Peace, harmony & Hesketh Bank

Just once in a while, it’s good to get away from all the frantic modelling and hectic exhibitioning, and just play trains. And so a select group of six members booked themselves in to the West Lancashire Light Railway, to pamper themselves with the railway equivalent of a health spa. I say six, but the chairman, showing a woeful lack of leadership now that the committee elections are safely out of the way, backed out before even any steam was raised. Apparently an allegedly better offer had been received regarding corporate hospitality at the Open Golf, taking place barely a twelve-iron from the clubrooms. The fact that it was his spouse making the offer apparently made it non-refusable. All the more trains for us to play with, and he did pay the appropriate cancellation fee, restocking expenses and refreshment charge. Not to mention loss of deposit, and VAT.

The concept was delightfully simple, West Lancs provided the train complete with driver, fireman and guard. We watched and learned whilst steam was raised, and then pootled up and down their short length of track until our cup of pleasure overflowed. And there was no nonsense about healthy diets either; lunch was hotpot and apple pie, served with the unexpected luxury of separate plates.

Although the railway was closed to the public, to allow members to soak up the relaxing ambience without interruption from the busy world outside, inevitably one or two rolled in to the car park to see what we were up to. One such turned out to be an ex-member of the Society, in a time-span well before even our longest-serving members. He was promptly awarded day membership and permitted to join us for a ride.

By late afternoon we could take no more and reluctantly took our leave, grateful for a revitalising experience and for the fact that it wouldn’t be us who had to grovel under the loco to empty the ash-pan, or reach into a hot, dirty smokebox to clean out the tubes. Good company, too.

Some photos are