Thursday, 16 August 2012

Peak Rail 1940s Weekend 2012

Re-enactors demonstrate the rigours of life under canvas on the battlefield.

In 2012, Peak Rail held its annual 1940s Weekend on Saturday and Sunday the 4th and 5th of August. I was the steam locomotive driver on the Sunday. The actual railway operation was very similar to most weekends although, to cater for demand, we were operating with a 7-coach train. Because trains now operate between Rowsley and Matlock (Town), operation was 'top and tailed' with 'Austerity' 0-6-0T at the south end of the train hauling the train in an Up direction and a 'Class 31' diesel-electric bringing the train back to Rowsley.

I was very aware that our train was a very poor representation of a wartime service. Whilst the steam locomotive was (just) a 'wartime baby', being built in 1944, she is currently turned out in British Railways black, numbered 68013 and carries the later-period British Railways logo. The British Railways 'Mark 2' passenger stock is wrong and, again, the maroon livery is incorrect, although it is very similar to the L.M.S. style. As for the Class 31, these weren't introduced until 1957 and the livery carried is much later. But, compromises must be made in re-creations and I think I'm in the minority in finding these anachronisms a little jarring. I don't think you'd find many lady engine drivers around in World War 2 (except in Russia) so I can't really complain.

My own concessions to the period were a 'tin helmet' (worn from time-to-time - they are actually steel, of course, and quite heavy) and a Respirator (which I carry around, but decline to wear).

When you work on the train, you miss a lot of the action but I took a number of photographs to give an impression of the scene, which you can find here.

Andrew Briddon's Drewry/Vulcan diesel mechanical WD72229 in 'olive drab' certainly looked the part.

WD72229, a jackshaft-drive diesel mechanical.

A 'Bofors' anti-arcraft gun on a 'LOWMAC' on the turntable made an impressive display.

The 'Bofors' gun wagon-mounted on the turntable.

Paul Harper, Marina Mae and Paul Casper provided ENSA entertainment in a large marquee. The marquee also featured Dove Holes Brass Band, Punch and Judy shows and a licensed bar.

During the day, there were lectures on military topics, demonstrations of firepower and a mock battle. In additions to military encampments and foxholes, there were field kitchens and mobile hospitals, together with displays explaining the role of civilians in wartime. Both military and civil vehicles were on display and, of course, lots of re-enactors in the uniforms of various countries.

The weather was kind and the event was very well attended.