The South Tynedale Railway at Alston is delighted with the success of the “BARBER – Return to Steam” Gala held on the Bank Holiday weekend (1-5 May 2015). The iconic steam locomotive ‘BARBER’ made its long awaited debut, hauling passengers for the very first time in its history – a long way from its last use at the Harrogate Gas Works in 1949.
On Friday 1st people who had supported the project throughout the 12 year restoration were invited for a private preview. Saturday heralded’ BARBER’s official inaugural journey preceded by a Welcome Address by Mr Richard Graham (Chairman, South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society) and it’s public service launch by the Mayor and Mayoress of the Borough of Harrogate, for which Harrogate Spring Water was appropriately used! Other invited guests on this first journey included Lord and Lady Inglewood, Eden District councillors Gordon Nicholson and Pat Godwin as well as descendants of Francis Barber, after whom the locomotive was named.
Members of the public joined in the celebrations, enjoying afternoon rides with ‘BARBER’ along the South Tyne Valley as well as browsing for souvenirs in the station shop and visiting the “Buffer Stop” café, accompanied by the Appleby Town Band.
Festivities were continued from Sunday onwards with more music from the “Lazy River” and the “Lounge Lizards” jazz bands, delicious wood-fired pizzas from “Woodsprite” in addition to the fare from the station’s cafe and a book-signing session featuring Dr Tom Bell’s recently published “Railways of the North Pennines” with, of course, ample opportunities to take a steam train ride. ‘BARBER’ will now be joining the rest of South Tynedale Railway’s fleet of steam and diesel powered locomotives to deliver its scheduled timetable.
General Manager Heather Palmer said “we are delighted to have had so many people attend this wonderful weekend celebration which was the culmination of many years work. Barber is now part of the South Tynedale Railway fleet and will be seen in steam on a regular basis.”