Steel, Steam & Stars IV
REPORT ON THE SUCCESS OF SSS4
Steel, Steam & Stars IV has been hailed a great success despite passenger numbers being down on previous SSS events.
Running earlier than usual due to the Llangollen Railway’s own anniversary events also being held in the spring, SSSIV was held over two long weekends from March 6-8 and 13-15. The first of the two weekends enjoyed the better of the weather with the sun shining for two of the three days and photographers treated to some superb conditions in which to capture the line up of guest and resident locomotives working in multiple and on some unusual formations.
Unfortunately one of the ‘stars’, Bert Hitchen’s ‘Black Five’ No. 45231 ‘The Sherwood Forester’ failed late on the Saturday with a fractured main steam pipe and temporarily blocked the line whilst it was carefully moved to Deeside loop and No. 92214 ‘Central Star’ was summoned to take over its train.
Whilst this was taking place trains were trapped further along the line, delaying arrival back at Llangollen by up to three hours. A bus was quickly organised to collect stranded passengers from stations along the line.
Otherwise, apart from some late running, all trains ran as advertised and apart from the ‘Black Five’ all locomotives fulfilled their allocation of turns, although the locomotive roster had to be adjusted on the second weekend to make up for No. 45231’s absence. The irony was that this locomotive was itself a late substitute for the LR’s own ‘Black Five’, No. 45337 which had failed a few weeks before the gala with piston and valve problems.
The other visiting locomotives included Jeremy Hosking’s heavy freight 2-8-0T No. 4270 which had only returned to steam for the first time at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway less than a year ago. Collett Goods 0-6-0 No. 3205 was visiting from the South Devon Railway and looked especially good when operating the three coach suburban coach set.
Trains were top and tailed each day along the newly opened extension to Corwen East where there was a marquee with society stands and the local townsfolk had put on a small ‘fair’ with local products and businesses being showcased. The new museum at Capel Coch on Corwen’s High Street was open and had a strong railway presence displaying some interesting artefacts and photographs depicting local industrial narrow gauge railways as well as the Ruabon-Barmouth line and the story of the LR’s return to the town.
The weather wasn’t as bright on the second weekend, but remained mostly dry. All trains ran as planned and locomotives performed well. Visiting ex-GWR 0-4-2T No. 1450 was used both weekends on autotrains, but also got involved in double heading and working other trains. At the larger end of the scale and undisputed star of the show, No. 34092 Wells was busy on all six days and put on one or two trademark ‘volcanic’ displays for photographers. Another late substitute was ‘9F’ No. 92214 ‘Central Star’, the green ‘9F’ standing in for the original booked ‘9F’ No. 92212 which had failed a couple of weeks before the gala at the Mid-Hants Railway.
Its appearance helped to maintain the Somerset & Dorset theme of the gala, being particularly reminiscent of No. 92220 Evening Star in its lined BR passenger green livery. Berwyn station was given a Midford makeover and the staff put on a special display of photographs from the former S&D route.
Unfortunately revenue from the event was about 40% down on the previous SSS event in 2012, with advance bookings especially lower than usual, although this could be attributed to the earlier dates and a lack of confidence in the weather. Also, the gala ran on six days rather than the previous nine and the late setting of the dates may have had an impact. Even so, revenue is expected to have exceeded £110,000 which equates to around 5,000 passengers, with a lower spend per head than has been previously experienced.
Once donations, DVD sales and Gift Aid have been taken into account, as much as £20,000 should go towards the ongoing construction of No. 6880 Betton Grange. Additionally the 6880 Boiler Appeal – the ‘225 Boiler Club’ – was launched at the event and got off to a good start raising around £5,000, which has subsequently more than doubled in just a few weeks.
Transport for visiting locomotives was sponsored by Andrew Goodman’s Moveright International, saving the Betton Grange Society thousands of pounds in the process. Heritage Railway and The Railway Magazine also gave valuable sponsorship to the event. The official DVD is now finished and ready to buy – please go to our sales page and order your copy. Proceeds go towards the building of No. 6880 Betton Grange.
Update on the 12th March
The following images taken by Inspiring Images taken last weekend.
See footage courtesy of Clive Town taken last weekend at SSS4. Great stuff Clive!
