The first Steam Gala on September 28/29 2002 was a great success. The visiting engine Bray Valley was a hit with the visitors and enthusiasts alike. A great many photographs were taken.
Peter Hanton from Congleton who built the railway on his own sadly passed away on November 16th. He was a real character whose legendary thrift and abrupt manner concealed his true worth. He continued to come and help on the railway and drove for the last time at the Steam Gala. His single handed achievement in building the railway will remain as a testimonial to his determination. It is planned to place a seat at Lakeside Station dedicated to his memory.
The Steam Launch now named The Lady Alice returned to service on Sundays and bank holidays giving trips up the lake. The boiler is one dating from 1941 which has not been used until installed earlier this year. The boat looks superb.
Work has been completed on Carriage No. 4 which is believed to be the largest carriage in existence on this gauge of railway. The bogies were overhauled late in 2001. A new floor and seats have been fitted and bolted down. A new lower aluminium roof has been fitted as the old one required four men to lift it when it was removed to lower it. This explains why the coach used to rock so much as it ran along. The coach is now in regular use and proving very useful because its 20 seat capacity helps move the crowds.
Sundays in July, August and September 2002 were busy with two trains in use most Sundays. The annual visit by the Children from Chernobyl took place on Sunday July 28th. We were pleased to provide a special train as a part of the visit. In common with recent years the weather was hot and sunny as is usual on this occasion. Two trains operated all afternoon and with the steam boat also in use a vintage atmosphere prevailed.
A new 16 seater bogie coach No.10 has been ordered and is complete. Delivery took place on the 1st May 2002. New air braked bogies have been built in 2004 for this coach. An extension to the engine shed to provide more covered accommodation for the carriages and new wagons has been constructed but is already full. The railway has a total stock of 4 locomotives, 8 coaches and 8 wagons.
A rake of 4 wheel wagons has been construction by one of the railways volunteers and the first ones were in use on goods trains at the Gala on September 28/29th. There are two open wagons and a box van now in use. It is planned to fit them with air brakes later after running trials. A fourth 3 plank drop side open wagon is complete and in use with delivery taking place on Saturday 18th January. Another goods van No.9 is now in service.
The new wagons have been built by Alan Boon and are of superb quality. They can carry a substantial weight and follow the principles established by Sir Arthur Heywood. They have followed the historic railway convention and been given type names of fish living in the lake. So far we have bream, eel, pike, chub and tench.
New signals were installed at Lakeside passing loop on Good Friday and brought into use on Easter Sunday. They are upper quadrant types electrically powered from their own rechargeable batteries. They look superb and have been much admired by the general public and passengers alike. The whole scheme has been designed and installed by Ian and Chris Burgess.
A Steam Gala with a visiting steam engine took place on the weekend of September 28th & 29th. Visitors from all over the North West, Cheshire and Staffordshire attended to see the development of the railway.