LMS Jubilee locomotive Leander to make final steamings at Festival of Steam11th February 2024
London’s heritage railway announces visiting locomotives for new “Festival of Steam” event.
The Epping Ongar Railway has announced a change to its previously advertised steam gala, which has now been billed as Festival of Steam event, covering three consecutive weekends of star-studded steam action featuring special guest visiting locomotives between 27 April and 12 May!
The Railway is also delighted to announce that joining previously advertised Great Western Saint class locomotive, 2999 “Lady of Legend” will be Stanier designed, London Midland and Scottish Railway Jubilee class locomotive 45690 “Leander” making the first visit of the class of locomotive to the former London Underground line.
LMS Jubilee class locomotive Leander (credit: K Felstead) and Saint class locomotive 2999 Lady of Legend
Built in 1936, “Leander” was based initially at Crewe before moving to Bristol where it remained until withdrawal from British Railways service in 1964. The locomotive was rescued from Barry scrapyard in 1972 and has, until recently, spent most of its preservation career working steam hauled charter trains back on the mainline. The visit to the Epping Ongar Railway is expected to be its farewell appearance before expiry of its boiler certificate later in May.
Saint and Hall Weekend – 27 and 28 April
The Festival of Steam event begins on 27 and 28 April when both visiting Saint class locomotive 2999 “Lady of Legend” and the Railway’s own 4953 “Pitchford Hall” will be in action working trains over the steeply graded line. 2999 was recreated from a former Hall class locomotive, which themselves were a development of the Saint class, in 2019, and will provide a suitable contrast to Pitchford Hall.
As well as the locomotives operating on their own, visitors can expect to see top and tailed workings as well as some double headed trains.
Festival Of Steam Gala Event – 4 to 6 May
The following Bank Holiday Weekend will feature a three-day feast of steam activity, when Lady of Legend and Pitchford Hall are joined by Leander, and the Railway’s remaining home fleet of Great Western Railway locomotive 5521, numbered L150 and carrying maroon London Transport livery, and Hawthorn Leslie saddle tank 3437 “Isabel” for an intensive service expected to feature additional brake van rides and a non stop express train. Trains will run into the evening on Saturday 4 May with the Railway’s Real Ale train and Fish and Chip dining service.
Jubilee’s Last Hurrah – 11 and 12 May
The festival concludes with a “Farewell to Leander” event on 11 and 12 May, with the locomotive operating alongside either Pitchford Hall or L150. Leander will bow out of traffic on the Sunday working its final passenger trains before expiry of its current boiler certificate.
George Saville, the Railway’s General Manager, said:
“We are all immensely proud at the Epping Ongar Railway to be given the honour of being the last heritage railway that this iconic of steam Leander will operate at before it’s withdrawn from service for its major 10-year overhaul. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to have this classic steam locomotive run between Ongar and Epping”.
A fleet of vintage London buses will also be running throughout the three weekends of the event providing connections with all the Railway’s train services to Epping Underground station. Some buses will also provide connections with Shenfield station.
Tickets will be on sale soon.