SSS4 6315 (https://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=EBdBTSUl2pE&feature=youtu NULL.be)
Hope to see lots of visitors in Llangollen this coming weekend
Update on the 24th February 2015.
If you’re visiting SSS4 here is the information you need to add enjoyment to your day.
Parking in Llangollen is limited but is best at the Eisteddfod Pay & Display Car Park. A good alternative is to start your day at Corwen using the large Pay & Display car park there (250 cars).
Would photographers please NOT park in the gateways and drive entrances of residents along the A5 road, particularly on the new section approaching Corwen.
For Friday’s public timetable click here.
For Saturday’s public timetable click here.
For Sunday’s public timetable click here,
For the detailed timetable including locomotive allocations you should buy the Souvenir Brochure which includes a full timetable for all workings. This can be bought on the ticket page of this website or at the ticket desk, on the day.
The Society are delighted to announce Steel, Steam & Stars IV which will be held in March 2015 at the Llangollen Railway.
SSS4 will be held over 6 days during 2 long weekends. The dates for your diary are 6, 7, 8th March and 13, 14, 15th March.
The Llangollen Railway will be operating trains to its temporary terminus at Corwen and will be operating a variety of trains to Corwen East during the event. As at other Steel, Steam & Stars events there will be evening trains as well.
The Autotrain will be operating along the whole railway along with a freight train and a suburban set. Two further passenger sets will be in use as well
Other attractions include a Beer Festival in the Henry Robertson Suite on Llangollen station. The first pint costs £5 but includes an SSS4 logo pint beer glass. Subsequent pints are £3.
There are supervised Brake Van rides at additional cost on a ‘first come first served’ basis.
A miniature railway will run at Carrog and a Narrow Gauge Railway featuring a vertical boiler locomotive from the Glyn Valley Tramway.
At Corwen there will be a tented village of trade stands and refreshments the town of Corwen welcomes Steel, Steam & Stars for the first time.
Renowned railway artists Jonathan Clay and Malcolm Root will be in attendance with a range of their work on display at Carrog.
The confirmed lineup for SSS4 is now as follows:-
Ex SR light Pacific NO. 34092 ‘City of Wells’ running as just ‘Wells’ until the locomotive is re-dedicated. ‘Wells’ is visiting from the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. This will be its first visit to Llangollen and its first visit away from Keighley since its recent overhaul.
Ex BR Standard 2-10-0 No. 92214 from the GCR Loughborough has been substituted for 92212 as unfortunately 92212 is unavailable. We are grateful to all at the GCR for their help in allowing 92214 to come to Steel, Steam & Stars. The sight of a 9F will be reminiscent of these locomotives on the much loved Somerset & Dorset route from the 1950s
Ex GWR 2-8-0 tank No. 4270 from the Gloucester Warwickshire Railway. 4270 has just been restored from Barry condition and now heads to Llangollen for the first time.
Ex GWR 0-6-0 tender locomotive No. 3205 from the South Devon Railway. No 3205 was built in 1946 to a Collett design and is the sole remaining surviver of this once numerous Class. These locomotives were very much associated with the line from Ruabon to Dolgelly.
Ex GWR Auto Tank No. 1450. This locomotive came to SSS1 and ran with the auto coach, a duty it was designed for. Now we can see an auto train run again with one of these lovely little engines
Black 5 4-6-0 No 45231 owned by Bert Hitchin and named ‘Sherwood Forester’ has now joined the list of visiting locomotives.
In addition to the above the Gala will use the home fleet locomotives at the Llangollen Railway. These will include Great Western large Prairie No. 5199 and 2-8-0 No. 3802.
For any enquiries about SSS4 or if you have any questions about tickets, please phone Liz McGuinness on 08445856880
A short video showcasing SSS4 and the attractions of Llangollen, Corwen and the Dee Valley Click Here (http://youtu NULL.be/ksNoOa88lZ8)
Tickets for SSS4 are now on sale.
For information about the Dee Valley click here
for information about Corwen and accommodation there click here (http://corwentlc NULL.wix NULL.com/corwen-tourism)
To download the SSSIV brochure click hereThe old pages relating to SSS3 in 2012 can be found here Steel, Steam & Stars III