Full report from the brilliant Beamish Steam Gala

Posted by Chris Graham on 10th June 2024

David Reed reports from the excellent, two-day Beamish Steam Gala – Wheels of Industry event, which took place in. early April.

Photographs by Matthew Dick, unless otherwise stated.

Beamish Steam Gala

Beamish Steam Gala: Manning Wardle 0-6-0ST Sir Berkeley undertaking it’s first moves of the day.

At the beginning of April, the world-famous open-air museum near Stanley in County Durham was the place to be for any steam enthusiast, where around 15 engines took the opportunity to travel around the museum’s 1½ mile road system.

Beamish Steam Gala

Sir Berkeley running behind the miners cottages with the Chaldron wagon rake.

Steam wasn’t only restricted to the roads though, also on view were a selection of railway locomotives that were to be seen on various shunting duties around the colliery area of the museum. Here Beamish’s resident locomotives were in operation, including the replica Lewin 0-4-0 engine Samson, the original of which spent all its working life in a Durham Dales mine until being scrapped in 1904, and 1931 Andrew Barclay No. 1994 Glydor, a standard class E Class 2ft gauge 0-4-0 locomotive.

Beamish Steam Gala

Britomart and Glyder with the colliery buildings behind.

This locomotive worked for Durham County Water Board on the extensive Burnhope Dam contract in the early 1930s, moving on the Penrhyn Quarry Railway in North Wales before heading to America in 1965 where it spent most of its time in storage. Since its return in 2012 it has operated at Beamish due to its local connections.

Beamish Steam Gala

Hugh Napier with a short train enters the yard.

These locos were complemented by a handful of guest engines that were also being kept busy throughout the weekend. The first was a standard gauge 1891 Manning Wardle 0-6-0ST Sir Berkley that really looked the part. This engine was been supplied new to engineers Logan & Hemingway.  It worked until 1963, passing in preservation to the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway before being bought by the Vintage Carriage Trust at the Middleton Railway in Leeds and was featured in the famous cinema film The Railway Children.

Beamish Steam Gala

Britomart and the visiting WD Simplex lurks ominously in the yard.

For narrow gauge enthusiasts there were a couple of Hunslet 0-4-0ST quarry locomotives that were appearing at Beamish courtesy of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway. The first locomotive was Britomart, a locomotive that dated from 1899 and had worked at the Pen-yr-Orsedd Quarry in North Wales until 1965, while also on site was 1904 Hunslet Hugh Napier that worked at Penrhyn Quarries. Both locomotives looked at home in such a period setting and certainly got the cameras clicking.

It’s Britomart again, this time heading out with the water barrels on the wagons.

Offering a taste of railway travel in its earliest days, the trains on the Pockerley Waggonway allow visitors to travel in period coaches behind replica locomotives such as Puffing Billy. It’s not for the faint-hearted though, with the amazing speeds of around 12mph being achieved.

1931 Andrew Barclay No. 1994 Glydor, E class 2ft gauge 0-4-0 locomotive had a local connection, originally being supplied to the Durham County Water Board to work on the extensive Burnhope Dam contract in the early 1930s. (Pic: David Reed)

The event had to be classed as another success, with large crowds in attendance throughout the weekend despite the rather blustery weather. Another transport-related event being held this year is a ‘Fares Please!’ weekend with the museum’s fleet of buses and trams being highlighted along with several visiting PSV vehicles. But whatever is happening at Beamish, it is well worth a visit. For more information, their comprehensive website has details of upcoming events, while for the latest news the museum’s transport blog ( is the place to be.

This is 1871 0-4-0VBGT No. 1 vertical boiler shunting engine Coffee Pot, built by Head Wrightson at their Thornaby works on Teesside.


The road locomotive department with the 0-4-0 Coffee Pot shunting in the background.


Spotted having a short break was Lewin 0-4-0 replica engine Samson. It was built by David Young and completed in 2016. (Pic: David Reed)


Visitors can take a short trip on the Pockerley Waggonway in true 1820s style! (Pic: David Reed)

This feature comes from the latest issue of Old Glory, and you can get a money-saving subscription to this magazine simply by clicking HERE


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