer) were supplied en-masse to the British War Department from 1917 onwards in all theatres, eventually totalling nearly 500 by 1918. They were the most common steam locomotive operated by the War Department Light Railways during the Great War. Based on a very similar design previously supplied to the French Army in Morocco, they had a limited life expectancy on the Battlefield of a mere 6-8 months.

Gareth Roberts, one of the event organisers of the Tracks to the Trenches event commented – Today, only a very small number of these machines have survived and an even smaller number are operational. We are extremely grateful to the Greensand Railway Museum Trust and the Leighton Buzzard Railway for making available this locomotive, fully restored to original appearance, for this important WW1 Centenary commemoration.

A website has been set-up for the Tracks to the Trenches event – it’s here. The Trust would be very pleased to hear from individuals or groups who wish to participate in the event – contact can be made via the website. The Trust is also seeking sponsorships for elements of the event – there are opportunities from main event sponsor to individual donations.