17 Jun 2023
Vintage & Classic Vehicle Weekend
Another successful Vintage & Classic Vehicle Weekend took place at the railway on 17 and 18 June. Thank you to everyone who took part and attended.
The winners of the people’s vote were:
1st Place – Nick Ellis with his 1968 Riley Elf; NPM 862F
2nd Pace – Peter Cutts with his Austin; HSV 380
13 Jun 2023
‘Aln Valley Railway receives Royal Recognition With Visit from HRH The Duke of Gloucester’
Alnwick’s Aln Valley Railway (AVR) was delighted to gain royal recognition on Tuesday 13th June, when HRH the Duke of Gloucester, accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland, Her Grace the Duchess of Northumberland, visited the railway and officially opened Greenrigg Halt, by unveiling a commemorative plaque.
They first visited Lionheart Station, where they were welcomed by the AVR Chairman Michael Proctor, Deputy Chairman Richard Maughan, and Head of Marketing Gemma Maughan. The Duchess was presented with a bouquet by two year old Lexi Maughan.
There were visits to the Engine Shed and the Museum, where the Royal Party were introduced to volunteers, including William Stafford (Head of Steam Traction and Driver of the day), Brian Cunningham (Shed Master) and Ken Middlemist, a volunteer who was previously a driver on the Alnwick branch line. The visitors also saw work on a carriage restoration, and were introduced to volunteers Richard Thatcher and Mike Dawson. At the Museum, which is currently under construction, there were introductions to the Museum Curator David Dorner and volunteer Richard Buckby. Also presented at the Museum were Priscilla and Flora Simpson, whose generous donation in memory of their brother has funded the new Museum. Finally, the visitors were taken to board the train, and were introduced to Graeme Walton Binns, who, with his late wife, saved the North Eastern Railway Directors’ Coach from destruction and funded its restoration. It has been lovingly restored by AVR volunteers to its former glory, and one of the Carriage and Wagon Volunteers Chris Lediard, was introduced to the Royal Party.
The Royal Party then travelled from Lionheart Station, steam-hauled in the Great North Eastern Railway Directors’ Coach. They were accompanied by the AVR Chairman and Deputy Chairman, AVR Manager Mark Hayton, Stuart and Mary Manley and David Champion of Barter Books, train guard Dave Smallwood and AVR photographer Mel Clark. The route of the railway took the Royal visitors through the lovely countryside to Greenrigg Halt, along the old Alnwick branch line, and over the impressive and recently restored Cawledge Viaduct. Aln Valley Railway was recently shortlisted for a prestigious Heritage Railway Association (HRA) Infrastructure Award for the Cawledge Viaduct refurbishment. This challenging project was another of the impressive achievements highlighted to HRH the Duke of Gloucester – it involved carrying out vital work to the world’s oldest masonry heritage railway viaduct, which was designed by Robert Stephenson and built 172 years ago, to ensure its future.
At the end of the line, the Royal Party’s arrival was greeted by Northumbrian Piper Alistair Anderson and many volunteers. A number of those who are involved in the construction of the Railway and its plans to extend to Alnmouth were presented to the Duke, including David Malone (woodworker) who did much of the work on the Directors’ coach, Kevin Holden (Permanent Way Manager), John Malloy (Deputy Permanent Way Manager), Tom Lloyd (Civil Engineer) who led the work on Cawledge viaduct restoration, and Stuart Edgar (Chief Civil Engineer) who is leading work on extension to Alnmouth.
HRH the Duke of Gloucester then officially opened Greenrigg Halt, which has been constructed by the Railway and where passengers can see the train pass along and be recoupled to the carriages for the return to Lionheart Station. This memorable occasion has been commemorated with a plaque.
Michael Proctor, AVR Chairman said ‘ We are delighted to have had the pleasure and privilege of welcoming HRH The Duke of Gloucester and Her Grace the Duchess of Northumberland. It has been brilliant to showcase our heritage railway project, which is completely volunteer run, and all that has been achieved in just over a decade. It is wonderful to have this recognition of the achievements of all concerned and to have Greenrigg Halt officially opened in such a memorable way.’
Over recent years the railway has been gaining in reputation and increasing its visitor numbers. This coming season there will be regular weekends of steam, diesel and pacer trains, and a series of events including a classic vehicle weekend (17-18th June), a Summer Fair (23rd July), Teddy Bears’ Weekend (5 -6th August), a model railway exhibition (2-3rd September), a beer festival (16-17th September), the Sounds Northumbrian music festival (17 September) and a spooky Halloween weekend (28-29 October). There will also be Christmas events and the ever-popular Santa Specials.