The Lavender Line
2012 has been one of the most successful years at the Lavender line to date, more steamings than ever before, a brand new station and two successful gala weekends are just a few of what 2012 had to offer the Lavender line
In January 2012 the Lavender line had a tough year ahead, higher prices in all departments, bad weather ahead and of course the global recession which is affecting so many railways across the country. But the Lavender line soldiered on and work continued on the new station at Little Horsted. The railway also announced steam will be run twice a month on the first and last Sunday of every month between March and October, the most steamings we have ever set out!
During February one of our dedicated carriage and wagon teams took on two projects over the winter months, one being our regular carriage 108 trailer and the other being our air braked fuel tanker. Both under went minor overhauls but the tanker had a full cosmetic overhaul which included a new paint job of silver, red and black. The tanker is now fit for traffic and can be seen on our goods train alongside the brake vans.
Our new station at Little Horsted under went some very strict tests during March which included gauging exams which would see how the train would fit into the platform and what adjustments would be needed to ensure the station is ready and safe for passengers. By this point it was decided the new station would be named Worth halt after the nearby woodland.
In April the Lavender line was very excited to announce the completion of Riley’s railway which is located on platform 2. Riley’s railway began as and idea in 2011 which would mean the construction of a miniature railway on the grass verge on platform 2, later that year the railway team up with a working member who built the railway alongside our very own chairman. The railway has been built to provide additional attractions to the railway and allow visitors to enjoy that bit extra in their visit. Its named Riley’s railway after the owners grandchild Riley who has suffered heart complications since birth, the railway raises awareness of heart conditions in children and raises money for St Thomas hospital in London.
May was yet another busy month for Lavender line, steam services twice a month were in full swing and our new footplate tasters were becoming more and more popular. The restoration of our resident toad brake van was completed at the end of May with a new grey colour scheme and GW livery. Our toad brake van is as popular as ever and with its new grey livery provides the perfect example of a 1920’s Great Western goods set.
June was a very exciting month for the whole country, the diamond Jubilee brought the whole of Britain together in celebrating all things British and the 60 year reign of our Queen, the Lavender line was no exception to this and we ran a Jubilee special over the weekend of the 3rd and 4th June to celebrate with the rest of the country in marking 60 years of our Queen’s reign.
The Lavender line enjoyed one its most successful summers yet with the peak of it hitting July. During this month two very special events took place, one of these being the first diesel gala in almost ten years which proved to be extremely popular with visitors enjoying trips behind our newly restored thumper unit and recently overhauled Andrew Barclay diesel as well as other locos from the home fleet. Another highlight of July was the grand opening of out brand new station Worth halt located at the terminus of the line, the station was officially opened to the public on Saturday 7th July where a group of volunteers along with our resident thumper cut the ribbon to Worth halt allowing passengers to enjoy the beautiful open Sussex countryside.
August was yet another busy summer month for the railway, three steamings and mid week diesel services set the volunteers up for a hard month with little rest, but as always the railway pulled through with positive feedback from our visitors. The bank holiday weekend in August saw a special two train service take place which was shared between Austin 1 on platform 2 and Valiant on platform 1. The day was meant to involve thumper unit 1133 but due to wet filler she was unable to take part, nevertheless the two train service proved to be extremely popular and there are future plans to run a two train service in the future on busy peak days.
September is traditionally the time of year when things begin to slow down at the lavender line, but the past few years this has become one of out busiest months due to the late summer we seem to have. The last Sunday of the month saw another very successful goods train day with many visitors enjoying our new footplate tasters. September also saw plenty of preparations taking place ready for our steam and diesel transport weekend which took place in October.
Our steam diesel and transport weekend had finally arrived over the weekend of 6th and 7th October. Following the success of last years event which including a visit from Stephenson’s replica Rocket the Lavender line went all out to ensure this years event would be even bigger and better than the last. Over the weekend we saw a Varity of vehicles take part in the displays which included vintage cars, buses, Lorries and even a traction engine shuttle service to the village car park. An intensive three train service keep everyone busy which included our resident steam engine Austin 1 and thumper unit 1133. Andrew Barclay DM also enjoyed sharing the service trains alongside Valiant which also provided cab rides on the bay platform. The railway also enjoyed its first Halloween fright night on Saturday 27th October; this evening had been carefully arranged by some of our dedicated volunteers to ensure that everyone would have an enjoyable evening. The night consisted of train rides through the dark, a mixture of Halloween snacks and drinks, toasted marshmallows on an open fire and ghost stories throughout the evening. The event was a complete success with very positive feedback from visitors who attended the evening.
November was a quiet month at the Lavender line which gave all the staff a good break before the preparations began for the first of the railways Christmas at Isfield. A locomotive report was announced on the website stating the details of all the railways home fleet and how each loco has done over the past year.
As always December brought about the very popular Santa specials at the Lavender except this years name was changed to Christmas at Isfield to ensure that not just children but also the adults who can enjoy the pre Christmas atmosphere at Isfield station. Once again the Christmas at Isfield dates proved to be as popular as ever with numbers increased, there were even times where the carriage was full to the brim with passengers.